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Baby Picture Perfect

As personal appearances go, John Kerry's went without a hitch

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If all politics is local, the local appearance of John Kerry on the Pitt campus April 17 was perfect politics for the college crowd. Gov. Ed Rendell drew a roar from Pitt students when he explained the Massachusetts senator's tax proposal by calling for the financial head of the university's chancellor. "John Kerry ... is only gonna increase taxes for people who make over $200,000 a year," Rendell said. "I want noise if you make over $200,000 a year. Where's Mark Nordenberg?"

 

Kerry -- the Democrats' presumptive nominee for November's presidential contest -- his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and her sons Andre and Chris Heinz took the stage in rock-star fashion, OutKast's "Hey Ya!" blaring from the PA system, as blue foam fingers emblazoned with "Bring It On" were thrown heavenward. Andre offered opening salutations in exaggerated Pittsburghese, plus imitations of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Clinton, while Chris asked the crowd to resist being "one issue" voters. Kerry himself called for his fans to resist divisiveness, but the crowd couldn't resist booing President George W. Bush, adviser Karl Rove and others in league with the Republicans in power. It was left to an actual rock star, Tom Delonge of Blink 182, to poke fun at Bush.

 

Even the surprises went like clockwork for Kerry. When a baby named Lily was passed from the crowd, Kerry didn't blink; he shielded her eyes from the sun to keep her from blinking too. Only the occasional news helicopter marred the perfect blue of Oakland's sky. Kerry ignored reporters' questions tossed at him, and many of the reporters following his campaign caught the rally - the last of several aimed at college-age voters -- on closed-circuit television inside the William Pitt Union.

 

"I came here to join with you to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush Administration," Kerry told the crowd of several thousand, devoting the balance of his speech to youth-oriented issues like health care, the military, the environment and, of course, education. "Young people were the people who marched and brought us the environment movement," he concluded. "Young people marched in order to make sure that America became a place of fairness and helped to advance the cause of women. We need you back."

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