Kerry Town Hall Meeting in PA

Christopher Hayes

A TGU reader writes in with a campaign dispatch: Stump speech followed by Q&A (which opened with joke about loyalty oath). It went really well -- the crowd was obviously on his side (labor -- everybody from top brass to apprentices), but there were solid questions about issues across the board -- jobs, environment, social security, Iraq, education and job training. And though he looked tired, he engaged pretty damn well. Relaxed, super well-versed, but also coherent (not too wonky). Also careful not to promise too much, while still managing to promise a lot. Couple of funny moments, like when one guy asked him (I'm paraphrasing), "it seems like, you outline a policy, George Bush steals it and implements a watered-down version, and then the press says, "little difference between Bush and Kerry", and I'm like, "No! That's Kerry's policy!" Do you ever think you might need to keep some of this stuff under your hat?" Lots of upsetting stories about lost jobs, no health care, etc. One amazing moment when a middle-aged guy stood up in the middle of the bleachers, holding up a pair of boxing gloves and said, "On behalf of Rocky Balboa (some other boxers' names here), I'd like to present these boxing gloves to you for fighting for the middle class." Kerry was thrilled -- practically ran over to the guy, and after the cheers went down, the guy said, "I've got one more thing to say. My son graduated from high school in 2001, and had a scholarship to college. But after 9/11, he joined up with the air force. What do I say to him when he writes me an email from Iraq asking, "Why am I here?" I almost started weeping on the spot. Kerry looked the guy in the eye and said it was the most serious question he'd been asked. Then went on to applaud son's service, make clear that he was serving his country, and that he'll do his best to make sure he's as safe as he can possibly be (multilateral… better coordination… you know the points). I thought it was a good pass on a Bush-bash. Would have been inhuman to call out incompetancy at that moment (he did it at other, more appropriate moments). Keep up the good work.

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Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.
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