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State bragging rights a mix of silly, sublime

Page 2 of 2 -- At a meeting of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Caucus at Sheraton Boston Hotel, Heinz Kerry told the group: ''You can call me Mama T anytime." As the crowd cheered, she said: ''At least, if nothing else, you will have a mom in the White House that will love you."

To the Democratic National Committee's Hispanic caucus, she held up her fingers in a peace sign and said ''Buenos dias." She told the crowd she is ''seven-eighths Latino," and asked them to make her an honorary member of their group. Then she dashed across the hall to a gathering of African-American delegates, where she spoke about war and sacrifice. ''We have to have respect for veterans of all wars -- civil rights, battlefields and all," she said.

Heinz Kerry was a hit wherever she went. However, actor Ben Affleck cracked up the crowd at the GLBT caucus with his remarks about gay marriage and allusions to his own dashed engagement to singer Jennifer Lopez.

''My partner and I -- Matt Damon -- have done more to raise the profile of gay men . . . " he said. ''If I hear about people not getting married one more time, I'm going to lose it."

Three who didn't win cheer Kerry on

In what has to be a rare event, three failed presidential candidates came before the Massachusetts delegation's breakfast yesterday, one right after another, amusing the delegates and exhorting them to help John Kerry do what they couldn't.

And when they finished, speakers at the breakfast at the Fairmont Copley -- which attracted a huge crowd -- invoked the memory of a fourth presidential candidate, former US senator Paul Tsongas.

US Senator Edward M. Kennedy demonstrated that, compared with his restrained delivery at the convention the night before, he is at his best when let loose to deliver stem-winding blasts at George Bush.

George McGovern noted how much he appreciated the voters in the only state he carried when Richard Nixon buried him in a landslide in 1972. ''I'll go to my grave thinking the smartest voters in America are right here," he told the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation.

But perhaps the funniest quips came from the man who critics claim has no sense of humor -- Michael S. Dukakis. At the end of a talk urging the activists to organize at the local level, the penny-pinching 1988 Democratic presidential nominee let slip that he and his wife, Kitty, were throwing a reception at a fancy new Greek restaurant in Charlestown.

''Is this ridiculous or what?" Dukakis said, marveling that a Greek establishment had opened in the once-tough Irish enclave. ''Anyway, that's a contradiction in terms -- a high-end Greek restaurant."

Frank Phillips, Glen Johnson, and Raphael Lewis of the Globe staff contributed to this article. Information from State House News Service was also used. 

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