CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL

By E.J. Kessler

Published May 30, 2003, issue of May 30, 2003.

We can’t tell you what Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said when he addressed Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a group of young Democrats better known as DL21C; the presidential hopeful’s campaign kept the May 20 speech in New York off the record.

We can, however, tell you about how the speech was received.

Speaking at Eugene, a chic Manhattan club, in front of a packed house, Kerry showed one reason why he has gained a reputation as the frontrunner of the nine-candidate Democratic field: He gives good stump.

Annexing acres of Kennedy estate with his rhetoric, Kerry exhorted the gathering to join him in bettering the country, addressing the audience as “we” and “you” to stir its desire for civic participation and volunteerism. Other Kennedyesque themes included an emphasis on ideas and invention, education and the sense of public purpose felt by the nation during the 1960s.

Kerry, whom some commentators have pilloried as stiff, appeared nothing of the kind that night. He made jokes in response to cracks from the audience, pointed and gesticulated frequently, and even took off his suit jacket. That had the effect of humanizing the senator, a long, slim, patrician-looking fellow who sports, as many have noted, an impressive head of hair.

The crowd ate it up, with much wild cheering.

“He was phenomenal — on fire!” exclaimed a woman behind us, who seemed to be a supporter.

Spotted handing out Kerry stickers: the vivacious Marci McCall, daughter of New York’s former state comptroller (and unsuccessful 2002 gubernatorial candidate) H. Carl McCall.

* * *

Among the folks North Carolina Senator John Edwards is tapping to head up his presidential campaign in New York state is New York City Councilman Bill DeBlasio, DeBlasio confirms. The Brooklyn councilman managed the 2000 campaign of New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

* * *

Crack Democratic organizers Laurie Moskowitz and Susan Blad Seldin are growing their Washington-based grassroots strategy firm, Fieldworks. Deborah Willhite, a former official of the United States Postal Service who managed the 1992 and 1996 Democratic Coordinated Campaigns, is joining as a partner. Dan Berwick, who has managed gubernatorial campaigns in several states, is the new field programs manager. Moskowitz and Seldin started the firm in 2001 after managing the 2000 get-out-the-vote effort of the Democratic National Committee, winning the popular vote for the Gore-Lieberman ticket. Moskowitz and her husband, Dem media strategist Steve Rabinowitz, are stalwarts of Washington’s largest Conservative synagogue, Adas Israel.



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