Local Democrats praise Kerry’s speech | VailDaily.com

Local Democrats praise Kerry’s speech

Tamara Miller
NWS Kerry Speach Party BH 7-29 Bret Hartman/bhartman@vaildaily.com Supporters of Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry cheer during his acceptance speach Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Local supporters gathered at a party at the Runyon residence in Edwards for what some people are calling the most important election in years.

The nation’s verdict on John Kerry’s speech may still be out, but Cynthia Lebthien has already decided: Kerry’s a winner.”I thought he had great delivery,” said Lebthien, an Eagle resident. “He hit on all the important points. I was proud that his speech stuck to an upbeat message.” Lebthien and a dozen other local residents gathered at Democrat Peter Runyon’s house Thursday night to hear Kerry formally accept the Democratic nomination for president. The open-invitation party was advertised on Kerry’s Web site, http://www.johnkerry.com. Runyon, who is running for a county commissioner seat this November against Republican Richard De Clark, promised to give the attendees a glimpse of Kerry’s high school yearbook. Runyon attended the same boarding school Kerry attended on a family scholarship. He was two year’s behind the senator and presidential candidate and never got to know the man; but he isn’t necessarily surprised that Kerry wound up being a contender for the country’s highest office. “You’ve got to understand, (cartoonist) Gary Trudeau and (former FBI director) Robert Mueller went to school there,” Runyon said.

The acceptance speech is considered by political analysts to be a pivotal moment in a presidential candidate’s campaign. Coverage leading up to Thursday night focused on a general anxiety about Kerry’s charisma on the stump. But Runyon said he doesn’t see – or hear – it.”He seems sort of galvanizing to me,” he said. Not all at Runyon’s house were Democrats, however. David Lokey, an Edwards resident, is an independent voter and said he is still hasn’t decided who he will vote for in the presidential election. He praised Kerry’s speech and particularly liked the candidate’s message to those who believe critics of President George Bush are un-American.”Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about,” Kerry said. “They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. “We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism,” Kerry said.

Lokey agreed. “You can be an American and still disagree with parts of Bush’s policies,” he said. However, he felt Kerry’s repeated references to his service during the Vietnam war was “overplayed.”The room erupted into cheers when Kerry spoke about stem-cell research – which Bush opposes – and when the television cameras turned to the Colorado delegation. The candidate’s subtle jab at U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft also received applause. “And I will appoint an attorney general who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States,” Kerry said.

The candidate’s remarks about increasing funding for early childhood education hit home with Judy Balice, an Edwards resident and former teacher. She also praised Kerry’s remarks about health care, the war in Iraq and the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court judges. Balice said she is concerned that if Bush is given the chance to appoint judges to the high court that laws legalizing abortion could be overturned.A registered Democrat, Balice said she enjoyed sharing the night with other Eagle County residents. Unaffiliated and Republican voters outnumber Democrats in the valley.”It’s all about camaraderie,” she said. Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at tmiller@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555, ext. 607.

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