Convention Diary: Spooks have rarely smelled so sweet

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The Independent US

It's day one and it's chaos in Boston. Forty miles of road have been shut, train stations have been closed and there are F-16 fighter jets flying overhead to protect delegates and the soon-to-be-anointed presidential candidate John Kerry.

It's day one and it's chaos in Boston. Forty miles of road have been shut, train stations have been closed and there are F-16 fighter jets flying overhead to protect delegates and the soon-to-be-anointed presidential candidate John Kerry.

One report says that for every one convention delegate there are three journalists. Several dozen of the 15,000 hacks are "bloggers", internet-only writers, who for the first time have been accredited for a major convention. Among them are the erudite TalkingPointsMemo.com, the DailyKos.com, which has astonishingly raised more than $400,000 (£220,000) for the Kerry campaign, and Pacificviews.org, run by a Seattle woman, identified as Natasha, which averages a modest 300 hits a day.

¿ What sort of First Lady will Teresa Heinz Kerry make? Outspoken, for sure. On Sunday night, having just urged delegates from her home state of Pennsylvania to help restore a civil tone to US politics, she addressed a journalist from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics," she said. Asked to explain what "un-American" meant, Mrs Heinz Kerry retorted: "I didn't say that. You said something I didn't say. Now shove it."

¿ It has already been decided that one party favourite will not be allowed near the convention centre; Swifty the donkey has been barred. Swifty was brought from his home in the foothills of Lookout Mountain in Georgia to add a little levity. (The Democrats traditional mascot is the donkey while the Republicans have the elephant.) But officials at the Fleet Convention Centre ruled that because of the security threat only delegates and staff would be permitted. Swifty was facing an unceremonious 942-mile journey straight back to Georgia until the city's Franklin zoo said he could stay there for the duration of the convention.

¿ For the Secret Service agents outside John Kerry's home in Louisburg Square in the upmarket Beacon Hill district of the city, the dress code is not the usual dark tie. So impressed have been locals by their courtesy that they have given them specially made ties featuring a map of the historic district. Others have requested that the local paper run a story about the agents' pleasant-smelling aftershave.

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