Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry says he was hit by waves of nostalgia as he visited Iowa last night to thank supporters here for launching his candidacy with a victory in last January’s Caucuses. “I walked in tonight and everybody had these wonderful holiday sweaters on and I knew immediately I was back in Iowa,” Kerry said, laughing. Today (Saturday) is Kerry’s birthday, and the crowd sang to him last night. “Somebody called me today and said ‘Happy Birthday.’ And I said ‘What? When?’ I’d completely forgotten about it and Teresa said ‘What do you want for your birthday?’ I said ‘I want 55,000 votes in Ohio.'” Kerry, though, downplayed talk about a run in 2008. His wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, thanked the crowd of about 300 and talked about the hard work ahead, which some in the crowd took to mean a second Kerry bid for the White House. “Whoever is up in ’08 has a chance to really do it,” Heinz Kerry said, prompting chants of “Ker-ry. Ker-ry.” As soon as his name was chanted, Kerry flapped his arms, palms down, to shush the crowd. Yet some in the crowd, like Frank Williams, an elementary school teacher from Grundy Center, hope Kerry runs again. “This was the one for me. He may not have been the right one for some others, but this was the candidate for me,” Williams said. Al Gore, the democratic party’s presidential nominee in 2000, didn’t make a post-election “thank you” journey like Kerry’s. Many of the party activists in the room last night say they appreciated Kerry’s gesture. Tammie Amsbaugh of Des Moines did a lot of volunteer work for Kerry, and was in the room last night. “I want to thank him and his family because I think that’s a huge committment to run for office,” she said. “It takes a lot out of you. It takes a lot of your time and from your family, so I am thrilled that he came back here to thank us.” Rick Armstrong of Winterset called himself a “big” supporter of Kerry, and that’s why he was in Des Moines last night. “He fought a good fight and there’s a lot of people who are just blind-sided” by the outcome of the election, according to Rick Armstrong. “I pity the poor soldiers who are going to Iraq.” Kerry talked about Iraq toward the end of his brief remarks. He recently attended the funeral of a Massachusetts soldier killed in Iraq. As taps was played for that soldier who was being buried at Arlington National Cemetary, the music from another funeral and the 21-gun salute from another funeral mingled. “There was this confusion of funerals, where each one was sort of imposing on the other in a way and I felt this incredible sense at that moment of the depth of the choices and how important they are to each and every one of us. As many of you know, in the course of the campaign we talked long and hard about the troops needing equipment and how we needed to be prepared, so I will as a proud member of the United States Senate continue this battle that you all waged for these weeks and months.” Kerry said “obviously” the outcome of the election was disappointing to him and his backers, but he praised his supporters from their efforts. “I’ve never seen people work harder. I’ve never seen more energy. I’ve never seen people give more of their time,” he said. Kerry scored a come-from-behind victory in the Iowa Caucuses this past January 19th. He dubbed himself the “come-back Kerry” that evening and was never seriously challenged again in the run-up to securing the democratic party’s 2004 presidential nomination.
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