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Oral History

Timothy Hanan Oral History, Friend; Campaign Manager

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

Young

This is a May 7th interview in Washington with Timothy Hanan. We were chatting a little bit before the interview, and I’d like to suggest we just talk about how you first came to know Ted Kennedy.

Hanan

Well, it was in law school. We both were in the same class at University of Virginia Law School. Frankly, I remember exactly when I met him. He was walking down a glass corridor between two buildings—not glass, but windows on one or both sides, I can’t remember now. He stopped me and he said, I understand you played football at Williams. I said I did and he said, Look, we’re putting together a group of people who are going to play touch football. Would you like to play? We’d love to have you. He named a few other classmates, not many of whom I knew very well, but John Tunney and some others. So we went off and started playing touch football on a regular basis and that initial contact led to a much broader friendship, where we then began to go to parties together and do different things.

Young

Was this first year?

Hanan

Yes, it was the first year. It was literally days after we had arrived at law school.

Young

Really? So that would have been 1956.

Hanan

Yes, it was ’56. Obviously, Teddy had done his homework, because he knew that I played football. I had been captain of the football team at Williams.

Young

Were you from Massachusetts?

Hanan

No, I was not. I grew up in New York City. I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and spent my adult life in Manhattan, and then came down here in 1980 to run the Mobil Oil Corporation Government Relations Office.

Young

Was it really touch football?

Hanan

Well, it was not the patsy game. It was a lot more bumping and stuff.

Young

No tackling?

Hanan

There was some of that. In fact, I remember ending up wrestling with Teddy over something we were competing for. I don’t know what it was, but I do remember having a physical rolling on the ground with him. Anyway, it became a regular activity of ours.

Young

Was John Tunney part of this?

Hanan

Yes.

Young

Who were his friends? You were one, and John Tunney.

Hanan

Yes, and John Goemans, of course, was another classmate of ours. Gosh, the names have faded into the past now. I’d really have to look at a roster to remember. My third year I had a roommate, a guy named Harvey Bolton who came from Washington, who also was part of this group. We palled around together quite regularly.

Young

You were in some of the same classes, I guess.

Hanan

Yes, and we would—Teddy was a hard worker at law school. He spent a lot of time in the library. It was the place to go to study when you didn’t want to be disturbed. I can remember him sitting there with his jar of Maalox or whatever it was to keep his stomach, his ulcers, under control. We would take breaks and go get a cup of coffee or something. Then on weekends—Teddy had a relatively nice house that he rented with a number of other—I think Tunney was in on it and there were three or four other classmates.

Young

Skank?

Hanan

Yes, Garrett Skank from Massachusetts. He might have been in a class ahead of us.

Young

Yes, I think so.

Hanan

Unfortunately, Garrett has passed away, but Garrett was in on that house and there were one or two other fellows in it. 

Young

On Barracks Road?

Hanan

Yes. It was a quite nice house and they were nice enough to invite us to parties there on occasion, some of them grain alcohol parties, which were my undoing. Anyway, we had fun.

Young

They had dogs? Ted had dogs?

Hanan

Yes, Teddy did. I think he had a couple of dogs. I don’t really remember now.

Young

He said he ended up with ten.

Hanan

Did he? That’s entirely possible. I know there were a couple. There was more than one, that was clear.

Young

I said, How did you get ten? He looked at me and said, Well, I had two to start with. You said he was studious, that he worked hard.

Hanan

He did work hard.

Young

There is an image around town, as you know, that he’s just a party boy.

Hanan

That wasn’t true.

Young

It wasn’t?

Hanan

Well, put it this way: He had as good a time as anybody had. He was always organizing something or doing something. We were going skiing or we were doing all kinds of things. It’s interesting that I do have this image and recollection of him being in the library. Whenever I would go there, there was Teddy, studying. He had fun, but he also paid attention to the requirements of class work.

Young

And he worked hard.

Hanan

Yes, he did.

Young

He’s a very hardworking man. He’s been all of his life.

Hanan

Yes, clearly.

Young

People think he’s just a party boy or something. They don’t see the other part.

Hanan

Being the younger brother of then-Senator John Kennedy, who was obviously on the track to becoming the Presidential nominee, brought a lot of attention to him. There was no question that he worked hard. Some of the stories are exaggerated. I’ve heard stories about automobile things and incidents that I was close to, and they just weren’t accurate.

Young

That goes with the territory, I guess. Were you in a position to—He became head of the Student Legal Forum.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

And Bobby [Kennedy] had been that before him, and he brought a lot of people out to speak. Then he and Tunney won the moot court. Did his socializing activity fall off when he was deeply involved in the preparation for the moot court?

Hanan

I wouldn’t say fell off. I would say that when he needed to spend time working on the moot court, or schoolwork, he spent the time working on it. It wasn’t at the expense of something else. He allocated time for fun and time for sports and time for studying. He had a very sensible allocation of his resources. While he partied hard, and when there was something going on he would throw himself into it full tilt, I don’t think that he had to cut back on partying to do school work.

Young

No. I think he did a lot of intensive—It was hard work.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

And he really wanted to win.

Hanan

Oh, he did.

Young

Very much wanted to win. That was his first major school triumph.

Hanan

It’s been a characteristic that he’s maintained throughout his life. He approaches everything in a win attitude, whether it’s tennis, whether it’s sailing, whatever it is. He wants to win and he wants to be the best. He obviously did better at some things than he did at others.

Young

You came to know the family. Did you know the other members of the Kennedy family at the time?

Hanan

At the time, no. It was later that I met the President, and I never really knew the President. I had been with him on a number of different occasions. Subsequently, at Teddy’s suggestion, I went to work for Robert Kennedy when Robert Kennedy ran for the Senate in New York.

Young

Oh, you did? I was in New York at the time.

Hanan

Was that ’64 or ’68 that he ran?

Young

Sixty-four.

Hanan

My years are beginning to meld together. That was at Teddy’s—In fact, I went to visit Teddy in the hospital after the plane crash. I was there and he told me that Bobby was going to run for the Senate in New York—nobody knew it at the time—and he gave me the names of a couple of people to call if I wanted to work. I literally was upstate New York working for Bobby before he announced, at Teddy’s suggestion.

Young

His last year he married Joan [Bennett Kennedy], and they occupied that house. Then Teddy went off to Massachusetts part-time to do something—I’m not sure what—in his brother’s Senate campaign.

Hanan

Yes. I think he was actually head of the, the titular head—

Young

He was called the titular head of it. So he’s newly married, he’s off helping his brother in Massachusetts, and he’s in his third year of law school. That takes a lot of energy.

Hanan

It was a full plate, shall we say.

Young

It was indeed.

Hanan

Teddy was the head of the campaign. I’m not sure what role he played in that capacity, but there was plenty of help at that time that his brother had in place, whether it was [K. Lemoyne] Lem Billings or—I can’t even think of them—Kenny O’Donnell.

Young

Kenny O’Donnell, those people. Did you know, or did he ever talk about what he was going to do, what you and he were going to do after law school?

Hanan

Not really, no. Not really, because we graduated before his brother was elected. I have some recollection of his talking about becoming a district attorney, or working in Boston. It was clear there was no interest in corporate legal work, that he was going to do something in government. My recollection is that he was headed for the district attorney’s office, or whatever they call it in Massachusetts, and that was where he was going to start his career.

Young

It would have been surprising if he had chosen a different path, certainly in retrospect.

Hanan

Yes. It wasn’t his bag. He just wouldn’t—I think his father and his brothers instilled a real sense of community service and doing good for your neighbors and constituents, so I don’t think that there was even the slightest thought of—As opposed to Tunney, who thought much more about the business world, the economic. Teddy was service-driven. Tunney was more driven by economic needs or desires.

Young

Did he ever talk about going to UVA, as against going to Stanford?

Hanan

No.

Young

He had considered, I think, whether to apply to UVA or to Stanford. I don’t know whether [Patricia Kennedy Lawford] Pat was out in California then, but I think he gave it serious consideration.

Hanan

He did not discuss that with me. To the contrary, I had always thought that since Bobby had gone to UVA that this was just where he was going to go to school. I don’t think that he thought Harvard was in the works, so he would be looking for another spot. Bobby had gone to UVA and UVA had a stellar reputation.

Young

I think both his brothers said, You ought to stay east and go to UVA.

Hanan

Yes. I had not heard the fact he had thought about Stanford, but it appeared to me that he was wedded to Massachusetts and he wasn’t going west.

Young

But he did go west during his brother Jack’s Presidential campaign.

Hanan

Oh, yes.

Young

Did he ever talk about that experience with you, going out to the western states? 

Hanan

No. I used to hear the stories of going off the ski jump and some other things. Hawaii was part of his bailiwick, too, so he was given some rather attractive areas to cover.

Young

I don’t think he had a boat out there.

Hanan

No, not to my recollection, although we did get a boat at the 1960 convention. We all went, after the convention was over, out to Catalina. I can’t remember whether Peter Lawford or somebody arranged for the boat that we all used.

Young

Are you a sailor?

Hanan

I grew up with boats in Douglaston, Long Island, but never owned a boat. I sailed as a child, but my more serious sailing has all been with Teddy on his various boats, whether they were the Wiannos or larger, the Victura, which he had for a while, and obviously the Mya. Then when we went on the rocks with the Mya

Young

Oh, I didn’t know about that.

Hanan

Maybe I shouldn’t even talk about that.

Young

Oh, you should, you should.

Hanan

We were coming back from Martha’s Vineyard, having had dinner with Bill Styron and his wife. It was pitch black and we got caught in a terrible rainstorm, really a thunderous storm. We saw a light that we thought was a red light, which we thought was a different light than it actually was, so we went to the port side of the light as opposed to the starboard side of the light. Unfortunately, the light was at the end of a breakwater so we hit the breakwater. The boat was seriously disabled, had a bad hole in it, and the rudder was broken. 

Teddy, by putting the boat in reverse and forward, was able to make us go port and starboard, and he literally threaded us into this harbor and right up against a pier, where we docked. I forget the name of the area, but it’s down the coast a little bit from Hyannis, to the west of Hyannis. The boat sank after we got up against the pier. Had Teddy not been skillful with his ability to steer the boat—We steered it right through a whole bunch of other boats at anchor, all the time pumping to try and keep the boat afloat.

Young

Was it just the two of you?

Hanan

No, there were three or four other people. We had a boat boy and a couple of other people. 

Young

That was kind of a hair-raising experience.

Hanan

Teddy saved us. Had he not been able to steer the boat and keep us going, it would have sunk out there in deeper water.

Young

After law school, did you all go your separate ways?

Hanan

Yes.

Young

Did you keep up much contact with him, or was it later that you renewed contact? You mention that in ’64 you had gone to visit him when he had the accident.

Hanan

There was a period there where we really did not see a lot of each other. We kept in contact but my recollection is that we didn’t actually do a lot together, well, for obvious reasons, because I went into the Air Force right after law school. While I was in the Air Force, Teddy was helpful in sending me to his brother’s office. I had initially been assigned to an airbase in Glasgow, Montana, and I wanted to see if I couldn’t get that changed. He sent me to see—I think it was Tim Reardon, in his brother’s office. Tim got me an appointment with somebody in the Pentagon and they send me to Vandenberg Air Force Base, as opposed to Glasgow, Montana.

Young

The first time I ever heard of it.

Hanan

When I was in Vandenberg and Tunney was in Riverside, California, in the Air Force at March Air Force Base, we spent some time campaigning with Teddy when he was in California. We’d take weekends and travel with him around the state, but other than that we didn’t see a lot of each other. He was in Massachusetts doing his thing and I was in the Air Force. Then—Teddy didn’t arrange this—I got sent to France, which was quite nice as far as I was concerned. Ironically, I was stationed with the Massachusetts National Guard that was in Phalsbourg, France.

Young

And you were sure he had nothing to do with that?

Hanan

That was the luck of the draw, really. They had activated all of these National Guard units in ’61, I guess it was. That was the Berlin Wall crisis. They needed a filler, and I was single and—

Young

Available.

Hanan

Available, so they just plucked me out of California and sent me to France. Anyway, we did see Teddy periodically during the 1960 campaign when I was in California in the Air Force. Then I went to France and we didn’t see each other until I came back. I was discharged around June of ’63, came back to New York at the end of that summer, and his airplane crash was either—Was it late ’63 or ’64?

Young

Sixty-four.

Hanan

We had kept in contact, obviously, and then I went to visit him in the hospital. That was when I got involved—

Young

In Boston?

Hanan

In Boston.

Young

He was in the Stryker frame?

Hanan

Yes. He was immobilized in the hospital. That was when he sent me down to work for Bobby, and I worked for Bobby, not as a staff member but as a volunteer, for four years, right through the ’68 campaign.

Young

Were you getting the political disease, as he calls it sometimes?

Hanan

Yes. Well, first of all, I loved Teddy and Bobby. Obviously, the President was sort of up here someplace. I didn’t know John Kennedy that well, but I spent a lot of time with Bobby and Teddy, and worked for them as opposed to running for office for myself, although I did think about that at times. You can’t help it when you see everybody else doing it.

Young

And it was in the air a lot during that time.

Hanan

Yes, clearly. During that time, those four years, I spent a lot of time with Steve Smith and Jean [Kennedy] Smith, and got to know Pat quite well. Teddy would be in and out all the time, and coming in to watch the—

Young

Those years, meaning when you were working for Bobby?

Hanan

Yes, ’64 through ’68. In ’68 I traveled all over the country. It was all of Teddy’s doing. I mean all of this stemmed from his inspiring me to work in the political process. It was fun.

Young

Steve was very much involved in Bobby’s campaign.

Hanan

Oh, yes. He ran Bobby’s campaign.

Young

And Jean was doing what?

Hanan

Well, she was there and she had filled other roles with women’s organizations and things. My dealings were basically with Steve, but Jean had all of these—I can’t even think of—Lauren Bacall, Alan King, Adolph Green, that whole crowd, got them involved.

Young

He was running against [Kenneth] Keating.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

He was the carpetbagger.

Hanan

Yes. Interestingly enough, shortly before the election, he was in trouble. The polls had switched and it looked like Keating was going to win. Then they brought in Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey and some other people, and got it back on track and Bobby won.

Young

Lyndon Johnson offered to help?

Hanan

Yes. Some politicians are pragmatists. [laughs]

Young

Well, this is now 2009, but I bet back then if you had made that statement, that would have been like saying, What else? Now things are different. 

This is a little bit off the subject, but I think it is of great interest. This was Bobby’s first electoral experience.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

I was very peripherally involved. I was at Columbia at the time, and Bill vanden Heuvel, who you know, used to get some people at Columbia to critique for them every now and then. Dick used to really organize it. How was he as a campaigner? Was it easy for him or hard?

Hanan

For Bobby?

Young

Yes.

Hanan

Well, he was incredible in his rapport with the crowds and the response that he would get from them. I don’t think it was easy for him, but he did it extraordinarily well. He never seemed uncomfortable with it, but I do feel that it wasn’t quite as natural as it is with Teddy. Teddy is just a born campaigner. There’s nothing he loves more than to be telling stories and interrelating with people and listening and sharing thoughts, whereas Bobby was more introspective and not as readily comfortable with the campaigning process.

Young

He was very familiar with organizing and running campaigns.

Hanan

Oh, yes.

Young

But being the candidate was a new experience.

Hanan

Clearly, but he did it very well. In crowds and people—That period was probably, in my view, with Bobby in particular—It was a time we’ll never see again. It really was the enthusiasm. It was a unique time. Bobby was a little restrained at times, but as I said, they’re different personalities, Bobby and Teddy, clearly.

Young

Ted loved street politics.

Hanan

Oh, yes.

Young

He came to that first, and policy later, in his life.

Hanan

That’s right.

Young

Now he’s got both because they all came together.

Hanan

Well, you hear it all the time: Orrin Hatch is one of his closest friends in the United States Senate, and somebody else is his closest friend. And that’s to Teddy’s credit. It’s not true, but it’s not a bad image to have created. I don’t think that there’s any deceit involved on his part. It’s just that’s what people want to say.

Young

Sure. He’s not going to say, No, I’m not. No, you’re not.

Hanan

Of course not. People genuinely like him, and I think Orrin Hatch genuinely likes him, but to say that he is his closest friend in the Senate is just, shall we say, inaccurate. Chris Dodd, I guess, now is his closest friend in the Senate and is somebody who has been an enormous help to him in the last year or so. We all spent many a time together sailing, either in Connecticut or other places, the Cape.

Young

Thomas Dodd was his father.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

In the Senate.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

And his father got censured or something?

Hanan

Yes.

Young

I’ve been told that Kennedy, who was very young at the time—and there’s this senior man. I don’t know when this happened, actually, but he paid a call on the senior Senator, Ted did.

Hanan

I’m not sure what year that was, but it was a long time ago. It was before Chris got involved in politics.

Young

As a gesture of kindness and courtesy, he did that.

Hanan

Teddy called. Well, it wouldn’t surprise me. There was always a question as to who did what in that situation, whether it was how much Senator Dodd, Senior knew about what was going on and what involvement he may or may not have had—

Young

I don’t know. The fact that it was just the human—

Hanan

But Teddy, that’s a characteristic of his. His whole life has been for the underdog and he’s been for the person who seems to be being picked on or whatever, and you can count on Teddy to come. Over the years, when I look at all of the Kennedy family members, all of the nieces and nephews, I’ll tell you there’s one guy who’s been a rock right from beginning to end. He has always been there for them, and has always been there for his friends, which is not something you can say about all of them or all of his friends. 

 When he’s had some troubles, people have been quick to criticize or move on, but that’s not true of Teddy. John Culver once said to me, Brains are a dime a dozen in this town. Loyalty is what you need. Teddy has been extraordinarily loyal, not to the point of foolishness, but he is loyal and sticks up for his friends and his family and everybody. It’s a very admirable characteristic of his.

Young

When his brother, the President, was killed and then so soon after that, Bobby, you think of the age that Ted was. The whole universe crashes, the brothers are no longer there, and the family then—At that age, to become sort of the head of the family and take on…

Hanan

Well, Bobby was still—

Young

But after Bobby.

Hanan

Oh, you meant after. I can remember sitting in my law office and hearing that the President was shot. I had my bag there packed. We were going to the Harvard–Yale football game with Teddy, up in Massachusetts. I literally was almost on my way to the airport. I can’t remember whether the Caroline was going to pick us up or whether we were going commercial at the time. I think the Caroline was going to pick us up. Then I got the word that the President had been shot. It was quite an emotional.… 

After Bobby there was nobody, because Bobby obviously filled the role more so than Teddy during that period before his death, the five years, I guess it was, ’63 to ’68. After that it was all Teddy. My impression is there’s no lack on any of the nieces or nephews to ask him for things either, the good-hearted soul he is. An aside: Kelly [Hanan], my daughter, was 16, and I had asked Teddy if he could get her a job as a page the summer before last, and he said sure. He got her a job as a commuting page, not living in the dormitory up on the Hill, and we were very grateful. Then one time when we were together I said, You know, if any vacancies occur, we’d love it if Kelly could live in the dormitory. He said, Yes, and so would all of my nieces and nephews. I got the picture very quickly, that there were a lot of people competing for those page jobs.

Young

That was a cue.

Hanan

He didn’t say no, but it was clear that there was an enormous amount of pressure being put on him to find jobs. And ironically, Kathleen’s [Kennedy Townsend] daughter was in the same page class with Kelly, and the two of them were elected together, joint heads of their page class, which was kind of nice.

Young

By the way, in Bobby’s campaign, did you happen to know Dall Forsythe?

Hanan

Yes, I did.

Young

He was a student of mine at Columbia. After Bobby got elected, what did you do? Did you go with him?

Hanan

I was sort of a glorified advance man. That was what I did primarily during the campaign.

Young

All over the state?

Hanan

Yes, all over the state.

Young

Lee Fentress was involved, wasn’t he?

Hanan

Yes, but what’s funny about that is I don’t have any recollection of Lee Fentress during that period, I really don’t. He had worked, I guess, with Bobby in the Justice Department. My recollection of when I first met Lee was through the tennis tournament, the Robert F. Kennedy tennis tournament. I know he was around, but I just never saw him.

Young

Did Bobby bring some people from the Justice Department with him?

Hanan

Oh yes: Dean Markham, John Nolan, Joe Dolan—There was kind of the New York contingent, which was very homogeneous, on Bobby’s team, and then there were the other people, and of course we didn’t have any use for the those other people. They didn’t know New York and so we were, in many instances wrong. In any event, it’s ironic when I think back. I just don’t remember Lee until the tennis tournament. At some point we became good friends, but I don’t have any recollection of when it first started. But he was part of it. 

I did advance work for Bobby. In fact, I was upstate New York before he even announced, setting up his trip through the southern tier. Throughout the next four years I traveled all around the country with him. When he would go to Michigan or something, I would go out, and when he would go to Pennsylvania. I spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania at different places.

Young

This was in ’68?

Hanan

Throughout, and then in ’68 as well. In ’68, I spent—

Young

But did you start working for him outside New York State?

Hanan

That was both, because he would be—

Young

While he was Senator?

Hanan

Yes. He would be invited to go to Pennsylvania to campaign for Governor [Milton] Shapp, who was running for office. I went down there to set up that. I would do that periodically during the campaign. Or he would go to Michigan to give some speech at some place, so I would do that. Then during the ’68 campaign, I went all over the country and ended up in California, and spent two or three weeks in California.

Young

So you were in touch with him through the period when he entered the Senate, into the period when he announced.

Hanan

Yes, regularly.

Young

Did you see much of Teddy during that time?

Hanan

Periodically, but not—I mean, he would come to New York periodically and we would have a luncheon, or something vanden Heuvel would—We became friends, but I didn’t work with Teddy. It was purely a social—

Young

Do you have any reflections or comments on Bobby’s decision at that time? I think it was always clear that someday he would make the run, but to make it at that time was not predicted for a while, to put it mildly. Do you have any insights about that decision of his to run, and the role his advisors or his brother played in that?

Hanan

I don’t know. I wasn’t part of that. Of course I was very much in favor of his running and of his taking on a sitting President. I was in Philadelphia in the Belvedere Hotel, watching Lyndon Johnson make that speech. I had been setting up a trip for Bobby in Philadelphia, and I just couldn’t believe it. He said, I’m not going to run. I was just dumbfounded. But I was not—I don’t know what role Teddy played in that decision. I’ve heard that he was opposed to it, but I didn’t have anything—

Young

I think he thought it wasn’t a good idea. He thought it was not a good idea, I believe, but I’m not sure how articulate he was in expressing that view because it was always—He wished Bobby hadn’t decided to do it, but that was the end of that. Of course, he threw himself into it then.

Hanan

I know nothing about that. I have no recollection of Teddy ever saying anything to me  that Bobby shouldn’t run, or shouldn’t do this, or whatever. My only recollection is that he was enthusiastically campaigning for him. I simply don’t know whether he went to it reluctantly. I had heard rumors that he was one of those who had opposed his doing it but I don’t know.

Young

I don’t know that he opposed his brother at all. I don’t think it was a question of his opposing his brother.

Hanan

I don’t think Teddy would have done that.

Young

No, it was just that he had reservations.

Hanan

That wouldn’t have been his—

Young

I don’t think it was central to the decision.

Hanan

And I don’t think he would have made an issue of it. That’s just not his—Bobby’s going to decide what Bobby wants to do.

Young

And Teddy’s going to be there for him.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

Right, exactly.

Hanan

That’s part of his character. So I simply don’t know and unfortunately can’t help you with that.

Young

Were you in California at the time that he was killed?

Hanan

Yes. Bobby was doing basically—He was in Los Angeles, and then he would go to San Francisco and go to Sacramento and then back to Los Angeles, almost every day, to get in the various news media. He came in to San Francisco the day before he was shot. I and another fellow made cardboard rickshaws and we had them all out in front of the plane as if they were a press bus and photo car, to go downtown. The actual caravan was parked way off. 

Bobby came and we went to Chinatown. It was a horrible experience because they started setting off firecrackers in Chinatown. We had warned everybody. We said, There’s nothing we can do about this. The firecrackers are going to be—it’s just part of their culture. Poor Ethel [Kennedy Skakel] was just—Anyway, we got through that day, then we all went off to either Sacramento or back to Los Angeles. We packed our bags and went to New York because New York was next.

Young

And Ted was in San Francisco when Bobby was shot, isn’t that right?

Hanan

I can’t remember.

Young

I think so. He was doing something.

Hanan

We were gone by that time. The John Nolan group had more or less—In that campaign, there were the Teddy people and the Bobby people. Teddy had a bunch of people that he traveled with and I was lucky enough to know people in both camps because of my relationship with him. Teddy was—I do remember him being there, now that I think about that. In fact, we had some disagreements as to what he should be doing and shouldn’t be doing.

Young

Who won?

Hanan

Well, he did. [laughter] It was his people, which is often the case. That’s right, I do recollect that now. When I started this campaign, I bought myself a tape recorder and I said, Every night I’m going to record the day’s events. Of course, that lasted about two days. Often, I’ve thought back about what a wealth of information I would have, had I lived up to my plans.

Young

When you left California, things were looking pretty much up?

Hanan

Oh, yes. He had lost Oregon and then had come down to California and won, so it was almost, in our view, a cakewalk from there on—that he was going to win. It wasn’t, but we were overly confident and New York was the next big primary.

Young

When he was killed, did that kind of move you away from politics at all?

Hanan

Not really. Of course we were intimately involved in the funeral and all of the things that took place during that period of time. I didn’t have a horse to ride at that point. It was Bobby and Teddy that got me involved in politics. There was some talk about Steve Smith running for Governor and some other offices. Steve asked me on a couple of occasions to get involved. [Theodore] Ted Sorensen was going to run for the Senate, and Steve asked if I would run his campaign, and I said no. In those days, I didn’t like Ted Sorensen because he had made a public statement against Teddy after Chappaquiddick, which I felt was unnecessary, and unnecessary to come from somebody of his stature, so I didn’t.

Young

His brother John’s staff had no love lost for Teddy and his staff.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

That’s the picture I seem to get.

Hanan

Yes, he was a young fellow.

Young

Here’s Teddy to screw it up for us again.

Hanan

Yes. I think that’s probably accurate. I can’t remember what the remark was now, but it was something that was uncalled for. I just told Steve, You can tell that guy to forget it. Again, it goes back to the loyalty issue. Teddy would never have said that about Ted Sorensen, you know? Had there been an opportunity.

Young

Yes. Then where did your relationship with Ted go? You were subsequently—

Hanan

Shortly after Bobby was killed, I continued to practice law in New York. I had a small admiralty law firm, which was my father’s to start with. Teddy and I were friends and we would visit. I’d go to the Cape and we’d go to sail in some race to Nantucket or whatever. We kept up socially. Then in ’72, I went to work for the Mobil Oil Corporation.

Young

Seventy-two, OK.

Hanan

Was it ’72 or ’74? Maybe it was ’74. But then me being basically on the other side of issues that Teddy was on, me representing a big oil company—Herb Schmertz was running the public relations department at Mobil Oil when I went to work there. I’d call Teddy up and I’d say Look, we’re coming to town with Bill Tavoulareas. He said, Bring him by. We’ll sit down and— Bill was the president of Mobil Corporation. One time we were in town and Tavoulareas wanted to go swimming, so I called Teddy and he said, Sure. Take him out to the house. Here he was, being polite to somebody who was totally on the other side of the issues. 

Teddy was always in there. I remember in one of the hearings Teddy was at, he couldn’t have been nicer to Tavoulareas. He asked his tough questions, but he couldn’t have been nicer.

Young

This was the house in McLean?

Hanan

Yes. So while at Mobil I worked with Teddy and his office on different issues. He had Nick Littlefield and Dave Burke.

Young

Dave Burke was early there.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

Nick didn’t come on until [George H.W.] Bush.

Hanan

Was it Bush? Actually, I saw Dave Burke the other day.

Young

Oh, you did?

Hanan

At the tribute to Teddy at the Kennedy Center. But I would be back and forth, and Teddy would tell his staff, Get Tim what he wants. Get him the answers. We didn’t ever convert him, but he was not above providing us whatever information. 

Then I saw him when I moved to Washington in’80. We saw each other all the time then, socially, out to his house for parties and different things. Isn’t that ironic? You go to his party, and there’s [Theodore] Ted Stevens and his wife. You know, of anybody who is sort of the nasty Republican—He really is a nasty person, but Teddy’s got him at his birthday party.

Young

Really? At the birthday party?

Hanan

Oh, yes.

Young

Did he come dressed—as what?

Hanan

Well, it was usually a costume party. I can’t remember whether—I’m sure he did but I don’t remember. Of course John Warner would be there. They were friends. But Ted Stevens—It used to blow my mind that Teddy would have these people. So our relationship was—He was very helpful.

Young

Helpful but not—

Hanan

We didn’t convert him to our—It was too bad, because he would have been on the right side of the issue.

Young

Of course.

Hanan

That’s the other thing: Over the years, and I can’t think of a specific example now, but I’ll tell you, he has tremendous insight into the issues and where we’re going and long-term impact.

Young

He does a lot of study. He gets on top of the facts and the evidence, it seems to me.

Hanan

Very much so.

Young

He has to be the best, to know more than any other one about the subject if he’s going to go out there on the floor.

Hanan

Yes.

Young

That’s a very striking characteristic and he uses his staff, not to stand in for him so much as to get him prepared and educated.

Hanan

Ironically, I often feel that he knows too much, because when he starts to talk about something, he tries to get everything in, which doesn’t work out well. He would be much—which is something Bobby was very good at. Bobby would have three or four points that he would want to make in a speech or something, or a talk. It was, One, two, three, four—Thank you, Ma’am, whereas Teddy has got so much information crammed into it by this prolific staff and his desire to know, that he wants to get it all out and sometimes it isn’t as clear as he could be. I have often thought that it was because he knows too much.

Young

All of it. But isn’t it true that if you’re in a real debate on the floor, that those facts do come in very handy in the debate? But to get it all in at one speech—Somebody has said it’s like both of his brothers originally. They speak and you have to fill in the blanks because their minds run faster than their tongues.

Hanan

Yes. I’m not talking about on the floor of the Senate. On the floor of the Senate, he knows precisely what—he’s much more—but when he gets into answering a question or is speaking, he starts to remember all of these things. God, I’ve got to bring that in. Often, it doesn’t come out as well as it could have. On the Senate floor, he’s magnificent. He’s worked on it, he knows exactly what—and he knows how to respond succinctly and accurately. But the answering of some questions sometimes, and freelance speaking—he has so much crammed into him that more comes out than is needed.

Young

But on the stump, he does pretty well, doesn’t he?

Hanan

Oh, yes. He reads crowds very well and knows where they’re going. And he can adjust, unless he’s got a message that he wants them to hear regardless of whether they want to hear it or not. In that case he reads the crowd and knows that he’s got to come forward with meaningful comments. I don’t know, but as I said, my basic point was that he does get crammed right up to the top with information. It sometimes works against him.

Young

Is he a good judge of people?

Hanan

Yes. Overall, his staffs have been phenomenal.

Young

They are reputed to be the best.

Hanan

Obviously, people prepare dossiers or something on them, but Teddy is a good judge of character.

Young

Yes, that’s what I’m hearing.

Hanan

Not only can he evaluate the dossier, but he can also judge the person. As John Culver says, there are lots of smart people out there, and probably 90 percent of them you wouldn’t want on your staff. The trick is to find that 10 percent, and I think Teddy does that very well. Obviously, he has advantages in that the best and the brightest apply and want to work for him, so he’s fortunate that he doesn’t have a lot of mediocre people in the mix. He is a very good judge of character and has done a magnificent job. He could run the government with ex-staff people.

Young

And a goodly portion of corporate America.

Hanan

Yes. Phil Bakes, CEO of—Was it Eastern Airlines that he became head of? That’s pretty good for a Kennedy staffer, head of a major airline. And others: Herb Schmertz was a long-time Kennedy loyalist, and he became a director of Mobil Oil Corporation and the head of their public relations department, and a real genius in my view, in that area. He was somebody that worked very hard for Teddy and was quite close to Teddy. Not as close to Teddy though as much as to Steve and the staff.

Young

What about 1980? Why did he decide to run against [Jimmy] Carter?

Hanan

I think it was frustration with the incompetence that many people felt about Carter. Carter is obviously one of the brightest people ever to be President, but again, you go back to the—

Young

The Culver truth.

Hanan

Yes. There’s a big difference between—I just don’t think Carter was a good judge of people. Actually, in an ironic way, the demise of Bert Lance was probably the most serious loss Carter suffered.

Young

I agree with you.

Hanan

If he had stayed, Carter might have had a different track record, but he brought in a lot of people who were unfamiliar with Washington and were going to change Washington. Well, good luck. You’re running up against a pretty smart, entrenched group of people, either on the left or on the right, and you’re not going to change overnight. Carter just didn’t understand how to run the government, or his staff didn’t understand. I think Teddy felt that there was a real lack of leadership, and that he had made some mistakes, and wanted to change that. 

I’m a firm believer in timing. Oh, I’ll wait until next time. In that business, it’s entirely possible that there won’t be a next time. I think he felt that the time was ripe and he wanted to make a difference, and so he threw himself into the mix. He was kind enough to tell me early on that he was going to do it, but I was not one of the people that he sat down with and decided whether he was going to run for President. We discussed it, but more in a general sense. He wasn’t relying on my advice.

Young

You had a vantage point on his campaign, in Florida at least, and maybe elsewhere also. It did not seem, among the professionals, to be a well-organized campaign.

Hanan

It wasn’t.

Young

And so atypical of a Kennedy campaign, the family. That’s a big puzzle for history. Why not? Was it too late? What? Do you have any thoughts on that subject?

Hanan

Yes, I do. I think people were living in the past. The world had changed and politics had changed. The way campaigns were run had changed. We were really moving into a different era, and most of the people that Teddy relied upon were out of the 1960 group or the 1964 group or the ’68, in that genre of people. Obviously there were others who had come in, but that group, Steve Smith and people he relied upon, dominated the process. 

I just don’t think they realized—You could win West Virginia back in the ’60s by going in there and getting the bosses to turn out the people. That didn’t work in 1980. They no longer had the power that they used to. The whole system had changed. We were into the beginning, the emergence of broader-based media and everything else. The old political party structure was beginning to disintegrate. Teddy’s people just never got up to speed and it got ahead of them, and then they began to run out of money. For instance, I was in Florida, allegedly running the Florida campaign. I had my credit card, you know? That’s it.

Young

That’s it.

Hanan

That was it. If I wanted to go someplace, it was on my credit card. If I wanted to hire somebody or put an ad in someplace, it was on my credit card. We had no money. There was a lack of appreciation of the costs and the nature of how politics had changed in those years. That was always my view.

Young

But he kept at it, even though—

Hanan

Yes.

Young

And Carter was very good at organizing a campaign in the new system. He and Jody [Powell] and Hamilton Jordan. When he was making the run for the Presidency, it was, Jimmy Who? My impression is he studied the primary, did the political analysis, did the map, and came from nowhere and got it. That same organization, that same approach, was intact when he was in the White House.

Hanan

Right.

Young

This is interesting, what you say, because in this respect the Carter folks were newer to the game. They were products of the new system. And Teddy wasn’t.

Hanan

Yes, that clearly was—Once the press turns, you’ve really got to—One of my favorite sayings is that I know a candidate is cooked when Jay Leno starts making fun of him on the Tonight Show, or David Letterman or somebody. It’s over when that happens. That wouldn’t have happened years and years ago. The whole genre, if that’s the right word, had changed, and I don’t think, God love him, that Steve was up to it. Things had just moved beyond him. He was still operating back in the West Virginia days. It didn’t work. 

Obviously Teddy made some mistakes. The Roger Mudd interview was—But that could have been avoided, too. With the proper preparation, that wouldn’t have happened.

I’ll never forget—I was in San Francisco with Bobby and he was debating [Eugene] Gene McCarthy, and we had a television crew there. Bobby never wanted to be made up and everything, and Gene used to get made up. I got into a pissing match with one of the people on the show. I can’t remember what it was about now. This guy came over to me and he said, You’re a—[whatever word]. He said, You’re just lucky I like your candidate, because I could really screw him if I wanted to. 

It really was an eye-opener to me. He was right. He could have gotten the [Richard M.] Nixon shadow that made you look sinister, if he wanted to. There were a thousand things—well, not a thousand—that he could do. In a way, in ’80 we just weren’t up to speed. That’s really the bottom line. Once it started downhill, it was tough. I’m sorry, because Teddy, much like [Barack] Obama, has the ability to reach out to people and bring people together, and he would have been a good President.

Young

In some ways, he was very prepared to be President, I mean, the fact that he was good at the crowds and the street politics, also with the policy, with good staff on top of the issues. His office is sort of like a Presidential, a White House office.

Hanan

Oh, it is. Plus, he’s got enormous outreach, which a President does. I think his outreach is far superior than any other Senator has ever been able to put together. John Tunney’s dog was recently bit by a rattlesnake and unfortunately died, but when the dog was sick, he called Teddy’s office and they immediately had a person in Los Angeles who was the expert on rattlesnake bites to dogs. Gosh, who would ever think?

Young

What a rolodex.

Hanan

Who would ever have thought? There is just an enormous reservoir, and has been for years and years, that he has the ability to reach out.

Young

In a way, he’s done more than a President could do, over the years. How many Presidential terms has he really served in the Senate and what has he accomplished with that?

Hanan

I agree with you. History is—I don’t think you can name a person who has had as enormous an impact on the country as Teddy has. But the characteristic about him that is so important is his ability to compromise and get something done. Remember when Hillary Clinton took over the healthcare issue, she was going to get it done her way and that was it. I’ve been told that Teddy was trying to work for compromises, that there were any number of times that there were opportunities for compromise during that, and she wouldn’t do it. She wouldn’t do it. Whether the President was behind her, I don’t know, but they couldn’t get beyond her and the whole thing blew up, and it didn’t have to blow up. They could have made enormous progress. 

Teddy is the pragmatist. He understands that it’s not the whole loaf. In some cases, part of a loaf is better than none, so be willing to compromise. That is one of his greatest—Over the years, there’s been enormous amounts of legislation that people don’t really credit to Kennedy, but the inner workings are the direct result of what he and his staff were able to do.

Young

His name often doesn’t appear as a sponsor.

Hanan

Name a Kennedy bill.

Young

Well, recently.

Hanan

There was certainly the service. 

Young

It’s not there, the credit.

Hanan

Often you will hear—and I’m making this up—It will be the McCain-Kennedy bill, and it should be the Kennedy-McCain bill. He’s about Let’s get it done. The bottom line is, let’s get it done and let’s get the best we can get under the circumstances.

Young

Isn’t that what being a serious Senator is? You have to do that because you’re only one of a hundred. You have to engage in something to get anything done. A lot of people who have executive backgrounds don’t necessarily, it seems to me, have that. Though it’s true they do have to compromise to get things done, they don’t. It’s not part of the essence of their environment.

Hanan

It goes back to—You can be an ideologue and say, It’s my way or no way. I suppose there’s some merit to sticking by your guns on an issue you think is important, but the final analysis is you’re probably not going to win and you’re not going to get any portion of it. My view is that Teddy says, Let’s take what we can get out of this. I’m not going to give up. At times he won’t compromise, there’s no question about it. There are issues that he won’t compromise on. But he has a tremendous capacity to weigh the plusses and the minuses and make a judgment that, We ought to take what we can get while we can get it, whereas other people don’t.

I think your comment about executives—I worked at Mobil Oil Corporation and there was something you said earlier that kind of made me laugh inside. I’d go in to see Tavoulareas, who is a Greek and was just a terrific person. Sometimes you’d go in there and he’d start talking to you like this: [talking extremely fast] And what are you going to do, and then you know—you’ve got me—Are we agreed on that? It takes you ten or fifteen minutes to get in sync with him. His mind is so far ahead of his tongue that he thinks you’ve already got what he’s saying, and is on to the next thing. It was kind of funny when you were mentioning that he talked—

Teddy really is the pragmatist. He’s not the ideologue. He has certain hard-held views that he probably wouldn’t compromise on, but he knows that his job is to represent the people of Massachusetts, and he’s got to produce for them. Some other people are more interested in converting the world to some particular point of view rather than accomplishing something.

Young

Of course, he’s probably got the safest seat around, so he can take a longer view. We take it this time. We don’t give up. There will come another time. It’s remarkable how he can get—

Hanan

Yes, but it didn’t become a safe seat just because it had his name on it.

Young

No, I know that. It’s because of what he did.

Hanan

So you go back—He made it a safe seat. Look at poor Chris Dodd, which should be another safe seat. He’s fighting for his life up there. It’s probably not a good analogy because it’s not issues; it was some foolish other things, but you have a safe seat because of what you do, not because of what you don’t.

Young

And what he does for people in Massachusetts, it’s quite an operation. It’s not only an operation, but it’s also his own—

Hanan

His constituency is far beyond Massachusetts.

Young

That’s right.

Hanan

It may not sell well in Alabama, but by and large—

Young

He has people writing even to his Boston office, to ask for help about things that aren’t even close to Massachusetts. He’s a national figure as well as a Massachusetts man.

Hanan

As you were saying earlier, his place in history will be monumental, when people start to analyze all—The unfortunate thing is that it will be difficult to do, to truly evaluate all of the impact that he has had, because it’s done in back rooms and through compromise, and the results are not necessarily attributable to his—

Young

This oral history will do a lot to make available the aspects of him that are not very publicly visible. I know it’s been an education for me, because I’ve not been a Senator; I’m not an insider in the Senate or anything. I’ve just begun to see—We’ve talked now with I guess about 160 people who have been with him over the years, on the staff, or other Senators, and this comes out very clearly in the oral history. I think he understands that, because that was one of my sales pitches to him. I said, People who know you now are not going to—when we’re all dead and gone. These are things that need to be put into the historical record because they’re not going to be visible from the outside. They pay a lot of attention to the press reports, they pay a lot of attention to the documents, but the document is not going to tell the story of what it represents.

Hanan

Well, I certainly hope it does, because he deserves—

Young

What would you think his legacy is going to be?

Hanan

I don’t know how to articulate it. I just think that when people—when history, not people, or time—have had the ability to sit back and reflect in a less controversial environment, that all of this history will begin to emerge and people will begin to see the enormous impact that he has had on the legislative process and the country, as you know better than anyone. 

An element in this country—The second that Kennedy says he’s for it, it’s bad. In future years when he isn’t active, they may not think that that idea was bad. What will happen is that the emotion will be taken out of a lot of these issues and people will begin to see, Gee, he was right on that. Unfortunately, it won’t occur probably in his lifetime, or until there’s been a period of reflection.

Young

A little bit of that is happening now. Maybe it’s because of his cancer. I was talking, not in connection with this, with some people who do documentaries in New York and in Boston, and one of them was saying, We never gave him credit. We never gave him the credit that he deserves. It’s very interesting to hear that comment. Now they’re thinking—This is going to be something if we ever do anything. These little signs.

Hanan

I agree with that.

Young

Now more and more people are saying he’s bipartisan and he’s thought of—because you have this image of Kennedy as the red meat of the free-spending, hedonistic liberal, born with a silver spoon in his mouth. They don’t see the doer. They don’t see the alliance-builder, the mover. They only see that up there.

Hanan

That’s exactly what I was trying to say. I think that once the red meat is off the table, people will really begin to see that it’s a pretty good stew. 

Young

A lot to chew on.

Hanan

Yes, there’s a lot to it. But right now, as you indicated, we’re getting there. It does amaze me, and I suppose it shouldn’t, the success of the Rush Limbaughs and people like that, [Sean] Hannity, and [Bill] O’Reilly. Most of what they say is untrue, simply untrue, or so exaggerated or out of whack that it amounts to being untrue. But people believe it. They have an enormous following and people believe that. When they say, There goes Kennedy again, everybody immediately assumes, that liberal, doing it to us, screwing us again, when it isn’t the case. What he really was doing was something that’s probably very beneficial to those very people, but now because his name is associated with it, they think it’s bad, or bad for them. I think that over time we will—

Young

It’s an ideological thing, that he’s the opposite of what the country needs. Going way back, I guess the Clintons sort of had the same thing. People from the get-go just hated them. Presidential hate mail went way up when John Kennedy became President.

Hanan

Is that right?

Young

Yes, it went way up.

Hanan

Well, I can understand why, but it surprises me.

Young

You see bumper stickers sometimes out in Charlottesville: I’d rather hunt with [Richard] Cheney than ride with Kennedy. Still today, on the trucks.

Hanan

That was such a tragic incident. But, in a funny way, it put him into sitting down at the table with his Maalox bottle and working his tail off to do good and get things done.

Young

Yes.

Hanan

It was going to be done in a different way. As you were indicating earlier, over the years, the record will show that he probably has accomplished a hell of a lot more than any President.

Young

And is as hardworking as any throughout all these years. The bag every night.

Hanan

I’ve traveled with him, not a lot, but you sit down in the airplane and he pulls out the bag. He’s not reading the New York Times. He’s got a briefing book there that he’s digesting. There’s no lack of commitment or lack of desire to do the best he can.

Young

I guess we’ve about run out of time. Do you have any closing thoughts?

Hanan

No, I’m not very good at this. The bottom line is that you couldn’t have a better friend. He is a loyalist and just is always there. You may have made a mistake but that doesn’t matter; he’s there to help if he can help. He really is just the best of friends, I’ll tell you. I’ve been very lucky to have had him as a friend for all these years, and so is the country.

Young

So is the country, I agree. Thank you.

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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