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Players: Frank Lowenstein

Kerry Adviser's Work Imbued With a Legacy

By Laura Blumenfeld
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 1, 2004; Page A27

Frank Lowenstein got married in April, became a father in June and works 13-hour shifts as a foreign policy adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry -- most recently in helping prepare the presidential candidate for last night's foreign policy debate.

"It's a perfect storm of events that has conspired to deprive me of sleep," Lowenstein said on a day when he walked into Kerry-Edwards headquarters at 8:30 a.m. and would not leave until 4 the following morning.

Frank Lowenstein was immersed in politics as the son of a civil rights leader. (Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)

In Profile

Frank Lowenstein

Title: Director of national security policy, Democratic National Committee.

Education: Bachelor's degree, Yale; law degree, Boston College Law School.

Age: 37.

Family: Married; a daughter.

Career highlights: Associate, Hill & Barlow in Boston; legislative assistant for foreign policy and defense issues for then-Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.).

Pastimes: Boston Red Sox fan; tennis.

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But what really keeps Lowenstein working into the night is something more subtle than a storm. It is the memory of his murdered father, Allard Lowenstein, the iconoclastic civil rights and antiwar leader. During the 1960s and 1970s, Allard Lowenstein inspired thousands of Democrats, including Kerry. Now Frank, in turn, said the Massachusetts senator has inspired him.

"After my dad died, we felt a powerful sense of loyalty to the people who remembered him," said Lowenstein, 37. Over the years, Kerry has praised the one-term New York congressman. In a 1970 interview, Kerry said that by protesting the Vietnam War, "I'm just going to be one man adding to the work of men like Lowenstein."

Today, Frank Lowenstein says, "It has come full circle now. I'm just one of the people trying to help John Kerry."

The link between father and son is unmistakable. Frank has his father's profile, his hairline, his mischievous laugh and his habit of carrying around old newspapers in case he missed yesterday's news. Kerry, who in a statement described the younger Lowenstein's presence on the campaign as "an honor," said, "Frank has the gift of his father's social conscience and passion. . . . He's got that same unshakeable faith that he's in this for a reason that's bigger than any of us."

Kerry said he first heard Allard Lowenstein speak when he was a junior at Yale. The New York activist urged the students to help African Americans in Alabama and Mississippi attain equal rights.

"No single speech stands out more in my memory than Allard Lowenstein's visit to campus," Kerry said. "You felt a responsibility to get up and do something, and you believed in your ability as an individual to actually make a difference. I can still feel the idealism of that moment."

It is that intangible that Frank hopes to keep alive, the spirit of a man who in 1980 was cut down by seven shots fired from a 9mm pistol. A former protégé with a history of mental problems killed Allard Lowenstein in his New York law office. Frank, the oldest of three children, was 12 years old. He wondered why he hadn't been there that day to knock the gun from the assailant's hand.

"How do you make peace with that?" he asked.

He looks for the answer in his daughter's smile: "A little bit of my dad lives on in Addie, and in the campaign."

Frank Graham Lowenstein -- named after his father's mentor, Frank Graham, a liberal senator from North Carolina -- was born in New York in 1967. When his mother called his father to say she was in labor, she could hear Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech in the background. The doctor said the labor would not be brief, so Allard Lowenstein flew to the University of Maryland for a "Dump Johnson" rally and returned at 1 a.m. -- after his son was born. (Family lore has it that he bribed his way into the hospital after hours with Devil Dogs, the staple of his diet.)

Frank's stepfather, Nick Littlefield, who worked with Allard Lowenstein and Kerry in the early 1970s to register young voters said that "the two of them were extraordinary back-to-back public speakers." Littlefield, a former senior aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), said, "Frank has this passion for the underdog, which he got genetically from his father."

From the time he was 8, Frank Lowenstein stood on street corners in Brooklyn, handing out leaflets for his father. The family was so immersed in politics, he said, "my little sister used to introduce herself as 'Katharine Eleanor Lowenstein for Congress.' "

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