Candidates’ family cannot fill shoes of candidates

It is not uncommon for the family of a public figure to go along on the campaign trail, sometimes even to campaign on their own. While such events are usually effective in “getting the vote out,” the question is really how much some family members can say about the candidates without the candidates actually speaking for themselves.

Andre Heinz, stepson of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, summed it up nicely while visiting the Phyllis P. Marshall Center on Monday along with his stepsisters Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry as well as Kate Edwards, daughter of vice presidential candidate John Edwards. When asked how the 34-year-old Heinz sees his role in his stepfather’s campaign, he said, “It’s the candidates it should be about; the rest is a little voyeuristic.”

Edwards added, “We support our fathers. We are not just messengers, but testifiers to their character.”

Naturally the group was aware mistakes on their part could also negatively affect the election’s outcome. “If you mess up, it reflects badly on the candidates,” Heinz said. Edwards elaborated on this: “There are always those that want to trip us up” in order to get a story, but “generally people are nice and want to hear what we have to say.”

Answering questions from students at the Marshall Center Ballroom, the panel of four “kids,” ranging in age from 22 to 34, managed to give mostly insightful answers explaining their fathers’ positions on issues ranging from gay and lesbian rights to the situation in Iraq and veterans’ care. But sometimes they simply had to defer the question and say, “we don’t know.”