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