In the current issue of Newsweek, Teresa Heinz Kerry tells Contributing Editor Melinda Henneberger: "I'm more old-fashioned than a lot of women...I don't view abortion as just a nothing. It is stopping the process of life."

For three weeks, Henneberger followed the wife of Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry from Chicago to Baltimore, Boston, New York and Los Angeles. She doesn't stick to the standard political wife script, which calls for confident predictions of victory.

When asked for her read on how things are going in her husband's race, she says: "I can't tell. The only people I see now are Democrats."

Over Margaritas and quesadillas at a Mexican restaurant in Baltimore, Heinz Kerry shows how traditional she really is.

On the subject of abortion, she says, "My belief-and I maybe am very wrong-is that women, generally speaking, do not want to have abortions. With the exception of people who are mindless -- and there will always be mindless people of both sexes -- most women wouldn't want to. So starting on that premise, I'd say it's our duty as a society to help women arrive at the best conclusion."

She does, "on the other hand," wish the Roman Catholic Church would reverse itself on birth control.

Later, Henneberger asks about an interview she gave five years ago, in which she described herself as "not 100 percent pro-choice," and she says she is no longer allowed the luxury of such qualifiers. "Ultimately you're either for choice or you're not, so I am" for abortion rights, she says. "I ask myself if I had a 13-year-old daughter who got drunk one night and got pregnant, what would I do. Christ, I'd go nuts."

When Henneberger asks Sen. Kerry if their views are similar, he says, "I do not know the answer to that. We've never-she's never had to vote.") After an Earth Day event in Franklin Canyon Park outside Los Angeles, she took some press questions about why she hasn't released her tax returns. ("People don't understand family trusts, but I hate to put what's my kids' out there," she tells Henneberger later. "I think one of my kids, maybe two, would not like that, and if it comes to that my husband will have to talk to them."

At a recent fund-raiser, she met up with Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York and confesses that Secret Service protection has her slightly freaked out.

At this stage of the race, "It's just not as personal" as it was back in the Iowa and New Hampshire, where she really enjoyed long chats with voters.

"All politics is personal," Maloney tells her. When Maloney asks her what she thought of the president's speech on Iraq, though, Heinz Kerry stiffens.

"If this is what America wants, then God bless us all," she answers. I'm sure he's a good guy deep down, but a little thought" would be appreciated, she says, tapping a finger against her temple.

She declares herself a fan of the lost art of flirtation, and finds overt sexuality in the culture both sad and demeaning.

"We should start emphasizing mystery; save it for another day. I came from a more romantic time." During another conversation, she expands on this: "It would be interesting to show young people that sexuality and sensuality are very different, and that being sensuous is more charming, more sustainable, more beautiful."

When she was raising her boys, in any case, her husband took care of the sex talks, but she set down three nonnegotiable rules: you treat people with respect, you never drink and drive, and if you do drugs, "tell me, because I want to know what it was like. But if you ever do cocaine, I will kill you.'"

In Los Angeles, Heinz Kerry frets about the perception that she sometimes looks dialed out at her husband's side. "I'm old-fashioned and very shy," she says.

"People say I look bored onstage, but first of all, I listen, and second, I don't know what-I'm not going to go, 'Hello!' I'm sure sometimes I had an apprehensive look on my face, because I was watching other people's faces and sometimes I'd see faces that didn't look friendly."

Still, she says, "I refuse to be censored. I should be always delicate and diplomatic so as not to hurt someone's feelings because that's unnecessary, but the moment I start to control my deepest beliefs and my actions, I lose who I am. None of us are perfect and my imperfections are easy to see, but I don't want to be bottled. I'm not ketchup," she says.

Also in the cover package, General Editor Susannah Meadows profiles John Kerry's first wife Julia Thorne, who threw herself into Kerry's first election in 1972.

But Kerry took a lot of heat for being antiwar, and lost. The nastiness of the race soured Thorne. When they finally separated in 1982, she was determined to find the privacy she'd craved for 12 years as a political wife, asking friends never to talk to the press about her.

But now that Kerry is the presumptive Democratic nominee, her dreams of escaping politics may be dashed for good.

Her daughters, with whom she speaks every few days, call her from the campaign trail. Thorne laughs at their stories from the road and she's told friends that she's proud her daughters are campaigning for their father.

But daughter Vanessa says her mother's reaction has been more mixed. "The risk of us becoming more public is concerning for her. It's been a funny balancing act, trying to not make [her] an enigma but also to let her have her own life."