Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Kerrys return for vacation

100 Idahoans bid presidential hopeful farewell at Twin Falls airport

Express Staff Writer

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic Party?s presidential hopeful, spent a low-key weekend at his family?s home north of Ketchum. On Sunday morning, he attended Mass in Ketchum with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Photo by Willy Cook

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry kept a relatively low profile in Sun Valley over the weekend. The Democratic presidential hopeful spent three days at his family?s home north of Ketchum for a brief respite from the campaign trail.

He and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, went to Mass Sunday morning at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Ketchum, and they were a somewhat frequent sight at local restaurants. On Tuesday afternoon, the presidential campaigner boarded a plane in Twin Falls to head to Ohio, one of the key battleground states predicted to be pivotal in deciding the November election.

Kerry?s brief visit over the weekend was a far cry from his weeklong vacation in March, when he skied, hiked and had a pool of reporters in tow wherever he traveled.

?It was my understanding that this was a pure vacation,? said Maria Weeg, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party. ?Both he and Teresa really needed a break.?

Weeg said Kerry went mountain biking and visited with friends.

?I think it was a fairly low-key weekend,? she said.

Kerry boarded a red, white and blue jet in Twin Falls Tuesday after-noon as about 100 South Idaho Democrats gathered to bid him a successful campaign.

?Idaho Democrats in this area thought it would be nice to have a good send-off for John Kerry as he gets back on the campaign trail,? said Carolyn Boyce, chair of the Idaho Democratic Party.

?There are a lot of enthusiastic people here right now,? Boyce said Tuesday afternoon as she waited for Kerry to arrive. ?This is kind of an impromptu event. We?re not sure if he?ll stop and talk or just wave.?

Boyce said it is exciting to have a presidential candidate who is familiar with Idaho.

?There?s sort of a warm place in our hearts for John Kerry because we feel like he understands our issues, rather than a Democrat from another area, because he does have a home here,? she said.

Kerry-Edwards Idaho Campaign Director Jim Grossman. of Ketchum, said Kerry wants to acknowledge everybody in Idaho, not just Democrats.

?He?s appreciative of having such a wonderful place for some rest and relaxation on this long campaign trail,? Grossman said.

?I, for one, am honored,? he added.

Kerry arrived late Saturday afternoon aboard his red, white and blue Boeing 737 in Twin Falls.

According to The Associated Press, he was wearing a white T-shirt and a pair of jeans and approached the approximately 50 people crowded behind a chain-link fence. He autographed a copy of a newspaper for a teenage girl, shook hands and spoke with supporters for about 15 minutes before heading home with an entou-rage of large, dark security vehicles.

On Tuesday, he was back on the campaign trail.

During the week, Kerry?s campaign continued to work, announcing that his daughter, Vanessa, won a Fulbright scholarship to study medicine in London. He also accused President George W. Bush of stacking the federal government with friends and donors who are gutting regulations on U.S. corporations.

One article in The Washington Post focused on Blaine County as the only Idaho county to give former Democratic Vice President Al Gore the nod in the 2000 election. The article featured interviews with prominent Ketchum Republican Maurice Charlat and Blaine County Democrats Chair Betty Murphy.

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