Kerry’s stepson campaigns at Macalester College

Andre Heinz said his stepfather John Kerry is more of a friend than a father.

Kari Petrie

The real test of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s character began at home, the candidate’s stepson said.

Andre Heinz, son of Teresa Heinz-Kerry, spoke to a group of approximately 75 students Wednesday at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Kerry and Heinz-Kerry wed in 1995, when Heinz was 25. Heinz said he and Kerry became close over holiday vacations and dinners, where they discussed public policy.

Heinz said Kerry didn’t try to become his father but instead turned into a friend.

“He interacts with (my brothers and I) like men,” he said.

What’s most important to Heinz, he said, is that Kerry is a caring and supportive husband.

“He shows respect to her,” he said.

Heinz said his mom has been conflicted with the prospect of being first lady. Though she enjoys being private and having a full home life, she has strong opinions on how the government is turning its back on the poor, Heinz said.

The scrutiny she would face as first lady concerns her, he said.

“It’s the ultimate nightmare,” Heinz said.

But Heinz-Kerry supports her husband in what he does and wants to “keep him real,” Heinz said.

Heinz also talked about Ralph Nader, who is running for president as an independent. Some have speculated Nader could take votes away from Kerry.

Because Nader is an idealist who wears his heart on his sleeve, Heinz said, it’s understandable that students are drawn to him.

“He’s a hero candidate,” Heinz said. “But now there are two hero candidates with John Kerry.”