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“Kerry hopes convention will paint city as roadmap of America's past, future”
WASHINGTON -- Where some Bostonians see gridlock, John F. Kerry sees a tourism bonanza. Where Republicans see a convention in the heart of the liberal Northeast, the presumptive Democratic nominee sees Minutemen, John Adams, and John F. Kennedy.
Kerry says he and his staff are planning a convention that they hope will highlight the different facets of the state, the city, and its people and then use those stories to offer a roadmap for the country's direction under his leadership.
"I want the country to see the real Massachusetts that has been a leader in the founding days of our nation, in helping to provide the values on which this country has been built," Kerry said yesterday during an interview aboard his campaign charter plane. "The showcasing of the city, which we've been planning now for over a year, is going to be a very, very important part of the long-term benefit to the city. We're going to be showing the world the birthplace of American freedom and democracy.
"The story of America began here. And the future is going to be built here during those days of the convention," Kerry said.
The picture of Boston that Kerry hopes the media will convey includes: "John Adams riding that horse down to Philadelphia, in the dead of winter, to help write the Constitution at risk of life. The Minutemen taking on the British to throw off the yoke of tyranny and help define patriotism. The great foundation of our nation in God and religion that came with the Puritans and the early values of community that they built. The tolerance of rights and speech and freedom, emancipation. The welcoming of immigrants to America, wave after wave that helped to build our nation. The value of education; there's probably more educational institutions of higher learning than any other state in the nation. . . . There's an extraordinary story to tell about what makes America strong that comes out of Massachusetts and New England."
At the same time, Kerry dismisses concerns that Republicans will tag the city and the Democratic standard-bearer as ultraliberal.
"If [former House majority leader] Dick Armey and the Republicans want to attack John Adams and John Kennedy and the history of patriotism and contribution to country, let the Republican right-wing attack machine do what it wants," he said. "Americans are tired of that."
Some political analysts have speculated that the state's recent decision to allow gay marriage could also dampen his efforts to reach out to moderate voters, but Kerry rejected that concern.
"Like every other state, there are differences of opinion, but there's a desire not to play it as a wedge-driving, divisive issue, and maybe the country can learn a lesson from that," he said. "Unlike George Bush, who appears to want to lead by dividing people, this is a state that believes that working through these things in a democratic, open way -- respect for these individuals."
In one sense, the choice of Boston as host for the Democratic National Convention presents a unique political opportunity: the chance to have the party's choice for president welcome convention-goers to his hometown. The convention venue, the FleetCenter, is close to his Beacon Hill townhouse.
"I love the city, I live in the city. I love the state," the senator said. "It's my home, . . . and I think that's a wonderful opportunity for the world to be reminded of things that they don't see or think of at firsthand."
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.