Kerrys' Book Political Ploy, GOP Analyst Says

By Heyl, Eric | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 31, 2007 | Go to article overview

Kerrys' Book Political Ploy, GOP Analyst Says


Heyl, Eric, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


This campaign trail is markedly different from the one traveled by John Kerry and Teresa Heinz three years ago.

In 2004, they were campaigning to get Kerry elected president. Now, the Massachusetts senator and his wife, the Pittsburgh ketchup heiress, are campaigning for a cleaner planet while peddling copies of a new book they co-authored.

Though Kerry has ruled out a 2008 presidential bid, not everyone believes the couple's motives were entirely altruistic in penning the environmental tome, "This Moment on Earth."

The Kerrys "are green all right," said Todd Domke, a Massachusetts-based Republican political analyst. "They're green with envy over the Al Gore comeback."

Gore, the former Democratic vice president who lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity primarily owing to his global warming book and movie, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Domke believes Kerry and his wife are attempting a similar tack. "When you analyze politicians, it's usually not too difficult," he said. "Their motivation is pretty transparent."

Now available in stores, "This Moment on Earth" profiles people across the country battling environmental problems without government assistance. The book contains a resource guide for people interested in becoming involved in environmental activism.

"We want to make a statement: We both believe this is a vital moment," Kerry recently told The Boston Globe. "This book is driven by a sense of urgency, to put on the table that this is a pretty critical moment. We're losing opportunities every single day."

There appears, however, to be no sense of urgency among readers to buy the book. It isn't on the best-seller lists, a la the book authored by Gore, who praises the Kerrys in a statement appearing on the back jacket of the couple's book.

Some environmental experts expect the Kerrys' book to struggle to gain even modest readership.

"The book probably will end up on the remainder shelves at Barnes & Noble pretty quickly," predicted Pete Geddes, executive vice president of the Foundation for Research in Economics and the Environment in Bozeman, Mont.

The reason, according to Geddes: "What (the Kerrys) know about substantive environmental policy probably can be contained in the dirt under your fingernail."

According to Allegheny County property records, Heinz, 68, lives on Fox Chapel farmland. A $3.1 million, 5,534-square-foot mansion is among 10 buildings on the 88-acre site. During the 2004 presidential campaign, the Kerrys drew coverage for their other real estate holdings that included homes in Ketchum, Idaho; Washington; and Nantucket and Beacon Hill, both in Massachusetts.

Heinz chairs the Heinz Endowments, the Pittsburgh-based philanthropy that ranks among the nation's 50 largest foundations. The Heinz Endowments awarded $10.3 million in environment-related grants in 2006, according to its Web site. Not all of that money appears to have been distributed exclusively to advance strictly environmental causes.

Listed under the foundation's environmental grants, for example, was $250,000 to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development for transportation and land-use planning in Pittsburgh's Oakland section. …

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