BOSTON – Colorado Democratic delegates took a side of stand-up comedy with their breakfast Monday,as Sen. John Kerry’s stepsons treated them to impersonations of former President Bill Clinton and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The visit of Andre and Chris Heinz,sons of Kerry’s wife,Teresa Heinz Kerry,signaled Kerry’s commitment to investing in a state conquered by Republicans in eight of the last nine presidential elections.
With a mix of seriousness and comedy,the 34-year-old Andre jump-started the delegation’s four-day Democratic National Convention marathon that will involve attending parties,speeches and marches.
Heinz joked that winning Colorado must be a priority in Kerry’s agenda,”Otherwise they would have sent someone else.”
“I think it’s a state that we can actually win,” he said.
Heinz asked delegates whom they thought he should impersonate: Clinton or Schwarzenegger?
“Do both!” the delegates shouted.
Giving Coloradoans a thumbs up,Heinz mirrored Clinton’s posture and soft,southern voice.
“I feel your pain,” he said as delegates burst into laughter. “It’s so warm in here,it’s because we are so close.”
Before delegates could recover from their giggles,Heinz offered his second act: a deep voice marked with the California governor’s Austrian accent.
“He has talent as an impersonator,” chuckled Nancy Reed,47,of Cotopaxi,Colo.,whose husband is a delegate pledged to Rep. Dennis Kucinich,D-Ohio. About Kerry,she said,”I think he’s an improvement over Bush,but I’m concerned about his stance on the war and military spending.
“I’m here to push for a more humane and social agenda,” said Reed,who also had supported Kucinich.
In the last nine presidential elections,only Clinton has carried the state,in 1992. In 2000,President Bush beat Al Gore by 8-percentage points.
Though also a Kucinich supporter,Michael Neil,23,a graduate student at the University of Denver,came to support the Kerry ticket.
“I always wanted to come here,but I thought I had no chance,” said Neil,who’s in a wheelchair. “So far it’s been quite nice,but we are still trying to figure out transportation issues.”
“That was wonderful,” Neil said of Heinz’s impersonation. “I thought he was a great speaker.”
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Chris Gates said delegates should relax and have fun during the convention so they will be ready to knock on Colorado doors and ask for votes when they get home.
“We’ve got this long difficult process,and conventions are a chance for people to celebrate a little bit but take a breather,” he said. “We know that the hard work starts as soon as we land in Colorado.
“We’ve never had as much training as they are offering,” Gates said about sessions to teach delegates how to approach people and ask for their votes. “We are really focusing on having an aggressive grass-roots campaign and aggressive field operation.”
But Neil said he won’t necessarily wait to go back to Colorado to persuade people to cast a Democratic vote.
“I don’t think we are going to be playing tourist anymore,” he said.
Before the Heinz brothers arrived,Sen. John Corzine,D-N.J.,and Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told delegates about the importance of unseating President Bush.
Albright said Bush has degraded Americans’ faith in the United Nations,which she said must be revived once Kerry is elected. On the Palestinian Israeli conflict,Albright said,”The U.S. has to get back in there as an active broker.”
Chris Heinz,31,also impersonated Schwarzenegger for the delegates. He said it would be difficult to follow his brother’s act and joked,Andre Heinz “It’s great to be here today. Colorado,let me tell you something about my brother. He’s a girlie man. He has never benched more than 220.”