Wednesday, October 13, 2004

BIKING WITH KERRY

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Oct. 13, 2004


Sen. John Kerry decided to take a short break from his debate preparations Tuesday and take a little bike ride up Canyon Road.

Of course when you’re running for president, nothing is that simple. The Democratic candidate was accompanied by two Secret Service agents on bikes, two state police cruisers and at least one sports utility vehicle full of law enforcement officials.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Kerry and his protectors left the Inn at Loretto — where he has been boning up on domestic issues for tonight’s debate with President Bush. Wearing a Navy blue shirt and shorts, Kerry waved as he passed a group of people on East Alameda.

When he left the hotel Kerry wasn’t wearing his orange and yellow striped helmet. However when he returned about 4:30 p.m., the helmet was on his head.

Kerry rode his Serotta Colorado III road bike, manufactured by a New-York based company that specializes in custom-made bikes. Kerry’s press secretary David Wade said Kerry takes the bike with him on the campaign trail.

The New York Times reported in May that Kerry owns two Serotta bikes, the Colorado — which according to the company’s website retails for about $1,900 — and an Ottrott, which sells for about $8,000.

Among the pedestrians who saw Kerry were Fran and Allen Kirschner, tourists from Philadelphia who are Kerry volunteers in Pennsylvania.

“We didn’t know he was going to be in town,” said Fran Kirschner, who said the couple stopped in Santa Fe before going to Denver to visit their son. “We were just coming from the state Capitol. We saw Bill Richardson too.” Richardson was in the Capitol rotunda Tuesday to sign a contract with state employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America union.

“We just saw Kerry give a speech at a rally at the University of Pennsylvania,” Fran Kirschner said.

Meanwhile, campaign officials said Kerry decided to extend his Santa Fe visit. Instead of leaving for Arizona Tuesday as originally planned, he decided to stay an extra night.

“He intends to watch the Red Sox game tonight,” Wade said. The senator from Massachusetts is a fan of the Boston Red Sox, who on Tuesday played their rivals the New York Yankees in the first game of the American League Championship series.

Kerry will fly out of Albuquerque about 10 a.m., spokesman Ruben Pulido said.

Wade said Kerry was spending part of his debate preparations in mock debates with two podiums and a table.

Greg Craig, a former Clinton administration lawyer, is portraying Bush in the practice debates, Wade said. Campaign advisors Bob Shrum and Ron Klain are taking turns portraying the Tempe, Ariz., debate moderator, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer.

Asked how Craig, who has played Bush in previous debate rehearsals with Kerry, prepared for the role, Wade joked, “He learned to swagger.”

Craig doesn’t actually sound like Bush, Wade said. “But he’s done a good job researching Bush speeches and attack lines,” he said.

Among Kerry’s domestic advisors in Santa Fe is U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. Frank has expressed interest in running for Kerry’s Senate seat if Kerry wins the presidency.

Another adviser is Gene Sperling, who was President Clinton’s national economic policy adviser.

Shortly after Kerry returned from his bicycle trip, Sperling was spotted going into the hotel. He was carrying a box of dinosaur bones he’d just bought from a downtown store called Dinosaurs and More.

Sperling said his job is to help Kerry boil down complicated economic issues into succinct points that can be made in the 90-second segments allowed in the debate. “That’s the really hard part, what are the few key points,” he said.

Although Kerry has a reputation to be long-winded, Sperling said the candidate has had no trouble in keeping to the time limits. “I think you saw that in the first two debates,” he said.

Although Kerry is leaving town, more political celebrities are descending upon Santa Fe today.

* Feminist movement pioneer and co-founder of Ms. magazine Gloria Steinem will “discuss the women's vote over eggs and chile” at a breakfast at El Farol, 808 Canyon Road. The $100-a-plate event, scheduled for 8 a.m. will benefit N.M. Women Vote 2004, a program designed to turn out 11,000 infrequent female voters in November. New Mexico’s First Lady Barbara Richardson also will appear at the event.

* Singer-songwriter Carol King will host a “women’s town hall meeting” 3 p.m. at Wild Oats Community Center, 1090 St. Francis Drive. King sang her 1971 hit “You’ve Got a Friend” at the Democratic National Convention in July. The meeting is sponsored by the state Democratic Party. For reservations call 982-5727.

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