On Wednesday afternoon I spent some time chatting with John Kerry in the Green Room on the set of the Tavis Smiley Show. I wish I could regale my readers with a great interview with the Senator, but I can’t. Instead I have story about the time spent with Kerry that wasn’t all talk of politics and the issues.
I didn’t go armed with questions about the Kerry’s new book, “This Moment On Earth.” I didn’t have a list of queries on the issues. Instead, I sat with my 17 year old daughter and John Kerry and we talked a little about the ’08 election, a little about Massachusetts (my home state) and a little about life.
Four years ago June, when I first met John Kerry at an early election ’04 event here in Los Angeles, I never dreamed I’d be sitting on a set in Hollywood a few years later discussing my daughter’s future with the Senator. But that is where I found myself yesterday, as we waited for the taping to begin of the Tavis Smiley interview with Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry that will be aired tonight. To all who have pegged John Kerry as stiff and aloof, elitist and insensitive to the average person, I’m here to tell you about a different John Kerry.
When Juliet and I arrived in the Green Room, we were greeted by Kerry, his new Communications Director Vince Morris and Whitney Peeling, the Kerry’s publicist. The lovely Mrs. Heinz Kerry was busy in the make-up preparing for the interview and my daughter and I settled in to chat with Senator.
Kerry and I talked briefly about the news from the Obama camp yesterday, that Obama had out raised Hillary in the first quarter. The stunning news sets the field at this point and for all intents and purposes, it does appear we’re looking at a tight duel between two candidates, Obama and Clinton. Did Kerry muse on either? He did. But the Senator has said he’s not backing any of the candidates at this point. I’ll leave it at that. I think that Kerry has some strong feelings about all the players on the field, but my conversation with Kerry was off the record and there it will stay.
We talked a little about his decision to not run in ’08 and how freeing it is to be able to now focus on the issues that he feels are most pressing at this time, like Iraq and the environment. We’re at a place in time where so many issues are so important, and I feel that Kerry is an unique position to help shape the debate on those issues.
My daughter had attended many campaign events with me during the ’04 election cycle and and had met both the Senator and his wife on many occasions. Yesterday’s visit with John Kerry in Green Room at the Tavis Smiley Show, was a treat for my young scholar who is preparing to make a decision on which University of CA to attend in the fall. Kerry inquired about her plans for the future, which colleges she had been accepted to and what she planned to major in. He listened with true interest as she explained her choices which include UCSB, UCSC and UCSD, and then proceeded to tell her why he felt UCSD was a good choice. Having spent time in San Diego when he was in the Navy, Kerry and my daughter discussed the area and the many wonderful things to do there. They talked about her plans to major in Anthropology, and he shared with us that his daughter Alexandra had also majored in Anthropology.
Juliet told John Kerry that many of her high school friends, who will vote for the first time in the ’08 election were sad that he had chosen not to run again. “They all really like you,” she said, and “wanted to be able to vote for you in ’08.” He asked about who she thought she would vote for and Juliet explained with clarity and depth why she felt that she would choose Obama. He listened with rapt interest as she explained that “we have had good presidents in the past who didn’t have a long political resume,” much like Obama. It was clear that he was impressed with her grasp on the field of Democratic candidates and her reasoning. They talked about the importance of grassroots activism and the example I have set for my daughter as a blogger.
To say that John Kerry might have had more pressing things to attend to yesterday before the Tavis Smiley Show tapping is an understatement. Always on the go, the Senator took the time to sit and talk with a 17 year old about her future and it provided both my daughter and I a look at a man who we both admire, that many will never see. There have been many times since the ’04 election that I have felt that America missed out on a chance for a great president. Yesterday, was yet another one of those times. In sharing my story, I hope I can impress upon readers, that John Kerry is not the man he’s painted to be by the media. He deeply cares about the people in this country, kids and their future, education, the environment, healthcare and all the issues we face in America today.
After the taping of the Tavis Smiley Show, Juliet and I had a few moments to speak with Teresa Heinz Kerry who also took an interest in Juliet’s future plans. Like the Senator, Teresa expressed that she felt UCSD was the best choice and was pleased to hear that Juliet had been accepted to John Muir College at UCSD.
I urge everyone to watch the Tavis Smiley Show tonight. It’s one of the best interviews I have seen with the Kerry’s since they embarked on their book tour a couple of weeks ago. Because the show has not aired yet, I’m not able to write about it here, but the scope of the interview was wide-ranging and covered not only the Kerry’s new book, “This Moment On Earth,” but other timely issues. I think Tavis Smiley could have gone on with the Kerry’s for a couple of hours, had time permitted, but the Kerry’s had other interviews scheduled and a book event here in Los Angeles, that I will post about later in the day.
Finally, I want to thank the Kerry’s, their staff, their publicists and the producers of the Tavis Smiley Show for the invitation to join the Kerry’s on the set of the Tavis Smiley Show, yesterday. I wish all of our readers could have been there with us. Originally from Massachusetts, I have long admired and respected Senator Kerry, since his early days in politics in MA. As the influence of the political blogosphere continues to grow, I think that stories like this, about politicians like Senator Kerry, will add a new dimension to the discussion and give people the sense that our elected officials are real people just like the rest of us. I think it’s important to step out of the box of political discourse sometimes, in the blogosphere and share the human interest side of politics. The time my daughter and I spent with the Senator and his wife yesterday was one of those moments that might be rare for a blogger, but I’m happy to be able to share the experience here.
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