Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Alexandra Kerry, Accidental Politician

Kerry's daughter speaks

by Ellie Behling
Culture Senior Writer

The daughter of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., feels nostalgic when she thinks about 2004, she said last night in Baker Ballroom.

The year had two stories: one of politics, and one of human relations, Alexandra Kerry said. Kerry focused on many aspects of the humanity behind the scenes of the campaign, beginning by reading a passage from the book she is writing about growing up as the daughter of a politician.

Her father brought home politics "like the baker brings home the extra bread," she said. Growing up, Kerry vowed she would not continue on the path of politics.

Kerry refers to herself as an "accidental politician." Her father never forced her and her sister, Vanesssa, to be a part of the campaign. "He really left it up to us."

She gradually became involved, and often ended up behind the scenes working on her documentary. She is currently cutting the film, which has the working title "Campaign Confidential."

Meghan Louttit, a freshman online journalism major, was not aware that Kerry was a filmmaker until a few days ago. She expected to hear her talk about politics, but was glad that she did not focus on it.

University Program Council, which sponsored the event, thought Kerry's filmmaking career was a good way to get away from being too political, said Chelsea Hamilton, public relations director.

Kerry compared the campaign trail to the story of "Alice in Wonderland," traveling from one city to the next, seeking the door to the next town.

"There was no such thing as an arrival. The journey was the destination for us," Kerry said. "You couldn't get off the merry-go-round even if you wanted to."

She began to enjoy the hotel life, where her alias was Alice in Chains. She sometimes felt like a foreigner in her own country.

The rallies reminded her of the many rock shows she attended, she said. The throngs of people were uplifting and disarming. She was especially interested in the "the ropeline people" -security guards, cooks, bellman -and how they moved along the campaign but she never got to connect with them.

Kerry was often outside the bubble of 40 to 50 security guards while shooting her documentary, which left her more vulnerable to protestors. She often faced the "cartoonlike taunts" of protestors, she said, and was spat on and jeered at. Sometimes she got up the courage to talk to protestors, but these were mostly failed attempts. She even attended a Bush rally for her documentary.

Kerry always had to remember that she was representing the candidate -"my dad" -and realized she was viewed as a personification of beliefs to protestors.

She tried not to take attacks personally during the campaign. After the campaign she felt like it was most inappropriate.

"I do feel like the press needs to check themselves at the door," Kerry said. "Much to people's chagrin, my dating life was not half as interesting (as the press says)."

Kerry, a 1997 alumna of Brown University, was impressed with the laid-back attitude of Ohio University's campus, she said.

She was impressed that the intimate group, including one woman sobbing, would be inside listening to her rather than outside frolicking in the beautiful weather, she said.

"If I'd known this place was so laid back, I'd wear my flipflops," said Kerry in her Manola Blahnik heels that broke at the end of the speech.

Her last memories of Ohio were from the final days of the campaign. But she feels no bitterness toward Ohio, which is often blamed for the loss of the election, she said.


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