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Oral History

William J. Vanden Heuvel Oral History (2005), Special Assistant to the Attorney General; Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to United Nations

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

Young

The timeline we gave you showed you simply what we know from the outside. It’s what we can pick up, what got recorded somewhere, and the high note was the1960 campaign. You may have encountered him before that time.

Vanden Heuvel

No, not really.My first real encounter with him was in ’64.I was working for Bobby [Kennedy] as Special Assistant. Teddy was going to Europe on behalf of the family to meet with various governments regarding memorials to President [John F.] Kennedy, and Bobby suggested that I go with him.

Young

You were at the Justice Department at that time?

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.So Teddy and I went to Europe.It was an extraordinary trip in May of 1964.

Young

Can you talk about it?

Vanden Heuvel

That was the first time that I really knew Ted closely.We traveled together for two weeks in Europe, just the two of us. I remember it so vividly; we went to London and met with Harold Macmillan. The British had set aside the acre at Runnymede as a memorial to the President, linking it with the Magna Carta, so we didn’t have to deal very much with the British Government.But I remember Harold Macmillan, tears streaming down his cheeks, as he talked about his relationship with President Kennedy.

We went to France and saw [Georges] Pompidou, who was then the Prime Minister.He discussed how he had informed President[Charles] de Gaulle of President Kennedy’s assassination. DeGaulle was at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. November 22 was his birthday. Pompidou recalled that when he told General de Gaulle, that de Gaulle put his face in his hands and commented, His successor cannot survive.It is Banquo’s ghost.You cannot have the King killed when he is a guest in your home.I thought it was an extraordinary insight.

We went on to Italy; saw the Pope, Pope Paul VI[Giovanni Battista Montini].We also visited with Aldo Moro, who was Foreign Minister at the time, and several other governmental leaders.We went to Bonn, where EMK met with Konrad Adenauer. We were late getting to the appointed place. We were coming by helicopter.Adenauer, whowas in his 80s,practically ran down the hall so as not to be late to see the Senator.Everybody, of course, was deeply touched by the events that had happened in America and wanted to use the Senator’s visit as a means of communicating their profound sorrow.

Perhaps the most poignant trip was to Dublin, where we arrived on the anniversary of the President’s birthday, May 29. There were literally thousands of people in the street as EMK proceeded directly from the airport to the Cathedral where a memorial mass was being celebrated.As the Senator entered the Cathedral, you could feel the weight literally shift as the audience stood to greet him.There wasn’t a dry eye in the Cathedral or on the street.It was the most extraordinary outpouring of personal affection. Mrs. [Sinéad] de Valera was there, and Sean O’Kelly was then the President of Ireland.Later there was a dinner given for the Senator, and Mrs. de Valera recited the poem that was later the title of a book that Kenny O’Donnell wrote with Dave Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.The next day Ted went to Limerick, and to the family seat of Wexford. There was just the most astonishing outpouring of people everywhere. He spoke eloquently with grace and humor, but frankly, he didn’t have to say a word because there was such an open feeling of love and affection and sadness.

Young

Was this the first visit of a Kennedy to these countries?

Vanden Heuvel

No, President Kennedy had made an unforgettable visit the year before.

Young

Robert hadn’t been over?

Vanden Heuvel

No. This was the first visit of a Kennedy, after the President’s death, to Ireland.The President had been there in 1963 and the memory of that visit was very clear. Everyone remembered his speech to the Irish Parliament. Eamon de Valera was Prime Minister in 1964 but President[Lyndon] Johnson organized a special event in America so that the Prime Minister of Ireland wasn’t there was when Senator Kennedy was [laughs].It was the kind of maneuvering that Lyndon Johnson was capable of in a Presidential election year. 

The trip was my first real opportunity to know the Senator very well.

Young

What did you observe as his characteristics?Did he speak a lot?He was just renewing a bond, I think, or building a bond?

Vanden Heuvel

We were out to discuss whether there were some important monuments that could be built in the form of scholarships or other active programs in these countries that would carry forward the work that President Kennedy had begun. EMK was very effective in saying how much he appreciated what these various governments had said and done and acknowledged these efforts.Much had already been done to commemorate President Kennedy in all these countries. Streets and buildings and parks had been renamed.The Senator was very effective without saying too much.

He’s not a person who goes into a situation like that and talks and talks. He’s very much to the point.He’s very generous and warm in his welcome.I think he has an outreach emotionally that is unusual.

It was in June when we came back.When was his accident with the plane?

Young

It was September.

Vanden Heuvel

Oh, was it that late?

Young

I think it was September of ’64.Let me see.No, you’re right, it was June.

Vanden Heuvel

I remember Bobby was considering running for the Senate in New York.The decision had not been made at that time.

Young

Robert?

Vanden Heuvel

Robert.The decision had not been made in June and he was still Attorney General.There was some important civil rights legislation still before the Congress. I was working at that time on Prince Edward County and the breaking school segregation crisis in Virginia, but I was asked to do something special relating to that legislation in the Congress, so I didn’t go up with Teddy to Massachusetts.I think he went up on the Caroline.He was going to Northampton to the Democratic Convention in Massachusetts. I was going to meet him the next day in Boston and then we were going to fly together to upstate New York.We had this little tour planned of making speeches as sort ofa sounding board and getting a sense of how upstate New York was going to react to Robert Kennedy’s possible candidacy.

I was an upstater myself.I was born in Rochester, New York, and although my life was concentrated in New York City and Washington, I still understood and knew upstate New York very well. I was a graduate of Cornell. I didn’t fly up with him to Northampton. The accident happened. I think Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana was with him on that plane.

Young

Yes, he was.

Vanden Heuvel

I think his administrative assistant was killed in the accident.

Young

Killed, and the pilot was killed.

Vanden Heuvel

I’ve forgotten where Robert Kennedy was at that time, but we talked as soon as the news became known and it was decided that Nick Katzenbach and I would go up immediately to the scene and determine what we could possibly do to be of assistance.I think Ted was in the hospital, still perhaps in Northampton.

Young

He hadn’t moved yet.

Vanden Heuvel

He hadn’t moved yet. A plane that took us to Newburgh, New York—it was a terrible night of weather, fog, and rain—and then we drove to Northampton and saw Teddy.We got the doctors’ reports that although he was seriously injured, his life was not in jeopardy.We visited with Senator Bayh and his wife. Teddy told me to go ahead with the plan in New York and to fly on the Caroline.I was to go ahead and take his place at the speaking engagements.

Young

Was he going to be giving talks in New York?This was a sounding board—

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, for example, the State Committee Chairman had a major event scheduled in Binghamton, New York, and Ted was scheduled to be the main speaker at that. I took his place.Of course, that would have been an unacceptable routine except for the accident.I think people were so anxious to hear that he was all right.[William] McKeon,I think,was the name of the State Chairman at that time.[Peter] Crotty and Joe Crangle in Buffalo, New York, were old Kennedy hands; there were a lot of old Kennedy hands in upstate New York who were just waiting for a Kennedy candidacy. I stayed in close touch with Ted when he was moved to a Boston hospital. Joan [Kennedy] did the campaigning in his re-election campaign in Massachusetts—and she was a great success. I would visit him often, coming up from New York.

Young

Was this mostly about Robert or about other things?

Vanden Heuvel

No,just personal.As a matter of fact, it got to the point, because Bobby then decided he was going to run for the Senate, where RFK said to me, Don’t forget you’re working for me.This isn’t the time to worry about whether Teddy’s going to be reelected in Massachusetts, because everybody knew he was going to be.In the midsummer, Bobby had decided he was going to run for the Senate.The New York convention was in September. I was in close touch with Ted during those days.He was strapped to a big board. I’ve forgotten its name.

Young

Yes, I forget the name of it.It begins with S.Stryker.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, Stryker board.He was strapped to that.One thing about Ted Kennedy, I’ve never heard him complain once about the ordeal that that had to go through.And not only the terrible nature of the accident, and especially with airplane crashes having the meaning in the Kennedy family that it had, I never heard him make reference to it.I never heard him make reference to the pain and suffering and the anguish that he had to endure during those months, which had to be significant.It was a wound and a scar and a pain that he carried with him all of his life, carries with him to this day.It’s a mark of— It’s a family trait, but it’s remarkably evident in Ted Kennedy, this determination to absorb all of the fateful lashing of history and life and to go forward and to go forward and to go forward.

There’s not a lessening of the suffering and grief that one endures with the very personal losses that someone like Teddy has endured, probably more than anybody certainly I know, and more than almost anyone in American history, to endure the number of personal incidents and traumatic events that had to affect him.

Young

And starting at a very young age.

Vanden Heuvel

A very young age.His brother’s death.

Young

Brother Joe’s [Kennedy] death.That was the first one.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, in 1944, I think.Ted was 12 years old. And then his sister’s death.

Young

Kathleen [Kennedy].

Vanden Heuvel

He was presiding over the Senate when the word came that the President had been killed. He flew to Hyannis Port immediately to be with his parents. I think he went up with Eunice [Kennedy Shriver] to deal with that situation.The general point that I’m making is that I don’t know anyone in public life who has suffered more than Ted the outrageous slings and arrows of anger and hatred and vituperation and massive assault on one’s personality and ego that public life involves.Through it all he has retained and has that strong personal sense of courage and acceptance of fate. Bobby had that, too, that acceptance of fate.It’s very Irish in many ways.

In my early career I was associated with Wild Bill [William] Donovan.I spent the last six years of his life with General Donovan. Donovan too was that way.It’s a legendary quality of the Irish, where death is not an intimidating force and fear is not part of your personality.You just move forward in a strong and continuing way.That’s what Teddy did after that airplane accident in June of 1964. Then the summer— His campaign was remarkable.Joan carried out a lot of it, but he had other surrogates.Everybody was anxious to help in every way possible.It was his first election to a full term to the Senate.He joked a lot about it, his race in ’62.He ran against [George] Lodge, I think, in ’64, didn’t he?Wasn’t it George Lodge that he ran against?Or was that earlier, maybe ’62?

Eddie McCormack was the primary opponent in ’62.He loved to tell the story of how Eddie McCormack would say, If your name was Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy, you wouldn’t be on this platform tonight. Teddy went out campaigning early in the next morning. A truck driver slammed on his brakes on and said, Hey, Kennedy, is it true you’ve never worked a day in your life? Teddy sort of sheepishly looked at him.He said, Well, let me tell you something, you ain’t missed nothing.Teddy loves that story.

In ’64 Bobby talked with him a lot, visited with him often. Bobby had determined to go forward with his campaign.I was the Deputy Campaign Manager and primarily in charge of substantive issues and speeches for Bobby’s campaign.Steve Smith ran the campaign, and we all worked with Steve.I was totally involved, beginning in September through the election.

Young

In a moment perhaps we can talk about your involvement,and certainly in the meetings.It was probably more than that, of his decision to run or not run?

Vanden Heuvel

Robert Kennedy?

Young

Robert Kennedy.

Vanden Heuvel

I was the senior New Yorker on his staff in the Justice Department.He had a number of very important advisors like Fred Dutton, and Steve Smith was a singularly important influence. Steve, of course, was a New Yorker.

Young

Was he almost a member of the family? He was Jean’s [Kennedy Smith] husband.

Vanden Heuvel

Oh, yes.At Steve’s funeral, Teddy gave the eulogy.Teddy’s given so many eulogies.His brother’s in 1968. When he spoke at Steve’s funeral, which I think was 1991, he said,He was my brother.He really thought of him that way.They were very close and had that knack that the Kennedys had where you didn’t have to talk much because you understood what the other person was thinking. Steve was not one for a great deal of chitchat either, but he was tough as nails and he took care of the rough politics of it all and the family business.

Anyway, that was in ’64. Robert then ran. In the book RFK: On His Own—1964 to 1968, which I wrote with Milt Gwirtzman,we tell the story of Bobby’s campaign.I should have reread it for this occasion, but if I went back to it, I’m sure there are a number of references to Ted that would jar my memory about all those things.

Young

There were the meetings that—We have talked with Ted and we had a whole session on the ’68—

Vanden Heuvel

We’re talking about ’64.

Young

I’m sorry, the ’62 campaign.His own ’62 campaign.Not much on the Robert Kennedy Senate campaign—

Vanden Heuvel

No, because Teddy was out of it because of the accident.He was available by phone.He talked to Bobby who visited him often.I visited him time and again.Bobby took very seriously Ted’s political advice.Ted had a very sure political instinct much appreciated by his brother(Robert Kennedy), who I saw in many situations where he would be very anxious to have Ted’s counsel and advice.

Young

I think it worked both ways, didn’t it?

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.Robert had the experience of being a political campaign manager as well as being a candidate, and Ted had great political instincts. He had a feeling for the way of politics—Of course, New York politics, in my judgment, is much tougher and rougher than politics anywhere else.You’re dealing with an incredible number of ethnic groups and political groups that in are confrontation constantly. Robert brought a new dimension to problems.He had to displace people who thought of themselves as entitled to the nomination.He had to deal with the carpetbagger question, although he’d been born in New York State. He made frequent reference to that, how his family lived on Independence Avenue in the Bronx, and he took young John [Kennedy, Jr.] up there one day to show him the family home.He’d gone to school here actually, in Riverdale, so he had a very important sense of connection with New York.But they all did because Joseph P. Kennedy spent a great deal of time in New York.

I remember when I first met President Kennedy.He was then Senator Kennedy.It was at the family apartment at 277 Park Avenue, a building now long gone.The family then took an apartment at 40 Central Park South. They were in and out of New York, as a cosmopolitan family would be.

It was an interesting combination because they retained the provincial quality that strong family ties cause.Their first relationships were with each other, and that was the primary relationship and nothing broke that.Whatever went on between them or among them, others may see fragments of or have a sense of it, but it was an enormously close bond that had been forged,in large part by the father, who, although frequently absent, was a very real presence in their lives all of the years of his life.

I saw Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy quite often.I went to Palm Beach with Teddy once,I think it was for New Year’s of 1965–66.He had just come back from Vietnam.He and I think John Tunney had been over on a briefing tour. I stayed at the family home in Palm Beach. It was wonderful to see Rose Kennedy in action.She was such a methodical person.At breakfast, she’d come down and would direct the conversation, questions and talks about current events and attitudes and opinions.There was no idle chatter.

I think somewhere you asked, how do you compare the brothers?Of the brothers, and I didn’t know President Kennedy that well, but certainly I knew Robert Kennedy very well and Edward Kennedy. EMK had the most talent for Congressional politics and leadership.

Young

Robert?

Vanden Heuvel

No, Edward.Edward was definitely the most natural in that because he had an instinct for bringing people together and resolving confrontations,whereas Bobby sort of welcomed confrontation. Jack, to my observation, was a very sophisticated person who was more removed than his brothers from the street warfare of politics.Bobby had a passionate feeling of, a sense of injustice and a great dislike of bullies, in public or private life. Teddy had a very strong sense of politics. I mean, bringing people together, meeting people, enjoying the process, much more so than Bobby did, for example.Politics to RFK was not a natural calling, or at least as a candidate.Whereas for Edward Kennedy, it was a very natural calling.

People frequently think, or said, that he inherited some of the traits of his grandfather, Mayor Fitzgerald, and that may or may not be true.I didn’t know the mayor, but there could not have been a Boston or Massachusetts politician who reflected the more natural capacities of what you think of as the classic Irish politician.Ted has ebullience, he has warmth, he has a magnificent speaking voice.I’ve heard Edward Kennedy speak any number of times, and he has a voice that just reached out in a way that is phenomenal. It was certainly stronger than both his brothers.

People think of President Kennedy as a great orator, but when I first heard Jack Kennedy speak while he was still a Senator,he was not what you would have described as an orator;whereas with Ted Kennedy, you could describe him as an orator.He had a commanding presence and a commanding voice and he could deliver a speech, as we’ve seen in all kinds of occasions such as the 1980 convention.I was with him once, I think in Oregon, where he spoke about Martin Luther King.It was just astonishing to watch the audience reactions.

Anyway, where are we?We’re back in 1964 where Robert Kennedy is elected to the Senate after a tumultuous campaign.Wins the state by 760,000 votes or so, but Lyndon Johnson wins it by two million, and Johnson never let anybody forget that either.

Young

In what capacity were you involved with the two of them when Robert was in the Senate and Edward was also in the Senate?

Vanden Heuvel

I was down in the Senate for the swearing in. 

Young

They arranged to have them born sworn in at once.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes. It was still a significant physical effort for Teddy at that time, in terms of his getting around.

The Prince Edward County experience is an interesting insight into how the brothers worked together in the Senate.One of the things we did in Prince Edward County segregation crisis in 1963 was to bring in teachers from all over the

Young

We were talking a bit about the period when both the brothers were in the Senate and then you mentioned Prince Edward County, and then the national teacher—

Vanden Heuvel

I said to Robert Kennedy that one of the things that we witnessed in Prince Edward County was the tremendous willingness of teachers in America to get involved in the civil rights struggle and the war against poverty because of the motivation that caused people to become teachers, the idealism and the sense of patriotism and relationship to the country.In Prince Edward County, we brought teachers from all over the country, a faculty of over a hundred, and they were wonderful teachers.The best teachers in many of the suburban areas, for example, took a year off to come to Prince Edward County.And frequently they continued to be paid by the school districts from which they had taken leave.

My recommendation to Robert Kennedy was that we ought to try to put this in the form of a national program and take advantage of the experience in Prince Edward County and extend it by having a Teacher Corps to which teachers could, like the Peace Corps, join and be assigned to districts around the country where the need was greatest for them.I could see in Prince Edward County the presence of one outstanding English teacher in a county where for five years all the schools had been closed, and where you had a degree of illiteracy that was profound. One inspired teacher could make such a difference not only in that school and not only among those children and their families, but in the community. Bobby was quick to agree with that.

But he said,I think it’s better for Ted to sponsor this because coming from me, Johnson will try to claim it as his own. Ted, of course, was very interested in the concept, and I believe that he proposed the original legislation on the Teacher Corps. I think the White House then tried to make it their own by changing the concept to student teachers rather than experienced teacher prepared to take a sabbatical.

Our original idea was to have mature teachers take advantage of the fact that many of the best and most affluent communities in America were prepared to help teachers take a leave of absence for a year and even help finance it.Anyway, that was a concept I don’t know,frankly, what’s happened to the Teacher Corps idea.

Young

Well, I think the legislation passed and then the Republicans in the House would not fund it.But it stayed on the books and was authorized and was funded later on.

Vanden Heuvel

I’m sure the South would not welcome it.We were dealing in the civil rights crisis with a closed society; in many ways, a feudalistic society where the power instruments and the power infrastructure defied any kind of new forces coming in.Of course, that’s what we were suggesting—to have people from different parts of the country come into these communities and go into their schools where you could reach the heart and soul of the community, especially in these small towns and small cities.

Young

It was quite an amazing story to me, the formation of the Association for Free Schools. I don’t know what the name of it actually was, but you were instrumental—

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, in Prince Edward County.

Young

In PrinceEdwardCounty, and there was a picture I saw of you with the Governor of Virginia, Albert Harrison.

Vanden Heuvel

Roger Wilkins was not involved at all, but this was in August 1963 and the Governor of Virginia and the head of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] was there, myself, and I think one of the representatives of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors was there. I spent an enormous amount of time in Prince Edward County and developed and negotiated the whole structure. The breakthrough point was getting Colgate Darden, who was the former Governor of Virginia and the former president of the University of Virginia and a man of Jeffersonian qualities, to be identified with what we called the Prince Edward County Free Schools Association.Then we got two other presidents of white colleges, the president of Washington & Lee and the dean of the University of Virginia Law School, Dean [F. D. G.] Ribble, who was a friend of Robert Kennedy’s.Then we got three presidents of black colleges. These were the Board of Directors of the enterprise because it was all private, and the money raised was all private.We leased the schools from Prince Edward County for a dollar, but the people in the town, the white power structure was just aghast at what was happening, but they didn’t stand in the way of it ultimately.

The President felt personally, and Robert Kennedy with equal determination, that no American child should be denied this opportunity of public education.But the case wound so slowly through the courts that it finally wasn’t decided until 1964. It was a unanimous judgment of the court that the tuition grant program of Virginia was unconstitutional. This tuition grant program essentially financed the white-only schools.

Both Ted and Robert Kennedy were deeply interested in the Prince Edward County experience. They thought the Teacher Corps was a valid idea and would help remind people of the idealism that motivates so much of the teaching profession.So there we were with two Kennedys in the Senate in January of 1965.

Young

One of whom you said was really not a Senator by temperament.

Vanden Heuvel

No, Bobby was not a Senator by temperament.And I think he always had a higher ambition and the Senate was definitely a place to be to remain involved in the political life of the country, and New York was a very good state to be from.It was then much more powerful than it is now in terms of the national politics.But he set about becoming a very good Senator, which he was, and worked extremely hard.

Then, of course, Vietnam came into the picture.And that was interesting because in that time that I referred to, of staying with Teddy on New Year’s weekend down in Palm Beach, with his mother and family, and his having just come back from Vietnam, he had been very impressed by the briefing he’d gotten from the American military and diplomatic authorities. I had been in Vietnam.I had been in Southeast Asia with General Wild Bill Donovan when the French were still in Indochina. I was a very young man and had a very strong feeling against our making Indochina our war. I had known Ngo Dinh Diem and I had a lot of Vietnamese friends, so I followed it very closely. I don’t remember directly contradicting the Senator, but I certainly was cautionary to both the Senator and to John Tunney, who’s also a very good friend, about believing or relying on these official briefings.

Young

This must have been his first trip.

Vanden Heuvel

It was his first trip.

Young

Because he then made another.And that was not what he brought back.

Vanden Heuvel

I think it must have been on the cusp of ’66, ’65–’66, when the anti-Vietnam feeling in this country was far from mobilized.I mean, it was very much the other way.

Young

This was about refugees, wasn’t it, when he went over there?That was his reason for taking the trip as a Senator?

Vanden Heuvel

I don’t know that.

Young

I think it was about—

Vanden Heuvel

I doubt it.Maybe it was.That was another thing, of course, that brought us together because I had been President of the International Rescue Committee, which was the largest nonsectarian refugee group in the country.Refugees were a real interest of Ted’s.He had one in particular, Dale de Haan, who worked on these refugee problems in those days who then became Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.Have you come across his name?

Young

I don’t know who that was.

Vanden Heuvel

He was an advisor to Teddy on the Senate committee and worked with him closely in the Senate committee, and then later went to Geneva as the Deputy High Commissioner. I went to Geneva, I think in ’64, with Teddy, where he spoke to the Intergovernmental Committee on European Migration. I worked with him on that speech.He gave a very tough speech.I remember that.We had friends in Geneva. Pierre Seidounoff, a leading lawyer in the town, gave a dinner for Senator Kennedy. I think his concern was that the refugee crisis was growing significantly, but the response was too bureaucratic and not generous enough.Bureaucratic in terms of the UN [United Nations] and international structures that were responding to it, and not generous enough in terms of the donor nations that had to be involved in it.I really should do some homework on this refugee question because over the years I spent a great deal of time with Senator Kennedy on refugee questions.

I remember that we then went to call on the UN High Commissioner, who I think was a former Danish Prime Minister. That trip was the first time I saw the residence of the American Ambassador, to which I returned 10 years later as the Ambassador.

Young

In Geneva?

Vanden Heuvel

In Geneva.

Young

So your connection with Edward on refugees and immigration was not particularly Robert’sinterest—

Vanden Heuvel

Refugee problems were something that I had always been involved in before I had gone to Washington. I was President of the International Refugee Committee in the late ’50s, and very much involved with the Vietnamese refugee question.The Vietnamese refugee crisis began in 1954-55, when the refugees came from the north to the south. There were over a million refugees who came.That was something that President Kennedy was very interested in, both as a Senator and as President.But I don’t recall the refugee crisis in Vietnam being so significant in, say, ’64 or ’65, but the war was dramatically becoming more and more involved, so that dominated a lot of people’s thinking, and especially Robert’s.

Both Ted and Bobby undoubtedly felt a responsibility to President Kennedy’s memory, and did not want to be seen as undercutting Johnson.Both were convinced that President Kennedy would never have made Vietnam America’s war, which Johnson so quickly did.

Young

The ’65–’66 visit was probably before the enormous escalation?

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.Well, no, the escalation began in the spring of ’65 with the attack in Pleiku.

Young

I’m trying to place Edward’s visit over there in terms of what took him over there.

Vanden Heuvel

I’m almost sure that the New Year’s weekend that I spent with him was ’65–’66, but it would be important to find out when his first visit was.

Young

Because he did become skeptical in his second trip over there.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, but he came back from the first trip—I really understood what George Romney said when he said he was brainwashed in 1968, which cost him a chance at the Republican nomination, because I had seen those briefings.I mean, you go into a totally different cultural environment with a country like Vietnam, and you’re confronted by three-and four-star generals who are telling you that everything is going well.

Fritz Nolting was Ambassador.

Young

Kennedy got rid of him and put Lodge over there, is that right?Put [Henry] Cabot Lodge, installed him as Ambassador. Didn’t Kennedy do that, and got rid of Nolting?

Vanden Heuvel

I know he got rid of Nolting. Did he put Lodge in?Because whenever the vacancy occurred, Bobby said to Lyndon Johnson that he wanted to go as Ambassador. Johnson, for a variety of reasons said no, but the ostensible reason that he gave was that he could not possibly see the family suffer more, and since it was such a dangerous spot he would not let Robert Kennedy go over as Ambassador.But that was in the winter of ’64, February or March.

Then Johnson was reelected in ’64, and in the spring, I think, of ’65 with the attack on the American forces in Pleikuand [McGeorge] Bundy’s memorandum to Johnson, they began this extraordinary buildup, so that within 18 months after his reelection, he had 500,000 American troops in Vietnam.

My point is that in ’65 neither Robert nor Ted Kennedy wanted to confront Johnson nor were they necessarily opposed to the course of action that we were following in Vietnam.Even continuing into ’66, Robert Kennedy was not anxious to make that his issue, in large part because of his feeling about President Kennedy and a large part in understanding how difficult it was for President Johnson.It wasn’t until he really became convinced that the war was opposed to America’s fundamental interests that he really became such a public opponent of it.

It’s very much like Iraq, in a sense, where the Johnson people were constantly training indigenous forces that were going to take over the responsibility and the American military forces were going to withdraw.They had an election, I think in ’65.Had it been a free and open election without the American pressures, it’s altogether possible somebody would have come to power—and someone did win the election but they took it away from him—who would have found a way out of it, negotiated a way out of it. 

Robert Kennedy saw the corruption not only of what was happening in Vietnam but the corruption of the issue as it affected American life.Of course, he was deeply affected, as Teddy was, by the draft, and they heard from their own constituents. It was when the middle class got deeply affected personally that major public opposition to the war began. I was with RFK many times on college campuses where he would speak to students and ask, Why don’t you understand what your responsibility is in this situation?You can’t let other people fight your war.This is your war; if you want it, you better help fight it, and if you think it’s wrong, say so, but don’t say so just because you’re against the draft.That was his point. Ted went through this same agonizing reappraisal with Vietnam.

Young

Would it be fair to say that they were behind the curve, both of them, on the public opinion—

Vanden Heuvel

No, they were ahead of the curve but they weren’t in the first rank of the opponents to the war.

Young

The way the peace movement got started.

Vanden Heuvel

The peace movement was identified in those days with Bella Abzug and other so-called very liberal progressive forces that were antiwar.This was not a normal constituency for the Kennedys to begin with, and for either Robert or Edward Kennedy, who felt a larger sense of responsibility, having been so close to the formulation of foreign policy and the use of military power.Also, they were close to Robert McNamara.I was at several meetings where Bobby would have a drink at the end of the day with Robert McNamara.We went through all of that.

I don’t recall Teddy’s own posture with McNamara, but I’m certain it was close.A lot of this was conditioned by the fact that the Johnson administration had so many key people who were Kennedy people.Johnson didn’t change the Cabinet quickly or significantly, unlike[Harry] Truman, who came in after [Franklin D.] Roosevelt’s death and within three months had a whole new Cabinet. Johnson didn’t do that.He had the same Secretary of Defense, same Secretary of State, and kept them on.So it was a very interesting source of information for Robert and probably Teddy, too.

Being a liberal icon was not his natural posture as Ted began his career.He was much more guarded, circumspect.He was much more willing to accept the opinions of authority.Certainly, he had great respect for the Presidency as such but he was not a firebrand.He came to these things out of a tortured path of personal conviction.Then, of course, Robert was much more the vocal spokesman of it than Teddy.After Robert’s death, Ted read a statement where he would carry the fallen flag of his brother. I think he then understood that he had a very special position of responsibility for the leadership of the liberal forces. He wasn’t afraid of Johnson.He had his own constituency and his own life.Between ’65 and ’68 was a very significant time of his being educated into the world.

Young

At that same time there was also Watts coming up and a lot of Detroit, Turner Commission.

Vanden Heuvel

I don’t remember Teddy’s posture or relationship to those issues.I saw much more of it through Bobby’s eyes.

Young

Well, through Bobby because it seems to me when he got fired up in the campaign it was not just Vietnam but it was also on the domestic front, what was happening.He made that a point—

Vanden Heuvel

I went down with Edward Kennedy—when was it, in ’66?—to Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi, where he spoke at a dinner with Martin Luther King.Probably a Southern Leadership Conference dinner.We flew down from Washington.I always remember it because we went to the wrong airport.We went to National Airport instead of Dulles Airport; we thought the plane was leaving from there. I think he had 25 minutes to catch the plane and he had to get from National to Dulles Airport.I never was in an automobile that was driven faster than that. Ted was driving and we made it.We caught the plane and we got down to Mississippi.It was, again, an immensely emotional event for the African-American population of Mississippi, to have Senator Kennedy in their midst.

That was one of the few occasions that I was with him and Martin Luther King too.We sat down after the dinner with King. I remember King telling Teddy how he had just been through Cicero in Illinois, and he was working on a housing program in the northern states, in Illinois.He said that he had felt the hatred and the wounds of the South but he never knew hatred until he walked in the streets of Cicero, Illinois.It was easy enough to oppose the South, but when you began to rip aside the racial divides of the North and the rest of the country we would soon find out, and we already knew, that the racial biases were very profound in American life.In the South it was much more obvious because the southern political structure encouraged it and kept it, whereas in the North there was an ostensible effort to change that, but you still were dealing with profound racial attitudes.It was an interesting trip to Mississippi in the spring of 1966.

Young

Can we talk a little about your involvement in Robert’s decision to run in ’68?We’ve had a couple of interviews with Senator Kennedy on this and we’ve seen some notes he made on his own of some of the meetings. I think one of the early ones in October of ’67 was with Pierre Salinger.This was just getting other people in to get some opinions.Robert was truly undecided, was he, for a considerable period of time, or some months?

Vanden Heuvel

Right up to March 15, 1968.

Young

Right up to March 15. Meanwhile, there were meetings, some of which may have been called by Edward. I know there was one meeting at your house with more or less the same group of people, and Edward was there. 

Vanden Heuvel

There was a group of people, and I think I identified them in my book [On His Own: RFK 1964-68].Arthur Schlesinger and Dick Goodwin were advocates that Bobby had to run.Gene McCarthy came into the race in that period of time and that put a different focus on it.Of course, Robert Kennedy was in a totally different position than Eugene McCarthy.McCarthy had nothing to lose.Robert Kennedy coming in and challenging the Presidential successor to his brother under the circumstances by which Johnson came to the Presidency was a very different political problem.

McCarthy’s candidacy allowed people to express their opposition to Johnson without reservation or condition, in regard to the issue of Vietnam.Bobby’s candidacy would have brought a lot of other issues into play. Robert Kennedy didn’t have any particular feelings about McCarthy. I don’t think he had a very high regard for him. Ted— I’d have to review all my notes on it, but I don’t remember him as a strong partisan of Bobby’s running.

Young

No, in fact, the notes suggest that he felt his position was that it was not a good idea to run, that it would have been better to wait until ’72.

Vanden Heuvel

When Johnson couldn’t run again.

Young

Yes.And in the notes at least, you appear to have been more or less of that persuasion yourself.

Vanden Heuvel

I was definitely of that persuasion.

Young

Whereas Arthur and maybe Dick Goodwin, I’m not sure.

Vanden Heuvel

And others.Adam Walinsky and Peter Edelman probably.I mean, they were much more gung ho in terms of Robert leading the forces against Johnson, but I think Teddy understood, and I certainly agreed that a challenge to a sitting President of your own party divides the party; you’re almost certain to be defeated and a lot of good people are going down too.Your party’s going to be defeated.That’s the lesson of Theodore Roosevelt and [William] Taft and [Woodrow] Wilson in 1912. There were the very personal considerations, the unwillingness to be as outspoken on Vietnam, perhaps as McCarthy could be, who didn’t have to account to anybody.

McCarthy had his own personal animus against Johnson for having been used in the Vice Presidential game in ’64 and then thrown aside rather cavalierly.At the December meeting that we had in ’67, certainly the clear majority of those at that meeting were not for Robert Kennedy declaring his candidacy.Now, events turned that around.

Young

Where was Robert at this point?

Vanden Heuvel

Listening.Listening.Carefully weighing it.I think his own instinct was against running at that time, but he wanted to keep an open mind.He wanted to keep his own options open and, of course, nobody believed for a moment that Johnson wasn’t going to run again.I mean, that was one factor that, as we look back, is frequently forgotten.But in the deliberations of 1967, everybody assumed that nobody who had spent his lifetime getting to the position of the Presidency, as Lyndon Johnson had, was going to voluntarily abandon it, and especially to Robert Kennedy, for whom there was a very real feeling of dislike.So that was a factor, that you were really challenging the President.You were challenging him on an issue that was not altogether easy for you to deal with because of what President Kennedy’s policies had been, although by ’67 Robert Kennedy was certainly clear that the war was, in his judgment, a disastrous direction for the country to take and to continue.

He listened to his advisors and friends and all kinds of people.There were countless people who were urging him to run.The events that changed all of that were the Tet Offensive and the New Hampshire primary. Bobby and Ted, too, quickly understood the Tet Offensive: although it was not a victory as such, a military victory for the Vietnamese, the perception of it was devastating in America, and that this made the continuation of the war much more difficult, but the way out— No one had a way out.

It was easy enough for Senator[George] Aiken [Vermont] or others, or [William] Fulbright,to declare victory and leave.But it’s the same terrible situation the President’s in today, and that this President’s father warned him about in his memoirs written in 1998, that the reason he didn’t go to Baghdad was because there was no exit strategy, and that you would be an invading army in a hostile land and they wouldn’t let you out.So that was Vietnam, and although the motivations for being in Vietnam, in my judgment, were most decent, much more honorable than this situation in Iraq, because we truly believed that we had an obligation to help the South.Had we prevailed in the South as we had in Korea, you would have had the same result.North Korea today is a lunatic asylum; South Korea is one of the great nations of Asia.That’s what it would have been in Vietnam, in my judgment. The Vietnamese are an extraordinary people, and had they been allowed to have even half of their country as a democracy, it would have made a major difference.

So the Tet Offensive came, and then the New Hampshire primary.Again, Eugene McCarthy didn’t win the New Hampshire primary.He won 42% of the vote.

Young

Which was astonishing to some—

Vanden Heuvel

Astonishing and unexpected. Johnson still won it, though, with 46% of the vote and a high delegate count.But as we know, it’s perception that counts a great deal in defining victory and defeat.

Young

And somewhere in there McNamara was out.

Vanden Heuvel

Was out, just the way [Paul] Wolfowitz is out.Both of them sent to the World Bank in exile to expatiate their sins for their rest of their lives, and in an international responsibility that can do good. McNamara was out, and Bobby remained in close touch with him.

Young

Then at some point Johnson himself—

Vanden Heuvel

Well, Bobby had decided to run.We had a meeting at Steve’s apartment in March and we were sitting there talking about whether Bobby should run, and something came on the television.There was Robert Kennedy being interviewed by Walter Cronkite, saying he was going to run.That was before there had been any announcement of it, but he made it very clear that he couldn’tdo otherwise.

Young

He was reassessing his—

Vanden Heuvel

Then we were out at Hickory Hill.[Allard] Lowenstein was out there, others came, and we spent the night at Hickory Hill

Young

Edward had been in Green Bay.

Vanden Heuvel

Well, no, he was there beforehand.I was there when we were discussing should he go, and the idea was to try to ameliorate the situation with McCarthy.It was perhaps naïve even to think that it was possible, but Ted had a good personal relationship with McCarthy.So the decision, the recommendation, was made that Teddy fly out there and tell him what Bobby had decided.This was before the announcement had been made. I remember lying on the couch, and Teddy came home in the early-morning hours and said,No deal.Abigail said no.I think McCarthy was actually quite rude and didn’t even want to talk about it. But the effort, the hope was, that since Robert Kennedy had decided to run, that the forces, the anti-Johnson forces,wouldn’t be split.And that whoever won the first primaries or so on and so forth would perhaps have the support of the other.Nobody was trying to push McCarthy out of it, but they were trying to bring some logic to what they perceived to be the race ahead, which was going to be against Johnson.

I was with Robert Kennedy on March 31.We were at his apartment at 860 UN Plaza;he had come in from some travel.Anyway, he was en route to the apartment.Johnson had advertised a nationally important speech relating to Vietnam.People forgot [Richard] Nixon was scheduled to give a speech that day or the day before about his plan for getting out of Vietnam.Then when Johnson announced he was speaking, Nixon cancelled the speech, so nobody ever did find out what Nixon’s thoughts were about getting out of Vietnam.

It was so interesting on that evening to be with Robert Kennedy; there were a lot of people who were gathered at the apartment.John Burns was the State Chairman. I believe Fred Dutton was there. There certainly were 20 people in the apartment and everybody was euphoric that Johnson had decided to get out of it, except Bobby. He understood immediately that this made it a much more difficult race for him in many ways because his reason for running was that Johnson represented one course and one direction for the Democratic Party and for the nation, and he represented a stark contrast.Now, suddenly that was different.

Young

The contrast—

Vanden Heuvel

You were going to get a [Hubert] Humphrey in there, or you had a McCarthy saying I was here first and this is what I believe and this is what I’m doing. McCarthy had an army of supporters, many of the people who are the people who decide Democratic primaries, liberal voters.Robert Kennedy was on the phone talking to Mayor [Richard] Daley and all kinds of people, George Meany, and Lane Kirkland, political leaders around the country, and he sensed what was happening, that many of them were holding back their commitment to him and that they were going to see how this was going to play out.

Young

Johnson may still have been a force in the convention that year,even though he was out of the race.

Vanden Heuvel

Oh, major.No, Johnson was almost a stronger force having said he was not going to run than he would have been otherwise.He controlled the party machinery and he put in [Walter] Mondale and [Fred] Harris as the co-chairs of the party, and Humphrey had them as his colleagues. Bobby went down to see Johnson with Ted Sorensen. They had a meeting with Johnson at the White House, primarily for public impression because Johnson must have just had a sense of inner satisfaction because Robert Kennedy was coming to say that we’re certainly going to support you in these months and admire your commitment to peace and all of the things that he really couldn’t have believed and didn’t want to repeat.

Teddy wasn’t there at Robert’s apartment the night of March 31, but I’m sure they talked.I was not privy to those conversations.My subsequent impression of talking with Teddy was that he, too, understood immediately that the Johnson removal from the race was not something that advanced the cause.

Young

Do you recall any assessment of the situation at some point of Robert’s winning the election, even if he got the nomination? Was that would happen, that he would win, or were they looking at the possibility of a defeat?

Vanden Heuvel

I think, first of all, the assessment was that Robert Kennedy had a much better chance to beat Johnson than McCarthy did.That’s the first assessment.The second assessment, after Johnson was out, Robert Kennedy had a much better chance to win a national election than McCarthy did.And the third assessment was that Humphrey was going to be heavily mortgaged by the Johnson policy in Vietnam, and unless he liberated himself from it, he probably would end up running against that same position that he thought would cause him to win the Democratic nomination and consequently, the election.

Young

So Hubert Humphrey would become the Johnson of the peace?

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.The political strategy was to put Humphrey in Johnson’s place.Clearly, he was—among those who were running, he was Johnson’s favorite.Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey had a good relationship, so it wasn’t a matter of passionately wanting to defeat him.I think people had a sense that if Hubert Humphrey were President, he certainly wasn’t going to continue the Johnson policies in Vietnam.That’s the way the politics fell into place, and it was a very tough race.

Young

What about facing Nixon?Was there much thinking given to that?

Vanden Heuvel

No.

Young

Or was it all focused on the Democratic Convention, the run-up to the Convention?

Vanden Heuvel

Absolutely.All focused on the Democratic nomination.At that point I suppose people were somewhat skeptical that someone like Nixon could win the nomination even for the Republicans.And in fact, I’m sure Robert Kennedy hoped he would, because to a Kennedy,running against Nixon was the easiest of the contests. It would have had the replay of ’60 and it would have had many things going for it.Then on April 4, Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Young

Robert was in Indiana, wasn’t he?

Vanden Heuvel

Bobby was in Indiana and gave that extraordinary speech. I think that was the day that Cardinal [Francis] Spellman—it waseither Cardinal Spellman’s funeral or Cardinal [Terence] Cooke’s induction as the Cardinal of New York because I escorted Jackie [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis] to the cathedral because Bobby was not there and they wanted to have a Kennedy presence for this auspicious religious event. I’m sure that was that day.Then that night, Martin Luther King was assassinated.I went with Bobby to Atlanta for the King funeral and his call on Mrs. [Coretta] King. I escorted Jackie to the funeral, to the services in Atlanta.

One thing I never forgot was that Nixon sat in front of us and at the end of the service—he had such an extraordinary capacity for being maladroit [laughs] and saying things—and he turned to Jackie Kennedy and said, Mrs. Kennedy, this must bring back a lot of terrible memories.Of all of the things that one might say on that occasion, perhaps that was the last thing you would have said. 

Johnson wasn’t there.Hubert Humphrey was his representative. The African-American population was very pro-Robert Kennedy. We had witnessed it in 1964 and I don’t think anyone had ever seen it before, that the country’s sadness, grief, anguish, over the assassination of the President was so profound that Robert Kennedy—and Ted Kennedy was at that time in a hospital, so he wasn’t accessible to it—but the public outreach, the very need to touch, the physical contact with Robert Kennedy and the outpouring of people was the most astonishing thing anybody had ever seen.Certainly in New York politics, and I think it was that way everywhere across the country always until the end of his life, this frantic, frenzied reaction to his presence.

Young

It wasn’t the same way.I remember seeing this in Robert’s campaign.It was almost disturbing.

Vanden Heuvel

It had a hysterical dimension to it that was really quite concerning.Bobby’s hands would be savaged by the process.He lost every cufflink he ever had in the process of it, too.We would show up at 1:00 o'clock in the morning in Glens Falls, New York, a traditionally Republican area, five hours late, 20,000 people.It was a phenomenon that carried over, but in the course of it there was nobody more intensely hated, in my experience, and more intensely loved, in the politics of America.

So, that brings us to ’68.There’s a lot of intervening things where I was with Teddy.We sailed a lot.

Young

You had become a friend.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.

Young

When was that, during the trip to Europe?

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, beginning with the trip to Europe, and then we were really very good friends.His closest friends were John Tunney and Tim Hannan and John Culver.We shared a great deal of experiences in those days and had a great deal of fun.

Young

What was that chemistry?Maybe you could talk about it.You became a friend.

Vanden Heuvel

It was an interesting thing;it was a wonderful relationship because, first of all, there’s nobody who’s greater fun to be with than Ted Kennedy.He’s terribly funny.He’s a great mimic.He’s an extraordinary sailor and he loves the sea, as his brothers did, and so we had a lot of fun.

Young

Were you a sailor, too?

Vanden Heuvel

No, I was not a sailor.Although I went sailing, I was not a sailor. This small group of friends would frequently go off and do things together, go sailing, or we’d go to Hyannis Port or we’d go to Palm Beach.We would be together in New York.We’d often have lunch together in New York when he came to the city, or dinner.It’s cruel that I can’t remember all of the things that happened in those days. I’ll try to do better.When I’m referring to notes I can be sure, but otherwisewe’re talking, what, almost 40 years ago.

Politics kept us together because we both loved politics.Public affairs kept us together because we both were involved in these issues, both from a political point of view and from the substantive point of view.And I guess the pleasure of personal friendship.

Then with Bobby’s death, Teddy was in California at the time.I had just come back from California to help organize the New York primary, which was the last of the big primaries. I’d been out in Oregon, which had left me so depressed, but Bobby recouped it all in California, and I think all of that would have gone on.It’s hard to say what would have happened, but in any event, I think Milt Gwirtzman and I had a major role in urging Teddy to give the eulogy. I helped organize the 24-hour honor guard around Bobby’s coffin in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I had met the coffin at La Guardia when Ethel [Kennedy] came in at the airport. I always remember going into St. Patrick’s Cathedral as they carried the coffin in that night, and there in the back row was a woman in a black veil, just quietly alone praying.It was Rose Kennedy.So I’m sure I saw Teddy in those days leading up to the funeral.Then on the funeral train.

Young

You would think something like that would just destroy the family.

Vanden Heuvel

You would think so.I mean, to have those two assassinations, and Bobby’s was, in a sense, the ultimate pain.Just the way John Kennedy, Jr.’s death was the ultimate pain because there was a finality to it, in a sense.But there wasn’t so much with Bobby because, although nobody wanted to speak it or say it, there was Edward Kennedy.There was the Edward Kennedy, who had himself already made a very strong reputation for himself, had done his homework as a Senator.That’s what I mean, the difference.He truly loved the Senate.He loved the process of discussion, and bargaining and compromising and reaching a successful conclusion, so he was a man of the Senate.He was already a much respected person because he had kept a low profile and had done the hard work. Didn’t ask for any favoritism, and, as opposed to Bobby in the Senate, he was a much more welcome figure in the club.Bobby was never interested in being in the club.

Young

Wasn’t it also a case that, I think perhaps to a certain extent John Kennedy as well, the Senate was—they were on their way somewhere else besides the Senate.

Vanden Heuvel

And that was not true of Teddy.

Young

Was it?I’m asking.Was it or not, because there are some people who will say, well, he was always getting ready.

Vanden Heuvel

No, because I think when he was elected in ’62, his brother was already President of the United States and if there was anybody who was going to carry forward that mantle,it was Bobby.It wasn’t until after Bobby’s death in ’68 that that came in focus, and then he rejected it.That was clear.He certainly rejected it in ’68.

Young

Yes, I’d like to hear, because this is a period when he was under some pressure to accept a draft.

Vanden Heuvel

Oh yes.

Young

Or to do, and I think it was very important period for him.If you can talk about that, I would love to—

Vanden Heuvel

We were sailing off the coast of Maine. I remember one situation where there was a heavy fog and somehow they got a signal to the boat that there was a very important phone call for him from Mayor Daley.We rowed in to shore through the fog and there in this little town, village, a general store, in the middle of the store, was a pay telephone.This was long before cell phones and all the rest.There was Ted Kennedy on the phone to Mayor Daley, talking about this and not categorically saying he wouldn’t be a candidate, but saying he didn’t plan to go to Chicago and he wasn’t going to do this. Daley was a Humphrey-Johnson person at that point.He was not encouraging Teddy to run, as I recall it.There were many others who were, but Daley was much more of an establishment politician than the others, but there was certainly a tremendous amount of pressure on Ted to run.

I was a delegate to the convention and voted for [George] McGovern, but at the convention, Dick Goodwin and I led the anti-Vietnam fight on the plank of the platform. I had anticipated that we might not win it, and when I arrived at the convention I told the authorities running the convention that I planned to put a name in nomination.They didn’t ask who, and they assumed it might be Edward Kennedy, but my plan was if we lost the Vietnam plank,I’d nominate Lyndon Johnson. I’d written out this speech saying let those who have written the plank,let them walk it.I said that the defeat of the Democratic Party was probably guaranteed by what the convention had done, by defeating the anti-Vietnam plank, and that since it was Johnson’s policy and it was his commitment, he had the obligation to run.When the word came out that I was intending to nominate Johnson, I was called to a meeting under the podium. I talked to this fellow Jacobs, who was Johnson’s representative.

It was all very cordial and very genuine.He said,The President would very much appreciate not having his name put into nomination.He does not wish to be a candidate or have his name considered in this. I explained why,and then the word came to me that if that happened, then they would put Teddy’s name in nomination, which was a very strange response.So their approach was, if you’re putting Johnson, we’re putting Kennedy.

I was with Russell Long at one point in this convention, standing at the back of the delegation, and I was asking what Louisiana would do.He said, Louisiana would vote for Kennedy in a minute.This is his convention if he wants it.In fact, Louisiana will even vote for him in the election.So that’s when I called Teddy and had this talk with him in Hyannis Port, saying this was a long hill, the Presidency, and he was at a point on that hill where just one more step and he could claim it.But he was adamant about not wanting to do it, not wanting the nomination.

The final thing in all of that was Steve Smith going to see Eugene McCarthy. I’ve forgotten exactly why the meeting was organized, but McCarthy wanted the meeting to say that he would nominate Ted Kennedy for the nomination.He would put Ted Kennedy’s name before the convention.He then made the awful statement for us that he would never do that for Robert Kennedy under any circumstances.Steve, again, stated that Teddy would not be a candidate.

Young

The press that came out about that meeting was very unfortunate because it portrayed Steve Smith as having gone to McCarthy in order to obtain his support for a Kennedy draft.

Vanden Heuvel

Well, that absolutely wasn’t so.

Young

Well, I know, but that was put out. 

Vanden Heuvel

I’ve forgotten that because— It was such a wild period of time.I mean, I remember walking with Teddy White from the Blackstone hotel.[Dwight] Eisenhower was gravely ill that week and I said to White, It’s nothing to be sought, but if President Eisenhower were to die, it would at least give us an opportunity to adjourn the convention out of respect for him, and it would give us all a chance to avoid this terrible confrontation that is developing.They showed this film about Robert Kennedy at the convention, and Teddy narrated a large part of it—the most emotional moment of the convention.

Young

What was your perception of what was going on in Teddy’s mind about the convention and about what he should do now?Apparently, he was determined, as you say, not to go to the convention, but would he have been inclined toward a draft if somebody—

Vanden Heuvel

I think he would have been like William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

Young

Remind me.

Vanden Heuvel

William Jennings Bryan was the same age, 36 years old, at the convention.He gave his great Cross of Gold speech.Teddy wouldn’t have had to give a speechif he had shown up at the convention.The Cross of Gold speech took an unknown, William Jennings Bryan, and made him a candidate of the Democratic Party.If Ted Kennedy had come out there, there wouldn’t have been the possibility of the Humphrey forces resisting.Like [Wendell] Wilkie’s forces in 1940, William Jennings Bryan in 1896, the emotion of the convention was such in the moment that I think it would have carried him into the nomination without his doing a single thing except rejecting it with a [William Tecumseh] Sherman-like statement that he would not, under any circumstances, accept it. I’m sure he didn’t want to put himself in that position by coming to Chicago.

Young

That meant he was not going to be pressured.

Vanden Heuvel

What would have happened had the convention on its own gone beyond and nominated him and demanded him, I don’t know.Having spent a lifetime in politics, he might have felt the obligation to do it, but he didn’t think that was going to happen.It didn’t happen.

Young

Was he considering after, that you know about, or is there any indication that he was considering after Robert’s assassination, that he would get out of politics, to get out of this?

Vanden Heuvel

There were various times when we talked about a career out of politics.Maybe it was then.We talked about buying a newspaper, being a university president.On those sailing trips we would talk about what were the career options here.I think it was clear that any alternative to what he was doing would have been boring.It might have liberated his private life, and he might have welcomed that.Ultimately he did get divorced, but I think he was so wounded by Bobby’s death.

I remember in 1963 on November 23, the day after the President was lying in state at the White House, and some of us were invited to the White House to pay our respects, and going there and seeing Bobby standing there greeting people. I thought I’d never seen the expression of grief until I’d seen Robert Kennedy’s face that day.He had been so mortally wounded himself by what had happened to the brother. Teddy, who was very close to Robert Kennedy, and they’d been closer in those years in the Senate perhaps than ever,I think, was terribly wounded.In those days, he didn’t talk about what it meant in terms of himself becoming a target of the assassins, but we did talk about it the next year.In the months between Bobby’s death and the convention, which was two-and-a-half months— Bobby died on June 6 and the convention was August 27, we had gone sailing. We’d spent a lot of time together during that time.It was just something he didn’t want to talk about.It was too painful, and he had a lot of responsibilities, family responsibilities.

He had the President’s children and now he had Bobby’s children.He had to help Ethel through this terribly difficult time. Bobby’s children were very young—Kathleen [Kennedy] was the oldest, probably wasn’t 15 years old or 16 years old, so I think his energies were very much involved at that point in holding the family together.His father was dying.His father died the next year, as I recall it, in the autumn.So, much against his will, he was suddenly the head of this extraordinary family, a position he never aspired to and never expected.

Young

And probably never expected.

Vanden Heuvel

Certainly never expected.To Robert,that came naturally, being head of that family.

Young

It did.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.He was, in many ways more than Jack, he was his father’s successor as the head of that family, but it was not a position that Teddy came to naturally.But he accepted all of those very difficult emotional responsibilities.Then Jackie’s decision to get married.All of that was going on simultaneously.That’s why I say there’s nobody that I have ever known or heard of who has had to confront the tremendous Niagara of emotional problems that Teddy has, and the fact that he has sustained himself through it all and that he has the character and the strength to endure.Endurance is a key word with Ted Kennedy.He is built like a rock and a mountain, and he has that enduring quality about him.That summer of ’68 was a supreme test for him in so many ways.

So then the convention was over and Humphrey was— I gather that Humphrey came to see him in those days and offered him the Vice Presidency, and offered to be a one-term President and Teddy would have been— Teddy was not going to get involved in that campaign. I guess he did ultimately campaign somewhat for Humphrey.

Young

I think he did a bit.I don’t think it was a great deal.

Vanden Heuvel

No, not much.

Young

So he was not of a mind to think about this, I’ve got to get out of this, out of politics?

Vanden Heuvel

No.Certainly it was a time where if he ever thought seriously about getting out of politics, that was the time he was thinking seriously about doing it.And it was undoubtedly on those sailing trips we talked about university presidencies and running newspapers and all the fun of private life.

Young

What would John Kennedy have done after his Presidency?

Vanden Heuvel

What would John Kennedy have done?

Young

After his Presidency?Two terms—

Vanden Heuvel

He probably would have been a significant international force in many ways, and he loved writing.He loved literature and he would have had a— 

Young

Journalism was one of his early—

Vanden Heuvel

I don’t think he would have taken a university presidency.I don’t think you take a position after being President of the United States, but he would have certainly encouraged his brothers in political life, and certainly—I mean, there was a dynastic approach to politics, so he certainly would have encouraged that.But Robert Kennedy was not a natural candidate by personality or temperament, in my judgment.Teddy was.

Robert had the passion and the fire that was increased by the President’s death and by his own education as an Attorney General.Seeing civil rights, the injustice of civil rights, and seeing the injustice in America, made him a very different person by 1964 than he was in 1960.

Young

Do you think he would have then gone on to run for President on that basis?

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.

Young

The reason I’m asking is, in trying to think of the three brothers and their relationship to each other, and it would seem possible that Robert had devoted his political life to his brother, in a certain sense.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, no question about it.

Young

Unlike Edward?

Vanden Heuvel

No question about it.I mean, Robert Kennedy’s total commitment was protecting his brother and making his brother a successful President.Suddenly that was gone and he lived with this terrible grief, and then ultimately saw that in order to— And he was greatly encouraged by the people who had been around President Kennedy, and ultimately saw that he could have a political career and by having a Senate seat, at least he was there.What was going to happen after that no one could tell, but certainly in his own mind he undoubtedly thought,Some time in the future I’ll have an opportunity to do that.But he was a totally different person by that time.

He would have made a great President, in my judgment, Robert Kennedy.He was a great administrator.He knew how to use the talents of people extraordinarily well and he made people more than they were.He brought out that kind of energy and creativity in people that great leaders bring out, of making you perform and excel at a level perhaps more than you felt yourself capable of.And if he had been elected President and having Teddy in the Senate, that would have been an extraordinary one-two combination.Teddy would not have played the role for him that he had played for John Kennedy, but he would have played a role that Robert Kennedy would very much have needed, which was to have someone who could speak for him in a way that this Congress would listen.It was a political bridge that would have been an extraordinary opportunity and an important dimension of the Presidency.But that wasn’t to be.

Then in ’69, getting to that point, I think it was maybe May or June of ’69, Teddy and I had lunch here in New York, just the two of us, a long, leisurely lunch.[Edmund] Muskie had come out of ’68 as a significant political force and the Muskie forces were— There was always an anti-Kennedy group, right?So Muskie was a candidate who felt himself very much entitled to be the Presidential nominee.At the same time, all of those forces that would have made Ted Kennedy the nominee in ’68 were still very much wanting to be with him.In that luncheon conversation with him, I spoke about how he was going to have to decide, probably long before he wanted to, whether he would be available as a candidate in ’72 because it wasn’t going to be a coronation.It was going to be fight.It was not a coronation, and he had to give some signal to a lot of the forces that would normally and naturally be with him in order to prevent them from joining up with someone like Muskie, who had a lot of appeal, and people thought was a much stronger candidate than he turned out to be.

Teddy said, You know, when they got Jack, that was perhaps an accident of history, but when they killed Bobby, that was not.Not that he was implying a conspiracy of forces, but he just felt that there were forces in motion that were so dark and so determined to destroy what the Kennedys represented that he would be the immediate target for those same forces, not in a conspiratorial sense, but just the way life and fate came together.

It had been a terribly difficult emotional year.There was a trip from Alaska that preceded this luncheon that I’m describing.I wasn’t on that trip but I read about it, and I thought to myself, this is a person who’s in trouble. I think the trouble was he didn’t have any real help in handling these enormous burdens of grief and responsibility that were put upon him.Those of us who loved him and who were his friends would have done anything for him to help him, but it was such a personal burden in so many ways.

Young

Someone has described him during the period that included this time as thinking he’s very lonely, a very lonely person with everything on him.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes.He didn’t have a good marriage.He’d lost the two men in his life who meant the most to him.It had to be an incredibly difficult and lonely time—all this had to greatly affect his subconscious behavior.

Young

Was security heavy on him?Did he have security at this time?

Vanden Heuvel

I think when he came into New York there was always police security assigned to him, but it was not obvious security.

Young

I mean, a personal guard?

Vanden Heuvel

I don’t have recollection of that.Maybe he had— But when he came into New York,his office always told the police and the police always had a special guard for him, but it was never obvious.

So then came Chappaquiddick.July 18.The same time as man was landing on the moon.And that was incredible sadness.Dave Burke called me.Dave Burke was with him on Martha’s Vineyard.

Young

Yes, this was the party was for Robert’s staff.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, they were Robert’s people.But I was in the process of writing this book with Milt Gwirtzman, so I begged off of going up there.Teddy was going to be in a sailing race, too, I think around the Cape. I had been in that race with Bobby.That was always fun, to see the two of them racing in the waters up at Hyannis.

Young

Which was the better sailor?

Vanden Heuvel

Oh, I think it’s hard to say better, but they were both passionate sailors.So, then I got the call. I was asked to be with the Kopechnes [Joseph and Gwen], so I drove to Pennsylvania.

Young

Was Dun Gifford with you?

Vanden Heuvel

No.I was alone.Maybe I had talked to Dun that morning.Dun was up with Teddy, wasn’t he?

Young

I think he was.

Vanden Heuvel

I rememberI talked to Teddy during the course of that day.Anyway, I got to the Kopechnes. Their first question to me, the first statement to me, Is the Senator all right?They had such a concern that he might have been injured and they absolutely automatically understood that this was a terrible accident, nothing more.It was a terrible accident.They weren’t in process of lamenting and wailing against Teddy.It was just the opposite.So I think my role really was to protect the Kopechne family from the press at that period of time. I was with the family and I just sat around that night talking to them, but they loved Teddy.

Young

Did they come up to Chappaquiddick?

Vanden Heuvel

No, no.The body was brought to Pennsylvania and then the funeral home.I remember going to the funeral home with them.And as the days went forward and as the publicity became what it was, the Kopechnes undoubtedly were affected by that.But I’m just saying that in the first flush of the news itself, their immediate reaction was that it was a terrible accident and was the Senator all right?That was their concern.

Young

How did you come to be asked to do this?

Vanden Heuvel

I don’t remember,quite frankly, but I heard the news or I got a call from Dun or from David Burke.I got a call in the morning, then I went out to this luncheon in Westchester atMort Janklow’s home. I think Barbara Walters was at that luncheon.Anyway, everybody, of course, was talking about what had happened. I got a call there because I’d left a number where to be reached, asking if I would go to— I remember talking to Teddy, whether it was that day or soon thereafter,and one thing I remember him saying was, I’m sure people don’t believe me when I tell them that I walked back to that place and did not see any of the lights.There were three or four houses in between that presumably he could have gone to for help, he said, But I didn’t.

My own thinking over a period of time on this was that he was in a profound state of shock. I remember spending some time analyzing what had happened and the facts, etc., that there was an instance that happened at the same time. There was a crash on the New Haven Railroad.They thought the engineer had been killed, but no, he’d left the cab.Somebody had been killed in the accident, but he had left the cab and gone home. I then remember talking to some doctors and others, and it was not an unusual thing that in the context of that kind of trauma, you go home.As a matter of fact, I think Augustus Busch, who was the head of Anheuser Busch, was in an accident where his fiancée was killed, and he left and went home.

So what, in my judgment, happened— First of all, Teddy could have gotten out of it very easily just by lying on the shore of the lake and waiting for somebody to come back.He had this terrible airplane accident in 1964 and he could have feigned injury, etc.But he went back and then he brought those two friends back with him. I have no doubt that they made a valiant but vain effort to see if they could find Miss [Mary Jo] Kopechne, and they couldn’t.There was nine- or ten-feet of water, absolutely dark.Nobody could see anything.

The one thing I was also very sure of is that when Teddy said he swam across that place to the Vineyard, he in fact swam across that place.People say, how could he possibly?But Ted is a great swimmer.Very strong.I’ve been in situations with him, watching him swim and helping people.So I think the only conclusion in his mind, in the mental processes that were so deeply affected by this trauma, was that he must have said, well, we couldn’t find her and maybe she got out, too, and whatever the chance or risk is, I’m going to go back.It never, never would have been a deliberate thing by him.It was so totally contrary to who he is and what he is.Obviously, it was an event of enormous consequence in his life and career. I was very sorry about the speech that he gave several days later.

Young

Why?

Vanden Heuvel

It was sort of a self— What is the word I’m trying to think of here?Feeling sorry for oneself.That was not who he was or who he is.It was too soon after the event for him to speak— I think he was still in a state of shock.I think people have vastly underestimated the medical implications and the psychological implications of being in a state of shock.There are countless illustrations of the same kind of behavior, of leaving the scene of the accident and going somewhere.So finally, he swims over to the Vineyard. I went up to Hyannis, too.Everybody was up there, Dick Goodwin and Burke Marshall were primary advisors. Bob McNamara, all kinds of people were there.So that was a difficult time.

Young

Was this just a gathering of friends, or was it saying,What do we do now?

Vanden Heuvel

It was inappropriate in some ways.I mean,certainly in terms of what the perception was to the media, who saw this avalanche of the Kennedy army approaching, how do we save our leader?Instead of being what I think Teddy felt much more genuinely was the grief and the sadness of the event that had happened.He wasn’t thinking, in my recollection of those days in talking to him and being with him,he wasn’t thinking about how could he come out of this looking differently.Eventually I think lawyers came into the picture and he had to deal with some tough legal questions, and he did.This whole period beginning with the accident and going on through the Hyannis meetings, and then the speech, gave a lot of grist to the mill of the Kennedy haters.

Young

Was this the speech when he put it to the people of Massachusetts?

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, that wasn’t the part that was offensive.It was the speech where he said he now wondered whether there wasn’t a savage hand of evil over his family. That’s what I mean, that reference, which was so unlike him, in my judgment.But as I say, I really have always been surprised that there wasn’t more work done in understanding the state of shock that he was in, and the trauma, the traumatic shock that an accident of that kind causes.Imagine a car hitting the water and turning upside down.As a matter of fact, Dick Goodwin and I found it hard to believe that a man of the Senator’s bulk could get out of that damn car.We looked at the car, and it was one of those cars that did not have a divider in the window.

Young

Between the front and back?

Vanden Heuvel

Between the front and the back, so when the window—

Young

So there was no center post?

Vanden Heuvel

Correct. I remember Teddy also saying to me that he thought he was gone, that he was on the bottom of the water and that he was drowning, and that he made one just mindless burst out, and the window was open and he got out.But there’s no calculation in an event like that.I mean, you’ve got 30 to 60 seconds to live.So I always thought that was what happened. He may have concluded, not being able to find Mary Jo [Kopechne] anywhere, that she got out, too.

Young

Were there any priests present?

Vanden Heuvel

You mean at the house, when the retinue was there?

Young

Yes.

Vanden Heuvel

I don’t remember that.I’m sure there were.

Young

Maybe I should say cardinals.

Vanden Heuvel

Nocardinals [laughs].But there was always a family priest around, right?But I don’t remember—

Young

Well, I haven’t come across him yet.

Vanden Heuvel

No, no.Charles O’Byrne was the most recent in that category and now he’s left the priesthood.But no, there were several priests that Teddy had a special relationship to.I don’t recall them offhand.There was one I remember, when my father-in-law died, and he was a Boston family.Mr. Fuller’s father had been Governor of Massachusetts.Calling this particular priest who helped us arrange the services, etc.

So that was Chappaquiddick.I don’t know when I next saw Teddy after that. I’d have to see somewhere in my records.That was July ’69, right?

Young

Yes, it was July ’69.The next year you were thinking about the Governorship of New York.

Vanden Heuvel

I think all of us who had been closely connected to the Kennedy era and who really had a commitment to public life, public service— I never thought of myself as a good candidate.As a matter of fact, John Tunney once said to me years later, You know, Bill, I’ve always had the greatest respect for you, to think that you would run for public office with aname like yours that nobody can spell and with no ethnic base in New York [laughs], that you would have the nerve to run for public office.I thought to myself, my God, that is a profound truth.If John had said that to me earlier, I would have spared myself a lot of problems.But in ’70 I aspired to the Democratic nomination, and Ted Sorensen aspired to the Senate nomination in that year.Adam Walinsky aspired to the Attorney General.

Young

So you had a lot of company.

Vanden Heuvel

A lot of Kennedy people running it.I didn’t get past the convention. I might have done better than Arthur Goldberg, who was chosen to run, which was a major mistake.I mean, if there was ever a person who was not a political candidate, it was Arthur Goldberg. I think Steve Smith had a hand in all of that.Much against his will, he had a responsibility in that campaign. I think Nelson Rockefeller rejoiced when Goldberg was nominated.

I had lunch with Nelson Rockefeller in, I guess October.He talked to me about joining his government, you know the way people do it when they hope you’re going to support them for office.And I finally said, Well, Governor, I’m a Democrat. I admire you, I respect what you’ve done in your public life and you’re going to cream Arthur Goldberg, but I don’t want to be a turncoat in this situation. So I didn’t do that.But one thing that did come out of it was John Lindsay witnessed me as a candidate.There was a scandal in the prisons and suicides in the prisons, and there was this moribund Board of Corrections. Lindsay asked me to be the chairman of it.Having always been interested in criminal justice,I then did that.

Lindsay was in the process of changing to become a Democrat so that he could run for President.That was a terrible mistake on his part.His role should have been to succeed Bobby in the Senate.As I understand the story, he could have had that.But Rockefeller and he had come to a real disliking of each other personally. Rockefeller understood that if Lindsay really wanted it, he would have to appoint him to the RFK vacancy, and Lindsay was too proud to ask him.Rockefeller wasn’t going to make it easy for him and he ended up appointing Charles Goodell, a Congressman from upstate New York.

Lindsay would have been a perfect Senator.I think he was a much better mayor than people presently regard him.He was innovative and creative and gave the city a lot of spirit.He was a great mayor for me in the Board of Corrections. I was a tough reformer, working day and night in the prisons.It was a voluntary job and I was a practicing lawyer for my living, but I was so engrossed in the work. Lindsay always supported me even though it was not always helpful to him politically.By turning Democrat he became part of a party that didn’t need him, and the vital moderate center of the Republican Party dissipated forever.

I was also a close friend of Jack [Jacob] Javits, and had been a law partner of his before I went to Washington, so I had an interesting interplay between Jack Javits and Bobby Kennedy.They had a great respect for each other, but there was a lot of competition in that situation.Javits was a very interesting man and a very powerful intellect and strong-minded man, and he had a very good relationship with Teddy.He had a warm regard for Teddy. Teddy, you see, played him like a Stradivarius.He knew Jack’s ego.Jack Javits’ ego was such that by asking his advice and counsel and working with him, a thing Bobby never would have done, Teddy then earned his friendship and respect.Javits was quite prepared to do a lot of things to help Ted.Teddy had that kind of personality.He would work with different people of opposing viewpoints, even  as he works with Orrin Hatch, right?

Young

Yes.

Vanden Heuvel

It was much easier to work with Javits, who was liberal Republican, than it is with Orrin Hatch, who’s on the other side of the road.

Young

There is this perception, in many ways,that Edward has become the icon of liberalism.

Vanden Heuvel

Oh, yes.Well, he is.

Young

He is, but then on the other hand, he doesn’t fit that image when it comes to his—

Vanden Heuvel

No.He’ll make a deal with George Bush on the education act.Oh, he knows how to be a Senator, but he has chosen—and at some cost to his political public life, I think—to be an outspoken advocate of liberal values.

Young

Yes, he has.

Vanden Heuvel

And no better example than the Iraq War, where I spent a lot of time with him in the events leading up to that Senate resolution, etc.He had me talk to [Thomas] Daschle. I was strongly opposed to the war unless it could be done through the United Nations.I said it’s absolutely crucial how you go into this struggle.You cannot go into it unilaterally. I thought Senator [Robert] Byrd gave an excellent speech on the constitutional problems that were— And no one was more effective or outspoken or more accurate than was Teddy in foreseeing what was going to happen.

He understood.He saw the war hysteria that was being deliberately provoked.He also understood the politics of it, that Karl Rove had presumably told Republican leaders in January of 2002 not to worry about the election because by the time it came,the GOP would have a war to help them through it. I always believed that the provocation of the war was in part political, and the handling of the United Nations and the whole concept of collective security was so badly done, so destructively done.

In the days when I was in government and more active in politics, these people in the Bush administration were thought of as the lunatic fringe.Now, they’re in power.If you had treated Jesse Helms as a serious person in the context of foreign affairs and relations, you would have been thought crazy, but by the time Dick Holbrooke becomes the Ambassador to the United Nations, everybody’s bowing to Jesse Helms.Of course, he’s Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at that point, and he’s certainly got a very powerful position. I always thought [William] Clinton made a major mistake in just not confronting him, but that’s not Clinton’s personality and his nature.But a Roosevelt or a Kennedy would have taken on a Helms.You couldn’thave asked for a better opponent or a caricature of an opponent.Instead of that, they just invested him with considerable power.

But Teddy, on the questions of race, on the questions of poverty, on the questions of education, on the question of international affairs, is frequently the only voice that’s consistent and that’s eloquent and that is willing to be out there in the front of the fight.The Republicans pretend that they enjoy having him there, but I don’t think they do.I think he’s a very effective force in keeping together what the center-left elements of the Democratic Party really should be about. I think the fact that he gave up all of his Presidential aspirations after 1980 certainly freed him in a certain way, too.People who aspire to the Presidency behave differently on these issues than people who don’t.He has the good luck of coming from a political constituency that is as safe a constituency in terms of his own person than any you could look for in the country. I think he’s a liberated person and I think, in that liberated state, you are seeing who Ted Kennedy really is.

Young

We don’t have too much time left but I think it’s—

Vanden Heuvel

When, 1980—

Young

Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter— 

Vanden Heuvel

Oh, Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter [laughter].Let me just quickly say this.In 1975, I had talked to Teddy and he made it very clear he was not going to be a candidate in 1976, so I felt free to support who I wanted to support. I met Carter,I liked him, and I thought it would be appropriate for a northern liberal to support a southern liberal in the context of southern liberalism and at least give him a chance, without any expectation that he would be elected President of the United States.But he clearly would be an acceptable candidate for Vice President, and he certainly was a tough, formidable politician.

In the autumn of ’75 Carter asked me to be the chairman of his campaign, which I did in New York. I remember one occasion.It was in the course of that election.He said he was sorry, he knew how close I was to the Kennedys and I don’t think he thought I was listening.He was talking to Ham Jordan or somebody.He was sorry Teddy did not run.He said, I would have loved to kick his ass. [laughs]To Carter, that was as strong an expression of scatological language as you would ever hear.

He once also said that one of the things that decided him on running in 1972, when he decided to run, was all these people who aspired to the Democratic nomination.He began comparing himself to them and he thought, why not me?Then he very carefully calculated his campaign.Incredible.It was a long march, and Hamilton Jordan was one of the brilliant political strategists of our time.

Young

The Democratic rules had changed, convention rules had changed, and they made a study of those rules.

Vanden Heuvel

Absolutely.They knew the rules better than anyone, and they knew the financing strategy, and it was like guerilla warfare.It was like the long march.It was running from week to week.You’d do well here and on the basis of that, you’d raise enough money to run there.You couldn’t do that anymore, I don’t think.In any event, Jimmy Carter was not a Kennedy man.

Young

But why did Teddy not then run?

Vanden Heuvel

Why didn’t he run?

Young

Yes, why didn’t he run?Try to get the nomination? 

Vanden Heuvel

In ’76?

Young

Yes.You had this—

Vanden Heuvel

I think Chappaquiddick was still very fresh.It wasonly six years later.

Young

And then the Nixon impeachment and resignation.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, you had Watergate and you had all of that.There are a lot of other things that we could talk about relating to those years, the Carter years.

Young

I do have that on my agenda, so maybe we can meet again.

Vanden Heuvel

Yes, let’s do it again.

Young

Because you find then, in 1980, Edward is now running against an incumbent Democratic President.

Vanden Heuvel

I was very opposed to that.

Young

And all the things that he had reservations about earlier, he’s now doing himself.

Vanden Heuvel

Let’s talk about that. By the time we get together again, I hopefully will have looked over some papers.

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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