Convention Notebook

Election 2004 -- The Democratic Convention

July 27, 2004

BOSTON -- If Sen. John Kerry is miffed at his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, for stepping on the Democrats' sunny convention message by telling a journalist to "shove it," he isn't saying so.

"I think my wife speaks her mind appropriately," Kerry told reporters in response to questions about the exchange, according to the Associated Press.

On Sunday evening, Heinz Kerry accused a journalist from a conservative Pittsburgh newspaper of mischaracterizing comments she had just delivered to the Pennsylvania delegation. In those remarks, she complained about "un-American traits" encroaching on politics. The journalist asked what she had meant by "un-American."

"A lot of Americans are going to say `Good for you -- you go, girl,' and that certainly is how I feel about it," said Hillary Rodham Clinton, who knows a thing or two about bad press for being an outspoken political spouse.

Moore roams freely, speaks freely

Democrats weren't eager to have Michael Moore, whose Bush-bashing documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 broke box office records, at their convention. But there he was yesterday, wandering the convention floor with a scrum of reporters in tow.

Moore didn't get an invite from the national party. But as a guest of the Congressional Black Caucus, he can roam freely around the Fleet Center.

Moore had some profanity-laced complaining to do hours before the party pep rally began, bashing the mainstream media for being too cozy with the Bush administration.

"A lot of our kids are dead because these f------- haven't done their job," he said, gesturing at CNN's Bill Hemmer on the convention floor.

As he roamed the arena in his trademark black jacket and baseball cap, Moore accused the news media of skewing their coverage of the Iraq war.

"They failed the American people because they got in bed with the Bush administration," he said. "They got embedded, and they got in bed."

GOP chairman takes Clinton over Castro

Moore's visibility gave ammunition to Republicans, who hope to crash the party and used Moore to paint Democrats as aligned with extremists.

Ed Gillespie, the Republican national chairman, met with reporters in a banquet hall a few miles from the Fleet Center and lashed into Moore -- complaining, for one, that the filmmaker supported sending home Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez.

"This is someone who said Gonzalez would be better off growing up in Cuba, under Fidel Castro, than in the United States under Bill Clinton," Gillespie said. "Not even I would agree with that."

Gillespie has brought a staff of 30 to an "outpost" in Boston to monitor his foes and schedule as many interviews as he can.

"It's much more fun to be at the other guy's convention than your own, where there is a lot of work," Gillespie said.

Wandering about as the great flip-flop

A smiling contingent of college Republicans hoofed it around town dressed as flip-flops, paying homage to the nickname their party has pinned on Kerry.

"I have to say, that is so cool," a passer-by in a beauty parlor smock told Alison Aikele and Max Buccini, who together made up one pair of bright yellow and green thongs.

Each strap was made of half a swimming noodle. Their faces poked through holes cut in a giant slab of foam.

"It's not so malicious," Aikele said. "People are taking it as funny."

"Even Kerry supporters," Buccini added.

Honoring Massachusetts' first JFK

The Maryland delegation invoked memories of President John F. Kennedy at a luncheon yesterday at the Democratic hero's presidential library.

Fresh from a tour of the harbor-side museum, Marylanders dined on cumin-grilled chicken and cucumber couscous while reminiscing about the other JFK from Massachusetts.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County, who lived overseas as a child, remembered coming across a picture of Kennedy in a Sri Lankan hut. "We need to recapture that component of foreign policy," he said.

Speaker after speaker quoted Kennedy.

"As John Kennedy said, it is up to each of us to make a difference," said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland.

The lawmakers made sure to link Kennedy to the 2004 ticket. "John F. Kennedy would be proud," Van Hollen said.

Marylanders score big at breakfast

Maryland is regarded as a sure bet to be in the stable of Democratic states, so guests at the delegation's breakfast yesterday might have expected a keynote speech more homegrown than high-profile.

But they scored big, spending 20 minutes under the sway of strategist Donna Brazile.

Brazile, who led Gore's 2000 campaign, hopes to rally party regulars with her earthy, spiritual call to topple Republican leadership in Congress and the White House.

"I'm tired of conceding the South to the Republican Party," she said. "I'm gonna fight for the South. We have to expand our political territory."

Yesterday's delegation breakfast, with Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson as host, was the first of four being sponsored by officials in Baltimore City and Prince George's, Baltimore, and Montgomery counties. The cost of Johnson's $15,000 breakfast was underwritten by a smorgasbord of local interests.

Among the attendees: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor who has fallen into political obscurity since her 2002 loss to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Sun staff writers Julie Hirschfeld Davis, David L. Greene, Paul West, Kimberly A.C. Wilson and Riley McDonald contributed to this article.

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