By Ron Fournier
The Associated Press
BOSTON - Shove it, then rhyme it with rich. Then roll it in a batch of baked cookies and teas.
Teresa Heinz Kerry joined the company of blunt-speaking political spouses this convention week by telling a reporter to stop misquoting her and "shove it."
Barbara Bush set the standard in 1984 when she called Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro a $4 million "rhymes with rich" during the campaign to re-elect President Reagan and Mrs. Bush's husband, Vice President George Bush. She later apologized.
Eight years later, Mrs. Bush was first lady when future Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her active role in public life by saying, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas."
Mrs. Clinton expressed regret for the remark, saying she had been referring to "the ceremonial role" of the first lady.
Heinz Kerry has not apologized. Her husband said he's not sorry.
"I think my wife speaks her mind appropriately," Kerry told reporters Monday.
Her mind spoke freely Sunday night, when she told Pennsylvania delegates, "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics."
The editorial page editor of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review asked her what she meant by the term "un-American."
Heinz Kerry repeatedly denied using the phrase. "You said something I didn't say," she told the journalist. "Now shove it."
Some convention delegates were not impressed.
"I think it could hurt her," said Lexie Carter, 52, of Memphis, Tenn. "I'm not sure how it will play but I'm coming down on the side of - it's OK, but let's cool it. Keep a level head, girl.'"
"It's the kind of thing that could hurt her stature as a potential first lady," Carter said.
Joan Nagel, a Pennsylvania delegate, called the comment "completely appropriate."
"I saw it on television," she said. "It looked like she was being hassled."
Stephen Hess, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, who worked in several Republican administrations, said most voters won't have any problem with Heinz Kerry's outburst.
It might even help the potential first lady shed a reputation as a cool, regal woman of wealth, he said.
"We've been waiting for the real Teresa, and it strikes me that we're starting to get her," Hess said.
Privately, strategists close to the Kerry campaign agreed with Hess' assessment but worried that the outburst might be a sign that Heinz Kerry might have trouble staying on message during the campaign.
After showing unusual discipline throughout the spring, she made aides wince by calling Kerry running mate John Edwards beautiful and her husband smart - a contrast that played into the hands of GOP critics of the Democratic ticket.
Political spouses can cause political problems.
First lady Nancy Reagan turned to an astrologer to help her husband run the White House, former Reagan chief of staff Donald T. Regan wrote in a book.
Laura Bush distanced herself from her husband's anti-abortion views shortly after his election. Tipper Gore took on the music industry, a Democratic fund-raising base, before her husband became vice president. Lynn Cheney has not been afraid to speak out during her husband's vice presidential tenure.
"But it's a short list," Hess said. "Like little children, political wives were supposed to be seen but not heard for much of American history."
Not anymore. Not with
Sen. Clinton jumped to the defense of Heinz Kerry on Monday.
"A lot of Americans are going to say, 'Good for you, you go, girl,'" the New York senator said, "and that's certainly how I feel about it."
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