Teresa Heinz Kerry

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Teresa Heinz Kerry
Teresa Heinz Kerry

Maria Teresa Thierstein Simes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry (born October 5, 1938), is a philanthropist and the wife of U.S. Senator John Kerry.


Early life

The child Teresa Simes-Ferreira with her family
The child Teresa Simes-Ferreira with her family

Heinz Kerry was born to Portuguese parents in Mozambique, which was a colony of Portugal at the time. Her father was Dr. Jos Simes-Ferreira, and her mother was Irene Thierstein.

Heinz Kerry grew up in Mozambique's capital, Loureno Marques (now called Maputo). Her father was a medical doctor, and "Teresinha" (the diminutive of Teresa in Portuguese) led a relatively privileged life. Her father would, however, often bring her along on his calls into the African bush, where she witnessed how those of lesser means lived.

Heinz Kerry earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Romance Languages and literature from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated from the Interpreters School of the University of Geneva (Switzerland) before moving to the United States to work at the United Nations as a translator. She is fluent in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and her native Portuguese.

Marriages and children

Heinz Kerry married future Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Henry John Heinz III of the Heinz family famous for their food products on February 5, 1966 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A few years after the marriage, in 1971, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. The couple had three sons: H. John Heinz IV (born 1967), Andre Heinz (born 1970) and Christopher Drake Heinz (born 1973).

Heinz Kerry met John F. Kerry in 1990 at an Earth Day rally, after being introduced by Senator Heinz. This was the only known time that she and John Kerry met before the death of Senator Heinz. After Senator Heinz died in an airplane crash on April 4, 1991 in Pennsylvania, Heinz Kerry inherited his vast fortune. She and John Kerry ran into each other again at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 at the Earth Summit, which Ms. Heinz attended as a member of a State Department delegation by appointment by President George H. W. Bush. Their courtship began in 1993, and they were married on May 26, 1995 on Nantucket, Massachusetts. This was also the second marriage for Senator Kerry.


Heinz Kerry is the chair of The Howard Heinz Endowment and the Heinz Family Philanthropies (collectively, the Heinz Foundations), disbursing money to various social and environmental causes. She assists the community of Pittsburgh, where the Heinz family has had so many financial and family connections. In recognition of her philanthropy and activism, Heinz Kerry has received ten honorary doctorate degrees from the following institutions:

Heinz Kerry was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism in 2003. She has been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was also a trustee of New England Prep School, St. Paul's School, which her husband John Kerry attended.


Heinz Kerry is the life estate beneficiary or outright beneficiary of her husband's trusts, making her either extremely wealthy in her own name, or powerful as a trustee of Heinz family wealth. Sen. Kerry is wealthy in his own right, though not to the same degree, since he became a trust fund beneficiary of his mother's and Forbes family trusts. Sen. Kerry and Heinz Kerry signed a prenuptial agreement and have kept their premarital assets separate.

To date, Heinz Kerry has declined to disclose her personal tax returns, citing family trusts and privacy. She is estimated to be worth between $750 million and $1 billion. According to her most recently released income tax of 2003, the Kerrys paid an effective federal income tax rate of 12%. Most of her income was derived from tax free municipal bonds, which explains the low rate.


Teresa and John Kerry on the campaign trail
Teresa and John Kerry on the campaign trail

Heinz Kerry was a registered Republican for most of her voting career, and her first husband, Senator Heinz, ran as a Republican. However, the Heinzes' Republicanism was not that typically associated with the modern Republican Party. Senator Heinz was well known as a champion of seniors and labor unions who often found himself at odds with big business, despite his family's immense wealth. In January of 2003, she changed her registration to the Democratic Party. Heinz Kerry has stated that she switched party affiliations to protest the campaign tactics Republican Saxby Chambliss used against Democrat Max Cleland in the 2002 Georgia senatorial election. Many, including Heinz Kerry, felt that advertisements by the Chambliss campaign questioned (by innuendo) the patriotism of Cleland, a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran. When interviewed about the registration change, she remarked: "Let me just say having been married to a Republican, wonderful man, who was the old kind of Republican that we used to have once upon a time, the Republicanism of this administration is neither Republican nor conservative. There are good people in both parties. These people are not Republicans."

She is said to have been encouraged to run for her husband's vacant Senate seat after his death. She declined; she also refused to endorse Republican Rick Santorum's bid for the seat, publically denouncing him as the "antithesis" of her late husband.

Two of her sons are believed to be Democrats. Christopher and Andr Heinz both spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July of 2004. Christopher is believed to be considering running for the House or the Senate from the state of Pennsylvania. John Heinz IV keeps a lower profile, and his political leanings are unclear.

Had Senator Kerry been elected President, Heinz Kerry would have been only the second foreign-born First Lady of the United States, after the British-born Louisa Adams, wife of President John Quincy Adams in the 1820s.

Public relations

Heinz Kerry has a reputation in the media as a very direct personality, unwilling to spin her comments for public consumption. This perception has led to a good deal of attention being paid to Heinz Kerry; she has drawn opposition from those who disagree with her comments, while others applaud her willingness to display her own opinion (in contrast with the usual politician's wife, who is expected to master "The Adoring Gaze").

A crew of Newsweek magazine reporters -- who were given exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the Kerry campaign -- portrayed her as "sullen" and a "distraction," a woman with "sometimes erratic behavior" that led to her not being allowed to travel and speak without chaperones, a policy the reporters called "Managing Teresa" [1] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49993-2004Nov14.html) [2] (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6407226/site/newsweek) [3] (http://www.cabalofdoom.com/archives/001326.html).

The Tribune-Review incident

Right before the 2004 Democratic National Convention in late July, 2004, Heinz Kerry hit her first public relations snafu when being questioned by Colin McNickle, conservative editor of the opinion page of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

During her speech on declining civility during political campaigns, Heinz Kerry said, "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics"

After the speech she passed through a crowd of supporters and journalists and McKnickle asked her what she meant about "un-American activities."

Here is a a transcript of the exchange with McNickle that was recorded by The Patriot-News of Harrisburg and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, which aired the exchange on its 11 o'clock news:

McNickle: "What did you mean?"

Heinz Kerry: "I didn't say that. I didn't say that."

McNickle: "I was just asking what you said."

Heinz Kerry: "Why do you put those words in my mouth?"

McNickle: "You said something about 'un-American activity.'"

A Kerry campaign worker attempted to stop the questioning.

Heinz Kerry: "No, I didn't say that, I did not say 'activity' or 'un-American.' Those were your words."

She walked away, paused, consulted Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pennsylvania, and returned to McNickle.

Heinz Kerry: "Are you from the Tribune-Review?"

McNickle: "Yes, I am."

Heinz Kerry: "Understandable. You said something I didn't say -- now shove it."

[4] (http://www.cantstopthebleeding.com/C886999860/E522840014/).

The televised incident can be viewed at [5] (http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/3576476/detail.html).

After the incident, her spokeswoman also accused the newspaper he worked for of being a "right-wing rag," accusing him of media bias. The Tribune-Review is owned by a prominent conservative figure, Richard Mellon Scaife, had previously run an op-ed piece criticizing the Heinz Foundation contributions, and had also printed some salacious gossip about her and her husband, including accusations that he had had an affair and she was funding violent Islamist groups.

Heinz Kerry's choice of words spurred criticism but was publicly endorsed by her husband and some other Democrats. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave her support for her comment and said, "A lot of Americans are going to say, 'Good for you, you go, girl,' and that's certainly how I feel about it." [6] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uslatest/story/0%2C1282%2C-4352813%2C00.html)

WTAE-TV news anchor Scott Baker captured Heinz Kerry's remarks on tape and insisted McNickle had asked "a pretty straightforward question."

"He was not combative. I think he seemed to be polite. The question that he asked was one that had already occurred to me," Baker said. "Clearly, she was rankled by it." [7] (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/trib/news/s_205302.html)

The Laura Bush incident

In an interview published in the USA Today, Teresa Heinz Kerry was asked about the differences between the first lady and herself:

"Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job—I mean, since she's been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things." [8] (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/2004-10-19-teresa_x.htm)

Almost immediately news stations across the country picked up the story. Conservative talk shows and news stations heavily criticized Heinz Kerry, stating Bush has been employed as a teacher and librarian in the past, and the president's family was 'not a subject for politics'.

Teresa said in a statement later saying she was "sincerely sorry" for the remark: "I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a schoolteacher and librarian, and there couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children," Heinz Kerry said. "As someone who has been both a full time mom and full time in the workforce, I know we all have valuable experiences that shape who we are. I appreciate and honor Mrs. Bush's service to the country as first lady, and am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past." [9] (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/10/20/theresa.apologizes.laura)

Senior Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes called Teresa's remarks "inappropriate" and claimed the apology made things worse: "I think it's very nice that she apologized, but in some ways the apology almost made the comment worse because she seems to have forgotten that being a mother is a real job. I think it's just unfortunate to try to disparage women who have made the choice of making their families a priority." [10] (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/10/20/theresa.apologizes.laura/)

Laura Bush brushed the whole thing off saying,"It didn't matter to me. It didn't hurt my feelings. It was perfectly all right that she apologized. She didn't have to apologize. I know how tough it is. And actually I know those trick questions." [11] (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/10/21/laura.teresa/)

External links


nl:Teresa Heinz Kerry zh:特雷莎·海因茨·克里


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