Washington Prowler

Service Included

Kerry shows his presumptive hand. Plus: Labor's "volunteer" work.

By 4.6.04

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ON THE ONE HAND
Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate and stout Roman Catholic Sen. John Kerry bypassed Catholic Mass on one of its more important observances -- Palm Sunday (the day in which the Lord's Passion is read) -- and played politics instead.

He and his mild-mannered missus attended services at the Charles Street AME Church in Roxbury, Mass. Kerry showed up toting a Bible, and kept it in his right hand, using the Good Book as a prop à la Bob Dole's pen. To shake hands with some of his fellow church-goers, Kerry used his left hand.

Kerry and company received a warm welcome from the largely African-American gathering, according to reports from advance staffers, and Kerry sat through the full two-hour service. But received his photo-op, Kerry wasn't interested in hanging around after the service ended. He had the Secret Service detail push him through a back door of the church, avoiding the throng of church-goers who were gathering around him hoping to shake his hand and show their support. Following Kerry were the throng of pool reporters, along with about 20 TV and still photographers.

In explaining why the candidate chose not to hang around and meet some of his fellow congregants, a campaign staffer in Washington explained, "Senator Kerry probably didn't want to create a scene. He's acutely aware that not everyone goes to church and wants to have a political rally break out. I'm sure he didn't want to take advantage."

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Now that the Kerry campaign is shooting to raise more than $100 million for the fall race (this, after its successful $50 million haul in the first quarter of 2004), the AFL-CIO is ready to help. According to a union lobbyist in Washington, a meeting of the AFL-CIO political directors last week had the union talking about making another heavy duty run at membership for more cash for Kerry.

"They're looking at trying to pull in another $5 million or so if they can get the rank and file to open up their wallets directly," says the lobbyist. "We've probably already topped out for giving as an organization."

The decision to try to raise more funds directly for Kerry comes just as the Service Employees International Union is completing the training of its grassroots volunteers who will be sent into battleground states to live for the next eight months and work for Kerry and Democratic candidates. SEIU is paying these "volunteers," who took unpaid leave from their regular jobs, their salaries and living expenses while on the road.

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