NEW YORK – Teresa Heinz Kerry (search) wants to be a dog.
"They're people-friendly, generally, and they're not savage," the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) told about 20 preschoolers during a visit Tuesday to upper Manhattan.
She read to them from the children's book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," then sang -- in Spanish -- "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" with the 3- and 4-year-olds. Her dreams of life as a dog were revealed during a discussion with the kids about what animal they would like to be.
"What this center shows is what it means to nurture not only children, but to nurture the ability of their parents to do what's right for children," Heinz Kerry said after her hourlong stop at the Fort George Community Enrichment Center (search).
She also made a pitch for her husband's presidential campaign. If elected, he would ensure that federal Head Start grants go directly to such programs, rather than in "block grants" that are allocated by state officials, she said.
And he would provide money for the hundreds of children on the waiting list for this program in Washington Heights, she said. She also answered questions for reporters in fluent Spanish.
Heinz Kerry, 65, joked with reporters about how she would become the nation's oldest first lady ever.
"How about that," she said with a shrug and a smile. "That gives me, certainly, life experience."
The Fort George Community Enrichment Center serves hundreds of preschoolers in the Washington Heights neighborhood, providing early childhood education in English and Spanish. The program also provides meals and health care for the children.
Early child development programs are one of Heinz Kerry's pet projects.