‘Kids for Kerry’ founder endorsed Obama

Dunno how I missed this a few weeks ago, but — lucky for me — the JTA didn’t. From Jan. 31:

wexler.jpgThe Jewish 11-year-old who four years ago called for a “timeout” for Dick Cheney endorsed Barack Obama.

Ilana Wexler, of Oakland, Calif., started Kids for Kerry in 2004 to raise support for U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), then the party’s presidential candidate. She brought the Democratic convention to its feet with her reprimand of the vice president, who had used an obscenity in an exchange with a Senate Democrat.

“When our vice president had a disagreement with a Democratic senator, he used a really bad word,” Wexler said then. “If I said that word, I would be put in a timeout. I think he should be put in a timeout.”

Since then, she has been courted by the campaign of U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to head its youth outreach. This week, however, the now 15-year-old Wexler declared her support for Obama, telling CNN that the Illinois senator embodied hope and was the favorite among her friends.

I remember covering Ilana before and during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. From my July 28, 2004 story about her speech:

Ilana ‘s political activism began late last year after her parents — Jonathan, a CPA, and Heidi, a drama therapist — attended an East Bay house party for Teresa Heinz Kerry. Their enthusiasm soaked into Ilana, who then did her own research and concluded Kerry was the right choice; Kids for Kerry soon was launched and took off nationwide after Ilana met the Kerrys in February in San Francisco.

For the past few months, Kids for Kerry and its sister political action committee, Kids4AChange.com, have been nagging adults and raising funds to ensure a Kerry victory in November; Ilana plans to tour several swing states later this summer to spread the word in person. And she has made new friends: Teresa Heinz Kerry herself called Ilana just one week ago today to tell her to start writing a convention speech.

Here’s a clip of Wexler speaking to Air America’s “Clout” host Richard Greene on Feb. 4 about her endorsement of Obama (yes, it’s YouTube, but audio only):

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.