Harrodsburg resident attends Democratic convention for first time

July 30, 2004|HERB BROCK

Monday through Thursday in Boston were a dream come true for Charles "Pat" Patrick as the 24-year-old Harrodsburg man was able to attend his first-ever Democratic National Convention. Now, Patrick wants to do all he can to help Sen. John Kerry chase his dream of becoming president.

And after Kerry's speech late Thursday night accepting his party's nomination, Patrick believes Kentucky will be along for the ride.

"After hearing the senator, I'm pumped and ready to go for November," Patrick said in a telephone interview early today from Boston. "And I am convinced that his message also will resonate in Kentucky, despite what looks like an uphill battle in the state against President Bush."

Patrick, a member of the staff of the Kentucky Democrat Party headquarters in Frankfort, accompanied the state's more than 70 delegates and alternates to the convention, including veteran delegate and Harrodsburg businesswoman JoEtta Wickliffe. He said he came to the convention wondering if Kerry had a shot at overcoming Bush's big leads in polls in Kentucky. He said he was leaving convinced that the Democratic nominee could win the state, as well as the country.


"Kentucky definitely can be in play," Patrick said. "In fact, I think he has a wonderful chance of winning the state.

"I think with what the senator said in his speech, we can make a solid case to voters in Kentucky that better times are ahead under a Kerry administration," he said. "Better times for people needing good-paying jobs, affordable health care, a clean environment and a good education.

"And it also will be better times for people who want a country with a foreign policy and anti-terrorism effort that are strong but also that will regain the respect of the world as well as work with the world."

Despite attacks from Republicans that he is too liberal, Kerry's words were those of a moderate who would advocate a strong military like Bush, but would only use it as a last resort, and who would continue the pattern of economic growth seen in the last several months under Bush but with good-paying jobs, Patrick said.

He believes references to Kerry's militry service were effective

Kerry weaved numerous references to his highly-decorated service in the military in Vietnam into his speech, and Patrick believes it was effective.

"I don't think it was overkill at all," he said. "Kerry is a decorated war hero and leader of his men and he came home with misgivings about the war and led the effort to stop it. Unlike many of those in the present administration, he knows what war is like and he knows it's something that you have to think hard about before getting into. "And I think his talk of his military service was a way of telling the delegates and the country that he is a leader, that he can lead on both the foreign and domestic fronts. The long ovations he received - one for more than 10 minutes - showed that the delegates agreed."

Several media observers commented that the Kerry camp and the party leadership made an effort to tone down the rhetoric of convention speakers, editing speeches to make sure there was little of the "Bush-bashing" of recent months. Patrick said he agreed with the plan.

"I'm tired of all the negative campaigning, on both sides," he said. "I agreed with the Kerry campaign's focus on the positive. There will be other groups who can do the Bush bashing. The party and the Kerry campaign will remain positive from now on out, but will defend themselves when they have to.

"And there's no reason to go negative. The party is united and strong," he said. "There was a definite buzz of optimism in the air the whole week."

Patrick, a 1998 Harrodsburg High School graduate and a 2002 Bellarmine University graduate, has "always had a lifelong desire to be involved in some way in politics." Before joining the staff of the state Democratic Party, he worked as head assistant for Rep. Jack Coleman, D-Burgin, during the last three legislative sessions.

Now, his next political assignment is to see to it that Kerry becomes the 44th president. "I left the convention floor tonight feeling totally energized," Patrick said. "I'm going to take this energy back to Kentucky and make sure it's contagious."

Central Kentucky News Articles