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Oral History

Edward M. Kennedy Oral History (6/3/2005), Senator

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

Young

This interview is about campaigning, but it’s about more than campaigning. It’s also an overview of campaigning as you have known it, done it, experienced it over the years. Rather than focusing on one particular campaign, we want to hear as much, at least later on, about the ’94 campaign as we heard about the ’62, and maybe even a little bit more about the first campaign. This will be useful to have our oral history be not only about campaigning, but about the connectedness with Massachusetts people and issues.

Kennedy

Sure.

Young

Because it does seem to me that, over the years, the changes in campaigning and the changes in technology have also affected the way you can connect or do connect with your constituency between as well as during campaigns. I’d like to talk about your stories of campaigns. I’d like the oral history to show you as a campaigner, your thoughts on campaigns, how they’ve changed—the good and the bad, the desirable, and the problems some of the changes have created.

Kennedy

Yes. 

Young

How it affects the issues you have to address, the people you have to see, you do see. I have in mind how much time you spend on Massachusetts issues, how much time you have to spend at home, splitting your time between here and Washington, and the changes you’ve seen in Massachusetts over that time. That’s fairly broad, but I was very struck in reading the backup materials that Beth [Hoagland] shared with us about your July and August, 1962, schedule, and then the last schedule for several days in Massachusetts.

Kennedy

That’s right. 

Young

It was interesting. 

Kennedy

You put your finger on a variety of different factors: the change in the campaign, the things that are different, and the things that are the same. Some aspects of the campaign are much the same. I’m sure I’ve developed, and I hope become a wiser person, and been able to reflect that in the way I’m able to communicate with the people of Massachusetts from the beginning, obviously, on the basis of experience and knowledge and work.

You develop a better command of, one, the issues, but I think most importantly, a better feel for yourself and what you care about, and what motivates and drives you, what influences you, what you feel about different policy issues and questions. That evolves. Your knowledge about issues evolves. Your ability to connect with people from experience evolves, and your understanding about the institution where you’re working and how you can be effective develops and evolves.

All of those are evolutionary, but there are significant shifts and changes in how you campaign in terms of the state and its issues, in terms of the changing demography of the state, the evolution of the state, the changing economy of the state, changing techniques and technology and how they’re used or not used and used effectively, and how you do this. Personnel, obviously, shift and change in a very significant and dramatic way. And one of the most important and dramatic presences in my life that has affected my whole relationship with the state and with my life has been Vicki [Victoria Reggie Kennedy]. There’s been a very dramatic shift and change in terms of my own effectiveness and peace of mind and my own personal development. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And I think that has, in a very important way, seeped into the relationship between the people of Massachusetts and me indirectly, and directly in the fact that she’s a very highly regarded and respected person in her own right. So that’s a general framework. We could talk about the early parts of the campaign, which really started in personal campaigning at the time I was in the District Attorney’s office.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We’ve gone over some of that, primarily Frank Morrissey, who had been around with President [John F.] Kennedy and also had been very close to my father [Joseph P. Kennedy], a very close personal friend, and became a very close friend of mine, and was very well connected.

Young

Could I interrupt?

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Was 1958 your first experience campaigning? It was for your brother for the Senate. Was that a relevant first introduction to campaigning in Massachusetts?

Kennedy

I would say yes. The ’58 campaign certainly was intense. I had dabbled. I’d hardly call it campaigning. I’d gone to appearances and events with my brother. I remember going to the old Copley Plaza and hearing [James Michael] Curley speak with my brother when I was very young. I wouldn’t call that campaigning, but he would take me along with him to different events. I remember even going to a few events with my grandfather and my brother, but those were sporadic—

Young

That was before ’58.

Kennedy

That was very early, forties, mid- and late-forties. But for all intents and purposes, ’58 was the first major involvement in a campaign.

Young

To back up again, what I’m trying to get at here is how you learned about Massachusetts politics and campaigning. It seems to me that your visits with your grandfather [John F. Honey Fitz Fitzgerald] were your first exposure, even as a kid, to something about politics. And then you begin to hear Curley and so forth.

Kennedy

Oh, very definitely. As I think back on the times of politics, looking reflectively back, the presence of my grandfather emerges as a larger and larger figure, because I did spend a good deal of time at a very impressionable age, and I had a very close, warm personal relationship where he was sort of my father, a member of my family when I was first off at boarding school. I saw him and observed him and observed his relationship with people and the joy he had from relating to people, and how he related. He was outgoing and warm, and he was able to break through people’s barriers and reticence, and do it in an expansive, warm, lovely way. These were my first observations of what you really talk about in politics, and what is most important—how you’re going to relate to people.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I had a unique entry, or observation, into that. And I must say I saw that it was different in my brother, who was much more reserved. I saw his evolution and development from his hesitancy in the beginning, his remarkable ability to be insightful and precise, but still have a hesitancy, which eventually in the buildup from ’56 to ’60 he overcame.

Young

You mentioned this was unique in your experience. You were the only child in the family who had this exposure in this way.

Kennedy

Really the only one.

Young

So that’s quite important as a first—

Kennedy

That’s true. I think my brother interacted with him, but in an entirely different kind of relationship. When my brother was running, Grandpa was a figure, and I think he didn’t know whether he did or didn’t want Grandpa there. But for me, he was an ideal, and extraordinarily unique. I had not seen those qualities in my own family, and the more I observed it, the more I learned about him, he was just an incredible phenomenon, a character. His inquisitiveness into life and people and events, and the joy he got out of knowing everything was enormously instructive. I think he had a similar impact in terms of my brother Jack, who spent more time; my brother Bob [Robert F. Kennedy], some. He was always inquisitive, but Grandpa’s inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge were very contagious. My parents had that, but at a different pace.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

He had that, and the ultimate sense that there were interesting qualities and a sense of humor in people and a sense of joy and happiness if you just touched the nerve. He always was able to get there in a unique and special way. I don’t think any of us could ever get to the point that he did. It came naturally to him, and I think part of it was growing up at that time, and his own personal experience and evolution and development as well.

Young

Right. Somebody’s going to ask. Was Grandpa your first role model? I don’t like those terms, but it’s—

Kennedy

Oh, I always thought that Grandpa knew how to do it. If politics was going to be your game, he was the name. I was struck more by the personal association and contact and the joy he had in it. Obviously, to a child, the issues were somewhat blurred, but the idea that he would sing and get people aroused and interested and enthusiastic and be able to identify and attract people to him was the incredible ingredient. And my reading of the period tied into this. I can’t remember now whether it was my reading or whether Grandpa told me about how when he was first in public office, the Irish were too poor to buy newspapers. So they’d say to him, How do you stand, Honey Fitz? How do you stand? And he’d effectively tell them his position on whatever it was, and that was good enough for them. I think the people at that time made their judgments and decisions about politicians from the heart more than from the mind.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And I think, looking back over history, it’s probably that they’ll continue to make some mistakes in doing it, but they’ll be more right than wrong, even today. But it was the way that people identified politics—

Young

Do you think it’s still true that people—

Kennedy

I think it is true.

Young

Do you find that in your own contemporary—

Kennedy

I still do. People have a sense of you and your inner qualities and strengths. They may differ with me, as frequently they do, but they have a sense that I’m standing up for things that I believe, which is most important. Stand for what you believe in is always a good indicator. 

Now we’re jumping ahead, but at the time of the busing problems we had in Boston, I can remember at the beginning of the school year, going to an extraordinary rally outside City Hall Plaza with several thousand people there. I walked up to it completely by myself. It was run by the anti-busers, and the whole crowd turned their back on me when I got up there. They said, Ted Kennedy wants to talk at this thing, because I’d just gotten elected to the Senate. And they all turned their backs. When I started speaking, they all started singing God Bless America. 

And then some people got ugly, so I left. Then they started throwing bricks at me. And the police lost control. You’re never supposed to run or turn your back on a crowd, so I just moved back, rapidly and calmly. They broke the windows in the JFK building down there. I just got in that building. Our numbers just dropped in Boston. Then, about four years later in similar areas—still I never got back to where I was in terms of a lot of the different wards—the numbers for stands for what he believes in went up, both in the state and in Boston. Stands for what he believes in always went up, and then, correspondingly, my other numbers inched on up.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

People—even though they differed with us, and overwhelmingly in the city they did—we weren’t for busing; we were for eliminating discrimination. But they had been using busing to force discrimination, and the point was that if you’re using it to discriminate, you can’t prohibit using it as well to eliminate discrimination.

Young

Are there any other issues? Busing is probably the most dramatic.

Kennedy

That one was the most dramatic. I had a series of demonstrations in Quincy. They cut all the tires so the car couldn’t go away.

Young

When was this?

Kennedy

This was in Quincy, I can remember. I’ll have to get the exact year. It’s very important.

Young

Was it soon after Roe v. Wade?

Kennedy

Yes, yes, soon after. And if you can believe, it was on a Sunday. I’ll get it from Barbara Souliotis. I can remember it very clearly. There’s a fellow named Jim King who was around that day who can remember it. They put excrement on all the door handles and stabbed the tires. They put egg on the windshield so you couldn’t see if you were able to get into the car. And then they started following, and it became a real mob. I was able to get into the subway, and it just so happened that someone was able to block the door. One of my staffers was able to hold the block. They were coming into that subway car, and I just got on and I saw them run. I saw them get in cars to follow the subway down, but then they lost it. We got back into Boston and I got off. 

But that was another time. I’ve had other demonstrations on what they call the program of the 1930s, the notch babies. 

Young

I don’t know that.

Kennedy

Well, they made adjustments to Social Security in the 1970s, and the notch babies [people born between 1916 and 1926] are the ones who got shortchanged. They didn’t get treated fairly. There’s still a group around, elderly people, and they picket and demonstrate against it, but that’s much softer. They were loud and raucous, and they’d interrupt our speaking, but that was manageable. But after Roe v. Wade there were demonstrations sometimes in places where we were talking. People would pop up and start yelling, but they’d clear them out.

Young

But aside from demonstrations, the polarization between pro-choice and pro-life is continuing; it’s very much in the consciousness of your constituents now.

Kennedy

Oh, very much so.

Young

And of the country. So has it happened yet? Or do you think it will happen, what happened after busing: Well, at least you stand up for what you believe in even though we disagree. It seems to me that issue has a lot more emotion in it.

Kennedy

Oh, I think it does. I have a fairly significant group of people here in the state who feel very strongly negatively towards me.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Somewhere in the thirties, I think. I always remember my brother Jack telling me, If you get over 54 or 55% you’re not doing your job. You’re not standing up on issues. You have to take tough positions, and you shouldn’t expect to have more. If you go for those upper parts, you’re not doing what you should. This was when we were first talking just after I got elected to the Senate.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Coming back to 1958, the overall strategy of that campaign was for my brother to do well in Massachusetts but to continue to use ’58 as a springboard into 1960.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

And I was very surprised how little time he spent in the state, even during the ’58 campaign. He’d stop in Worcester for an hour and a half in the morning, and then go to New Hampshire and spend the day. He’d come on back to an event in the evening in Lowell or Lawrence, but he’d be gone all the rest of the time. He was very well scheduled—and it was reflected in the fact that in his primary campaign he got more blanks than Foster Furcolo, which worried my father a good deal, and startled him a bit. I remember the meeting we had in New York after he had been away for a while. But the aspect of the campaign that got me started is I traveled with Larry O’Brien and one other person; I forget who it was.

Young

Was it Kenny O’Donnell—

Kennedy

It may have been Kenny for a while, but Larry was the most important. In different communities we had Kennedy secretaries or coordinators, but we had two or three a night, and we did it every single night in different parts of the state. And so I got to both listen to him and listen to people. Larry O’Brien was a very skilled organizer and a skilled behind-the-scenes person—not strong on issues, but strong on organization and campaign technique. He had written what they called the Larry O’Brien Manual, which was very important in the 1952 campaign and updated in ’58, and was really the basis of ’60, although they used some very different techniques in ’60—more so probably later in ’68, Bobby’s campaign. 

In any event, I traveled and learned a lot from Larry, learned and traveled the state intensively. The basic aspects of that campaign were where Senator John Kennedy was going to go and spend the time, and the field organization, and the fundraising aspects, and then the communications—television and radio. Basically, I did some fundraising events with my brother. But I spent a great deal of time in the organization until probably the last two or three months, and then I went around myself speaking for him. I got so I knew the issues he was talking about, and I could go to events and speak for him. I did a lot of campaigning for him around the state.

Young

Except for the events, were most of the people you were talking to in this campaign politicians, organizers, or people in the factories? Did you do much of that?

Kennedy

It was the Democratic constituency. I wasn’t out talking to the League of Women Voters.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

It was limited in terms of Chambers of Commerce. I did the historic Democratic constituents.

Young

He was also seeking independent votes, though.

Kennedy

Independents. He had separate organizational structures; that was different, different secretaries. He always tried to get people in the independent areas who would be strongly supportive, and he had very substantial success with that, very substantial success. That was my primary experience during that period of time.

Young

It was, again, learning about and learning by doing campaigning. I had started out talking about your early experiences in campaigning and what you brought, what you learned and from whom, your grandfather and so on. Sixty-two was in terms of this—

Kennedy

Well, I did a lot in the ’60 campaign.

Young

In ’60 also, you were in the West.

Kennedy

Yes. I finished law school in the spring of ’59 and was away for part of the summer. Then we had the meeting down here that’s been written up, over at Bobby’s house.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

My brother said, What part of the country are you interested in? I said the West, because I hadn’t been out there. And he said, Well, all right. We’ll give Teddy the western states. And I left after that for six weeks. I’ve told the story about that. And with mostly Ted Sorensen’s memoranda, because my brother had been out to these states, and there were these series of memoranda. He had a handful of contacts in each of these states, people he had picked up, and those became the principal operatives. I can still remember Skeff [John C.] Sheehy in Montana. He eventually ended up being on the State Supreme Court, and he’s retired now. 

I can remember these people very well; that’s such an important period. That was organization and the state conventions, because that was all for delegates. I went up to Alaska two or three times. I got to Hawaii only once, I think, but I traveled extensively in those other states. That was a second campaigning experience.

Young

Was that also a case of people skills, rather than issues, being very important?

Kennedy

Yes. It was conventions, delegates, state conventions, who was going to go, what they cared about, what the contacts were, who influenced them. I traveled around out there a good deal with a fellow named Hy [Hyman B.] Raskin, who was a great old Chicago pol, white hair. I was challenged to get them stirred up about my brother, and then Hy would sit them down and talk about what was happening in the real world—where [Richard J.] Daley was going to go. These old pros wanted to know where Daley was going and what Lawrence was doing and all the rest, and Hy would spin this stuff. It was a one-two punch. At the end I became very good friends with this fellow who was 40 years older than I was and completely different. He came up through the Chicago political life. I learned a lot.

Young

But here’s a guy from Massachusetts and pol from Chicago going out West.

Kennedy

That’s it.

Young

New territory.

Kennedy

New territory, but it’s much more open. There’s a much more open society where all the people who had gone out there had been—Teno Roncalio from Wyoming who had been on the beaches of Normandy and had a great affinity with my brother Jack just because of the shared war experience. And this was true of a lot of these people. Frank Church has been out there, and had a similar war experience. An awful lot of people who were involved in the Democratic Party were all younger. A lot of them had associations or history back in the East.

Young

Okay. You observed earlier that you’d learned a lot and you had changed over these many years concerning campaigning, what you learned. How accomplished do you feel you were with this background in ’62? Would you rate yourself as—besides a very hard worker—a pretty astute campaigner? Or was it still very much of a learning curve for you?

Kennedy

Well, I think it was very much learning, but I enjoyed people. I liked political people, I liked the characters. The whole ethnic aspect of politics at that time was still very strong. And that was very colorful.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It was interesting, and one reason it was able to work for me is that I get along well with the different kinds of ethnic groups. I’d come into the campaign after we’d gone to Italy with that group to celebrate the centennial of Italian unification in 1961. We had taken a whole group of Italian leaders over there. I think I might have told these stories. I arrived in Turin, and Gianni Agnelli, who had been a friend of my brother’s and who was a leading industrialist, owned the leading newspapers there, gave a reception at his house. And once the newspaper ran that—it was a terrific picture—once we started with Agnelli, and Agnelli thought it was important, everybody in Italy thought it was important.

So I got a sense of the importance and the humor and the fun aspects of ethnic politics and the liveliness and the interest in the history of the relationships with the United States, and I learned a lot from it. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people. 

Young

Has that gone out now? You don’t have that source of enjoyment?

Kennedy

This is probably one of the last states—maybe a few places in New England, probably Rhode Island is still—but an awful lot of that’s gone. In 1962, every Sunday outside Route 128 in these wonderful parks, there was always an ethnic picnic. Always a few thousand people, and there was always terrific interest. They were terrific, fun events, people from all over. You establish great contacts, and it was—here! Sunny! Sunny, here, come on.

It was a lively, interesting, and fun period, but much of that has disappeared.

Young

Do you not enjoy it as much anymore?

Kennedy

That part was great, great fun. I enjoy still being out with people, seeing them. I know this state so well, and I know the people, and I always feel a sense of enthusiasm, and I’m always interested in what’s going on. So I enjoy the appearances. But that had an entirely different flavor. That was always something very special.

If you take the events from the 1960s, the Portuguese, the Italians, the thing that they were principally concerned about was immigration, the national origin quotas, and the Greeks. And I was able to get something done with that. This was discrimination against them, which was very real. It was great to have the ability in the Senate to get something done that was very much for them. That was important, the fact that I was so warmly embraced and treated and received and supported in that, and then was able to do something that was right for them, and right in terms of the country as well as a source of satisfaction. A lot of them still remember a lot of that.

Young

Are immigration issues still present?

Kennedy

Still very similar.

Young

But the ethnography of it has changed?

Kennedy

It’s changed very much. At that time, it was Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Middle Eastern, Lebanese, still some Armenian, and a handful of Asians, who had been very much squeezed out. Now their systems have been regularized. We went through a period where the Irish were still coming here, and that was a big issue, but now great numbers of them are going back. Now it’s the Hispanic, Cambodian, Dominicans, Brazilians who are coming on in, and Central Americans.

Young

Arabs? Any Arab issues—

Kennedy

Some Arabs, some Muslim, probably not as many as in some other communities. There’s always the distinction between an Arab, because there’s a great number of Christians within the Arabs, and the Muslims. A lot of the Muslims aren’t Arabs.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

There are still the Pakistanis and Indians.

Young

Is that population looming any larger in your—

Kennedy

Well, the Indian population is, certainly. You see the most, probably, in California, but there’s an important population here.

Young

But not a significant effect on your work or campaigning?

Kennedy

Well, they’re involved, they’re very professional and also a lot in the medical services, biotech professional groups, doctors, professionals. They care a lot about their families, family unification. We’ve been working on that for years.

Young

Right. It’s less working class, more professional.

Kennedy

More professional, that’s right. We’ve seen that. That’s been very different. We’re working now with [John] McCain on the immigration issue. That’s had a continuing resonance because there’s been a lot of injustice in the way people are treated. We have a sizeable Haitian population, and they treat the Haitians differently from the Cubans, the Haitians are different from Nicaraguans—and the Cubans differently from the Nicaraguans. I’m familiar with all those distinctions. You can gain asylum, you can be given asylum and still be kept in jail if you’re Haitian, but not if you’re from Nicaragua or El Salvador; you’re released. And just that fact is a burning fact in terms of the community. It’s a small one, but I follow these and keep after and have kept after these distinctions. And then some countries have the visa waiver programs, which are very important.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So for a lot of the older communities, there are still a lot of these kinds of issues; their older families care about them. There are whole new communities in Massachusetts. There’s been a very dramatic—which we can come to—shift from a manufacturing society to a much more high-tech society. So there’s a big demographic change and shift in that area that we can come to. And this other kind of base has obviously shrunk. But I’ve always maintained, and continue to maintain, the close associations with the older base, and they care a lot about it. They’re still an important part of our community. 

So we come into ’62. I had the benefit of doing a good deal of campaigning before I ever campaigned for myself, which was certainly helpful and advantageous to the campaign of 1962. I tried to have it be an old-fashioned campaign. We did nightly rallies, the last ones. We used to do three a night, torchlight parades in different parts of the city, and we’d try to get a band. We settled on the Crusaders, who were a hot band from South Boston where we knew we were going to have some problems with Eddie McCormack. We’d have to clean their uniforms. That’s all they asked, to get their uniforms cleaned. They liked to go out and practice. We’d try to take a band from a local high school in the community where we were going, because the parents would always come out. And we always would have a couple thousand people at each one of these rallies in the different parts of the city. In a presidential campaign, you can still get people to come out and do those rallies.

Young

But that’s gone out, too?

Kennedy

All of that’s gone out. But those were great fun because you had local characters. You had the people in those communities who were highly regarded and respected and really supportive. They would talk, and you could watch and see how they performed, their different styles. I was constantly observing and learning, and there were a lot of talented people in these neighborhoods, and local political leaders who were very interesting.

Young

Did you have a sense that there was a kind of drama and joy about political life in these torchlight parades, whereas today there seems to be so much—

Kennedy

Well, it’s the contrast. Of course it was the human contact that was so evident during that period of time. Now it’s primarily fundraising and television. That’s the great tragedy. It’s certainly more so in big states like California and New York. But retail politics is still important here in Massachusetts. People have to see you, they have to see you around. You can’t do it just on radio and television. But it’s certainly dramatically shifted and changed, all of this.

Young

But not so much in Massachusetts?

Kennedy

There’s still a very important element of retail politics here. California and New York are the two principal examples, maybe Pennsylvania to some extent. But here there still has to be a laying on of the hands. There’s still community. It’s a force out there. They want to see you, they want to hear from you, they want to know you’re around. They want to get a sense about you, and it can’t just be on television or radio or in the newspaper.

Young

I’m wondering how much of this is because of you—they want to see you; they want to have contact with you. I’m wondering how long this will last into the future. Technology has introduced an impersonal way on this.

Kennedy

That’s right. A lot of it is the intensity of support. People have a need to see you. They’ve been around, they’ve heard you, and the degree of support and the intensity of that support creates a willingness to support you. Maybe they don’t agree completely with your particular position on an issue, but they’re willing to stay with you. I think all that’s enhanced. It’s much more difficult to get that just working through public media and television.

Young

But you’re also very much of a known figure.

Kennedy

Oh, well, I—

Young

You’ve been around a while.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

And you have a well-established character in the eyes of your constituents.

Kennedy

I think that’s right. I spend more time up here now than I did years ago.

Young

I wanted to ask you about that.

Kennedy

Yes. That’s a different issue, but there was a very important period when I did much more in terms of foreign policy. That changed after the ’80 campaign where I went to the Labor Committee instead of staying on the Judiciary Committee because of President [Ronald] Reagan’s attack on domestic issues and programs. My last large trip was down to South Africa, and I think the very important legislation I did with [Lowell P., Jr.] Weicker following that trip was a principal contributor to the elimination of apartheid. 

But prior to that time, I’d been to Ethiopia on hunger. I took my children on that trip. I spent a good deal of time on Chile and Argentina when [Augusto] Pinochet was in power. I took several trips to the Soviet Union on arms control. I’ve been to Bangladesh on two different occasions, and India. And all that time I was away from Massachusetts. I think it was probably ten or fifteen years that I was not around nearly as much as I have been, say, in the last ten. 

I think that the degree and the intensity probably softened up a good deal because I wasn’t around as much. And also my personal life was more disruptive. I think there was still good support here, but I don’t think that schedule could be continued a long time—

Young

Was there a feeling that you were spending time away from—

Kennedy

Yes, too much time away, and also they wondered whether I was really interested in what’s going on here.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And they may have thought the positions I was taking weren’t really quite where they were—just a general softening of the degree of support. You could take a look at some of the work of this fellow [Thomas] Kiley, who has polled for me since I started, and see that there are some dips. There’s obviously a dip after the Florida incident with—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And there was a tightening, obviously, in the race with [Mitt] Romney. But in my own looking back over that time, I’m conscious of the fact that I hadn’t been around. I was doing things I thought were very important, and I think were important at the time. I think we made some important differences in Ethiopia in the hunger issues there, clearly in South Africa, and clearly in the restoration of democracy to Chile and Argentina, and also clearly with regard to the arms control agreements during the Reagan period, which was the eighties.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They’ve been basically acknowledged by George Shultz and Max Kampelman and others. But nonetheless, it took a good deal of time and preparation for the trip, it took time doing the trip, and it took time subsequent to the trip. And those were significant chunks of time as well as interest.

Young

You were also considered presidential material at that time.

Kennedy

That’s right, and we spent a lot of time traveling in different states, spent a good deal of time campaigning for different candidates, keeping the presidential options open. So, yes, we were away from Massachusetts for an important period of time. If you look back historically, you’ll see that after they’ve run for President, people always have a sinking spell in their state. [George] McGovern did after his presidential campaign. Frank Church did. [William] Bradley did in New Jersey. And I certainly had some of that. We got licked. People are saying, Gee, we always thought we had the best Senator around, and now we find other people don’t think our guy’s quite so hot. Maybe we ought to take another look at him.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

You run through that kind of period. They’re with you when you’re running, but afterwards they’re wondering, Why did he get into that? He’s been away from us a long period of time. I didn’t understand why he was spending the time talking about X, Y, and Z. I’m not a bit interested. Talking all about ethanol. What’s that have to do with us? 

Young

What’s that have to do with Massachusetts?

Kennedy

Actually, it does have something to do, but it takes a while to explain it to them.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

All of this diminishes or takes away from your base. Now we’re probably in good shape in terms of the politics here because we’ve been so intensely involved again. I enjoy it, and we’re current in terms of all the things that are going on. Hanscom [Air Force] Base is preserved, and we worked with the business communities and all of that. And the stem cell research—which I’ve been on the cutting edge of in the Senate—that’s gone through Massachusetts, that’s very relevant today. The biotech industry; that thing is hot. Education. This is the education state. So we’re current in terms of some of these things that people care about.

Young

Has it been that a distinction between the national and the local is not so great anymore as you experience it in Massachusetts?

Kennedy

I think in this climate and atmosphere, for some reason, there’s a lot of political uncertainty, and I’m a known quantity. It’s difficult for me to look at it from their point of view. They may differ or not differ, but I’m a known quantity in a time of a lot of uncertainty—the uncertainty of where we are in Iraq, the uncertainty in education, in their jobs, are they going to keep their health insurance, and where they’re going to go next, their kids. I hope we’re talking about things that are important in their lives, but I think they may be giving more focus and attention to what’s happening.

The flip side of this is I think the Senate has become less relevant to their lives. In the ’60s we were passing Medicare, which affected people’s lives. We passed aid to education; it affected people’s lives, real people on every block around Massachusetts. Now we’re not doing things that are very relevant to them, and so the Senate becomes less relevant. But still there’s so much uncertainty out there about where we’re going in this country and as a society and institutionally that they’re looking at least to some political figures for some direction and leadership. And we are obviously trying to provide it.

Young

Do you have a lot of support for your views on Iraq? Or is that a problem for you?

Kennedy

I don’t consider it a problem. I’ve never considered it a problem because I was so absolutely convinced right from the very beginning about it. I think historically we’re going to be reaffirmed in our position. It isn’t so much getting in. You have the issue, the mistake of getting in there. The real question is how you’re going to deal with this thing now. That’s what people want to know, and that’s where we’re going to have some suggestions and ideas. Now’s the time when I have to reformulate that. I’d hoped to get to that during this break, and I have my staff working. I’ve told them who I want them to talk to to get the ideas for when I get back. I think it needs a new reformulation. 

Judy! Could you give the pups a quick run for me, please?

Judy

Absolutely.

Kennedy

Thank you.

The very relevant aspect of this is the abhorrent treatment of the prisoners. We’ve been after that in the Armed Services and in the Judiciary Committees. We haven’t been able to get to it in the Armed Services Committee the way we should have. But we have McCain and Lindsey Graham—who should have been natural allies in it. The administration feels that it’ll be just Kennedy trying to go after the administration because I have such a strong position on the war. But when we have the defense authorization, we’re going to have Jack Reed offer these amendments on how to deal with the problems of the prisoners, which is going to make it—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I watched this on the Judiciary. I helped lead the fight on [Alberto] Gonzales, because he was involved in this. But they have one nominee, [William J., II] Haynes, who’s the General Counsel, and I have my eye on him for his involvement in the torture issue. We’ve tried to do something on that, but have not been able to get off the dime, which I’m disappointed in. 

Young

Well, you referred to the uncertainty of where we’re going. I’m trying to get a sense of whether these changes—the technology, the demography, the economic base of Massachusetts—have tended to make national issues of this kind and 9/11 more important in the thinking of your constituents than they used to be. Do you have more latitude? Do you feel less latitude in taking positions on national issues that resonate with your Massachusetts folks? 

Kennedy

I feel broader latitude in being able to stake out positions. I try to have well-informed, well-thought-out positions.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

And I’m trying to be ahead of the curve on these public policy questions. I don’t just look for some way-out issue. I look at what we’re facing now and realize that we’re not addressing the core—

Young

Let me put it a different way. Do you feel that you’re well enough established in this new world of technology and terror that you have sufficient latitude in terms of your standing in Massachusetts to be free to take positions, including unpopular ones, on these national and global issues? Or has the technology tended to get more people on your back with more single issues and reduce the time, thought, or latitude you might have on these big issues? I don’t know whether the changes over time since ’62 or ’64 have affected the campaigning and the constituent relations.

Kennedy

Well, that’s a very comprehensive inquiry. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Times change, and so programs change. But what don’t change are values. And what doesn’t change is basically your approach to these issues. Obviously, you’re hopeful that you become more experienced and wiser and profound on issues, and that you’re willing to take positions that perhaps others might not. But you’re conditioned by some parameters. You have some disposition by nature, the areas that you’re personally interested in; that’s one. But secondly, you’re somewhat conditioned by what you’ve experienced in the Senate.

Young

Sure.

Kennedy

I’m on committees that deal with civil rights, with human rights, with civil liberties, with immigration, and I’m on the Armed Services Committee that deals with foreign policy and national security, and on the Human Resource Committee—the Labor Committee, which is health and education and elderly issues, a pretty broad scope. My basic approach in terms of economic and social justice is still very deep, and that’s an opportunity for people. I have a commitment to being a voice for the voiceless—all of those are out there. You have to pick and choose your fights.

Young

Sure.

Kennedy

And you have to decide where you’re going to try to be effective, and being effective in the Senate means prioritizing. You have to prioritize and spend a lot of time, and you can’t spend time on things that you might very well like to. I’ve always said that every day in the Senate I could be three people: to go to the hearings I want to, the preparation, and to be able to speak to these kinds of issues. And there’s another, different kind of issue—how the Senate has changed, how I relate to the institution, and how it becomes more difficult to become effective. 

But I don’t feel conditioned by the changes in Massachusetts, the demography, the technology. On the contrary, I feel probably more comfortable than ever about positions I’ve taken and the reasons for them. It’s true I’ve been a strong supporter of working families and there are fewer numbers of union members and more high-tech workers now. I’ve spent a lot of time on economic and social justice issues, which this group may be less interested in. And they may have a different opinion about me. But I would think, over a reasonable period of time, that we’re catching up with them on some of these items. I’m not the leader, but I’m among the leaders in the Senate on the environment, which people care about. In that whole area of high-tech, we’re very much involved.

Young

I guess this was just really a question about how you are a national leader; you’re recognized on national issues. You’re outspoken on national and global issues.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

And you are also a very hard-working Senator as a representative of the people of Massachusetts. You don’t find many people in the Senate who have that national stature, that national engagement, that range of national issues, and who are so attentive at the same time. You say you’re having to spend more time in Massachusetts, in your home state, than you used to be able to spend.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

But this is not a conflict for you.

Kennedy

No. So much of it is enjoyable—rebuilding the lighthouse on Nantucket. I care about the sea, I care about Nantucket, I care about our history. Or the Salem Partnership.

Young

I don’t know it.

Kennedy

Oh, that’s big here. That’s very significant. Salem was the one city that was open to world trade in the American Revolutionary War, so it has an incredible American history. The wharves there go back to the American Revolution. Seventy percent of the money for the Louisiana Purchase was taken from the Customs House in Salem, Massachusetts.

Young

Really.

Kennedy

It has this extraordinary history, let alone the writers—[Nathaniel] Hawthorne and The House of the Seven Gables, the witch trials, all of this. And we developed over a long period of time a partnership between the public and private—the business community, labor, and the public—for the restoration of Salem. We also had a Heritage Corridor for Essex County, which is now being replicated in other parts of the country. All of these little isolated communities are absolute treasure troves of Americana, all of which are being identified, located, and exhibited on certain days, what they call Heritage Days. People go visit, and it’s an incredible concept, and it’s all being replicated. We got some federal funds to keep that moving. It’s enormously interesting. Next year I might bring you up there when we do a topping-off of one of these events. 

The restoration in New Bedford of New Bedford Park, which was all [Herman] Melville, and the old [seamen’s] Bethel, was great. There’s a very interesting story that eventually we’ll come to about how that thing got worked out with [Robert] Dole’s [Nicodemus] Park. There’s John Adams’ house, the Quincy House. There are these droplets all through the state that we’ve been very much involved with locally, and that have given us a lot of satisfaction. 

So I hope that people feel that I’ve been around and taken an interest in what they’re interested in locally as well as nationally. Yes, the Lawrence River, Reviviendo, which is their development. The major one was the Big Dig. We were able to get that last vote even though it was being filibustered.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We got the Senate to turn around. And the financial community understands that. It’s had its problems, but cleaning up Boston Harbor was absolutely essential.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So people who would be normally against it—because they don’t like my minimum wage or something—know what Boston Harbor has meant for developers down there—

Young

Yes. I think that the Massachusetts projects you have been involved in are a very important aspect to get into the oral history record. 

Kennedy

Sure.

Young

That’s what I was trying to drive at, in a clumsy way—that you’re well engaged in many products in your home state, and doing the other at the same time, which I think is important. Sometimes they intersect; sometimes they’re separate.

Kennedy

That’s right. 

Young

Do you want to talk a little bit about the establishment of your office in Boston, your Massachusetts office, and how it relates to these projects and as a connecting link between you and constituents? At some point, we’ll want to talk with Barbara.

Kennedy

Yes, that’s important. A lot of representatives have a series of different offices, and there’s a lot of pressure to do that. But we have just the one office, and we have people who know a good deal about what they have to know about in terms of service to the constituency.

What are those? Those are primarily Social Security, veterans’ issues, immigration issues, and small business loans, student loans. We probably would have anyway, but we wanted to be in the JFK building for a number of reasons. It so happens that every one of those agencies is in that building.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We have developed personal relationships through the years with the people in the agencies there, Democrats and Republicans alike. And because we have a relationship with them, we’re able to get better services to people who have problems than other people who are scattered. If they have an immigration problem down in New Bedford, they go into that office, but they still have to come to the regional office. People in New Bedford may like to feel that you’re more accessible, and obviously it has an appeal if you have an office down there, and one in Fall River, and one here. That’s what our colleagues do, and that’s certainly worth something. 

But I think, over the longer period of time, the way we have that structured has been important and made a difference. We’ve been very fortunate, uniquely so, to have a person like Barbara, who’s been with me since I arrived in the Senate, who runs that and is universally highly regarded and highly respected and has a wonderful ability to get very good people.

Young

We just paid a visit on her when we were up here to interview Eddie Martin in March.

Kennedy

Oh, yes.

Young

We stopped by to say hello, and it was a fascinating little visit we had with her.

Kennedy

I can look out my window next to my desk and see where my grandfather was born on Ferry Street and where my mother was born on Garden Court Street. My father was born on Meridian Street in East Boston; that’s fairly blocked. I can also see the old North Church and St. Stephen’s Church, the Bunker Hill Monument, the Constitution. And if you lean out a little bit and look to the right, you can see Faneuil Hall.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

This is the whole birthplace of America, and down the sweep of the harbor, I can see the building where eight of my forebears came in in 1848, out of one window, which is absolutely unique and special. That’s a very inspiring location.

Young

She pointed out—

Kennedy

—all the different places. She’s good. Do you want to take a little break?

Young

Yes, let’s take a little break.

Kennedy

We can come back into some of the organizations, the change in the states.

Young

I think some of the organization and maybe some aspects of the new technology, your website and the advent of e-mail, ways of getting in touch, constituents in direct communication with you. And also polls.

Kennedy

We could develop a little bit about the JFK, the tensions with the Catholic community.

Young

Yes, that’s right.

Kennedy

And my grandfather, my brother, the JFK, but we have tensions on the abortion issue, death penalty, parochial schools, how they regard that.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

That’s kind of interesting, how we’re trying to do all of that.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

We’ve done the ethnic. You could touch on that organization, how we’ve gotten a little bit more sophisticated—or how we’re trying to—in the different campaigns starting in ’62 where we had Gerry Doherty and all those reps, and now we’re doing more high tech. Family involvement—

Young

All right. Let me walk through this.

Kennedy

I’m going to take the little pups out for a minute or two. 

Young

All right. I have a list of specific questions here that Milton [Gwirtzman] suggested.

Kennedy

All right. 

Young

Let’s get the general. He’s saying political scientists are interested in this question; therefore, you should answer it. I think the subject is of larger than scholarly interest. I think it’s of historical interest as well. In what ways do you try to connect with your constituency, that is, keep a finger on the pulse? Do you do it in the same way now as you did in the past? To what extent do you rely on media, reporters, editors, people in the state to keep in touch and to learn what’s on people’s minds?

Kennedy

We have a lot of advantages representing Massachusetts. The most obvious one is its proximity. It’s very close to Washington. And what has always been apparent to me is that when the Senate or the House or whatever is looking for thoughtful people on thoughtful issues, inevitably Massachusetts people are involved and are concerned. So there’s a great flow of information from Massachusetts to Washington.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

That’s one aspect of it. But secondly, I spend a good deal of time in the state and enjoy being in it. I love the state, love the people, have a lot of very valued friends, and a lot of them who have worked with me over a long period of time are living here now. They’re enormous resources for what’s happening in Massachusetts, and they’re enormously reliable. I tell the story, which is true, and was evident again a couple of weeks ago. Barbara Souliotis, my administrative assistant, just had a bout with appendicitis, and of course she wouldn’t go the hospital. She had a pain, eventually her appendix burst, and she was very sick for several days. Then she got better. We were in touch with her frequently during that period. 

Vicki and I were on our way up to Lowell and stopped off at her place with her mother. You can listen to Barbara and her mother talk, and more often than not she’ll have her brother and her cousin up there talking about what’s happening in the community. You don’t need any focus group. You don’t need any poll. You don’t need anything. If you just listen to their conversation, you’ll know what’s happening in the community up there, the problems of transportation, of the road build-up, what’s happening in terms of their taxes, employment, what part of the state’s growing, what part’s not, who’s concerned about problems of Social Security. It’s just a regular fountain of information. 

I rely an awful lot on people, the newspapers I read from Massachusetts, and people who are involved in the principal kinds of activities, whether in the health field with the teaching hospitals, the health delivery systems, Blue Cross, or other officials. We have some wonderful associates and friends in all aspects of education. A number of our staff have left and are working in schools or educational situations. 

And this is true on national security issues. In the broader kinds of policy issues, there are a number of people we rely on who are good counselors and advisors. I find the time I spend in the state, even if I’m moving around, going to a particular function, I’m rubbing shoulders constantly with people who are giving me very useful and worthwhile ideas and suggestions and recommendations. 

Once you’re elected to the United States Senate, just by definition, you’re apart. There’s always some respect for that office, but automatically there’s a separateness, and you have to understand that as an elected official. I have to be conscious of the fact that people consider because I’m an elected official, I’m separate from them. I have to make sure that separation is just in name and title and doesn’t become a real separation in terms of their view about me. We’ve worked hard at it, and we’ve had some success.

I’ve been very fortunate with the deep roots that other members of the family have had here in Massachusetts.

Young

Yes. 

Kennedy

My grandfather’s roots were very real and very deep and affected families in Boston for years. Obviously, now I don’t hear as much about it as I did in the early years, but they were very deep and very real. And my mother, who went to school in Boston, taught Sunday school in Boston, and had a group, the Ace of Clubs, was a very significant presence in the greater Boston area. She was highly regarded and universally respected all the way through until her death. 

The activities of my parents were important in terms of their outreach in their charities, their commitment, and the relationship with church leaders. My father had a very strong personal relationship with Cardinal [Richard] Cushing, which was very significant and important. Clearly, President Kennedy had an enormous hold on the people of Massachusetts, legitimately so. The great sense of pride that people felt when he was elected was very important.

So I’ve been blessed with a very powerful tradition, and that has been an extraordinary, unbelievable asset. The central challenge is to maintain and to try my best to enhance it, which means living up to high standards established by my brothers and parents and grandparents.

Young

But you keep in close touch.

Kennedy

I keep in close touch.

Young

You have many resources for doing that. Milton mentioned John Sasso in his memo; for political savvy, Gerry Doherty; Dave Bartley for State House developments; John Zamparelli, Don Dowd, and Gene Dellea for the western part of the state, Father Monahan—

Kennedy

[J. Donald] Monan.

Young

Monan of Boston College on church issues. Is this just a sample?

Kennedy

Well, I think so, yes.

Young

You have people at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]—

Kennedy

John Sasso is a good friend, and I think was even seen in this last campaign with Senator [John] Kerry, but going back a long way. He actually worked on my campaign in 1980, so I’ve known him a long time. He’s a highly intelligent and a highly motivated and principled figure who’s a good friend. 

I have a former administrative assistant, Dave Burke, originally from Brookline, who worked for me for years on our Labor Committee as my administrative assistant and then was the head of a news network for years. He worked in past campaigns. He’s been very successful and is a very close personal friend. He’s retired and lives in Orleans, on the Cape. Paul Kirk, who was head of the Kennedy Library, was former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He and Gail [Kirk] are very close personal friends. Again, he’s someone who’s a very wise counselor and a very strong, committed person in terms of ideals and values. Gerry Doherty, who has been one of my oldest friends and a supporter, was a young representative from Charlestown in the 1962 campaign and was credited with getting probably twelve or fifteen of the younger legislators at that campaign, which was really the backbone—

Young

At the convention?

Kennedy

At the Democratic convention in 1962. He also helped me establish a very good political operation. He’s still very much involved in my activities. His wife, Marilyn, has been a leader on mental health issues, and she’s a very good friend. You mentioned John Zamparelli, who was the head of most of the Italian organizations. He’s much older now, but he’s a beloved and delightful figure and a very close personal friend and wise counselor. 

Going out to western Massachusetts, Don Dowd and Gene Dellea both worked on my brother Bob’s campaign, and they’re great personal friends and absolutely beloved figures in their communities. Either of them could have been elected to about anything they wanted to. Gene Dellea runs probably the best hospital out there, after I drove him out of business. He used to have a small laboratory where they did blood work, and we passed what they called the CLIA [Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments], federal legislation regulating medical laboratories because we were getting so many false negatives in the hospitals. So we had clinical labs built and drove him out. But he became president of the most successful hospital out there and is just a beloved figure. He’s a very close personal friend—and Don Dowd. 

These are people who call me when something’s happening in the community—births or deaths or war heroes or local activities. They’re enormously resourceful, and every one of them is good company. So I have that kind of support. And then I have a wide range of support at the different colleges and universities.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Tufts University is the place in terms of voluntary service. At the Heller School, Jack Shonkoff knows more about early childhood education than anyone at any other place. I have strong friends and allies in the academic world of Harvard and MIT who are terrific on arms control and also on foreign policy. And I have a range of different people on higher education issues. Ron Hollander, who’s head of the hospital association, is invaluable in terms of where hospitals are, what’s happening in community hospitals. I’m very close to the neighborhood health centers. This is something I got started in the country, and we meet with them frequently. 

We met with the head of one two nights ago—Henia [Eugenia] Handler I think is her name. She’s 71 years old and runs the Fenway Community Health Center. We’re going down to visit her in late July. I have great friends who run the Head Start and Legal Services program. We have good friends in the black community who counsel us, and the list goes on. There are some very talented young Hispanic leaders in the legislature who are very good and some very strong supporters. Marie St. Fleur in the Haitian community is very good. She has a very good understanding about things that are going on, things that are important. And they have access to me. They know people, Barbara Souliotis—there’s a whole network they know that they can get through to, and that’s been important over the years. 

I try to keep that communication open, what’s going on, and try being personal, being identified with the things that are most current. The most recent ones—stem cell activities in the legislature and the base closing—are issues of immediate importance, and the broader kinds of issues, health and education and jobs. 

We’ve been very close to the newer biomedical industries—although they have some differences with me. I don’t want to get into too much of this, but with the FDA [Federal Drug Administration] we had what we call the PADUFA [Prescription Drug User Fee Act], which provided that the major pharmaceutical companies would pay into the FDA and fast-track some of the breakthrough drugs. That was a Kennedy-[Orrin] Hatch proposal, which is widely acceptable in the pharmaceutical industry. We did a similar one with the medical device industry. Those industries appreciate all of that, although they’re bothered by my re-importation legislation. They don’t like that, but they like the stem cell. And they know I work very closely with them to make sure the FDA is going to get top science research to look at new breakthrough drugs, although they have tension with me in other ways. 

In a lot of these areas we have tension, but I keep after these issues as well in a personal way so they’re basically supportive. I think they have a sense that I’m a working Senator rather than someone who’s one personality down there and one personality here. I think they generally have a sense that I’m accessible and available and that I work hard. They all like to know that you work hard, which I enjoy doing. I enjoy working hard, but there’s always that sense in the back of your mind, that you’ve got certain advantages—

Young

You’re not just a show horse.

Kennedy

That’s right. I think that what we just mentioned here has had, obviously, a very important impact in terms of the Catholic population, which is almost half of the state. I think we’re probably second to Rhode Island in terms of a Catholic population. Over the years, we’ve taken some positions—obviously, abortion—that they’ve been very troubled by. Aid to private schools they feel very strongly about. By and large, they are in favor of the death penalty, which I’m opposed to. So you have three rather powerful issues that they think about, and that I’ve had some differences with them over. 

On the other hand, they know that, in terms of the abortion issue, we are a strong family, and they know I believe in family and that I’m very close to my children and my children are close to me. And we’ve been very close to our parents, our parents were close, the brothers and sisters are close. So they know that, in the more fundamental way, family is held in high reverence, and they also know the high degree of patriotism—every one of the four brothers was in the service. This is very important to them, service is important to them. Family is important to them. Involvement in terms of community or charity, our work in terms of mental retardation is very important to them. That’s something that families are affected by. 

And a lot of them are interested in Northern Ireland, Irish history, Irish tradition. I’ve spent a lot of time on that. My sisters have been very involved in it. We’ve worked on Irish immigration issues and diversity issues; this is very important to them. So a lot of things that they care very deeply about, we’ve been very much involved in. And I think that’s made a big difference.

Young

Have there been any cases where a figure of the church has openly opposed or counseled voting against you for your stands? This happened to John Kerry. It’s happened to other Catholic officeholders elsewhere in the country. You don’t seem to have been a conspicuous target.

Kennedy

We had Cardinal [Bernard] Law who said, when I was getting the annulment—it was front page in the newspapers—Kennedy is still married and he knows the rules. He made what I considered to be inappropriate comments. He knows the rules of the church and I do, and there was no reason for him to go after this thing publicly in ways that were embarrassing. They have not threatened to deny me Communion. 

We had a very close relationship with Cardinal Cushing before a lot of these personal things came up, and after that, we had more tension with Cardinal Law. We had Cardinal [Humberto Sousa] Medeiros, who was not as tied in to the community. I would attend an important occasion—the particular one I’m thinking of we can locate. It was probably about five or six years ago at the Cathedral in Boston. Cardinal Law was there, and he said, We want to welcome Senator Kennedy, even though he’s not right on our most important issue. That and his comments about my annulment were public, but he didn’t threaten—

Young

But it was not counseling parishioners to vote against you or to go after you?

Kennedy

No. We had some scattered incidents that I heard about down on the South Shore—Quincy and Weymouth—in one or two of the campaigns, but isolated, not concentrated.

Young

Were these the local priests?

Kennedy

Local priests. And then Vicki and I went to the bishop out in Worcester [Daniel Patrick Reilly]. He actually invited us to come to his 25th anniversary of being a priest. This was probably five or seven years ago, and there were right-to-life pickets outside. That was going to be the big story; this is the big story. He went out there and asked them not to do it, and he went out of his way to say we were welcome, very much. He went the other way. He had been the Archbishop in Connecticut before that. I forget his name. 

We had a situation in the Romney campaign where the Boston Globe asked me about the ordination of women.

Young

Of women, yes.

Kennedy

That was no more an issue or a question than the man in the moon. I’ve never gotten asked that question anyplace, on any program, or in any community. But the Boston Globe said this is a very important issue. People really want to know about your position on this. And I said—we can get my exact statement—that I’ve always stood against every form of discrimination against women—against anyone—and certainly the teachings of the church—and I believe that women are qualified to handle any position, civilly or as far as the church goes. Women in the church have been outstanding leaders, particularly in education and health, and I don’t see any reason why they can’t handle any position. But I said ultimately this is a decision for the church. I’m not going to get into their teaching, and I’m not going to get into contention with them.

It’s always so interesting to me about married priests because Vicki’s family are Maronite, and they have married priests. I could never understand why in a press conference someone doesn’t ask the Pope, You say you’re against married priests. Well, you recognize married priests in the Maronites. Can you explain why you recognize them there and you won’t recognize them someplace else? It’s amazing that somebody doesn’t ask that. I think there are a lot of very powerful positions of the church that are troublesome, and I speak to those. 

I think we have to do a good deal more in terms of these culture-of-life issues for women on abortion. As all of us know, these are not easy choices for women in the first place. And I think we as a political party, and probably all of us, can do a good deal more to help them avoid making difficult decisions and choices that they might not otherwise make if they had information about their activities or weren’t pressed by economic forces. We don’t give a high degree of support to adoption and other services. There’s a whole range of different kinds of activities that I think are legitimate concerns to people, and I think just in the political world, there’s much more that can be done and language that can be used that could be less  confrontational. There are people who have very strong beliefs and values in this area. 

Young

I’d like to hear you talk a little bit more about that. But let me put a context question here. One of the things that has clearly happened in national politics and in southern politics, as well as elsewhere, is the rise of the Christian right, the political activists, very right-wing Christians who obviously have a political agenda. Has that movement happened in Massachusetts? Is that a prominent feature of the change over the years in Massachusetts politics? Or has it not developed very much here so that it’s something you must deal with?

Kennedy

I don’t think it’s as evident here as it is in some other parts of the country.

Young

It’s not?

Kennedy

I think that’s the reality, but there are people thinking about some of these issues in Massachusetts. I think this is a whole area that’s worthwhile getting into. It’s important to understand a bit about Massachusetts. Maybe we can step back just for a minute from this issue.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

There’s an incredible convergence of different forces in Massachusetts, political forces, political winds, political views. It’s perceived to be the ultimate in terms of liberalism.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But if you look back, from the end of the World War II to the present, we’ve had even numbers of Republican and Democratic Senators.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And even numbers of Republican and Democratic Governors. The only primary that Scoop [Henry M.] Jackson won was Massachusetts. He was obviously a conservative Democrat and a hardliner in terms of national security and defense. This was a state that George Wallace did exceedingly well in when he ran. When they had a very conservative Governor, [Edward] King, versus [Michael] Dukakis—Dukakis being the liberal and King being the very conservative Democrat. This was the state in which Dukakis beat him initially, and then King came back and beat Dukakis, and then Dukakis came back and beat him—but very narrowly, probably 53-47. 

Western Massachusetts, the Springfield area, is a conservative area. And certainly Worcester and the center part of the state have been very conservative areas, even though they have a Congressman in Worcester who would be considered progressive or liberal, Jim McGovern, running as someone who was extremely close to Joe [John J.] Moakley, although he was somewhat cautious and conservative. 

So you see these crosscurrents in the state, and they’ve been there historically. This was the state that had the first public high schools, and yet we didn’t support the public school system financially. It’s the state that was for abolition—but we were seeing at the same time the exploitation of children and women in the textile mills of Lowell and Lawrence. This is the state that had many of its young people go down and sit at the lunch counters, but that had a very vehement anti-busing viewpoint—but still supported Senators who have stood for civil rights and knocking down walls against discrimination. So you have these very interesting crosscurrents in terms of the state itself on a lot of different issues. 

It’s the state that’s been for the death penalty in a very significant way, even though, as I say, it supported Senators who have been against the death penalty. So there are a lot of different currents that have been playing out over a period of years, and it’s still very evident there. No one can stereotype the state, because there are a lot of different currents. I think underneath it all there are a lot of explanations. It’s a state that put in Proposition two and one-half, even though it’s considered to be a progressive state and wanted to support education and healthcare. But it put in a limitation on what the local communities could spend. There are also a number of communities in more recent times that have overridden those, and they knew what was going to be its purpose. 

Now you have this other kind of phenomenon. Here, I think, because of the high degree of Catholics—although in other places, particularly outside the country, certainly Central America, the evangelicals have made enormous progress, even with the Catholics. As for the Protestant aspects of it, this has been probably the center of most of the more traditional historical Protestant churches that have been very active. They’ve been involved in civil rights issues. There’s even a reasonable Quaker presence here. So we have certainly been less penetrated, although I think there’s probably an element in the state. 

I see some of the first wisps of this in this battle on the filibuster, and all the church groups, the evangelicals and others, have said, Write Kennedy. They do that in different parts of the country. There are front page-back page ads in the Washington Times and elsewhere, and radio ads in other parts. I watch and monitor the calls and the letters I get, which is another important way of staying in touch. I know the number of handwritten letters and other letters that are coming in, where they’re coming from in the state, and we’re just beginning to see the first elements of—

Young

Did the [Terri] Schiavo case trigger some of that here?

Kennedy

There was more real disdain and outrage over Congressional activity here. They didn’t buy that at all. But you see the wisps of this on the judicial nominations. We got 30 or 40 calls—I’m surprised, from inside the state—saying we ought to change the rules. We’ve been quite strong and active against that kind of thing, so that was an interesting message. I don’t think it has taken hold here.

There are obviously very important religious underpinnings to this that shouldn’t be missed, but it’s also explained by the fact that people are basically unchallenged today. The country is unchallenged, we as a nation. We always do best when we’re challenged. We did best when we came out of the Depression. We did best in World War II. Fifteen million Americans had to get jobs. We brought the economy back, in time. We were faced with the challenges on race: we tried to deal with people who had strong feelings; we tried to work our way through. Churches were involved, people involved, businesses involved. People felt a part of trying to stop the war in Vietnam; they were a part of something and tied to society. 

Now we’re here, we’ve had four tax cuts, and we’re having two wars, and people are confused. They’re seeing our respect around the world diminish. They’re less sure about whether we’re the rising tide of power or whether it’s going to go to China and India. They’re feeling restless about where they’re going to end up, their health, their jobs, their families, their kids. People are less involved and participating less. There’s a frustration out there, and I think an awful lot of people come in and pick up and play on that kind of atmosphere—and are doing it very successfully.

People are spending less time with their children; the children are less predictable, less certain. There’s more concern with parents. They’re looking for outs. It’s an unchallenged nation at this time, and our tradition—at least in terms of the appeal of President Kennedy and the rest—was to challenge people. It wasn’t a set of promises; it was a set of challenges. Then we all do better. That’s the sort of politics I believe in and I think the country responds to. It’s a very important element in terms of American society and in terms of all of us as individuals. We’ve all seen it in different aspects of our own lives.

Young

Well, the challenge that the administration talks about is the challenge of terrorism, which seems to get the biggest play in the media.

Kennedy

But we’re not personally involved. I went last night to—the mayor is trying to get companies to give him some help to beautify little communities, neighborhoods, streets. It’s the tenth anniversary of the program, and last night I went to it. They must have had a couple of thousand people. All the neighborhoods asked their favorite restaurants, and they all came in and had different food tables. Phoom!—people were turned on. They were doing something within their community.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The mayor had asked the companies to provide some resources. It’s not a lot. [Splash barks.] Come here, Splash! And I saw people in all these different communities, gals from Brighton, saying, I live just down the street from Joe. He’s a great neighbor. I see him at church. It’s tying into this kind of thing. These kids are feeling a part of something.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

No one is feeling a part. It gets back to what we talked about earlier, about our presence versus the communications, money, and television. In the early sixties in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bobby had a program where they provided, I think, $1,000 if they got 85% of the residents of the streets to say that they’d fix up their front yard. Each would get $150 to put the garbage cans out and straighten up the gates and do other things. But they had to get 85% of the people on these streets. The first time they were in a gymnasium in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Bobby had to have all of his staff go out to get five streets to qualify, to get the 85%. He had everybody who worked on his campaign go; otherwise, nobody was going to show. 

Two years later, they had a thousand streets. They had the drawing in a big, enormous auditorium. There were about five or six thousand people in there, and they were picking the streets. They had other streets that qualified. The whole place was just turned on in a community that had absolutely lost all hope. I think there’s this idea that all you have to do is find—I don’t disdain the concept that at some time in your life you have to find Jesus and everything else is saved. But his life was a life of service. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

This is fundamental. We’re not going to get into a theological discussion, but I don’t think you have to go very far to see this, that there’s nothing you really ever have to do except have this. It gives you an excuse that can lead you in a lot of different directions. 

Young

What you’re saying about people getting involved in things that are—

Kennedy

A higher purpose.

Young

Getting involved in a higher purpose, but also getting involved in something they can do something about—

Kennedy

That’s it.

Young

—which is, right now, the local community. I see this tremendous activism about schools, about all these local issues. But the people who are involved in that are not connecting with national. They’re tuning out, it seems to me.

Kennedy

I agree with that. 

Young

And when you say as a nation we’re not really challenged, I think a lot of people are turning their activism and their engagement to things they can do something about.

Kennedy

I agree with that. You see it in the most recent polls and the studies at the Institute of Politics. Eighty percent of the kids are involved in some kind of community service, and there’s an increase in this mid-career program where they can get skills and go to work in nonprofits. That’s just exploded, the numbers have gone up. All these indicators are that they’ve turned off politics and turned to service. I think a big part of that is that they can get some immediate payback and satisfaction.

I do a reading every week at the Brent School, and I can see this child beginning to read better and better and getting her words. She writes them and puts them in her book, and then I go back the next week and ask her about precipitously, and she remembers how to spell it and what it means. You can see the results of what you’re doing. That’s a natural inclination. 

I might have told you this story before. I went to the 25th anniversary of the Peace Corps, and I sat at the table and asked why they’d volunteered. And effectively, they all gave the same answer: This is the first time that anyone had asked us to do anything for somebody else. Well, that’s an indictment of the society.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So you have the Peace Corps that does this, and you have the Legal Service Corps, and the lawyers can do something, and in the National Health Service Corps, doctors can do something. You can bring the Constitution to people; the Domestic Corps you could do, an American Service Corps you could do, so people can actually do some things. 

One of the key parts of the whole service program that I like is serve and learn, which they have in the school. They get a very small grant, and they have to try to turn the academic course into a service learning course. So they have a school down here—and about $50-60 million a year, it’s nickels. It hasn’t changed at all, but it’s one that I’m particularly interested in. They’ll titrate water that they’re getting in their ponds to show the increasing incidence of nitrates as a result of the oil-fired and coal-fired plants out in Ohio. So they have to know what dioxins are, so it has a science component, and it has a hands-on component, and they write the essays, and they write to the newspaper. 

They turn them into environmentalists. Think what it is on the earth, the changes in the dirt, and what’s happening in lead paint poisoning. Why is lead bad? What other things are bad? They can do that, but it takes a science teacher who can translate this kind of thing. So they need some grants, and what they find out is they get one or two of these courses going, and the kids flock to them, and they do well in them, and they’re so interested in it, it puts pressure on them to get other courses like them going. 

Young

You get a multiplier effect.

Kennedy

A multiplier effect, and interest in it. So that’s what’s out there. Yesterday we went to a program where they’re doing math and science in disadvantaged high schools. They had only 40 to 80 kids; they’re going to 300 next year. It has had an incredible success, what they have them doing. The way they get them interested is they have one of these fellows who’s a top researcher at MIT. He has 500 patents, but he started as a teacher in the Cambridge schools, and he still goes over there and teaches. And he devised these plans just to get the kids interested. 

There’s a little picture in the Boston Globe of me blowing in to measure my lungs. I looked at this mouthpiece. It had been chewed; it had been used by about 40 people before me. [laughter] All the cameras are going, and I say, Well, hope I’m alive tomorrow, and bang! They found that my lungs are not as good as some. I said, Well, I’m not as full of hot air as some other politicians.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But to get to this other phenomenon, the evangelical movement, I don’t think we have it here, and this will probably be one of the last places to go. Let me just say finally on this—I asked Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer—he was over about three weeks before the election—whether this phenomenon had taken place in Britain. He said no. He said Michael Howard had tried a little bit of this evangelical thing, and some people had tried it in some of the different Tory districts, and it went completely flat. It had no ring to it.

I asked [Walter] Veltroni, the mayor of Rome, who has a 76% approval rating. [Romano] Prodi is the fellow who will run again the current Prime Minister, [Silvio] Berlusconi, but the Mayor of Rome is the number-two person in opposition. He’s a very bright, smart person who has written books about my brothers and is very interested in the Kennedy family. I asked him about evangelism in politics, and he said absolutely not at all in Italy. He said it just hasn’t taken place at all in the campaign to date. I read a story just the other day about the Pope getting involved in something over there, but it wasn’t clear. Veltroni said that this evangelical kind of appeal, in his view, is not taking hold there. 

Young

What accounts for it here and to some extent, in the Americas? 

Kennedy

I think a lot of it is the failure to offer other kinds of hope and opportunity and a future to an awful lot of people. People are looking for other outlets. I don’t take it away from some people—but I think you have that kind of atmosphere and a climate in the United States. 

We’re doing absolutely nothing in the United States Senate that’s relevant to anybody’s life. We passed a class action bill. January, February, March, April, the end of May—five months, and we have passed a class action bill that has no relevance except to keep workers at Wal-Mart from being able to bring their cases; and a bankruptcy bill that just makes bankruptcy courts collecting agents for the credit card companies. We took ten days on the supplemental for Iraq, and we’ve had probably four days on a highway bill that really is pretty standard stuff in terms of impact. It’s basically a continuation of what we do every year since we started the highway bill under President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower. Now that is what the United States Senate has been doing—and the debate on the nuclear option on to curtail filibusters on judicial nominations. 

It’s basically five months of having absolutely nothing to do with anything that anybody, any family, is concerned about. They’re concerned about the costs of prescription drugs, whether they’re going to be able to keep their healthcare. They’re concerned about what’s happening in their schools; the tuitions are going up. The costs of housing—are they going to be able to buy a house? In all these kinds of things, there’s nothing. We’re not doing anything that is in any way, shape or— 

The disaster over in Iraq, we’re not even talking about it. We’re not talking about accountability for people who’ve been involved in the most egregious torture that has offended people’s souls. We’re not talking about that.

It’s really the abdication of political leadership in a very dramatic and significant way. If someone tells me about the growth of another phenomenon to fill in this emptiness in people’s lives, I’m not surprised. I don’t want to over-simplify. That’s separate from how you appeal to people. I do think we have to talk with people in a different way than the more traditional ways about a series of programs. There has to be a different conversation. Words have different meanings—now we’re talking about a different phenomenon, the rise of the Republican Party and how they use words effectively and better than we do. 

I mean this George Lakoff phenomenon. I don’t know whether you read George Lakoff, but he has this concept of the strong father and the nurturing father. The strong father is the Republicans; Democrats are the nurturing. The strong father says, If you’re poor, it’s because you’re bad and you’re lazy. That’s strong: you’re telling people what they have to do, very regimented in the beginning, and then what you’re not going to do. You’re not going to stop people from getting guns; you’re not going to have gays getting married. That’s versus this nurturing, this embracing, but it’s perceived today to be permissive, without structure, without accountability, and without judgment. 

Young

Permissive and wimpy.

Kennedy

Wimpy.

Young

Weak. No moral values.

Kennedy

That’s it.

Young

No courage. This is so ironic to a person of my age.

Kennedy

These are the two phenomena. This is the way he describes it. Words have a lot of meaning. I listened to him talk about it in the course of the campaign. He said, If you’re looking for the swing vote, the worst way to do it is become more indecisive, indefinite, wimpish, because the strong father isn’t going to equivocate at all. He’s going to be what he is. And what will happen is that you’ll reinforce the views of the middle that’s divided, and the ones who have an inclination are going to go with the stronger figure rather than stay with the allegedly nurturing.

Lakoff spells out how they deal with words and how we ought to deal with them. I think all of that is enormously valuable. One of the great advantages Southern politicians have always had is they’re great storytellers. But they like to hear stories up here in Massachusetts as much as they’ve demonstrated that they want to hear them in the South. That’s why I always think you can take a Southern politician and have him win Massachusetts, but it’s difficult for someone from Massachusetts to win down South. They don’t have that ease—and the stories. That again comes back to communication, ways of communicating, the homegrown things. 

Young

Well, much of it strikes me as the art of the spin. It’s the misuse, the abuse of words and symbols.

Kennedy

Oh, I agree.

Young

Are you ready to stop?

Kennedy

Yes. I was going to take you out for a few minutes in my motorboat.

Young

Great.

Kennedy

Just a little fresh air. And then we’ll come back here and have a little lunch.

Young

That’s wonderful.

Young

You mentioned a couple of things on the boat that you might like to talk about, and I would, too. We moved from campaigning, to an unchallenged nation, and the relevance of the Senate today. You mentioned on the boat that you might want to talk a bit more about the Senate early on when you were there.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Something about how it worked and the structure, if I can use that word. You also mentioned talking some more about philosophy.

Kennedy

Sure. Let’s do the philosophies back in 1962.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

I think it’s pretty well developed through my own life experience, in college, observing my brothers, being part of this family, hearing them, the level of discussion, reading the books, being interested in the historical period of the New Deal that my father had been a part of. I was interested in all of that. The general challenges we were facing as a nation and how we came through that period were enormously interesting, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the figures who had been a part of that whole New Deal period, ranging from Ken Galbraith, who had been there, to a number of others: [Milton?] Cohen, who eventually was in my brother’s period—

Young

Now, was that Ben Cohen?

Kennedy

No. I probably ought to ask Miltie to get some of the people who were around, just along the edges—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I had just enough exposure to think that I would—both by nature and disposition—embrace that philosophical view, basically international and anti-communist. Having gone through the campaigns in ’58, and hearing my brother and being exposed to that side of the political philosophy, it came very natural to me to be both a Democrat and to be concerned about working people and their interests. A basic sense of fairness and opportunity was always evident in our house, emphasized and stressed. The exposure I had at a very early age, going back to my grandfather, about the discrimination against the Irish, stuck with me.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I remember Grandpa showing me the signs that had been in windows. I think they were kept there, probably as keepsakes—I never saw them. They said, No Irish Need Apply. It’s difficult to believe that in the immediate post-war period those kinds of signs were still evident. In my house down in Washington, I have a sign my grandfather had with a little frame—No Irish Need Apply. It was an authentic sign. I got it either from him or from my mother. I can’t quite remember, but I’ve had it for a long time. Grandpa was both a philosopher and a politician, and he talked about the persecution in Ireland, the persecution in this country against the Irish, and the very significant ethnic tensions. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Even in my time in Massachusetts, the tension between the Irish and the Italians was very intense. Learning about the discrimination against the Irish and seeing for myself the ethnic tensions made a very powerful impression upon me. I’ll give you an example. In the 1958 campaign, my brother had a slogan, Make your vote count. Vote Kennedy. A group of Italian leaders from the state came in and wanted to see me at my brother’s headquarters. They sat down and said, This is an insult to the Italians. 

I said, I don’t understand. What we’re trying to do is say ‘Make your vote count. Your vote counts for President Kennedy in ’58 and it’s a vote really for 1960. Your vote is important. Make your vote count.’ The idea is to get them to vote because your vote will count and it’ll count towards 1960—even though he didn’t have a strong opponent, a fellow named Vinny Celeste, at this time. 

They said: No, no. The way we interpret it is the vote counts if it’s for an Irishman, but it doesn’t count if it’s for an Italian. Your vote is counting for Kennedy, but it isn’t counting for the Italians. So therefore it’s directed at us, and we resent it. They had the head of every Italian organization in this. We had to tear up all the literature and change the slogan. I mentioned this thing to my brother: I don’t know. I’ll work it out. My father was at the Cape; he came up, and they sat down with a fellow named Don Dowd, who was a friend of my father’s and was in advertising. And he stayed there all day long, trying out slogans, like you see in the movies.

Young

Yes. 

Kennedy

He was in this pinstriped suit, I remember, with white checks on it, and he had suspenders and a moustache that moved, and dark, very groomed hair. He had five different pencils and pads of paper, and he’d write out slogans and show them to my father. My father would say, No, that doesn’t work, Don. That’s not good. You can do better than that. That’s not good. And he went over to Bailey’s, which was right across the street, and he had his lunch, a chocolate soda. That’s all he’d eat. He loved ice cream, but he didn’t want to gain weight, so that’s just what he’d have. He’d come back in half and hour; that was his lunch break.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

How are you doing now, Dowd? Dowd would just sit there, beginning to perspire, and the dye would begin to run in his hair a little bit—he was just under such pressure. Finally he came up with, He has served Massachusetts with distinction, which is like a Schenley’s ad, a liquor ad, but my father thought that would do. So that became the slogan: Kennedy: He has served Massachusetts with distinction. 

But the sensitivity from that time has been dampened, because Italians married Irish.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

One of the interesting examples I saw of it is going up to Lowell to the Golden Gloves regional championships. They used to have the regionals up in Lowell. I remember even Arthur Fiedler [conductor of the Boston Pops] being there. This was in the fifties. There were only three rounds, and it was the Italians against the Irish, the Irish against the Poles, the Poles against the Greeks. Every ethnic group had its fighter in there. You could see the different elements of the city in the different parts of the hall. These tough guys just went in and slugged it out for three rounds.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

The emotion and the cheering, and how passionate people felt in terms of their ethnic pride was a very powerful, impressive thing.

Young

So they saw that as getting out an Irish vote?

Kennedy

Well, my brother’s slogan was meant to be for everybody.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

But the Italians felt that it insulted them, so we changed the slogan. But I was giving the illustration of the fistfights to show how strong ethnic groups were and how passionately they felt if they had a fighter in there, how nationalistic they felt. The Irish cheered for the Irish, the Italians for the Italians. You never had a Greek cheering for an Irishman, or an Irishman cheering for a Greek. But that aspect of it has diminished enormously during this whole period of time. 

There’s a true story from 1958. My brother came up and was staying at 122 Bowdoin Street, a very small apartment. It’s still there, third floor. Late in the afternoon, he’d always take a tub to soak his back, and that’s when you went in and talked to him about what was going on and what had happened. And so he said, What’s happened? I hear some noise out there. His room looked out on the State House parking lot, and Vinny Celeste, whom he was running against, had a bonfire in the parking lot and had a crowd assembled of about 100 people, which was probably his biggest rally in 1958.

He pointed up to Jack’s apartment and said, Do you know how many people are living in that apartment? See how small that apartment is? It’s just two rooms up there. First of all, there’s John Kennedy. Then there’s Jackie Kennedy. Then there’s Robert Kennedy. Then there’s Ethel Kennedy. Then there’s their three children. Then there’s Teddy Kennedy. 

My brother said, What is he saying? When I told him, he said, You’re out of here tomorrow, and tell Bobby he’s out of here, too. It was a nothing story. Now you look back at it; it was just a light campaign story. 

But the ethnic politics were very strong and very real. Italians voted for the Italians, and you were very lucky if you got an important Italian leader. My brother did. He had a fellow named [Michael] LoPresti, who lived in the North End. That was one of the important families. There was another important family, and they used to hate each other, but they both supported my brother. It was very interesting. They ran against each other.

Young

So you overcame your Irish—? How did that happen, that they would support another ethnic group as a representative?

Kennedy

Well, they had a tough time. My brother maybe carried the North End and East Boston with Italians, but it was very close against an Italian. He did by far the best. He was the first one who broke through, but it was still a very ethnic-oriented constituency. And that’s, of course, so dramatically changed, although there are still elements of it.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It’s interesting. In Boston now, Sal [Salvatore F.] DiMasi is the speaker; [Robert E.] Travaglini, an Italian, is the president; and [Thomas M.] Menino is the Mayor. But it’s interesting. This year, they elected as sheriff a former Republican woman named [Andrea J.] Cabral, who’s black. She beat an Irish city councilor with an Irish name [Stephen Murphy] who was basically an ordinary Irish city councilor, in what I think is the most significant political development that we’ve seen in that state. We had Ed Brooke winning, but Ed was a very unusual person. But the idea that Cabral, a woman, could beat an Irish Catholic pol in Boston this year for sheriff was— we supported her, and the Mayor ended up supporting her, and some of the other local people were supporting her. She won rather handily with the support of a whole younger, newer group who aren’t as wary. 

Young

You had mentioned that this discrimination against the Irish—the no Irish need apply kind of thing—was the beginning of your concern about civil rights.

Kennedy

Civil rights, it was.

Young

You learned about that discrimination through experience, but also through stories.

Kennedy

Through stories and observation at the time. In 1962, we had a number of people in my campaign, although it wasn’t a big state issue. Of course, Bobby’s help in getting Dr. [Martin Luther, Jr.] King out of jail was enormously important. We were aware of this as a national issue, but it wasn’t so much a state issue, and it wasn’t an issue in the campaign against Eddie McCormack. We both wanted civil rights laws.

Young

Yes. 

Kennedy

And it wasn’t against George Lodge. We had young people, students from Boston University, going down to the lunch counters in Georgia. And we had the reverse busing. We had that fellow who was the party boss in Louisiana, a notorious figure, who was sending blacks up here when we had busing. He’d send blacks from the south up to the Cape to see what we were going to do with them, if you can believe it. I’ll have to think of his name.

Young

I’m trying to remember it myself. Leander Perez?

Kennedy

Leander Perez, yes. That was probably just after I got to the Senate. When we were having all of the problems with the schools, they wanted to keep it going. They saw the openings. They were trying to undermine not only the Kennedys, but the Democrats as well. I can remember a conference we had on civil rights. We were looking for programs for reconciliation, bringing people together, and I remember this white-haired Republican Congressman from Ohio [John Ashcroft] who said, Well, Senator, you have to understand something. We’re not for reconciliation. We don’t want it. We don’t want reconciliation. That’s your policy; you’re going to pay for it. Just as blunt and blatant and flagrant as that. 

And as we know very well, years later the Republicans played that race card up in Massachusetts. They were able to persuade great numbers of former Democrats to support [Richard M.] Nixon. He was putting an oil importation fee on to help all his Republican pals and playing the race card underneath, so he was both winning electoral votes and making money on the backs of the working class. 

I made my maiden speech in the Senate on civil rights. That was probably after eight or nine months in the Senate. I’ve obviously been enormously involved in that. But I started the discussion on the basis of the philosophy, to try to give at least some of the climate and background. Obviously, in ’62 there was enormous support for my brother, which helped. He was incredibly popular. But there was obvious resistance or reluctance among some of his more inside staff about why we’re going through this when we just got through with Bobby being a part of the Cabinet. Now we have to have Teddy out here. Where is this going to bring us? So the majority of the political advisors were, needless to say, not very enthusiastic about my running.

Young

For the Senate. 

Kennedy

But my father was supportive, and my brother Jack had friends up here and people he admired and liked, and they all told him that I was doing well and making progress.

Young

It was your decision to run?

Kennedy

Yes. If I had felt that it was going to be a major problem for him, I probably would have taken another look. But I didn’t. I wasn’t interested in making problems for him, and I thought I might be able to be of some help. I was obviously concerned at big times when I had debates and had to meet the press to be sure I didn’t complicate his life. But he was basically very supportive. He was very interested in where I was going all the time, who I was seeing. He knew all the people. I think he enjoyed it all from a distance.

Young

Do you think you would have run for the Senate, if not from Massachusetts, from some other place? What was it about the Senate?

Kennedy

Well, I thought it was the great focus of power and authority and influence, and you’re able to get important things done there. I had heard my brother talk about it when I was just out of the service, when he was successful at it. I heard him talk about it and met a lot of his friends and heard them talking about different kinds of things that were important. It seemed like that was really the place to be. I don’t know if the House or other circumstances had suddenly opened up at that time what I would have done, but basically I had always assumed that Bobby would probably run. He never talked about it to me; I never talked to him about it. Everything was really focused on getting my brother elected. 

Bobby had a very interesting career, because he never really thought about what he was going to do next. He absolutely became absorbed in what he was doing. He started on the rackets committee, the Labor Committee, and that was enough. My father said, Well, why don’t you think about moving to Maryland, and then after this thing goes over—? He’d moved out to Virginia, but he was in the District. He was thinking he was having a bigger family, move over to Maryland. 

No, he said, I’m not thinking about anything else. I just want to do this. I don’t care where I live. He never really stopped to think what he would do next. He just focused on what he was doing and let life move along from place to place. He never thought, At the end of this job in another year, what am I going to be doing? 

I never bothered talking to him; he never bothered talking to me. I thought, Well, he’s going to work hard on the campaign, and he’ll probably want to go to the Senate. Lord only knows, he was qualified to do it. I don’t know whether he gave consideration to it at the time.

Young

But he had something else to do now.

Kennedy

Well, then he was Attorney General.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

If he’d decided to be in Massachusetts, I think I probably would have given consideration to going someplace else. I would have seen it closed out in Massachusetts.

Young

Yes.  

Kennedy

My brother was President. He’s going to be President eight years. My brother Bobby is going to be in the Senate. There wasn’t going to be any room in this place for anyone, and I wanted to be in public life. 

Young

And in politics. Public life and in politics?

Kennedy

And politics, yes, elective office.

Young

And that predated your specific focus on the Senate?

Kennedy

Yes. I think that by the time I was through college, I was going towards elective office. I’d gotten involved in debating at Milton—I even debated national health insurance at Milton. It’s unbelievable that we were doing national health insurance against the Harvard freshmen. I was interested in the issues, and I was interested in people, and everything around me had reinforced those interests.

Young

Yes, and your grandfather was an elected politician.

Kennedy

He was an elected politician. He was a natural.

Young

You had a feel for that. So the Senate as a place where you wanted to be came after, so to speak? You didn’t start out at a very early age wanting to be a Senator?

Kennedy

I think probably at the time I was beginning to think seriously, my brother was in the Senate.

Young

What was it about the Senate that appealed to you?

Kennedy

It was elective office, and that was the elective office that appeared to have the best opportunity to have impact and influence. I can remember as a younger person when my brother was elected to Congress, I thought it was like being elected President of the United States. My God, he’s in Congress. Then as I moved on along, I thought about the Senate.

I think we might have covered some of this. In the Presidential campaign in some of the other states, I think I mentioned that my sister Pat [Kennedy Lawford] was very interested in having me in California. They had [Thomas H.] Kuchel and they had another, younger Democratic Senator [Clair Engle] who eventually died from a brain tumor. He had been in World War II, a very gifted fellow. And I thought trying to get started in California would be just too—

Young

Jean [Kennedy Smith] was out there?

Kennedy

My sister Pat was. I don’t know. Jean might have been out there—

Young

I don’t think in politics. She was in the Christopher—

Kennedy

Yes, she might have been.

Young

She went out to California, too, before she met Stephen Smith.

Kennedy

Yes, but the time I really spent in California was in the Presidential campaign.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I was in California, but that wasn’t one of my states. I spent time at the very end there, going around and speaking, because it was so close. They had a fellow named Jesse Unruh, and he wanted to run the whole thing. He wasn’t interested in any help from anybody and never got an absentee ballot out, and we lost the election. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But he was a very significant political figure, and I wasn’t going to be able to make much progress there, I didn’t think. I’d looked at the western states. I thought that if I didn’t live along the coast, I’d want to live along the Rocky Mountain spine from Montana down to the Southwest. The states in the Southwest were more interesting because they had a Hispanic population, and they were Democratic—New Mexico was. I was rather struck with that. But I never got much further than that. I remember talking to some people just generally out there—Colorado, and I think maybe Arizona. In New Mexico, I talked to a few people about it. But it was never very serious. We were all focused on the election, and I didn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about it. But it passed through my head.

Young

You said that your brother Robert got wholly immersed in something and didn’t really plan or think ahead. Were you different in that way?

Kennedy

I think so, yes. I was thinking about what I was going to do afterwards. I mentioned I talked to my brother about doing some things. I was interested in arms control, even at that time. I thought of getting some experience. It was the Cold War, a lot of tension between East and West, and the escalation of the arms race was one of the more obvious areas. I thought of getting a good understanding of that, because that was something that was going to be with us—learning a lot about it, being involved in it—

Young

But not as an alternative to an elective political career on the way? 

Kennedy

In 1961, I thought I’d do that before going back. I didn’t have it very well thought-out in Massachusetts. My brother Jack’s advice, of course, was absolutely on target and made a lot of sense: being at the District Attorney’s, which I enjoyed. I learned a lot. I had fun doing it. It was great experience. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It would have made no sense to have done the other. That was just good judgment and good sense on his part, and once I listened to him, it made sense.

Going for your supper, Splash? Is it quarter of four?

Young

Twenty of four.

Kennedy

You want to go out for your supper?

[Sound of dog running]

Martin

I think that’s a yes.

Kennedy

Isn’t that something? That dog understands English.

Young

He has a good clock, too, a very good clock. 

Kennedy

Yes, he does. The rest of the kinds of things I got involved in on that committee were things I was interested in, education, healthcare. We can talk about those developments later on. I was on the Judiciary with civil rights, which was natural, and that was such a powerful issue for the times.

Young

The Senate was a very different place?

Kennedy

Take, first of all, the structure of the work. From the time of civil rights through the Vietnam War, we were working virtually twelve months of the year. I remember coming back and voting between Christmas and New Year’s when my brother Bobby was in the Senate. It was probably ’66. We always had [Abraham] Lincoln’s recess off. We got the Fourth of July and Labor Day and Thanksgiving weekend, and the rest of the time we were in. We were in all summer, all fall, all spring. We might have gotten Easter weekend, maybe. 

Young

So working twelve months of the year—

Kennedy

I’d come down on Friday nights in the summertime, rarely getting here in time for dinner. More often than not, I’d leave Sunday night, and the Senate was starting on Monday at 9:30 or 10:00. Everyone showed up for those, the markups. They showed up for all of the days. We were in a good number of the evenings and nighttime. Everyone stayed around during the week. For social events, there might have been a few traditional dinners or the White House press or radio correspondents’ dinner, on occasion. But Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we were in through the evenings. 

I can remember having my children in. In the summertime, the military bands used to play on the steps between the Senate and the front steps of the Capitol, and they rotated. They would play from 7:30 to 9:00. So I used to have my children come down, and we’d picnic. I’d offer my amendments, and we’d play in the field out there. There were several other Senators with young children, and we would sit out there and have a picnic and listen to that music. The children would all go on home when the band stopped at 9, 9:30. We’d go home at 10 at night, 10:30. 

We had three different days of markups, with most of the members of the committee, deciding the makeup of the board of the neighborhood health centers: how many consumers, how many doctors, how many local people were going to be there, what the makeup of the neighborhood health centers was going to be. Three days we worked on the makeup so it would have diversity—they could be successful in different communities, but still have standard of care. The makeup of that neighborhood health center has been a 10. Those centers have worked brilliantly, and they’ve been enormously reflective. 

The one in the North End is different from the one in East Boston, and that’s different from the one in the South End. In the South End, they’re more concerned about drugs and drug problems. The others are concerned about the elderly, mostly Italian. They shape and direct their policies that way. They make arrangements with the hospitals that way. They have the flexibility. They have the authority. They have the ability to hire and to fire, make recommendations. 

People listened to each other, and they took the action. That’s nonexistent today. Ninety-five percent is done by staff, and people come what I call parachuting into the Senate on Tuesdays, listen to the lunch discussion, go back to their office and see people, because they’re so far behind. They’re out the door for fundraisers every night—Tuesday, Wednesday. They want to be out of there Thursday night. We don’t have serious votes on Friday. If we have a vote, it’s at 9:30 in the morning with no debate.

Young

Yes. 

Kennedy

We never permitted what they call stacked votes, so you had two votes. You always had the debate and then the vote. The idea that you stack these things, you could be in Peoria, you’re going back, and Tuesday there are four stacked votes. You lose the whole essence of what the Senate is, about your involvement in it, your relationship with people, and what the purpose is, which is the exchange of ideas. 

This has been the corruption of the Senate, which has been driven by two factors, I think. One is the forces that don’t want the Senate to meet and be very active. If we’re not active, it’s much easier to slow legislation down. There are people, primarily Republicans, who don’t want us to deal with these issues. It’s difficult enough to get things through over a period of time, but if you don’t meet that often—

Now we are what they call three weeks on and a week off. That was Howard Baker saying: Look, we’re here now just Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I’m going to suggest that everyone stay around when we’re here and use your time off. Every three weeks, we’ll give you a week off to do your fundraising and all the rest. Now you have the worst of both worlds. You have the week off, and they’re still not around. 

So the ability of forces to paralyze the Senate has been enhanced immeasurably, and those are basically anti-Democratic forces. Those are institutional forces. Those are financial interests. Those are special interests of every form and shape. That has happened institutionally. We have the deadlock between the Republicans and the rest, which is philosophical, which is the way the country has voted. So that’s different. 

Now people can come back and say, Well, my God, you had filibusters all during that time. That’s true. We had the filibusters all during the early time. We had that, but eventually they were—I remember very clearly how the ’64 one was broken. I think I described it earlier to you—being in [Everett] Dirksen’s office for eight or nine hours with just one staff and members of the Judiciary Committee and going over those aspects of public accommodations which Republicans—Dirksen and [Nicholas deB.] Katzenbach—had worked out. Everybody agreed that we wouldn’t support amendments to it, but we could do amendments to other provisions.

We stayed in that room and did that. I tried to do that afterwards when we had the Grove City case, and people won’t sit in the room. They won’t stay. They make the agreement. They have to go back and redefine it. People don’t have the confidence that they can do it, and they have to clear it with the special groups that are out there now. The bed-check interest groups have been enhanced by their power and their influence on members. And you see a major diminution and contrast in the body itself. Part of it is the money, people’s requirement to raise the resources for campaigns.

Although, I think we’re reminded in the recent times—or I was—with Paul Wellstone, the person who had the least resources. By the time he died, which was just a couple of weeks before the election, he had more money than anybody. It started all coming in by the Internet, an entirely new way that opens up new kinds of opportunities for members to be independent and spend less time fundraising. It lets us tap into real people with real interests, the public interest, and circumvent special interests and get people back to doing what they should be. That’s a hopeful sign.

Young

On the Internet?

Kennedy

On the Internet.

Young

When did you establish your website?

Kennedy

We were the first ones, because I hired a fellow named Chris Casey. He was from Massachusetts, and he came down and talked to me about it. It sounded fabulous, and Chris was a very gifted, talented person. We were the first ones on it. And then he went to the Democratic Policy Committee and got other Senators on and has written a book.

Young

Is that a significant source of information for you?

Kennedy

It is good.

Young

People write in?

Kennedy

People write in and communicate, and we’ve stepped up a lot.

Splash, did you have your supper? See? Look. See, he comes back in now. That’s okay. Sit down. 

For people who’ve used it skillfully and well, it’s had a major—I don’t think I have used it as much as I might have. Vicki is enormously computer literate, and she spotted this thing in the last campaign. We didn’t do it nearly to the extent that we should have. Now we’re on top of it. We have our bloggers in place, and we’re very high-powered.

Young

Do you sense in the communications that come via the Internet that this is a way of reconnecting?

Kennedy

Reconnecting, absolutely, and there’s a new way of talking with them, too, that takes some doing, takes new thinking. There’s a different dialogue in terms of the national debate and discussion—how you talk about issues—because of the way people are getting their information, which is a lot different from the way it was before. 

Young

Do you have some examples?

Kennedy

Well, the most dramatic was the one used by Doris Goodwin. She said when Franklin Roosevelt made his fireside chats, someone could be out walking down a main street for the evening, and all the windows would be open, and he or she wouldn’t miss a word, because everyone was listening to it.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

As compared to now—

Young

It’s noise—

Kennedy

The noise or the clatter of the numbers of stations that are on and the difficulties of getting through—that’s an obvious contrast. We’re just beginning to use both the Internet much more effectively and the blogging, and our lists are increasing. I haven’t used it to raise funds, but I’ve heard incredible stories about how people use it. People have to learn about it. 

For example, I was talking to the Move On people and asking about their success. They said, We decided we would have a spot in the Super Bowl. So we asked everybody who was interested to submit spots and themes. We got an enormous number, and we sifted through. We selected a group of 400 or 500 to review and got it down to the top ten. Then we sent the top ten down and asked them to vote on one.

They got the one, which was a child. I don’t know if you remember it; I can barely remember it. It was a child walking, and it showed that nothing the child was interested in were we doing anything at all about. It was a very powerful spot. The point is, they voted on which one they wanted to use, and then they went back and asked them for the money. They got three times the amount of money they needed to run the spot because people felt engaged in it.

The principal people say, You don’t just send them your speech on Iraq and then three weeks later say, ‘Send me $25.’ You have to engage them in terms of having them feel that they’re actually involved in what’s happening. They want to get inside of what’s going on in the Senate. You have to think it through, and you have to be a part of it, which is understandable. That’s what people want to do; it’s the involvement. This is what I was mentioning about neighborhoods.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It’s a different way to reach a different group of people out here doing this kind of business. And it’s the issues of communication, the questions. It’s what Grandpa had in terms of people trusting him, because he lived by his heart. Well, it’s a different world, a different time, but a similar sense, that people feel you’re listening to them or you’ve listened to them or they have common purpose with you, and you’re going to act in ways that they have confidence in or would want you to act. We have to be clever enough to be able to do that.

Young

Well, individual Senators have their websites. You have your website.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Does the Democratic Party?

Kennedy

Yes. The national committee has—

Young

Is it effective?

Kennedy

They have it, and they’ve raised a good deal of money through their mail. It goes up and down. I was on a program the other day, and they said that with [Howard] Dean now, it has all gone down. I don’t know whether it has. I heard in the beginning he was way, way up over what they had had previously. 

Young

But his own campaign made quite effective use of it for fundraising.

Kennedy

Very effective.

Young

And for recruiting volunteers.

Kennedy

Absolutely. Well, it has to be at the cutting edge of issues. That’s what people are expecting, and that’s what political parties ought to be, rather than what’s happened now with the Democrats in the Senate. They’re so worried that they’re going to lose eight or ten of these moderate Democrats that we have compromising of positions, and not raising positions, and we lose our cutting edge. It’s a self-defeating spiral downward. 

Young

You’re conceding the agenda to the Republicans.

Kennedy

Conceding the agenda, yes. We want paid sick leave. No, we can’t do that yet. Family Medical Leave is okay, but you’re looking at paid sick leave now for women? The thing is, 85% of women are for it, just red-hot. Or minimum wage: We don’t want to pass it; we don’t want an anti-business vote. We have to be pro-business.

 Well, we can be pro-business and pro-growth. Gordon Brown, they’re at $9.50 an hour over there, going to $10! A million or two people out of poverty, and they have the second-best economy in Europe. I don’t know. I can put names on every one of—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It’s Dianne Feinstein about the family medical leave. Now the last vote we had on the minimum wage, everybody stayed with us, but we had a lot of difficulty even getting President [William J.] Clinton to vote. Clinton wouldn’t vote with us unless we had the 60 votes for cloture. Then he’d support us. He didn’t support the Patients’ Bill of Rights until we had the 60 votes on it. He wouldn’t vote for the increase in the minimum wage unless we had the 60 votes.

We’ll be coming back to these things later on, but the difference in the institution is interesting. I think among Republicans, the principal difference is that the people entering the Senate when I first got there had been successful in other fields. Chuck Percy had been president for 32 years at Bell & Howell. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So he comes in there, and he’s a very significant figure. He has views about how business works. He knows something about this. Jake [Jacob] Javits came through politics, as an attorney general, but he was a multi-dimensional figure in terms of the arts and of a broad range of issues. He’s not going to listen to somebody tell him how he’s going to vote. Cliff Case, I think, came from a law firm background. You had others. [John Sherman] Cooper came to the Senate after being a circuit judge, but he hadn’t come up through the House. He was an independent figure in Kentucky. He was conservative, but he was a very important figure on civil rights, on ending the war in Vietnam. He was an independent figure with leadership.

Young

Do you think—

Kennedy

Now the ones coming in there are this crowd from the House, where they’ve been so disciplined, and they think the Senate is just like that, and they just follow and fall in line. They don’t exercise their independence. They’re not willing to buck any kind of leadership. You could get a [Mark] Hatfield. He’s been out now probably 20 years, but in the time of the nuclear freeze, Hatfield was willing to cosponsor a measure, the nuclear freeze, with me. I’m not on the Foreign Relations Committee; I’m not on the Armed Services Committee. Some people would say, What is Kennedy doing here? Hatfield’s the same way! He’s on the Appropriations Committee. What’s he doing? Why are they having a hearing on arms control?

But because Hatfield and Kennedy were in that Senate caucus room, we must have had 50 cameras in there. We had Carl Sagan, the great scientist of the nuclear winter. We had Bartov, who was the principal advisor for the Soviet Union on arms, coming over here, talking about the nuclear winter. We had the two people, all three networks, all night. 

Hatfield would do that with me on milk. We had the big scandal about the milk in Third World countries, the European producer—

Young

Nestle?

Kennedy

Nestle. The question was whether we were going to have international standards, and the United States was the one country that vetoed this thing. Hatfield and I had the same view at that time. But these were independent people. President Nixon spoke to an elderly group at the Capitol Hilton, and I listened to him. He said, We have to get nutrition to our elderly people. The elderly people are entitled to this kind of nutrition. I called Chuck Percy and said, Why don’t we put this program for the elderly people on? What are you thinking about? 

He said, A $100 million this afternoon on appropriations. I said, Glad to cosponsor it with you. Put me on. Boom! It went though in the afternoon, the beginning of the Meals on Wheels Program. It wasn’t, I have to check with my leader on this thing. I believe in a political party, and people can’t be going off all the time. But this place has stagnated. And it wasn’t at that time. We were controlled, obviously. The civil rights struggle was long and painful. We were slow ending the war, everybody knows—

Young

Was this true when Bob Dole was leader? Or has it changed?

Kennedy

It’s changed somewhat, but Bob, as in the Presidential campaign, was cranky at times.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And a bit bitter at times.

Young

Was the discipline like it is?

Kennedy

Not quite like it is, although he was a tougher personality than [William] Frist. But they didn’t have probably the White House cracking the whip.

Young

The Democrats are not that way?

Kennedy

Well, they’ve stayed fairly together over the last two or three years, but that’s a result of the fact that a lot of the stuff has been watered down. We don’t have a Democratic position on the war now. Individuals have a position, but we don’t have one on the large, overarching issues. You can get them to vote for increased funding on education, Pell grants, and things like that, but a single position on major kinds of questions of war and peace and the economy, it’s not there. 

Having said all that about the Senate in the early sixties, there were those who weren’t always working. You had people who spent their mornings out playing golf, and coming in and eating lunch and signing their mail, giving a short speech, and going over to Jim Eastland’s office to decide what judges they were going to put through or not put through, where they were going to go. They’d settle that business and have drinks in the afternoon. There was some of that. I think there was much more of that before I got there. 

Young

They were not worried about being reelected?

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Or didn’t spend as much—

Kennedy

Some of them didn’t spend as much time at it. As you read through [Robert] Caro’s book, the Senate was different. There are fluctuations in times about when it plays a role and when it’s on cruise control. Finally in ’57 you had that Civil Rights Act, but in the fifties it was pretty much cruise control, I think. In the sixties, the civil rights and the war got it going, and then [Lyndon] Johnson with Medicare and education and all that.

Young

I wonder why it is that the war on terrorism or the 9/11 did not summon a—

Kennedy

Let me make some calls, and I’ll be right back.

[BREAK]

Young

You mentioned a little while ago, contrasting the earlier time when you sat down and hammered something out, even to the detail of making up the makeup.

Kennedy

The makeup.

Young

And you mentioned in that connection that now, people have staff do that on the one hand. On the other hand, at least Republicans become more deferential to the leader. They need to check with the leadership before they can do anything. I’m wondering on both counts, does that help to explain why the Senate is on cruise control or worse?

Kennedy

Let’s go back from your question.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

When I first got to the Senate, we had one administrative assistant and one legislative assistant who covered everything. So if the administration sent over community mental health centers to the committee, which President Kennedy did, he had Lister Hill chairing that committee, and he had this proposal. He explained it to you. The staff explained it to you. You either had to know something about community mental health, or your staff had to know something about it, because if they don’t, he’s moving it through. He’s the chairman of the committee, he has a Democratic majority, and that thing moves on through. It moves to the floor; it’s out of that committee. 

Other people had their one staffer covering all of their parts, so it was almost a parliamentary system. If it came through the system—the House had the Rules Committee—but at least in the Senate, if, as President, you had something to propose, and you were able to work it out with the chairman. The chair had an enhanced capacity. Lister Hill was from Alabama, and he had to have some idea what you were saying about mental health; he had to have some interest. You had your people, your Cabinet Secretary came over to talk to him and convince him. You were able to get reaction and response to these issues, because the other members of the committee were very limited. 

Now we have so much staff that they have to justify their presence; they have to come up with five amendments on these issues. So this whole process gets worked out. And if they’re smart staff, they call up the mental health groups and find out what’s happening. They get to the meeting and they say, Oh, my gosh. You’re talking about that bill! That has a certain number of days for coverage. It doesn’t have these numbers of days. The groups have become much more active. 

Now whether the final product is all that much better is a question. If you had the administration, you had the Secretaries, you had a President who was interested in community mental health. You had a Secretary who was a highly competent person with a very good staff, and they would have done all of that work before. But now we have so much staff, and they have to justify themselves. Every one of them has an opinion about it. So it takes different skills, because you have to have a staff that’s brighter and smarter than the rest of them, and who have their own political skills to be able to pull it all together. 

And some do. I had a very good one with the No Child Left Behind. My administrative assistant, Danica [Petroshius], is able to do that kind of thing. But you’re the Senator. You’d have to take the time to find out about this stuff. If you were interested in it, you’d find out about it. You’d go down to the agency and get briefed. You’d get more involved in it. That isn’t the way it’s done now. The staff goes down, maybe moves ahead—

Young

And the staff canvasses the relevant outside people to find out—

Kennedy

Supposedly they do that. They usually do pretty well. If I’m the chairman, obviously, I have very good staff, and they know where I’m coming from on these things, and they do very effective work and outreach. They’ll come back at you with a particular judgment. Here’s a judgmental issue that we’re facing: You have X amount of money for Meals on Wheels. Now, if you deliver the meal on wheels to the person, the elderly, the infirm, it reduces by half the amount of money you’re going to have, the number of meals you’re going to give to others if you distribute them in congregate sites. It costs you three times as much to deliver. 

So what are you going to do? Where are you going to draw the line? Are you going to say, We’ll give a third? Are you going to give a quarter? A half? How are we going to do this? Those decisions ought to be made by members, not by staff. Those things are at the heart. You might say, We’re going to try to get more money. We’re not going to leave it there; we’ll have a new program. But you’re dealing with real people, real lives, real consequences of your actions.

Young

How do staff make their judgments when they make a recommendation?

Kennedy

It depends upon who you have. If you have good people who are specialized in this and are tough and good and smarter than the other people, they’ll say, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. On the congregate, we’ll do half and half, but if money is not used from Title IV or Title II on these grants to states, we’ll use that money for the other part, knowing that that hasn’t been the way and the other people won’t know about it or whatever. And then you have the groups themselves saying, We’ll go along. They work it out. They’re smarter, tougher, and more resourceful in trying to get stuff worked out. 

But in these judgmental kinds of issues about who’s going to get the allocations, we had a big, big row on that committee for two or three days, going back and forth on that very question. It’s mean, because you have poor people struggling over crumbs, and that’s the worst aspect of it. There’s no question about it. It’s bad, bad choices and no good solution. But those are at least judgment. Basically, we’re supposed to be prioritizing. That’s what we do: we prioritize for the country. We do it by reflecting that, primarily on budget. Although budget doesn’t necessarily mean a priority, it’s a pretty good indication that people think it’s a priority. We prioritize things, and also we should be trying to address these issues and questions. But every year, there’s a new problem on healthcare. 

First of all, for example, we had implanted devices. Someone discovered IUDs [intrauterine devices]. Then you had perforated uteruses. We have a Medical Device bill, but, of course, now we’ve gotten much more sophisticated. Now we can put a pacemaker in and a bedpan. So you’re going to have the same test for a bedpan as you have a pacemaker. Now you need three different layers. I have a particular device, and I want to move my device from two to three. You have all these money guys who want to do that, too. You need staff who are going to take guidelines and work some of that stuff out, but it’s complicated. So now we have a medical device legislation, which we never did. 

Now, because these drugs are more complicated and more potent, much more needs to be done to protect human subjects so they know what’s going on. We didn’t do that. We didn’t have informed consent 25 years ago. And the outstanding examples were the syphilitic study [at Tuskegee], sterilization of the Ralph girls, and Depo-Provera that was used in the Tennessee penal system. We had the first hearings on it, saying, we need to protect human subjects, so we had that. Now in the last 25 years, every time you fill out your form, the doctor reads that. That’s really the result of that whole set of hearings.

You have 100,000 people die from medical errors. Now what do you say? If you tell people up at the Mass. General Hospital that they can squeal on somebody else and not get in trouble to help find out what the problems are, and then these people aren’t going to be prosecuted, you can cut the number in half. But what about the other people? If they’re going to be infirm or hurt, shouldn’t they be able to sue? Where are their interests on these things? That’s another health issue that’s come up. 

And today, we’re not addressing any of these kinds of issues. We’re not doing protection of human subjects, which we were working on with Frist. We’re not doing the medical errors thing. We’re not doing privacy and information technology—because we have an administration that’s not serious about it and not coming in. That’s completely alien to the way it’s been at other times with other administrations. They would be coming at us. They had very good Secretaries who knew a good deal about these kinds of things—

Young

Yes, I was going to ask how the executive plays in all of this.

Kennedy

[Michael] Leavitt is a very nice Governor. He’s HHS [Health and Human Services]; he was EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] before, and he’s been the Governor of a state. But the idea that he has a lifetime involvement or understanding or awareness of these things, or is one of the thoughtful people on all of this—he’s a very pleasant and very nice person—that he can drive a department and get the people in his agency and lead the nation on this—this is what the nation should expect from political leadership. But this is not what they’re demanding today, and this is certainly not what they’re settling for. They’re settling for a lot different.

And that’s so completely in contrast to how it was. I was obviously spoiled, being down there at the time my brother was down there. We had people come into the departments who were just superstars. The greatest example, of course, was Bobby, who took in the top six people, none of whom he knew before: Jack Miller, who was a Republican, criminal division, and ended up being probably one of the top, not only in the criminal division, but afterwards as a criminal lawyer. He was just breathtaking. You had Katzenbach, whom he never knew before, who ended up being Attorney General. He had Burke Marshall, who went back up to Yale as the outstanding civil rights authority of the time. John Douglas in the civil division was absolutely brilliant. 

None of them knew who Bobby was, but every one of them was brilliant in his own area and could help lead that department and ensure that in each of these aspects of justice, the American people were getting the best. And that standard, which is what this democracy expects and should expect, has just been constantly deteriorated and diminished and lowered in a way that’s a tragedy, just in terms of the structure of government. 

We can say, National health insurance, I’m against it, and we can have the debate. But what about the service to people and the agencies, and how Congress is going to work with those, and how they’re going to interact with it? Not that those people are necessarily a lot smarter than members of Congress. I always think that the Presidents make mistakes. There are a lot of people who are very talented and smart and know as much about any of these things, and I think they’re just hanging out there if the President ever asks them to come down and set up the bill or something: You work well with Frist on it. I want the two of you to come down to my office now. This is what I want to do. I want the two of you to stay in that room and then come out with the principles that both of you will stand for.

Young

Are you finding that the careerists in the departments and agencies are no longer—

Kennedy

They’re all running out. In the Justice Department, they’ve had very significant loss of people, and in the Food and Drug Administration, where you need that very important integrity. We have a Food and Drug Administration that’s been empty three of the last four years, and now they have a fellow in there who’s a C-minus to make the best of it. And the power that they—it isn’t just the power, but the opportunities for people’s health—

Young

So the Senate is left without that kind of knowledgeable push or resource?

Kennedy

And without the quality and interaction as well as inspiration. One of the important committees to get on when I was in there was the Joint Economic Committee, because they had Javits and [Hubert] Humphrey, and they had a very smart professor from Minnesota, an economist, a very smart guy. They used to decide for the Democratic administrations what fiscal and monetary policy was going to be. They would have the hearings. The fellow was later head of my brother’s council of economic advisors—[Walter] Heller.

Young

Heller.

Kennedy

Heller would come down to my house the night before, and we would have a couple of the staffers come in and say where the committee was going, the questions were going. He’d give me a seminar on where the economy was going. That was the deal. He’d always come into town the night before, and we would get the people; he wanted to have some idea about the kinds of questions, where the thing was going—with complete integrity—but he’d want to know. He’d want a very good briefing on it, and then he’d tell us where he was going, which was invaluable. They sent people. Democratic and Republican administrations watched those hearings, listened to those people, listened to those things and decided monetary and fiscal policy. 

Now it isn’t that we don’t have— [Paul] Sarbanes is on it, who’s a smart fellow, Jack Reed’s a smart person—maybe you could have a dynamite set of hearings on some of these different issues, and we probably should—but at that time, the administrations welcomed these kinds of—

Young

When did you notice this? When did it become most noticeable?

Kennedy

It started with Reagan. I was never that conscious of it under President Nixon. I’ll have to go back into the kinds of things. I think he had some things on affirmative action, and some other things on civil rights. I can’t remember all these things now, but it certainly started there. Baker in the Senate was the one. Baker is the one who started three weeks on, one week off. You don’t get a lot of complaints about it in the Senate because a third of the Senate has just been elected, so they’re kind of tired. A third is trying to get elected, so they like the time off. And the middle keep quiet. [laughter] No one is getting up and complaining. 

The basic concept when I went as a young, very impressionable person is that the institutions were all functioning and working. You had a belief in the Presidency and what they were going to do. And the Justice Department, which the Labor Department was working with. We had major kinds of strikes there. They were endangering the Vietnam War. 

One I’ll tell you. Later, Bobby was in. It was 1966 or ’67. Lyndon Johnson called the two Labor committees down to the White House, and he had Willard Wirtz and [Robert] McNamara down there and some general, the joint chiefs. The President said, We’re having a railroad strike now, and this is going to disrupt the war. People are going to die because of it, and I want you to give me the power to make those strikers work.

Well, what are you asking us to do? Johnson said, I want you fellows to meet in that Roosevelt Room over there, pass the bill out. Here’s the bill. I want you to pass it out this afternoon. I’m calling so-and-so. I’m going to get that thing put on the agenda, and we’re going to pass it on Monday, both the Senate and the House, and sign that thing three days from now.

So the House went into this. Wayne Morse was the chairman, and he was the great labor protector, and he bought into this. The House went in there and said, We’ve just passed it out. Cam you imagine that? No notice, no nothing, nada. And Wayne Morse said, All right, is there anybody who’s going to have any objection? My brother Bobby leaned over and said to me, Ask for one day of hearings. So I said, I’d like to have— You want what? And [laughter], I thought, What the hell have I done? I want a day of hearings. You want a day of hearings? Members are entitled to request. You have to tell the President of the United States that our committee is not even going to put it on. Our committee is entitled one day of hearings. 

That ended the whole thing. On the day of the hearings, we found out that it didn’t have the impact they claimed, that ships were going to go on through, these were legitimate things. The strike was settled two weeks later.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Here’s an interesting, final little story. We’re way off base now, but about five years later, I went out to ski with all my family, 40 of us out there in Sun Valley. Sun Valley is organized by the Union Pacific, so the people who run Sun Valley are members of the trainmen’s union. They run the ski lifts. They have eight, ten lifts. There are only about 50 of them, but they belong to the trainmen’s union. 

So I got out there, and I took my skis out, and someone said, Hey, Senator, those ski lift operators are on strike! And I said, They’re what? They’re on strike, yeah. I said, They are? They’re on strike? 

So I called my office. They said, Oh, yeah, they’re on strike. So you can’t go on the lifts. I said, I’m the only person out here for Labor, for crying out loud, and I’m not going to be able to go on the lifts? [laughter] So I called, and I said, What union is the trainmen’s union? I can handle this one.

I called the president of the union, whose life we’d saved. And I said, I’ve never asked you for anything. I’m here for ten days. I have 42 kids! And he said, Let me call you back in an hour. He called me back and said, No way. Can’t do it. The thing is, it’s bread-and-butter issues. This thing is wages they’re entitled to, and health. These are all things you care about. I think you know about them and you wouldn’t want to— I said okay.

So we packed 42 of my nieces and nephews on a bus and drove down to Utah. [laughter] They were all moaning and groaning, Uncle Teddy, why are you doing this? 

But that’s not atypical. Obviously, that’s the way Johnson would try to operate. You’d say, That’s out of the ordinary, and it certainly was. But this, I think, is really a dangerous trend. And this is against the background now where we have what they call the nuclear option up in the Senate. It effectively would change the rule to a majority vote in the United States Senate on judicial appointees instead of the 60 votes, which is the current rule. And it’s instead of using the rules of the Senate to change the rule, which is under Article V, I believe, of the Constitution. It says that each body is going to make its own rules, and we’ve made our own rules, and if you’re going to change the rules, you have to do it at the start of the session. 

It would be a dramatic shift and change in the power of the Senate, the independence of the Senate on issues of advice and consent. The Founding Fathers had really established a pretty fair balance between the Executive and the Senate. I’ve read those debates at the Constitutional Convention that reflect that, and this will be a dramatic shift and change. I think it would have the very important and significant effect of diminishing the influence of the Senate. 

We now have a compromise that’s not terribly satisfactory. I think the real question on everybody’s mind—we’re talking now the first of June—is whether it’ll hold over any period of time. I’m hopeful that it will, because I think we’re probably going to get a Supreme Court nominee fairly soon, in June. [William] Rehnquist will announce his resignation, and we’ll have a nominee. My own sense is it’ll be a conservative, but we’ll be trading a conservative for a conservative, and not someone way outside even of the conservative judicial mainstream.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Maybe this President wants to continue to have a struggle and a fight on this. What’s happening now, of course, is the continued decline of respect for the United States Senate, which is harming the Senate in a very important way, but certainly doesn’t help the President. I know he doesn’t want to face the issues and is not doing it by just talking about Social Security. He’d rather talk about that than Iraq and other questions. But it would be a significant institutional shift, and I don’t think the American people really have bought into it or will buy into it. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Young

Yes. Do you think the compromise will extend eventually to issues other than judicial?

Kennedy

Well, I think that’s the clear implication of this. This is a very aggressive way of imposing will, by effectively removing the Parliamentarian who is supposedly called according to Senate rules and precedents, and substituting this prescribed format, which is in complete conflict with the rules as they are understood and as effectively stated by the Parliamentarian in these circumstances. That’s radical. What we have is a radical regime, not a conservative regime, a radical regime. And it’s not what Justice [John Marshall] Harlan, the great conservative, described about the preservation of institutions. This is an administration that has undermined institutions—is attempting to, obviously, in the Senate, in the intelligence agencies, and in the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation]. And they’re doing it with other agencies. They’re certainly doing it with the environment—putting people who don’t believe in the programs and are really committed to undermining them into key positions in the administration. We’ve faced this at other times, in the Legal Services Program—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I think that was probably during the Nixon or Reagan period.

Young

Reagan, certainly.

Kennedy

The person who was enormously important in resisting that was Warren Rudman, a conservative Republican, a former state attorney general, but very committed to the concept of constitutional rights. In a personal way, time in and time out, he resisted the Reagan effort to undermine the Legal Services Program, and did it in a very important way. We’ll have a chance to come back to that, but that was a very important effort on his part, because Reagan was putting people in who were committed to undermining and destroying the agencies. And that’s radicalization; that isn’t conservativism. Rather than facing these things frontally, they do it tangentially, with the result of—

Young

Did that happen under [George H. W.] Bush 41?

Kennedy

I’d have to go back through the records and check. It’ll be very easy to find out what the exact time was because of Rudman’s involvement. We were very much involved in it, too.

Young

Do you want to go on, or do you want to wind up? It’s quarter to five.

Kennedy

Well, we can wind down. Maybe we ought to talk about what we’re going to think about tomorrow.

Young

Yes. You have some notes there you might want to—

Kennedy

I think we talked about the changes in the state, which I think is important.

Young

Have we done the technology to your—

Kennedy

Probably, in terms of modern technology, I don’t have a lot more to add to that.

Young

We didn’t talk much about polls, the professionalization—

Kennedy

We could talk a little bit about that. We didn’t have a lot, but we did, obviously, do a lot. The important issue in that ’94 campaign was women.

Young

Yes, we haven’t talked about—

Kennedy

That was very important and dramatic, the five women who came up and appeared, and Vicki’s involvement with women’s groups—a very important shift. We’ve mentioned the difference in the scheduling. We could go through a day and talk about the people—

Young

Yes, walk us through it.

Kennedy

Walk through two or three of the old days. They’ll hear it in our own voices besides having an insert on it. That’s rather dramatic in terms of contrast to the poll. We ought to probably do that. I have that here.

Young

And also, on that, how those schedules are worked up.

Kennedy

Yes, yes.

Young

And how these decisions are made.

Kennedy

Sure. That’s good. We haven’t talked much about campaign financing. Basically it went from my father to the more traditional kinds of ways—

Young

That’s a big time-consumer.

Kennedy

It’s a big time-consumer. When I started, basically, my father paid for my first campaign, and certainly Bobby’s Senate race, and my brother’s. And then that shifted and changed with the times. I also find that the year and a half in which you have to do that kind of thing, you’re much less effective as a Senator. We can talk a little bit about that. 

Young

There’s a related issue. There’s a phrase among people who study elections and campaigns. They refer to something called the perpetual campaign.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Once you get in office, it’s never-ending. You’re having to campaign for money; you’re already thinking about the next campaign. I think that’s true in general, but I don’t know whether it’s pertinent to you.

Kennedy

Well, no, but you have a campaign operation. My God, you not only have to raise the money, you have to keep that thing going. I think [Ernest F. Fritz] Hollings said every day in the Senate he has to raise ten thousand, twelve thousand dollars. It’s dramatic. We could talk a little bit about that. I have a little part in here about minorities. We could do quickly the African-Americans, What have you done? We had South Africa, apartheid, racial profiling. We have the Armenians, the Cubans.

Young

This is part of your 2000 schedule?

Kennedy

This is the 2000. You have a copy of that.

Young

Yes, we do.

Kennedy

You could take a look at what we did—the Greeks, why they like me now, because I’ve been actively involved in this Cyprian thing, plus we’ve worked closely with Sarbanes in terms of the continued help and assistance for a lot of the refugees. Cyprus has been a continuing issue. The Indian-American community, of course, that’s with their visas, and we’ve been working a lot with that. The Irish, it was the diversity, Northern Ireland. The Jewish, the Mexican. You could look through. The Portuguese, East Timor. We were involved with these kinds of things.

You even have the Portuguese ship that goes to the islands—Madeira—the Ernestina, that used to bring people. We helped preserve that. I’m just giving you examples of this, and these are all very typical. We can do some of that, with the financing, see where we are. 2000. You can take a look through and see whether there’s any— 

Young

One thing that struck me about contrasting the two, the schedule from ’62 and the most recent one, was not only the variety—there’s a greater variety of places you go—but also, you’ve been a Senator for some years, you have a record. You didn’t in ’62 have a policy record.

Kennedy

Right.

Young

You didn’t have checks to present, and things of that kind. But also it appears that the issues that might be important to them or that you need to talk about during the visits with this group or that group—maybe this is an erroneous interpretation—but it looks more policy- or issue-oriented than the first schedule.

Kennedy

Oh, absolutely. This is all meet-and-greet. 

Young

That goes to the question of how these schedules are worked up and the talking points.

Kennedy

Absolutely. I can even remember some of the places. Schrafft’s, If raining, visit Veteran’s House. We can arrange for a patient to be visited and then tour the hospital. Neponset Circle, and the AVCO, that was defense. I remember a lot of the places.

Young

There’s a single-page note from Michael Myers from a November 11, 2004 meeting.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

I don’t know really what that’s about, and I think I’d like to hear more about—you’re thinking through, apparently.

Kennedy

Yes. This was November. Some of that is reflected in that speech I gave.

Young

At the Press Club?

Kennedy

At the Press Club. We ought to do a better job of looking within ourselves and speaking for the values that are the foundation. We believe our values unite us as Americans instead of dividing us. I talk about the White House, fear and division, that ours is the politics of hope and unity. That’s from in here. 

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

But what we need is prophetic faith. Greed. Materialism. You see this reflected more in an upbeat and hopeful kind of a—

Young

This is thinking of a sort that’s leading to—

Kennedy

We talked to a number of people, obviously, prior to the time of doing that talk. And we had another meeting.

Young

This is redefining—

Kennedy

Yes, where we are. It was a values kind of talk, and the second part of it is that we ought to accept the challenge of globalism, and we ought to equip ourselves to be able to deal with globalism individually and as a country, and that we can’t guarantee our commercial success or national security unless we’re going to fight for it, work at it, strive for it. That was the basic theme, and the way to do it was education. That was basically the thematic. I’ll re-read that tonight and see where we go.

Young

And you can also reflect on who the larger audience for this is and what you’re trying to accomplish. Sounds like something fundamental.

Kennedy

Well, it’s basically trying to get the Democratic Party to find different ways to go after some of these things. That’s basically what we’ve been trying to do. I did a whole series of these speeches about the Democratic Party—this is just the last one—but I think what would be useful is to get Miltie to take the seven talks and then look at where Clinton was, or where the other people were, and what the purpose was, and how we tried to trigger and move Clinton.

We did a lot with him on his watch, after the ’94 campaign, for example, where everyone was gloom and doom and saying that we’ve lost everything, and we were going to redefine where we were going. That’s this speech: We don’t need two Republican parties; one’s enough. But I think there’s a thematic, going through those themes, and also looking at it historically. Nick Littlefield would be very good at this. He’s one of the people you’re going to talk to. Nick ought to be asked beforehand about these thematic speeches and the changes, because he was very much involved in all of them, and how we affected the administration. Clinton is always saying, Every time I saw Kennedy, he gave me a little card, a card for things to do.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And I think we could get copies of those cards. Nick probably has copies of most of those cards. So we take the speech, and then take the cards, and then let other historians look at what came out of it.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Because we had a good deal of success during that time getting Clinton to—

Young

That’s a subject that doesn’t belong in campaigning.

Kennedy

That doesn’t belong in campaigning. That’s a whole—

Young

I’ll get in touch with Nick.

Kennedy

I think I want to do additional things. I want to talk to Vicki about these themes, too, because she’s very good, and she’s had a lot of influence on me. And she’s both read all of the books on it and thought a lot about it and is very good on it. Why don’t we see? We can start off and do some of the scheduling—the funding things, anyway—tomorrow.

Young

Tomorrow, what did you have in mind?

Kennedy

Why don’t we work the morning? And if it’s nice, I’ll give you a little sail, if there’s something we want to finish up the afternoon with. Otherwise, we can wind it up then.

Young

This is the second session of the fourth interview with Senator Kennedy in Hyannis Port.

Kennedy

Let me mention just a couple of things that I went through last night. I thought we’d talk a little bit about the debates.

Young

Good.

Kennedy

And then I thought also what we did at the Kennedy Library, during this period of time when the Republicans would have these foreign leaders come.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And that made an enormous difference. I can’t recall all the leaders now, but we had an incredible parade of them. I mean we had [Nelson] Mandela, and [Ehud] Barak, the Israeli foreign minister, and Abdullah II, the Jordanian. We had the Italian Prime Minister. And then I have a few things on the demography, and a little bit on the scheduling, 

Young

Good.

Kennedy

There was one aspect of the campaigning, of the registration, where we had Jesse Jackson, Jr., Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Jr., and Teddy Kennedy, Jr. going to colleges, and half or two-thirds of the college would show up at an auditorium with those four. And once in a while, I’d have a celebrity go in, and to hear them talk, they had to show that they were registered to vote. We got tens of thousands of students to do that. 

Young

When was that?

Kennedy

That was ’94.

Young

’94, okay.

Kennedy

I’ve gone through the schedule in some additional detail to take a look at it for the differences and the different places.

Young

Okay. You want to talk about the foreign leaders and the Kennedy Library first? Or do you want to come to that later and get back into the campaign?

Kennedy

Since I’ve mentioned them. Over the period of years where we had Republican administrations, particularly during Reagan and Bush One—not so much this last time—foreign leaders always welcomed the opportunity to go to Washington and have a meeting with the President. But they were always looking for another way to go and at least meet with Democrats, the Democratic leaders or a Democratic forum. They’d have meetings down there informally with Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate.

We would find out through my office when foreign leaders would be coming, through the State Department, which is generally available. And then we would invite them to also come up to visit the Kennedy Library. And frequently, I mean more than frequently, they would take advantage of it. There were some like Nelson Mandela whom we had personal contact with because we’d been so involved in the anti-apartheid movement, and Robert Kennedy had been so involved in it as well in the sixties. And the Polish leaders who had previously received the RFK Human Rights Award: [Jerzy] Popieluszko, Zbigniew Bujak and Adam Michnik. They were two labor leaders in the Polish underground movement for Solidarity. Popieluszko was their priest, who was murdered. I’d been to Poland, my brother Bob had been there, and we had good associations. We were able to get the Polish leaders to go to the Library. 

The Irish leaders who had been involved in the Good Friday Agreement all came over and received an award at the Library after the conclusion of the Good Friday Agreement. That’s eight or nine years ago. And Abdullah, when he first became King of Jordan, and his wife came, and Ehud Barak, who was then the Prime Minister of Israel, came. The Italian Prime Minister. I can go back through these names. It’s an impressive group who came.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We had the Portuguese; we had the East Timoreans who won the Noble Prize. Patrick [Kennedy] had been involved and visited East Timor. I had been involved with them in the human rights battles as well. So we had personal associations with most of these people in the different parts of the world. One I can remember—just since I’m talking—I had [Julio Maria] Sanguinetti from Uruguay out at the house. We had a number of the Latin American leaders from Massachusetts down to visit. Sanguinetti had brought a violinist with him. And after I gave him a toast, he got up, and he had the violinist play, and he and his wife danced the tango as his tribute. Then they sat down. I said, This is something else. He was very interesting on Uruguay because Uruguay had been liberated by [Giuseppe] Garibaldi.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Garibaldi had been in jail, and the woman, who was 27 years old, led 12 people in and released him. Garibaldi got an annulment and married the woman, and the annulment papers are in the tabernacle at Montevideo. During the time I was getting divorced, I said I was wondering how he was able to get an annulment to get married. And I asked Sanguinetti, Has anybody ever seen them? And he said the only people who are entitled to see it are the President and the Cardinal. I asked him if he had ever seen it, and he said no. 

After Garibaldi liberated Uruguay, he went back and liberated the city-states and had the unification of Italy in 1861. How I know all this is I had written papers about Garibaldi when I had been in school, but then I led the delegation in 1961.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But the basic point is that this was an outreach into the communities that was extraordinary and unique. We were very guarded about using the Kennedy Library for political purposes, but these people were legitimate heads of state who were very interested in being identified with President Kennedy out of their respect and admiration for him and what he meant to these countries. It was a very good fit, and it was unique as well as a very important continuing way to keep in touch.

Young

What was the range of events planned in connection with these?

Kennedy

Basically, they would have a dinner at the Library. We had what they called the Visitors Forum, and we had people who raised resources for that, so they were invitation only. Then a number of them would want to meet the next day with the business community or whatever, depending on their time. It was very easy. We talked to the Chamber [of Commerce] and the other business groups, and that was an interesting way for me to continue to work with the business community, which they appreciated. 

We’ve had enormous investments from Ireland in Massachusetts—which is natural—some very important investments that developed over a long period of time. We’ve been interested in the Irish affairs in association with Ireland. It was a natural fit, but we made sure it continued. Those were deep roots, and it’d be worthwhile sometime—I could have gotten the names, because it’s an impressive group. We have not done that in more recent times. We’ve gotten away from it. During this last probably year or so, we haven’t done that with this President. In the last couple of years, the President had just gotten reelected, and the year before, I was involved in the campaign.

Young

Did the Afghan leader—

Kennedy

[Hamid] Karzai? No. He was just over here at Boston University, but we missed him. 

Young

It looks a little too political right now?

Kennedy

No. I’m a great personal admirer of Karzai. I think the administration has left them high and dry over there, and it’s becoming the drug capital of the world. He’s tried, as reported, to have a voice about where troops were going to be, and that’s been all rejected by the administration. He has incredible credibility—of course, his father was killed. He has enormous personal courage. I’m an admirer of his. It’s difficult when you admire the person, but you’re critical of the policy.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It’s the same sort of thing when you admire these servicemen and are critical of the Iraqi policy. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I’m trying to get this wonderful Hart family who lost a boy. The boy [Pfc. John D. Hart] wrote, If we don’t get armor on my Humvee in the next month, I won’t live. And, boom, he got killed, and his father’s been very committed to it. I’ve been very involved and active on it. He’s been down listening to me talk and be critical of Iraq, and he’s come to accept that position. It’s difficult, because they don’t want their son, obviously, to die in vain. All these servicemen, as far as I’m concerned, are heroes. They’re doing what their country has asked them to do.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It’s just that the country’s policy is wrong. But it takes a little while to get that—

Young

Have there been many casualties from Massachusetts?

Kennedy

Thirty-five boys killed, about 400 wounded, about 100 without arms and legs. We’re very involved in working with the health agencies, the veterans’ agencies. I sponsored a terrific conference to get them into schools and colleges and get training, and also getting all the major employers to employ them. We’ve had our first meeting, and we’re going to have a second one beginning in the fall. They want to go to school, they’d like to go. They’re busy getting rehab. You have to have almost an advocate for them

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I had an advocate for all of the 187 families from 9/11.

Young

I was going to ask. In Massachusetts 187 families were affected?

Kennedy

Yes. I called all the people who had lost loved ones and met with them in a group at an organized session on a Saturday. They all came in and heard about the different kinds of things available to them. One of the families got up and said, Senator, I have 20 phone numbers to call for 20 different things. I can’t get out of bed in the morning. And I want to tell you, when I call, I get a busy signal or I get someone who can’t help. Is it asking too much for someone to be a helper for each of us? I was going to get students to do this, 20 students from each of the colleges. 

Young

Right.

Kennedy

And then I was having dinner with Nick Littlefield that night, and he said, That’s what social workers do, and I’m a social worker. So he got hold of the social workers, and they assigned a person to each of the families. And about every four months, we get them together over at Pier 4 and have a little wine and beer and hors d’oeuvres just to thank them. These are people who are making $35,000 a year, and they’re just making all the difference. And, quite frankly, the needs of these people are even greater now than they were at the time of 9/11. They’ve just run out of steam. They have such terrible troubles. 

Young

Does your Boston office coordinate these things?

Kennedy

Yes, we do that. I’m very active with the group. They have a society, and I attend all their meetings. We were very helpful to them, raising money for their memorial in Boston, in the Garden. It’s very nice, very simple, very well done. So that’s a continuing element. When you were talking about home Senator, that had a resonance. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

You can see in the Globe this morning about the Hanscom; they had an article.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

That’s a very important thing for the business community, and I’m talking to the Chamber of Commerce on Monday about some of those things. I mentioned one other aspect of the campaign, that when we came back from Italy in ’61, we made a film, and that was shown in every Italian hall.

Young

I didn’t know about the film. This was the Italian—

Kennedy

We made a—

Young

The Garibaldi?

Kennedy

When I was on the Garibaldi. We call it the [Giovanni] Agnelli and Garibaldi. [laughter]

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

On the centennial trip to Italy for Italian independence, I had a film made, about 35 minutes long. I had a photographer take all the films, hired people over there to take the films and put it together. Gene Dellea was one of several people I had show it in every Italian hall in the western part of the state. Don Dowd took it around, and he knew the heads of the Italian organizations, and they’d show it. They were always having monthly meetings, and they’d welcome it from time to time. All of our groups in different places in the state watched it. So what we’ve tried to do in the campaigns is to have a short film. We did one for my 25th anniversary in the Senate, and we’ve it used subsequently. 

It’s about a seven- or eight-minute film, which people can show on a television. And then they invite 25 people over to watch it. Some people have used it to raise a little money, and most will run their own campaign, getting out—Splash! Splash!—and we let them do that. We try to do it on a single night, try to call as many of the places as possible, too. That’s been a great success in establishing a presence, and we’ve had great interest from people wanting to do that. It’s been very helpful.

One of the elements that we’ve used right from the beginning is signature drives, where you have to get a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. And we’ve always tried to get great numbers. You have to get—I think it’s 20,000-25,000 signatures, and we always try to get 100,000. We have these registration sheets that we don’t submit, because on the registration sheet you have to make sure you have their ward and precinct and all the rest. If you can get people at the supermarket, they say, I can’t remember my precinct number, and therefore I won’t sign. So we just get the signature sheets of people with their addresses who would want to participate. That becomes a big deal about what region does it, what group does it. We try to do some events to honor these people. Two or three days ago, I sat next to the fellow who was the number-one gatherer of signatures in Brockton. He’s an old veteran, and he got 2,300 signatures himself, just going out all the time and—

Young

I was going to ask who volunteers to do that. Are any of them young people?

Kennedy

Young people will, old people. It’s very interesting how you can get people to work in the campaign, depending on the level of money you want to spend. The most important thing is getting the names of everybody in the city and their phone numbers, and then by blocks. Now that can be done pretty well. It’s pretty accessible and available today.

Then you have anyone call on the block, and when they call for me on that block, they’ll get a Kennedy volunteer, probably one out of three. If they don’t know anybody, if you’re Joe Smith and call, you’ll get it before ten. You’ll get one out of eight. If they don’t know anybody, Americans think, This is Joe Smith. He’s going to run for Congress. He cares about us; he’s a Democrat, and we’d like you to help. And they’ll say okay. It’s an amazing thing. We’ve done this. 

You ask them to do three things. First of all, they have to come to a meeting. And we’ve done it with this kind of a system in a city, and then taken the Democratic organization to get the people together, and see who shows. It’s an entirely different group of people, and you have to be careful that you don’t tee people off. But they come to a meeting, and then they have a literature drop. They have to drop the literature. They have to phone those people on Election Day, and they have to notify them and do their best to get them there if there’s going to be a rally. They have six things to do. They feel that they’re part of it. 

That’s an organization, and you do the whole city, and anybody can put it together. Now that kind of a structure is costly. If you have a hot campaign that’s going to be close, in Massachusetts, that kind of effort would cost you $2-$3 million to set up. But it’s invaluable. It’s not as much as you would spend for television. Now, of course, it’s probably more than that amount, but you get this enormous effort. We’ve done this in different key areas where there’s not a lot of energy to try to get the vote out, but if you get the vote out, it’s going to be yours.

Young

I can’t help but think about the contrast with Virginia, the Charlottesville area.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

I’ve been living there more than 20 years. The only campaign that attempted anything even remotely like this was Emily Couric’s recent campaign for the Statehouse, the last campaign. She’s dead now. But it’s extraordinary. You almost have to get in touch with somebody to offer to help. Nobody ever gets in touch with you, except with the direct mail or the canned phone calls.

Kennedy

That’s right. It’s expensive, although of course we’re trying to do this thing with volunteers. And when the volunteers come down to the rally, they’re all dressed to the nines, the party people. This is the first time they’ve—So we did that selectively in different places, depending on the tempo of the—

Young

Is that every campaign, or do you really do that mostly when it’s—

Kennedy

Only if you’re—

Young

In ’94, it would have been very—

Kennedy

In ’94 we had that in a lot of places. We didn’t probably have it in every place, but we were suddenly behind in mid-September.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And you have to start setting this up.

Young

Are polls helpful to you in spotting the places where you need to concentrate? Do you use them at all for that purpose?

Kennedy

I haven’t done a comprehensive study. I don’t know. I probably have it. The last one was done for Associated Industries. They’ve been doing it, and they’ve tracked it. I’m at 63-31. That’s where I am all the time. I go down sometimes to 28, 29 and go as high as 65, 66. I’m at 66 sometimes, but that’s basically what it is. And what I have done for all the past campaigns, I do the state. I’ll hear: You’re weak now in southeastern Massachusetts. The poll will show up. I’ll say, Gee, that’s amazing to me. They say, Oh, well, maybe it’s Rush Limbaugh who’s doing a job on you down there. So we increase the radio spots. 

But what I find is that if you look where they have given the permits for new homes—which is basically the growth of suburbia, exurbia—you’ll find that you can almost draw a line from west of Plymouth, going through Attleboro, up through Medway, around the suburbs of Worcester, and out into a few areas outside of Springfield. That’s the area with all new homes, and that’s where my margin will be, probably—if I’m winning by ten points, it’ll be four or five points less. It’s a beltway, and it’s all tied to new homes. 

We find out that we’re dropping, and we think that it’s southeast Massachusetts. But it isn’t southeastern Massachusetts, it’s this rim. We’ve looked at it very carefully, and it’s very interesting. When people move into communities, they’re uncertain. They don’t know who their neighbors are. They may be a Democrat from Hyde Park, but they’re just moving in. They’re starting out in a different kind of way. Their children are going to school. There’s a hesitancy of doing the wrong thing or getting too much involved. They settle in for a while, and then they begin to come back home. So if they’re moving in out there, you have to make an extra effort to get hold of them, to let them know you need them. This is a whole belt that crosses the state, and we watch it all the time. 

I put the percentages in different colors so you can see where you’re going, and this thing just comes right out at you. There may be some groups that aren’t going to be for me in any event, but this is something that we generally are more focused on. 

Let me just see. I mentioned the demographics, and I mentioned the Kennedy Library, and signatures. The other issue is the debates.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I’ll have to get the final list on the debates, but basically I’ve always felt that I’m much better off debating someone for a couple of hours. People can’t learn this business over a period of time, and you’ll finally find that they run short on information. I work with Romney closely on the base closing, and we spend a good deal of time on it.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But he’s not quite sure. After we have the announcements, they’ll say, Well, Governor Romney, what’s next? Ted, why don’t you talk about what’s next, about how many commissioners, when and where they’re having the meetings, how many commissioners have to go to each base.

He’ll have barns out in the center part of the state. Well, it’s out in the western part of the state, three-quarters of the way out. But he doesn’t know that it’s A-10s there, and the reason the A-10s are kept is that they’re close fire support, and they need them in Afghanistan.

Young

What’s an A-10?

Kennedy

An A-10 is an airplane that the Air Force has. They’re rather slow, and so they’re vulnerable for ground-to-air fire. But being slow, they have enormous velocity in terms of firepower into concentrated areas. So they’re what they call close ground support. They can lay out an extraordinary array of firepower into a concentrated area. If you know a group of people are in a particular area, you can try to drop a bomb on them, but this has, tactically, very strong advantages. 

So the Air Force is moving more of the A-10s into barns. And Westover is the air base they use for the air transport command, for re-supply. They’re bringing them up from Texas and sending them to central Asia or wherever. Westover is the big base for that. But Romney’s not so sure of the details of all of this. He can learn; he’s been around here for a time. And I always thought if you have a debate with someone, you might as well sit down and talk about it, because then people will find out that they really don’t know as much. But all of my advisors want short debates. I think I’ve told that story about what I did with Joe Malone.

Young

No, you didn’t.

Kennedy

Well, I debated Joe Malone a couple of times.

Young

This was when? What era?

Kennedy

This is Joe Malone is 1988, the general campaign.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

They had a panel out there, and there were a number of newsmen. But we were able to get one question on from one of the questioners to Joe Malone. He could ask the first question. Senator, you’re a tax-and-spend liberal. What are you going to tell the people of Massachusetts? And I’d say, That’s a slogan, not a program, Joe. You’ll have to do better than that. That’s all; all right. Now we’ll have the second question. So people say: Oh, my God. Joe Malone did as well as Ted! Ted’s been in there. He ought to blow this fellow out of the water. So if they do halfway well, it gives them an enormous boost. And to do halfway well, they just have to show up and look good and not screw it up.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Well, they went on for about three questions. This was a half-hour debate. Then one of the questioners said, You’ll be going to the United States Senate, Joe, and you’ll be voting for members of the Supreme Court. Tell us, Joe, which Supreme Court members do you admire and why? There was this long pause, and I could feel that hook going deeper and deeper into Joe. Finally they said, You have 30 more seconds, Joe. And he said, Well, we have a lot of good Supreme Court Justices, and it’s a very important institution. People don’t know. You could ask, and 90% of the people are not going to be able to come up with a name quickly. They won’t be. But people who are watching think that you ought to be able to. They don’t know it, but they think you ought to know it.

That’s always the most dangerous thing in any debate, getting caught by something that they think you ought to know—or that they know and you don’t, like what’s hamburger cost? When was the last time you were in the grocery store, and what did you pay for a quart of milk? Or hamburger? Or what’s my heating oil bill for a small house? A 3,500-square-foot house, what’s the heating bill over the course of the winter? You have to know all of those kinds of things, or you can get caught and you’re in real trouble. So Joe had it.

But let me give you just a little anecdote on the other side. When Claiborne Pell ran against a Congresswoman in Rhode Island, [Claudine] Schneider, she was doing very well. As a matter of fact, I think she might even have been two or three points ahead with four or five weeks to go. So they asked Claiborne Pell, You’ve been in the Senate now for eighteen years. Can you tell us what you’re proudest of? Tell the people of Rhode Island what single thing you’re proudest of. Well, he said, I just can’t come up with anything like that right now. No, no, no. Tell us, Senator. You’ve been in now. What is it? I just can’t think. Thank you very much, ladies and gentleman, Boom. And everybody said: Bye-bye. Hasta la vista, Claiborne. That’s going to be the end. 

But he went up five points, because people in Rhode Island know Claiborne, and they know he does do things, and they’re sick and tired of politicians always taking credit for things they don’t do. They thought the fact that he thought about it for a little while and was going to come back, complimented them rather than giving a quick answer. God Almighty. He’d probably be the only person in the world that would work for.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It was a phenomenon, a political phenomenon. That doesn’t happen to anybody. Maybe it’ll happen, but you’re not going to take the chance. So I had this with Malone the first time. Everyone said, He did very well, Ted, but he didn’t quite have the depth to handle it, and so it slowed down a good deal of the interest. I think we had a second debate, and it was rather routine, but there was no viewing audience. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

What we try to do, and have from the beginning, with a lesser known, we’re always under pressure to debate because this is controlled by the Globe and the Herald. They appoint themselves, which is very interesting. They work it out with a couple of the television stations. They’re making the news, so there’s a complete conflict, but no one seems to know or care. They certainly don’t. They always put pressure, because it’s news and it helps them sell papers.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So we always end up getting into a debate. There are always a lot of forms that they send, and your opponent always accepts them, and there’s always a question about what you do with these. Now the first person—

Young

Questions only from news people?

Kennedy

No. 

Young

The audience?

Kennedy

The League of the Women Voters will ask you and your opponent to come.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

The Chamber of Commerce in New Bedford will ask you to come. The Conservation League will ask you and them to come and have a debate. And if both are going to come at the same time, they’ll get live television to come tapping in.

Young

Any questions from the floor—

Kennedy

They might have—whatever forum they want, they’ll have. This is what you have to consider in the campaign, that you’re willing to have an exchange and willing to have ideas, but you have to have at least some idea about what the format is. 

The basic point is, after we had that debate with McCormack in South Boston—and then another debate out in Holyoke—after the South Boston debate and the fallout from that, he had been badly wounded. There had been enormous viewer-ship of the first debate, but the second debate was pretty ordinary, and there wasn’t much viewing, there wasn’t much news. The die had really been cast, and people had formed an opinion about me on the basis of that debate. So when I got to the Lodge situation, there wasn’t enormous pressure to debate him. There was some. And I had a series, about five debates, with him, but none of them were on television. They were always on radio. 

We could work that out. There’d be a group that we’d have contacts with, maybe the North Shore Chamber or some group, sponsored by the Salem News, the newspaper. But we had contact, and we’d say, Look, I’m glad to come. Lodge is glad to come. But we’ll just do the radio. They’d say, Fine. That’s fine with us.

Young

This is in a studio?

Kennedy

No, questions and answers at a luncheon.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

I had I think four or five of them—we can come back and check—and the final one I had with Lodge was in Worcester; it was on foreign policy. It was sponsored by a Jewish temple, and they had several thousand people there. They had television in the back. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be recorded, or television in the back. It was the night of the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. So they paused and said, Now we’re going to hear President Kennedy speak. And President Kennedy said, The Cuban Missile Crisis is over. The planes are leaving. 

When it came to the opening statement, I said, I want to go to the Senate and support his foreign policy. The place went bananas. I got a standing ovation. Poor George wasn’t—although I liked George a lot. He served on the Institute of Politics board, and I always had a personal liking for him. I always got along with him. He was a very decent guy, and there were never any hard feelings. 

Although in the first campaign with H. Stuart Hughes, we were all speaking at these events. We’d have H. Stuart Hughes, and he’d say, I remember meeting Teddy when he was in shorts down in Hyannis Port. He was a professor, and he was trying to be demeaning. He overdid it at certain times, and he never got off the mark, although he got 144,000 signatures against the war in Vietnam in 1962 in this state. 1962! We’d had 100 people killed. There was a whole movement at that time. It’s extraordinary. But he was never able to get anything put together. So we’ve covered the McCormack and Lodge debates, the series of radio debates, and then the final debate, which was the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. There was Malone, the debates, but Romney was the big debate at Faneuil Hall.

Young

Have you encountered opponents in Massachusetts who have personal animus? To what extent does personal enmity sometimes overshadow the public purpose of the debate or intrude into it?

Kennedy

No, I haven’t had that with anybody—

Young

So it’s just serious politics? There was a fellow, [Jack E., III] Robinson, at one time—

Kennedy

Yes, but he had—

Young

A Republican?

Kennedy

He was a Republican, but he was in so much trouble from the very beginning that people didn’t take him seriously. So I didn’t really have to take it—

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We had a situation where we challenged his signatures, which, in retrospect you can question. The state committee did. They said, Look, this fellow is not going to have it, and why do you need it? Fine with us. So they challenged that part, and I don’t think there’s any question he probably didn’t have the signatures, but the fact of that challenge suddenly gave him a little life. It just shows that you have to be so careful on that kind of thing.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But that life only lasted a few days, because he couldn’t help but make mistake after mistake. So since he didn’t appear to be a serious candidate, we didn’t have to deal with a debate. The basic problem that you have in a debate is anybody can figure that you’ve been down there for the period of time, and anybody who can stand toe-to-toe with you—what’s wrong with you? And if you can’t blow them out of the water, and of course, you can’t be— People, as they should, are expecting you to be senatorial and courteous and respectful. That’s what they want, but they still want you to tear the guy—your allies tear him apart. Is there something wrong with you? 

On the other side, the person is getting great notoriety standing up to somebody who’s been in there. So it’s a no-win situation. People say, Well, we want to have an examination of your views. They can have the examination: my views are about as far out there as you can get. Well, what is it? National health insurance? Against the war? What is it that you need to know about my priorities? But they still expect that, and I feel that people are entitled. In holding the office, I have a high regard and respect for the office and feel that I have an important responsibility to both, in campaigns, to get around, to let people know that their vote is needed and wanted and that this is a campaign, and it’s about the Senate and explaining my positions, and to run. Even if I don’t have a very serious opponent, we still got around the state and I ran like I did have a very serious opponent because people are entitled to it. And I think with regard to the debates and discussions, they’re entitled to that, too. You might not want to do it, inherently, as a politician, but you know you should because that’s what this process is about.

I’m always back and forth, but I always end up going ahead and doing it. I think it’s important and people are entitled to it, so if you don’t win by as much, so be it. This is a system and a process, and people ought to have a Senator who wants to get in and talk about these kinds of things. We’re debating all the time on the Senate floor, so it isn’t that you don’t like to get going on it. I enjoy that give-and-take on an issue, particularly one you care deeply about and know a good deal about on the Senate floor. But obviously, you’re looking at other considerations in a campaign.

Young

Sure. Sure.

Kennedy

You want to go to the schedule then? I’ll tell you what I’ve done on the schedules.

Young

Okay, good.

Kennedy

I’ve tried to go through some of these to show what we were doing at the time in terms of the broader appeal and then the later ones, which I tied into, that have an issue appeal. 

[BREAK]

Kennedy

The ’62 campaign was focused primarily on the convention, and then the general election. In the very beginning it was somewhat uncertain whether we could win the convention, and so it appeared that we ought to have a strong public dimension besides just a delegate vote. It was also apparent that, in order to impress the delegates that we could win, we had to demonstrate electability and support as well as work the political inside channels and levers. 

The stories that were written, particularly about the convention, concerned the authority or the power of the President to appoint postmasters. Presidents could appoint postmasters at that time. We were accused of promising these postmasterships to delegates all over the Commonwealth, which was a vast overstatement, although in a few places we did appoint some postmasters, one of whom we still see a good deal of, and that’s the Condons on the North Shore. Marguerite Condon is the head of the right-to-life group up there, and she is the strongest Kennedy supporter in the state. When they had a right-to-life rally some years ago outside the place I was speaking, she went right out and spoke to each and every one of them. They all left. She’s something else, Marguerite. Her husband was the postmaster; he’s now retired. There’s a fellow whose name you’ll come across, Kevin Callahan, who used to work for me; his father was appointed. But he had worked for my brother in ’52, and my brother was going to appoint him. This was vastly overstated, but it was still around. Just after that they passed legislation—really nothing to do with Massachusetts—to change the postal system.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

There’s, as we know, very little federal patronage for Senators. They’re supposed to take your recommendation on a U.S. Attorney, and they’re supposed to listen to you on district judges, and to some extent, circuit, but it really depends on who the President is and whether they want to and what your relationship is. Although after I was elected, I did appoint a very prestigious bipartisan group of the bar, and asked them to make a series of recommendations, and of their ten recommendations, I must have submitted seven who are district judges now. I think we had probably the best district court in the country. People and jurors have commented on it. While I’m thinking about that, we ought to get the names of the people. I don’t know whether it’s worthwhile, although I think my service in the Senate in terms of the federal judiciary and the judges is an important part.

Young

Yes, yes.

Kennedy

And it’s worthwhile to interview someone who worked either in the committee and how those recommendations were made. We can get that for you.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

I consider it to be very important, and we can come back and talk about that at another time.

Young

This was your first year in the Senate? Or the first term?

Kennedy

Yes, in my first couple of years in the Senate. The other thing I did is for the military academies. Candidates are selected a third by the House, a third by the Senate, and a third by the President. I take the top ten in each area. I try to take the people right at the top of the list, generally academically, although I always try to present a balance to the Academy. 

I remember there was a young boy who went to high school in Charlestown whose father was a firefighter who’d been killed. The mother was an alcoholic and left, and he was raising the five or six different children. He himself was raising them and working and one boy was captain in three sports and number one in his class. But he wasn’t doing quite as well on the SATs. I just put him on the list, and I called the Academy and said, Look, you have to take the people on it, but if you want a military officer, this boy will be outstanding.

Young

Was this West Point? Annapolis?

Kennedy

West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force. They select. I send ten down there, and they’ll take the person they think is best suited, and the person gets notified. I don’t notify them. They get notified when the ten go down there that I’m sending ten down. The Academy selects, but my others go in the pool. Other Senators will send one person down there, and the Academy has to take him or her, but they don’t send any pools down there. And as a result, I’ve gotten more people in the military academies than any other Senator. I got the nicest note from Barry Goldwater, commending me for the way I did it because it gave them the very best in terms of military leadership.

Young

How do you get the ten? The top ten?

Kennedy

The top ten people, I have a whole process for the application for the military academies.

Young

They come to you?

Kennedy

Yes, and we try to get kids. Every high school has a notice on it.

Young

Right, okay.

Kennedy

But it’s interesting that we get very few applications from the Greater Boston schools, virtually zero. It’s very hard to get kids to apply from the Greater Boston schools. We get them from the high schools outside, and these kids are tops. With their SATs and marks, they could get into any school.

Young

Do you have a lot from western Massachusetts?

Kennedy

The middle part of the state.

Young

The middle part.

Kennedy

Yes, from the very good high schools. Framingham is a good school. Weston. Newton. Of the top 100 high schools in the country, we have probably about 12 or 15 in Massachusetts. That’s just another point about how I serve people and take that seriously. I do take it seriously, and we have a good group in terms of diversity and really top-flight people. We take the time to go through it. I have a very good person for each of the academies who helps process those things through.

And as for the judiciary, I want at the end of this time that I’ve been in the Senate to say that I’ve led the fights and opposed people for the federal judiciary. But when they look back on the quality of the people I’ve recommended and sent, they’ve been the top. That’s how I view that whole point. Since I’m so involved and active in the selection and ensuring that people who are going to get on the courts are going to have core commitments to the Constitution and be good judges, I have to have the best.

We’ve had some very sad circumstances. I failed to appoint a person recommended by Eddie Boland, who, going back to 1962, made the speech for my nomination. He was the only member of the Congressional delegation in Massachusetts to support me. They didn’t want to get caught between McCormack and Kennedy.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But Eddie Boland had gone to Ireland with my brother and was a great supporter of my brother. He agreed to support me, and that made an enormous difference. It gave me credibility right away. The convention was in his hometown of Springfield. It made a difference in terms of the delegates in the western part of the state who had enormous respect for him. Endorsements generally don’t make a lot of difference unless people have a sense that there’s some kind of connection. If they know that you’re connected in some way, they’ll listen to you; they’ll say, Tell a little bit, tell something about the person you’re talking about.

But if you go out and endorse some person just because they’re a Democrat, people don’t pay you a whit’s bit of attention. It maybe helps them a little bit to raise some money, but I don’t think, myself, that it makes much difference. But because of the association that Boland had had with President Kennedy, that endorsement made a lot of difference. Boland was the leader in ending the war in Central America.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I offered the Boland Amendment initially in the Senate, but it took five years before [Daniel] Inouye offered the Boland Amendment, which had been my amendment. We carried it by 51, and it stopped the Contras, the war there. The only thing Boland asked is that we appoint his brother-in-law to the federal bench. His brother-in-law had been recommended in the top five, but he hadn’t been recommended in the top three. I took the top one, Judge [Michael A.] Ponser, who’s the judge out there now. 

Boland didn’t speak to me again until his death. He’d say hello, but he didn’t say anything else, and his family didn’t until this year. I went out to Springfield, and I’ve been helpful to Mary Boland’s son, getting him into school, and I helped another one to get a job in New York. The children feel that we ought to get beyond all of this. I’ve invited her to the Kennedy Library repeatedly as our guest, and she’s starting to come now. Now she’s fine. 

Young

Did you wish you hadn’t done that?

Kennedy

Oh, no. I thought I ought to put Ponser on, but I got a lot of criticism. Not only was Boland upset, but all the political people who were so loyal to me and loyal to Boland couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t put him on.

Young

There wasn’t something else that Boland—

Kennedy

This was the only thing he wanted. He was a fellow named Judge [Daniel M.] Keyes, and as I said, there was a level of difference between Judge Keyes and this other fellow. It wasn’t just, I’m taking the other guy just because he’s a pol.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I haven’t done that, I don’t do that. This was a painful thing. But in any event, Ponser is a brilliant judge out there, and he’s universally admired and respected. He’s eloquent, he writes, he’s very highly regarded and respected.

Young

Do you have a list of the appointees?

Kennedy

Sure. Oh, yes.

Young

We could ask Beth for that sometime?

Kennedy

Yes, you can get that. We can get that very easily.

Young

It must be quite a number over the years.

Kennedy

Yes. For the District, it’s probably eight in the District, more than that. One Circuit, a gal is terrific—scholarship, put herself through school, waited on tables—just unbelievable, and she’s brilliant, too, and universally highly regarded and respected. So that’s a feature. The academies are less so. You can talk to one of my administrative assistants. Just say this is an area you want to cover, and they’ll go through that. Maybe Nick can find out, because Nick knows the jurors. That can be an area you’d want him to cover. 

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

He knows the judges well. He knows Ponser. We had one situation where I had two or three vacancies, and I had them all lined up, and there was a vacancy out in Worcester. And Slade Gorton of the state of Washington wanted his brother put on. I said, He didn’t come up in the line up. Well, he said, you’re not getting your judges. I’m putting a hold on all your judges. So we waited, and it went on for about six or seven months. I went back and talked, personally to a lot of the people. I said, Can his brother handle the job? I’m not going to appoint a turkey. They said, Well, he can. He’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he’s competent and can do it. So, boom, I released it. It was such an interesting thing. Here’s this piousness now on the nuclear option, when Slade Gorton was out there holding this up and completely supported by all the Republicans.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

But that was the only time that someone leaned on it, really. These were Democrats, of course, during this period of time. 

Well, to get back to this, at the beginning of the campaign, it looked like we were getting ready, I always knew I’d go in the primary, and it evolved after a month or two, that we’d have a reasonable chance at the convention. I was not sure of that at all, nor do I think people that were involved in the political campaign thought at the beginning of the campaign we could necessarily win the convention. 

Young

You had said that you wanted a public cast to the convention, in addition to working the insiders. How did that translate—?

Kennedy

Well, the point was that under Massachusetts law, the ultimate choice would be made in the primary.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So that’s where I thought I was going to be strongest. The McCormacks had always been more involved in the state committee and in the party than my brother had been. And my brother had ruffled a lot of feathers because he had had these Secretaries who had been opposed to the party.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

So even though there was a lot of respect and admiration for him, there was an element among the party officials who were looking for a way to give him the leg a little bit. Democrats love to win, but they love to fight. They like to level scores. So it wasn’t entirely apparent to me how the convention was going to come out. But it gradually became more and more evident that we could win it. And then, probably three weeks before the convention, we were sure we would win it. At the end, there was a big chunk of change, people in Hyde Park. There was a fellow named Craven and a fellow named [Michael Paul] Feeney who controlled Wards 20 and 21, and they finally came on. And then, the die was pretty well cast. They were the old guard, and they were very important symbolically. They had word that Kennedy was going to win this. 

But the schedules that you’ll see for July 10, basically what I tried to do is do Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, early plant gates and long days and evenings. And then I generally took Friday as an issue day down here. I was tired when it started, but we’d do Friday as an issue day. And then Saturdays and Sundays were rather odd political days, because those were the festivals, the Communion breakfasts, the parades. And they were a lot different from the kinds of schedules that you’ll see on this part. So I’d do those Saturdays and Sundays and take Mondays off. That’s what I did for several months.

Young

Are these schedules primary or for convention delegates?

Kennedy

This was all before the convention. And what you’ll find out is, at 5:30 in the morning, I’d be picked up at Charles River Square, and we’d go up to Lawrence, to the Tyer Rubber factory up there, at the gate, 300 people. And then from 6:15 to 6:40; 6:45 to 7:00 is Western Electric; that’s 300 people in North Andover, which is very close. The point is that in each of these areas, you obviously try to have the labor leader from Tyer Rubber company with you, and it’s very important that you get the right gate.

People going in in the morning go in very slowly, so you can meet people then, while in the afternoon, they want you out of their way. They want to get home. But in the morning—it’s very interesting—workers will get in there 15 or 20 minutes beforehand so they can sit down and have coffee and get themselves together. Very few people just come running in at the last second. I’ve seen that. So that’s a good time, and people get the impression that you’re working. Part of this whole process was: Here’s the President’s brother. Is this fellow going to work? Is he a worker or is he not a worker? Who is this guy? 

I enjoy working, and I like working hard, but I knew that it was going to be convincing people, and convincing one of the key forces in the state—that was going to be labor—that you’re a worker. One of the obvious ways is the early morning plant gates. So this went on. And on this morning, we did two of the plant gates until around 7:00, and then we have 7:00 to 7:20, eating. Then the electric linesmen gather at a particular place when they go out together. 

Then we went to the Internal Revenue. They have a regional office up there, and we were able to go through and meet the people. We did a radio program, established a presence. On this particular schedule, they say it’s 8:15 to 10:10, and they list probably five different plants that are all next to each other—Marum’s High Grade Knitting, which has 300, the Hy-Grade Textile Mending, the Ace Knitting, the Cardinal Shoe, the Barre Textile Manufacturing, which was 500, and the Gas Light Company—they were all very close to each other. The time we went out, we’d do that for two hours. Depending how people are lined up, you can go through probably 450 an hour. 

But if you go through a plant or factory in New Bedford or Fall River, every third floor is a cutting room, so they are all separated. There will be only 150 or 200 cutters on the floor—cutters are one of the most important jobs—but it still takes a long time to get to them because the floor is so big. But if they’re all bunched up—shoes, textiles and knitting—you can do about 400 an hour, and you’re focused on that.

Young

So the 8:15 to 10:10—

Kennedy

That’s two hours.

Young

Two hours. These are people already at work.

Kennedy

These are people who are already at work. Now a lot of these people are resentful of the fact that you’re interrupting them because they’re doing piecework. So you have to be very careful. We found a lot of enthusiasm on the part of people. The pieceworkers will still stop and look at you. And in some places, the foreman will stop everything for you and bring all the people together, and on each floor you can stop and talk to 500 people. The owner of the textile company would go in and tell the people, I’ll make it up to you, but this is what we’re going to do for the next 15 minutes. And, boom, he has everybody come down, and you can talk for five or seven minutes. That’s when you’re at your best, because you’re seeing 500 people, and you’re being exposed to them. But that’s not generally the way it works. You have to go from place to place to see them. 

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

Then we stopped off for coffees, and the coffees are fifteen minutes long in these different communities. I would think that most of the people we were talking to were delegates or assistant delegates or Democratic activists or on the town or city committee. We’d ask them to do it, and they would bring their friends in, so that made them a big deal. That’s basically what we’d try to do.

Young

I see.

Kennedy

It didn’t always work that way. We might not be able to get the precise delegate, but we could get the head of the city committee or the woman who’s running the labor, and they control a little town committee or whatever it is. We tried to identify those people.

And then the two newspapers: The Sunday Sun was a very small newspaper there; I think it might have been a weekly. The Lawrence Tribune was an important paper—it still is—Republican, and they’re not friendly, or terribly friendly or supportive, but we still had to go in and see them. Then we were back at lunch at public places, at Wirth’s and then Bishop’s Restaurant. You have two different restaurants—one, I guess, was in Lawrence. And the president of the Chamber of Commerce—they were two different lunches, both very short. At Bishop’s Restaurant, I think, it was just going in and meeting and greeting the people since we were in there only ten minutes. 

The City Barns are where the city workers come in and change. The truckers come in, the change in the city workforce, the early shifts, the late shifts. They all come in there: the parks department, the sanitation department, all the various groups that work for the city. That’s the place where they keep the vehicles. 

Young

Right.

Kennedy

You have the people coming on and going off.

Young

Right. Not police or fire?

Kennedy

Not police or fire. You’ll see we did stop at most of the fire stations. There’s one later on here. 

Then we continue on in the afternoon to Arlington Mill, and it has the name of the person: Ask for Jim Ryan in the front lobby. You have another 20 minutes, Gertrude Dwyer in Methuen. That’s obviously another community. Lawrence, North Andover, and Methuen, geographically, are three communities that are very independent and different, but close together, and with sizeable Democratic constituencies. 

Then we’re back for a series of coffees, 2:40 to 3:00 with Mrs. [Eileen] Crowley, 3:00 to 3:20 with Mrs. [Yvonne] Yameen, and 3:20 to 3:45 with Mary Jackson. You see here, we have the Irish, and then we have ethnic, different groups reflected as best we could. Here are the Democratic State Committee Women, 3:40 to 4:15. Then at 4:45, we had a circuit of the clubs, mostly run by delegates. These are a series of clubs up there that these people go to after work—bars, clubs, ethnic clubs. I want to talk about the ethnic press, too, as part of the communications. We have to write that down, ethnic newspapers. 

We’d always have a Polaroid with us and take pictures and hand them to people, which is always a great success. Then we went to the fire station; the shifts were changing. That was at 5:45 to 6:00, then the police station, and their shifts were changing. Then we went to the local softball game and got 400 or 500. Next, the meeting of the Signature Workers, which I mentioned earlier, at the Red Tavern.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We would go down at 7:20 with all the people who were getting signatures, and we’d have a meeting with them and talk about the signatures in those three communities. So we had the police, the fire, the delegates, labor—you had a big chunk of women, the newspapers, one radio station—

Young

And you started out—

Kennedy

We started out at 5:30, and we’d end up in Methuen probably at—it all slips, so you’d end up there probably at 8:30 at night, and then probably another half hour to get back into town.

Young

I see you have 40 minutes of rest in there.

Kennedy

We have 20 minutes of rest.

Young

How’d you—

Kennedy

To be honest about it, I was able to do it in those days. I was in great shape, and it really didn’t bother me. I’d be tired. Getting up at plant gates for three days in a row was as much as I could do. I couldn’t do it for the fourth, but I could do it for three. I always went to bed early. I’d go to bed as soon as I got home at 10:00. 

Young

Were you living in Boston at the time?

Kennedy

Boston. Living in Boston, at that time, at 3 Charles River Square. It was a small townhouse. We had lived in Louisburg Square when I first came back from the campaign; we had an apartment for eight or nine months, and then moved prior to the campaign. 

This is Tuesday, July 24th. Well, that’s the 10th, a Tuesday. They took all Tuesdays. July 12th is very similar. This is in western Massachusetts, so I’m over-nighting out there. Wherever I’m getting up from, I’m going to the plant from 5:40 to 6:15, so they’re picking me up around 5:15 in the morning. Here’s Don Dowd, the fellow I mentioned to you, still around. It’s ’62, and he’s taking me out there. 

Young

Yes. Steve is going to be interviewing him this summer.

Kennedy

That’s good.

Young

He’s doing a lot of these people. Tell me who Jim King was.

Kennedy

Eddie King was around in my brother’s campaign in 1958. I traveled a lot with him. He was a retired labor worker, enormously devoted to my brother, and my brother really liked him. After he got elected, he put him on the Boundary Commission with Canada. They meet only four or five times a year, but he showed up for every meeting. He’s a resourceful fellow, just delightful, salt of the earth. That was his father. So much of Massachusetts is father and son. 

Eddie King was the father, and Jimmy King worked for me. Eventually he worked in my Boston office as my administrative assistant for a short time. He was Barbara’s deputy and then came down and worked in the White House for [Jimmy] Carter. He went to the Institute of Politics for a time and now teaches at a university. He comes to the conventions. He was at the Democratic convention with Kerry. 

We have the early morning with the radio stations, then the newspaper reporters in mid-morning. This Mass. Mutual Insurance was heavily Republican, but they’d let us take a tour, that’s 9:45. Milton Bradley, that’s an incredible toy company, a tour through there. The Telephone Company and Holyoke Dress Company, Springfield Country Club at lunchtime, 75 to 100 Democrats. That would have been the Democratic delegates from the area. Powers Restaurant, West Springfield—that’s a different community from Springfield, and they have been mostly Democrats. 

Then we have the beginning of the plant gates in the afternoon, 2:30, General Fiberbox. Those go all the way through. 6:00 to 8:00—we were having dinner with the mayor. Then the opening of the Kennedy headquarters, and then 9:00 is Agawam, visit the Knights of Columbus Golf Club. At 9:30, American Legion. That covers Ward 2. That means Ward 2 for delegates. You get the structure—the balance they had. It goes on. This is interesting. If you look over Tuesday, August—

Young

The 28th?

Kennedy

Yes. Wear old shoes for tanneries. You’re going through these tanneries, and the acid in the floor eats the soles right off the bottom of your shoes a day later. You have to put on rubber boots or some other covering; if you don’t, they’ll be absolutely gone. These are the boxes, the cartons they used to import barrels of hides packed in acid from Australia up to the North Shore—to all the Peabody, Salem places. There they took the hides out, and they took the boxes and dumped them. That’s where these acids leeched down into the well systems in Woburn where we had A Civil Action, where the children had leukemia. They analyzed the water, and they couldn’t find the dioxins or the poisons, but every child who drank it got cancer, directly traceable to these acids. 

There you see at the top of this day, Wear old shoes for tannery and old coat if possible, because if any of that acid gets on your coat, it goes right through. You talk about an OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] site.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

This was the North Shore. We were up in Salem, and we went to the John Flynn Tannery and the Salem News. The Telephone Company’s up there, more tanneries, the Hawthorne Tanners, and then the Leach-Heckel Leather Company. These are all leather companies and tanneries. Then we left the North Shore.

Young

Those tanneries are gone now?

Kennedy

No, some very highly polished, finished leather goods are exported actually to France and Italy using these goods. They still do some very fine, very high-end stuff. Very small numbers on it, not like the old days. All the shoe industries went, and then they went to these hides and tanneries, and they held on for a while. Some of the very high-end leather still is produced up there.

Then we went back into Brookline, and this fellow, Beryl Cohen, was the state senator, and he had a big chunk of the delegates. He was a civic supporter of mine, Beryl Cohen. So you’d mix. When Beryl Cohen said, This is where you want to go, we went there; he’s supporting us. He’d decide where we wanted to go. At other places, we’d say where we wanted to go. It was open to these people, and we’d tell them where we wanted to go. 

Young

How did you draw up the lists of where to visit at all these stops?

Kennedy

Well, first of all, you have an overall demographic of where the Democratic votes are.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

And where the Democratic delegates are going to be, and then where you’re going to have to spend some time for the delegate votes.

Young

Looking at the wards and the places the delegates were coming from?

Kennedy

Where they’re going to be coming from, and increasing as you get closer to the convention. Now this is, as I say, Beryl Cohen, and we’re in Brookline. They don’t have big plants and factories and that sort of thing. We went to shopping centers and the Brookline Town Yard and another housing place, and then my brother’s birthplace, and coffee at the newspaper. 

Then it’s the town hall, the police station, the fire station, the MTA station. We did rush hour at MTA stations: Brookline, Coolidge Corner, Cleveland Circle. The people who come out of there or go there are from Brookline. You go with the state rep who’s very popular—it’s the balance, again, between the delegates and getting some—you see we were at the Parker House, the labor leaders, and then Cambridge, opening the headquarters where you come back and do signatures. You begin to get the rhythm of it.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Now you jump from there to—let me just close this door over here.

Young

It’s very important that these be given with notes because it will help the transcriber to know what’s being referred to here. They can have the documents and some notes on them. You have notes on them?

Martin

Lots of notes here.

Kennedy

If you switch over now to Monday, October, 23, 2000, this is an entirely different thing. There isn’t the early plant gates—not that I’m opposed to going to plant gates—we’re doing it a little differently these days. In ’94, one of the things that were working against me was that Romney looked like he had the strong support of the business community, which he did. He did have strong support of the big, major companies. So we were thinking again about my own record on business, particularly small business, and we remembered that I had been the author of what they called the Small Business Innovation Research Program, SBIR. This program was really developed by a person at Arthur D. Little up in Cambridge. Barbara Souliotis can remember his name. 

He was pointing out that in many of the universities in the early sixties, the faculties weren’t moving. They were staying in, they were tenured, and younger faculty didn’t have an opportunity to move up. They were going into the private sector, but they also had a great interest in universities. There was a great relationship between them, particularly up around Cambridge, and we thought we ought to encourage this kind of brainpower and innovation in high-end research in the National Science Foundation. 

So we formulated a program called Small Business Innovation Research that provided small grants for high-tech companies that were working on breakthrough technologies. And we did a second program—the NIST, the National Institute on Standards and Trademarks—that was even more out there. It dealt with photonics and concepts that may be valuable to industry in the future, and investigating who had proposals on that kind of thing. This person was very good.

We got this to the National Science Foundation, and they took a certain percent of their budget and put it in here. A number of grants went out under this program. In 1982, Warren Rudman was so impressed with the success of this program that he said we ought to do it for each of the governmental agencies: the Commerce Department, the Energy Department. We need advanced research in each of these departments, and we ought to do this. We’ll do a half of one percent of their total budget, then one percent, then one-and-a-half. Now it’s one-and-a-half percent of their budgets, and it’s hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Massachusetts is the number-one state per capita and the number-two state in the country that receives these grants. California is number one, and we are number two. Who do the grants go to? They go to energy. They go to people doing cutting-edge research in energy. They’ll do some in terms of defense. They’ll do it in each of these various departments. So I found out who was getting the grants in Massachusetts—we had scores of different companies getting them. 

We decided to go to see the people who were getting the grants, all small businesses, all increasingly successful, all strongly supportive of the program because the amounts they got were probably from $500,000 to maybe $2.5 million. That’s an enormous amount for a small business, and they were delighted to see us. We’d have a big check made up like we were delivering it the first time. We’d be going to Fall River, and what did we do but stop over at Duro Industries. This Duro Industries now is dynamite; they’re one of the most successful companies down there. 

We’d start off, and we’d have the press conference there with the head of the company. The newspaper wasn’t really at all sure about what this was, but they saw this big check. Did you get the money? Yes. Where’d you get it from? This is a program of Senator Kennedy’s? Yes. And you support the program? This thing was just dynamite.

We found out where these places were in the places we wanted to visit. On this day, it’s Duro Industries in Fall River. That was a military one, military vice-president, military sales. So what you’re seeing is that we are reminding people of areas of activities that we’ve been involved in that have benefited the state. Here’s the example of Duro Industries, where we’d tell them which other places in the community had benefited from this program. We went over then to the New Bedford National Park. It had been up for funding for years, and we couldn’t get it approved. We finally got it approved, and it’s kind of an interesting story.

Just to remind the people, one of the principal parts that still have to be completed is this Corson Building, which is an old, old building. We had the press conference there in the Park to remind the people about the fact that we were the ones who got the designation for the National Park, which makes an enormous difference for the people there. 

We got that also tied into the schools. Since New Bedford whalers went all the way up to Alaska and to Hawaii, we have a program that links the high schools through the Internet to students in Hawaii and also in Alaska. All of that’s supported by [Theodore F.] Stevens, who’s the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and Inouye, who’s the ranking minority member, and New Bedford. It’s just a small program—$2 or $3 million a year—but it’s all about these families, their cultural center. A number of the families from New Bedford went to Alaska and stayed there, and also Hawaii. 

Young

Really?

Kennedy

Yes, it’s a fascinating connection, the whaling industry. Then we went to Antonio’s, luncheon with all the Portuguese community leaders. You won’t get the chance, but this is the most authentic Portuguese restaurant in New England. There may be others in the country. They serve it as a home meal; they put all the food out on the table. It’s a wonderful family-run restaurant. All of the Portuguese community leaders were there, and it was just a very successful event. Then we went over to the cultural center. We had been able to get some funds for the cultural center, the Casa de Saudade, which is the cultural center and a gathering place for children and elderly people. We had the principal community leaders coming to that location and had the announcement.

Young

This was a $500,000 grant?

Kennedy

A grant, yes, for their cultural center that I’d worked on with [Barney] Frank. So we had a terrific presence in New Bedford, and also in the Portuguese community, reminding them of the history, the community leaders at their favorite restaurant, and the cultural center, which is the center of their hearts.

Young

This is really interesting because it’s Portuguese and has an ethnic component, but the program is different.

Kennedy

This is entirely different. These are about things that we have done, we are doing, and we will continue to do. The future is the Portuguese cultural center. What we have done is the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and what we’re continuing to do is working with small business on jobs and employment.

Young

And you have Barney Frank there. That’s in his district?

Kennedy

In his district. And the mayor is a big supporter of ours.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

Then we went out to Taunton to meet with Marc Pacheco, who happens to be Portuguese, the most prominent Portuguese and a very strong supporter. He’s actually on the James Madison board. President Clinton put him on. I was a strong supporter. We have a small board, but he was interested in it, and he’s a smart guy. He could never make it statewide, but he’s resourceful, and he’s a good supporter. He had a sing-along, and there must have been 600-700 seniors in there. He can get a crowd. He usually has 1,000 people for his events, but he got 600 or 700 people on a Monday afternoon in there, and they had a sing-along. We all sang songs for 45 minutes. That’s in Taunton.

Then we’re back up to Newton, and I imagine that’s probably a fundraiser. 

Young

For a doctor? Hosted by a Dr. Art Eddy.

Kennedy

Probably. That’s what it looks like, at the Sheraton. 

Young

For campaign fundraising?

Kennedy

Yes, that’s probably the campaign. There are just two more. On Tuesday, October 24, 8:00 to 8:45, that’s fundraising. But the breakfast is with Gerry and Menino. We had his principal kinds of supporters. We did a spaghetti night at Menino’s home that Angela Menino cooked that was enormously important politically. He does it on the eve of his elections, and he doesn’t do it any other time. He did it for me to get the grassroots people. Now he brought all of his people in from the city for this breakfast. 

You go down to the health group, oncology. That’s radiology and oncology, a professional group, a society. They gave us a big award for our work on oncology. They’re a different kind of a group, obviously, from what we were talking about before. It reflects the change in the state, they’re more professional. We had NPR [National Public Radio] interviews and stopped by the rally in support of Israel on the Boston Common. 

And then health-related issues in the afternoon. We got a healthcare endorsement; I think it was from either the teaching hospitals or the community hospitals or both. The Sidney Farber Research, again, we got a medical research award. That place is important, highly regarded and respected, large numbers of medical professionals. My son Teddy was in there, and we’ve had very close relations. In 1961, I traveled the state with Sidney Farber, who this is named after.

Young

On cancer?

Kennedy

Yes, a cancer crusade.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

This is the Farber Center. I’ve worked very hard on the cancer issue. So this is a very strong fit medically. But you’ll see in this part here, the movement. We’re still keeping in touch with our constituency groups, but we’re moving into a number of the professional groups as well. On Saturday—just before the 2000 election—this is a bus trip from a labor-endorsed rally. We took a bus with labor and traveled up from Plymouth, where we had a rally. We stopped at Walpole High School and had a rally there with teacher endorsements. We’re coming into the final days of the campaign, and it’s going back to our base and going back to our strength, making sure they’re going to be part of Election Day. 

We continued, after that rally, up to Danvers, and we had the Congressman up there. This is again now the North Shore. So we’ve done the South Shore and Walpole with labor on the bus, and now we’re up in Danvers, which is north of Boston, not far from Salem and Peabody and Methuen, that whole area—but not the same area—for a big rally. Then we come back into Medford on the same bus and pick up a number of the Congressmen, [John F.] Tierney up in Danvers, and then we come down to [Michael E.] Capuano, with a big rally in Medford. Then we did the Cambridge rally. Those were the beginning of the wrap-up. 

And then that night, the Human Rights Campaign dinner, which was black tie, a thousand people at that, which was a very successful event.

Young

Are Vicki and her parents traveling on the bus with you? I see it at the top of page seven.

Kennedy

I think they were, yes.

Young

Yes, it’s right up there at the caption of November 4th.

Kennedy

Yes, they all came. Vicki more often than not traveled with me. She had—which we had mentioned but didn’t get into it—a very effective women’s group, which really kicked off when we had the five women Senators who came up and spoke at a large event that was a fundraiser, but not a high cost. It was $125, bring your daughter. And we probably had twelve or fourteen hundred people. Bringing your daughter was a great idea. A lot of people couldn’t because their daughters were at school or whatever, but they’d bring a mother. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

Vicki had a very effective women’s group. They met, they worked, and they were very much involved. They had their own literature, their own program. They had a series of speakers. I would say in the ’94 campaign against Romney, the principal energy that really moved the whole campaign was women. They are an incredible energy, an incredible force, and Vicki got them really stirred up. They were very effective. We haven’t done justice in describing these schedules, but I think when you talk with Vicki, she’ll give you a flavor of that. 

Young

Right. Before this June series is finished, we did want to concentrate on the ’94 campaign with you, so we don’t need to go into it now.

Kennedy

I want to mention a couple of things. I made some notes. This I came across again last night, the 2006 campaign website, and we went through this rather quickly yesterday.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

We’re spending a good deal more time, energy, effort, and resources in the development of the very effective Internet presence, www.tedkennedy.com. To date, when we’re talking about the campaign, it mentions here that tedkennedy.com has had more than 500,000 visitors in the first month.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It had more business than DNC [Democratic National Committee] and John Kerry, and at one take we had 600,000 e-mails, 200,000 actions taken. So we’re getting a big response. I think you’ll have to get fill-in on that in the weeks down the line.

Young

Well, it’s a possibly promising development for engagement, and maybe an interesting and useful source of information for you about what people are saying—

Kennedy

—thinking. What they’re thinking and what they’re doing.

Young

What’s on their minds.

Kennedy

Where they’re going, what’s going on. That’s absolutely right. We can come back to that.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

Now we’re into the post-election period on [James] Wallis. You wanted to just talk a little bit about that, and I have that speech. I have the references in that talk that come back to these kinds of notes.

Young

Okay. I have a note to myself to get the series of speeches that were prior to that—

Kennedy

Yes, you’re going to get that from Nick. That ought to be one of Nick’s assignments.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

If these people say, Look, what do you want to talk about? say you’re interested in that series of major speeches he made, the basis of those talks, and how they were reflected in terms of follow-on actions.

Young

Right.

Kennedy

And also you want to get from Nick copies of all the cards I gave Clinton. That’s enormously important, and he has those things. That’ll be important for my own recollection as we come back and talk about these things. We have copies; I’m sure we do. 

[Off-the-record discussion]

Kennedy

Wanted to make sure that the boat was going to be in there to give you a sail this afternoon!

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

We have a little breeze. It’s a little cool, but I have some warm clothes for you. Now this starts off with some notes from a meeting for about an hour or so, an hour-and-a-half, that we had had in the post-election period with Jim Wallis. We had, in the course of the campaign, been giving increasing thought to the use of language, communication, how we were able to get our message across. We talked a little about it yesterday, about the different approaches that have been and are being talked about. One of the people, Wallis, had taken an interest in the campaigns but had not been really active or involved, I don’t think, in the Kerry campaign. He was commenting generally about the nature of the discussions and debates about values and religion. That was Jim Wallis. We asked him to come over to speak with us for a little while, and he was very glad to do so.

Young

Jim Wallis is who?

Kennedy

Jim Wallis is a writer. I think he’s the editor of the Sojourner. He’s the author of a book, What’s Wrong with the Right and Why the Democrats Don’t Get It, or something like that. It’s a prominent book now.

Young

Okay.

Kennedy

What the Right Does Wrong, and Why the Left Doesn’t Get It. It’s that kind of book. It came out during the election. In any event, one of the points he mentions is a Zogby poll that shows that when people think of values and public policy, they think of Iraq first, and then greed and materialism, poverty and justice. His point was we ought to focus on language and culture and content. He mentioned abortion, and how to talk about that without sacrificing principle, how we can talk about it in ways that can have some empathy for the position of those who differ with us. That was basically what he was talking about. 

He was looking at the moral underpinnings of the Democratic agenda, because the Republicans had thrown up in the course of the campaign that they were all for values and the Democrats didn’t have values—or if they did have values, they were far out of the mainstream. He rejects that. He thinks in the battle of values, the Democrats win. The most obvious one is poverty—the Bible mentions it 1,800 times, and da de da de da. He mentions that Christianity involves calls for the common good, and we ought to be talking about parenting, the bonds of family. 

We used some of these themes in a speech I made January 12th, several weeks later. The basic economic theme is how we’re going to deal with globalization. I spell this out. In this talk, we tried not only to pick up on some of what Wallis has been thinking about, but we also had meetings up in Massachusetts with some of the people who have been writing thoughtfully in different Catholic publications. And we’ve been doing a good deal of reading ourselves on it.

If you go through the National Press Club speech, I talk about the close election—defeat has a thousand causes, and it’s easy to blame it on a particular issue or tactics or on the larger debate about values. In truth, we don’t shrink from that debate. No doubt, we must do a better job of looking within ourselves and speaking out for the principles we believe in and for the values that are the foundation. America needs to hear more, not less, about those values. We were remiss in not talking about them more directly, about the fundamental ideals that guide the progressive policy, and then pointing out, that, unlike the Republicans, we believe our values unite instead of divide, which I think is very true.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I think that’s so powerful. It goes on: In fact, our values are still our greatest strength. Our values have moved us closer to the ideal with which America began, that all people are created equal. And when Democrats say ‘all,’ we mean all. I go on: Today, I propose a progressive vision, a vision rooted in our basic values—values again—of opportunity, fairness, tolerance, and respect for each other, the north star of the Democratic Party, fairness and justice.

Then I point out that we have to work, we have to fight for it, we have to sacrifice. And then at the bottom of that page: —a vision not just of the country we can become, but of the country we must become, an America that embraces the values and aspirations of our people now and for coming generations.

And then the next page, at the top: It’s a commitment to a true opportunity for all, where the blessings of progress are shared fairly by all citizens. And then I get into the substance. On the next page—this page isn’t numbered, but it starts off with the words at the top: We must also inspire. If you look down halfway: For children at home, we must give parents the information needed for their child’s well-rounded development. 

The next page starts at the top: We should invest in new schools. If you look halfway down, talking about workers, They want flexibility on the job with more time for their families, more time for their children’s schools, more time to volunteer in their communities and churches and synagogues and mosques. They want to be paid fairly. They don’t want to be forced to work excessive hours without extra pay. They want safe workplaces, the right to bargain for fair wages. They want to stop marketing cigarettes and unhealthy food to young Americans. 

And then at the bottom of the page, I talk about poverty. At the very end, on the page that starts, The Democrats’ proudest moments, pretty close to the bottom, you have, Our founders made the values of justice and equality and civic responsibility, the cornerstone—this comes back to civic responsibility and involvement in the community—and then, Every young person should learn the skills to participate through knowledge of government. And here, the last paragraph: Good citizenship begins at home with the values that parents teach children. Parenting is a challenge in any era, but never more so than today. Parents know that every hour spent working overtime is an hour away from their children. If they can’t attend a meeting at school, play, or sports, they lose an opportunity.

Then coming into the next-to-last page, where the first full paragraph starts, Aid to schools, it continues, —should include more funds for outreach so that parents know more about schools, schools know more about parents, the outreach should include employers so they, too, can see the importance of flexibility for employees to attend school functions and meet family needs. And then I go into the abortion issue.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

It comes down at the bottom of that page: We are a compassionate and caring people. In times like this we are never separated by borders or oceans or politics or faith. You can see where we were trying to go with Lakoff and Wallis—not trimming at all the basic fundamentals, but looking at this thing differently, the present, and how we’re going to try to look more to the future. 

I think in this house, certainly by my parents and my family, patriotism was assumed, family was assumed, and religion was assumed. But that isn’t assumed outside, increasingly not outside. You have to come back and reassure the people you’re talking to if you’re going to convince them that these are values that you hold, and you have to be able to talk about them with familiarity and ease, which a lot of people don’t and haven’t. I certainly haven’t done as much of that in the past. But that’s where it’s at, and that’s what people want to hear, and that’s how you’re going to get across.

Young

Do you think that so much of the rhetoric of this time is hijacking those words—family, patriotism?

Kennedy

Oh, absolutely. I think words to a great extent have lost their meaning. I don’t know whether I’ve shown you in my office, at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where President Kennedy takes off the first page. You can see the stencils in it. He’s taken off the first page, and he changes the words, Today I received definite assurances from [Nikita] Khrushchev that the planes will be removed to Today I have been informed by Khrushchev— He changes the word definitelythat planes will be removed. The change is three or four words.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

You’ve seen when I had the announcement for my Senate campaign, Pierre Salinger prepared the statement, the President knows, and the President doesn’t intend to be involved. In other words, he’s on his own. And how my brother changed it, at his brother’s request, the President will not become involved. It changed—

Young

And the decision is the people of Massachusetts—

Kennedy

Their decision. That’s right, the decision of people. Words had meaning, and we all know words have consequences. This is Tom DeLay talking about impeaching Justice [Anthony] Kennedy, and what happened out in Chicago, the killing of the judge out there, and the increasing apprehension the administrative conference has said all the judges feel nationwide, and asking us for emergency security funds in the Defense Appropriation Bill. I mean, God Almighty, this is what’s happening in a country that is rooted in the fundamentals of law and respect for law. Liberals and conservatives have never really questioned that, but now part of our value system is being undermined in the most basic and fundamental aspect, respect for the rule of law and respect for those who are attempting to interpret the law. That’s the radicalization and extremism of the political right at this time. 

So words have been losing their meaning. I can remember ten or fifteen years ago, debating the head of the American Medical Association in the Kennedy Center and starting off by saying, I stand for universal comprehensive healthcare that’s available to all Americans and will be a right and not a privilege. He says the exact same words, and he means something entirely different. 

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I listened to this, and I said, I can’t believe what I’m listening to. These are my words, and he has an entirely different meaning. The danger is that you’re seeing the increasing cynicism of the American people because politicians and political institutions are testing these words. They’re focus-grouping them to find out which are the magic words, whether it’s tax break or tax cut or tax reduction or tax whatever, which one has the ring to it to exploit it. Americans have an inner sense, and they may be responsive to that message, but at some time they begin to understand that they’re being exploited, too. That’s what happening.

Young

Privatization or personal accounts.

Kennedy

That’s it: constitutional option. It’s not nuclear option anymore; it’s constitutional option.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

They have a constitutional right for a vote.

Young

Up or down. That’s new.

Kennedy

That’s new. They ask, Where in the Constitution does that show up? He doesn’t have it, but they know that’s the message, and they stick with it.

The person who was the most disciplined on it was Ronald Reagan. He’d give that same speech at GE [General Electric] every single time. I find I can’t. I’m incapable of giving the same talk. I can use some standard lines, minimum wage, but I just can’t—People can do that and have it sound real. You have to be able to do it. That’s what the times call for, and you’d better understand that you have to be as tough-minded and disciplined as those you question.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

What we’re going to find out when you talk to some of these people is these inconsistencies. That’s why it’s so enormously important. I can remember having four or five debates with Lodge. I’m sure I’m right about that, and two with Malone. And someone is going to say, Well, you also had a debate with [Howard, Jr.] Whitmore or Ray Shamie or Michael Robertson or Josiah Spaulding, of which I have absolutely no recollection. 

This is a continuing process. Also, a lot of the decisions—which I can’t remember—do you have outside people who looked like they were going to be involved? In the ’62 campaign, we didn’t want my brother Bobby to be involved. He came up for debate prep one time, and Sorensen came up here for debate prep, too, out on Squaw Island. But to be honest about it, there wasn’t really much of any other presence. My brother didn’t avoid being around up here, but he wasn’t involved or active at all.

Young

On the question you were last talking about, the importance of words and their redefinition or reformulation of a message, and the content of that message for Democrats, this is a six-year project, and this won’t be the last time—This is a very interesting thing to cover in oral history, your thinking and your activities, as they go from the Press Club speech further.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

So this subject has just been opened. It hasn’t been finished here. And we’ll have another President before this project is finished.

Kennedy

My brother had the five-point programs, the three-point programs, for everything he did. If you look back at those speeches, it was always three points, five points. That came absolutely from Grandpa, if you look back at Grandpa’s talks and speeches. I hope I can put my finger on a book of Grandpa’s speeches when he was Mayor of Boston.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I’ll make a note of it. Grandpa was the one who knew what fish was a pound and what we ought to be doing. You needed three or four points for bigger, better, busier Boston. He was the one who said we had to work on the railroads, the ICC [Interstate Commerce Commission], because the cost of bringing goods up to Boston was so much more on the railroads that our port can never survive. I remember Grandpa speaking. That’s right out of Grandpa, about the railroads, and it’s absolutely true today. We never got equity on the transportation. If you’re shipping something from Rochester, New York, we may be 50 miles closer than New York, but it costs them twice as much to get on the railroads to come to Boston. It’s because people who worked that out with New York, worked it out to shortchange us, and we never were able to change it. My brother never changed it when he was President, and I haven’t been able to change it. But that was all Grandpa—200 miles closer to Europe than New York. He had that way of talking about different issues. My brother Jack had a four- or five-point program for this or that, and Bobby had some of that, too. I used some of that. 

One of my better speeches was The Six Broken Promises of Richard Nixon, and I remember giving it out. This isn’t apropos of anything we’ve been talking about today. I gave it out at the DLF dinner in Minneapolis, and the place just went crazy. Sitting right behind me was Hubert Humphrey, writing down on the back of an envelope the six little points. I was going out to San Francisco the next week, and three days before I went out, the headlines said, Humphrey wows them in San Francisco with ten broken promises. He had my six, and he added four more!

I said to Hubert, You can make these speeches up on the back on the back of your hand. It takes me a month to get this stuff. But it was the same thing, six broken promises. It was a rhythm that they had, but it’s an entirely different rhythm now. We talked about this earlier, why it is that the storytelling way of communicating worked so well for Grandpa. Of course, it’s the story as well as the storyteller. He came from very humble digs and all the rest of it, but it’s the ability to talk in those ways that—

Young

And to make a point clearly or simply.

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

I mean: Here are three points. Here are three things to do. There can be a lot of complexities in that that you don’t need to articulate.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

You need to get the main—

Kennedy

—theme. 

Young

The main thing, the main theme across. And there’s so much talk, it seems to me. I’m editorializing, but it seems to me there is so much talk at such length coming out the tube. It’s almost noise. You get the body language, but there’s nothing—

Kennedy

I couldn’t agree more. And there’s never so much of it as the talking heads after a speech. Here we have President [George W.] Bush after he made that speech about Social Security. None of them figured out that the private accounts have nothing to do with financial security. None of them, nada, not a one of these brilliant people—until two days later when somebody picked it up, and then they’re talking like they discovered it. People aren’t listening, as well.

Young

People stop listening. 

Kennedy

People are trying not to elicit answers or information, but to put you in an awkward spot. 

Young

Yes. Are we about done?

Kennedy

I think probably. Oh, one thing we didn’t mention here—Are you still rolling?

Martin

Yes.

Kennedy

One is these ethnic newspapers I mentioned.

Young

Oh, yes, they should be added—

Kennedy

Now, there were a most extraordinary number of ethnic newspapers. We probably had, in 1962, two French daily newspapers here and one weekly newspaper. They were widely circulated and very well read, and had—there’s still the Italian, the Post Gazette, that’s in the North End that’s still within that community very important. And I would think there certainly was in ’62, there were probably to 20 to 25 ethnic newspapers, mostly weeklies, some monthlies, mostly weeklies and a handful of dailies. And they had an enormous readership within their communities, and were very important. That part has been reduced—they still have some, and we pay some attention to it—but they still have the radio stations, which are very popular with the various groups, and we’re very much tuned into that. 

I think the other part is, we’re much more aggressive with weekly and regional newspapers in sending material in and having them run it, which they do. And now I do a television program once a month. I think I’m on the tenth. We do it once a month. We have 157 cable television stations, and I’m on 153 of them. I do it on a variety of different subjects. I’ve done it recently, this last one was on information technology and health, and how are we going to get a handle on cost information. But that was the least interesting. At Christmastime—all the different ways that people could get in touch with veterans, Iraq, with their kids who were just getting in, troops in Afghanistan, all the different organizations that provided free telephone or free video or were helpful in getting material over there. We had four or five different groups of people talk about that. 

I’ve talked about where to take your children in the summertime. I’ve talked about education, what’s happening in education in different parts of Massachusetts. We’ve talked about a whole series of different things that have been very well received. And they play. They’re all—a lot of very small television cable stations, 5,000, 10,000 viewers, but they’ll play them 20 or 30 times, and people get to see these things and react and respond. That’s one of the better things I’ve been doing recently. 

Young

Are you a talking head?

Kennedy

No. I have three other people. I do it with a college, with Emerson College. The kids get credit for it. And we pay, then it’s spun out, but this is part of their course in communications that we worked out, because we have to do it every month, so this is part of their monthly…. We did it on getting out the vote. They all did interviews at different schools, they did very well, several of them, so they’re a part of it. We’ve had other people. We usually have three other panelists. We take a subject that is of interest in the state, but also has national importance, and it’s been successful so far. But I don’t know how—my numbers haven’t shifted or changed at all. [laughter]

Young

That was one other question. Your audience is not just a Massachusetts audience, speaking broadly, but you speak to a national audience as well.

Kennedy

Right.

Young

Barbara was telling us when we paid her a visit at the office in the JFK building about how many inquiries come from people out of state on certain of these issues. And I’m wondering, on your website, do you get e-mails?

Kennedy

Yes. Enormous numbers.

Young

That’s not just a Massachusetts thing, but that’s a national thing?

Kennedy

Absolutely.

Young

And your mail, even your written mail?

Kennedy

I would think that we’ve got probably 125 letters, robos that are constantly being updated. A month ago it would have been Terry Schiavo, that kind of thing. Some say we shouldn’t be interfering da de da; other families are making these decisions while you’re reading this letter, within 50 miles of where you are. I go over these things, and they’re appropriate, but they won’t be used now. That’s over; people will be asking now about Deep Throat or something. People are interested. Certainly, on these major kinds of issues we’re involved in, we get a lot of questions. 

I’ve always felt that you have to have everything running very well in the state if you’re going to be doing cutting-edge outside the state. People have to have a sense that you pay attention to what’s up here at home. That’s why this whole thing on Hanscom is a big deal. People have a feeling that you’re here, but in this state they have a sense that people who are involved in public life also have played national roles. President Kennedy is obvious, and [Henry] Cabot Lodge. Chris Herter was a national figure who was Governor here and Secretary of State. [John] Volpe was Governor here and Secretary of Transportation. So they have a sense that people here have been involved in national politics, and they give you somewhat more leeway. But they don’t want you to get to the point where you’re losing touch, and I was getting close to that position, I think—

Young

In the eighties?

Kennedy

The late eighties, and that was—

Young

Was that a factor in the ’94, do you think?

Kennedy

I think somewhat. I think it came back by the end. But in the beginning, I think people said Ted has lost touch, his politics is out. You’d see a lot of these articles, that I was gone. Probably some of that was personal lifestyle as well. All of that added up: distance, lifestyle, word got around. I think it’s even as basic as losing weight. When you’re losing weight, people have a sense that you’re more interested in their problems. It’s all these immeasurable kinds of things.

Young

Yes.

Kennedy

I lost 30 or 40 pounds last year. I’m trying to lose another ten this year. That makes a big difference in people’s minds. You’re really not interested in them; it’s a bowl of spaghetti or something. [laughter]

Young

Well, yes, but it’s also kind of a rededication and a rethinking—

Kennedy

Yes.

Young

—which is not common among long-serving Senators.

Kennedy

That’s right.

Young

It’s not. It’s renewal, in a way.

Kennedy

Howell Heflin was from Alabama, and Howell and I got along real well. He was head of the Supreme Court in Alabama, and he was very good on the floor one day on what Alabama had been through on the race issue—just very eloquent. He hadn’t talked like that before, and he could really talk when he needed to. We have a bell down in the Senate gym, and if you lost weight, you could ring the bell. So he said, Teddy, I haven’t heard that bell ring recently. I’ll be listening in that gym for that bell to ring. [laughter] He had a wonderful way of being able to take a very simple little thing and make it funny. So I said, Well, Howell, we’ll show you a thing or two. [laughter] I’d lose a little weight, and I’d make sure that he heard it. 

So, Splash, I thought we might have a little run, and we’ll go for a little sail. Would you like to do that? Would you like to? You would? Okay. All right. You don’t have to get your ball. No, you don’t have to get your ball just yet. 

Well, we can ramble on, but people have to get home. So now I have to get you a couple of things so you’re going to be warm enough. We’ll go. There’s a light breeze, but it’ll be kind of nice. You’ll get a little sense, and it’ll be nice, and then I’ll get you in at the pier. It’s high tide; we’ll get you in by 2:00 or something.

Young

That’s fine.

Kennedy

So you have time to get over there in time. 

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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