WASHINGTON – Teresa Heinz Kerry (search) said Monday that President Bush is unwilling to change, a character flaw that shows "inattention and indifference" rather than strength.
Speaking to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (search), the wife of Democratic Sen. John Kerry said her husband is a more capable leader who would respond to issues important to Hispanics, something she said the Republican incumbent has not done.
She said of her husband, "His value in understanding complexity and not being afraid to face it and take action and follow through have been a trademark throughout his life."
Of Bush, the Republican-turned-Democrat said the president "demonstrates he cannot and will not change. The president thinks this shows strength when all it shows is inattention and indifference."
Voters see Bush as the more decisive of the two candidates, according to a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll. Of registered voters, 75 percent labeled Bush as decisive while 37 percent described Kerry that way.
But along with the ability to decide comes stubbornness, many believe. Bush is considered stubborn by 75 percent of the people polled, Kerry 39 percent.
Heinz Kerry's 30-minute talk focused on health care, education and jobs. She received a standing ovation when she said her husband would sign into law the "DREAM ACT" if elected president. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would allow undocumented young people to become legal U.S. residents, a status that could earn them in-state college tuition and other benefits.
Said Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign: "John Kerry has taken eight positions on the war in Iraq and has taken both sides of nearly every important issue facing America today."
Separately, in an interview with Harper's Bazaar magazine, she reacted negatively to the title of first lady but listed women from Eleanor Roosevelt to Betty Ford to Nancy Reagan as inspirational presidents' wives.
Asked by designer Kenneth Cole, who conducted the interview, about her feeling toward the term first lady, Heinz Kerry said, "Ick. There will be a first man one of these days, a first gent, I hope. First lady, I don't know. I always said having three sons, two male dogs and my late husband, I was the only first lady at my house."
If her husband is elected president, Heinz Kerry said her style would neither be that of Barbara Bush nor Hillary Rodham Clinton, in part because she has her own work and own identity.
"I would be his good friend, telling him when he was doing right and helping him when he wasn't," she said.
Heinz Kerry said the first ladies who inspired her were Roosevelt, Rosalynn Carter, Abigail Adams, Ford, who was "someone overcoming a lot — drink, cancer, tough times during Watergate," and Reagan, who was "very ladylike ... and very strong."
Fashionwise, Heinz Kerry said she likes Oscar de la Renta, often wears Ralph Lauren and sometimes buys clothes off the rack.
She said her favorite ketchup color was green.