WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) launched his new campaign plane Tuesday and poked fun at himself, joking that "in the event of an emergency, my hair can be used as a flotation device."
On its maiden voyage, the Boeing 757-200 (search) carried the Kerry campaign from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Portland, Ore., for a two-day swing focusing on energy prices in the Pacific Northwest.
The plane has two conference tables, eight phone lines, a copy machine, a printer and a standup bar for socializing. It has sections for campaign staff, the media and Secret Service (search). Each of its 94 seats has a power outlet for laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices.
Some 72 seats are reserved for the media.
"That means we have about 23, 24 parachutes on board. We're going to hand them out according to good stories, bad stories," Kerry joked.
Launching the plane, which has his name and "President" emblazoned on its side, Kerry reminisced about watching airplanes ferrying U.S. troops during the Vietnam War.
"We looked at those planes, and they gained a nickname. They were called freedom birds (search), and everybody counted the days until we got to get on our freedom bird," he said. "This is my freedom bird."