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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — March 19, 2004


Kerry drops in for campaign break

Senator snowboards on Bald Mountain

"This is R&R. It’s strictly a vacation."

BETTY MURPHY, Blaine County Democrats chair

Express Staff Writer

The Democratic Party’s presidential hopeful breezed into Ketchum Wednesday evening with an entourage of U.S. Secret Service agents, reporters and staff members. However, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is scheduled to stay at his home north of Ketchum for a one-week vacation, rather than actively campaign or raise money during his stay.

Sen. Kerry’s arrival to Idaho Wednesday night was a well guarded affair. Reporters were kept at a healthy distance as the Democratic Party’s presidential hopeful deplaned and boarded a truck bound for Ketchum. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Thursday morning, he departed the Warm Springs base of Bald Mountain for a day of snowboarding while members of the national media milled around the base area.

"Let me take a run or two and remember what this is about," he said before sauntering toward the lifts. Nearby skiers and snowboarders gave him a round of applause.

Upon getting out of a truck at Warm Springs, Kerry briefly greeted a nearby skier, Raffaele Paciulli, who is living in Sun Valley for two months.

The chance meeting was "incredible," Paciulli said. "I told him I wish him a splendid victory."

But campaign officials and local Democrats stressed that Kerry’s visit this week is a respite from the campaign trail.

"This is R&R. It’s strictly a vacation," said Betty Murphy, chair of the Blaine County Democrats.

Kerry landed at Joslin Field, Magic Valley Regional Airport in an unmarked Boeing 737 shortly after 7 p.m. Onlookers were kept at a healthy distance, and law enforcement officers were abundant. Shortly before Kerry’s arrival, reporters were backed 20 feet away from a fence surrounding the field.

After milling around on the tarmac for several minutes and giving reporters a brief wave, Kerry entered a black, Chevrolet Suburban and joined a 10-vehicle motorcade that headed north from Twin Falls toward the Ketchum vacation home owned by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. A number of Blaine County volunteers helped drive Kerry staff members and reporters to the Wood River Valley. The volunteers organized their efforts at a noon meeting at a private home north of Ketchum, near the Kerrys’ home.

Kerry left the airport accompanied by four Twin Falls police motorcycles and a Blaine County Sheriff’s Office police cruiser.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said police departments throughout the Wood River and Magic valleys were coordinated Wednesday to help with security concerns associated with the senator’s visit. Security will be an ongoing activity for local law enforcement agencies throughout the week, he said.

"We’ll have people assigned with the Secret Service people," Femling said. "We have involvement and are involved with the planning of it.

"This thing will be an active, day-to-day situation. It’s hard to say at this point how many (officers will be assigned) on each day, so it will change daily."

According to Murphy, this is Kerry’s first vacation since he hit the campaign trail in August. He is scheduled to leave Ketchum Wednesday, March 24.

"This is going to be a busy, busy few days," Murphy said. "The Blaine County Democrats are involved in driving and taking care of transportation. We really don’t know anything until the last minute."

As of Dec. 31, Blaine County residents had contributed more money per capita to the Kerry campaign than any county in the United States. However, no fundraising events are scheduled this week, said Faith Wellman, Blaine County coordinator for the Kerry Campaign.

On average, Blaine County residents donated $2.21 each to Kerry's campaign, followed by $1.11 from Nantucket, Mass., where the Kerrys also have a second home.

"I think Blaine County is an extraordinarily Democratic place, and I think that has something to do with it," Wellman said. "I also think that Democrats are extremely motivated right now."

The Democratic party’s probable presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., arrived in Ketchum Wednesday night, before heading to Bald Mountain Thursday morning to go snowboarding. "Let me take a run or two and remember what this is about," he told reporters as he walked to the lifts. Express photo by Greg Stahl

In addition to traveling with his wife and staff members, Kerry was accompanied by an entourage of 16 reporters from national newspapers and television news stations. The reporters were booked into rooms at the Wood River Inn in Hailey.

Kerry is no stranger to the Wood River Valley, where his wife has owned a home and been an active member of the community for years. During previous and less conspicuous visits, Kerry has been a noticeable, but not extraordinary, face on downtown streets and at local functions.

Though the Kerrys spend time periodically at their Ketchum home, the senator has not designated the estate as his official second home. His home in Boston, Mass. has that distinction, Secret Service agent Robert Harrell told the Ketchum City Council on Monday.

That means local law enforcement agencies may have to bear the costs of helping the Secret Service with protection duties. And if Kerry picks up the Democratic presidential nomination at the party’s national convention in Boston in July, that means more protection will be needed.

"His certain level of protection increases as he climbs the ladder," Femling said.

Murphy stressed that Kerry has done well in Blaine County because of his family’s local charitable work. Heinz Kerry was an instrumental player in the preservation of the Nordic ski center, Galena Lodge, and helped push for the new St. Luke’s Wood River Regional Medical Center south of town.

"They’re good neighbors," Murphy said. "I think it’s very important for the West to have a candidate who is familiar with our problems. So I’m delighted that the people are helping him here."

In addition to his financial ties, Kerry also established another connection to the Sun Valley area this month when he announced that Jim Johnson, a prominent Washington, D.C., Democrat and another Sun Valley second homeowner, will head his search for a running mate.


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