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John Kerry: JFK II?

By Paul DUKE Jr.

In Washington. D.C., it is known in the "power-suit"- a navy blue suit worn with a starched white shirt and a red silk tie. For politicians, particularly Democratic politicians, it is the standard campaign attire; it is a staple for Lt. Gov. John F. Kerry, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts

There is another side to Kerry that doesn't quite wash with the establishment politics those power suits exemplify. The handsome John Forbes Kerry has also painted himself an outsider who will shake up the petrified forces and fight against "business-as-usual" in Washington.

If Kerry a Vietnam, war hero turned antiwar protester who has never cast a legislative vote, is sent to the Senate tomorrow, many will attribute his victory to the unusual insider--outsider mix that has marked his rapid rise in state politics.

Kerry's got the credentials both as a member of the establishment with all the right contacts and as an outspoken advocate of liberal causes who is not afraid of common wisdom. And if Kerry does go to Washington, as the first liberal Vietnam veteran in the Senate, many think he would represent a new generation of Democrats.

"For the first time this country is building the capacity to fight a nuclear war," an impassioned Kerry said at a forum early in the primary campaign. "We're teaching poor people to kill other poor people. We're losing the ability to touch people with beliefs."

"I think we need to send someone to Washington whose life is a record of taking on the vested interests."

It has been a long road for John Kerry, a long wait for the chance to move up for a man who has been criticized throughout his career for over-ambitiousness. The 40-year-old Kerry looks back a bit forlornly on his "brash youth," as he puts it, recalling, among other missteps, his moves into three different districts to make a congressional run.

Kerry has also had to fight the image of privileged pol, which was vivified in one of the most bitter exchanges of the Democratic primary race, which Kerry won by a narrow margin over Rep. James M. Shannon (D. Lawrence). In a radio debate with Kerry, Shannon said. "The middle name Forbes doesn't give you the right to go around impugning people's integrity." Kerry had attacked Shannon for the alleged role he played in giving a tax break to a local life insurance company.

Kerry is indeed a blood relation of the Forbes family which made its fortune trading in China. He was born to, Rosemary (Forbes) and Richard Kerry, a foreign service officer. He attended exclusive, expensive schools--St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., and Yale, where he got his B.A. in 1966.

When the draft board turned down Kerry's proposal to study in Europe after graduating from Yale, Kerry joined the Navy as an officer. Like President John F. Kennedy '40, a boyhood hero with whom Kerry shares initials and an affluent Catholic backround, Kerry became a war hero as a small-boat commander, winning the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.

It was the war that also brought out the other side to Kerry, that of outsider, as the son of privelege now made a mark as an antiwar protester

After losing a 1972 race in the fifth district, Kerry took stock of his political future and decided to go back to square one, enrolling in Boston College Law School, and then rising to the position of first District Attorney of Middlesex County. He went into private in 1979, and then jumped back into politics in 1982 to win a hard fought primary campaign for heutenant governor. He was elected along with Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, whose staff now praises Kerry for his advocacy of the acid rain issue--and for keeping his ego under control.

Not surprisingly, Kerry now bases his entire Senate candidacy around the outsider image.

"People are frustrated because they sense that Washington is not dealing rapidly and intelligently with their concerns," Kerry says. "I want to go down there as a Senator who can build coalitions from the outside to pressure for change."

In fact, in the Senate campaign the "outsider" theme took hold so strongly that the ultra-conservative John Birch Society attacked Kerry as a "pro-communist."

But Kerry's views, while strongly liberal, are hardly radical. Though he has spurned ideological labels, he has recently been calling himself a "neoliberal," the new buzzword floating around to describe that strange association of Democrats favoring a new "realism" to go along with their traditional compassion. For Kerry this has taken vogue in his nebulous pledges to "reform" the country's tax structure, as he battles opponent Ray Shamie for the political center.

During his primary campaign, Kerry argued that tax increases were "inevitable," but he now says times have changed and asserts he will not vote to raise taxes in order to lower the deficit. Instead Kerry proposes $54 billion in cuts in Reagan's military budget, as well as lower agricultural subsidies and "cost-containment" of the health care industry.

Kerry's other domestic positions hew more closely to the line of the national ticket, as he supports the Equal Rights Amendment, federal funding for abortions, and equal pay for comparable work.

It is on foreign policy, through, where Kerry's attempt to style himself as a maverick reformer has been most pronounced. His main pitch has revolved around his veteran's past, a theme his advisers say has struck a chord among the Massachusetts electorate.

Kerry warns that the United States is heading for "another Vietnam" in Central America, and so he opposes the use of American troops in the region and support for the contras fighting the Nicaraguan government. He is also an ardent advocate of the nuclear freeze, and he says if the United States and the Soviet Union wait to sign an agreement, the arms race will likely escalate further.

These positions strike a powerful ideological difference with Shamie, and there is no doubt that Massachusetts voters face a clear ideological choice between the self-made millionaire and the son of privilege who wants to buck the establishment.

After losing a 1972 race in the fifth district, Kerry took stock of his political future and decided to go back to square one, enrolling in Boston College Law School, and then rising to the position of first District Attorney of Middlesex County. He went into private in 1979, and then jumped back into politics in 1982 to win a hard fought primary campaign for heutenant governor. He was elected along with Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, whose staff now praises Kerry for his advocacy of the acid rain issue--and for keeping his ego under control.

Not surprisingly, Kerry now bases his entire Senate candidacy around the outsider image.

"People are frustrated because they sense that Washington is not dealing rapidly and intelligently with their concerns," Kerry says. "I want to go down there as a Senator who can build coalitions from the outside to pressure for change."

In fact, in the Senate campaign the "outsider" theme took hold so strongly that the ultra-conservative John Birch Society attacked Kerry as a "pro-communist."

But Kerry's views, while strongly liberal, are hardly radical. Though he has spurned ideological labels, he has recently been calling himself a "neoliberal," the new buzzword floating around to describe that strange association of Democrats favoring a new "realism" to go along with their traditional compassion. For Kerry this has taken vogue in his nebulous pledges to "reform" the country's tax structure, as he battles opponent Ray Shamie for the political center.

During his primary campaign, Kerry argued that tax increases were "inevitable," but he now says times have changed and asserts he will not vote to raise taxes in order to lower the deficit. Instead Kerry proposes $54 billion in cuts in Reagan's military budget, as well as lower agricultural subsidies and "cost-containment" of the health care industry.

Kerry's other domestic positions hew more closely to the line of the national ticket, as he supports the Equal Rights Amendment, federal funding for abortions, and equal pay for comparable work.

It is on foreign policy, through, where Kerry's attempt to style himself as a maverick reformer has been most pronounced. His main pitch has revolved around his veteran's past, a theme his advisers say has struck a chord among the Massachusetts electorate.

Kerry warns that the United States is heading for "another Vietnam" in Central America, and so he opposes the use of American troops in the region and support for the contras fighting the Nicaraguan government. He is also an ardent advocate of the nuclear freeze, and he says if the United States and the Soviet Union wait to sign an agreement, the arms race will likely escalate further.

These positions strike a powerful ideological difference with Shamie, and there is no doubt that Massachusetts voters face a clear ideological choice between the self-made millionaire and the son of privilege who wants to buck the establishment.

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