U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told the crowd at Franklin Miles Park that he wants voters to elect politicians in 2008 who are going to make a difference on the issue.
"I'm sick and tired of these people talking about families and values when they're not willing to protect them in this most fundamental way," Kerry said.
The 6-foot-4 senator arrived at the event in the back seat of a green 2007 Toyota Prius, eating a chocolate-covered ice-cream bar on a stick. He made the stop while on his way to join his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, at a Santa Fe bookstore to promote their newly published This Moment on Earth.
Before Kerry arrived at the park, Carol Oldham, regional representative for the Sierra Club and an organizer of the event, said so many people showed up to swap old incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs that the organizers gave away all of the 1,500 light bulbs they had on hand.
The event in Santa Fe was part of a national effort by Step-It-Up, "a national organization dedicated to reducing the global warming problem."
Jill St. Thomas, a Step-It-Up participant in Santa Fe, said the group held 1,300 similar events all over the country Saturday.
Originally, organizers planned to give away five light bulbs per household. About a half-hour into the event, however, they realized they were going to run out of new bulbs if they didn't cut that household limit to three. By the end, organizers were giving away only two bulbs at a time, Oldham said.
But everyone who came -- about 350 people -- received bulbs, Oldham said. Organizers also circulated a sign-up sheet for people interested in learning about future light-bulb exchanges.
Initial thoughts of donating the used bulbs to Habitat for Humanity were scrapped, Oldham said. Because the idea is to reduce energy consumption, Oldham said, organizers decided they would take the used bulbs to the local landfill after the event.
John Kerry told the group at the event that "he and politicians like former Vice President Al Gore started talking about global warming 15 years ago." And he noted that "Just two years ago, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich told University of Vermont students that he didn't believe global warming was a problem." Things have changed in two years, Kerry said, referencing the Global Warming Debate he had with Newt Gingrich last week, in which "Gingrich told Kerry that he now believes there is evidence it is a problem."
"So we're moving forward and making a difference," Kerry told the crowd, "and I'll tell you what's making a difference. You are."
In an interview after he addressed the crowd, Kerry said he had not yet made up his mind about who to support for president in 2008. He said it would have to be someone who supported the environmental values described in his new book.
Kerry stumped for Gore in New Hampshire during that state's 2000 first-in-the-nation presidential primary season.
Gore, who accepted an Oscar this year for his role in An Inconvenient Truth, a movie about global warming, isn't a declared candidate. But one vehicle parked at the scene of Saturday's event sported a 4ALGORE New Mexico license plate.
Kerry said he had to be in Denver by Saturday night and had no plans during his Santa Fe visit to contact Gov. Bill Richardson, a current presidential contender.
As for himself, Kerry said he has no immediate plans to run for president but wouldn't rule it out in the future.
On a personal note, I'm happy to see the Senator found himself a "chocolate-covered ice-cream bar on a stick" without nuts and crunchies. Readers of The Dem Daily may remember that last June after the infamous Los Angeles "Bloogers Meeting" with John Kerry, the Senator couldn't find an ice cream without nut and crunchies.