'Changed forever,' Kerry returns to his Senate role
John Kerry, departing from past practice for losing Democratic presidential nominees, doesn't plan to do a disappearing act. He returns to the Senate Tuesday and aims to be a force in his party.
Kerry does not rule out another run in 2008 but calls it "inconceivable" to think about that now.
More immediately, he anticipates pressing his signature campaign issues on Capitol Hill and on the national stage. He has pledged to continue to fight to expand health coverage and stem cell research, build energy independence and protect Social Security (news - web sites) "with all of the energy that I have and all of the passion I brought to the campaign."
Kerry is looking for creative ways to promote those ideas and also planning a think tank to serve as a "venture capital fund" for new ideas. And he is taking steps to form a political action committee to keep alive a network that generated record fund-raising and voter turnout for Democrats. The PAC would fund his travel and allow him to help congressional candidates in the 2006 elections.
Though he is going back to his old job as junior senator from Massachusetts, associates say Kerry will be doing it in a new way. He was "changed forever" by his presidential campaign, spokesman David Wade says, and returns "on a mission" to lead the nation toward affordable health care and "a foreign policy in the tradition of Roosevelt and Truman."
Kerry is "looking ahead at how to be a voice for the 56 million people who voted for him," his brother Cameron says. "There is a process of transformation that you undergo when so many people invest their hopes and aspirations in you and your campaign. You become enlarged by the weight of all that."
Kerry has been studying ways to emulate the legacies of several presidential hopefuls who returned to the Senate. Barry Goldwater helped build a national Republican Party. Hubert Humphrey and Edward Kennedy became champions of Democratic causes. But the most relevant example may be Republican Sen. John McCain: He nudged his party toward reform after his 2000 bid and remains an active prospect for 2008.