Washington Prowler

Kerry Plays Menino

Boston is going to be costly. Plus: A brand New Jersey veep. Also: Clinton does Rio.

By 6.29.04

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BEAR ANY BURDEN
Apparently Sen. John Kerry cares enough about what Sen. Ted Kennedy thinks of him that the presumptive presidential candidate called Kennedy to inform him that he would not cross the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association picket line at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston on Monday.

Kerry was scheduled to speak at the conference, but abruptly pulled out. While a Kennedy Senate staffer said that the senior senator appreciated the courtesy call, the two men remain cool.

"Kerry should have been speaking to us about the problems in Boston weeks ago," says the Kennedy staffer. "One good move in support of organized labor does not make up for weeks of ignoring the issues."

While Kerry might have won a point with Kennedy, he lost big time with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who got hung out by Kerry's abrupt exit. In fact, some Democrats in Boston say Menino may rue the day he got involved with Kerry.

"The Democratic Convention is a disaster. The city will not end up making the kind of money Menino was promising a year ago. Business is going to suffer. The union contracts have placed him in a terrible position and Kerry had done nothing to help him," says a Boston-based Democratic political activist.

KEAN INTEREST
Some Democratic advisers to Sen. John Kerry have been pushing him to consider former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican, as his vice-presidential choice. Kean, who has proven himself a reliable tool of the Democratic members of the 9/11 Commission, which he co-chairs, is the latest in a series of liberal Republicans floated by the campaign, the other most prominent name being former Sen. William Cohen.

Kean hasn't expressed or shown any interest in getting back into competitive politics, but the name floating is probably due to some Democratic concerns that New Jersey is now in play in the presidential campaign.

The Bush campaign recently began advertising in the state once thought to be a solid winner for Kerry, while the Kerry campaign has been spending more than it had originally been budgeting for the state.

"It's closer than many of us think it should be," says a DNC staffer. "But no one's freaking out about it yet. It's up to the campaign to fix what ever is wrong there."

Bush has apparently been polling better than expected in the Garden State, in part, because of his handling of homeland security issues. "People forget that New Jersey was touched by September 11th as much as New York and Washington and Pennsylvania were," says the Democratic pollster. "It tracks that they would be thinking about this election differently from previous elections."

As for the Kean rumor? "Hey, he fits the criteria: executive experience, bland and nonthreatening, from an important state. But let's face it, he doesn't have a chance in hell of even getting a vetting," says a Kerry campaign adviser.

BLAME IT ON RIO
Former prez Bill Clinton was in Las Vegas Sunday night for a Nevada Democratic Party fundraiser at the Rio hotel and casino, and, from reviews, didn't do John Kerry any favors. While Clinton warmly endorsed the candidate, he spoke for almost 45 minutes in a room with about 350 people. By the end, according to eyewitnesses, people in the back were walking in and out of the room.

"He talked about everything," says an attendee, an employee from another hotel. "He just yammered on and on. Who cares about Calvin Coolidge?"

Apparently Clinton. The former president autographed some books that audience members brought, but there was no formal book signing. The state party, however, did buy more than 1,000 copies of the book to give away to supporters. Once again, the Clintons' book sales seem pegged to the favors they perform for their followers.

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