Kerry’s kids carry campaign

While the Republican National Convention kicks off this week, the children of Senators John Kerry and John Edwards — Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry, Chris and Andre Heinz and Cate Edwards — will share their fathers’ views with college students in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia this week.

The college tour, geared toward getting students to vote and become more involved in the political process, starts today in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom.

The Back-to-School Tour will combine town hall meetings, study breaks and campus rallies in hopes of reaching hundreds of students in four battleground states, said Omar Khan, former student body president.

Khan said the Kerry, Heinz and Edwards family members will discuss issues important to young people, such as jobs, health care, national security and college affordability.

“This is not your usual political (event),” said Kahn, also working with the Florida Democratic Party and the Kerry campaign. “They are really trying to understand students and why they are undecided about elections.”

At 4 p.m., the Kerry, Heinz and Edwards family members will travel to the University of Central Florida in Orlando to meet with students there.

Vanessa Kerry, 27, took a leave of absence from medical school to help campaign for her dad, while Cate Edwards, 22, delayed starting her internship as a researcher with Vanity Fair magazine in order to campaign.

Andre Heinz and Alexandra Kerry made appearances at the Democratic National Convention in July and have since been actively campaigning.

In the latest surveys, Kerry is edging out President George W. Bush among registered voters under the age of 30. However, Khan said all students, whether registered as Democrats or Republicans, should attend and become more active in the voting process.

“(The family members) are not only coming to increase the education of the political process and to let people voice their opinions,” he said. “I encourage students from both parties to come and listen in a civil matter and get involved.”