MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) — Comedian Billy Crystal teased Sen. John Kerry, “If you’re having a good time, tell your face,” but the dour-looking Democrat had an excuse for looking drawn yesterday, after scheduling 36 hours of nearly nonstop campaigning on both coasts plus a Midwest stop.
Mr. Kerry’s marathon itinerary included campaigning in down-and-out Stark County, Ohio, sandwiched between swanky fund-raisers in New York City and Los Angeles. The Los Angeles event was an A-list concert with artists such as Mr. Crystal, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck.
“Can we do this every night?” the presidential candidate said as the show wrapped up about 11 p.m. West Coast time. “This is a great way to campaign.”
Mr. Kerry was speaking before he boarded his campaign charter for a four-hour, red-eye flight to Ohio, where he had to shrug off his fatigue to stump in this bellwether community that chose Republican George W. Bush four years ago. After his arrival, Mr. Kerry told a rally of about 2,000 supporters in a high-school gymnasium that he got to see his wife briefly in Los Angeles, but then they went their separate ways and he slept on the plane.
“Will you do me a favor, help me get a better plane to sleep on come next November?” Mr. Kerry said to laughter from the crowd.
Mr. Kerry then repeated a line he uttered moments earlier about U.S. dependence on Middle East oil, drawing less vigorous applause than the first time.
After the rally, Mr. Kerry swung by the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he boarded his plane for the third time in 24 hours, this time to New York for a fund-raiser with former rival Howard Dean at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
The stop was scheduled to be quick — just four hours before he was to turn around and head to his home in Washington, capping his day-and-a-half tour.
In Los Angeles on Thursday night, Mr. Kerry arrived at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, former home of the Oscars, to find a glitzy crowd of 450 that included his concert entertainment dining on shrimp and filet mignon. He thanked the celebrities for being “willing to put themselves on the line — it’s not something that everybody in show business chooses to do.”
Mr. Kerry then rushed across the street to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, where he was lauded by the Hollywood lineup. Tickets ranged from $2,000 for the concert to $25,000 for a couple to attend the show and dinner. Mr. Crystal called the event, which raised $5 million for Mr. Kerry’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, “Woodstock for really, really rich people.”
Mrs. Streisand and Mr. Diamond performed their 1978 hit “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” together for the first time in 24 years. Streisand also sang a special 2004 election version of her song “People.”
“When the White House stationery reads President John Kerry,” she crooned, “we’ll be the luckiest people in the world.”
Mr. Crystal delivered a 15-minute stand-up routine where he made fun of both candidates. Of Mr. Bush, he said, “We have got to get the White House back from a president who believes now the doctrine of pre-emption — hit them before they hit us. Apparently, he started this when he was driving in the ‘70s,” a reference to Mr. Bush’s drunken-driving plea in 1976.
Mr. Crystal said when he met Mr. Kerry, his first impression was, “could be Ed Muskie’s stunt man.”
“People say he doesn’t smile, he’s not happy enough,” Mr. Crystal said. “I kid him a little bit. I said, ‘Listen, you’re the front-runner, the polls are up, you’ve raised $200 million. If you’re having a good time, tell your face.’”
The crowd roared with laughter, no one more than Mr. Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who bent over laughing and slapped the partition in front of her seat with both hands.
“I’m having fun,” a smiling Mr. Kerry told Mr. Crystal at the end of the show. “And my face got told.”