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Oral History

Edward M. Kennedy Oral History (03/23/2005), Senator

Copyright 2016 the Miller Center Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Young

We have as the first order of business today the campaign of ’62.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

And I thought we might start, if you’d like—

Kennedy

You know, my daughter found all my notebooks from Milton Academy. It’s about three years of book reports, the corrections. She just gave them to me, and I put them aside. I don’t know what good they are, if any. They’re book reports, tests, spelling problems—

Young

Well—

Kennedy

I don’t know whether that’s part of the record or—Beth, remind me and I’ll bring it in tomorrow. Or I could probably get them down here to you so you could go over them tonight.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

I don’t know whether you want to bother with that.

Young

These are the Milton Academy things?

Kennedy

The Academy. There are two notebooks like this, and all misspelled words. I don’t want you to find out everything about me [laughter]—

Young

That’s an offer I can’t refuse. 

Kennedy

Okay.

Young

For me personally to get a better sense of that, I would like to be able to look at it.

Kennedy

All right.

Young

But it doesn’t have to be tonight. I think the time will come as we go into this and talk with your sisters, for example—and we’re trying to talk with them in April, or maybe early May—we may want to come back—

Kennedy

Yes, I think that’s true. They’ll remember things that I didn’t.

Young

And then we might come back to you. In oral history, generally, no subject is ever finished because you keep coming back. 

Today we’ll begin anywhere you want, but—if you’re agreeable—we’re interested in how you spent the time after your brother’s election as President, before your announcement. This involves a lot of consultations. It involves also several trips by you. And we never got around to talking about the Latin America trip, Mexico.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

But we did read your diary of that, and I didn’t want to pass over it. You also went to Europe—

Kennedy

Italy with a fellow named Frank Morrissey.

Young

Frank Morrissey.

Kennedy

And Phil Cordaro, who was the travel agent. That was a wonderful, wonderful trip. I remember that in great detail. I remember that, actually, better than the trip to South America.

Young

I think we can talk about those if this is what you were doing.

Kennedy

Yes. There’s also a film that was done of the highlights of the trip to Italy.

Young

This is a home movie type?

Kennedy

Home movie type, but we hired a professional over there to do it at the different places we went. Then I came back and traveled around showing it at various Italian events. There may be something in that that may be recoverable or should be printed on something so that it’ll be maintained.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I’ll pass on the trip. I can go back to speaking with my brother.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

This was after I returned, just about Christmastime of ’60.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

I had thought at that time that I was interested in doing something with the administration in arms control. I was interested in arms control, it was the height of the Cold War, and I knew this was going to be a priority for him. I thought it would give me an opportunity to learn a very substantive issue, to be involved with very good people, and to have a chance to travel. I thought it would give me a good breadth of experience, no matter what I was going to do in the future. 

I had this well-thought-out rationale, and I went to talk to my brother, who, I believe, was here. It might have been down in Florida, but I believe it was here. And he said, Put those thoughts aside. You’re interested in getting into elective politics, aren’t you? And I said, Well, yes, I am. 

He said, Well, you ought to leave right away and go back to Massachusetts. Every day you’re in Massachusetts, you’re making friends, you’re understanding the state and its people. If you’re interested in elective office, that’s what you ought to do. You’ll have a chance to get involved in these other issues at a later time. The important thing is to get up there. You ought to think about what you can do and get started up there. 

I remember that conversation very clearly. It was like a major shift in my arrows, going from one direction to a completely different direction. It seemed to me to make some sense after that, to move up to Boston. I was somewhat unsure. We moved up, I think, in early January, right after Christmastime, to an apartment in Louisburg Square.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

At the top floor of a rather small apartment. A fellow named Frank Morrissey, who had been very much involved in my brother’s Senate campaigns, had remained up in Massachusetts. He had not been involved in the national campaigns. He was a municipal judge, and he was a good friend of my father’s, and a very good friend of [Richard] Cardinal Cushing’s. He spent an inordinate amount of time with Cardinal Cushing, all during the ’60 campaign. My father would be talking to Frank, talking to Cardinal Cushing, and they had a wonderful relationship. 

Frank Morrissey was very active within the community and in the city, and I believe he was the one who had talked to Gary [Garrett] Byrne, who was the district attorney of Brinks fame. He was the fellow who broke the Brinks robbery, which was the big, big robbery up there. He arranged for me to join the office as an assistant district attorney for a dollar a year. That was great—I thought it was enormously interesting. I was very excited about it and got into it very quickly. 

There was a wonderful person named [George] McGonagle, who was outside Gary Byrne’s office, and he ran the whole show. He could get information out of any witness with his piercing blue eyes, fixed jaw, and powerful but unthreatening sort of build. He was an incredible human being, and he was the person who ran Gary Byrne’s office; he assigned the cases. There were probably four or five assistant district attorneys who came at the same time. I think it was an office at that time of about twenty. Now it’s three or four times that—but it was about twenty then. 

The third day I was in the office, I tried my first case. I had studied the evidence hard, and I had read all of [Clarence] Darrow’s final arguments. I had to change them since I was prosecuting, but he had some wonderful, wonderful passages in there. So I went in to try this case, and they handed the folder to a public defender as they walked into the trial. I thought, This poor fellow doesn’t have a chance.

The offense was that he was drunk and smashed into a car in Kenmore Square. He had gone to the Red Sox game when they played the Yankees, and after the Red Sox won the double-header, he went to the Little Brown Jug and had 26 drinks. I had his bar bill and the waitress. Then he drove into Kenmore Square and banged into this car, and when he fell out of his car, he was glassy-eyed and unsteady on his feet—enough to convict anyone. I had the policeman who arrested him. 

They never put any witness on. They never made any representation. So the final argument came, and this fellow stood up and said, Sullivan over here has been working since he was twelve years old. And I was wondering, What does that have to do with it? And he looked up at me a little bit, and then the jury all looked at me. And then he said, His principal crime today is that he cheered for the Boston Red Sox. And I saw the jury smile, all of them smile. It was just a shame that he cheered for them, and with his great, great enthusiasm, perhaps he had one too many. I think most of us can understand that, when the Red Sox win.

I thought, Oh, my God, what does this have to do with anything? He said, He’s a carpenter, and if he’s convicted today, he will lose his automobile license. He needs the automobile license in order to go from job to job. If he loses his automobile license, then he’s going to be on welfare, and he has seven children. It’s going to cost the taxpayers of Suffolk Country $1,500 a month to support him if he’s convicted.

I thought I saw half the jury looking at this, and looking at old Sullivan with sympathetic eyes. He was looking down at the ground. He said, I don’t think Sullivan deserves that. And about half the jury, when he mentioned Sullivan, went like this. He said, My name is Bobby Stanziani, and I saw the other half of the jury go like this. 

Twenty-six minutes, not guilty. 

I had a similar kind of case the next day. I didn’t know it, but what was happening was they never convicted anyone for driving under the influence in Boston—for ten years. Now they do. But what they would do, the DA [district attorney] would just give these cases to all the new people and send them up to go through the case, because they knew they couldn’t win them. I had a series of cases, somewhere around twenty, I believe. Later it got into armed robbery and shootings—no murder cases—but I had armed robbery cases and—

Young

So you didn’t get all the drunk-driving cases?

Kennedy

No. That lasted for about four or five weeks, and then we did move on up.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The wonderful thing about the district attorney’s office was it was interesting, and I enjoyed the people. I met a wonderful person named Jack Crimmins there, who had been Paul Dever’s driver. He knew every road in Massachusetts. We became very good friends, and he ended up traveling with me—driving me, effectively—but he was much more than that. Since he had been with Dever, he knew all the pols in every community.

Young

This was when Dever was Governor.

Kennedy

Paul Dever had been Governor—of course, he had died since then. Jack Crimmins was born in South Boston, fought in the war, and had been decorated. He was one of those individuals who read the papers from beginning to end, one of those people who, if he had ever had an education, would have been president of a bank. He had an elegance about him, a humor about him, an insight into people, and a way of ingratiating himself with his charm. He was just a classy person. He became both a good friend and drove me around.

In the district attorney’s office, the cases lasted from ten to noon, and from two to four. So every lunchtime I was free, and every lunchtime Frank Morrissey would arrange that I would go to a different place in Boston and give a talk. There are just hundreds of clubs in Boston.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I would leave there at 4 or 4:30 and travel to places in the evening. And then there were many times when the courts were out in the summer, and other times during that whole year that I went for two and a half weeks to Latin America.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And about ten days to Italy. 

Young

Excuse me. Could I interrupt about these talks you would give?

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

This was all in the Boston area?

Kennedy

That’s it.

Young

It sounds like you’re doing exactly what your brother had said: get to know the people.

Kennedy

Get to know the people.

Young

So it was a very good opportunity, then. What did you talk about?

Kennedy

Well, in the beginning, I talked for about forty minutes about my trip to Africa. I had some slides from the time just before and after the election. My brother called me one time and said, I hear you’re talking for a very long time. How long do you talk? I said, Forty minutes. He said, If I could do the State of the Union in twenty-three minutes, you can shorten up Africa and do it in twenty-five. Just talk for twenty minutes and answer a couple of questions. You don’t have to do more than that. I said, I just can’t get this speech down. There’s just no way of squeezing that down. It’s just too much information. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But I did. I talked about Africa. I think we have that talk. It was basically thematic about what was happening there.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

—the colonial issues at that time, and the communist threats in the Congo, and a number of other places. It was quite interesting. People were interested in it. The next trip, I think, was in ’61. I went to Italy for the centennial of the Italian unification. It was in 1861—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

—with [Giuseppe] Garibaldi. The last city-state was just south of Rome on the water.

Carol

Naples.

Kennedy

Naples. That was the last city-state. I had done a paper on [Count Camillo Benso di] Cavour, [Pasquale Stanislao] Mancini, and Garibaldi, who were the great liberators of Italy.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

Garibaldi, of course, was enormously interesting. You run across Garibaldi in Uruguay. He was down in South America fighting for Uruguay’s independence. He was in jail, and he was going to be tried, and he was going to be shot. But he was liberated by a 26-year-old woman and ten others. In Uruguay, he allegedly got a divorce from his wife and married this gal. He came back to Italy and did the unification of Italy, winning the city-states. The big battle they had was in Rome, and she was killed in that battle. It’s very interesting.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy:

The papers on Garibaldi are in the church in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the tabernacle. The only people who can look at them are the President of the country and the Cardinal. I asked the President about the descriptions in there and how Garibaldi got an annulment: what were the terms? That was enormously interesting, because I was interested in Garibaldi. He was an incredible figure. After the unification of the country, he took ten acres of land in Sardinia and two bags of seed and went over there. He wanted to be a farmer for the rest of his life. He wouldn’t take any money.

On this trip there were 15 of us, and a fellow named Phil Cordaro was the travel agent. He had thick, thick eyeglasses like Coca Cola bottles, and he ran a travel agency out of an office the size of a closet in East Boston. But he did well enough. He was a great supporter of my brother. So we went through Phil Cordaro, and the first place we went was Turin, where we were received by Gianni Agnelli, who’s the second most important person in Italy, the first being the Pope.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And the second was Agnelli, because he owned Fiat at that time. We were received in his enormous house in Turin, and when he gave a dinner the first night, all the newspapers—since he owns the newspapers—reported that Edward Kennedy arrived with the American delegation. It sounded like it was the most extraordinary delegation, and from that time on, we were just front-page everyplace we went.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

Until the very end, through all of it. It was just a kick. We had little gifts. We made little talks. And the judges of our crowd went around. We went all the way down through Naples and then over to Sicily, where a lot of the people in Boston are from. We had movies made, and we had copies made and showed them in all the Italian communities.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

The other trip was to South America, which was probably two weeks. We went to Mexico—John Plank could be very helpful on that. This was about the status of democracy.

Young

What was the occasion of this trip?

Kennedy

There was a general sense—which I appreciated, I think, from talking with my brothers as well as my own reading and visiting with different leaders—that Latin America was going to be important in the future. This was prior to the time that my brother had the Alliance for Progress.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

That was coming into play. He was a great believer in Latin America. My grandfather had Spanish taught in the public schools after he went to Latin America. He took my mother down to Panama. My brother’s administration had increased the focus on Central and South America.

Young

Was Cardinal Cushing interested in this trip also?

Kennedy

He was. 

Young

Or the church? Your reports would often mention something about the church and the church’s role as well as commenting about labor and communism and so forth.

Kennedy

Well, of course, they were enormously influential and powerful, and they had a role. They didn’t appear to be into liberation theology. It hadn’t really hit.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It was probably in small pockets. One of the incidents I remember is traveling in the backwaters of Colombia, of Venezuela, in a little village. [Fidel] Castro was enormously powerful, the central figure in terms of the liberation and the hope in terms of the future. 

They had a can with kerosene in it, with a wick on top. When you lit it and it burned, it turned a little fan. And the fan itself generated enough electricity to power a radio the size of your fist. The radio had one station, which was Radio Havana. They liked that they’d get light for their little home, but all they could hear was the music and the news coming on in from Cuba. We saw them scattered in the poorest of the villages—I thought was really impressive, the way they were reaching hearts and souls, and doing it for pennies. We hadn’t figured out how we were going to come to grips with it. My brother eventually announced the Alliance for Progress.

Young

Yes. The U.S. was not a presence there except for United Fruit and things like that.

Kennedy

We remembered what happened when [Richard] Nixon went down there.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

My brother had commented about the difference in the policies in the course of the debates he had. I think it was from those trips down there, although I had been back. It was really on the basis of those trips we took, he had enormous interest in the Chilean situation and Argentina, even though they were in the very beginning. I did take one trip down to Chile with Joan [Bennett Kennedy] when I was in law school. But I had gone back and through Central and South America. I was interested in it, and then I followed the restoration of democracy.

At the time I was concerned, and I was going to Chile to talk to this fellow, [Orlando] Letelier. He was blown up here. I followed it very closely after that; I had the amendments in there that cut off military aid, and I went down and had confrontations with [Augusto] Pinochet’s people. It was very interesting. 

The basic point during this time was getting around and into all the different places and meeting the young legislators. Morrissey knew all the names. That’s when I met Gerry Doherty and a fellow named Phil Johnston, who was a local rep. Gerry had a group of about twelve or thirteen of these representatives who were very close to him and who represented the community, most of them from the greater Boston area.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They became the backbone of our group and organization, and they arranged for me to go to various meetings. I’d do communion breakfasts on Sunday at any and every church I could. I’d speak at any school dinners I could. 

Young

This is while you were still—

Kennedy

—still in the district attorney’s office. Just about in November, 1961, going back a step, is when I first hired one person, and that was Barbara Souliotis.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I was up at 122 Bowdoin, which was our office. We lived in an apartment, as I mentioned, in Louisburg Square. But I used that office at 122 Bowdoin Street. As a matter of fact, my brother came there one night when he was President-elect. I remember the rent was $115 a month. It had a living room and a kitchen and two bedrooms and a bathroom. They were going to raise it to $125, and I didn’t know whether we were going to go along with that [laughter]. He stayed in that place the evening before he went over and gave that terrific talk to the Massachusetts legislature. He said he’d rather stay there than bother with a hotel. It was a very small, compressed area. It’s still there. 

So this was a question of getting out and meeting a lot of the people. I had in my mind at that time—I knew pretty well—that I was going to run, and I was thinking of the Senate. I didn’t talk much about it. The person I talked to most was my father. I probably started talking to him a bit about it in the spring. I think Frank Morrissey helped him understand it best, because Morrissey had this wonderful gift of gab and was enormously enthusiastic and always knew that my father wanted to hear positive things. He would gild the lily on my talks and speeches and the receptions I was getting. My father thought I was just on fire up there. And so he became rather a co-conspirator.

Young

Do you recall any of the conversations with your father? You said you talked with him frequently. I think it might be helpful for our oral history.

Kennedy

The best, probably, was in the spring or early summer. We were out on the boat, and he was talking about Jack and Bobby. He said, Well, Teddy, now these boys are well set in terms of their political lives, and we have to make sure that you’re going to get started right, too. I’ll make sure they understand it. 

That was a great uplift and a great thrill, because all my life, energy had been focused on the older brothers, the older members of the family. All of us pitched in, delighted to do it. We saw the system work in an extraordinary way. The elections were coming, and we were winning. So the process was working, and it just didn’t seem like there was any end to what the possibilities were.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

I had the sense that I had a good ally on my side at a very early time. That was very reassuring, and it was a wonderful year with my father, because I had his undivided attention during that one year until he got sick at the end of ’61.

Young

Did you learn anything from him during this period about where you ought to go, what you ought to know about people?

Kennedy

Well, he had this wonderful uncanny judgment. He still knew the names of people who had worked on the waterfront from years past. They probably had gone on, but he knew the waterfront and the fishing industries. He knew the old families. So he could say, Now look, are the Fulhams still in the fishing industry? Morrissey would say, Yes, John Fulham has taken that over. 

Has he? Well, I knew his father. Have Fulham get some of those people together in the industry and have them meet Ted. On the waterfront, you should know the Donovans—or wherever they were. Oh, no, the Donovans are gone. Well, what’s their name? Let me find out, Joe. 

He’d come back say, Donovan was his best friend’s son, and he adored the Donovans. He did, did he? Then tell him to do me a favor and bring these people together.

He had a great, great sense about the city. He’d lived in East Boston, knew the people. He had a very good sense about the newspapers, the Globe and the Herald. He knew that the Herald would be the conservative one. He spent a lot of time with a fellow named Hal Clancy. If you look through here, you’ll see that Hal Clancy did the prep for the debate I had with [Edward] McCormack.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

One of the first comments he had was, Eddie McCormack probably doesn’t think he can win, so he may have personal attacks. He spotted it. His answer probably wasn’t the one I would have used, or did use, but nevertheless, he anticipated that.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Hal was an executive editor for the Herald. And almost co-opted this newspaper that could have been enormously detrimental. My father said, We’ll get Hal Clancy to find out who your press person ought to be. He recommended a fellow named Eddie Martin, a high school graduate who had been in the Marines for 15 years and was a cub reporter, just terrific. If you get a chance to talk with him—

Young

We have an interview scheduled with him.

Kennedy

He just has so much common sense and good judgment. That helped tie that in. So I had neutralized what would have been—Even today, the Herald is on our case. It’s a [Rupert] Murdoch newspaper.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

My father would have the people down from the New Bedford Standard Times. Basil Brewer is one of the names over at the New Bedford Standard Times—very conservative. My father would see him, have him around. He’d be able to talk to these people, and he made it a point to continue. He had done that all with my brothers, and he was doing that now: calling, touching base with people, seeing what was going on, what was happening. He took a great personal interest. As I said, I think for that year it was the central part of his life.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

That was enormously uplifting and satisfying and fun. It was a great, great, great time. Then I got into the Cancer Crusade. I think that brings me probably into ’61–’62. I went out every night with Dr. Sidney Farber, whom the great cancer center Dana-Farber is named after. The Dana family goes back; it’s one of the great families. There are wonderful letters over at the [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow House from the Danas. [Richard Henry, Jr.] Dana wrote Two years before the Mast. [William A. Dana] was a very prominent supporter of the development of the center. Sidney Farber was the outstanding researcher at the time. He would go out, I’d go out, and a guy named Lloyd Waring, who was the Republican state chairman, would go. 

So even though I was a Democrat, Lloyd Waring was a Republican, and Sidney Farber was the scientist, the researcher, we would go to two to three places a night for sixty or ninety days, all over that state. Every single night, we would go. The cancer volunteers are beyond belief; they are enormously committed and dedicated. It was just dynamite in terms of getting around the state, in a different kind of way. 

Young

What was the purpose? Raising funds?

Kennedy

Raising funds. This was informational, about things that were going to happen, which ones they were going to do. It was also the informational campaign. Farber would talk about the different things that had been happening in the last year with cancer. They’d give out pamphlets about where people could get the tests, mammograms for women and things like this. The last thing would be the announcement that they would be having an event to support the Cancer Crusade, and where it would be. That would be in the pamphlets they gave out. So it had about three or four different kinds of functions.

Young

Was this a Massachusetts—

Kennedy

Massachusetts.

Young

Had the National Cancer Institute been established yet?

Kennedy

It was very interesting. Even though there had been a designation for a cancer institute, the real war on cancer came later, in 1972. I was the principal author on it. Ralph Yarborough got defeated for the Senate, so I became chairman of the Health Committee. He had set up a panel that included Dr. Mathilde Krim.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They had a very distinguished group, and they recommended a cancer institute that would have its own budget and its own hiring. It would be in the framework of the Institute, but this was going to be the War on Cancer. We moved it along, and then we couldn’t get it out of the committee. There’s a wonderful note here from Benno Schmidt [Sr.], who was a Texan who invested the [John Hay] Whitney money when they sold the Herald Tribune. He was enormously successful, an incredibly bright guy, and he was the father of the President of Yale. 

He was a hard-charger in support of this, and he was a big supporter of Nixon. He went down to see Nixon and asked him about it (he wrote all of this down). Nixon said, We’re not going to do this because it’s going to go to Kennedy, get Kennedy’s name on it. So he came up to see me, and I said, That’s fine. You can take my name off it, and we’ll pass it. It’s Kennedy-[Jacob K.] Javits, so you have to get Javits’ name off, too. 

He went over, and Javits wouldn’t take his name off. He said, No, I’m not going to do it to Ted. I won’t do it. I know Nixon wants it, but I’m not going to do it to Ted. And Benno kept saying, Ted has taken his name off. Jack, you don’t understand. Ted has taken his name off. I’m not going to do it to Ted. Ted has taken his name off, Jack! You have to do it! I’m not going to. You have to do it! I’m not leaving the room until you take your name off!

I don’t want to…. Of course he didn’t want to do it. So we put on Peter Dominick, from Colorado, and boom, the thing went on through.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

I was interested two nights ago when [Arlen] Specter was talking about President Nixon’s War on Cancer.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

Benno has written that whole thing. History will treat us fine on that. But it was interesting. That passed in ’72, and five weeks later, I found out that my son Teddy [Edward M. Kennedy, Jr.] had an osteogenic sarcoma on his leg and had it amputated and was in real danger of dying. He got into a lucky NIH [National Institutes of Health] protocol and survived. 

Young

So the Cancer Crusade in Massachusetts was before all of this?

Kennedy

Before all of this.

Young

How did you happen to get involved?

Kennedy

Lloyd Waring called me and asked—since I was out and around a lot, was establishing some presence up there—whether this would be something I’d be interested in. I’d been interested in health. He knew the family. He’d been active in Republican politics, and he was very active himself in this. He was looking for a Democrat, and we had high visibility on it. That’s where it got started. And then I met Sidney Farber. I had never known him before.

Young

He was here in Massachusetts?

Kennedy

He was in Massachusetts, Boston, at the—

Young

Mass General?

Kennedy

No, if my memory serves me, he was at Pete Brent Brigham Hospital and Children’s Hospital. I remember going into his office, and he had a crossbow. He was pledged to defend the city of Ghent by crossbow. He had studied medicine in Germany, and he’d been in one of these old societies, and as a boy he’d been a crossbow archer, the best in Belgium. He was one of these people you meet, and you don’t have to spend much time with him. You just know his greatness.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

After a couple of nights, I said, The idea of this guy out here, hustling all around— He ought to be back in his lab trying to cure this thing. No, no, he said, no, this is very important. He was a very inspirational figure. He died a few years later.

Young

Was that your first concern with health as a public person?

Kennedy

Yes. Health was always something that was present in our lives. I think from the first time we detected some difference in Rosemary [Kennedy], wondered about what was different, why was this different. But health and good health was always emphasized and stressed. Remember those wonderful stories of my mother having index cards with all the children’s shots on them and when they had diseases. My mother had a box.

Young

I didn’t know. This is the first I’ve heard of that.

Kennedy

Yes. They’re around and available. They’re in Brookline at JFK’s birthplace (83 Beals St.), in a little box with the names of all nine children, their sicknesses and illnesses, when they had the shots, and when they had other shots due. We were routinely going for shots, lining up with others. I had whooping cough when I was about ten or twelve and almost died. That was when I was in New York at Riverdale.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So I was always conscious of the health issue and its importance. My mother would always push the babies outside for fresh air and all that. The importance of good health always rang in our ears. Because this was something that was important in our lives, it became important in my life as public policy from the time before the Senate.

Young

Back to Massachusetts. That was a very full life for an assistant district attorney. It sounds like you were campaigning already.

Kennedy

Oh, it was great. The Cancer Crusade probably lasted three months, evenings.

Young

Summer evenings?

Kennedy

I don’t think it was. I think it was actually in the spring, but then it ended.

Young

And in the evening.

Kennedy

Most of the things I really liked. There was a short ten days or something over the Easter break that I think is actually when we went abroad. So those kinds of activities were going on. I think over the time I always had in the back of my mind, I wonder if Ben Smith (who was appointed) is going to be willing or susceptible or understand that I may want to run. It was never explained clearly. I never really talked to my brothers about it—it was an unexpired term—and in retrospect, I’m not sure they had a conversation. That was all done in the fall, right after the election.

Young

Right after the election, right.

Kennedy

At that time, Bobby was already on track. I don’t think he was thinking about my running. I don’t know how that was left exactly, about whether Ben—But it was quite apparent at some time—obviously, by the end of ’61—that I had every intention of running.

Young

Maybe Ben Smith was not in that loop.

Kennedy

Well, maybe he was in the loop and—

Young

You did tell him at one time?

Kennedy

I think so, yes.

Knott

The conventional wisdom is that Ben was merely warming the seat.

Kennedy

That’s right. But I’m saying I don’t know when or who told Ben, You’re going to warm the seat. My brother wouldn’t have had anybody else. If I hadn’t run, there wasn’t anybody else he’d rather have stay in the seat.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He could have stayed in the seat if he got himself elected.

Young

[Foster] Furcolo was in the picture.

Kennedy

He might have run.

Young

There was sort of the beginning of a scramble, as I understand it, for your brother’s seat.

Kennedy

Yes. Well, as I say, that part was never really carefully defined. When I started to run, there was a clear expectation on my part—and I think once my brothers got into it, it must have been clear on his part—that there was going to be a vacancy. 

Knott

Senator, you mentioned talking to your father about these preliminary discussions in running for the Senate seat. Do you recall talking to your mother at all about this? Did she have any suggestions or advice?

Kennedy

No. It’s the sort of thing I’d talk to my father about. I think she was aware, obviously, of what I was doing, and the general tenor at the table. She was supportive. The political question was whether this was going to have an impact on the President and the Presidency—too many Kennedys and that kind of thing. I’m not sure that she was as bothered by that as some of the other political people. She was just generally very supportive. I’d have this sort of conversation more with my father and my brothers. She was basically very supportive. 

Young

Your father had a stroke in December of ’61, another major thing that happened during this period. That must have been quite a blow to the whole family.

Kennedy

Yes, that’s right. There was some other event that was just taking place at that time, and I can’t remember what it was—

Young

This was before you announced; it was shortly before Christmas. I don’t know what the event was.

Kennedy

No, it was about the 10th or 12th. He had just seen my brother off. He’d been down there for a weekend and had left.

Young

In Palm Beach?

Kennedy

In Palm Beach. He went out to play golf, and about the 8th or 9th hole, he felt ill and collapsed. We all went down. I met my brothers Jack and Bobby in the hospital, and he was very gravely ill. There was a real question about his surviving at that time.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

He had had some heart problems previously. I’d see him after lunch go in and lie down. And once in a while my mother would say, Your father’s not coming down for lunch. He’s not feeling well. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So we knew he’d had some heart problems. But this was the first time it had ever been of this dimension, and the only one that we ever saw of this kind. It was very debilitating.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

After that, we all basically rotated coming down to see him.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He had a lot of difficulty communicating. You could tell what his views were. He could indicate disapproval or approval, but he couldn’t carry on a conversation, and I think he got more and more frustrated, you know, that life went on.

Young

Yes. And then in February of ’62, you went to Europe with Claude.

Kennedy

Yes, that’s the Israel-Italy-Poland trip. I think we saw the Pope in Italy, and then had an interesting trip to Israel for two or three days, and then went to Poland where we saw the Matka Boska, the Black Madonna, in Czestochowa. The leaders who have gone through Poland have signed the great book in Czestochowa. Napoleon’s [Bonaparte] name is in there. [Adolf] Hitler’s name is in there. And my brother Joe’s name is in there from before the war. Jack’s name is also in there from before the war. I signed it. 

Then in 1965 or ’66, my brother Bobby went over. He saw that I misspelled sincerely—I had l-e-y or e-l-y or whatever the wrong spelling is. He circled it and wrote, Teddy should know better. It’s in that book over there [laughter]! I always think that was a raw deal.

Young

A real raw deal.

Kennedy

But we got a call. We were in central Poland, and my brother Bobby was in Berlin. He was going to make the speech out in the big platz there that my brother Jack made. Bobby made that speech a year before Jack and had just as big a crowd. People don’t even remember it, and his speech was almost as good. It didn’t have the Ich bin ein Berliner, but he gave a terrific talk. Bobby had come from South Asia on that trip, and he had had these run-ins with students in Tokyo, challenges. He was very good at arguing with the students. They had a lot of communist students, and it had been an enormously lively trip.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

He was down in Indonesia and talked about East Timor. He was way ahead of his time on a lot of things. And so he came there, and he said to [Willy] Brandt, It would be nice if Teddy came. So Brandt got hold of the Polish, and they sent a private train. Claude Hooton and I got on this train, and they had one of the commissar’s cars with a big bed in it and a fireplace that worked. The other car was the dining car with a big table and three or four people in there to serve you, and the engine. Another car had another big bed in it for Claude. 

We raced across that Polish countryside at about 80 miles an hour. You could see the ice on the windows and the snow, the freezing areas, the small towns. I think I had the fireplace roaring. It was out of [Dr.] Zhivago. It was just unbelievable. The train got into Berlin at eight in the morning, and we went directly over to hear Bobby’s speech. He was shivering the whole way through it (he used to shake a little bit anyway). He had a light suit, and he had just come from Indonesia and hadn’t had any sleep. But he gave this terrific talk. 

That night, Willy Brandt had a dinner for us, because it was my birthday. He gave me a lamp, which had no significance. It was a $30 lamp for my birthday present [laughter]. It was just so funny. If he’d given me something like the keys to the city, I would have forgotten it, but it was this lamp. We didn’t know whether to joke about it or not. 

We ended up stopping in Ireland, I think, and were there for a few days.

Young

Was that your first trip to Ireland?

Kennedy

To Ireland, yes, it was probably my first trip to Ireland.

Young

And did you see [Eamon] DeValera?

Kennedy

No. I saw Sean Lemass. I don’t know whether I saw Sean Lemass that trip or when I went back, right after ’64. There was a fellow named Grant Stockdale there. He was a good friend of my brother’s, kind of a character. At the Embassy there, they’ll bring horses up to you, right to the Embassy. You can go out to ride in the morning. The American Embassy is in a wonderful location in the capital. 

I said I was going back and having dinner with my brother, and he was going to ask whether Grant Stockdale rode a horse, because everybody in Ireland rides a horse. So he got all dressed up and said, This is going to kill me. He had never ridden a horse before, and he got on that horse and just went boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom [laughter]. I said That’ll get me through dinner with my brother. And when I came back, I went and had dinner with my brother, and he called up Stockdale and had a good joke about that. 

Young

He liked your story?

Kennedy

Yes, he said he’d earned the rest of the term over there. We also stopped in Greece, and the Prime Minister was [Konstantinos] Karamanlis at the time. We were there for just a day and a half, but the fact that the President’s brother was there meant these heads of state would see us, and then we’d get the pictures. We went with Karamanlis to a restaurant just outside of Athens. The movie Never on Sunday was out. Melina Mercouri, who was in that show, was in a cabaret. So Karamanlis said, Do you want to go down to the cabaret and hear her? And I said, Yes, that’d be fun. 

So down we went to this cabaret that seats about 150; it’s not big—all white walls—and we were down there with the Prime Minister of the country. We sat down, a nice seat at the pub, and people treated him just like the person next door. They said, Hello, it’s nice to see you here, Mr. Prime Minister. The gal sang those wonderful songs for an hour, hour and a half. People came up, shook hands, and basically left him alone. He got up and walked out.

Can you imagine an American President going into a place here? He couldn’t possibly do it. They were glad to see him down there, glad to see him out, glad to see he was enjoying the party. It was a different kind of a texture or tone. It was unique.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Just after that, he was overthrown by the generals in Greece. I’d been supporting him for the restoration of the democracy over there. Eventually—I don’t know how many years, eight or ten years later—the generals got voted out, and he got voted back in, and he invited me, and I went back over there to see him. He was actually a sort of conservative figure there. He wasn’t an enormously significant figure for Greece, but I had a personal relationship from right before the generals, and I had followed it all the time. He was thrown out of the country. He was quite courageous, actually.

Young

When you went back, you didn’t go to the cabaret?

Kennedy

No, I didn’t go there.

Young

Would he have been able to, after the junta?

Kennedy

He came back in for about two years as Prime Minister.

Young

Would he have been able to go to a place like that without security?

Kennedy

I don’t know. I think so. I think he could. You know, that’s the Greek kind of, they really have a sense that everybody is—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The other night when I was going home, I saw [Richard] Cheney coming down that street with 15 motorcycles. Here in the United States of America, he has 15 motorcycles to get from his house down here. I mean, my God, this thing has turned into an imperial executive.

Young

Yes. When you would come back from these trips—Latin America, your European trip, your Italian trip, the Italy trip for the Garibaldi festival—did you talk to your brother or did he get in touch with you? Did he want to hear—?

Kennedy

Oh, yes, particularly about Italy. He knew Italy well, and he knew the Agnellis very well. He knew about the political leadership, what was happening over there at the time. I don’t know whether I’ve said this previously—when my brother ran for Congress, my grandfather told him, The only thing you have to know about foreign policy is Trieste belongs to Italy, and Ireland will be united and free. You touch the Italians and the Irish, and that’s all you have to know. My brother was always interested in what was happening in Italy. At that time, there was a substantial communist power there. There was a lot going on. So he was very interested in it. 

Just a funny little story: the last night, we had a night in Capri. Our group was eating at this restaurant, and a fellow came up to Morrissey. Morrissey said, You come over and meet this person. I went over and met him, and he said, My son has just been killed in Vietnam, and I’d like to go back to the United States, but I’m having difficulty with a visa, getting back in. Will you be of some help? And I said, Yes, yes. And he said, Do you mind if I get a picture with you? Fine. And so he got a picture with me. I took down his name, said, Let me help.

When I came back here I was going to dinner with my brother, because he was interested in my trip. There was a phone call from my brother Bobby, and he said, Is Teddy there? Yes. And he said, Jack, I just want you to know that your brother Teddy just had his picture taken with the biggest Mafioso figure in all of Italy in Capri twelve hours ago [laughter]. Twelve hours ago. Jack said, Can’t we keep you out of trouble, Teddy? But his son had been killed over there. This happens every day to every politician.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But that part always stood out, how Bobby heard about it. Obviously, once they got those pictures—

Young

On Latin America, you were the President’s brother; you were going to Latin America. You were looking at, among other things, the politics, the local situation. I’m asking about your brother’s interest because I wonder if he would see an opportunity, in hearing your reports, to get an alternative reading of what was going on down there that may not have come through the usual channels.

Kennedy

I think so. From the time I established my credibility on the Algerian situation, he took me a little more seriously.

Young

So you weren’t always getting him into trouble.

Kennedy

He was obviously interested and had thought about it himself. But he always valued different kinds of viewpoints coming from different kinds of sources.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He was always that way, and constantly inquisitive. He knew the people, the leaders of these countries, but he was always interested in people’s impressions.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He could absorb information so quickly and readily, and he had a great interest in Central and South America.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I think it always would have been the first. They had a lot of problems in all those countries. Most of them were dictatorships, and there was real movement, expansion, in terms of threats of communism. Where the democratic forces were going to be was really going to be the challenge. I think the arms control was important, but Central and South America were always the places that I think he would have been effective. He was interested, and interested in our views about it. And I think it was very helpful. 

As I say, I went with John Plank, who was basically a teacher, a professor, and had an understanding about the area. It was sort of a continuing seminar for me, because John was an expert on it and was very thoughtful and had good insights. So it wasn’t just me down there meeting these people and wondering from briefing sheets. We had a real expert in the country who understood nuance and the significance of small movements and changes and directions. I think my brother valued it. Do you want to take a break for a minute?

Young

Surely. Let’s do that.

Kennedy

We have a couple of pretty good stories as we get into the campaign that we can mention. I remember Gerry and Maurice Donahue coming down to the White House and talking to my brothers about it. When I read Joey Gargan’s memoir, I remembered going out riding a horse and falling off and all about that. There are a number of those kinds of things.

Young

Good. Good.

Young

I have a note here—and I don’t know where I got it—that says you told Ben Smith you were going to run in February of ’62. So, you’re getting pretty close to a public announcement. And then in March, you were on Meet the Press, and I think you announced afterwards. Do you have any recollection of your talk with Ben Smith?

Kennedy

Not really. I thought the world of Ben Smith. I spent a lot of time with him in West Virginia. He was enormously devoted to my brother. I can remember him saying in West Virginia that if he had to shovel every ton of coal out of West Virginia to make my brother President, he’d do it. He was a very strong believer and advocate and supporter of my brother’s, and a delightful person, too—soft spoken, a brilliant sailor. He used to win all the sailing races. And he was a first-rate athlete at Harvard. I knew he was a good friend. He was my brother’s friend, but I had at least some relationship with him.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I remember the fact that I did talk to him. I’m less clear about those circumstances. You know who probably can remember that is Miltie Gwirtzman.

Young

Yes, he was with him at the time. 

Kennedy

He might be able to refresh my recollection. But now that you bring it up, I do remember talking to him. I remember it also being a pretty easy conversation. I don’t remember it as being a painful one, or one that felt— I think he let it off the hook pretty quick and easy.

Young

That’s what Milton reports in his own oral history interview. He said he offered every support.

Kennedy

I have a sort of half-memory of it.

Young

Did you have some things about this era that you wanted to talk about?

Kennedy

Well, there were just a few little anecdotes that happened to come to mind, and actually, I remember a number of them. I remember driving with Jack Crimmins through South Boston once, and he said, Ted, look over there. There’s Knocko [Edward] McCormack, an uncle of Eddie McCormack. Jack Crimmins was a well-liked person, and Knocko didn’t think much of me. So Jack said to him, Hi, Knocko. What are you doing up there? And he said, I’m shingling the house, and every time I pound a nail in, I think I’m pounding it into that young Ted Kennedy’s tail. And I said, Jack, what did he say? He said, I’ll tell you about it later on. I have to park. [laughter

Let’s just back up a little bit.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

At the end of the year in ’61, it became increasingly apparent that I was going to run. I think in the White House, Kenny O’Donnell and Larry had real reservations about it, about there being too many Kennedys. There were now Robert Kennedy and Jack Kennedy, and I think probably Sargent [Shriver] had been appointed to the Peace Corps around this time. Steve Smith was a presence as well. So there were some real reservations about that among my brother’s close circle. 

I never felt it, really, with regard to Bobby and my brother Jack. I understood that the challenge from their point of view was whether I was going to get out there and get around. They were going to hear whether this thing was going to work or not work. They were good, very competent, political pros. They could make these assessments. And I’m confident that the playback my brother was getting all through this period had been very positive.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I think he heard a lot of it during the course of the summer in ’61, when he was both up at the Cape and probably in Rhode Island a bit. He was seeing people who had heard from different reporters that we were doing well. And I think at some time—I don’t know exactly when, but at some time that winter—there was a poll taken that showed we were doing very well over McCormack. I think there are some polls in here that show us ten or twelve points ahead.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The question then was whether we should take that and show it to the uncle and see whether he would talk to Eddie and get his way out—

Young

Yes, the uncle being Speaker—

Kennedy

Speaker [John] McCormack of the House, with whom my brother had a good relationship—not especially warm, but a good relationship. It had been somewhat tested when my brother refused to vote to let [James Michael] Curley out of jail. He was the one member of Congress. McCormack had led the fight to do it, and he thought that my brother should have signed on to it. 

And then there had been the tension from ’56 about who would control the delegation. There was a McCormack-Kennedy fight on that. So there were a lot of tensions in the state party. My best judgment is that when my brother talked to him about it—I’m not ever sure that he showed it to him—it didn’t make any difference. Eddie was going to run.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And along with that came the sense from my brother—which I did not completely agree with—that was it was probably good to run against him. If you beat him, that was going to be a big deal in terms of winning the final race. I did not have quite that foresight in terms of appreciating it, but I remember that that was part of the conversation. I think at that time he thought I probably would beat McCormack.

Young

In other words, you weren’t entirely convinced that if you could win over McCormack, you needn’t worry so much about [George] Cabot Lodge.

Kennedy

It would create a good deal of momentum and support, and I think my brother felt by about this time that I could win the primary. This is against a background where the overarching issue in the state had been corruption—the [John William] Ward Commission and a great deal of corruption in state contracts. This was really the number-one issue. McCormack had been the Attorney General, and he had taken some steps, but his record wasn’t enormously distinguished in this area, although he was a graduate of the Naval Academy, he had been very close to the Jewish community, and he had all of the McCormack infrastructure in place. He had a very solid base, and he had contacts all over the state, a pretty good state organization, at the time. 

And even though there had been a number of people who had worked on my brother’s campaign from ’52, which had been the real race (’58 had been less of a race), and a number of them had worked in the ’60 campaign, they were settling back in their lives. I had met a lot of them, but they weren’t, at least at this time, as active and involved in my race. Some of them became very active, but by and large, they weren’t.

So the first issue in question was to win sufficient numbers of delegates at the convention. We thought we could certainly win a primary, but it did seem important to win the convention first. And that was a lot less certain, because that went to the pros and the pols, and McCormack had been in the state and had been at conventions in the past and had a lot of good contacts. The early assessment was not all that strong in terms of delegates, but a lot of delegates were up in the air. A lot of them were basically up for grabs. And we had a full court press with the legislators and with the mayors.

Gerry Doherty, who was working with the legislators, was a very good friend of a fellow named Maurice Donahue, who was the president of the state senate, and a very able, gifted, talented senate president. He ran for Governor, but he never could really get off the ground; he was not a strong candidate. But he was a very talented person, a very smart fellow. He was in the western part of the state (Holyoke). Both of them came down to the White House and met with my brother under assumed names.

Young

Why was that?

Kennedy

We didn’t want to give the appearance of President Kennedy calling the shots back home. I was trying to establish myself as an independent figure, and I’m not sure that my brother wanted to be completely wrapped into my destiny at this time, either.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

It was reported at one time that Ed Fouhy, who later became the Washington bureau chief for CBS [Columbia Broadcasting System], announced that he heard that I was going to drop out. There were a lot of rumors.

Young

You were going to drop out?

Kennedy

Drop out. I don’t know where the rumor came from, but there was never a second thought in my mind once we got started.

Young

This was in the Washington press? I wonder whose wishful thinking that was. 

Kennedy

Yes. Fouhy was later a very significant figure at CBS.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

After the meeting—which President Kennedy and my brother Bobby attended—they kick-started the campaign in terms of having my brother-in-law Steve Smith come up and really take charge of it. 

Young

Was this now all before you formally announced?

Kennedy

This was before I announced. I would think that these meetings were certainly the wintertime of ’61.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

Then I had the occasion to go on Meet the Press. According to the timeline it says before I announced—

Knott

March 11.

Kennedy

That was an interesting occasion. I came down here for the weekend—on a Friday, I think—and I went over to see my brother at the White House. I waited around for a while, and then I finally went in to see him. I can remember it very clearly. He said to Evelyn Lincoln, Don’t bother me for a while, and then we went over, and he sat me behind the desk and asked me questions, all on foreign policy and domestic policy. I gave my answers, and he said, Well, we’re going to have to sharpen these up a bit. 

Then he had Ted Sorensen and Mike Feldman come in, and they peppered me with questions. That went on for about an hour, hour and a half. They wrote up the answers as we went through it. I had felt fairly confident until I hit the big time, but going over it, I felt less so. But I wasn’t really very rattled about it. 

My brother left, I think late Friday night. He went down to Florida, and he watched the Meet the Press program on Sunday. Dave Powers tells the story of how he turned it on and then walked in and out of the room for the half hour and asked Dave how I did. Dave said I did fine, and then he called Larry Spivack and asked Larry, How did he do? 

And Larry said, He did fine. I just could never get an answer out of him on this aid to education. I just couldn’t pin him down whether he was for aid to Catholic schools or against it. And my brother said, That’s just fine, Larry. That’s just where he ought to be [laughter]. That was the hot issue at that time, what they were going to do. I think after that, everyone was aboard. I had the announcement in Massachusetts. You have the dates on that.

Knott

March 14.

Kennedy

I forget exactly how much after that the Globe ran the article about my Harvard experience. 

Knott

That was late March.

Kennedy

I remember the announcement; it went off well. It was around St. Patrick’s time, and I got a great reception at the St. Patrick’s Day parades. I think just about this time I left the district attorney’s office. I got a great reception, and then I remember my brother Jack calling and saying, Teddy, I think it’s good if we get that Harvard story out. 

And I said, What do you mean by that? And he said, I think you might as well get that whole story out from beginning to end. Get it out in the early part of this campaign. I thought that was awfully nice of him to think about it. Then the next day or two, Bob Healy ran a big front-page story in the Boston Globe. I thought that was the end of the whole campaign, and I remember that being a long, long day. 

I remember going that evening down to Milford, Massachusetts. There’s a wonderful hall down there that holds about three or four hundred people. And I remember being outside in the parking lot saying, I don’t think— They’ve all read the Boston Globe, and I just don’t know whether I can get myself to go into that hall. It’s just such a bad—oh, it’s so bad, what in the world is going to happen with this thing?

I remember going into that hall, and everyone was cheering, everybody was supporting, and it was just a terrific shot, a lift. I said, Maybe I can get through this.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And of course people are understanding, and they certainly were. The campaign kept going on a roll. But I always remember Milford and the parking lot as being one of the great moments of the campaign about whether people were going to be forgiving or understanding or how they were going to react or treat me.

Knott

Senator, could I interject? It was your opinion that it would probably have been best not to have—

Kennedy

I just wasn’t ready for it. I was sure that probably some time it would come out, but it was something that I hadn’t been asked about in the course of the campaign. I think it was just something that my brother decided was a good thing to come out. I think the Boston political writers probably said to my brother, Everybody knows about that Harvard incident. And I think they were the ones who said, Look, it makes a great deal more sense to have it out now than later. I think that’s probably the way it came out. But it wasn’t something the reporters in Boston were asking me, When are you going to get this out? Or, We’re going to come and ask you. Or, Are you prepared to talk about this? It sort of came on out. And, of course, that was the right way to do it. The lesson of politics today, obviously, is confront it and get it out and get it out right, get it out accurately. 

Young

Bob Healy was the one who wrote it, and he did it in a way that did not sensationalize it or focus on the headlines. The article was discreetly done, I thought. It was in the text of the article itself rather than the banner piece.

Kennedy

But it was on the front page.

Young

How did he come to do that? Do you know?

Kennedy

Well, there was a whole series. There was a string of those reporters who were very close. Marty Nolan was around at the time, Curtis Wilkie, Bob Healy, a kind of old guard. And then they had Dave Nyhan, who just recently died, Tom Oliphant—they were just coming on at the Globe. There were about seven or eight who were very close. Now, probably none of them are left. Healy’s still alive, but he only occasionally writes an article for them. But he was very well plugged in up there at the Globe. He ended up being a bureau chief. Tom Winship, who ran the Globe, was very close to these people. He was socially and politically close to them, and very supportive.

Young

There are accounts in the records of your brother becoming interested in this early and talking with either Winship or Bob Healy and saying that they would provide the facts of this.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Harvard was not speaking. I think the press had been nosing around Harvard, but nobody at Harvard would speak. So I think it was in the air at that time. And I think your brother, the President, took a lead in setting it up in a way that it would play right.

Kennedy

Yes. I think that’s right.

Young

Not distort it.

Kennedy

Not distort it or sensationalize it. And we went right on with the campaign.

Young

Eddie McCormack never made an issue of that, did he? I thought it died sort of—

Kennedy

It did, but I re-read the transcript, and Eddie had a number of other things. I had gotten arrested in Pamplona for throwing a cushion into the ring, and we were held for probably six or seven hours. There were three or four of us—it was a terrible bullfight—and I threw a pillow into the ring. The guards came up and brought us on in, and then they released us.

No one knew about that. The only people who would have known about it were the Central Intelligence Agency and Lodge. I heard in one of these debates, And then he also got arrested in Spain.

I said, How in the world did they find out that I got arrested in Pamplona at the bullfights? I don’t know quite whether that was in Eddie’s comments or in another’s. But I don’t think the Harvard incident came up in the McCormack debate. I didn’t spot it on this. I read through the McCormack thing.

Knott

What was your attitude towards Eddie McCormack? Did you know him at all before you ran against him? Did your perspective on him change as he did get personal, as you said earlier? 

Kennedy

No. I had met him, but I hadn’t really formed any kind of opinion about him. I remember being out at some events where we both spoke, and I thought he spoke quite well. He wasn’t an enormously exciting speaker, but he had a lot of Jewish sayings. I remember going to a couple of the temples, and he’d talk in Hebrew. He had a lot of slang that really went over much better. So I thought he did pretty well, and I thought he was fairly formidable.

The night of the debate, when he went after me hammer and tong, we left that place, and I didn’t know whether he had scored an absolute knockout blow. I remember going back to our house—by this time we were living at 3 Charles River Square, we’d moved out of the apartment and got a place just off Beacon Hill—and I remember being there in our living room and not knowing whether this was the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, or whatever. 

But within about 45 minutes, and then closer to midnight, the phones were ringing off the wall in the headquarters. The nightly news was very tough: Eddie McCormack blasts Kennedy and all the rest of that kind of thing. We just didn’t know what the fallout was going to be. By midnight, the talk shows had that he had overdone it. And then we began to see it, feel it, as we moved along. A lot of people watched it, and I thought the debate itself went pretty well. And so I got a boost from that, as a candidate. And then his thing took a harsh turn, and I don’t think he ever really recovered from it. The second debate was pretty mild, I remember.

Young

There was a call. You either called your brother or—and your brother also called Milton. Didn’t he? 

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

And the texts here say that your brother was so nervous he couldn’t sit and listen to this.

Kennedy

Yes, yes. No, that’s true.

Young

Sort of like Meet the Press. He called Larry Spivack, but he walked in and out of the room. 

Kennedy

How did it go? Well, then, of course, he heard all of that, he didn’t know how that thing had gone.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

You couldn’t really tell. At least I couldn’t at the time. 

Young

There’s a report that when your brother was speaking to Milton [Gwirtzman], Milton was saying, Well, on points, this—But on the overall impression, that. And your brother said, We’ll have none of this ‘on the one hand or on the other hand.’ Your job is to tell him he did fine and go to it.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

I thought that was interesting.

Kennedy

I’d give him a call after events like this and give him a rundown. He was always interested in what was going on. 

Young

Well, in a sense, a defeat would have affected him too, his standing.

Kennedy

That’s right. It would not have been helpful to him. I was very mindful that getting licked on this was not going to be a positive for him. But I began to think that we’d be able to win it, and the indicators were gradually going that way.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

That was the debate. The convention was earlier, in the early summer. I would say that it looked sort of shaky three weeks, four weeks before the convention, but in the last two to three weeks, we knew we were going to win it. As we got closer to the convention, we began to pick up more and more strength as people saw that we were going to win it.

Knott

How did you turn the convention around? Was it a lot of personal—?

Kennedy

It was a lot of personal, a lot of personal. Eddie wasn’t nearly the worker that I was at the time. We were out all the time, every day, all day—and by this time the organization was being set up. We had very good people who knew who these delegates were going to be, and it took a lot of contact with them.

They had that story about postmasterships. It was the big story in 1962. The President can name the postmasters, and all the political writers were writing that Kennedy was promising all these postmasterships to these political people. The President could name the postmasters up until about ’66, ’67, I think. Then, with the reorganization of the post office, that all went out. (There’s a funny story of Jennings Randolph and me in the steam room, and I’ll talk about that later on.)

You know, a handful of this was true. Even today, Kevin Callahan (you’ll run across his name)—his father was named postmaster. He had been a supporter of my brother in ’52. The problem is, once you name the postmaster, they’re out of politics, so you’re sort of caught. Callahan was the local chair of Taunton. He had all of those people around there. Of course, his son worked for me and he’s running for district attorney. Kevin’s a good friend, a very successful attorney now. 

There’s a gal up on the North Shore—Marguerite Condon. I did appoint her husband, John. She’s the leader of the Right to Life group up there, but she’s my biggest supporter, if you can believe it. Her husband got named postmaster. She’s been a Kennedy supporter since ’62, and she’s even tougher now and better. I had to go to her 50th anniversary. They had 700 people out there. Priests are filling the head table, and she has me up there! I mean, it’s unbelievable. They just leave her alone because she’s so tough and so good. But it was true. Some of those people were promised.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

This was the big accusation, and the reporters were all looking around: Who’s been pledged? and Who’s been committed? But that was vastly overdone. I’m getting ahead of myself, but after the primary, I was very interested in my brother appointing [Anthony J. Jr.] Celebrezze to the Cabinet. We used to say Celebrezze will make it easy, because there was tension between my brother and Furcolo, and therefore the Italians were feeling a little out of joint. The fact that you’re going to appoint an Italian to the Cabinet was going to be a big deal. And if you weren’t going to appoint one, that was going to be a big deal. 

I think even Celebrezze came up, but I can’t remember what happened. But it was the most important thing in my life for a while. And then Peter Princi was an Italian who was named head of customs. Those things were enormously important. My brother couldn’t believe it. He was thinking about who he was going to put on arms control, and I’m talking to him about getting this thing through in time, you know, for the convention or for wherever the devil it was. He understood it, and I think he’d have appointed Celebrezze in any event, but he certainly heard a lot from me about Celebrezze. So he was this much involved in it. 

We had the first debate. Look through that. It’s rather substantive, and an awful lot of the issues are the same. It’s education, jobs, the question of communism—and it was similar in the second debate. After that second debate, we knew that the thing was moving our way.

Young

You mentioned jobs. What was the economy of Massachusetts like at that time? Going up? Going down?

Kennedy

It was going very flat and going down. It never really recovered from both the textiles and the shoes. Shoes were going overseas; we were getting shoe imports. Leather products had gone overseas. We had some tanneries on the North Shore. Textiles were going down. We had some defense, and some electronics were just beginning, but we hadn’t gotten into the computer age or any of the other. It was just very slow. It was a real question where we had these orderly marketing agreements on textiles. You could only import certain amounts. 

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

That was a big issue for us. I’m trying to think more about McCormack. Basically, the campaign went on. You’ve seen these schedules. 

Young

We haven’t seen the schedules.

Kennedy

Well, you know, you can see these—Edward Kennedy Assailed in Debate. This picture here is Eddie McCormack pointing at me and not having a lot of nice things to say. McCormack Tactics Cause Resentment. That’s a special to the New York Times. That’s just after August. Kennedy, McCormack Renew their Debate in Massachusetts. That’s the second debate, which was uneventful. And then we had the primary in September. 

(audio interference)

Kennedy

In the convention, we had a lot of floor communications. We had learned that from the ’60 campaign. And actually, with two-thirds of the roll call, we were way ahead of McCormack, and he dropped out.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Eddie Boland, who was a good friend of my brother’s, was the only member of the delegation who took a position in that primary. He gave a rousing introduction. He was a first-rate speaker, in any event, and I re-read his speech. It’s a very stirring, stirring speech.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He was booed out there in his home district, so he was very courageous. After the convention, there was a question about how many debates. Eddie McCormack wanted a number of debates, and we basically got it down to two. The first one was South Boston, and then out in Holyoke.

Knott

In one of those debates, you criticized McCormack’s position on the ban on the construction of nuclear weapons. Adam Clymer makes a big point that you probably scored some points on that particular issue.

Kennedy

Yes. The questions and answers, both of ours, are rather substantive. With the exception of Eddie’s attack, it was really very—

Knott

Was it hard for you not to fire back?

Kennedy

Well, it was so intense and so continuing and so ongoing that I had enough time. I think if he had just fired a shot or two, I’d have been tempted to come back. But this thing just kept on going and going and going. I thought, There’s so much in there, that if I start off on this part—It’s probably better to let this thing go. I said something like, This campaign isn’t about families. It’s about the people’s destiny here in Massachusetts. 

It’s just that it was continuing and continuing and continuing. I decided that I wouldn’t be able to get started if I tried to answer one or two things. I wasn’t going to be able to do the whole thing, so it was better not to deal with it in a general way. We had a sense that it was over the top.

Young

He was goading you, wasn’t he, because that would be the subject—?

Kennedy

Would be the anger. Yes.

Knott

He had the crowd with him, I think. 

Kennedy

Yes, I think he did. It was supposedly kind of a mixed crowd, but I think he had—

Young

It was at South Boston High School?

Kennedy

Yes. This is the less interesting part, but this gives you the idea of my schedule: January of ’62, nine o’clock is Ware High School; ten o’clock, Belchertown High School; eleven o’clock, Amherst High School; 12:15, student council at Warren High; 12:45, Warren High School address; 1:30, Warren Town Hall; two o’clock, North Brookfield High School; 2:45, coffee at the Francis Lee; 3:30 tour of the Mary Lane Hospital; 4 o’clock Ware Woolen Company tour; 4:30, tour of Ware Town Hall; 5:10, Bourne’s house, telephone list; 5:45, meeting of the French people in Ware; 6:30, League of Sacred Heart, Mount Carmel Parish, Ware; 8:30, social gathering, Richard Bourne’s home. 

Young

We want to get you to talk about some of this. Can we take a look at that book?

Kennedy

Sure. You’re welcome to it. The basic things were that we did plant gates Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursday mornings. On Friday, I’d do issues at the Cape.

Young

Okay. This is what I wanted to ask you, what a week was like.

Kennedy

What I’ve just read is sort of a typical day during the week. We tried to do plant gates Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. They were all around 5:30, quarter to six.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

We’d have that kind of a day, with usually a break for about 45 minutes at 5 o’clock, and then into the evening. On Fridays we did issues at the Cape. I’d have a debate prep, or we would do our issues. Our issues group was basically the study group started by my friend Senator John Culver. He was a classmate of mine.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He was over at Harvard Law School, and he had five or six classmates—[Evan R.] Berlack, Leigh Trevor, and a number of others—who were very bright and smart, and who could produce these papers on any subject. They were very effective. We’d go over those—usually on Friday night—and then Saturdays were always different because the high schools weren’t in. And there were always ethnic picnics. 

All along Route 128 in the springtime and summer, from ten in the morning until six at night, are ethnic picnics, and you could go from one to the other, Saturdays and Sundays, as much as you could tolerate. Sundays were always communion breakfasts and more picnics in the afternoons. Monday I’d go back to Boston and do it Tuesday. That was basically the formulation. There were different kinds of events. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday were very specialized. Friday you were gathering your breath, but you were learning. Saturdays and Sundays were very tied in to all the ethnic events. There was a parade on Sundays in Boston, every Sunday for the whole summer, a different feast, every Sunday. All the Portuguese and other ethnic groups have these incredible events that are important and significant to go to. 

I have just a couple of observations from traveling in the plants and factories. I can remember traveling—in ’58 with my brother, but I saw the same thing when I went myself—to tanneries on the North Shore where you had to put covers on your shoes. If you walked without those, three days later your soles came off because the acid was so strong on the floor of these factories. It just ate through all the threading of your shoes. Literally, the soles of your shoes would come right off. 

And in the shoe manufacturing places, women and men—mostly men, but a number of women—were taking the leather and holding it and moving it and then bringing this big slammer down on it to shape it and maybe punch eyeholes or buttonholes or whatever it is on it. You couldn’t walk down a line and not find that at least every other person had lost two or three fingers.

When we’d walk through in the old mills down in Fall River and New Bedford, there’d be four to five hundred women sewing, doing piecework. I’d always be a little bit reluctant because we were interrupting them. They were all doing piecework, but they were glad to see us. You can meet four or five hundred on a floor and then go up and meet another four or five hundred. It would take you another hour and fifteen minutes to walk all the way back down. You could spend four hours. The floor that was least desirable was the cutting floor, because that had only 50 people, and you had to walk way down and back and down and back to meet the 50. We wanted the others that were 400. 

We’d plan to spend three hours at this monstrous building filled with people, going back and forth. And three-quarters of the people we’d be saying hello to there would never smile because their teeth were always crooked. And in some parts of the state—even in Charlestown—the water’s bad. So the average twelve-year-old has twelve cavities, and no dentist in Charlestown. Now, of course, it’s a different community. But at that time, the average child had twelve cavities. There hasn’t been a cavity in Newton or Brookline in thirty years because they fluoridate the water. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

For the places where you can’t fluoridate—just a sidebar now—we had a bill for $20 million to permit local communities to fluoridate. Gaylord Nelson, who was the leader of the environmental movement, opposed it because they didn’t want to add fluoridation, even though it was a voluntary thing. The purists in the environmental movement were against it. We tried to get the hospitals to tie into it. Mass. General at that time, and other hospitals, were isolated institutions, just serving their constituents or sick people from outside the country, but virtually nothing in terms of community. That thing has changed dramatically. 

Later on, when I got to Woburn, Massachusetts, which had probably as high a percentage of people who died in Vietnam—I think it was 32 or 33 from Woburn, a blue-collar town, most of them Marines, all the families went together on this thing. They still have open wells up there. They had that incident where they had the children getting cancer—it’s portrayed in the book A Civil Action. We were very much involved in that whole development. The Reverend [Bruce] Young was showing places on a map where all of these children were dying from leukemia with these open wells. They were having the water tested down in EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] centers, and they could never find anything wrong, any toxic elements in the water. 

But the water table has a direct flow line from where they used to dump the casks that brought the furs over from Australia, which were packed in acids. They’d pry these enormous casks open and take the furs that were soaked in acid and bring them over to the tannery. They’d dump the casks in the town dump up here, and all these acids had leeched into the ground and the water system and had come down. You could examine the water and couldn’t find anything wrong with it, except it was causing illnesses. But they couldn’t find it. 

That was a great dilemma, the difficulty of proving it, because they could take the water and they could say there was nothing wrong with it. It was a real dilemma. But those working conditions in those places were just absolutely, incredibly difficult—hot and steamy in the spring and the summer. The working conditions were really, really tough.

Young

Very noisy, too?

Kennedy

So it’s always easy being an advocate for the minimum wage,

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It’s the representation of those individuals who are working like the devil and who have gone off and served in the wars and done all the other kinds of thing. They’re getting the short end of this. It isn’t difficult to get worked up about representing this whole crowd. 

Young

That was a powerful experience.

Kennedy

A powerful, powerful, inspiring experience.

Young

How did you get into the factories? Was it easy?

Kennedy

The workers, the labor, the union people would let you come on in.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

As I mentioned, you have to be very careful, because it’s piece-time. They don’t even want to interrupt to shake your hand because it’s piecework.

Young

Because they make—

Kennedy

But they’d do it. In some places, the union fellow would pull the switch to stop the electricity and bring them all together, which made it a lot easier. You could talk to four or five hundred at a time, and then they’d all run back. But he’d give them some benefit; the union guy would tell them he’d make it up to them in some way. 

Young

They’d lose—

Kennedy

I don’t know what he was giving them, overtime, or telling them that they’d get some extra time off. I never knew what they—

Young

We’ve gone an hour if you’d like to—

Kennedy

Perhaps we ought to think about concluding. You can take a look at these: Thursday, 5:30. Pick up at Charles River Square. Tire Rubber Company at 6:15, Western Electric, 300 people. The number of people and all—7:20, 8:30. One thing we didn’t mention at all is that in the primary we did these outdoor rallies. This is a flier for it, and the flier is the size of a notebook. See, hear, Edward Kennedy. Mid-city parking area, corner of Central Street and Middle Street, Lowell, Massachusetts, 8:15, Thursday, August 30, 1962.

We would do basically three a night, and I found it is the best part of the campaign. We could do it up until the time it got cold, the end of September. But we did these during the summer. We would take a local high school, and we’d hire the local band. The basic payment on the local band, more than anything else, was cleaning their uniforms. If you paid to clean their uniforms, the band would come. That always was something like $120.

We had the Crusaders from South Boston, who are a spectacular band; they’re nationally acclaimed. We’d always find out if they had good bands in these places, and we would do it with the local band. And if you got the local band, the parents of the band would always come on out. So you had several hundred getting started, and the fliers. We would end up with two or three thousand at each one of these kinds of events. We’d do three a night. We’d have a local person who was helpful in getting the local pols because they would see the 3,000, and they’d get a chance to interview you. McCormack was never even around, not a part of the schedule.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It helped gathering local strength. Our local coordinators got activated on it. They saw that the crowds were out there. They became more energized on that part. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And it worked. But I think that’s probably the last we’ll have of outdoor rallies. I guess they have a few now with big bands and things like that. But we did it in every part of Boston, a good many outside. This was up in Lowell.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We’d do it in two or three different places, usually seven, eight, and nine o’clock would be the last ones we’d do. They were really a big success. You know the famous story about Eddie McCormack saying, You never worked a day in your life.

Young

Yes. 

Knott

I notice there are all sorts of different locations.

Kennedy

I remember where it was. It was at a bakery in the North Shore. When I tell it in a union hall, I always use the group. I say it’s a big steelworker or an ironworker or whatever. But it was at a bakery in the North Shore. I was shaking hands, and I had trouble. The people were putting the jam on the bread and things like that, and you go in and you don’t know whether you’re shaking hands or not. And that’s where one of these workers just leaned over, without even interrupting, I heard what they said about you last night: ‘You never worked a day.’ You didn’t miss a thing.

It was in the North Shore papers the next day or so—it was a great, great story.

Young

You didn’t miss a thing.

Kennedy

You didn’t miss a thing. I suppose we’ll come back and probably do the Lodge campaign? Do you think that’s probably the thing to do, and then the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Young

Yes. One thing I’d also like to do when we come back. We could take a look at your schedules and things like that. I’d like you to get on the record more about your experiences in this campaign. The ethnic breakfasts, the ethnic festivals, and so forth. And I think it’s important if you have any stories or memories about particular situations in this—because this is local. 

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

This is retail politics. And I think a picture of that from you—

Kennedy

Sure. One that I remember very clearly involved my brother. He said, Where are you going today? I said, I’m going up to western Massachusetts to the big Polish festival. He knew who the Polish leaders were. 

He said, I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a great quote. After World War II, I went to Monte Cassino, and at the foot of Monte Cassino where General [Wladyslaw] Anders fought, there’s a graveyard where Polish soldiers are buried. And above the cemetery are these words. [Przechodniu, powiedz polsce, zesmy polegli wierni w jej sluzbie, za wolnosc nasza i wasza, my zolnierze polscy oddalismy-bogu ducha, ziemi wloskiej cialo, a serca, polsce.] They mean, ‘These Polish soldiers, for your liberty and mine, gave their bodies to Italy, their hearts to Poland, and their souls to God.’ And then it says, yentska polska yentska newa, ‘As long as we live, they live.’ [Passerby, tell Poland that we fell faithfully in her service, for our freedom and yours. We Polish soldiers gave our souls to God, our bodies to the soil of Italy, and our hearts to Poland.]

And I said, Wow that’s a pretty good one. So we came in and wrote all of this down on a piece of paper. John Culver has it. I gave it to John Culver at the end of the campaign to thank him. I used that part up there. There must have been 5,000 in that place.

Young

Western Mass?

Kennedy

Western Massachusetts, in Chicopee. Gerry Doherty can find that location and the place and the time because it’s a very significant event.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

St. Stanislaus sort of stands out, but it could be anybody. It was in western Massachusetts on a wonderful hillside. I think there’s a shrine out there. I can probably find out during the lunch hour. 

Young

Yes. I’d like to hear about those.

Kennedy

Well, that’s a big one, an important one. 

Young

Yes, and there are others, I’m sure.

Kennedy

Sure, yes.

Young

This is letting people see and hear from you what you were seeing and hearing and doing during the campaign, what you were doing in getting out the delegate votes. You had to go all over the state. We see your schedules. We’ll also talk about what kind of stamina that requires. 

Kennedy

Right. 

Young

We can do that after lunch. And some other things might occur to you.

Kennedy

Yes. Let’s see. This is a part over here. 

Young

Beth can select whatever, and we’ll read it over in the conference room.

Kennedy

All right. Good.

[BREAK]

Young

Start when you’re ready.

Kennedy

That story I told you about the advice President Kennedy gave me down at Hyannis Port at Cape Cod on a late morning was I was going up to attend an outdoor Mass with Cardinal Cushing at the novitiate of St. Stanislaus in Lenox, Massachusetts. And when the novices came up to kiss his ring, he said, Don’t kiss me, kiss Kennedy [laughter]. I talked at a lot of communion breakfasts afterwards, but that probably was as good an endorsement as I got during the course of the campaign.

Just a couple of other points. I wanted my brother to swear in Princi, who was the head of Customs, in Boston, but he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t going to come up to Boston to swear him in. He swore him in in Newport, and Princi had all of his relatives down there, and he got a big story. 

Young

This is Customs?

Kennedy

This was the head of Customs. 

Young

For the whole U.S. Customs?

Kennedy

For Boston.

Young

Oh, for Boston.

Kennedy

For Boston, but that’s a principal port, and it’s a big job up there, a good job. In thinking back during the lunch hour about where I got the slogan He can do more for Massachusetts, I remember it came from my brother Jack. This was the result of a trip out on the Marlin probably late in ’61, maybe in the fall. It looked like we were moving towards a candidacy, and he had two very good suggestions. One was the slogan, He can do more for Massachusetts, which was very close to the slogan he had used in 1952 against [Henry Cabot] Lodge, I can do more for Massachusetts.

That was a reference to the fact that Lodge had been so involved in the Presidential campaign that he had forgotten Massachusetts. This was a little different spin on it, but it had a powerful message. I never said it or used it or spoke about it—He can do more for Massachusetts—but it was on the pamphlets and in the ads.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The message got across very clearly, and he was the one who suggested it. He also suggested that I have a small tie clip about the same size as his PT boat tie clips. He thought the PT boats that he used in the campaign were great souvenirs and great collectors’ items and were a great hit. He thought I ought to have something like that, and he drew the map of Massachusetts on a little piece of paper and said, Why don’t you use the state as a tie clip, and then put ‘Kennedy in ’62’ on it? which I did.

That was a great gimmick. We gave them to our coordinators. I think in some places they sold them for the campaign. The idea was to get them out and make them available. And then for several years after we did the ’62, we did ’64 clips.

Young

So you kept—

Kennedy

We kept them going, and people collected them. One of the things that I failed to mention was that my brother Bobby came up for the preparation of the second debate. We prepared down at the Cape house, and he was very incisive and tough minded, and a very tough questioner. His basic theme was you have to convince them why you want to go to the Senate and why they should elect you. He would keep hammering and hammering and hammering away on the answers until they became just really razor sharp and spontaneous and lively. He’d ask the question in half a dozen different ways, which was the basis for the whole candidacy, and obviously you had to have that down. I remember his coming up to the Cape. He spent probably a day and a half up there, afternoon and evening and better part of the next day, and then we went up and had the debate.

Young

What were the answers that you honed?

Kennedy

Well, I could do more for Massachusetts. I really can’t improve on the ones they had there, but I could be a voice for the people who needed a voice that would be heard in Washington, whether it was the fishermen or those who were working in the plants or factories, whether it was the people in the cities, whether the issue was employment or jobs, healthcare or education or the environment. And it would also be a voice that was going to support a foreign policy that made sense, that was going to get a handle on nuclear arms and recognize that we should make every effort to secure the peace.

Young

Did you have to deflect the opposition spin on He can do more for Massachusetts, well, it’s because his brother’s—

Kennedy

That was McCormack’s charge.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I didn’t answer. I just talked about what the needs were and what I’d seen had been the needs. Bobby was a great one for relating the answer to what your yesterday’s experience was, where you had been, what you had seen that had moved you or grabbed you.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

His advice was to tell the story about it and personalize it. He was very good about that. Joan was also very active in the campaign. She went to a lot of the meetings, particularly with the delegates’ wives. My mother was very active in the campaign. She went to a number of different events. They were very effective. She was always able to draw large, large crowds, and she was very willing and very good. 

We started for the first time using the house at the Cape. My father never had political events there, even at the time my brother was running, or any of us were running, but we started to use it. I’d wake my mother up. We’d have an event down there and have several hundred people out on the lawn, and I’d go in and wake my mother up. She’d go over and lift the curtain and say, Oh, look at all the people there, Teddy. And I’d say, Well, they just had a clambake. She’d say, Are you paying or am I paying? [laughter] I’d say, No, no, mother, I’m paying. Well, that’s good, she’d say. And then she’d say, I suppose you want me to talk. And I’d say, Yes, would you come down and talk? 

Then as we went downstairs, she would go over in her mind and say, Now tell me again, is this for Jack? Am I doing this for the Special Olympics? Is this for the retarded? Is this for you, Teddy? Am I doing this for Bobby? Who are we doing this for again? I’d say, This is for me, mother, for the Senate. Fine, thank you very much. And she’d go out and give basically the same talk—she welcomed all the people, she thanked them all for supporting her father when he ran for office. She would just take off. It wouldn’t have made any difference about what member of the family it was. She just mesmerized them. She’d talk in these clear, uncluttered sentences with perfect diction and perfect English and would always bring the house down. Then she’d go back in the house and ask when people were leaving so she could take another rest, or she’d go play the piano. She was really instrumental in this. 

One little funny side story that I’d forgotten about and was reminded of during the lunch hour is that when we were down at the Cape, probably in the summer of ’62, I was up visiting with my brother, and Jackie [Kennedy Onassis] would tease me a little bit. She’d say, Well, all right now, Teddy. It’s clear you’re going to run, and you’ll probably win. Now let’s figure out when your brother is going to finish with the Presidency. Ben Smith looked out for you; I’m sure you’re going to look out—Don’t you think, Jack? Wouldn’t you like to go back to the Senate?

She did it in a light-hearted way, but I heard afterwards that Jack said to her, Don’t be teasing Teddy about this. He’s not at the point where he can take it. He and Jackie would talk in a light-hearted way about what he might do after he’d been President, just in a fun way. 

The other point on the race: our efforts to organize the academics. We knew we were going to have a problem, a challenge with that. And we were able to get a very good group that included a number of my old instructors and teachers from Harvard—Sam Beer, who was still at Harvard and whom I’d maintained a relationship with, and Bob Wood, who would come down and work with the administration with HUD [Housing and Urban Development], and Charlie Haar, whom I hadn’t been taught by, but who had been very close to Bob Wood.

They were very effective and very good. But they had to take on the leading academics who supported Eddie McCormack because Eddie’s uncle, the Speaker, had obviously done a million favors. He’d been in the House forever, and Speaker for a very substantial time, and had done a million favors. And Eddie, who had gone to the Naval Academy and been on the City Council, was the Attorney General and had a lot of friends—a lot of academic friends—and they were influential in terms of the academic community.

Young

But you had a lot of opposition from Harvard and the law school?

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Or the Brookline liberals—I don’t know what you want to call them.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

Mark deWolfe Howe.

Kennedy

Mark said, Kennedy is lacking in every quality except ambition. That was Mark deWolfe Howe’s wonderful comment. But I think Sam Beer saw him later, afterwards, and he commented that I turned out to be a good Senator before he passed.

Young

I heard this story. I think it was second-hand, from Bob Wood, going on and on about how you weren’t fit.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

You know, that you lacked this and that and the other thing, and Bob said, Well, after all, he’s not trying to qualify for tenure.

Kennedy

[laughter] Yes.

Young

How do you account for that layer of vocal opposition to you? These were people who were for your brother, weren’t they?

Kennedy

No, it was sort of hot and cold, really. Remember, there was a good deal of [Adlai] Stevensonian—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I start the answer by saying that, by and large, McCormack had a strong record on civil rights and also on civil liberties and had been active in issuing pamphlets and being involved in the community and had developed some contacts within the academic community. He had a strong academic record at the Naval Academy where he had done well, and he had worked at cultivating a number of the academics. So I think we start with that, in fairness to him.

On the other side, I didn’t have that kind of relationship with most of them, although I had a decent, good relationship with the ones who were supporters. But beyond that, there was the resonance, I always thought, of those who had been the Stevensonian types and were the last to come aboard in terms of supporting my brother in the ’60 campaign. They came, but it was the Gene McCarthy crowd. He said he was smarter than President Kennedy, he was more Catholic than President Kennedy, and he was a better Senator than President Kennedy. There was that sense among a number of academics out there.

Young

ADA [Americans for Democratic Action]?

Kennedy

And ADA types. I think very quickly you get someone like Joe Rauh, who ended up being a big supporter of mine because we were very much involved in all the big debates here on civil rights. The poll tax was the first amendment, and I had Rauh out to my house all the time helping me.

Young

Yes. 

Knott

Senator, you mentioned some of your family members. Steve Smith played a considerable role as your campaign manager. 

Kennedy

Yes. Steve was really another brother to me, and I was very close to him—extremely close to him in the later years—but very close to him during this period of time. We did a lot of things together. We had a lot in common. We played tennis together and skied together, and I was close to my sister Jean and spent more time with her. So I was close to Steve.

He was extraordinary in terms of helping to direct the campaign and had a good sense about the state. He had been up there in 1958 with Bobby to run the ’60 campaign, so he was a campaign veteran. He was enormously helpful and very valuable in terms of working through the various television arrangements for the debates, the management of the resources, and that sort of thing. He was just really first rate.

Knott

Did he handle the debate negotiations with the McCormacks?

Kennedy

I’m sure he probably must have, in one way or another. I think Gerry Doherty probably had a good deal to do with it, and he was the one they went back and talked to about it eventually. But he was a principal.

There was a wonderful person, a fellow named Joe Curnane, who was from Everett, Massachusetts. He worked on my campaign and worked on my brother’s campaign. He’s dead now. He owned the newspaper in Everett and ran the funeral parlor in Everett, a blue-collar community. Joe ran the state of Maryland with Joe Tydings in ’60. After my brother won, he asked Curnane what he would like. Curnane said, I want ten minutes with you, fifteen minutes, one phone call every year in January. And my brother said, You got it. 

Kenny O’Donnell would come in and say, Joe Curnane is out here. Oh, geez. Send him in. And Curnane would say, My St. Patrick’s Day dinner is on March 17, and I want a speaker. I want you to call old Senator [Thomas J.] Dodd or call Gene McCarthy—call an Irish Senator. That’s what you want? That’s the only thing he wanted. 

I think I’ve told you this story. My brother said, What’s the going rate? He said, You get overnight at the Parker House, two first-class tickets going up there, and $2,000 in cash. And my brother Jack said, I’ll take it. I’ll take it. 

Curnane said, I’m going to work on your campaign. I said, Well, that’s good. Do you want me to call Steve Smith? He said, No, no. You don’t have to do anything. I went in the campaign office, and who do I see back there at the mimeograph machines? Joe Curnane. I said, Jesus, Joe’s back there. A week later, he was running the whole office. He’d be the first one in in the morning. He said, Give me the key, and I’ll close it up at nighttime. He went from running the machine to running the volunteers to running the whole thing—just took over himself. Himself. He ran it. He didn’t want anybody calling in and saying, Here’s Joe Curnane. He’s going to run the headquarters. He said, I’ll just take it over. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He got there the earliest, worked the latest, never took time off, always was filling in for people, just took the whole place over. It was a masterful performance. Imagine somebody doing that today! You know, we had all these characters through there who were all part of this. But he was certainly one who had been involved in my brother’s campaign and mine and was somebody who was very important.

That brings us to the primary night. I always remember that primary night was enormously exciting, but it was also incredibly sad. We had the good news about winning. We had a pretty good idea because there was a malfunctioning ballot box up in Salem, and they had to open it to see how the thing was going. They could tell in the ballot that I was winning 60-40, and it was a tip-off that it was going to be a good ballot. So we had a good time. But then my father had a second stroke that evening.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

I remember I cancelled going to the television stations and all the rest of it, and I may very well have gone down to see him that night. I always remember it as sort of a sinker. I remember talking to my brother, who was very excited and pleased—the whole family was. But I always thought about primary night as being modulated because of the illness.

Young

Yes, yes. 

Kennedy

So the campaign with George Lodge started right up, and we had a series of debates, four or five debates with him. George was very well liked in the State Department, we heard. I had not met him until the campaign, but I liked him. He’s personable, classy, thoughtful, bright, but he just didn’t catch fire. And I think a good candidate, Democrat versus a good Republican, is still probably 53-46 up there in the state now. It’s still that close. And he was a good candidate.

We had a series of debates, but we were very lucky because none of the debates were televised. By this time we were getting smarter, and I debated him up in Salem at the joint service clubs. We knew the person who ran the joint service clubs, so they had it on local radio, but they didn’t have television. We accepted. A number of invitations came in, but we had enough invitations to accept only in places where they weren’t going to televise it. They were on radio, and they’d get clips, but we didn’t have the kind of television that we’ve had in all these others.

The dramatic one was in Worcester at the large, large temple there the night the Cuban Missile Crisis ended. I think we had made opening statements, and they had a television up there because they heard President Kennedy was going to speak. They held the debate and then let him speak and announce the end of the Crisis. There were about 4,000 people there, and it just ended the debate. We were talking about foreign policy, and someone would question me, and I’d say, Well, I think I agree with this. Everybody would laugh. 

Everybody was relieved at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We had a half hour of questions, and anything that happened, I said, Well, I think I agree. I think I’m going to follow that line, and everybody would cheer. Poor George never got to first base on foreign policy.

Young

Yes. So this was announced that night?

Kennedy

That was the night, the 22nd

Young

Could I stick to that subject?

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Earlier, when the crisis was not yet resolved, Ted Sorensen came up to either brief you or advise you about being careful in the campaign, because it was looking good, but there was an uncertain turn of events. And as I heard it, it was not at all certain that it would come out okay at that moment. Didn’t he come up to talk to you about that?

Kennedy

We can talk a little bit about the whole Missile Crisis. I have some thoughts down here. I, like millions of other Americans, learned about the Cuban Missile Crisis through the radio on October 15th. I’d been campaigning outside of Boston. I can remember hearing it and then pulling over to a pay phone and trying to call the White House to talk to my brother about it. I didn’t talk to him, but I talked to someone who was working with him in the National Security Council. They explained to me that it was as serious and grave as President Kennedy said it was, and that the dangers were very significant and it was going to take all of his energy, attention, and effort to try to get it resolved. There was no guarantee what the outcome was going to be. All very ominous, very ominous. 

I probably talked with him—not that night, the next morning. And that’s about all he would talk about. He wasn’t going to get into the details; he just said that we had a very serious situation, and the outcome didn’t seem enormously clear at the present time. This obviously caused a good deal of alarm. I communicated with the people around that this was very serious, and we were going to be faced with some very important dangers. I think there were some general statements put out at the time.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I had asked whether I could still talk about my Cuba statement. And they said no, and at some time Sorensen came up to brief me.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But I never really got much of a sense, other than the real danger of it. I didn’t get into the details. He just said that this was serious. We find now that there was a very important and serious question about it, and how we were going to find our way out was not entirely clear.

Young

Was there a danger—there must have been—that anything that was said on the subject would be misread?

Kennedy

Could be misread.

Young

Yes. Did you just stay off it? 

Kennedy

Just stayed off it. One of the funny parts of all of this is that [Nikita] Khrushchev got a letter during this time from my mother asking him to autograph books. My mother used to give us autographed books from heads of states, and during the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the door opened and in came the head of the KGB [Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti (Committee for State Security)] with a letter from Rose Kennedy asking Khrushchev to sign books he had written. 

My brother found out about it and called my mother and said, What in the world are you doing? He couldn’t get over it. He said the Russians won’t assume that this is innocent—they’ll give it some interpretation. So the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] had to speculate what their interpretation would be, the strength, the weakness, whatever. It was funny. But eventually he did sign it, which was interesting. 

The Crisis ended on October 22nd, and the last debate with Lodge was then too. I was going to have a debate with him the night that President Kennedy spoke, and Sorensen and Bobby came up to fill me in. I think at that time it was looking a little more hopeful, the last two days.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

But they didn’t want me to say anything about it.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

President Kennedy made the decision to go on that night, the night of October 22nd. But they came up because they knew I was debating foreign policy, and they didn’t want me saying the wrong kinds of things.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They came to the Cape for a day or two. My sense about it is that they were trying to steer me to make sure I wasn’t going to say something inappropriate—basically, not to comment very much about it.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They didn’t know what Lodge was going to do. I remember feeling a real sense of anxiety and danger that this might be the end. People really felt that way. People were very alarmed and concerned and worried about it. As history has shown, we had the right person in the right place at the right time. He was, first of all, an extraordinary student of history, and it’s understood now that he asked everybody to read Barbara Tuchman’s book, The Guns of August, about the miscalculations of the First World War. As a student of history, he understood the dangers, having read deeply and noted the number of conflicts that we’ve had based upon miscalculations. I don’t think there’s any question that this was a very important factor—number one.

Secondly, he had a very healthy skepticism with regard to the intelligence agencies and military solutions, springing, I think, from the Bay of Pigs, where he had been so misled, and where the military distorted information, misrepresented intelligence, and just were categorically mistaken. So he had a very healthy skepticism about Curtis LeMay’s solution about the ultimate bombing. I think he had a very healthy appreciation of the personal dangers of war, having seen it up front, up close, and knowing about the fateful steps that could be taken and that could bring about the conflict of war, what the real dangers of war would be, and its implications in human terms. He had seen that himself in such a real way that I think he had a real appreciation about moving too aggressively, too rapidly. This was enormously important. 

And I think as a political leader, he understood that in politics, you can’t expect that you’re going to be able to work something out if you put somebody in a box or put them in a corner. There always has to be a way to be able to go through. I think his political skills, in the best sense of the word, helped him understand not just human nature, but understand the rise and flow of decision-making, temperament, attitude, people’s chemistry, that people would get tired. He understood that. As somebody who endured a good deal of personal discomfort himself, he knew the importance of persevering, persistence over a period of time. I’m absolutely convinced that with a lesser person in another time, there would have been entirely different results.

Also I think he understood as a politician that people will probably be franker, more candid, if you’re not in the room talking about some of the things. The most trusted person he had was my brother Bobby, who could listen and sift through that and would give him the best. There may have been people who had ideas, but they may not have thought they were good ideas and didn’t want to put them out because people would think they were stupid in front of the President. But they might be willing to put them out on the table if he wasn’t there. So I think he knew when to be there and when not to be there.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And he knew when to exercise judgment and not to. It’s the range of the combinations of those factors, plus obviously the Soviets’ dichotomy in terms of the letters and approaches that opened up the possibilities for at least avoiding conflict. Now when you look at the number of Russians who were there—You know, we were estimating five to seven thousand, and they had 45,000 troops, and the Soviet ground commanders had the ability to launch missiles themselves—without going through Moscow. We escaped a hair trigger on this. I think obviously it’s his best and     finest hour. 

For any of us, the point right after that, the 22nd, was How’d you do it? The last thing he wanted to go through was recreating all of it.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But it was a question: How did you do it? I had been in touch with my brother just before the Cuban Missile Crisis when I was running because the Philadelphia Eagles came up for sale, and the fellow who owned the Baltimore Colts, Carroll Rosenbloom, called my father and said, If your sons want to buy that, you can get it for $6 million. And so my brother Jack called me and said, Are you in for a third if we can get it for $6 million? I’ve talked to Bobby, and he says he’ll go for it. I said, Okay, I’ll go for a third. He said, Well, you have to find out. No one knows how long it takes to get to the stadium, how far the stadium is from the railroads, what’s the time if they flew up there, can they land by chopper? Will it interfere with people? I want to know. I want you to give me a twenty-page memorandum on all the details that I can look at to find out if I can get to the games and not clutter up all these people. 

Then, boom! The Cuban Missile Crisis happened. And at the end of it, after October 22nd, by about November 1st, I asked, Are we still in? and that thing had gone. They said they’d wait four or five days to see whether the Kennedy brothers were interested in it, but, boy, after that thing, the offer was gone. He always had a real interest. He loved sports, loved football, and Bobby did, and they would have—

Young

Well, I’ve never known that the Missile Crisis lost you the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kennedy

Yes, the Eagles. There you go. You know, my brother had met Khrushchev in Vienna, and that hadn’t gone terribly well. I had been down at the Cape with my brother before—I told you that story about Caroline [Kennedy] coming up?

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

One of the wonderful things that my brother would do on the weekends, he’d talk about presents for heads of state. He’d say, Now the State Department says we can give five different kinds of presents. Which presents do you think we ought to give someone? And everyone at the table, little children, grandchildren, could talk about it. He’d involve them. He’d say, Now we have the head of such-and-such a country coming, and I can give him one of four of these things. Which one would you like to give to him? He was just an incredible conversationalist about bringing all of them in.

They’d say, No, no, no. Don’t do that. Don’t give him that! 

Sean Lemass did come over and was at a dinner. It was the only dinner I went to at the White House. Sean Lemass was fascinated by George Washington. He was a great devotee of Washington. My brother had the exact replica of George Washington’s sword forged with identical ivory and colors and all the rest, but he had to have two of them because they were scared that the metal used in the blades would break. He gave me the second one because I had gone to the dinner. I still have it.

Young

You showed it to me.

Kennedy

Oh, that’s right. But one thing that he had is a wonderful carved boat, and he told my father, If I don’t get along with Khrushchev, I’m not going to give him the boat. He didn’t get along with him, but he still gave him the boat. I think he understood that Khrushchev was a bully and, like most bullies, was more bark and bluff than real determination—

Young

That was the only time he had an opportunity to take Khrushchev’s measure? In Vienna?

Kennedy

That was the one time and the only time.

Young

Was the Bay of Pigs anything that affected you in any way?

Kennedy

No, it was some distance, obviously, from where I was.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I hadn’t been involved in it, and I was as surprised as anyone else about it. And I was around a good deal. I told you the story about how my brother went over and accepted the responsibility for it, and then Bobby said, Let’s call Dad. He can always find something good about anything. They went back and called my father, and he said, It was the best thing you ever did. People understand people can make mistakes, and you’re willing to take responsibility for that. They’ll admire and respect you. And boom! The polls all went up. It was something he believed, even though he was, obviously, enormously disappointed as well. I heard a good deal afterwards. My brother felt enormous responsibility about getting the prisoners out—and he got most of them out. I got probably the last one out some years ago.

Young

You yourself?

Kennedy

Yes. Very interesting. 

Young

You want to tell us about it?

Kennedy

They had a colonel who was the last one. Probably now it’s ten or twelve years ago. [Gregory] Craig helped me work this. The last message that Castro said, I have to keep ten human rights people in jail, or Kennedy won’t come down here. The only way he’ll come down here is if I let human rights people out of jail. There was some truth to it. 

This fellow was the last one. He was a major. He had been with Castro in the mountains, highly decorated, very close to Castro, but he was against the dictator. He was not the zealot communist, and he split with Castro. He had been in the army, and very close to Castro, and then he was in jail for 25 years. He was probably the last one, a very elegant person. I’ll give you the name and where he is. You probably don’t want to interview him.

Young

No.

Kennedy

I don’t know where he is, but Greg can get that, and it will be interesting to get some stories. My brother was very involved. I can remember meetings they had down on the Cape on weekends about what Castro needed. What were Castro’s needs? How can we possibly get it? We have to be careful on this. And it was all medicines; it was all pharmaceuticals. So they made a swap of pharmaceuticals for prisoners over a period of time. It’s very interesting. There’s a fellow here in Washington, John Nolan, who was the go-between. John remembered the whole thing, and he’s written it up. All of that was Bobby. I can remember his strong, strong commitment to not let those people rot in jail. We had to get them out.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

What is it that Castro wants most? What is it they need most? They found out all of this, and they sent it down, and Castro kept raising it. They still got it for eight or ten million dollars’ worth of these medicines. I think it may be even less than that. They got probably three-quarters of the people out. Castro kept twenty of them, but he gradually let them out over a period of time. But it was very instructive, the follow-through. That was very much a part of what Bobby and Jack—

Young

Was Nolan known to Bobby? How was he found to be the person to do the—

Kennedy

Oh, he was in the Justice Department.

Young

Oh, I see. I remember I met him once, yes.

Kennedy

He was in the Justice Department. He was a very bright, solid, smart, tough guy.

Young

I wonder how the contact with Castro was made.

Kennedy

That part I don’t remember. Castro had always been so fascinated with Jack and Bobby. He’s always trying to get me down there. It’s a very interesting story. We’ve been very active and involved in terms of the Cubans, the refugees. All of them are real right-wingers.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

A lot of the younger Cubans are more open, and they’re traveling back.

Knott

I was wondering before, if we’re about to leave the ’62 campaign—

Young

We’re not done with it yet.

Knott

Milton was telling us at lunch that you were very concerned about the storefront, the windows on the Tremont Street headquarters and the displays. And it struck me that that was just another indicator of what a different era this was in terms of the nature of campaigns, how things have changed. Do you miss that older-style retail kind of politics?

Kennedy

I do. I think ethnic politics were a wonderful aspect of political life, and that is really retail politics, face-to-face, up close, up front. It’s basically the measurement of the heart and the soul. It isn’t so much the message, it’s the messenger, and it’s their take on you. They feel that if they can take the measure of a candidate, that candidate will protect their interests. They’ve been right more than they’ve been wrong, but they have been wrong, because there are a lot of scalawags who are very good retail politicians and have obviously taken advantage of the trust. 

But it’s the political characters who have been involved in these events who give it a sense of joy and laughter and make a lot of the mundane things bearable. It has in terms of our family. I can remember doing an interview down at the Cape, and my mother was sitting there watching. At the end of the interview, my mother said, You ought to keep the cameras going, dear. Tell them that politics is joyous. Politics is fun. You take the issues seriously, but people, you enjoy. So I said, Well, as my mother said, politics is joyous, politics is fun.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Now it’s the television and the sound bite and the fundraising. Before, you’d spend only a fraction of your time fundraising. Every one of those ethnic events and those marvelous parks just outside are still around. There was always music, food—they were always joyous affairs, joyous occasions. It’s the interrelationships of families who know each other and take pride in generational contacts.

This last week, the Catholic bishop from Lebanon was over here, and one of his attendants said to him, Oh, you know, the Kennedys knew Chorbishop [Joseph] Eid. And I thought, My God, I did know Chorbishop Eid! He left Massachusetts in about 1957, 1958, but I remember he was in Fall River, and he was great. I said, Chorbishop Eid was wonderful. Do you remember? He loved my brother. Oh, yes, we know, we know. His two nephews are bishops. I said, Is that right? Yes. And one of them is my very best friend.

Well, that’s enough to keep you going. These people all know one of the other ones who were with him, and had seen Edmund Reggie when he was visiting Zgharta, Lebanon, where his family came from, in 1962. It’s family relationships. People remember grandpa or they knew your mother, or they knew people around. There’s a joyousness and upbeat side to it. But it can be very tough, you know.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We saw it in the whole busing situation in Massachusetts. I appeared on a platform, and there must have been 3,000 people who all turned their backs on me. All turned around. And then when I left, they started throwing stones. I barely got out. They broke the windows in the JFK building, and they knifed the tires when I went to a communion breakfast down in Quincy. That thing was real, real bad.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But the joyous aspects of the ethnic politics are there. It’s not nearly as much, obviously, as it was even when I got started. It’s mostly in the industrial East.

Young

Before lunch, I said I was going to ask you this afternoon if you could go through, let us say, a week. It doesn’t matter which week, and you can mix them up or go across time. But I do think it would be very interesting for this oral history to have you describe or remember a story about an ethnic event, an outdoor rally, all of these different things that you did that were retail politics for you in those days. You’ve told us that during the week, Monday and Tuesday were given to this.

Kennedy

Yes. Well, I just opened it up to Tuesday, October 23rd. We leave Charles River Square at seven in the morning, and then it continues. 

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

We arrive at 7:40 at the Transitron Electronic Corporation gate in Melrose. There are 300 people.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

Then we go to the Melrose fire station at 8:30. At 8:45, the Melrose police station; Melrose Free Press at nine o’clock; Melrose City Hall at 9:15. And then we’re on our way to Stoneham. We stop at the Maryland sandal division of BGS Shoe Corporation, and tour that at 9:40. They have 300 people, and Mr. Schubert wants to know about Japanese imports; they’re affecting his business. What do you have to say about that? At 9:55, meet Maynard Moore in Stoneham; the store is right next to the above. They have a hundred people; you can tour that. Then you tour Stoneham Town Hall at 10:10 and go the Stoneham Press at 10:30. Leave the Stoneham Press, an independent, at 10:45. You’re in the newspaper for 15 minutes, then you arrive at the Wakefield Daily Item. Bill Lee will meet you there. Bill Lee was President Kennedy’s coordinator in Wakefield, a wonderful person. You walk through City Hall with him. 

At 11:15 you leave for the Copley plants on Water Street in Wakefield. Bill Lee will accompany you. The three plants are located at the same site, a total of 500 people. You’ll arrive at 11:20 a.m. You tour there for 50 minutes, then leave the Copley plant at noon and arrive again at the Transitron Electronic Corporation in Wakefield. You’ll visit the cafeteria. They have a thousand people employed in the plant, and you go down to the cafeteria and meet and greet. You’ll leave there 25 minutes afterward and arrive at the American Mutual Insurance Company cafeteria in Wakefield at 12:35. You’ll leave there at one. So you’re there for 35 minutes, another cafeteria with a thousand people. 

At 1:10 you’ll arrive at the Ridgestone Shopping Center, Route 28, and stay there for fifty minutes, meet and greet. At 2:10 you’ll arrive in front of Wakefield High School and greet students and teachers gathered there. At 2:30 you’ll leave Wakefield. 

You’ll arrive in Malden at John [R.] McCarthy’s office and leave thirty minutes later and arrive at Converse Rubber Corporation. People leave in different shifts. This is when the largest group leaves, over a thousand employees. Stay there from 3:40 to 4:15, then go to the Malden News at 4:15. Arrive at station WHIL in Medford at 4:50. 

Then you return to Boston. You’ll get in sometime around 5:45, and your first rally is in Everett Square at 7:30. The band will assemble in the parking lot in the rear of the city hall. Then at eight o’clock, go to Malden Square in Malden. The band is to assemble in front of the Sacred Heart Church. Finally you go to the rally at 8:30 in Medford Square, Medford. Torby [Torbert H.] Macdonald will accompany you. He’s the Congressman, and we’d introduce him at all these rallies.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

So that was a pretty full day [laughter]. I don’t think I’ll do that in this next campaign.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But you see the combination of workers, the press, the local coordinators, the local community, the Congressmen, and the circumstances, outreach—that I would do Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. That’s a typical day. As I mentioned, Friday we’d try to do the issues. Then on the weekends were the churches and the parades. There’s a parade every weekend in Massachusetts during the summer.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Five, probably seven Sundays in a row in Boston and in East Boston, are religious parades. You can either walk in them or you can go down where they have their food stalls. You have your friends down there, and they’re bringing people in to meet and greet you and welcome you. It’s eating the kielbasa at the Polish event, and cannolis at the Italian event. And the Irish have wonderful occasions. The Lebanese are now mostly Republican, but since I married a Lebanese, they’ve been voting for me. In Massachusetts, when I ran in ’62 there were probably three ethnic dailies: one in French, probably Italian—dailies. 

Young

Portuguese? Was there Portuguese?

Kennedy

Probably Portuguese—French and Italian and probably Portuguese. Now there are still big Portuguese radio stations—every Sunday they have those. There are probably, I would think, still ten weeklies.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

Probably twenty ethnic monthlies. We have probably 150,000 Dominicans in Massachusetts.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

There are now, I think, 137 languages. I think over in Everett at the new Everett High School, they have bilinguals in seven different languages. The bilingual, which was primarily Spanish in that school, now is in seven different languages.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

In Lowell, Massachusetts, we have the largest number of Cambodians outside of Phnom Penh. There are three temples up there. When the Cambodians left, they went all over the country, but then they all wanted to know where the other Cambodians were, and most of them were in Lowell. And they came. When Pol Pot went through there, he destroyed all the books—and not only books, most of the art, a great deal of the art.

The schoolteachers used to take the train down to the UN [United Nations] to try to find people who spoke the language to translate. We were trying to get money from the federal government to help the refugees, the settlements, but we couldn’t. We got very little. They had all kinds of problems in expanding to take in all of these children. I’d say of the 14 high schools last year, ten of the valedictorians were Cambodians—ten of them. They’re just going through, and it’s extraordinary. Now there’s been great acceptance, but acceptance takes a long time. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They’ve gotten into the areas that are the most underserved, and they’re buying them and improving them. It’s very interesting. It’s Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and French—French used to be the largest because of the Canadians who came down.

Young

Was campaigning in the western part of the state very different, at all different? I’m talking about ’62 now.

Kennedy

There are isolated places. Chicopee is strongly Polish, and parts of Springfield are Italian and Irish. And you have Lowell, which was very French. They had two or three major French congregations up there. But the western part, of course, was a good deal more conservative and not nearly the ethnic politics you had in the east. There, you had the Connecticut River, the old tobacco barns, the wrappers they made, the potatoes and onions. 

They used to talk about Onions [William] Burke, a big political leader out there—and potatoland along the Connecticut. The Berkshires, obviously, have a variety of hills with winter and summer activities, and the Connecticut River. Worcester used to have a strong industrial base, which has deteriorated.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They’re trying to come back. You had a lot of Lithuanians as well as Polish in Boston. 

Young

What did you have to do in campaigning, if anything, to relate to all these very different people? Did you have somebody with you who knew them? Or was that not necessary?

Kennedy

Oh, no. You had to have. For the Lithuanians, for example, there was a fellow named Joe Alecks, who was around in my time and in my brother’s time, and was the leading Lithuanian. Joe was a great, great Kennedy person. He just knew everybody. He was the figure.

Young

Would he go around with you?

Kennedy

He’d go around with us. For the Greeks, there was a wonderful person called Costas Maliotis. He came to this country from Crete at ten years old as an orphan and worked in the plants and factories in Lowell in the ’30s. Somehow, he had this genius for mathematics and electricity, and he founded an electronics company. It was one of the first electronics companies, and it did very well.

Costas Maliotis contributed half of all the resources to the Greek Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, which is the number-one Greek Theological School, maybe in the world, but certainly in the United States. He built it. He cared about his Greek Theological School, he cared about Greece, and he cared about the Kennedys. And although others went past him in terms of making money—you know, some of the Greeks up in Massachusetts have fortunes of fifty or a hundred million dollars—when he died, he probably had eight or ten million.

He went back to Crete with me in 1976, and we went up to the village where he came from. He had built the school there, built the church there, built some of the homes there, and this was the first time he went back. And as we went up to the mountains, people would put flowers and wine bottles in the car. When we finally got up to this windy place, it was just absolutely spectacular. You could look out and see the Mediterranean. It’s all built out of hard rock. It’s up in the mountains, a small town, but he had built it. 

They had a gymnasium, and that’s where they were going to have the lunch. They had the lunch, the paper napkins, the tomatoes on the plate, these fabulous tomatoes and paper napkins. And they brought us the wine. They were punching people to keep them out, because people wanted to come in to the lunch, and they couldn’t do it. They had about 300 people at the lunch—seven mayors from seven little towns.

And the principal one got up and told the story, in Greek obviously, about Costas Maliotis, his family, how they were so poor, and he left. And he had had this great success and kept going back, and he built the school and built the church and built all this. They asked Costas Maliotis to get up and speak, and he stood up, but he couldn’t talk—just tears down his face. So he said, My friend Ted will speak for me. It’s just a story that makes me still see the Mediterranean Sea out there, and these faces—it’s extraordinary. 

My nephew Joe [Joseph Patrick Kennedy II] was on that trip, and I think Barbara Souliotis was too. As we came down, they put more wine in the car. We got down around five o’clock and took a boat back to Athens, about a two-hour ride. He went off, and we went off another way. I talked to Maliotis, and he said, I can never thank you enough. I said, I want the wine. They put two cases of the wine, and I deserve one. No, I’m telling you, Ted. You’re not right. I love you. I’d do anything for you, but the wine was not there. 

I said, Of course I saw the wine. He had this earthiness, he was so worried about a dozen bottles of that wine that was probably $2 a bottle. He thought this was the biggest thing, and he said, I’ll buy you, and I said, I’m not going to take it. I want the wine from back there. I sent someone who tried to find… But you know, he had this wonderful company. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

You spend time with Maliotis going through any kind of Greek community, and any person’s hand he shook, that person was going to vote with you. He was such an institution. He would talk like that: Ted, we have to get the rights for Greece, the United States with Greece. Come to my church. That’s all he lived for. But in that community, even the people who made a lot more money would listen to Costas Maliotis. Now a lot of that’s gone, you see. There isn’t a person with that kind of time. When the military took over, he’d have lunches every day, exploring how to get rid of the generals and restore democracy.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

And he’d expect me to come up there, which I would do. Come election time, he’d be on. He’d buy the Greek radio, he’d get in the Greek newspaper, he’d call the Greek editor. He’d get the Greek broadcaster, and he’d be listening to make sure he said the right things. I didn’t have to do it; he’d do it. And if you have that working for you, there’s no one who is going to beat you—if you have that kind of outreach, if you get that sort of thing right. A lot of those contacts were built up over my brother’s time and my grandfather’s time. They were so important. And a lot of that now breaks down in terms of modern politics.

Young

Did you have any Costas Maliotis for other groups?

Kennedy

Well, Joseph Alecks was for the Lithuanians. He was the star. We had a wonderful French priest from Lowell—Father Pierre Morissette—who was a very strong Republican, but my mother kept going to church and speaking French to him. And even though Cabot Lodge could speak French, she just finally— He was a priest, but he was more active than any local councilman. He just knew everybody, everything, in the French community.

Young

A Republican, but a Kennedy person?

Kennedy

He was, which was better. In ’52, he switched. Before that, he was a Republican.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But he became a Kennedy, and then he was with me in the ’62 campaign.

Young

These were, in effect, conversions.

Kennedy

He was a conversion. Now we had Stanley Nowak, who was out in the western part of the state. Stanley just passed away a couple of years ago, but he had all the Polish figures, and they were very strong—and the Portuguese. 

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

There was a volcanic eruption on Failal Island in the Azores. My brother had special legislation to bring 4,000 of those people in. None of those families ever forgot it down there—there are a lot of those families still down in New Bedford from the time of that earthquake. There was a lot of that kind of outreach and attention to these kinds of things that people really care about.

Knott

There’s a large Armenian community both in Watertown and Worcester—

Kennedy

Big, big Armenian. And they have Carolyn Mugar. I don’t know whether the Mugars were Stop & Shop, but they were a big, big family. Stephen Mugar was an immigrant. He started as a grocer—Stop & Shop—and eventually spun that thing out. His son [David Mugar] now owns one of the big television stations and made a big, big chunk of change. He’s rather conservative, but his father was a great ethnic, and very strong for my brother.

Part of that whole thing, too, was that immigration bill. They discriminated against everyone unless they were Northern European. It was the first thing that was knocked down, that discrimination against the Portuguese, Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, Armenians. The Armenians have had some devastating humanitarian problems over there.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The boy now owns Channel 7, and he’s very conservative, but Carolyn is very involved in Farm Aid and in Armenian causes. I have a funny story about the Armenians. About two years ago, the Armenians came down to give me an award.

Young

Give you what?

Kennedy

An award. We were very helpful when they had the earthquake. They had a humanitarian disaster four years ago, and I worked very closely with Mass General Hospital in getting emergency help and assistance to them. So they came down and gave me an award. There must have been 700 or 800 people down here just cheering and crying and appreciative. They were so enthusiastic. And I was so pleased to get it. The next night, there’s a guy named Sahir Erozan, who’s Turkish. You know about the Armenians and the Turks?

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Sahir says to me, Ted, I want you to do a very good favor for me. My friend, so-and-so, is a graduate of the Kennedy School. He’s the right-hand man of the President of Turkey. He’s his Ted Sorensen. He’s his Mike Feldman. He’s what John Siegenthaler was. This fellow is a great, great friend, and all he wants to do is meet you and have you meet the President of Turkey. And there are some enormously interesting kinds of things. He’d like to open up some dialogue with you. Will you meet him? And I said fine. 

I’m driving down to the Turkish residence, and I come around the square at the Turkish residence there, and there I see one thousand Armenians talking about Armenian blood is on the Turkish soul and Stop the genocide! and When will these people go? And I tell my driver, Just go around one more time, just one more time. I’m caught, and I have this new driver who just thinks everything’s on the level. I said, What in the world am I going to do?

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I said, We have to go in. They’re pushing the car, the police are pushing them back, and they said, It’s Kennedy. Kennedy! What in the world are you doing here? They all say, Back up! Back up! It’s Kennedy! Why are you—? The car is rocking. And I’m saying, Where’s my award? 

So I got up to the front of the steps, and they said, What in the world are you doing here? I said, I’m going to tell the Turkish President just what I told you last night. And they all cheered [laughter]. I went in to see the Turkish President. They didn’t have anybody outside. I just did this thing on the steps and went on up. And the fellow who was there was just enormously interesting and sophisticated about pipelines and where the Iranians were going. We’re talking about geopolitical things that I never would have heard about, and the Turkish President was just terribly, terribly nice. When I came out, they had all gone.

Knott

That’s a great situation.

Kennedy

That’s ethnic politics. 

Knott

That’s great.

Kennedy

You know what I think I can do? I don’t know if you want to take a look at any of this book. This has a couple of the polls. You’re more than welcome. 

Young

Good. I’d like to see it.

Kennedy

Go through it. I think it’s worth doing, because it’s pretty good on the debate. Where is it? Oh, this is Hal Clancy. (reading) First, I think we should be prepared for a purely personal attack. Mr. McCormack knows that public interest can’t be excited by argument over a few nit-picking differences between the candidates on foreign and domestic affairs, and both generally support the national…. Nothing less than a clean shot at our jugular can bring about the dramatic swing in voter attitudes he desperately needs.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

(reading) With these thoughts in mind, I might anticipate some of the following questions. How do you think, with your quick trips to Africa, you can be an expert on this? And he has suggested responses. That thing was interesting. Then they have my opening statement, and then Eddie said: And suddenly my opponent wants men who will serve who will care. I listened to him the other night, this Ted, ‘I want to serve because I care.’ He didn’t care very much in 1960 when he thought of living out west. He didn’t care much when Massachusetts was his second choice. You didn’t care very much, Ted, when you could have voted between ’53 and ’60 on 16 occasions. You only voted three times. Three out of 16, and on most of those occasions, your brother was a candidate. You didn’t care very much about aid to education. I learned when I was on the City Council, trying to bring good schools— parochial schools, see. He was on parochial schools. I thought this stuff was pretty tough. I said, Holy Toledo. 

(Reading) I worked. I stand on my own two feet. I stand on a record of almost a decade— this is Eddie. I worked my way up the ladder; I’m not starting at the top. I ask, since the question of me and families has been interjected, if his name was Edward Moore, with his qualifications, would your qualifications, if it was Eddie Moore—your candidacy is a joke. But nobody is laughing. Nobody is laughing because his name is not Moore; his name is Edward Kennedy. It makes no difference what your name is in a democracy. Stand on your own two feet. You say to the people you have the right to vote, you can go to that curtain, and you can vote without fear or without favor. You vote for the candidate you feel is qualified. 

So, anyway. Well, you see, on the issues, corruption among Democrats.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The corruption, 238; high taxes, 150; unemployment, 35; housing, 20, medical care, 6; education, 13. Corruption is the number-one problem, which is interesting in Massachusetts. 

Knott

You benefited from that, in a sense of being the outsider of sorts.

Kennedy

Yes, I think that’s right. 

Young

Good. May I borrow it?

Kennedy

Sure. 

Young

These were very useful and interesting, very useful.

Kennedy

Good. Well, some of the pages jump from 150 suddenly to 178. 

Young

That may be because they’re excerpted. We’ve noticed in the [William] Shannon interviews that you can’t follow the pagination.

Kennedy

I don’t understand that.

Young

I think the reason may be that part of the Shannon interviews are notes of the actual interview. And then I believe he was starting to do a book.

Kennedy

Yes. Well, a couple of chapters are written.

Young

So the pagination isn’t consistent, but I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. There’ll be a sudden break, and then something else picks up. But even then, it’s useful material.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

This was done in the early ’80s?

Kennedy

Yes, yes. 

Young

Did you think of anything?

Kennedy

There are a couple of points. One, there’s the great, great quote from my brother when I announced for the Senate, which was prepared by Pierre Salinger. I think we have a copy of it. It was on my wall, the President’s note. I think I brought it in here. I’m going to give that to you. It has on it a suggested answer by Pierre Salinger that this is a decision for the people of Massachusetts, and the President will not be involved.

Young

Yes, right.

Kennedy

And then you see in his handwriting over it, The President of course knows of his brother’s decision. His brother prefers that this be a matter decided by the people of Massachusetts, and at his brother’s request, the White House will have no further comment.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It shows how he shifted and changed it. It shows that he had thought about it and was aware of it. Actually, Jackie sent that to me. So we had that awareness when I first announced for the Senate. The one time I campaigned with Bobby and Jack in Massachusetts was in 1958. Bobby was up towards the end of the campaign. It was a rather interesting phenomenon. My brother ran against a fellow named Vinny Celeste, who was not a very notorious figure. He had gone abroad for ten days in the summer, and when he came back, it was just after the primary, and he had gotten more blanks than Foster Furcolo. More people in the Democratic primary had blanked him than Furcolo. This was a real concern to my father. It never really got reported, but my father was very concerned.

We went over and had a meeting in New York, just when my brother got back from Europe, with Bobby and my father and me. We were going to have to intensify the campaign because there was an apparent backlash out there. Either the Italians were upset or some other people were upset. Bobby took an interest. He didn’t campaign much himself, but he followed it more closely for the last few weeks. The primary was in mid-September. The night before the election, they used to have this famous rally at the G&G Delicatessen out on Blue Hill Avenue.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It was a hundred-year-old tradition. You’d speak from the top of the roof of the delicatessen. They’d have big speakers and lights and balloons and everything. They always got a very good turnout. That night my brother said he had made all the speeches in the campaign, but this night we were going to sing. So instead of making a speech, my brother, Bobby, and I, we all sang. We sang three songs for the crowd. And then my brother just talked—

Young

What were the songs?

Kennedy

Heart of My Heart and That Old Gang of Mine. Wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine. I’d sing it for you but, I’m—

Young

Sure. Do it! Do it!

Kennedy

Well, it’s (singing): Heart of my heart, how I love that melody. Heart of my heart keeps that melody. When we were kids on the corner of the square, Boylston, Tremont Street, we were rough and ready guys, but oh how we could harmonize to heart of my heart, oh my friends were dearer then. You could borrow ten. Too bad we had to part. I know a tear would glisten, if once more I could listen, to that gang that sang heart of my heart. 

Now there’s no one on the corner. It’s a pretty certain sign, those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine. Now don’t you get that lonesome feeling every time you hear those chimes? Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine. There goes Jack, there goes Jackie down through lovers’ lane. Now and then we meet again, but it never seems the same. Now don’t you get that lonesome feeling every time you hear those chimes? Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine.

And then there’s Bill Bailey, won’t you please come home? He didn’t know the words to it very well. I knew the words to it. 

Young

Bill Bailey?

Kennedy

(singing): Bill Bailey won’t you please come home? Um, let’s see. Knock, knock, knock. Who’s there? You’ve gone and I hear you, darlin’. I hear you down there—something—home for me. Oh, won’t you come home, Bill Bailey? Won’t you come home? I prayed the whole night long. I’ll do the cookin’, honey. I’ll pay the rent. I know I’ve done you wrong. Oh, no, there’s a rainy evening. I put you out with nothing but I fine tooth comb. I know I’m to blame. But ain’t it a shame, Bill Bailey won’t you please come home? Come on home, Bill Bailey. Bill Bailey won’t you please come home?

I remembered the words a little better then. But that was a time that we all three had actually a lot of fun. It was one time we were all together. The other time I campaigned with my brother Bobby was—now leaping way forward—when he announced for the Presidency, and he came up for the St. Patrick’s Day speech. I have the picture up there on the wall. That was in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston in March of 1968. 

I was walking in the parade, and I heard a lot of stir, and rather than coming back with me, he had gotten in the parade way up in the front. So I went up to join him, and you can see from his arm, I’m doing all right, Teddy. You don’t have to come up. You can see him sort of pushing me away from the fun. He said, You don’t have to. I’m doing fine by myself. I’ll see you later on. That’s that picture—you see, he has his hand pushing me away. We walked though in the parade, and it was a great, great reception. He got an extraordinary reception up there. It was a wonderful time. But we rarely campaigned together. 

There’s another picture on the wall of President Kennedy and me out at Boston College where he got a degree. I think that’s 1961 or ’62. And he writes on it—I was gritting my jaw, and he writes on it, Honey Fitz’s grandchild stores nuts for the winter, with a little arrow up to that. 

And then right after the elections, he came up and did a large dinner in Massachusetts, and I have a picture of that on the wall where I’m introducing him. He was known as a coattail rider when he first ran in 1946, a coattail rider on Honey Fitzgerald because that was part of his district. He emphasized John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and people called him a coattail rider. And then when I ran, obviously, in ’62, people called me a coattail rider on my brother. So he wrote on the picture, From one coattail rider to another, with hope. It’s signed John Kennedy. He told a story at that event. He said My brother wanted to be considered on his own. So he thought of changing his name from Teddy Kennedy to Teddy Roosevelt. I always remember his little quip at the start of it, which brought the house down. 

Young

That’s good.

Kennedy

I’m not sure on other kinds of events that they campaigned much. I campaigned a good deal with my brother in West Virginia and to some extent in Wisconsin, but very little. When he lost his voice, I campaigned with him for three days in West Virginia, but generally we were in different locations.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

I traveled with him to Youngstown, Ohio in ’57, ’58 when they met Governor [Michael] DiSalle, and he got the ultimatum: either he was going to support my brother, or my brother was going to run in the Ohio primary. That was the night all the waiters in there were lifers. They all had been convicted of murder, all the people who tended the Governor’s mansion. This made a big impression on me.

Young

They were the—

Kennedy

They were the servers, the cooks, the—

Young

So the whole thing was staffed by—

Kennedy

By people who had committed murder, who were lifers. I think DiSalle was against the death penalty; I believe he was. But in any event, whether he was or wasn’t, everyone in there who was associated with the governor’s mansion was a lifer. That was as impressive to me as the fact that he was supporting my brother for President. We had gone to a great rally in Youngstown, which was still then a major manufacturing area.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And there was just tens of thousands of—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Extraordinary. That’s one of the few times I traveled with him. But that was very early in the campaign.

Knott

Senator, was there ever any consideration given—after you defeated McCormack, but before the general election against Lodge—that perhaps your brother would come to Massachusetts for any sort of visit? At that point the McCormack rivalry was put aside and—

Kennedy

I really don’t recall any. I was pretty well set in my mind to do it myself.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I think some of the pressure was off for that after the primary. It was a very short period of time, five or six weeks. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I was looking back, and I think I saw where even [Dwight D.] Eisenhower came up for Lodge.

Young

He did.

Kennedy

He did, yes. I don’t really recall it at all. We got into October very quickly, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and all of it was moving very rapidly then. It was all going pretty favorably. After I got elected, I really kept my distance from down there. I went down to see him a good deal, but I didn’t do many things, only a couple of things in public with him. I think it was moving along pretty well, and I think at that time we kept him out—

Young

Eisenhower said he was shocked by the lack of merit, people running who had no merit.

Kennedy

Merit, yes.

Young

That was you [laughter].

Kennedy

That wasn’t him. He was well qualified—

Young

He was a former President now, not a general. In looking through these books, there were a few things that struck me that we maybe didn’t cover yesterday. This is on the campaign. Maybe it’s not important, but I’d like to raise it. One of them was the decision not to bypass the convention, that is, to go to the convention and then the primary. Milton’s memo in there says there were pros and cons to that, and a strategic decision was made to go to the convention. 

Kennedy

Well, that was a very important decision.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It appeared that we could win the primary, but winning the convention was less sure.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

Going to the convention and losing the convention would have some spillover in terms of the primary. And since it looked like we were doing pretty well in terms of the primary, there were some healthy arguments about avoiding the convention. The convention didn’t have enormously significant standing among the public, in any event.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Since the primary was the controlling institution, or the controlling force, I could make some pretty good arguments that I wanted to spend my time meeting people rather than meeting delegates. 

Young

Right.

Kennedy

There were some very healthy arguments against going, and there was a good deal of uncertainty because we had not been involved in the delegate aspect, while McCormack clearly had. He had run through the process, and he had contacts in there.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

He seemed to have a good, healthy head start in that area. So there really was a question about whether to undertake that. And once you got into it, you couldn’t really get out. Once you decided to go, you were really stuck. I think the preliminary assessment was that it was going to be an uphill battle. It was possible, but an uphill battle. And then it began to fall into place. I think an awful lot of that was the personal contact.

Young

The decision was made to take the risk.

Kennedy

To take the risk. And we had a very aggressive effort to meet all the delegates and isolate the ones who may have—[Robert] Crane and [Michael] Feeney were two of the significant legislative bosses who controlled a fairly good chunk of Boston—Hyde Park and, I think, West Roxbury, two of the big wards out there. They were very much in play for a long period of time, but they eventually became convinced that we were going to stay and we were going to win, irrespective of the polls, and that I was going to be the nominee and the Senator. They looked at their longer-term political interests, and some very interesting personal contacts were made with them. I think Feeney went back almost to my grandfather.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

It was a very interesting kind of weaving our way, when we finally sat down with them. We had some strong associations and pulls with them, although I didn’t know them personally before. McCormack did.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So we had chunks like that. If they’d gone the other way fairly early, I think we would have had a difficult time.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

By the last couple of weeks or so, it became increasingly apparent that we were getting the votes. I think some tipped over and went our way who had been undecided. But it was very much of a struggle. And the other point, going into it, was that it was going to take an enormous amount of time, effort, and energy away from my ability to get out and get around the state, which we thought was our strength. Eddie didn’t travel the state that hard, didn’t get out as much, so we had some clear advantage in just getting out and getting around and getting focus and attention.

Young

How was that decision made? Do you remember anything about that strategic decision?

Kennedy

Gerry Doherty and Maurice Donahue were very much about it. I believe they probably talked about that down here with my brother and Steve Smith. They outlined it with me, but it was a little difficult to know about the nature of these delegates and where they were going to be and where they were from. It was a technical discussion about where people were and who had influence on them and what the possibilities were. I think until the judgment was made, it was still very much up in the air.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

When my brother had taken on McCormack in 1956 to control the Democratic state committee, that went up to the last day. My brother finally had control of it, but only by two or three votes out of 80.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

This was a very hard-nosed battle. Some of those people who had been there in ’56 were still around. Onions Burke, who was the leader out in the western part of the state north of Springfield, was very prominent and very strong for McCormack. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

There was a lot of resonance, so McCormack had a pretty good basis on that. There were obviously people who had worked in my brother’s campaign, but my brother, rather than using the Democratic organization, used what he called secretaries to bridge and draw on Republicans in these areas. He’d get a Republican who was strong for Kennedy, and he’d designate that person to be his coordinator. That caused a lot of backlash, because the Democrat local town committees said they should be doing it. But my brother needed the Independent vote and the Republican vote, and he moved toward getting people who were reasonably acceptable to the Democrats, but had a broader kind of appeal.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

That inherently caused some rough edges and resentment among party officials. Now we were coming to those party people to ask for their help and support after my brother had basically bypassed them in setting up his own organization. So that’s why it was not as apparent, even though there was a great deal of support. This was a very easy thing for them to do, to be for McCormack. They didn’t really have to take on President Kennedy. They all supported him, but McCormack had been loyal to them and had gone to their events, state committee things, and had kept in contact with them. So that was very much an open question.

Young

Yes. There was a winning argument—

Kennedy

There was a very winning argument for avoiding the convention and just going to the primary. But there was also a sense that if you went to the convention and did well there, that would add some extra emphasis in terms of the primary.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

I think my brothers always felt that these wins along the way helped build up the momentum. That’s a little less apparent to the candidate, who can see the prospects of a tough battle on those things.

Young

Yes. It also dictated the organizational effort that would have to be made to get the delegate votes. It would not necessarily be the same, would it, as getting the primary votes?

Kennedy

No.

Young

So you have almost two kinds of campaigns going.

Kennedy

We weren’t thinking in those terms against the Republicans at that time, but at least in the back of your mind you’re thinking about who you’re going to have coordinating your time.

Now, we read yesterday about this fellow Bill Lee from Wakefield, Massachusetts. He was an attorney up there, and I read that day’s schedule aloud. Bill Lee took me around Wakefield. I remember Bill very well.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

Bill Lee was the chairman of the city committee. He was also head of the Chamber of Commerce, so he was the perfect fit. He had the institutional aspects, but he had the breadth because he was a very successful attorney. He knew all the Republicans, and they knew him. He was a triple winner. He was with the old guard but with the new guard in terms of the Kennedys. He had good contacts with the Republicans that could be very helpful in the fall. Those are the types of people my brother was always looking for.

Young

But they didn’t grow on trees.

Kennedy

They didn’t grow on trees.

Young

Did you make a conscious effort also to get the Independent vote as well?

Kennedy

Yes, but not as much during that time. That was really more in the smaller communities in the west.

Knott

Did John Culver travel with you? How did you actually get around the state? Was he the person who would go with you?

Kennedy

No, Jack Crimmins was the person who drove. It was always amusing, because he remembered the old roads from Dever, and of course they had all new highways up there. We’d want to go on the new highway, but he never knew when the hell to get on and when to get off because the roads had changed so much. So that was always a source of contention, and also of a lot of fun and kidding. He traveled, and probably Barbara Souliotis. Culver was going to law school at that time, although I would see him, as I mentioned, on Friday, and generally he’d stay around for the weekend at the Cape. He’d come in occasionally during the week, but basically he coordinated the issues and was around for debate prep.

Young

Yes. So you would pick up the local people in any locality you were going, rather than having a traveling party like in a major campaign?

Kennedy

Yes, yes.

Young

You also mentioned Culver and the issues day, or part of the week, and his getting Harvard folks to come play.

Kennedy

Yes. 

Young

How did that work? Who was in the group? Do you know?

Kennedy

I can’t remember all their names. A fellow named Evan Berlack—Culver will remember those. There were five or six of them in the study group. They could do a research paper very quickly and very well.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

There were some issues—textiles and shoes and fish—that I had a pretty good understanding of because I knew them from previous campaigns and I knew where Democrats had been for years. And I had some knowledge of the area of redevelopment. Old Paul Douglas came up in ’46 or ’47, Senator Douglas from Illinois, an economist and an extraordinary figure. He went up and looked at all the old mill towns, and he was one of the architects in the area of redevelopment.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And so concepts about redevelopment were standard parts of my talk. But there were a lot of newer things happening, new electronics coming on. Issues were shifting and changing all the time. The researchers were very good. Employment figures were shifting. As you can see on that first debate, I was rather impressed with my own range of knowledge of the substance of a lot of different kinds of issues we had had in Massachusetts. These fellows had done a really first-rate job of developing that material from a state point of view. They were top researchers and could find anything quickly and put it together quickly.

Young

Okay. It wasn’t feeding the stump speeches. It was feeding the debate or—

Kennedy

Yes, it was much more on the issues, much more press releases and the—

Young

Issues affecting Massachusetts.

Kennedy

Yes. Eddie Martin came on as a press person, and he was very adept in terms of the news and working through it and understanding what we needed. And Hal Clancy was looking at it in a more global way. So we had a number of different intersects.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

We had what was happening with Eddie Martin, who knew that people at the Boston Herald were interested in this or that issue, or the broader kinds of issues that Clancy had written about in those preparations for the first debate. And then these fellows would be constantly coming up with position papers about what we were going to do when we got to the Senate.

Young

Right. We’ll be talking with some of these people, too. We have a pretty good idea of the parts of the overall campaign organization and the schedule the Clancy operation covers. 

Kennedy

Yes, Barbara will be very important on that. It’s too bad Martha Frank isn’t up to it, but Gerry will have a sense about that, too. There may be one or two people from that period, legislators, who are still around.

Young

We didn’t have an interview, but we talked with Gerry Doherty when we were up there earlier consulting with various people, learning a bit.

Kennedy

Yes. He sort of talks in parables, they say.

Knott

That’s what he said. He said his wife accuses him of that all the time.

Young

His office is an interesting place, too. He has papers all over the place. And he was telling us, None of this is real. This is just—

Knott

Props.

Kennedy

He has a very interesting background. He was at Harvard, and he got sick. Taught himself Russian. They didn’t have children, but he has a lot of nieces and nephews who he’s been very close to, and they’re all moving along and have done well in Boston. And, of course, he’s been a great, great pal and friend.

Knott

He was a reform leader in the Massachusetts legislature?

Kennedy

Yes, they had a fellow from western Massachusetts who was very boorish—a fellow named Thompson, Speaker [John F. Iron Duke] Thompson. Gerry was one of the younger Turks. 

Young

What was [James] Scotty Reston of the New York Times getting on your case for?

Kennedy

I don’t know. He ended up being fine, although he used to talk to me about who’s serious in the Senate. And I’d say, That isn’t the issue. There are a lot of serious people, but they’re not the ones who are moving this place. I can give you two or three of the brightest, but they’re not the ones who are moving the things along. He had a newspaper, the Vineyard Gazette, which he was very interested in. Then his son took over. I think his son is still up there.

Young

Yes, I think so.

Kennedy

He was very interested in the preservation of the islands, and I was very interested in it. Actually, he wrote three editorials in the New York Times about the preservation to send a message to Jimmy Carter. And Jimmy Carter just wouldn’t do anything about it. He spent $62 million to preserve the Chattahoochee River, and we couldn’t get him just to trigger— 

We passed the legislation, but it had to be triggered. He could trigger it, but he just wouldn’t do it. He said, I’m just not going to do it, not going to appoint Archie Cox to the Circuit Court (even though that would have been a 10), because he supported [Edmund] Muskie in New Hampshire. I’m just not going to do it. And I’m not going to support national health insurance. I know that’s the thing you care most about. I’m just not going to do it. And you wonder why, okay… well…. [laughter] See you in Iowa! But Reston was one of the last ones who was sold on my brother, and he didn’t cotton up to, he didn’t—

Young

The New York Times came down very heavy against your brother when he was running.

Kennedy

He was very hard—

Young

And Johnny Oakes—

Kennedy

Johnny Oakes—all of them. If you read that kind of thing, even up through to the end, ’63, they were very tough on Jack. They were very tough on Bobby for a long time, too. Frank Mankiewicz kept a running thing. I don’t know where. He probably won’t do anything with it, but he has it all stashed away.

Young

We can conclude the campaign and get to the Senate. I think one thing that comes out pretty strongly here and comes through—you were just showing me your books from Milton Academy—is the amount of effort and the energy you put into everything you were doing up to now. I think people don’t appreciate it. You have an image of being a Kennedy with a silver spoon in your mouth. They don’t realize. There’s no easy or clear understanding of how much is involved in the effort. I think that’s one of the things people will get out of what we’re doing.

Kennedy

Yes. Well, I was very mindful of the fact that people were going to question me, question my qualifications, and all of the other kinds of obvious issues.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And it always seemed to me that the best way to address it was that the name would always get people down there. They’ll come out of curiosity to see the town hall or come down to the rally to see and watch. But then you have to deliver. They have to be impressed, or at least be willing to take a second read, to read more about you, or take an interest in where you are. I think that that was very important. That’s been very true with other members of the family who have run. I was absolutely committed to having the most intensive kind of personal campaign because I’ve seen that type of campaign work. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I still have a lot of resonance from the time of my grandfather and how he got along with people and seeing how they respected and cared about him, loved him, and how they reacted to my brother and how they reacted to my mother—how people generally reacted. I always felt that if I could get a chance to have them listen, or talk with them, or be exposed to them, I could win their support. The real challenge was getting out and getting around, and if I wasn’t going to do that, nothing was going to work. I understood that.

Young

No front porch candidate.

Kennedy

No front porch candidate. I was obviously young and in great shape at the time, enjoyed working hard. You can get started and get caught up in the campaign, like the people you’re working with, and it was a good crowd and group. Although there were setbacks and disappointments, I think it was generally an uplifting experience.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It was a lot of fun.

Young

Earlier, maybe during or shortly before the ’62 campaign, your brother Jack said to somebody—it’s quoted in one of these books—You know, Ted’s the best politician in the family.

Kennedy

I think he was probably giving me a little boost.

Young

I don’t know. History can be a judge of that.

Kennedy

A little helping hand there.

Young

But it’s remarkable to see from the outside the people who have the touch, and the people for whom it’s an ordeal or a chore. We’ve been through a lot of these oral histories, and it becomes very apparent.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

There’s no doubt about you. Do you want to get into the Senate? How’d you like to begin on that?

Kennedy

I can remember the day that I came down here to go in the Senate. This is very interesting. Culver can talk about this. You ought to make a note about this day. He had arranged the arrival down here. I remember going over to the hotel. It’s a rather innocuous hotel. I go by it on the way home. It’s on one of these circles. It was a rather obscure hotel. He had been down here, and the press was enormously interested in doing this.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I was blocked in over there with the preparations for coming over here to get sworn in. There was just an incredible amount of interest. And in preparation, one of the things that had been out there was what committees I was going to be on. They were going to meet very soon about the committees and committee assignments. I had talked to my brother about it, and he said, Take whatever they assign you. I don’t want to get into it. If I get into it and you don’t get it, it’ll reflect on me. That was his attitude. 

I said, Oh, that’s fine. That’s fine—whatever you want. I can remember having just the faintest kind of conversation at that time with probably [Mike] Mansfield, who was signaling to me. He said, You’re Massachusetts. Your brother was always on the labor committee. People in judiciary were always interested in those issues. I thought that was fine. I was not enormously familiar with what they were, what the jurisdiction was. That was in the first day. I remember going over and getting sworn in with [Lyndon] Johnson, and then we went back to his office and got sworn in again with the family. Joan was down here, and we went back to his office.

Young

In his capacity as—

Kennedy

As Vice-President.

Young

Yes. Were you the only one being sworn in?

Kennedy

No. [Daniel K.] Inouye was sworn in. We’ll have to check the historic record. I know he was sworn in. What was interesting is that—since I had been in an unexpired term, I actually had been the Senator since the time of the election. But I wasn’t sworn in before the others, although I had seniority on them for several months. It hasn’t really made any difference, but he was the other one.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We got some extra tickets, and we had members of my family—my sisters were in the gallery at the time. It was very exciting and a fun kind of occasion, that day. Right after that, we heard about what committees we were on. I showed up over at the committee. 

They had this wonderful old chairman named [Joseph] Lister Hill, who was from Alabama. He had been on the committee with my brother, and of course he was a very gracious old gentleman. He assigned me to some of the subcommittees. I don’t think I got on the subcommittees I wanted. I didn’t get on the education and the health committees I was interested in. So I asked if I could sit in during those other subcommittee meetings, which I did. Then I got on the Judiciary Committee and met [James O.] Eastland. We had a very interesting meeting, which I’ll tell the story about, about the committees I was going to get.

Young

Yes, I’d like—

Kennedy

I talked to my brother fairly frequently, and he mentioned going to the prayer breakfast. He said I ought to go. He said, That’s the inner sanctum of the Senate, and you ought to go on down there. So I would go down there on Wednesday morning. There were about twelve or fifteen, the old bulls and the old guard, with the old bulls on the Republican side, too. They were sort of a force unto themselves. When different measures would come up, more often than not, unless it was a unique situation, many of them would always vote the same, vote together. So I learned about that power clique. There are different power cliques. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The appropriators are always one, and the finance committee have their own, and if they get finance and ’props together, you might as well pack it in, because you can’t win. If you’re looking at these issues or what these amendments are, you have to work to get either one or both of those groups with you. So I went. I remember getting called on about my first time down there.

Young

Could I just interrupt? Did you invite yourself?

Kennedy

Yes. Anybody can come, any Senator can go, Wednesday morning at—

Young

Did a lot go?

Kennedy

No, about twelve or fourteen.

Young

Okay. So?

Kennedy

So I got down there, and I think [Richard B. Jr.] Russell, or one of the other old-timers, asked me about the second time down there to say the prayer, the blessing. I was short on my Bible, so I gave the Catholic prayer two or three times in a row—and repeated it. They all listened to that with tolerance. But I listened to one of the stories, a wonderful story, about the second time I was down there. 

Willis Robertson, who was from Virginia—Pat Robertson’s father—told the story of the Pharaoh’s daughter: Pharaoh’s daughter was out one morning in Egypt walking along the river, and she looked down in those bulrushes. And in those bulrushes, she saw this little baby in kind of a little cradle, a little boat. So she leaned down there and pulled that baby out of those bulrushes. She walked back to the Pharaoh, and she said, ‘Pharaoh, I’ve got this baby. I found him down in the bulrushes.’ Of course, that’s what she said. That’s how she said she got that baby. You and I know where that baby came from that she said she found in the bulrushes. 

The story was laced with humor about Moses, and I wondered what in the world I was listening to down there. My brother loved to hear these stories. He just thought this was hot stuff. I can’t remember what the moral was, how Moses went on and led to the Promised Land, from where he started out. And then there’s a story, which happened when I just arrived here. I went over to a debate and listened to Willis Robertson speak very passionately in favor of an issue. The time came for the roll call, and it came to Kennedy, and I said Aye. And then it went on to Robertson, and he said No. After he had spoken in favor of it, he voted no. 

So I went up to him and I said, Senator, I just listened to your speech, and you spoke in favor of the issue, and then you voted no. I’m confused. He said, Well, Senator, in my state, the people are evenly divided, and to those who favor the issue I send my speech, and to those who are opposed, I send my vote. I said, Thank you very much. That was my first exposure to the Senate floor. I said, I think I might able to make it here after all. [laughter]

There’s another cute little story I tell about Theodore F. Green, who was a Senator from Rhode Island. He got elected at 70 to 92 or 93 and was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He was probably in his mid-eighties at that time. We went to this reception, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out a little card that all of us have with our schedule on it. I leaned over to Senator Green and said, Senator Green, my name is Ted Kennedy. He said, Oh, isn’t that nice, even though he knew my brother from Newport. He used to go to the beach down there. But he wasn’t cutting me much slack. And so I said, Are you looking at where you’re going next? He said, No, I’m trying to figure out where I am right now. It was a cute little story.

There’s another story that’s sort of folklore. When Lyndon Johnson was here, he was comparing his spread with other Senators’, you know, What’s your spread?

Young

What does that mean?

Kennedy

Spread, what’s your property? How much land do you have?

Young

Oh, right.

Kennedy

He was in the back of the Senate, and he saw Senator [Robert S.] Kerr from Oklahoma. He said to Senator Kerr, Bob, what’s your spread? And what do you call it? And Bob Kerr said, Well, it’s about 300,000 acres. I have mineral rights, and it’s called the Kerr-McGee Oil Company. Oh, said Lyndon. 

So Kerr says, Lyndon, what’s your spread? And Lyndon says, It’s 600,000 acres. Six hundred thousand acres? Yes, and it’s called the LBJ ranch. And just then they see [Leverett] Saltonstall walk by. So they say, Salty. Yes? Come over here. He comes over. They say, Salty, what’s your spread? He says, My spread is 15 acres. Fifteen acres? They say, What do you call it? He says, Downtown Boston. That’s a cute little joke I tell to real estate people. 

But in any event, my brother very early said to go by and see all the chairmen of the committees, go by and just say you’re here to learn and listen and ask what kind of advice they have for you. So I went by to see Senator Russell. I went in, and when I saw him, I said, Senator Russell, I notice that you were in your thirties when you came here. He said, Yes, Senator, but I’d been Governor of my state before that. That sort of set me back a little bit. 

I went by and saw most of the old bulls—[Herman E.] Talmadge—and all of them were very gracious. Not much conversation, sort of meet-and-greet types of activities. But it was a wise thing to do because they all chatted among themselves that I’d gone out and done it.

Young

Were you impressed by any of these people?

Kennedy

I was impressed by most of them. I listened to Talmadge speak in a Democratic caucus, and he was just enormously effective, a very thoughtful person. I was aware of his background, aware of his father’s background, and completely unsympathetic to this kind of thing, but I listened to him talk. And they always said that every day Herman Talmadge called seven people in his state. Every single day he’d call seven people, take an hour of his day and talk to at least seven people, which I thought was a very interesting thing. He was the only one who did it—go to bed at nine at night, get up at 4:30, five. Did reading, he always read a lot. 

I tell the story of being in Florida, I think in ’62, with my brother. We were talking about the Civil War, and there was some question about some issue, and my brother said, Call Dick Russell. And I said, It’s Christmas Day. [Dog bark] Oh, Beth! I think he needs—

Beth

Come.

Kennedy

You can go. He’s coming.

Beth

Come on.

Kennedy

Thank you. So I called on Christmas Day, and he was in his office. Christmas Day in here, reading, and he knew the answer. 

Russell Long was a storyteller you couldn’t beat. We had some very smart guys, people on our committee. Joe Clark, Pennsylvania, he was smart as a whip, but pretty prickly, you know. You’d see the sparks go in an exchange on some of the Civil Rights things at the very beginning. They were enormously impressive. I was very impressed by the power of the minds and the quickness and the repartee and the quick exchanges, more than the heavy debates. I saw some of those, but they ended up being pretty heavy going.

I had the story, which is true, like the rest of them, but this one you have to say it’s true because it’s sort of unbelievable. I went over to see Jim Eastland. He said, You take the weekend and figure out which committees you want to go on. I said, That’s fine. And I had my staff. At this time, you had one administrative assistant and one legislative assistant. I was looking through the book again, and on the list, the number of people who worked for you was 25 or 30. Virtually two-thirds of them were answering mail. So you had the one person. I had McIntyre here, I think Miltie worked for a while, Culver worked for a while, and then I hired a fellow named Dave Burke, who’s still a very good friend.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I finally got a staffer over at the Labor Committee. But if you weren’t on top of your game, and they sent the legislation over from the Executive Branch, the committees—and they had a cabinet secretary up there who was smart as a whip, presenting that—and you didn’t have any of the amendments, that thing went on through. It’s interesting how those went through. Then, as the Senators got more and more staff, they got more and more amendments. I’m not sure that the system is any better, because then a lot of the staff have to justify themselves on this thing.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

But in any event, to get back to Eastland, there were a lot of questions about where to go. I talked to my brother about it. I had constitutional rights, civil rights, criminal laws, immigration and refugees, anti-trust. There were about six or seven. I think I was on two, maybe three. I’m on three now, but I’m not sure, there might have been three. There are probably seven or eight subcommittees. 

When I came back, the phone rang. It was a Tuesday. They said, Chairman Eastland wants to see you now. I said Now? So down I went, and he said, Do you drink bourbon or Scotch? I said, Scotch. He had this guy bring in a tray of ice, and he put a bottle of Scotch on the table. He said he drinks bourbon. He put his bourbon down on the table. The fellow puts ice in the glass, and he starts pouring that Scotch over the ice and puts a splash of water in. He said, Now I think I know what you want. Let me see if I’m right. You’ve got a lot of I-talians up there, don’t you? 

Young

Is that the way he said it? I-talians?

Kennedy

I-talians up there. You’ve got a lot of I-talians up there. Kennedys are always talking about immigration and always talking about I-talians and this kind of thing. You drink that drink there, and you’re on that Immigration Committee. I said, Oh, gee, that sounds great. I can’t believe this drink. It’ll curl your hair. He was down there fixing something, and I poured about half of it in the flowers—or whatever the hell was around—and drank the rest of it.

He put some more ice in and said, Now you have to decide that second committee. He filled that thing up again. He said, You Kennedys always care about Nigras. Always hear about you caring about those. You finish that off, and you’re on that Civil Rights subcommittee. I said, I am? He’s two for two? [laughter

He’s down there—and I pour a little of the drink out and belt the rest of it down. And then he said, I suppose last we’re going to try to fix you up with a third committee. Not a lot of people want a third committee, but I think you’re always caring about the Constitution. Kennedys always talk about the Constitution. You finish that, and I’ll put you on the Constitution subcommittee. 

After I finished that, it was an hour, fifty minutes. Now it’s 12 o’clock. I go back to my office, and there are 40 people outside waiting to come in to see the new Senator. I’m bouncing from wall to wall down that corridor: I was just getting my committee assignments. Oh, yes. Yes, the new boy in town was just getting his committee assignments. I don’t tell that story very much, but it was all true.

It was a tough time on all the issues because Eastland would meet in the afternoon with [Everett] Dirksen, Sam Ervin, Roman Hruska, and [John R.] McClellan. They were all on that. They had just stars on that Judiciary Committee. Hiram Fong was on it.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

They had probably seven or eight, and they had it right there. They’d come in and have a drink in the afternoon, and they’d decide. They’d decide what judges they were going to confirm, or if they weren’t going to do judges. We had Phil Hart, who was terrific, on the committee. He was a great person, and we had some others. But it was really a tough, tough, tough time on any of the issues with civil rights and refugee matters. We just didn’t really function very well. And that was obviously disappointing. 

One of the very powerful memories I have is of the ’64 Civil Rights Act. It was all being filibustered. We’ve skipped over a lot here, but I’ll tell this story.

Young

Yes. 

Kennedy

Johnson had finally got Dirksen to be willing to do something. It was unclear what it was going to be. We went over to Dirksen’s office. He said, Okay, each member of the Judiciary Committee can have one person from your staff. And we stayed in that room until the bill was done. We were in that room for eight hours.

Young

In Dirksen’s office?

Kennedy

In Dirksen’s office. [Nicholas] Katzenbach came up. He’d talk for a while and go out. Dirksen would go out for a while. You could leave for a little bit, but you had to come back. They were going to stay in there until they got it done. They agreed on public accommodation—no amendments on that—but you could amend other areas. 

We went over which areas you could amend that wouldn’t violate the agreement, and which areas you couldn’t amend that would violate the agreement. We got everybody to sign off on it, and everybody stuck with it. It was an extraordinary phenomenon. I can remember the time and the place and the drama of it, and the importance of it. It’s never been done again. We’ve tried. I tried it with other—the Senators won’t show. They’ll have the staff in there, and the staff will sign off, and the Senators will agree but then back off. You have to have the Senators in the room with everybody signing on for the whole—

Young

Who was in the room? Was it the committee?

Kennedy

Just the Judiciary Committee members. 

Young

Yes, okay.

Kennedy

Hart was in. I don’t know whether [Jacob] Javits was in. I’ll have to take a look at who were the members of the committee. But I remember Dirksen and Hruska and McClellan. They had the members who were on that committee at that time.

Young

Why was it in Dirksen’s office?

Kennedy

Because he was the minority leader at that time. He had agreed with Johnson that he would basically support the proposal but would try to make some adjustments, make some changes in it. He had to figure out on what basis what changes were going to be in there.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They had Burke Marshall— I can remember in the Judiciary Committee when my brother Bobby came up there and testified on the ’64 Act, he was in front of Sam Ervin for two and a half days. Now if somebody is up there, you get six minutes to question them. People used to take an hour to question.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And if you were at the end, you’d better be around. It could be 6 o’clock at night, or whatever the time, you’d better be around. Say, well, I still have a ways to go, but you have to be in the other room getting briefed or doing something else. There was none of this other kind of—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And then you got your turn. And they may have recessed. But the committees at that time were very important in authorizing as well as appropriations. If they didn’t, if they crossed a chairman on that, their authorization, their appropriations got held up. That was the real leverage. No one would even think of that today, holding up appropriations. They did. They had real authority and power. 

But a central impression—now going back to the earlier days—was how little people really worked during the time. For the most part, in the mornings, they’d go out to Congressional and play golf. And they’d come back in, many of them— [Frank J.] Lausche was there, a very significant number. I can’t remember the list. They’d go out and play golf. Come in at noon. Come down to the Senate dining room and meet with people. I’d see 15 piles of papers on their desks, and after lunch they’d come up there. They’d sign their mail, and they might get up and make a little talk. Not much. And then, as the afternoon went on, off they’d go to a Senator’s office—time for the branch water, starting around 5 o’clock. And they’d be out at night at different social events. 

The gradual change that took place was both civil rights and the war. It hit in the mid-sixties. You got the filibuster started then, and the war started, and boom. It just changed dramatically, and we were in five days a week. You got the Fourth of July and Labor Day off. We were in all summer. Came back on Sunday night at nine o’clock. By 9:30 on a Monday, those hearings were going full blast, and they rarely got out until late Friday afternoon. It was a full, full week. And we had caucuses only occasionally. Now you have them every Tuesday.

Young

Yes. I was going to ask. 

Kennedy

That’s a big difference. Now the caucus makes a big, big difference. But you knew. Just an illustration—on the ’76 tax bill, I was one of the principal leaders of the tax reform. It took six weeks. We did a title a week. Russell Long said, We’re going to do a title a week. That’s how we’re going to handle this. We’re going to do it in the next six weeks. Everybody knew what we were going to debate. Everybody knew you had a chance to look at what those issues were and prepare the amendments. If you came in and said, I have one on Title IV, he’d say, We’ll put that off, or I’ll table you right now. Okay, I’ll come back and do it later on. The debates on this thing were incredible. Everybody knew what was going on. 

Today we have no idea what we’re doing when we come back next week, don’t even know what the issues are going to be. We have no idea what it’s going to be. You look at the record. When we ask Harry Reid what we’re taking up in the next week, he says, I don’t know, but we’ll vote on Tuesday at 5 o’clock. We don’t even know what we’re going to be voting on on Tuesday at 5 o’clock. That’s the difference.

Young

Why?

Kennedy

Why? Well, it’s institutional. It’s the way this place works, respect for the institution. One of the dramatic changes was [Howard] Baker saying since people have to go out and raise money, we’ll take a week off every four weeks. That slows down the process of being able to get things done. Democrats are activists. We like to do things. Republicans don’t. This slows the process down. 

Now we’ve turned into a House of Representatives where everybody comes parachuting in on Tuesday at lunchtime, learns what’s going on, gets all excited. And they want to be out of here Thursday night, so they don’t have much time. They all jump up and down in the caucus, but you can never find them for the floor. They’re out doing their mail or sitting returning their phone calls, getting their fundraisers set up, and bang, they’re out Thursday night. There’s a shift, and much of it has moved over to the staff to work on.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

Big, big difference. We took three days to do the neighborhood health centers. They were initially in the War on Poverty. We had two of them, one in Columbia Point, Massachusetts, and one down in Mississippi. They were the idea of fellows named Count Gibson and Jack Geiger at Tufts Medical School. I went out to look at the one in Columbia Point, and I read about the one in Mississippi and eventually went down to see it. I offered the amendment then to expand those nationally. 

We had three days of mark-ups about what the makeup of the board would be, how many consumers, how many doctors we would have, what the balance was going to be. It took three days of pulling and hauling, and we finally got it. And the reason that that has been so successful is that it’s the right mix. The neighborhood health center in East Boston is completely different from the health center in Holyoke, which is completely different than the Mattapan one. They all focus on different kinds of areas and needs, and they have that kind of flexibility, except they have the central service, and more often than not they have an association with a hospital. We had all of those kinds of things built in. It made a big, big difference. And that’s lasted while other things have come and gone. 

The interesting story on the neighborhood health centers is that we passed it for $35 million. It will be $2 billion; $250 million this year. It takes care of 10 million, 11 million poor people. And now it’s the one health program the President wants to expand. They were all against it for years, but they use it now as an alternative to national health insurance. 

We had it for $35 million, and it was in conference. Because it was my amendment, I got into the conference. It was just after the early sixties. Clayton Powell was the chairman. He said, Now we’re coming to the next-to-last item. It was about 7 o’clock. Neighborhood health centers. Who wants neighborhood health centers, anyway? I said, Mr. Chairman, neighborhood health centers here. He said, You’ve got $35 million. That ought to be enough to do three of them. If you write legislation that one is going in my district, you’ve got yourself an amendment. I said, That’s fine with me. We wrote it in—it’s in Clayton Powell’s district, and bang! That was it. That was the start. That’s the way it got done.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Okay. Shall we take a little break? 

Young

If you’re ready to get back to the prologue or the first chapter in your Senate—Did you have anything particularly in mind you wanted to—?

Kennedy

No, I think we can start with the questions on this. As I mentioned about the committees and the committee assignments and the prayer breakfasts and the general take on the Senate as an institution, during this time, I still talked a good deal with my brother Jack. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I went to two events at the White House. One was a [Josip Broz] Tito lunch, and one was a Sean Lemass dinner. We got invited to a lot of the activities but thought it was best to keep some distance, and we did. I think I have some written notes about the Tito lunch. Not right here.

Young

What was special about the first?

Kennedy

Tito, of course, resisted the Soviets and let the troops come in, and was considered to be a significant figure in resisting the expansion of communism and being a person we might be able to work with in terms of national security and defense. Of course, he had been a colorful figure in World War II. They had obviously a great debate about him, because there were two great nationalist leaders, and Tito was [Winston] Churchill’s choice. 

The other fellow, whose name I can’t remember now, was effectively betrayed by American forces and done in by Tito, but was thought to be more sympathetic to the West. But that’s another story for another time. I had later been on the NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] defense committee, and the people we interacted with, the Brits, had been into Yugoslavia all during World War II and were rather fascinating. That’s just a sidebar to this. But Tito was a very charismatic figure.

Young

He had broken—

Kennedy

He had broken with the Soviets.

Young

So he’s being cultivated?

Kennedy

Being cultivated by the United States with regard to security interests in the region. Tito also was interesting, just from a personal point of view, because he offered his island—I think it’s Briony, off the Yugoslavia coast—for John Tunney’s parents to honeymoon in the thirties when he was the heavyweight champion. The Tunneys had met him before the war. That didn’t come up in the conversation, but it was something that was in the back of my mind. I have notes about Tito, which we probably can get a hold of at some time. I took notes, but I don’t remember much about it. It was a White House lunch, and very nicely done.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

We had Sean Lemass, the Prime Minister of Ireland. They had the dinners in the west room; it was like a dinner party. There were probably about 70 people there. People arrived and met President Kennedy, Jackie, and Sean Lemass in the receiving line. Then the line broke up, and everybody easily went into the dinner, and there were very nice toasts. I don’t remember a microphone being there. President Kennedy and Sean Lemass spoke. I don’t remember lights coming on. They had violins and some entertainment afterward. No, there wasn’t any. I think we just went on into the other room and there was coffee, and people talking in a very normal way.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

The next time I went to the White House, they had so many people in to meet the head of state that they had people standing in the well coming up from underneath, and it was all so formal. An awful lot of people came after dinner just for the entertainment.

Young

I see.

Kennedy

It was all entertainment. You couldn’t pry a mosquito into the west room, they had packed so many people in there—and the atmosphere. They opened up the doors and the lights went on for the toasts, and it was all formal. The contrast, the difference, was so dramatic. 

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

I remember leaving the event and seeing the people all waiting in line down the staircase, because when they finished the dinner, they were going to go up and sit and have some entertainment. Some people were invited just for the entertainment but not for the dinner. 

Young

It was quite a management—

Kennedy

It all seemed to me to have lost both the purpose and, obviously, the social warmth of the event. But for the most part, we were just getting started on some of the major issues.

Young

About people, Mansfield was majority leader. 

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Dirksen, minority leader.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

And that was [Hubert] Humphrey and [Thomas H.] Kuchel.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Humphrey being the whip, I think.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

And Kuchel being the whip. Could you comment on your relations with them?

Kennedy

I remember very clearly in the summer of ’61 being in the sunroom down there, and my father speaking to my brother Jack, and he said, Don’t you have someone besides Humphrey fighting for your program? You could understand that he might sit on the side, not engage, not be as passionate about this, and he’d have good reasons to be. Don’t you have somebody else?

Hubert had been very involved and very active in trying to move the program through. They’d run into the problem in the House with the Rules Committee, which is another story. But he was very supportive, and Mansfield was as well. He had a personal relationship with my brother. It wasn’t enormously close, but they have a picture of Mansfield and Scoop [Henry Jackson] and my brother playing softball out at Georgetown.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

They had a good personal relationship. As I say, I don’t think it was enormously close, but it was a good professional, and in some ways personal, relationship. They were friends. Kuchel was a very gregarious and energetic person and had a lot of friends on both sides of the aisle. He was the moderate Republican of the time, and he always made an effort to try to work the Democratic side. He was always engaged in trying to see what could be accomplished. He was very approachable, engaged, affable, a pretty easy-going figure. 

Young

I’m trying to get a picture of you, the President’s brother, as the youngest Senator, coming into this institution with the old boys.

Kennedy

I think on the Democratic side, by the end of the campaign they were very supportive.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

I don’t think in the beginning he had—There had been a lot of support for Lyndon in the Senate because he had been there, worked it, and had been a very significant and major figure. He had formed a lot of friendships, particularly with a lot of the western Senators. But there were a lot of younger Senators.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

You had Frank Church, who was in Idaho, and he had been supportive. Gale McGee was cautious, but he was a good supporter of my brother. Humphrey had been a supporter. You had the liberals. Clark was very bright and smart, and he intellectually was a strong supporter. And I think [Paul H.] Douglas was, although my brother was a younger figure. McCarthy had his own kind of life, but I think for the most part he had a good relationship, and at the end of the campaign, there was a good deal of empathy and sympathy for him. And they were all good pols. They were all very courteous to me. I wasn’t getting in anybody’s way at that time, and that was fine with them. In these prayer breakfasts, they were always a little bit suspicious about whether I was talking to my brother about—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I’d made a point of going to the prayer breakfast, and in the Capitol there’s a Senators’ dining room, where just Senators eat. 

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

There’s another dining room where you can have your guests.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But there’s an inside, and my brother said, Have lunch in there every day because you meet a different group of Senators coming in. The Democrats are in one room and the Republicans in the other.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

That was very good advice, having a lunch in there every day with the Senators, always a different group. They saw you around, and they were inquisitive about what was going on. I always had some bits of information about what was happening and what was going on, what they were interested in. And going in and attending those hearings and going around and seeing these old bulls, and being a non-threatening figure, I think, prepared the way a good deal, being deferential.

Young

In the Senate dining room, were there just individuals who happened to be there?

Kennedy

Individuals who happened to come in at any particular time.

Young

Yes, yes. Sit at the same table, same time?

Kennedy

You sit at the same table, and the table probably sits 14, 16. There’s a little table for overflow, but I’ve rarely seen that. People are in there. They arrive at their own time; they leave at their own time. Everybody knows that. Everybody makes general conversation, and it’s a very good way to get to see Senators and to begin to develop some relationship with them. This is a rather isolated place—you see people on your committees, but you don’t see a lot of the people who aren’t on your committees unless it’s in the caucus, which we didn’t have a lot then.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

So to really establish some relationship with the Senators, I went to lunch every day. The Republicans were in the next room, so you have to go by them, but there’s a sort of give-and-take when that happens.

Young

Did you discuss Senate business?

Kennedy

At the table they would talk about what was happening back home.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

They’d say, I was back home, and it’s interesting there were some polls taken back there on X, Y, and Z— and their reactions to it. They’re all rather shrewd observers of the political scene. You learn. It was informative, and it was an important learning experience.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

The third place is the steam room down in the Senate gym. People go down to that gym. There’s a different group that goes to the gym, that goes to the prayer breakfast, and that goes to the luncheon.

Young

Really.

Kennedy

There are different groups that do that. Some people you see in the gym you never see at the prayer breakfast or in the Senate dining room.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

The steam room used to be kind of a gathering place. There used to be four or five Senators in the steam room. At 6 o’clock there’d be four or five Senators, and they’d be yukking it up about what’s happening and where it’s happening and what’s going on, just being around there. Today I’m in there and out of there. I’m not spending a lot of time chatting unless I run into people I want to see and chat with.

Young

Yes, yes, yes.

Kennedy

For them, I’d take additional time, because I had the time to do it. That was important. There were a number of people who involved themselves.

Young

Did you do any studying about the Senate? You got some good information from your brother.

Kennedy

I tried for probably the first twenty years I was here. I would try every week to have an issue night at my house on a different subject and bring people in. It was enormously informative and incredibly helpful. One of the ideas we had—this is where basically sentencing reform got started—Jack Weinstein came. This was a number of years later, but it is illustrative.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Ken Feinberg said, I have a very interesting judge who was appointed by your brother, and he has ideas about the inequities of the criminal justice sentence and would like to come down. He came down. It was the germ of his idea that put in the whole sentencing reform. It took us five years to get it passed. 

Young

This was at your home?

Kennedy

At my home. I started it right after I got here. My brother Bobby had an event out at his house probably once a month where they’d talk about books.

Young

At Hickory Hill?

Kennedy

Yes. Different groups came, mixed groups came. [Donald] Rumsfeld used to go to these and play tennis with Bobby. I had a relationship with Rumsfeld. It’s just about ended—actually, it isn’t. He brought people together during that time even. And they would go and work extraordinarily hard out there.

Young

These would be outside the government?

Kennedy

Outside. Writers, some newspapers, some people from outside.

Young

Other Senators?

Kennedy

A few, but it was some writers, people from outside— Maybe 35-40 people. I’d try to do three, maybe four, and have people who got along well with each other—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They have to know each other, by and large. You can get others who don’t, but there has to be an aspect of collegiality. Otherwise they’re talking at each other, and you might as well be at a hearing. It takes some doing. But out of that, the early ones when we doing that first Civil Rights Bill, I got the poll tax. We had people out there on civil rights, they had mentioned this poll tax, and nobody else had taken it on. That was my first legislative—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We spent a lot of time on that. And they had ideas about challenging the pocket veto, for example. I took on the pocket veto. There was a Nurse Training Act, and I argued that in the district court and argued it in the circuit court. But it was from events like this that they got the ideas about that extra dimension, rather than just following what’s happening in the Senate.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Other kinds of activities that are related to the Constitution, related to the powers of the Senate. We would talk to other people. This city is full of them.

Young

This was something new for you in the Senate. Were you the only one—?

Kennedy

I lifted this from my briefings from the campaign.

Young

That’s what I was going to ask.

Kennedy

Because I found that that was very helpful and it was very interesting. I enjoyed it. The other thing I did when I first arrived here was go out and visit the departments, which people don’t do. I’d go down to the Labor Department and go to the different subcommittee divisions there and ask the people to brief me. That’s an entirely different person than who comes up. The right-hand person of the Secretary of Labor talks to you down there. You begin to establish the contacts, and your staff establishes contacts, and you find out all kinds of things. Even during the [Bill] Clinton administration, I found out all kinds of things that they weren’t enforcing in labor laws and things like that, which I had no idea before going down and just listening to people talk about.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

We were going down there, as well as out to the NIH, which is fascinating to go to anyway. Our committee had jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation. People don’t do that. You establish contacts out there, and you get briefings and find out what’s going on in these places, and word comes back that you’re serious about these issues and serious about trying to understand what your part is.

Young

You started that your first year?

Kennedy

First year. Those things were instrumental in terms of acceptability around here.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I think there was a general favorable attitude. There was some skepticism. They’re kind of waiting, you know, to see if you’re going to—But there was a lot of goodwill, obviously, with my brothers, in terms of the direction of the country. For the most part, these are broad-gauged people here in the Senate. There are not many small fries around here. Not many people relish the humiliation of a person.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So it was a favorable atmosphere, and one that we were able to dig in in a serious way, which I think was very valuable and helpful. 

Young

Now I’m getting the picture. You rationed your appearances at White House events.

Kennedy

Yes, well, those were rationed in all places, really. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

My brother always said that the first year, going back is very important, right after you get elected, because you want to thank people.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

And then he said that the next one is the year before the elections. Not the year of the elections, but before.

Young

The year before.

Kennedy

It was particularly important to get back year-round so it isn’t only the election year they see you. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Then in the election year, they think you’ve been around more often and that you’re going to be around. But I think the idea of digging deeply into the institution here and to the relevant jurisdictions we had on the committee was enormously important. And the continued upgrading of information was very important.

Young

You’re showing, it seems to me, that you were a working Senator.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

You weren’t here for other things. This shows respect for the institution, it seems to me, when you’re doing that.

Kennedy

I always felt I was very lucky to get here, and at that time I thought I had the luxury of some time. The institution moves in a very slow process. But I’ve been able to look at things over a longer period of time. We had the ’68 Housing Act that didn’t really do very much.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

And then it came back in 1980 and missed cloture by two votes. Howard Baker just wouldn’t work hard enough to get the two votes, and Senator [Birch] Bayh got defeated. Then I took over the Housing, and eventually we passed the housing in ’88. And we included in the Housing Act in ’88—this is twenty years later—not only discrimination on race, but we had discrimination on disability and also discrimination on women and children, families, and it was a big deal. Three more things we got. It took twenty years to get it. I was always at the barricades in terms of moving it, but you can keep coming back to these things, and I was prepared to do it.

Young

In your first year, several issues came up affecting Massachusetts—to put it mildly. I wanted to ask what you did in your first few months here, if anything, to set up an operation in Boston, in your constituency. Was that an early priority?

Kennedy

It was. My brother had been the Congressman from the district, so he had a pretty good idea about setting something up. And Joe McIntyre, who was Ben Smith’s AA and stayed on with me, who had been around in here, in the Senate previously, had gone back. One of the questions is, do you have just one office, or do you have offices all over the state?

Young

Right.

Kennedy

There’s a lot of appeal to going all over the state to show that you have an interest in New Bedford or Fall River and all the rest of it. We have just the one office, and it was a very wise decision. There are people who resent that in other places, but I have the one office, even though where the office is we pay more per square foot than we would if it were in another building. John Kerry’s in another building; therefore, he gets more space. I think he gets probably more compensation for the people he has because he was in the Transportation Building, one of the buildings up there, but now his Boston office is in Bowdoin Square in Boston, close to the JFK building. 

But every federal agency is in the building where I am. Immigration is in there, Social Security is in there, Veteran’s Affairs is in there, Internal Revenue is in there, every one of these agencies of the federal government. And so our people know all of the people. They see them all day long. They go down and have coffee with them in the coffee shops. They develop a relationship and an understanding of these people—and they do with regard to them—which is immeasurable. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It makes a big, big difference. And 85% of the kinds of cases you get are dealing with Social Security or dealing with veterans’ benefits or immigration problems or these kinds of issues. If it’s, What’s your position on wind farms? that comes down here. But in terms of what that office is really interested in doing, it’s serving that. And I’ve made sure that we give that a high priority, and getting your mail back. That mail has to go back out and get back there. If you’re going to be on the cutting edge of national and international policy issues as well as cutting-edge issues in Massachusetts, that constituent service has to be unsurpassed.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

That is a big, high priority. You’re never quite sure that you’re at the cutting edge, because you’re a little bit remote from it. But I’ve had Barbara with me 44 years, so she knows this is a high priority, and she’s a very good administrator, so she’s kept it at that. 

Young

Did you set that up when you first—

Kennedy

Yes, at the very beginning. That was something my brother felt very strongly about.

Young

You’re given an allowance for that?

Kennedy

You’re given an allowance.

Young

Based on population?

Kennedy

Population. I would say two-thirds of the staffing I have in this office here today responds to constituents. 

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

It’s amazing. People think that we spend two-thirds of that on the issues. Two-thirds is on constituents. It may be in mine because the ranking committee on some of these is 60/40, but generally it’s 75%—for any freshman, 75%.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

Those letters have to be current. Think of the letters going out on the [Terri] Schiavo case. This thing has exploded in the last week, the mail that’s coming in. How are those letters going to be relevant to people who are going to be writing in? It’s something completely new. It’s been up since last Thursday or Friday, people are writing. So that’s really important. But we’ve always put a big priority on it and have also felt that it ought to be in that one building in that location. And we’ve kept it there.

Young

That was true from the beginning?

Kennedy

Our first office in Boston was at the old Federal Building in Post Office Square. In 1966, when the JFK Federal Building was completed, our office moved there and stayed there. They’ve moved around, but they consolidated probably in the last twenty years. I’ve always tracked them down. I’ve always tried to keep close to where those are. And a lot of it is to the credit of my administrative assistant, Barbara. She understands it and knows it, and I follow her advice. She deserves the credit. She knows what we want. 

Young

When you look at the early staff listings that first year, the majority of those people are probably—It’s in your book there, and the staff is not large at all by today’s standards.

Kennedy

No, it’s not.

Young

I think it’s in the Blue Book. There’s just a printout of the roster toward the end.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Most of those people—McIntyre is there, Barbara Souliotis is there. And it looks like, from what you’re saying—most of those people are constituency.

Kennedy

But the basic point is we had an administrative assistant and a legislative assistant.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And that was about it. 

Young

That’s the campaign. 

Kennedy

Some issues were very special in the beginning. One of them was whether we were going to close the Boston Navy Yard.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

  Tip [Thomas P., Jr.] O’Neill had replaced my brother, and he was very worked up about the possibility of closing it. It was a lot of work getting work into that Boston Navy Yard, and you could see that some time down the line it was going to close. They had an enormous workforce—I think 30,000 during World War II. It was probably down to 10,000 or 12,000 at the time I was elected. They all lived in Charlestown, they were all part of the Democratic Party, and all they wanted to do was work in that place. So that was a red-hot issue. It eventually closed, but not until, probably, the mid-sixties. 

My brother Bob was in the Senate. It was probably ’66. [Robert] McNamara was still there. He called my brother Bob and me over to the Defense Department. He said, I got you two down here because I’m going to have to close either the Boston Navy Yard or the New York Shipyard. My brother Bobby said, Why did you bring us all the way down here for that? You and I are friends. You don’t even know Teddy. So close Teddy’s, Bob, and I’ll see you out at our house tonight. You’re coming for dinner, aren’t you? 

McNamara said, Oh, yes, I am. I’ll see you then. Just close Teddy’s. Why have you got me down here? I have things to do. Bob was a great, great teaser and had a terrific sense of humor, but I didn’t know how I should take that. He said, No, I have all the papers. I have all of this over here, if you people want to go over it. And Bobby said, Well, I’ll ask Teddy whether he agrees. Let’s do it where it’ll have the least impact on employment. Which community is best able to pick these jobs up? Let’s use that as the criterion. Is that good enough criterion for you, Teddy? Yes. And so Bobby said, That’s the criterion we’ll use on it. 

McNamara said, Then we have to close New York, because they can absorb the jobs better [laughter]. So Bobby said, Fine. Let’s go back to the Hill. Boom. We went back. And then, you know, a year and a half later, they closed Boston. 

[Dog sounds] Oh, now, Sunny. Yes. He just woke up from a bad dream. That’s okay. That’s all right. Come over here. 

So there were a couple of things that were particularly hard. One was the air route from Boston to Miami for Northeast Airlines.

Young

Can we get back to the Navy Yard for just a minute before you get on that?

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

These documents in the book indicate your brother had it stricken from the closing list in ’62 but said, Next time we’ll have to do another study.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

I’m thinking that on all these Massachusetts issues—maybe not Northeast Airlines—this was an occasion where you did work with your brother, you did work with the White House protecting something in Massachusetts.

Kennedy

That one was enormously important. That wasn’t going to be a happy occasion if they closed the Navy Yard—if just after he got elected, it went down. He had a little something invested in that, too. He wouldn’t have looked too good. But it was tough—we didn’t have what they have, the BRAC [Base Realignment and Closing] procedure now where they can accept them all or—This is rather complicated.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The President has his crack at putting things on or taking them off, but he has to be careful. Allegedly, it’s supposed to be nonpolitical, and he has to be careful about what he does with that. But at that time you could knock it off without a problem.

Young

He said he was not going to go down in history as the President who closed the Boston Navy Yard.

Kennedy

One of my early ideas after I got elected was in 1964 we were going to have the sailing ships come into New York. My brother had taken an interest in that and had been supportive of it. You know now they have these great meetings in different places, but this was really the first one that started—

Young

This is the Tall Ships?

Kennedy

The Tall Ships. I had the idea that we ought to lead the parade with the USS Constitution. So he asked Taz Shepherd—who was his naval aide and John Sparkman’s son-in-law from Alabama—to look into whether the Constitution could be sailed, whether it could make the trip down to New York. That had to be kept top secret because he didn’t want the word to get out. So Taz did the report and found out that it could go down. They’d put pontoons next to it. It could sail up to 15 knots of wind. And I thought, This is dynamite. I can see myself up in the prow of the USS Constitution with all the Tall Ships, the President out at the Statue of Liberty. I’ll get myself re-elected forever. I told John Tunney about it, and his father had some 1812 brandy still left.

Young

I see.

Kennedy

He had a case of it down his stairs. His father was excited. I told him he could come aboard, and we’re going to get that 1812 brandy—it’s about $2,000 a bottle—and we’re going to drink that at the time when the Tall Ship goes by the Statue of Liberty. 

And then the Boston Herald gets the story, and they run the story: Ted Wants to Give USS Constitution to New York. My office just lit up like a Christmas tree. Why does Ted want to give the Constitution to New York? What’s wrong with you, Ted? Why have we sent you down there? And this, in about a three- or four-day period, was just the talk of Boston. I tried to have a press conference and tried to explain it, and people were yelling at me. And so I went over with my little hat in hand to John McCormack with a piece of legislation to permanently berth the USS Constitution in Boston. He passed it over there, and we passed it over here, and that ended the controversy. So it can never leave Boston. All the ideas weren’t good. 

Young

Northeast Airlines.

Kennedy

It’s unbelievable now when we look at what the traffic pattern is. Northeast Airlines was the regional airline up there. It served all the various communities up there, was just a lifeline to so many smaller communities. They saw the market going from Boston down to Miami, and they wanted to get the authorization. At that time, you had to get the authorization with the CAB [Civil Aeronautics Board]. I think a fellow named Boyd was head of the CAB at that time.

Young

Alan Boyd.

Kennedy

B-o-y-d, a big heavy-set fellow. We were trying to get this thing done, and of course the other airlines were strongly against letting them come in. I haven’t gone through it recently. I think we got a temporary license, and the real question was whether it was going to be permanent.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

I was trying to get the White House involved, and I think my brother said, You’re going to have to fight these battles yourself, Teddy. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He wasn’t going to get involved in regional battles.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

This was a red-hot item at the time. I forget how it worked out. 

Young

The CAB at this time assigned the routes.

Kennedy

Well, we got it initially, and then I can’t quite remember if it—

Young

It went into court, and the CAB denied it. They wanted to take it away. The Department of Justice took it to court. The court overturned CAB on this, said there were not sufficient grounds for denial. The argument you were making was the CAB created the opportunity and was now withdrawing it.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

It let the airline into this route, and then said it didn’t qualify.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

So that was apparently a winning case for the judge.

Kennedy

That was a big issue.

Young

What about your relationship with Saltonstall? 

Kennedy

This is very good. I have this wonderful picture with Saltonstall—I don’t see it around here now—from when I first arrived here. My brother had a very good relationship with Saltonstall, and he always mentioned to me that it made a lot more sense to get along, rather than arguing and fighting. Try working things out. You’re representing the same state. You’re going to have differences, but they aren’t going to be major differences. Try to maximize the areas of agreement and minimize the differences.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

Saltonstall and I had differences on how we voted on some priority issues, the very big ones now. He was on the Armed Services Committee, but he wasn’t very much engaged and involved, although he was a very good retail politician. He came to the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast up there, and he could give and take with the best of them. He was just sort of a caricature of himself, an old Yankee.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

But he was easy. He was pleasant, reasonably outgoing. He was very kind to me, and it was very easy to reciprocate. His son, Bill Saltonstall, was his legislative assistant and was about my age. Then he eventually went back up to be a state senator in Massachusetts. He eventually ran and got beaten up there. 

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

We had a very good relationship. And that’s the way it’s been kept over the years. We had a good relationship with [Edward] Brooke after that; the Senators, generally speaking, have had good relationships. There’s always staff rivalry and some churning and some backbiting at those levels. But if you look by comparison at the way other states are, it’s just beyond belief. I look at my colleagues, and where you have two Senators from different parties, there’s so much wasted energy.

My brother Jack formed what they called the New England Council, New England regional Senators. They met periodically and worked together on some common interests—number two heating oil, and some other issues. There were a lot of Republicans in that group at that time. My brother got it going, but he never overplayed his hand.

Young

This is when he was in the Senate?

Kennedy

Yes, and it continued. It was a way to spend time with these Senators, Republicans, a way to meet them and work with them and be positive and constructive. It was a good relationship, but we never really worked on much together.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

I was up at Castine, Maine, the place of the first American naval defeat in the American Revolution. The commodore of the American fleet was Commodore [Dudley] Saltonstall. He saw the British ships coming around Pemaquid Point, and he sailed and retreated, ran. They came into Castine, and they beached their boats and burned them. They marched back to Boston, and a third of their people were killed by the Indians. The person who was in charge of the troop was Paul Revere. He was the commander of the marine guard, of all the sailors.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

He was the one who marched them back. I asked Leverett Saltonstall about this. I said, Leverett, what about this? And he said, My great— (it was, I think, his great, great) grandfather should have been court-martialed. The first court-martial of the American Navy should have been my great-great-grandfather for beaching the ships up in Castine. 

If you go to Castine now, you see the bulwarks where they brought the ships in, and you also see—there was a square with houses around it—that every fourth lot is empty. In the War of 1812, the British occupied it for three years. When they left, a number of families left—they put their houses on rafts and brought them up to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The places are marked in the square there. It’s an interesting little tidbit of New England history.

Knott

You did do some work with Senator Saltonstall in protecting the New England fisheries.

Kennedy

Fisheries, yes we did. I forget treaties. One of the most important pieces of legislation was the Kennedy-Saltonstall bill—which was actually my brother’s—that put a tariff on imports. That produced about a hundred million dollars a year, and it was supposed to be used to promote the fishing industry for the building of stern trawlers and other kinds of things. But that money has all been sucked out by the Commerce Committee and used for other purposes. We get about six or eight million dollars of that.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

We should have gotten the whole thing. We haven’t been able to recapture that, which is unfortunate because the industry desperately needs it. There were all kinds of issues about the size of the nets. The issues got more complicated later about the contrast between scalloping and fishing, because the scallopers from New Bedford want to be able to go in George’s Banks. But they want to keep the Canadian ships out of there so they get the whole shebang. Meanwhile, the deep-sea Gloucester people want to be able to go into Canadian waters and fish there. 

So the Canadians say, Why should we take your ships and let them fish in here when you won’t let our people go there? That’s part of the great tension between New Bedford and Gloucester. The fishing industry, more than any other, is segmented. In agriculture—which you learn very quickly here—the sugar beets and pineapples are together with wheat and peanuts. That’s Hawaii, Louisiana, Montana, and Georgia. They’re all together. But you can’t get the fishermen together with the processor, the distributor, and the commercial wholesaler. They all fight like hell, and as a result you have a very difficult time.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

The industry has a very difficult time. They’re all these rugged individuals. We’ve tried to get them together, but it’s very tough.

Young

It’s about time to break now?

Kennedy

Yes, good.

Young

Okay. Do you want to continue this afternoon?

Kennedy

Yes. Yes, let’s do that. [fumbling in papers]

Young

There it is, yes.

Kennedy

Yes. See, Joe McIntyre was the administrator, and Miltie had been. Then you see I had Culver, and Larry Laughlin was up in Massachusetts.

Young

He was scheduling in the ’62 campaign, I think.

Kennedy

Yes, he was. Mary Jane Duris, my personal secretary. Barbara Souliotis is still with me. Grace Burke worked for my brother. I kept her on. Isn’t that amazing? So you had an administrative assistant, a legislative assistant, executive secretary. Culver then was the one legislative assistant and Larry was up in Boston. So it was really a thin gruel. Bill Evans always worked in the DC office. Okay. Good enough.

Knott

Great.

Young

Where was your office when you first came to the Senate?

Kennedy

It was in this building.

Young

In the Russell Building?

Kennedy

In the Russell Building, on the fourth floor, way down this corridor. I had an office at one time, and I think my brother was down on the second floor. I never got into his office. But right opposite my brother’s office was Richard Nixon’s office. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I remember coming down here to visit my brother one time when I was in law school. I took the overnight train, and I came on up. The office was closed, and I was sitting on my suitcase reading, and this single figure came down. Who was it but Richard Nixon? He said, Come on in my office. I don’t think he had Secret Service or anything. It was just unbelievable. I went in there and talked to him for 30 minutes, waited until my brother’s office closed up. I thought he was the nicest person. He was interested in what I was doing in school and liked my brother, and it was just an amazing half-hour. This was before anything zoned in in terms of Richard Nixon.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

And the Vice Presidents had an office over here, one or two rooms over here. Then when Lyndon Johnson was Vice President, he had it over in the Capitol. He had what they now call the LBJ Room, which is the place where the Democrats caucus. It’s a lovely, lovely room. It’s just off the floor. And the room opposite that is the room John Kennedy had after the Democratic convention and until the Senate adjourned. It has his nameplate; it’s usually for the deputy leader. That’s a lovely room, adjacent to the floor. 

Young

Everett Dirksen’s office was in the Capitol also. The minority leader—

Kennedy

The room that we met in is now the Bill Frist reception room.

Young

Uh-huh.

Kennedy

That was Dirksen’s, and the next room was Dirksen’s. But the next room was the barbershop. That’s where we used to get our hair cut. But the Republicans knocked that all down. Now that’s Bill Frist’s office, and he’s extended it even farther on back into the Capitol.

Young

Yes. I think it was ’66 I interviewed Dirksen.

Kennedy

Over there?

Young

Over there, yes. Palatial. Very posh.

Kennedy

Bill Frist’s room now is reception, and the chimney is a common chimney with my hideaway. It was in that room that British soldiers lit their torches in the War of 1812 and went down and burned the White House. And then the rains came and put the fire out, but they brought the torches up here, and then they burned the Capitol. There are only about five or six rooms left in the Capitol that weren’t burned.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

It’s enormously interesting. In the Capitol, in what’s the Senate chamber now, is where the Massachusetts regiment in the Civil War came and bivouacked for several months. There’s extraordinary history in that.

Young

Yes. The Supreme Court chamber was in the library. 

Kennedy

The chamber, the reception room, has the five Senators who were selected by President Kennedy as the outstanding members.

Knott

Senator, you came in with a freshman class that consisted of people like Birch Bayh, George McGovern, and I think Abe Ribicoff. And around that time I think Tydings and Daniel Inouye came in as well. I was wondering if you have any recollections. Did you form any particular bonds with some of the members of the freshman class?

Kennedy

Well, I had, first of all, very different relationships with most of those people. Birch Bayh I formed a very close relationship with. He was on the Judiciary Committee, and I worked very closely with him on the Supreme Court nominees, particularly [Harold] Carswell and [Clement] Haynsworth. And he was the one in 1964 who pulled me out of the plane crash just outside of Springfield about a mile and a half north of Barnes in an apple orchard. The plane crashed and killed my aide, Ed Moss, and the pilot. Marvella, Birch’s wife, had a bad injury to her spine. Birch dragged me out of that plane. And so he and I were good friends. 

Ribicoff was a different generation. He had been a strong supporter of my brother, so he enjoyed additional kinds of recognition. He’d been Governor, and a successful one.

Young

Mm.

Kennedy

He got on the Senate Finance Committee, and you couldn’t get on that committee unless you took a pledge about the oil depletion allowance and about expensing on oil. They wouldn’t let you on. So I always asked Ribicoff what he did on that, what pledge he made. I never got a straight answer. But you couldn’t get on the committee unless—It was controlled by the oil, Russell Long and historically the oil boys. 

Young

Was Kerr on it?

Kennedy

Yes, he may very well have been. But history shows that on the import of foreign oil fee—which costs us so much in New England—was put in in 1956 or ’57 at the time of the Civil Rights Bill. That was the condition to get Bob Kerr and three or four others of the oil-producing states: they put an oil import fee, which gave a price advantage to their oil companies. The transfer of wealth from the coal companies in the Northeast to those companies is unjustified, unwarranted, and outrageous. But that was the history of the oil import fee. No one could get on that Finance Committee, everyone knew, unless they had a part. 

Tydings was a friend in the very beginning. He had coordinated Maryland with Joe Curnane in the 1960 campaign over the objections of a number of Democratic House members because they didn’t think he was experienced enough. My brother Bobby insisted that he be the coordinator, and so he was the coordinator, and it gave him a great lift. He then became U.S. attorney and ran right after that. Then he led the fight against Frank Morrissey, who was my recommended judge. He was the one who led the fight against him, and probably did as much as anyone else to defeat Frank Morrissey on the basis that he wasn’t qualified because he had gone to night school. The Boston Globe enjoyed pulling my chain on that and won a Pulitzer Prize on the story.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

At the very end, I had to pull Morrissey’s name on a late afternoon. I could see we only had 55 or 56 votes. I had gone to Phil Hart, who was really the conscience of the Senate during that period, a remarkable Senator, a war hero, and just a very thoughtful person, universally respected. I said, Am I missing this? Is Morrissey qualified? And he said, Yes, he’s qualified. He isn’t the brightest of all the people we have, but he’s certainly very competent to be able to handle it. Because I knew they were targeting him, I attended all the hearings on it.

But I had to pull Morrissey in the afternoon because we were still four or five votes shy. Then I left that afternoon and went to Vietnam. It was the first time I went to Vietnam, probably ’64, and in the seat next to me was Joe Tydings. We were stuck together on the plane all the way to Saigon. And when we joined another Congressional delegation that had gone over there, they put us in the same room, for four days and nights. It was about as hard a jaw biting as I’ve had. He got defeated—he said it was the gun issue in Maryland, and it may very well have had something to do with it. But I haven’t lost any sleep about Joe Tydings.

Young

Was that Millard Tydings’ son?

Kennedy

Son, yes. A perfectly pleasant fellow, and his first wife, Ginny Tydings, was just a lovely, lovely person. They were personal friends, and that’s why it was so difficult. Morrissey had been basically the person who looked after my brother. He was a good pal of mine, and I may very well have recommended him. I’m not sure that I would have, but he thought he had a commitment, and my father thought he had a commitment from my brother. My father made that clear to me, and so we went ahead. There was a lot of speculation about whether Lyndon Johnson wanted to take me down a peg or two. I never really bought into it. I thought Johnson played the thing straight, myself. But it became a national story.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And a painful one. Who were the other ones?

Knott

George McGovern.

Kennedy

I can remember McGovern losing in the ’60 campaign. I remember just after he lost, my brother talking to him and offering him the—

Knott

He was elected to the Senate in ’62.

Kennedy

Yes, I don’t know what he had before that. But I remember my brother mentioned the Food for Peace program to him. It had to be around that period of time. I always liked George. I still do. I have a lot of respect for him. How they were able to take a person who was an authentic hero, a bombardier and prisoner of war who escaped, went back, bombing, and turn him into a peacenik—It was the beginning of the politics of personal destruction.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I knew him a bit, basically from the time of the anti-war campaign rather than earlier. There were other Senators. There was Fred Harris, who was very interesting. He was a very bright, smart guy, and he had enormous courage. The majority leader would say, We’re adjourning, and Fred Harris would say, No, we’re not adjourning. He would take on the leadership if some issue was up. He’d turn that whole Senate around for three or four hours. He was just a fireball. And he’s a very interesting person. He got so far out from his state that he got licked. But he and [Walter] Mondale were the two hotshots.

Young

Were they reformers?

Kennedy

Well, Mondale was, in terms of the cloture rule; Fred was, too. The real reformers were Dick Clark, John Culver, and I. We changed the rules in terms of appointments to the various committees. Before I came, it was all up to the majority leader, Lyndon Johnson. Title III of the ’57 Act is the very controversial one—the whole Act was part of the Oil Import Fee. To get the Title III provision, he put people on the Foreign Relations Committee. He put Frank Church on, and he put Gale McGee on, and he put my brother on—all people who would support Title III of the Civil Rights Act. He expanded the committee by six or seven, all Senators who were wavering, to get them to put this on. 

Young

This is in ’56?

Kennedy

I can’t remember whether it was ’56 or ’57.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

He named all the people on the committees, which was the power, and secondly, you didn’t get a vote on your amendment. They ask now: Are there sufficient seconds? And everybody puts their hands up—and this includes all the filibusters. People even strongly against the filibuster won’t deny a person a right to get a vote, even though they know they’re dilatory. It’s very interesting. At least that was 15 years ago. We haven’t been faced with it in recent times. You didn’t get a second unless Lyndon Johnson said it was okay. As a result, you only had 50 votes. Now we have 700 votes. We have all of these groups keeping scorecards. People have to get the votes in order to get the scorecards up with the different groups.

Young

Mm hmm.

Kennedy

What broke that down was both the civil rights issue and the war issue, but it was also the people, the Senators. In my time, there was a small steering committee that the majority leader got up, and they named the people on these committees. I got named. But it was a very insider process. It was basically three or four chairmen and the majority leader named it. You couldn’t get on the Finance Committee unless you took the pledge.

Dick Clark and I were very much involved in a series of reforms to have a steering committee. But it had to be representative of the caucus. We had the Senate rule that the committees themselves had to be reflective of the caucus in terms of geography and political philosophy, to democratize all of that. If there was going to be a vacancy in the steering committee, the leader had to notify the regions so that they could offer a candidate.

This reached a crescendo under Bob Byrd, and he fought it in a very vigorous way. You have to ask John Culver about this. We had the most extraordinary kind of tension in that caucus. It was enormously divisive and very heated and very acrimonious. It was a change; important changes were made. We probably haven’t had a vote for these committees in recent years. They’re worked out as a matter of comity. It doesn’t quite follow what we had in mind, but it’s certainly a lot more democratic than it ever was.

Young

This was the beginning of a climate change.

Kennedy

A change in the early sixties, from the old guard.

Young

Yes, the citadel and the club. 

Kennedy

Those were big, big, monumental changes. People from the outside rarely see the difference, but you could really see it on the inside. Also, you couldn’t be on the Appropriations Committee and the Finance Committee at the same time—because those were two of the powerful committees—and a couple of the others, the Armed Services Committee. So it really did open it up to some extent. 

In reality, it hasn’t opened it up as much as the Republicans have, because they rotate people on and off committees even now in terms of seniority. We don’t now. I got waivers to get onto the committees. I’m on three major committees: the Armed Services Committee, the Labor Committee, which has become a very desirable committee, although it wasn’t for ten or twelve years. And I’m on Judiciary, which is hot and cold, mediocre interest. But the issues on health and education were not the hot issues for ten or fifteen years. It was all environment and energy.

When I was the ranking member on that committee, we’d have to effectively ask people to come on. I’d promise them budget money. I’d say, Look, I’ll guarantee you a staffer if you come on. For a freshman member, that was a big deal. You look over the people on the Human Resource Committee, and virtually all of them were waived on. And now it’s one of the most desired. They had seven or eight Republicans who wanted to get on.

Young

By waived on, you mean get dispensation?

Kennedy

You got a waiver, you got a dispensation, because you have three committees. 

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

There’s always a question whether we ought to try to be fair to the new members by having the old members surrender one of their committees. We go through this ritual at the start. Then we say, We can’t do it for those who are up for re-election. They’ll say, All right, we can’t do it for those who are up. Well, there are some of us who are just about to be up. I’m up now, so they’re not going to do it to me, a couple more years. And then it just sort of settles in, so the seniority system works very well if you stay around long enough.

Knott

Were there elements of the old system that you miss these days?

Kennedy

Well, the old Senate, where people stayed and worked at it, and it was predictable, and where we really legislated. I think that’s much preferable to what we’ve seen in recent times, which is really government by the omnibus legislation, appropriations, where at the end of the term they just wrap everything in there and put in whatever the administration wants. They challenge you to vote against it. It’s a lousy way to legislate. And secondly, the abuse of the budget process. There was a time, as we were seeing during the sixties, where the committees would be appropriating. No one ever knew what all the other committees were appropriating, and so you didn’t have an overall budget. It was just in float, so to speak.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

If President Kennedy had a hundred billion dollars, people sort of kept to that. But the spending began to float off and got out of control. So they passed the budget, but the way that’s drafted, it doesn’t take into consideration the other aspects of the budget, which are the tax expenditures. You have the two elements. One is the direct spending, and the other is the indirect. Both affect the size of the budget at the end of the day, but we only look at one and not the other, and that was done purposely.

This is part of a kind of hoax, really, in terms of being on the level with the American people about how the budget is really made up—and what counts and what doesn’t count in terms of the budget. This was again written by Russell Long, to some extent by Muskie, but Russell Long knew. For example, if you have immunization, and you’re able to save people’s lives and save on the healthcare, you get zero acknowledgement in the budget. All you get is what the amount is: $150 million expenditures for immunization. 

We don’t look at the allocations of investments in funding for what the payoff is going to be. For every dollar that was invested in the G.I. Bill, we got eight dollars back in terms of revenues. That does not reflect itself. Whether it’s a tank that rusts—that’s $20 million—or an investment in education, it’s treated exactly the same. And, of course, its implications for the economy are very much different. But we don’t look at that, either. So this is a very imperfect way of looking at the most sophisticated economy in the world, and there’s virtually no desire or interest to alter or change it—or constituency to do it.

Knott

This is kind of a contradiction. You spent much of your first year in the Senate going out of your way to stay out of the limelight. Was that difficult to do? What was it like living in that goldfish bowl but attempting at the same time to try to stay out of the—

Kennedy

It wasn’t very difficult. We’d moved down here, and what was happening during that time was enormously interesting. I saw a lot of my brother Jack and my brother Bobby. We had young children. I realized that I needed to respond, obviously, to the people in Massachusetts, but I had no interest in national ambitions or traveling, so it worked out very well. 

I did do one of the dinners early. I didn’t do the Gridiron the first year, but I did it about the second or third year. I think I went with my brother the first year where he just made his whole speech about my being over there—Teddy still using the greasy kid’s stuff.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And someone said, Vaughn Meader sounds like you, and he said, No, he sounds more like Teddy. I was just the foil for him. But I had a very good time. The first time you go, that Gridiron dinner is so spectacular, with the Marine band marching in, which I’d never seen before. And the skits were just superb. You go once or twice in your life, and that’s about it. But it certainly was an impressive event the first time or two. It worked. I kept my nose to the grindstone and the—

[Dog business] Come here, Sunny. Sunny!

Knott

Sunny’s not into it today.

Beth

No, she’s a little slow. Come on. Want to go outside?

Kennedy

Come on! She’s just eating that soup.

Knott

Oh, it’s the soup.

Kennedy

She’ll go on outside here. Just shake the doggie biscuit bag out there.

Young

How shall I say this? You didn’t have the kind of investigative, entrepreneurial journalism and media attention in the early sixties that you have now, did you? Although there was a lot of focus on the White House and the glitz.

Kennedy

There’s a very dramatic difference and contrast, just with regard to information. If the Department of Health and Human Services said that the glass was half-full, everyone on the committee said, It’s half-full. I’d say, Let’s fill it up. Republicans would say, It’s half-full. We’re doing pretty well. But no one disputed that the glass was there, or that it was half-full.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Now, today, you’d say, Even if the glass is there, it really isn’t a glass, and I don’t know whether that’s water in it. And what do you care about that because I have another study that says the water is going to evaporate in the next two hours—all of this cockamamie kind of falsified information. It really isn’t evidence. People have just manipulated facts, fiction, in a dramatic, dramatic departure. Nothing has credibility. We used to believe the National Academy of Science, Institutes of Medicine. Today people rebut all that as well, and that’s very dramatically different. I think the growth of negative aspects in terms of legislation, quite frankly, follows a pattern in commercial advertising. 

In the early sixties, you had advertising for aspirin or Advil or whatever they had at that time, and people gave the plusses on it, but you weren’t given the minuses. Now it’s, Look at my chart. Here is Advil, and this is how bad aspirin is. It started with the negative aspects in commercial advertising, and you can see how negative advertising started a few years after that in politics. It followed the commercial, it became acceptable. Eddie McCormack’s attacks on me in 1962 were completely unacceptable. Now they have those kinds of attacks in spades, and it rolls off the person who’s doing the attacking. Negatives go up a little bit, but it’s a different climate. And I think much of that has followed this.

One of the interesting factors is that during this period—I got elected in ’62, and then in ’64 I was in the hospital from July through the rest of the year and through that election. But after that, ’65, ’66, I ended up having my teammate from college, Culver, and my roommate from law school, and my brother to work with. I was in the Senate with two of my best friends and my brother. That made it a wonderful place. 

I traveled with some of these Senators through the Middle East and worked with them. Tunney was on the Judiciary Committee, and I worked with him on some of the issues. Culver was very involved in the B-1 bomber. He finished the B-1 bomber, killed it, until Reagan eventually brought it back, saved billions of dollars. That was a particularly interesting time, a unique time, to be in a place with your friends and your brother, and also be in a place which happens to be the United States Senate.

Young

It wasn’t the gotcha game so much then, was it?

Kennedy

It was really not that at all. 

Young

The politics of personal destruction, as you put it.

Kennedy

Yes, it’s really a change in the politics. Republicans understood that they wouldn’t be able to deal with you on some of the global policy issues, so the way to undermine you was to undermine you in other ways. And that’s what they became very skilled at.

Young

Almost your first year here was also a kind of a reunion, wasn’t it, between you and your brothers? You were living in the same place. And you’d been apart doing different things.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

That must have made it a fine moment.

Kennedy

Very enjoyable. As I mentioned, we were here in the summers. We’d go up on the weekends, but we were here during the week, and more often than not, I’d go over and have a swim in the White House pool and have dinner with him or sit up on the balcony, smoke a cigar or whatever.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It was almost simpler than being in a private home. People didn’t bother us. He was relaxed. About 9:30 or ten, he’d want to go read or do other things. That was fine with me.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It was just really a very—you can’t use the word normal, but it was really a wonderful period. He was incredibly interested in what was going on, the characters up here. I’d tell him the story about Jennings Randolph when I was down in the steam room. Jennings Randolph was significantly overweight, from West Virginia, a very nice person—he just talked too long. Jennings was the color of your dress, a bright red, and he had been in the steam room for too long, eighteen minutes, and was just about to die.

I walked in. I was just sitting down, and Jennings said, Oh, my God. It’s young Ted Kennedy. Yes. He said, Do you see your brother at all? I said, Yes, I’m going down there tonight. You are? Yes. Well, he said, I have a postmaster-ship down in Mingo County, and this is really important to me. Oh, it is? I said. Yes. Now let me give you the facts. 

I could just see the pulses of the arteries in his throat bulging out like this, and more perspiration was coming. I was getting hot in there, and I thought, If we don’t get out of this place, he’s going to die. But he just kept going on and on with that story. I said, Jennings, let’s take it outside. 

Finally, he got out. He was gasping for air about this nickel-and-dime postmaster-ship in some southern part of West Virginia. It was really funny how he cared so much about it.

As I say, the Senate was interesting. My brother was interested in my impressions of the people, about the institution, and about what was going on, their reactions to different things that were going on. You pick up a lot by listening around here. Then on the weekends, we’d often go up to Cape Cod. It was a wonderful trip up, flying on the helicopter. I was with my friend who was visiting up here, Claude Hooton.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I said, Claude, do you want to go up to the Cape with me? He said fine. I said, We’ll be in the White House at three o’clock in the afternoon on Friday. So he was in there, and my brother headed out to the helicopter. We just hopped on, and the colonel was about to depart. I said, Wait a minute. Claude’s coming on. My brother said, Claude? You’re coming on? The colonel said, Mr. President, we’re overweight. I’m not authorized to take this chopper off. My brother said, Well, colonel, just this one time. Close the bay! And off it went. Claude said, If that chopper had come down that time—

It was great. It was an interesting and explosive time. Everything was happening then. The economy was off. Civil rights marches were moving in full bloom. We had [Martin Luther, Jr.] King here in the summer of 1963.

Young

You had the March on Washington. You wanted to go, and the White House said no.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Why was that?

Kennedy

I think they were thinking about how they were going to handle it, whether I’d get brought up there before he had had a chance to talk with the leaders. If I had gone, I would have been up in the special section, and he wanted to be able to talk to the people at the end of the march himself. That’s the way I looked at it. It probably made some sense at the time. I would have liked to go down to it.

Young

Did you see much of—

Kennedy

Just after I was down here, my brother said, I’m not going to ask you often, Teddy, but I want you to do this for me. I want you to go up to the Bronx for Charlie Buckley. He’s a chairman up there, and I want you to speak at his dinner. I said, I don’t want to go. It’s Saturday night. Go up to Buckley, and I’m going to ask you to go out to Long Island for Gene Nickerson.

So up I go. I fly up to New York. I didn’t know what an advance person was then. I get off, Buckley sends the car over; it’s a nice car. We pull up at this hall in the Bronx. Buckley comes out. The place is so hot you can’t believe it. There are probably 500 people, and there’s Buckley, and he’s sweating, and I’m beginning to sweat. So I say, Mr. Buckley, I’m really glad. I talked to my brother, and he’s so grateful for all you’ve done for him. What time do you have to be out of here? I say, Well, I wanted to get that nine o’clock plane back to Washington. The nine o’clock plane? I say yes. He says, You’ll be out by eight. I say, I will? It’s 6:30 now. I can’t believe this.

So we go on in. We shake some hands. We go on up to the front, and everybody is just getting their dinner. There’s the Pledge of Allegiance, we sing the National Anthem, and we say some prayers. And, boom, he says, Now, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to hear Senator Kennedy. I want everybody to pay attention to this. So I got up and I have three good jokes, and they roar with laughter. And then I start in on some substance. There are conversations going on, and they start eating bread and pouring the beer and drinking the wine, and they didn’t care. And thank you very much and, boom, down I went. 

I got out the door at eight o’clock and by 8:35 I was on that plane back. My brother said, How’d it go? I said, Well, it was hot, and he’s a great guy, and he got me in— He said, I told you you’d be fine. That’s the old boss. But you have to go for Gene Nickerson. Boom, up the next week, I fly out to the middle of Long Island.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I get up and meet Gene Nickerson, and we have another hour’s drive. I said, Gene, when am I going to be out of here? Out of here? he said. Well, there are no planes going back. I said, No planes going back? He said, No. You have to stay overnight. I said, Stay overnight? you know, on Long Island. I said, I have to get back home. No, he said, you have to stay overnight.

The long and the short of it is, I got up to speak at 11:15. This is the reformer. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I got up at 11:15, and a third of the people had already left, gone home. But everybody paid attention. All paid attention. They wanted to know what was happening on the New Frontier. That’s the difference between the old guard and the reformers. 

Then my brother called me and said—this is after the march—go down to Martin Luther King. I have a picture right up there, with Dr. King. I went down to Mississippi in the summer. I can’t remember where it was, but I know it was about an hour, hour and a half outside. There were 400 or 500 people. I listened to him talk, and I said, What in the world am I doing down here? Why in the world am I coming down here to talk to this crowd? which was 80% black, 20% white. Occasionally, you’d get that. But by and large they were pretty easy requests.

Young

Did you see much of Larry O’Brien or Mike Manatos or any—

Kennedy

Saw some of Larry, who was in that office.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

They were mostly in the House and the Rules Committee. I was aware of the Rules Committee because they were after Sil [Silvio O.] Conte, and he voted with my brother to help him get the rule. He was from Massachusetts, a very decent fellow. I didn’t know him well. I got to know him very well at the end. He became a good pal of mine at the end. All the action was really over there for the most part, in the Rules. I knew Larry, because in ’58 I traveled all around the state with him. I knew Larry and Joe Napolitan, who was working with him. Some of the other people had been around in ’58, and I knew them from the campaign.

Young

Yes. Was Dick Donahue?

Kennedy

Dick Donahue I knew.

Young

He goes back to ’58?

Kennedy

Well, I don’t know whether he did ’58. I don’t think he would have. He probably came into the White House. I think you’re right. I don’t think he was around in that time. It was basically Kenny and Larry and Manatos. They had one or two other friends who had played football with Bobby and were friends of Kenny in there at the time. 

Young

In that first year, LBJ was Vice President. Was he playing much of a role in the Senate?

Kennedy

No, no. Not at all.

Young

His sun had set in the Senate, hadn’t it?

Kennedy

Yes. No. I don’t know. When you talk with Claude, this great pal of mine, it’ll take a week because he’ll talk all day long. He used to come up, and since he was from Texas, it was a funny story that he worked in my brother’s campaign. Actually, he’d gone down to West Virginia, and he’d campaigned out west for my brother Jack. Jack knew him and liked him. Claude’s a great character. 

The Democratic chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee [Albert Thomas] was from Houston, represented the River Oaks area down there. I can’t remember his name. Jack had announced the Alliance for Progress, and this Congressman announced that he wasn’t for it. So Claude announced he was going to run against him. And I can remember eight o’clock in the morning, 1963, the phone ringing in Boston, and it’s my brother Jack. He said, Have you read page 24 of the New York Times? I said no. He said, Do you have a New York Times? I said, Yes, it’s down three flights. Go down and get it. Down I go and bring up the New York Times and open it to page 24. There it is: Kennedys challenge Johnson for control of Texas delegation. Claude E. Hooton, Jr., roommate of Teddy Kennedy, has announced that he’s running for Congress against LBJ’s number-one supporter in Texas, Congressman So-and-So. Kennedys never do anything half-hearted. This is a clear indication that the honeymoon is over between JFK and Lyndon. 

What in the world is Claude Hooton doing? I said, I don’t know. Get hold of him. Get him out of that race. I have to tell Kenny O’Donnell to call him. Kenny O’Donnell called him up, and Claude told him to stick it. He said, I’m running, Kenny. You know, John Kennedy is for the Alliance for Progress and— Kenny said, I’m talking for the boss. Stick it. I’m not talking to you. My brother called me, Did you hear that he told Kenny to stick it? Well, I said, Kenny’s never been very nice to him. 

Anyway, he ran. He stayed in that race and ran, and he got beaten 60/40. But in any event, just after that, he came up, and Johnson had been presiding, and I said to President Johnson, Can I come in with my friend Claude? And of course we couldn’t get out of that office. Lyndon was gracious and had won and everything else, and he didn’t care. It was a very funny story. Claude will take two hours to tell it, but it’s about the challenges. 

He was around. I’m not sure they used him as well as probably they could have.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

What I know about the Senate now and what I know he had then—the ability to go along. My brother Jack got along, but Bobby had tensions with him. Most of it was later on. I just don’t think Kenny and those other people used him. What happens is, every single time a President is elected, they bring their whole crowd in here and they never use the people here. And 95% of them would be glad to work with a new President and would be loyal to him. 

You saw that in the Justice Department with my brother Bobby. He had never worked with Nick Katzenbach, but he was absolutely loyal to him. Never worked with Burke Marshall, absolutely loyal to him. Jack Miller, who was a Republican, absolutely. John Nolan. He had a group in there who were just super 10s, super 10s. And every one of them, after six weeks, would have lain down under a freight train for him.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And Democrats who are interested in using government would have worked with Johnson in the new administration. But everybody comes in and they have their own people, and they won’t use the other people, won’t work with them. They’re suspicious of them, they have an agenda. Everyone makes the same mistake. Carter made the mistake. Clinton made the mistake. 

My brother understood this, and one of the smart things he did after he got the nomination, after his speech at the Coliseum, he went up to the Cape. He brought up a plane full of all of his supporters, and they had a cookout, and they played volleyball and took a swim. They had drinks that night, and everybody was all set to go. 

The next day, the Johnson people came up. And they were at one half of the football field, and the other half were the Kennedys. Finally, they went in swimming. The others wouldn’t talk, but finally they had a cookout, and they finally had the drinks. And then the next day, my brother brought up about half a plane of Humphrey people. 

Young

Who?

Kennedy

Hubert Humphrey. By this time, the Johnson people and the Kennedy people considered it was their territory. The Humphrey people were outsiders, and then the same kind of thing. Everybody needed a couple of days off, at any rate. Then there were some other people like [Stuart] Symington and Stevenson who came in last, at the very end. 

At the end of four days, he had a good political group to work on the campaign from all of those candidates. They were all set to go. He understood it. But when you’re the candidate, you can’t keep that thing cooking. And he couldn’t do it as the new President to ensure that everything was being done around here with Lyndon. My own sense is that they probably could have used him a lot more. 

The real tough thing was getting things through the Rules Committee over at the House. You had the mental health bill, three or four of those different things. Basically, you were being cascaded with foreign policy. You had the civil rights issue and the economic issue. You had a tough time getting the tax cuts because the Republicans wouldn’t support any expenditures over a hundred billion dollars, which was the budget the first year. Doug Dillon said we had to go back and keep cutting, because otherwise the Republicans wouldn’t cut taxes. They didn’t want to be out of balance. What a change in the Republicans now. That was one aspect of it. You had Berlin, which was red-hot at the time. 

Young

Right.

Kennedy

You had the beginning of the Vietnam War, and you had the whole civil rights movement. It wasn’t so much the legislature. You’re still battling all of that, but they were darned if they were going to do anything on it, the conservative Democrats.

Young

Yes. I’m not sure Lyndon Johnson’s influence in the Senate carried when he left.

Kennedy

No, this was built on a power structure.

Young

And it was built on the leverage he had on procedure and the process and the people.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

You don’t have that if you’re not in the Senate.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

After the March on Washington, you went over to the Interparliamentary Union in Belgrade.

Kennedy

Yes. 

Young

And the Soviets were there as well.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Two things that we’ve noticed in our materials happened there. One was your talk. I think it was your first major talk on racial discrimination in the United States. You quoted Martin Luther King, and you referred to the March on Washington by way of saying that we’re not perfect either. Do you remember the Russians there?

Kennedy

I remember that trip because we came back suddenly. It was very abbreviated. We were called back in order to vote on an arms control agreement. So we were there for only two days. It was the first trip. I remember making that talk and meeting with groups, and then we were all called back because they had worked out an arms control, and we stayed over there only two and a half days. I remember going through Belgrade, which is one of the prettiest towns in the world. It was just breathtakingly beautiful.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I remember going out around noontime in the country on this occasion. It was very tough with the Russians then. There was a lot of tension. 

Young

Madame [Ngo Dinh] Nhu was there, too. She harangued you for a long, long time.

Kennedy

Yes, from Vietnam. That’s right.

Young

And you got a warning from the White House: watch out.

Kennedy

For Madame Nhu, yes. Talking about the Russians, years after this, I was in the arms control group in Geneva. We would drive over and go into a little room inside the building. It was very cold, and we’d shake. They’d talk, and we couldn’t take a pencil, we couldn’t write notes. Nothing was leaving the room. This afternoon we’re going to be talking to the key Russians who’ve just come back in from Moscow. They’ve been with [Alexei] Arbatov over there, and they have some new proposals on medium-range and long-range missiles. They also have something on the bombers. 

Well, could you tell us a little bit about— No, no. No, I can’t tell you! Let me just say I know you’ve had a long night getting over here, and this has been a good briefing. Just relax a little bit, and we’ll get back together again at four o’clock in the afternoon.

Fine. So we went down and took a nap. We went down to lunch. And the whistle blew, and we come back at four o’clock. There’s Max Kampelman, and he’s saying, Oh, we had a good meeting, and I think we’re making some progress on the bombers. We are? Yes, the bombers, intermediate missiles. Listen, I can’t tell you very much about it, but I think we are, and I don’t want to let this thing out. We’re going to have a second session tomorrow, and I hope all of you will be able to— I know some of you are going to these agencies, but come back tomorrow afternoon. Tonight the Russian delegation is looking forward to having dinner with you. I wish I could tell you guys some more. Leave your pencils and your papers here. I have to insist on that. Colonel, watch them, will you make sure? Thank you. Leave everything here.

We went out. Wow, wasn’t that something, that briefing? We’re making progress on the arms control. We’re all making progress. 

Now we sit down with the Russians, their negotiating team. The first fellow is saying, Now, look, this is what you proposed this afternoon. We’ll have 12 bombers, and 52 intermediate missiles, and 7,000 long-range missiles. That’s what the United States proposed. I’m writing it down. Do you all have a copy of this? And let me tell you what we came in with. 

They’d lay the whole goddamn thing out for us. At nighttime, they would tell us the U.S. position, which our people wouldn’t tell us, and our people wouldn’t tell us what the Russian proposal was [laughter]. They’d lay the whole thing out at the dinner table. We’d go back into the room the next day with our little pencils, and there’s Kampelman. And how was your morning? Oh, we’re making a little progress. 

It was the damnedest thing. Finally [Eduard] Scheverdnaze, who saw all this, was the one who broke it apart. He got Sam Nunn and Ted Stevenson and said, This is ridiculous for our people and yours. Adding these secretive aspects is the worst part. 

Here, Sunny. Come here. Come here! Off! Off! Did you hear me? Yes, she did. 

It was a real story, and one that was so typical of the Cold War. It was a different climate, obviously, when you had Scheverdnaze. But I remember Belgrade because it was the first trip.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

We had probably four or five Senators there. But I think we came back and voted just after that on the test ban in outer space.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We rushed back, but I think it still took another day or two.

Knott

You also delivered a speech in the fall of 1963 where you were somewhat critical of the [Ngo Dinh] Diem government and raised some questions about how well the war was going in South Vietnam. Was that sort of the beginnings of your—

Kennedy

Yes. My sense is I was over there in sixty—

Knott

This is from Adam Clymer. He says—

Kennedy

Well, I went two times. One, obviously, in ’67 before Bobby announced, and then I was there in ’63 or ’64. I went there before my plane crash. I can’t remember quite when.

Young

Yes. I don’t think the speech you’re referring to, Steve, was after a trip.

Kennedy

It was before. 

Young

And it was after Madame Nhu.

Knott

Right, right.

Kennedy

The first time I really became wary of Vietnam was after returning from my trip.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We had an evening with the French writer who wrote the books on Vietnam, Bernard Fall. He was a very important French writer. And he asked me to come over for dinner at his place because he had been over. I went over. He asked about my impressions, and I said, I think it’s going reasonably well. Inflation is getting under control. Oh, he said, inflation is getting under control? Well, where did you go? We went to Hue. Oh, you did. And inflation is getting under control? Yes. Where in Hue? Well, I have my notes right here. Let me tell you where. 

He said, Well, let me just— and he’d go up to the shelf and pull out a book, which was the U.S. AID book. He’d open it up to Hue, and you’d get the pounds of rice and what the rice was in Hue, and what the rice was in this town. It showed that it had gone up 600% in the last seven months. So he said, So do you think they’re pacifying that road? Do you think they’re getting through? Why do you think it’s gone up 600%? 

He did that just using American information from American documents that undermined all of the part about inflation and about what was happening, the indicators we had had and all the rest. I was saying my goodness to this, but this really happened.

I think one of the people thinking a lot about that had been Frank Church. He had been one of the real early doubters. But whoom! That really took me—I read everything after that with a great deal more care and concern. 

Young

We’ll get into those trips later. We’re not prepared for them now. Did you go out to Camp David a lot that first year?

Kennedy

Just one time. It was one of the things we did on Sundays with my brother. He was interested in history and the Civil War, as I mentioned. He’d call and say, If you’re around here on Sunday, I’m going to Antietam. Now you can either drive up to Camp David or you can meet me in Antietam. You can come with us; there will be a follow-on helicopter or something. You can arrange to get your car back. I made about four or five of those trips with him, went to all the battlegrounds. He always took a historian with him. Occasionally I’d drive to meet him on Sunday morning up there, and he’d do that for two or three hours, and then come back to the White House. But if he could, he’d come back on Sunday afternoon.

Young

Was this a family affair?

Kennedy

Yes. He’d invite me. He’d invite Bobby—or if he had other houseguests up there at Camp David, although he didn’t have a lot. I remember going up to Camp David the one time, and it was fairly primitive. I was up there with President Clinton, and the difference is so dramatic. At that time, those cabins were rather primitive, and the area where the President gathered was nice, but primitive. There was still a bowling alley, and we actually went out skeet shooting. No one knew my brother shot, but he’d do it with a light gun. He couldn’t do it with a heavy one because he was scared for his back. We’d shoot skeet out there. I can remember that and doing a little bowling. I went up one time with Joan. He spent a lot of time in the White House. Now, they’re gone every weekend.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I don’t believe he did that. I think in the wintertime he went down to Florida when he could. He was up at Camp David a few times, not many.

Young

He would go to the Cape probably more often.

Kennedy

All during the summer. But these weekends were wonderful occasions, and I’ve kept that tradition. On July 4, we’re going down to Richmond—My nieces and nephews are down there. He enjoyed that a good deal, and we were always invited along when he did those things. I suppose my brother Bobby came half the time.

Young

Mm hmm. 

Kennedy

A good deal less because he was busy. He couldn’t come that much. But others came, Eunice and Sargent [Shriver]. 

Young

Did your brother use the Sequoia much?

Kennedy

Yes. It was very interesting, the Sequoia. We would go on the Sequoia, I imagine, once in the fall and once in the spring. We went with the Secretary of Labor. I remember going with the Republicans one time and just the Democrats another. We’d go at quarter to seven, and be back in at nine. That boat was moving every single evening. He turned it over to another Cabinet official. It was terrific, lovely. It was a great treat, and the river is spectacular. In thirty-five minutes, you can get down to Mount Vernon. It was lovely, and people really enjoyed it. The Secretaries thought the President was doing something for them. A great, great kind of thing. It was the silliest thing in the world to get rid of that.

Young

Carter got rid of it.

Kennedy

The silliest thing. I’ve been on it. I still have the pictures of a birthday party when I was on it with my brother in the spring of ’63. He has all the pictures inside. I don’t know how the hell they ever got them, but they have them from the time of the birthday party. He used to enjoy that a lot, and I don’t remember him over-using it. It was moving every evening—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

There was a different Cabinet member each night all the spring and summer. We were here all summer, so they used it all through the summertime. When he had the Honey Fitz up at the Cape, he was out on that every day. I think I’ve told the story of how he’d go to the beach and set little John’s [John F. Kennedy, Jr.] sails. They had this wonderful sailboat the Italians had given him, and he was a very good sailor. He’d set it so it would go out to sea. And then they’d go back over to his house and get his bathing suit. They’d get lunch, and then they’d walk down to the pier and get on the big boat. They’d go out, and the challenge was finding the sailboat. It became a great game. Where’d it go? Where’s the sailboat? Oh, we have to find it. They’d swim over to it and bring it back. That was always great fun. They’d give that sailboat about an hour. It would take an hour to find it. 

Young

Unmanned.

Kennedy

Unmanned, yes. Just headed out. He wouldn’t do it in choppy weather, but on most days, it was just marvelous. He probably had some maid up there keeping an eye out for it so it wasn’t going to get completely lost. But at least all of us thought it was on the level. 

And he had a very cute little game like Blind Man’s Bluff he’d play with the children. He’d put a wastepaper basket over their head, and then he’d call them, and they’d have to guess where he was. He’d make up games. He was very good at that kind of thing.

Young

Did your children and his children play together a lot? 

Kennedy

Yes. But there was a difference in age.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Caroline’s two best friends are Sydney Lawford, who’s her age, and Maria [Shriver Schwarzenegger]. I think for John it was Timmy Shriver—Teddy was a good friend, but Timmy Shriver was probably a very special friend, and then Chris Lawford. 

My mother would get Sydney and Maria and Caroline mixed up. The first time she called one of them the wrong name (when they were 14 or 15 years old), they burst into tears—you know, when she called Sydney Caroline, Sydney just broke into tears. But when they found out that they were all getting called different names, it was okay. Maria was getting called Caroline, and Sydney was getting called—Once they found out that Grandma was getting all three of them mixed up, it was all okay.

Young

Yes. My grandparents had the same problem. We felt so insulted.

Kennedy

Oh, God. Well, I can’t tell the next generation. I can tell their families, but I can’t— But my children—Teddy and all of the next generation—know each one. And Vicki is very good. She remembers everyone, knows all the names.

Knott

I think we may have reached the end.

Young

Have we run out of questions? 

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

My gosh.

Kennedy

Well, I think we’re getting started. I think this part about the Senate when we first arrived here and life down here. There may be some other things that Miltie can come up with during that time—the climate and the atmosphere, the relationships with the family.

Young

Yes. We thought it would make sense to move from the campaign to here.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

You know, ’62. We covered that earlier, and then we wanted to get you here. Now we’re prepared to get into more detail.

Kennedy

Yes. I think that’s good. I might just show you a couple of things—

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

I thought we would try on Friday morning if it works for you later on. 

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

You know I usually leave around two or 2:30 or so to go up to the Cape. So what I was thinking was we could start at 8:30, and we’ll do it over in the Capitol.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

So if I had a vote, I could just pop down. I’ll make sure I don’t have amendments.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So we can get basically a bed-check kind of thing. We have two votes at 9:30, and that’s about it. 

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

We could do it so you could come up early. If you leave down there at a time we could get started at quarter to nine—or 8:30 to 10:30.

This is one of the many interviews that comprise the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History. For more information about the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History, including links to all interviews, please click here.

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