Vanessa Kerry makes U.Va. campaign stop
Presidential candidate John F. Kerry's daughter tells personal stories, addresses healthcare, tuition, urges voter participation
Riley McDonald, Cavalier Daily News Editor
Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry is fun-loving, funny, idealistic and honest, according to his daughter Vanessa Kerry, who addressed a standing room-only crowd in Newcomb Hall Ballroom yesterday.
The 27-year-old Harvard medical student, who is taking time off to campaign full-time for her dad, glossed over foreign policy issues and instead focused on tuition, jobs and the economy in a brief speech. She peppered her policy spiels with personal anecdotes.
Outlining the Kerry/Edwards campaign's proposals to increase federal grants and pay students back their in-state college tuition if they commit to two years of service in schools, health care or the military, Kerry added that she, herself, had college loans.
Discussing the Democrat's healthcare platform, Kerry said she, herself, briefly lost health insurance and was shocked to discover that a prescription cost $100.
"I don't have $100," she told the crowd of mostly students. "I'm working on a volunteer basis."
Fielding questions from an audience primarily composed of supporters, Kerry cautioned listeners against believing in caricatures. She said her father is not the long-faced, bushy-eyebrowed man of editorial cartoons, but a windsurfing, guitar-playing, pop-culture aficionado who appeals to young voters.
"He's great at connecting with young people by himself," Kerry said. "My friends say he's more fun than me."
After her appearance, supporters said they appreciated hearing more about the personal side of the man they hope will be president.
"I haven't heard too much about his personal life," politics graduate student Kyle Lascurettes said. "I mean, anecdotes are anecdotes, but I liked hearing a little bit about John Kerry, the family man."
And others said they liked hearing the personal stories from Kerry, who showed up in a red t-shirt with Kerry/Edwards stickers plastered to her bare arm and the back pocket of her jean skirt.
"I thought she was really down-to-earth," fourth-year College student Andrew D'Huyvetter said. "She gave me a much better feel about the campaign. You can relate to her."
Well-versed in healthcare and other domestic issues, Kerry seemed less confident when answering questions about foreign policy.
Asked by one student about the campaign's position on the conflict in the Middle East, Kerry declined to answer in depth, offering to e-mail anyone interested with more information.
"I'm not even going to step there because I don't want to not be accurate," Kerry said.
She spoke more firmly when asked about the Iraq war and her father's recent comment that knowing what he knows today, he still would have voted for the resolution authorizing the president to go to war.
"He was voting for a process, with a final moment that he hoped would never come but that the president took us to almost immediately," Kerry said.
Kerry was the first speaker for the Center for Politics' national symposium series aimed at getting youth involved in civic issues.
"We're not just trying to do voter turnout," said Ken Stroupe, director of the Center's Youth Leadership Initiative. "We want them to be lifelong participants in all the civic opportunities that are available to them."
Kerry did her part to support the initiative, asking everyone present to get involved in politics.
"You could be the determining state because right now this state is essentially tied," she said. "Five hundred and thirty-seven votes in Florida -- that's less than a dorm."