Sunday, December 05, 2004

Kerry, in NH visit, sounds a lot like a candidate

Sunday News Staff

MANCHESTER — It sounded like the opening bars of a new campaign song, not an elegy to a lost election.

U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry last night delivered a rousing call to action to a room filled with hundreds of supporters at the Center of New Hampshire Radisson Hotel.

“Keep up the fight. Keep New Hampshire blue forever,” Kerry shouted, referring to the red/blue color code that television networks used to differentiate between states won by Republican President George W. Bush and those where Democrat Kerry was victorious.

In the Nov. 2 election, New Hampshire was the only state won by Kerry that had been carried by Bush four years ago. Kerry defeated Bush here by about 9,300 votes.

Kathy Sullivan, state Democratic Party chair, has credited the groundswell for Kerry with netting the party the gubernatorial victory of John Lynch; an Executive Council seat, with the election of Debora B. Pignatelli of Nashua in District 5; two state Senate seats; and 30 new Democratic state representatives.

Kerry spoke last night in the armory room at the hotel, the same room where Democratic candidate Al Gore came out of hibernation after his defeat to Bush in 2000 to thank his New Hampshire supporters.

The Massachusetts senator, slightly more than a month after the election he had felt sure he would win, came out swinging, in a call to keep up the fight for the issues that characterized his campaign.

“I feel so passionate about these issues that I am going to use all the energy God gives me to pursue them,” Kerry said.

Referring to GOP voter registration challenges in Ohio that may have cost him that state’s vital electoral votes, Kerry said, “We’re going to clearly bring (attention to) the rights of American people to vote without being harassed.”

“It is a disgrace that we have partisanly run elections in states where people don’t have faith in the outcome. We need to make sure all votes are properly recorded.”

Referring to issues that are of continuing concern to him, Kerry said he senses “an energy” and “the same passion” across the country to continue those fights.

“We brought together millions of people on the Internet and we’re going to continue to grow this,” he said.

Kerry said he has hired John Giesser, an experienced Democratic strategist, to work on the national level to “get our energy together.”

In Washington yesterday it was announced that Kerry is forming a political action committee that will allow him to donate to Democrats in local, congressional and gubernatorial races in the next two years, as well as support his agenda on the environment, health care, energy and Social Security. The PAC will be based in Boston and headed by Giesser, who worked on Kerry’s 1996 Senate race and on presidential campaigns since 1984.

Kerry spokesman David Wade said $200,000 has been sent to support another recount in the Washington governor’s race. Democrat Republican Dino Rossi was certified as the winner Tuesday, but Democrat Chris Gregoire was only 42 votes behind.

Kerry also wired $50,000 to Louisiana, where Democrats are running in two run-off races in contests where no candidate won a majority in last month’s election.

That money came from the $14 million left over from his campaign’s primary race fund. Kerry did not spend that money while running against other Democrats early in the year and wasn’t able to spend it in the general election against Bush.

That money cannot be transferred to the yet-unnamed leadership PAC. Wade said Kerry will raise money to fill the PAC’s coffers, but doesn’t have a target amount in mind.

Kerry entered the hall at 8 p.m. in an entourage led by former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and her husband, Bill, both of whom worked in his Presidential campaign. Gov. Shaheen, Manchester Mayor Bob Baines and Governor-elect John Lynch addressed the gathering prior to Kerry’s remarks.

To the cheers of those who volunteered and contributed to his campaign in New Hampshire, Kerry announced he will go to Iraq in January and he promised to “continue to fight for a foreign policy that lives up to the values of this country.”

He said, “Life is an on-going struggle and you were with me and we are going to take that fight on to the country. . . .

“You folks, in New Hampshire and Iowa, led the way.

“To all of you, Teresa and I give our thanks. You are all family.”


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