A reader, who did not want to leave the comment himself, writes this:

I’m not going to register to comment, but I viewed the high res shout about
12 times, very carefully. I think its clear (and, trusting that Fox News
and the NYP isn’t lying to save Kerry’s butt) that its a pen wrapped in a
blot-protecting cloth, which is very natural.

Remember, Kerry writes his speeches by pen and paper, and uses an old
inkstyle pen generally to do so. It seems perfectly natural that if he were
bringing a special pen, that it was one subject to bleeding, and the last
thing he’d want is an inkblot on his jacket during his first national
debate. Now, of course, debate rules state that he should have done this
ahead of time, and I’m not sure why he didn’t do that, but one can think of
many an innocent explanation (superstition, force of habit, mistake by his
advisors, worry that the ink would run dry, etc etc).

Assuming it was a pen, I know that everyone has a favorite pen and, if it was a Mont Blanc or something, you aren’t going to leave it with some debate organizer. You’re going to take it with you yourself to make sure it doesn’t get stolen.

We’ll leave it at that.