Return to Transcripts main page
CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of John Edwards, Teresa Heinz Kerry
Aired July 24, 2004 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he went from small town boy to big time attorney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He became the benchmark against which other trial lawyers were measured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: He jumped on to the political fast track and landed in the U.S. Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WADE SMITH, FRIEND: I remember thinking, oh my goodness, that's not wise. John needs to get his feet wet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Now he's John Kerry's No. 2.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest advantage that Edwards brings is his youthfulness and his energy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From a dusty mill town to the campaign trail, John Edwards' unconventional rise to power.
Then -- she's the heiress to a ketchup fortune and head of a billion dollar endowment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's real. There's nothing that consultants have put together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: As the race for the White House heats up, will this free-speaking, political spouse help or hurt her husband's prospects for the presidency?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA BRAZLLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She makes you look at John Kerry in a different way. I mean this is a woman that has more sauce and more razzmatazz than most people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From growing up under an African dictatorship to speaking out on the campaign trail...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAZLLE: Well, I think anybody with a brain and especially at the dining room table helps shape policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: ...from tragic loss to new love.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF JOHN KERRY: It's an attraction that is different because you know I was still wounded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Teresa Heinz Kerry in her own words. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Rarely has anyone burst on to the political scene like John Edwards. From one term senator to vice-presidential candidate, Edwards' rise has been in Washington terms meteoric. With great success, however, comes great scrutiny. Edwards likes to portray himself as the son of a mill worker but he also made millions as a trial lawyer. On the eve of the Democratic Convention, a look at Edwards, his life, the loss that changed him forever, and his bid to become the next vice president of the United States. Here's Kyra Phillips.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a photo finish in the race for vice president. After months of speculation, Democratic contender John Kerry snagged John Edwards for the No. 2 spot. The handsome, charismatic senator from North Carolina, his wife and their three children, were picture perfect. Prompting comparisons to the days of Camelot when charm, wealth, and political ambition collided in well choreographed photo ops, but this day was a long time coming.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a time that wasn't very long ago, you know back in November, December, when nobody thought anybody named John was going to be on the Democratic ticket for president.
PHILLIPS: Rising up from dusty mill towns in the south, to the top corridors of power in Washington, John Edwards has been defying expectations all his life.
Born in Seneca, South Carolina, on June 10, 1953, Johnny Reed Edwards almost didn't make it home from the hospital to his parent's pink three-room house.
WALLACE EDWARDS, FATHER: When John was born in Oak County Hospital up in Seneca; I had to go borrow money from the loan company to get him and his mother out of the hospital.
PHILLIPS: Wallace, a $35 a week textile worker, and his wife, Bobbi, weren't dirt poor but there were no room for even the simplest of luxuries.
W. EDWARDS: We struggled but we didn't know that times were hard.
BOBBI EDWARDS, MOTHER: We had all we needed, the basics.
W. EDWARDS: Food and clothes.
B. EDWARDS: Barely. I would have given my arm for a clothes drier. I remember that well.
PHILLIPS: They chased work from mill to mill across the south before settling in Robbins, North Carolina. It was a hardscrabble little town with one main street where neighborhood bullies would force Johnny Edwards to learn an early lesson.
W. EDWARDS: I told him one day, I said, the best way to defend against that is to punch them in the nose and they will leave you alone.
PHILLIPS: By the time he reached North Moore High School, athletic, 6-foot tall Johnny was standing up for himself. He lettered in basketball, track and football. Bobby Cavanese (ph), who lost both of his parents in high school, was also on the football team. He remembers how Johnny and his parents took him in...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's Johnny Edwards there.
PHILLIPS: ...unusual in the south at a time when blacks and whites did not socialize.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would pick me up and take me to their house to eat, made sure I had a decent meal and made sure I got to the game safe and made sure I got back home safe.
PHILLIPS: Johnny liked sports more than academics but he was a pretty good student.
DARRELL POWERS, HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND: His parents, you know, they were pushing him toward college. You know it was pretty much understood, you know, that he was going to go to college.
PHILLIPS: It didn't take much for John's parents to convince him a degree could give him opportunities that they never had.
W. EDWARDS: He worked over here in the mill, where I worked, cleaning looms and sweeping the floor. And he'd come home and you ought to see him. He said, "I'm not going to do this all my life."
PHILLIPS: In just three years, the Edwards clan had its first college graduate. Johnny dreamed of being an attorney.
J. EDWARDS: Based on what I saw on television and read about, it felt to me like lawyers, if they were good and worked hard, could help people who needed somebody to fight for them.
PHILLIPS: But the textile management major hedged his bets applying for jobs at the mill. His ticket out came in the form of an acceptance letter, the law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Almost immediately, John was captivated by a dark haired co-ed named Elizabeth, the daughter of a Navy pilot.
DAVID KIRBY, FRIEND: Elizabeth was one of the most stunningly beautiful women I had ever seen in my life. I think John felt the same way and they started dating probably within the first two or three months of law school.
PHILLIPS: In the summer of 1977, an $11 wedding ring sealed the deal. John and Elizabeth were married within a week after taking the bar. After a stint in Nashville, Edwards moved to Raleigh and paid his dues in the Wake County Courthouse shadowing senior partners on their cases.
SMITH: There are not many people that know how to work the way he knows how to work and for John to work all night was just nothing unusual. He would just go all night.
PHILLIPS: In 1984, his hard work paid off. He won a $3.7 million verdict for a recovering alcoholic who was incapacitated after a hospital over-prescribed medication. The spotlight was all his. A string of wins proved this was no fluke. His intensive research combined with smarts, good looks, and a familiar down home drawl worked magic on juries.
KIRBY: We were in a trial one time and at the end of the trial, one of the lawyers walked up to one of the jurors and said, "Ma'am, you really had a great experience here, you just saw one of the greatest lawyers in America try a case." And the lady said, "Oh, really?" She says, "Well, which one was that?" And he says, "Well, Mr. Edwards, of course." And the lady smiled and she says, "Oh, I just thought he was one of us."
PHILLIPS: Soon opponents started to think twice about going up against him.
MICHAEL DAYTON, EDITOR, "NORTH CAROLINA LAWYERS WEEKLY": When they heard that he was involved in the case, it would certainly give them pause and they would think long and hard before they took it to trial.
PHILLIPS: By 1992, business was so good John opened his own firm with his best pal from law school, David Kirby. They specialized in personal injury cases.
JUDGE ROBERT FARMER (RET.), WAKE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: Some people have called him an ambulance chaser. That's far from the truth because he did not need to chase an ambulance. The injured people chased him.
PHILLIPS: Life outside the courtroom was just as good, but that was about to change. When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, a devastating tragedy.
KIRBY: It's a horrible wound that I know they won't want to reopen. It's a very hard thing to move forward.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Before he graced covers of "Time" and "Newsweek" with Democratic nominee John Kerry, before his name was on the list of every television anchor, and even before "People" magazine named him America's sexiest politician, as far as the legal community of North Carolina was concerned, John Edwards has already a celebrity.
DAYTON: Very few people in the course of their career will get a million dollar verdict or above for a settlement and he had -- in a typical year, he might have five, six, seven, eight, 10 verdicts around that size, which is phenomenal.
PHILLIPS: With a record 54 cases resulting in a verdict or settlement of more than a million dollars, he was fearless.
KIRBY: He was absolutely at the peek of his legal career. He had achieved everything that you could achieve as a lawyer. He was accepted as the best trial lawyer in the state of North Carolina, possibly the best trial lawyer that's ever practiced law in the state of North Carolina.
PHILLIPS: With his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, Wade and Kate, John Edwards was living a life he could only dream of as a boy in Robbins, North Carolina. In the summer of 1995, Edwards even tackled his fear of heights to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with his son. The two had become inseparable. The next year, 16-year-old Wade was driving to the family's beach house when a gust of wind blew his Jeep off the highway. He was killed instantly.
KIRBY: If you understood how close John and Elizabeth were to both their children, to both Wade and Kate and if you had an appreciation for just the devastation that comes with losing a child, I think you can appreciate how as parents they want to keep that part of their lives private.
PHILLIPS: Both John and Elizabeth stopped working and stayed home to grieve for more than six months. The family pulled together, focusing on ways to honor Wade's memory. They created the Wade Edwards Learning Lab, a tutoring center and computer lab built across the street from Wade's high school.
SARAH LOWDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WADE EDWARDS LEARNING LAB: John and Elizabeth were here with paintbrushes and actually helped hammer and paint to get the place up and running. During the first six to eight months that it was in existence, they were here every day working with the students after school.
J. EDWARDS: Hello, Jackie.
PHILLIPS: The couple also decided to have more children. Emma Claire and Jack were born after 46-year-old Elizabeth had hormone therapy. John Edwards considered leaving law altogether. But the case of a young girl who was severely maimed by a defective swimming pool drain brought him back. Judge Robert Farmer who presided over the case remembers John Edwards' closing arguments.
FARMER: He argued for about an hour-and-a-half or a little more. I never saw him read from any note. It's like leaning over the fence with your neighbor and talking about this little girl's problems, health problems and future problems. And that's the way he is in the courtroom. It's just talking like he's talking to a neighbor.
PHILLIPS: The jury came back with a $25 million verdict for the Lackey (ph) family. But memories of his own personal tragedy pushed him in a completely new direction.
KIRBY: I think what happened when Wade died, as anyone would, there's a lot of time for reflection on your life. It really brings home your mortality. I think that became a crossroads for John in his life.
PHILLIPS: In 1998, he decided to run for the U.S. Senate. Only problem, Edwards had no political experience. He hadn't even voted regularly up until then.
J. EDWARDS: How you doing, man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good to see you.
PHILLIPS: Even the people closest to him were a little surprised.
B. EDWARDS: He called and he said, "Mom, are you sitting down?" And I said, "Well, actually I am." And he said, "I've decided to run for the Senate." And I said, "Oh, you have. I think that's wonderful. You going to run for the state Senate?" He said, "No, you U.S. Senate, Mama." I said, "Oh." That's all I could think to say.
SMITH: I remember thinking oh my goodness, oh my goodness. That's not wise. John needs to get his feet wet, but he would not be dissuaded. I really worried that this very able man would offer himself and be disappointed because he was just biting off much more than I felt that he could chew.
PHILLIPS: Edwards spent $6 million of his own money on the campaign. And the race got ugly.
SMITH: I think that John was able to turn it around. There's a part of John that doesn't -- I think part of John's attitude is I will not let someone else establish my standard for manners.
PHILLIPS: The passion and personal charm that work so well on North Carolina juries also worked on North Carolina voters. Newcomer John Edwards won with 51 percent of the vote. Edwards jumped into his senatorial duties, but as soon as he arrived in the Senate, his highly touted trial lawyer skills would come into play. He was tapped to interview several witnesses during President Clinton's impeachment proceeding and impressed both sides with closing arguments for the president's defense. He was becoming a hit on the national stage, but local critics say at the expense of North Carolina.
BILL COBEY, FORMER CHAIRMAN, N.C. REPUBLICAN PARTY: If you go around the state they'd say, "Well, we only had one senator these last few years" because as soon as he got up there he started pursuing the big prize.
J. EDWARDS: How are you?
PHILLIPS: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, the pros and cons of the No. 2 man on the Democratic ticket.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PHILLIPS: After being on Al Gore's vice presidential short list in 2000, on September 16, 2003, John Edwards was ready to try for the top job on his own.
J. EDWARDS: That's the promise of America, a fair shake for all and a free ride for none.
PHILLIPS: The campaign focused on ending what he called two Americas, one for the haves and one for the have nots.
J. EDWARDS: And I believe that we are still a party that believes that the son of a mill worker can actually beat the son of a president for the White House.
PHILLIPS: Edwards developed a reputation as being the consummate nice guy, rarely criticizing his fellow Democratic candidates. But at one debate in New York, Edwards took a shot with then opponent and now running mate John Kerry. J. EDWARDS: It's just simply not the truth. These are great arguments about what he intends to do going forward. My point is very simple about all this. This is the same old Washington talk that people have been listening to for decades. They want something different.
PHILLIPS: Kerry took his own potshot.
KERRY: When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, ladies and gentlemen, I'm not sure if John Edwards was out of diapers then yet or not.
HASTINGS WYMAN, EDITOR, "SOUTHERN POLITICAL REPORT": Edwards was interesting in he did not do a lot of negative campaigning. One of the things that occurs to me is he may have realized he was going to have a tough time winning the top prize this time and he didn't want to make a bunch of enemies.
KIRBY: He was criticized a lot at one point he wouldn't go negative, he wouldn't be highly critical of his opponents but that would be out of character for him.
PHILLIPS: Bounding across the country, the 51-year-old candidate with boyish looks, charmed crowds both big...
J. EDWARDS: I have fought over and over and over...
PHILLIPS: ...and small.
J. EDWARDS: This is what I love doing, this retail politics where you get to see people face to face. They can judge what kind of person you are and what kind of ideas you have. This is wonderful. This is what politics is supposed to be about.
PHILLIPS: But it wasn't enough. Edwards won just one primary in South Carolina. On March 3, 2004, he ended his presidential bid but not his campaign.
J. EDWARDS: Today, I decided to suspend my campaign for the presidency of the United States but I want to say a word about a man who is a friend of mine, somebody who I believe has great strength and great courage, my friend senator John Kerry...
MERLE BLACK, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR/EMORY UNIVERSITY: He really campaigned for the job as vice president I think far more than any of the other Democrats in the field. He made it known that he would love to be on the ticket.
PHILLIPS: With his southern roots, charismatic personality and ability to raise money, Edwards became a natural contender for the vice-presidential slot. Even though polls showed him a favorite among Democrats, he was far from a shoe in with Kerry.
BLACK: When the two of them were on the stage, most of the attention goes to Edwards, because he's the more interesting, exciting performer up there on the stage. And some people thought that Kerry would not pick Edwards for that very reason.
PHILLIPS: But Edwards' personality may have been the very thing that got him the job.
WYMAN: The biggest advantage that Edwards brings to the Kerry ticket is this youthfulness and his energy and his optimistic style. I think voters like those things. And in this age of television I think they are very important.
PHILLIPS: Just hours after the announcement, Republicans were asking, who is John Edwards?
COBEY: There's significance to picking a liberal personal injury attorney who, you know, has little or no experience, no executive experience at all and just a few years ago he was trying cases in a courtroom. Does that qualify him to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? I don't think so.
J. EDWARDS: And some financial security...
KIRBY: His whole life has been trying to make good judgments under difficult and trying circumstances. So he has, in my opinion, the best training anyone could have.
PHILLIPS: Critics also label Edwards as a million dollar ambulance chaser who made his fortune on driving up insurance costs.
WYMAN: His trial lawyer experience is a two-way street. The thing that's a negative about it is many people feel that plaintiff's attorneys who win these enormous multimillion dollar lawsuits against companies and doctors and so forth have gotten out of hand. The flip side of that for Edwards is a doctor made a mistake and little Suzie will never walk comfortably again, and people sympathize with that. Juries have and voters may, as well.
PHILLIPS: Republicans also charge Edwards doesn't have support at home, one of the reasons they say he chose to run for president and not defend his Senate seat.
COBEY: He was in trouble and he knew it right here in his home state. And it would be very embarrassing for him to lose his Senate seat. That would have extinguished his political career.
PHILLIPS: It's opened Edwards up to charges of super sized ambition, vying for the presidency after just one term at a senator, his first and only elected office.
BLACK: It's very unusual for a freshman senator to really think seriously about running for president. Edwards has almost unlimited ambition. I think it's almost Shakespearian ambition.
PHILLIPS: Friends and supporters say Edwards has always been ambitious and there's nothing wrong with that.
SMITH: I always felt like John had a healthy ambition and a longing to rise up out of the rural North Carolina and to show the folks back home that he could do it well.
J. EDWARDS: Because this is America where everything is possible.
PHILLIPS: Out on the campaign trail, the No. 2 man on the Democratic ticket is showing folks at home he's doing quite well indeed.
ZAHN: John Edwards will accept his party's nomination for vice president at the Democratic convention in Boston on Thursday.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, she was the daughter of a doctor in Mozambique. Now she's the spouse of the Democratic presidential candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEINZ KERRY: If John has told me 10 years ago "I am going to run for president one day," I would say, "Hello, not with me you're not."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The intriguing world of Teresa Heinz Kerry when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS despite her impressive resume, Teresa Heinz Kerry remains a bit of mystery. She is a former U.N. interpreter, the widow of a Republican senator and one of the richest women in America. Of course, she's now married to Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry. But who is she really? And what sort of first lady would she make? Candy Crowley sat down with her to tell her story.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is the multilingual billionaire ketchup heiress, spirited, sophisticated fond of cashmere scarves and Chanel couture. She travels in her own travel jet, nicknamed The Flying Squirrel. Heir to the H.J. Heinz Company fortune, she oversees one of the largest philanthropic organizations in America.
BRAZLLE: I think America is ready for Teresa. I think they're ready for her outspokenness. They're ready for her intellect. They are ready because their daughters are ready to see a woman who has her own opinions and what's wrong with that? This is 2004.
CROWLEY: She's the wife of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. He is reserved. She is warm, uninhibited and has been known to curse in any one of her five languages. KERRY: First of all, she's sexy and sassy, and exciting and interesting and fun and challenging and smart. Where do you want me to stop?
CROWLEY: Certainly, not before you get out to outspoken.
HEINZ KERRY: I have to say it's time that women like men who know and have opinions be called smart and well informed and not opinionated.
DENNIS B. RODDY, REPORTER/COLUMNIST, "PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE": Teresa Heinz came to the country and found freedom of speech and by God she was going to use it.
CROWLEY: But early on, Democratic strategists were not always sure she was a campaign asset. In a now infamous 2002 interview with "The Washington Post," Teresa spoke adoringly and frequently about her late husband. Elsewhere she talked about her Botox injection and a prenuptial agreement with John Kerry causing a whirlwind of press.
JULIA REED, SENIOR WRITER, "VOGUE": We've been so conditioned to these careful politicians and politicians' wives; we're not used to people just sort of passionately speaking out.
HEINZ KERRY: Well, if he doesn't become a curmudgeon...
CROWLEY: Yet to perfect the Stepford political wife's adoring gaze, Teresa has been known to fidget and look bored when her husband talks. She doesn't always look like she wants to be where she is. Certainly, becoming first lady was not on her radar screen when she married John Kerry.
HEINZ KERRY: If John had told me 10 years ago, "I am going to run for president one day," I would have said, "Hello, not with me you're not."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teresa Heinz Kerry.
CROWLEY: Now, often campaigning on her own, she crisscrosses America entertaining audiences with her unscripted style.
HEINZ KERRY: I'm not good at just saying something. You have to ask me something.
CROWLEY: She is a long way from home.
HEINZ KERRY: Never did I ever think hanging from a tree upside down in Africa that I would be -- I did a lot -- that I would one day be doing this.
CROWLEY: Maria Teresa Thierston Simeos-Ferreira was born in the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique. Her family was part after privileged colonial class. Her father a prominent Portuguese doctor. Her mother worked at home raising Teresa and her brother and sister.
HEINZ KERRY: It was a dream. I had a wonderful mom and dad, family, beautiful nature, wonderful trees and fruits and I climbed trees all day. And I had I guess in the sense a very old fashioned, would you call it, Latin home where there was a lot of order, a lot of affection, a lot of nice food, a lot of music.
CROWLEY: As a teenager, Teresa would go with her father on the weekends traveling into the bush to treat villagers.
HEINZ KERRY: Saturday morning, he would have clinic, mothers and babies and just seeing a sea of them. I had one little beautiful girl die in my arms.
CROWLEY: Always adventurous, Teresa roamed around the African savannah watching for crocodiles as she and her sister swam in the rivers near home. Her love of nature would later grow into a passion to protect the environment.
HEINZ KERRY: I always will have a longing for that and for those days. They were simple, beautiful days.
CROWLEY: But the simple, beautiful days she recalls were shadowed by a colonial dictatorship. Teresa witnessed the legacy of oppression.
HEINZ KERRY: I began to understand that I couldn't speak about politics outside of your home dining room table and only with your family. And if you were against the dictatorship you better not speak about them.
CROWLEY: In 1956, Teresa left Mozambique to attend college at the University of Witwatersrand (ph) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
HEINZ KERRY: It was an interesting turn of events for me to have been in a country like Mozambique, which is poor but didn't have apartheid, and then go to a supremely well off country like South Africa, top hospitals, great universities and this terrible spurge of apartheid.
CROWLEY: She would join in the movement against efforts to separate blacks and white from South African schools.
HEINZ KERRY: Now, protests were very mild protests. We walked in the streets of Johannesburg. We just basically stood at gates at the Higher Education of Apartheid Act, which was a pending bill which passed in the last -- two weeks before I graduated and that was a terrible thing. That separated students forever.
CROWLEY: Graduating from college, Teresa left South Africa as she found it divided but her social conditions had taken root. Curious to learn about different cultures and languages, 22-year-old Teresa headed to Switzerland to study at the interpreter school at the University of Geneva. Here, she would meet the love of her life.
HEINZ KERRY: My first love, my first love and my guy. He's my man, you know.
CROWLEY: Coming up, a great love, a great loss. DIANA WALKER, FRIEND: I despaired for Teresa. We all watched her carefully. We didn't want to leave her alone for a moment.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
CROWLEY (voice-over): By 1960, Teresa had left behind the turmoil of South Africa for graduate studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She would learn to ski, master five languages and fall in love. Henry John Heinz III was a Harvard graduate student and sole heir to one of the largest fortunes in America. His great grandfather was Henry J. Heinz founder of the Global Soup and Ketchup Company. John had taken a summer job working at a Swiss bank to learn about international business.
HEINZ KERRY: I used to go play tennis every day with my Japanese girlfriend with whom I had roomed. And one day she calls me up and she said, "Teresa you got to call your friend. He plays tennis with so and so and you got to meet him. He got blue eyes, black hair." Yes, yes, yes. I said, "OK, I'll see what I can do."
CROWLEY: John Heinz, Jack to his friends, was young, athletic and handsome. Teresa was smitten but the summer was short.
HEINZ KERRY: I fell in love with him in Geneva when I was in graduate school but then he left. You know he left after three or four weeks. He had gone back to Harvard and I went back to my studies. And my sister was killed in a car crash in July. Interestingly, my sister's last words to me, she said, "You're going to marry Jack" before she walked out of the house.
CROWLEY: It was to be a long distance relationship but it endured. Teresa eventually moved to New York working as an interpreter with the United Nations. Two years later, John Heinz proposed. Their 1966 wedding was the talk of Pittsburgh. The couple settled outside of the city moving on to the Heinz family's 100-acre estate, Rosemont Farm. They had three sons, John, Andre, and Christopher. The young family loved to ski together and ride horses.
WALKER: Jack Heinz was a lot of fun. He was a really nice person. She just loved him. Teresa just added to his zest for life with hers and with these wonderful boys that they had together. The boys running around all over the place. They had a terrific life together.
CROWLEY: It was a life of wealth and privilege traveling the world, spending holidays at the family's vacation homes in Idaho and Nantucket.
RODDY: To be a Heinz in Pittsburgh was to be someone whose name didn't have to be explained. CROWLEY: Teresa became a U.S. citizen at 33 and dedicated herself to raising their three sons while her husband taught at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh. Heinz had been groomed to take over the family business but surprised everyone by choosing a life in government. Teresa was in shock.
HEINZ KERRY: I was only married a couple years. I had a little baby. I was in a new city and a new country and all of a sudden somebody said you should run for Congress and suddenly I said, "Oh, please, don't do that." So finally, our Congressman just had a heart attack and died. So there was a 10-day window for him to run for primary. And he did and he won.
HENRY JOHN HEINZ III, FORMER HUSBAND: And it is a tremendous win and I thank you.
CROWLEY: He would become one of the most popular politicians in Pennsylvania winning six elections for the House and Senate between 1971 and 1988. He was a passionate supporter of the environment and the elderly. As a newly political wife, Teresa took an active role in civic causes, organizing the National Council for Children and Television and campaigning for fellow Republicans. As the family adjusted to life in Washington, Teresa often found herself alone with her children. But she came to enjoy her role as the wife of a senator.
WALKER: He would engage with her in these conversations, you know, and sometimes he'd say, "Now, dear, I think you're wrong about that. And you've got to think about this a little bit more or that a little bit more." And they would sort of temper each other.
CROWLEY: Teresa also helped her husband with the Heinz family philanthropic endowment in Pittsburgh, working together on issues concerning health care and the environment.
In 1991, John Heinz was aboard his twin engine plane headed to Philadelphia when it collided with a helicopter over a city schoolyard. Everyone onboard both aircraft was killed. Teresa was inconsolable. The man she had loved for 25 years as gone.
WALKER: She was at a loss for quite a while. She had been very, very much in love with her husband. And he had been taken like that out of the blue.
HEINZ KERRY: I became a grown-up. I became a woman with him, you know, a mother, a wife.
RODDY: Teresa Heinz didn't just become a widow; she became a widow in a horrible and public way.
CROWLEY: Coming up, Teresa's difficult year and the possibility of love again.
WALKER: All of a sudden, there was this spark again, and there she was.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
CROWLEY (voice-over): After almost 25 years of marriage, at 52, Teresa Heinz was a widow. The loss of her husband, Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz sunk Teresa into depression.
HEINZ KERRY: Missing him, missing him as my mate, it was also hard because it was at a time when all of the kids left home. So all of a sudden I went from having a house with people to nobody. It was a lot of tough pains.
WALKER: Nobody wanted to let go of Teresa and the boys. They were just terribly important to all of us.
RODDY: After John Heinz's death, she became a Pittsburgh icon because of the way in which she bore the loss. She bore it in a very public way and she bore it in a very dignified way.
CROWLEY: She retreated from public life. But two years after John died; Pennsylvania Republicans began courting Teresa to run for his Senate seat. She considered it but decided against running. In a press conference announcing her decision, Teresa took aim as a conservative Republican who was vying for the Senate seat calling him Forest Gump with attitude.
HEINZ KERRY: I would have to say that Rick Sanatorium is the antithesis of John Heinz.
CROWLEY: With that, Teresa stepped out of the political fray to be with her family and oversee the Heinz family's philanthropic activities.
HEINZ KERRY: It was something actually he and I were working on, it was my last conversation with him, was about that. It was a continuation of work we cared about together.
CROWLEY: As chairman of the Howard Heinz Endowment and Heinz family philanthropies, Teresa Heinz Kerry oversaw more than $70 million in grants last year. Her passions run from environmental conservation to the arts to early childhood education. Her work with the Heinz Endowment engaged Teresa's mind but there was a void in her life.
Years earlier, her late husband has introduced Teresa to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts at an Earth Day rally in Washington. A year after John Heinz's death, Teresa ran in John Kerry at a 1992 Earth Day Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
J.D. HEYMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: She was quite impressed with this man. And like John Heinz, they had much in common and they began to see one other. CROWLEY: Senator Kerry had been a bachelor for more than 10 years. His first marriage ended in divorce. Over time, Teresa and John's relationship grew.
HEINZ KERRY: It's an attraction that's different because, you know, I was still wounded. And you are lonely still, also, you know. So at that age, I think, what you look for is some comfort, some friendship, some understanding.
WALKER: I'll never forget it. Teresa was in the kitchen and she was whistling. Now this is new. This was Teresa coming out from under and it was John Kerry.
KERRY: She's a full woman, fascinating, unbelievably engaging, loves fun, loves dance, loves music, loves the arts, loves the world, loves the environment, loves people, loves life. And she's full of it -- life.
CROWLEY: After dating for three years, Teresa Heinz married John Kerry in May of 1995 at her family's vacation home on Nantucket.
HEINZ KERRY: Finally, we decided to just, you know, we didn't like it when we weren't around and so we finally tied the knot.
HEYMAN: When you see them together, you realize how much fire there really is between this couple. He really loves her and there's a real connection between the two of them.
CROWLEY: Actively campaigning for her husband for almost a year now, Teresa speaks to audiences in her own spirited style.
HEINZ KERRY: Shape policy, well, I think anybody with a brain and a discussion at the dining room table helps shape policy, informally always, but not formally, no.
BRAZLLE: She makes you look at John Kerry in a different way. I mean this is a woman that has more sauce and more razzmatazz than most people.
CROWLEY: Still early campaign days were not easy. That infamous "Washington Post" interview with the couple rattled the Kerry camp.
WEYMAN: She talked about her late husband, John Heinz. She seemed to interrupt her husband, John Kerry, and they seemed to bicker a little bit in front of the reporter. And you know some people thought that the theme of the article was she didn't think John Kerry was quite the man that her first husband was.
BRAZLLE: Well, there's no question that when "The Washington Post" and when the Beltway insiders took a look at not just her resume but also some of her previous statements, their hair caught on fire.
CROWLEY: Critics took aim at Teresa for her name. After eight years of marriage she remained her Teresa Heinz, only last year did she become Teresa Heinz Kerry. She also took heat for switching her party affiliation. The lifelong Republican became a registered Democrat in 2003.
Now, there is the matter of her day job. Teresa's estimated worth has grown to a billion dollars according to a recent analysis by "The L.A. Times." She has said publicly that she will continue to run the Heinz Endowments should she continue to become first lady.
TERRY SCANLON, PRESIDENT, CAPITAL RESEARCH CENTER: We're concerned because she is a liberal activist in the environmental area. We think she would probably play a vital role with -- particularly with appointments to the Environmental Protection Agency. She would be in charge of a $1.2 billion in monies to be given away. And I just don't think that's the role of a first lady.
HEINZ KERRY: First of all, the very big endowments, the Heinz Endowments are mostly focused in Pennsylvania. The one I chair is totally focused in Pennsylvania. Everything that we do is on the Web site, is transparent in terms of monies, where it goes to, et cetera, completely.
REED: I mean that foundation is her life. That's who she is. You know it's a more concrete version of what first ladies have traditionally done forever.
CROWLEY: But is America ready for a foreign born billionaire first lady? It is not, her husband insists, as exotic as it may seem.
KERRY: In the White House, I think she'd be stunning because she is so caring and down to earth about everyday problems of real people. I mean she gets it.
CROWLEY: And for all the way she would be different, Teresa Heinz Kerry is surprisingly traditional. Ask her what kind of first lady she would be and she says that she admires the way Laura Bush has handled the job.
HEINZ KERRY: I think a spouse in this situation has got to be really the rock for the other spouse. Remember who you are. Remember what you stand for. Remember why you came here. Remember we love you. I think the most successful people are the ones who have a good spouse that's honest and reminds them of who they are.
ZAHN: On the campaign trail, she is introduced as Teresa Heinz Kerry but to her close friends the potential first lady is known as "Mama T."
That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, Halle Berry purrs into theaters as Catwoman and it's political entreat for Denzel Washington in "The Manchurian Candidate."
I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope you'll be back with us next week.
ANNOUNCER: And for more people in the news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com