Friday, August 13, 2004

Kerry returns to town

Presidential hopeful swings into Ketchum for some R&R

Express Staff Writer

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry last visited Ketchum in March. Photo by Willy Cook

It?s time for a little presidential déjà vu in the Wood River Valley.

For the second time since an-nouncing his candidacy for president of the United States, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry is coming to visit his family?s vacation home north of Ketchum. He and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, are scheduled to arrive in Twin Falls on Saturday, Aug. 14 and leave Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Since the Democratic National Convention in Boston late in July, Kerry has been crisscrossing the United States on a ?Believe in Amer-ica? tour.

The stop in Idaho, however, is not part of the tour.

?They are here for a few days of rest and relaxation only,? said Betty Murphy, chair of the Blaine County Democrats.

On Thursday and Friday, Kerry was scheduled to make appearances in Oregon, one of the anticipated battleground states that could help decide the November election, should it be close. But as one of the most staunchly Republican states in the country, Idaho is not predicted to be much of a contest between Kerry and incumbent President George W. Bush.

When the Democratic Party?s presidential nominee arrives Satur-day, Twin Falls Democrats are sched-uled to meet him on the tarmac before he travels north to the Wood River Valley.

Murphy said Sen. John Edwards, Kerry?s running mate, is not sched-uled to visit.

Following his nomination to the Democratic ticket late in July, secu-rity is sure to be elevated compared with the senator?s snowboarding and skiing vacation in March, when Kerry traveled with an entourage of U.S. Secret Service agents and national media representatives.

Blaine County Chief Deputy Sheriff Gene Ramsey said his de-partment will be involved with secu-rity, but pointed out that Secret Serv-ice agents would handle the brunt of the workload.

Ramsey called the security detail ?business as usual? based on the senator?s March visit and the required involvement of the Sheriff?s Office.

?We?re not reinventing the wheel,? Ramsey said. ?Secret Service does the security. We just assist in certain ways, like, for instance, letting them use our mobile command post.?

About 60 local residents have volunteered to assist the Kerrys dur-ing the extended weekend. Some will help drive the Kerry entourage from Twin Falls to Ketchum. Ramsey said he was sending one unit to help guard the motorcade.

Murphy said she is not sure what the Kerrys? visit will consist of, add-ing that details should become clearer today.

?I know he rides bikes, and they like to hike, but I really don?t know what they?ll be doing,? she said.

No fundraising activities are planned, she added.

Kerry and Heinz Kerry?s visits to the Wood River Valley have been relatively sparse this election season. Heinz Kerry was the featured speaker at a fundraiser north of Ketchum last month. The event raised a state-record-breaking $300,000 and was attended by more than 350 people from the far corners of Idaho.

The previous week, Teton County, Wyo., Democrats broke their own state?s record, raising $410,000 for the campaign. That?s more than $700,000 from two of the most politi-cally conservative states in the coun-try.

Singer Carole King, who?s been stumping for Kerry throughout Idaho, is scheduled to perform at a fund-raiser on Tuesday at the Warm Springs Lodge.

Kerry and Heinz Kerry visited the Wood River Valley in March, when the senator made conspicuous snow-boarding and skiing outings on Bald Mountain. One morning, he post-holed through mushy spring snow to the top of Durance, a popular back-country ski run in the Sawtooth Na-tional Recreation Area north of Ketchum.

Indeed the days of Kerry?s unas-suming vacations to the Wood River Valley are, for the moment, over. In years past, he has been known to play pick-up games of broomball hockey at the Sun Valley Ice Rink or non-chalantly cruise up Bald Mountain for a morning of skiing.

During a Christmas vacation two years ago, Kerry hit the ice with Calif.-Governor-to-be Arnold Schwarzenegger and tennis star John McEnroe.

Heinz Kerry has a longer history in Ketchum than her husband. She has spent time here since 1966, the year she married her late-husband, Sen. John Heinz III, a Republican from Pennsylvania. The couple built their home north of Ketchum in 1987.

Heinz Kerry, the heiress to her late-husband?s catsup fortune, is re-spected locally for her philanthropy. She gave $750,000 to help upgrade emergency services in the area and $325,000 to help Blaine County buy Galena Lodge, a popular north-valley cross-country ski lodge. She was a key contributor to the new St. Luke?s Wood River Medical Center and has donated consistently to the Sun Val-ley Center for the Arts and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony.

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