As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Oct. 27, 2004
ALBUQUERQUE _ Sen. John Kerry’s campaign rally kicked off Tuesday with a unique blend of politics, baseball and Navajo spirituality.
Chester Nez, one of the 29 original Navajo Code Talkers from World War II -- who recently made sports headlines by blessing the Boston Red Sox when they were three games behind the New York Yankees in the American League playoffs -- gave a traditional Navajo blessing to Kerry’s campaign.
The Red Sox came back to win four straight games to vanquish the Yankees.
Kerry, who still is trailing President Bush in most polls, hopes the blessing works for him
Nez, 83, was dressed in a Red Sox warmup jacket and red cap as he sprinkled corn pollen in the four directions as thousands of Kerry supporters gathered at Albuquerque Civic Plaza cheered.
When Kerry took the microphone he thanked Nez. “The Code Talkers were such great patriots,” he said, referring to the Navajo Marines who transmitted messages in code based on the Navajo language in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945, The Japanese never did crack the code.
“We are so grateful for your service,” Kerry said. “And the Red Sox are so grateful.”
Nez threw out the first pitch of an April Red Sox game and performed a blessing for the team. According to the Associated Press, when the Sox were one game away from being eliminated by the Yankees, “Nez stepped outside his home, faced east, and said another Navajo blessing.”
Kerry got cheers when he told the audience, “I want the red Sox to win the World Series, but the grand slam will be next week when we win the election.”
Kerry had no blessings for Bush during his 35-minute speech.
He hammered the President over the report earlier this week of hundreds of tons of explosives missing in Iraq. Terrorists, he said “may be helping themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history.”
Bus, Kerry said, “Tried to hide this information until after the election. And what did the president say when the news broke yesterday? Not a word. His silence confirms what I’ve been saying for months. We rushed into war without a plan to win the peace.”
Kerry also turned to familiar themes he’s stressed throughout the campaign -- that Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs during a term in office, and that Bush’s tax cuts mainly helped the wealthiest citizens.
“We need a president to fight not for the most powerful corporations in America, but for the families that built America and keep America strong,” he said.
He promised to raise the minimum wage to $7 an hour, increase the child care credit by $1,000 and establish a $4,000 tax credit for college tuition. He claimed the government could absorb these costs by cutting corporate welfare and rolling back Bush’s tax cuts for the highest income levels.
Kerry also promised to put Los Alamos National Laboratories and Sandia Laboratory to work on creating alternative energies.
“I want America’s energy future to not be in the hands of the Saudi Royal family,” he said.
In a written statement issued before Kerry‘s appearance, Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said “John Kerry’s ‘ripped from the headlines’ attacks are not a vision for winning the War on Terror and not enough to rally voters behind his plans for job-killing tax hikes.
“Kerry keeps trying to talk down New Mexico's economy, but can’t hide the reality that the state’s unemployment rate is below its average in the 1990’s, “ Diaz said. “Kerry's funding numbers for his energy trust fund don’t add up, and would take money needed for essential services like education away from New Mexico. New Mexicans aren’t going to trust a candidate who proposed slashing our intelligence budget by $6 billion after the first World Trade Center attack. I hope this wasn’t John Kerry’s last visit to New Mexico, because he leaves our state with less support after each trip.”
Early during his speech a small group began heckling Kerry. “That’s alright,” Kerry said. “Look folks, the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Nobody who attends my campaign rallies has to sign a loyalty oath. I welcome diversity of opinion.”
That was a dig at Bush, who has sometimes required people attending his rallies to sign statements of support. Organizers of a July event in Rio Rancho for Vice President Dick Cheney had such a requirement.
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