Kerry says portraying Mitt Romney threw him into contortions
Democratic Senate can break gridlock, Massachusetts lawmaker says
U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts came to Santa Fe on Wednesday night as a man on two missions.
The first was to denounce the Tea Party as a group that intimidates reasonable Republicans, fences out Democrats and threatens to create inescapable gridlock in Congress.
Kerry said his second objective was to raise money and votes for fellow Democrat Martin Heinrich, who would help fight off Tea Party aggressors and find responsible solutions to the country’s economic problems.
“The stakes in this election are as high as they can be,” Kerry said in a meeting with five print reporters before a fundraiser for Heinrich, who is running against Republican Heather Wilson for New Mexico’s open Senate seat.
Heinrich, a congressman from Albuquerque, sat next to Kerry during the 15-minute question-answer session but only occasionally got in a word.
Kerry did almost all the talking, often comparing Heinrich favorably to the senator he hopes to succeed.
Kerry said he wanted someone in the Senate from New Mexico “who fills Jeff Bingaman’s shoes” in terms of intelligence and reason. Kerry said Democrat Bingaman is “a great senator,” and that Heinrich is of his same high quality.
Calling Heinrich “Marty,” Kerry he had run a terrific race against Wilson. As a senator, Heinrich would temper the Tea Party conservatives who see no common ground. Heinrich would help find solutions to America’s economic problems, not keep the country entrenched in a political stalemate, Kerry said.
Of Wilson, a candidate many refer to as a moderate, Kerry said he would not criticize her or even discuss her. Nobody likes a senator from another state parachuting in to denigrate a candidate, Kerry said.
He said all of his energy and enthusiasm on this night was in praising Heinrich as the right person to represent New Mexico in the Senate. A Senate controlled by Democrats is the best path to progress, Kerry said.
Tea Party members, he said, want “disorder” in Congress. The country could have avoided the divisive budget-cutting plan called sequestration, but the Tea Party wanted it and the chaos it could cause in hopes of influencing the elections, he said.
This movement of extremism, Kerry said, reently helped defeat a thoughtful and reasonable Republican senator, Richard Lugar of Indiana, in a primary election.
Heinrich, he said, would help the country recover through a balanced approach on taxes and spending. In contrast, Kerry said, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, offered a budget that would hurt New Mexico’s labs and derail investments in education that ultimately would make the country better.
Kerry would not speak ill of Wilson, but he did not hesitate to criticize Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Kerry assumed the job of being a surrogate Romney in President Obama’s preparations for candidate debates.
“I can’t tell you how hard it was to argue some of his contortions and twists,” Kerry said of Romney.
The Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, Kerry assailed Romney as an opportunist who changed positions regularly to get his party’s nomination.
“Romney never met the commander and chief standard, ever,” Kerry said.