In 1982, Sen. Jeremiah Denton, R-Ala., charged that some of the advisory groups to Peace Links, a women's group against the nuclear arms race Heinz Kerry was involved with, are "Soviet-controlled or openly sympathetic with and advocates for communist foreign policy objectives.''
In a press conference, the congressional wives active in the group, including Heinz Kerry, defended themselves against the charges.
Arguing that they were merely concerned moms acting on behalf of their kids' fears of nuclear holocaust, Heinz Kerry said: "Kids trust their moms. They have a feeling their moms are in this [organization] reading about it, thinking about it, talking to Santa Claus about it and asking the president about it. If moms are involved, it's all right.''
At a State Department luncheon in 1987, Heinz Kerry politely confronted the first lady of the Soviet Union, Raisa Gorbachev, about human rights, causing something of a stir.
Heinz Kerry, then co-chairwoman of the Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry, asked Raisa Gorbachev whether the United States and the Soviet Union could work together on problems like American homelessness and Soviet human rights. Heinz Kerry frequently spoke out on behalf of Soviet Jews who were denied permission to leave the Soviet Union, visiting some in Moscow in 1986.
But Gorbachev responded defensively. "I'm a philosophy teacher. What did you study, Mrs. Heinz?"
''Political science and literature," the Heinz Kerry replied, according to an account in The New York Times.
"At university?" Gorbachev asked.
"Yes, in Geneva," Heinz Kerry responded. ''And graduate school as well."
In a later interview, Heinz Kerry said she had "hoped not to embarrass" Gorbachev, "but to engage her. I felt that her answer — 'What did you study?' — was a defensive type of a beginning. I was sad that I worked so hard not to offend, and not to be threatening, and somehow didn't get any fish."
But in more recent years she doesn't seem to be working "so hard not to offend and not be threatening." During this campaign, she has raised eyebrows by calling Vice President Dick Cheney "unpatriotic" for avoiding service in the Vietnam War, and talking openly about getting Botox injections to make her look younger.
ABC News' Barbara Walters, Claire Shipman, and Mary E. Harris contributed to this report.