Nevertheless, the Senator proved he's still quick on his feet. At an otherwise lackluster early morning rally in Baltimore, Sen. Kerry introduced his youngest daughter Vanessa Kerry, receiving a rowdy chorus of baritone cheers in response to the 27-year-old Harvard Medical School student's wave.
The Senator, appearing for a moment more like a father than a presidential candidate, warned, "Hey, guys, you gotta talk to me first."
At Kerry's final event at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia, Kerry's voice was noticeably cracking, his throat strained from the most aggressive multi-stop, single day of campaigning in some time.
On Super Tuesday, Sen. Kerry will be in the last place the potential Democratic presidential nominee wants to be: Washington, DC. Kerry returns to Capitol Hill, a place at which the 4-term Senator has worked countless days over the last 19 years, but one which he has not seen much of lately.
Kerry has not appeared on the floor of the Senate since Nov. 24, 2003, when he participated in the Medicare prescription drug debate. This time, Senator Kerry heads to the Hill, Secret Service detail in tow, on 1,151-delegate rich Super Tuesday to vote on gun liability legislation.
On Wednesday, Kerry heads to Florida, a March 9 primary state and, obviously, an important general election state as well.
BUFFALO, N.Y., Feb. 29--To look at Sen. John Kerry, one might expect a town hall meeting in Buffalo's Ellicott Square Building, better known as the hotel at which the mysterious Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey) inexplicably shoots Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) in The Natural, to be, well, a bit unnatural.
Instead, the 6'4" long-jawed politician works best in the round, surrounded by question-filled voters, rather than delivering more Senate-inspired podium pontificating. Building on the cinematic theme, the Kerry advance team benched U2's "A Beautiful Day" in favor of Randy Newman's "The Whammer Strikes Out" as the Senator entered to speak with (not at) 600 mostly upstate New Yorkers. The often long-winded Senator Noted the occasion saying, "We're going to make history here tonight. This is the shortest speech I'm going to give in this campaign."
Indeed, Kerry lived up to his promise, clocking in at just over two minutes.
The Senator spent the remaining 54 minutes of his sole pre-Super Tuesday upstate swing taking 11 questions from the eager crowd.
Aside from talking trade to a hall filled with union banners and several "FTAA Sucks" t-shirts, Kerry responded to a question on the perils of the Patriot Act by declaring, "The biggest problem with the Patriot Act is two words: John Ashcroft."
While the Ashcroft knock is standard, the Massachusetts Senator then went on to suggest a "panel of distinguished jurists" whose purpose would be to "guarantee rights are being protected" might be one way, in addition to repealing several controversial provisions before renewing the Patriot Act, to both protect national security and preserve civil rights.
Kerry mentioned former Senator George Mitchell (D-ME), former Senate Majority Bob Dole (R-KS), and former Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH) as those who might serve on such a panel.