“Kiss me. I want to smell your hair,” said party hostess and philanthropist Teresa Heinz as she leaned over to whiff the tresses of Mimi Gates at the eighth annual Heinz Awards Dinner in Washington. “Mimi is just back from Africa and I can smell the scent of Africa in her hair,” said Heinz, who was born in Mozambique.
Gates had literally just stepped off the plane at Dulles Airport with her husband, Bill Gates Sr., who headed off to another Washington awards ceremony for his son Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. The Heinz awards of $250,000 each are bestowed in five categories to artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, community activists and scientists in memory of Heinz’s late husband, former Pennsylvania Sen. John Heinz, who died in a plane crash in 1991.
As for growing rumors that Heinz’s current husband, Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), is gearing up to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge President George W. Bush in 2004, both Heinz and Kerry had their answers down pat. “I have no plans. I’m running for reelection right now,” said Sen. Kerry, reaching out to kiss his step-granddaughter Astrid before handing the toddler over to her grandmother. (Later, Kerry was spotted roadtesting “it,” the people mover designed by inventor Dean Kamen, who won the 1999 Heinz award in the technology category.)
Asked whether she thinks she’ll ever be first lady, Teresa Heinz replied, ‘What do I know? I’m doing my own work and campaigning around the state. I’m just trying to stay sane and focused.”