Four years ago John Kerry took the stage on a rainy April evening in Chicago. It was the day after the Illinois primary – the contest that put Kerry over the 50% threshold of Democratic delegates and made him nominee presumptive. He was there to campaign on behalf of the newly minted Democratic nominee to represent Illinois in the Senate, Barack Obama. That memory must have been fresh on Kerry’s mind tonight as, on the eve of the 2008 Illinois primary, he took the stage in Boston to express his support for Barack Obama for president.
“Experience is not defined by time in Washington or years in office,” Kerry told the crowd. “Experience is defined by wisdom and instinct and by a feeling in your gut… I’m proud to say that I saw it and I’m proud to say that I invited him to speak at the convention right here in Boston.”
Kerry has spent the last couple of weeks quietly stumping for Obama and while his endorsement was important, tonight he introduced a speaker whose familial endorsement this week has given Obama’s campaign several miles of newsprint: the senior Senator from Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy.
If Kerry felt any grudge at being the introducer to the introducer (to be fair, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a rock star in his own right introduced Kerry), he didn’t show it. Rather, in his solemn way, delivered with more gravitas than his own stump speeches four years ago, Kerry made his case for Obama.
“Washington isn’t the only teacher and in recent years it hasn’t been the best teacher,” Kerry said. “I support Barack Obama because he doesn’t seek to perfect the politics of swiftboating, he seeks to end it.
History gives us moments. It’s up to us to decide what to do with these moments. Make Barack Obama the president of our country,” he said over chants of “Obama!” from the crowd.
Obama, taking the stage, thanked Kerry. “He has been a friend and I think it’s fair to say that if it had not been for John Kerry I would not be standing here today because he gave me the chance to give this little speech in Boston that turned out so well. He is now campaigning on my behalf about how this country needs change. I want everybody to give it up for John Kerry,” Obama said. And the crowd cheered, a few people echoing the chants of 2004, “Kerry! Kerry!”