Latinos like that Teresa speaks their language

Latinos like that Teresa speaks their language
Frank Cerabino
Thursday, July 29, 2004

BOSTON — Short takes from the Democratic National Convention:
-Playing ketchup with the Cuban-American vote
Teresa Heinz Kerry was a hit with the Latino Caucus on Wednesday,
effortlessly switching from Spanish to English to Portuguese and saying shehad a new
appreciation for Cuban-Americans and their struggles, likening it to her own
young life living in a dictatorship.
“I now understand, because I remember,” she said.
“Te-re-sa! Te-re-sa!” the caucus members chanted as she left. “Viva Teresa!”
-Star of vegetarian-friendly movie meets vegan candidate
Every politician has his own celebrity, it seems. Even Dennis Kucinich. The
elfin former candidate was making the rounds Wednesday flanked by his 6-foot-6
new friend, actor James Cromwell, who is perhaps best known as the farmer in
the pig movie Babe.
“I put on a fund-raiser for him in my house in California,” Cromwell said,
explaining how he met Kucinich. “Dennis speaks to my heart.”
That’ll do, Dennis. That’ll do.
-Instead of limousine liberals, it’s cuisine liberals
The Kerry campaign has an ethnic outreach director. George Kivork is an
Armenian-American born in Syria. Kivork can almost name from memory the 17
hyphenated-American ethnic groups he is trying to rally — most of them from
European countries.
Kivork urged members of the Ethnic Caucus to drum up local support for
“You could travel the country in August, going to ethnic festivals,” he told
them. “The food is amazing.”
-A stronger bladder for America
Inside the FleetCenter, the official slogan is “A stronger America.” But in
the streets of Boston, strolling delegates are more likely to see the words,
“Rest rooms are for customers only.”
-Cheney behind the scenes?
Vice President Dick Cheney recently told off Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in
colorful language on the floor of the U.S. Senate. So when Leahy got his chance
to speak from the podium at the convention Wednesday night, he started out
by trying to fire back at Cheney.
Convention speakers rely on a two huge television screens that face them from
behind the Florida delegation. The words scroll as they talk, allowing the
speakers to look straight ahead, rather than down at papers on the lectern.
“If the vice president is watching, he might want to turn off his TV,” Leahy
said in his speech.
And then the TelePrompTer malfunctioned, leaving the senator to ad lib:
“Apparently, he turned off the TelePrompTer, too.”
-How quickly they forget
John Wertman, 27, of Alexandria, Va., is a volunteer at the convention. It
got him onto the floor of the convention hall earlier in the week. But
Wednesday, he didn’t have a floor pass, so he tried to barter for one.
Earlier in the week, he stood in line for three hours to get a signed copy of
former President Clinton’s autobiography, My Life.
Wertman brought the book with him to a convention hotel lobby, standing with
the book in one hand and a sign in the other: “Autographed Bill Clinton My
Life for a floor pass.”
He waited, and waited, and waited. An hour later, he was still there.
“This is tougher than I thought,” he said.
-The Medea is biased
Medea Benjamin, 51, of San Francisco, was hauled off the convention floor
Tuesday night by Boston police officers when she unfurled a banner that read
“End the Occupation of Iraq” during Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech.
Benjamin founded a women’s peace group called Code Pink.
On Wednesday, Benjamin was back at one of the convention hotels with a
similar banner.
“I wasn’t arrested,” she said. “They interrogated me for a half-hour, then
let me go.”
She had borrowed a press pass to get on the floor, she said, and had hidden
the banner when going through security. She said Kerry’s wife inspired her to
unfurl it.
“She said that a true patriot speaks truth to power,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin said she wasn’t surprised to be hauled away.
“They’ve made this convention one void of debate about the one issue that’s
so important,” she said.
Benjamin is a frequent visitor to Palm Beach County. Her father and
stepmother live in Highland Beach.
As for politics: “Like most families, we’re divided.”
-Team players
The convention has its own house band, an ensemble led by New York drummer
Steve Jordan and featuring a horn section and three singers. Many of the
convention speakers get to take the stage while the band strikes up what is known
as “play ons.” These are usually just snippets of popular songs that seem
appropriate for the speaker.
For example, Jimmy Carter walked on to Georgia on My Mind, and the Rev.
Jesse Jackson got the the gospel anthem People Get Ready.
But what does the band play for someone such as Cheryl Jacques, president of
the Human Rights Campaign?
The answer: An instrumental version of Isley Brothers’ It’s Your Thing.
It’s your thing. Do what you want to do.
-Sounds more like hold-the-mayo than hold-the-marriage
It’s hard keeping track of the alphabet soup that is all the special interest
groups at the convention. The unions are all known by their abbreviations,
and then there’s the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Caucus, known as the
GLBT Caucus.
When U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton addressed the caucus Wednesday, she
repeatedly mixed up the acronym, calling them “my good friends of the GBLT
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