|Heinz Kerry makes quiet campaign stop|
Questions not taken during public appearance
BY BILL SALISBURY
She introduced herself at the Democratic National Convention in July by saying, "My name is Teresa Heinz Kerry, and by now I hope it will come as no surprise that I have something to say."
But when she stopped in St. Paul on Monday, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry uncharacteristically had nothing to say. At least, not to the public.
After attending a closed-door fund-raising reception at the Minneapolis Club, Heinz Kerry toured the West Side Youth Farm, a community gardening project on a vacant, inner-city St. Paul lot where she admired flowers, sampled vegetables and chatted with youngsters involved in the program. But she did not speak to reporters, who were not allowed to ask questions during her 45-minute visit.
Perhaps her campaign handlers wanted to make sure the usually outspoken and opinionated multimillionaire philanthropist didn't spark another controversy, as she did when she told a conservative newspaper editorial writer to "shove it" or when she told a newspaper that "only an idiot" wouldn't support her husband's health care plan. "Of course, there are idiots," she added.
Monday's visit was strictly a photo opportunity, designed to show the candidate's wife interacting with kids.
"She has a connection with farming and gardening, and she loves children, so this was a natural fit," said Kerry-Edwards campaign spokeswoman Stacie Paxton. Heinz Kerry has extensive gardens on her estate near Pittsburgh.
About 20 youngsters were on hand to display their plants. Heinz-Kerry stopped and talked with any of the young gardeners who wanted to chat. She picked and tasted mustard and basil leaves, talked at length about other plants, quizzed the staff about the nonprofit program and encouraged kids to continue gardening.
"I am so proud of what you guys are doing," she told them.
The only political statement she made was to a small group of adults involved in the program.
"Vote often and vote well," she said with a smile as she departed.
Gunnar Liden, the youth farm program director who guided Heinz Kerry around the garden, pronounced the visit great.
"She's amazingly personable," he said.