Washington Prowler

Pray to Play

J.F. Kerry goes to church. But is he going to San Francisco? Plus: new Democrat dirty tricks.

By 3.22.04

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A MAN OF AFFAIRS
Sen. John Kerry doesn't appear to have a care in the world, judging by his behavior in Sun Valley, Idaho.

His friends and colleagues in the Senate and his campaign advisers have been telling him that all is well, that his surrogates are defending him against the onslaught of attacks from Republicans.

Kerry is said by some advisors in Washington to have watched with rapt attention Sunday's "Meet the Press" appearance of his senior senator, Ted Kennedy. "He loved it," says one such adviser. "He thought Senator Kennedy just blew every one of Russert's questions out of the water."

With everything going so well in backfilling all the holes Kerry created for himself -- the waffling, the unseemly shopping spree with security in tow, the falling down in the snow (on bunny trails no less) -- the campaign is putting Kerry on the money trail.

Over the next two weeks, Kerry will be appearing almost nonstop at fundraisers. First stop, Washington, D.C., where Kerry will appear later this week with Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at what is being billed a "unity" dinner/fundraiser for the DNC.

Then, Kerry is out to California, where he will be hitting up entertainment big-wigs at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, as well big-money Democratic types in San Diego and San Francisco, where Kerry has privately agreed to meet with Mayor Gavin Newsom.

"We're going to see how things are out there," says one campaign advance staffer. "If San Francisco is politically hot, then that meeting might not happen. We don't need that candidate surrounded by pictures of protesting drag queens and gay married couples. That wouldn't be helpful."

Also probably not on the "helpful" list are meetings and public appearances with former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean. But given Kerry's tough financial bind, and the need to keep Dean's perceived base of young voters happy, Kerry will appear with Dean in Michigan.

Dean is now operating only in tightly choreographed events that have been fully vetted by Kerry's senior advisers. His remarks are scripted by the Kerry campaign, and he has been asked not to "ad-lib" so as not to embarrass Senator Kerry.

"There are a lot of people who agree with things Dean says," says a former Dean campaign staffer now waiting to be hired on to Kerry's national field operation. "But the media seems to always find a way to twist it into something bad. He isn't going to change, so the Kerry campaign is going to change things for him."

HIS HOLINESS
So much for Kerry Catholicism. On Sunday, John Kerry showed up for the 10:30 Mass at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church at 10:41 a.m. (The church had roped off two pews for the VIP.) Adding further insult, Kerry arrived noisily, fully outfitted for skiing, not dressed for a religious service. Compounding the insult -- this time to all Catholics in good standings -- Kerry received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, even though he's not considered to be a Catholic in good standing.

"It was just a media-op," says a Kerry advance staffer. "We set it up with some reporters that we knew were going to be there."

Kerry, who claims to be a practicing Roman Catholic (though lately he's been playing up his partial Jewishness), has consistently voted in support of abortion as both a state politician in Massachusetts and in his time in Washington. He has also spoken in support of euthanasia. He has stated that he disagrees with the Catholic position in both areas.

Under church law, Kerry's very public support of abortion disqualifies him from the sacraments. He is not known to be a regular Mass attendee. In fact, some Roman Catholics in Boston have in the past pressed for the bishops there to excommunicate Kerry for his refusal to accept Catholic doctrine and canon law.

Sen. Tom Daschle is finding himself in a similar position in South Dakota, where the bishop there has been rumored for months to be mulling excommunicating Daschle for his liberal positions on abortion.

DEMOCRAT THIRD WAY
How desperate are Democrats around the country to win in 2004? Some state parties are actually trying to water down the competition by creating phony third parties.

In Colorado, for example, a longtime Democratic political consultant appears to be funding a drive to create a "Pro Life Party" and the "Gun Owners' Rights Party" through petition drives.

Both pro-lifers and gun owners are extremely influential in the Republican Party. "It's an old trick that isn't used very much," says a longtime GOP consultant. "Everyone out there in Colorado thinks this is going to be a tight race. These parties, had they had candidates might have peeled off GOP support."

The Democratic consultant worked for Rutt Bridges, a wealthy Democrat who was until recently the national party's choice to run for Senate. It is not known if the national party or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was aware of the Colorado stunt.

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