Original URL: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/279/metro/Face_to_face+.shtml

Face to Face

Who: Kerry Healy, Where: Imperial Seafood, Chinatown, What:
Reaching out to Asian-Americans
Boston Globe on 10/6/2002.

By Corey Dade, 10/6/2002

Neon signs pop to life as the sun falls behind the high-rises encircling Boston's Chinatown, and, in a confluence of gray sidewalks, there's an evening rush of foot traffic. A man tugs a wagon of fish, an elderly couple chat in Mandarin. People pause to check out a finely dressed man and woman who round a corner and come down the street trailed by reporters, in a glow of TV lights.

The two stop in the balmy air outside Imperial Seafood, face the cameras, and submit to an interview. Nearby, George Wong, 67, a sheet-metal worker who says he's a registered independent, cranes his neck to get a better look over the throng of media and campaign workers. Wong says he's a union man and is partial to Democratic candidate Shannon O'Brien, but he recognizes Mitt Romney, with
whom he's recently become intrigued. ''The Olympics and all that,'' he says. But Kerry Healey?

''I never heard of her before,'' he says. ''Has she done anything?''

Here in the cultural heart of the state's Asian population, which enlists few Republicans and is famously insulated from mainstream politics, Healey is virtually unknown, an object of curiosity.

Inside the restaurant, though, are some 250 members of the Massachusetts Asian- American Republican Association, an upstart group that is trying to encourage political participation among Asians and find a voice in the GOP. They are ardent supporters of the Romney-Healey ticket.

Healey appears taken aback by the commotion that greets them - flash bulbs, digital cameras shoved in their faces, people jockeying for their attention.

She squeezes through the crowd and seats herself with Romney and event organizers at a round table at the front of the room. Joseph Wong, president of the Asian Republican group (and no relation to George Wong), stands at a lectern and introduces her to the guests.

''The Massachusetts Asian-American Republican Association believes that if the voice of Asian-Americans is to be heard, they must participate in the American way, and that's the political way,'' Joseph Wong tells the audience. ''We need your help to elect Mitt Romney and Kerry Murphy ...'' He pauses, looks down at his notes. ''Healey!"

At the microphone, Healey takes a confident tone. ''Mitt Romney and I share your values,'' she says. ''We both believe in safe communities, in families. We want to fight for small businesses, entrepreneurism. ... We care about the same things as you - the poor, the sick, our children. We want you to know that if we're elected you will be well taken care of, if need be.''

She speaks for about five minutes before clutching the mike, leaning into the lectern, saying: ''We need your help. We need your vote. If you won't vote, please help work with us - go door to door.''

Her speech done, Healey mingles. Many want photographs with her. She shakes hands and keeps her conversations short.

Joseph Wong, who said it took him four years of grade school to learn English, had hoped to urge Healey to soften her stance against bilingual education. But when Healey approaches, she shakes his hand, saying only what she's been repeating to everyone else in the room. ''Hi, there. Thank you,'' she says, and moves on.


This story ran on page B6 of the Boston Globe on 10/6/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.