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The Morning Grind / DayAhead

'Shove it,' Teresa's convention debut

By John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit

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He said, she said: Teresa Heinz Kerry confronts Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editor Colin McNickle.
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CNN's John Mercurio talks Morning Grind issues at the FleetCenter.

CNN's John King on the split among American voters.

CNN's Daniel Sieberg on the political 'blogosphere.'
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BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Just when we feared this week could be dull, along comes Teresa Heinz "Shove It" Kerry. While her husband's aides work hard to deny us news, she makes sure the Grind is well fed.

We're referring to reports this morning that Heinz Kerry, apparently overworked and exhausted like the rest of us, told a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editor, on camera, to "shove it." That's right. On camera. Even Dick Cheney dodged the mic when he dropped the F-bomb last month.

There are, of course, two sides to this story, which may at least drown out talk of the booing John Kerry received during his surprise visit to Fenway Park last night. We bring you both sides, below.

Teresa's not the only political spouse making unfortunate headlines this morning. The Boston Herald reports that Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, a key factor in John Kerry's primary sweep and the prime time convention speaker tomorrow, derided blacks, southerners and easterners as bad speakers because she could not understand them. Vilsack's comments, the paper reports, appeared in newspaper columns in the mid-1990s. Ouch.

Returning briefly to the convention news that Camp Kerry wants us to focus on, we're preparing for performances tonight from the biggest names in Democratic politics: In order of appearance, if not importance: Howard Dean, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. (All lights shine on Kerry)

Kerry continues his pre-convention tour this morning in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he speaks at 10:15 a.m. ET at the Kennedy Space Center about science, innovation and technology. (So much for getting his rest this week. The Senator was still in his seat at Fenway at 11:30 p.m.)

Shadow convention

While President Bush remains in Crawford, Texas, with no public events scheduled, his loyal army of surrogates continues their shadow convention in Boston with a full day of conference calls and media events.

They threw an intimate dinner for 20 media types last night at Saraceno's in the North End, headlined by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy, who mingled with the mob after her busy boss breezed out the door, well before we got our appetizers of mussels and fried calamari. (Excellent mussels; calamari was bland and too heavily breaded).

Romney spoke briefly, telling us he's pleased that Boston is drawing a national spotlight this week, that he's looking forward to the GOP confab in New York next month, and that the word "bonco" means crazy in Italian.

Bush-Cheney also is shopping around an 11-minute video featuring lots and lots of video of Kerry, "in his own words," on war on terror and Iraq since the late 1990's. The aim of the tape, which they say may be distributed to donors and placed on GOP Web sites in coming weeks, is to once again showcase Kerry's double-speak.

"The notion that John Kerry is a strong leader, that he's been consistent with his position, regarding Iraq, regarding war on terror, is rendered fantasy by this videotape in John Kerry's own words," one GOP aide said.

Kerry plays the game

Kerry faced some double-speak himself last night at Fenway Park where a number of fans (of baseball, not the Senator) greeted their surprise first-pitcher with jeers and boos. (Word spread of the booing across town at Saraceno's, sending the New York Post's Deborah Orin into fits of joy).

Though Red Sox fans will boo almost anyone, it's hard to gauge how much of the reaction was convention fatigue and/or anti-Democratic sentiment.

While Kerry's detour surprised the press, CNN's Sasha Johnson says he first started considering the trip several months ago when he figured out that the series was taking place right before the convention.

Last month he decided he wanted to figure out a way to go. Last week, when he saw his travel schedule, he called co-Sox owner John Henry and talked to him about attending the game. He didn't notify his logistical staff until yesterday (David Wade and company were notified just one hour before wheels up to Boston).

Teresa's verbal spat

Fortunately (and perhaps intentionally? Nah), Teresa Kerry's salty remarks will distract, slightly, from the boos. Here's the back story on her latest display of colorful candor:

In a speech at the state House here, Kerry said, "We need to turn back some of the creeping un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are creeping into some of our politics." That's where the trouble began.

Colin McNickle, editorial page editor of the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, asked her afterward what she meant by "un-American activities." Kerry then accused him of putting words in her mouth, correctly denying that she ever said "activities." But she also denied saying "un-American," though recordings of her speech show she did say that.

Heinz Kerry walked away from McNickle, but returned seconds later to ask whom he worked for. After she found out he worked for the paper with which she frequently clashes, she told him "shove it."

A spokeswoman later told CNN that Heinz Kerry's reaction stemmed from "sheer frustration, aimed at a right-wing rag, that has consistently and purposely misrepresented the facts in reporting on Mrs. Kerry and her family."

Press detour

Finally today, CNN's Frank Buckley gives us a first-person account of last night's Air Kerry mystery ride, which mistakenly carried him and CNN's Sasha Johnson, among others, from their intended destination of Florida to Boston:

Our flight attendant promised we had a short flight ahead and "lots and lots of food." She was right about the food.

At approximately 5 p.m. ET, we were wheels up and headed to Florida. Or so we thought. While we were bound for Florida, the other plane was secretly headed to Boston so Kerry could attend the Sox game. As we climbed to altitude, I flipped on the in-flight info/map button that shows a map display of where the jet is in flight. Hmm, some of us wondered, why does it show us headed to the northeast somewhere near Cleveland?

When we informed the Kerry staffer, an unflappable favorite of the Kerry press corps, he assumed the display wasn't working. But he asked a crew member to make sure. That's when we all learned that the flight crew had been instructed to inform us only after we were airborne that we too were bound for Boston.

The stunned staffer immediately went to work trying to divert the plane to Florida. He made calls on the airphone. A pilot even came back to seek guidance from the ground on where to go. By then, we were a few minutes from Boston and the decision was made to land, refuel and continue on to Florida.

At approximately 6:33 p.m. ET, we were wheels down at Logan. Following several hours of confusion and frustration, CNN's Sasha Johnson tells us they finally touched down in Florida at 2:47 a.m.

Hmmmm, wonder what Teresa would have said if she'd been on that flight.


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