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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Senator Edward Kennedy Has Died
Aired August 26, 2009 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON RIDDELL, ANCHOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL: "Ted Kennedy's America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom. Ted Kennedy's life was driven by his love of a family that loved him and his belief in a country that believed in him.
Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which our founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize. The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silence but his shall never die."
That is a statement from the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Let's bring in Dana Bash now. Dana, what are your sources at this hour.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously I had to -- what all of our colleagues have been talking and you know you mentioned and you asked the questions before reading that statement about health care.
Obviously this is a debate that is going to go on and it is a debate that has been going without Ted Kennedy and that he touched on just a little bit earlier but it really -- it is important to underscore what an absence it has been.
To be covering this debate on Capitol Hill, this health care debate and not having Ted Kennedy there. And walking through the halls of Congress and talking not just to Democrats but Republicans. Republicans after Republicans, seriously conservative Republicans lamenting the fact that the well-known liberal Ted Kennedy wasn't there and you know it probably would leave a lot of people out there scratching their heads saying, why would conservative Republicans miss Ted Kennedy on this kind of partisan debate, like health care?
Well, the reason is because over the decades that he spent in the Senate he learned how to negotiate. He was a master legislator. The art of legislating was something that he really did master and Republicans understood that as liberal as he was he also understood how to come into a room and sit down with Republicans and know where their pressure points are and whether the points where they can give.
And that is one of the main reasons why he has been so missed on this issue. And many Republicans have said that they think that if he had been there to lead and to proceed in the room and sit across the table with them, then perhaps this debate would have gone a little bit differently.
RIDDELL: So you're saying the Republicans will perhaps miss him on a personal level. They obviously enjoyed being around him and sparring with him. I was in the United States recently on vacation and I was really struck by the amount of coverage being given to the health care reform debate.
But in some parts frankly the hysteria, Barack Obama the President is facing a really big test over this, isn't he Dana. So how big of a political blow is it going to be to lose an ally such as this at such a crucial time?
BASH: Well, it is a political blow but the sad reality as I was mentioning -- the sad reality is that Senator Kennedy hasn't really been involved. He ceded the gavel so to speak of his very important Health Committee to his long time friend Chris Dodd. And he hasn't really been there.
He came back in the spring for -- I believe it was in March for a health care summit at the White House. But that really has been it. He's been on the phone, he's been trying to do it from afar but it has been very difficult.
So in that sense -- I don't know that it will be that different except as you noted by reading Senator Harry Reid's statement that Democrats will probably you know use this to try to redouble their efforts and almost as a rallying cry to get done what Ted Kennedy called the cause of his life. The cause of his life being health care reform, an issue that -- that he worked on for 47 years which is remarkable.
If we can repeat that number 47 years, the number of years he served at the United States Senate working on that issue.
RIDDELL: Yes, he's been in the Senate since 1962 back when his brother was actually president. Only two senators managed to served longer than him.
Dana, it's just gone 2:00 in the morning on the East Coast that's the time there in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts which is the picture we can see on the left hand corner of our screen.
So many Americans will be in bed at the moment they won't be aware of this news. What kind of headlines though, would you expect when they wake up to in the morning?
BASH: A legend has gone, an era had past. That kind of headline because you know as -- certainly our viewers on the domestic side know and I guarantee our viewers on the international side know that the Kennedy name certainly is something that is -- maybe in recent history as close to maybe a royal name as we've gotten over here.
But more importantly in the known era of pop culture the Kennedy name has for -- since the 60s -- since his brother JFK has been something that everybody has followed. Not only Ted Kennedy but his nieces and his nephews and everybody that goes along with it.
So this really is the end of an era. There is no question about it and Ted Kennedy after so much tragedy with his -- all of his siblings, his two brothers, actually three brothers. Because his oldest brother, Joe who died in World War II, he was the one who his father initially thought would be the one to run for President.
All of that tragedy he was the one that the Kennedy family turn to over the past decades, decades and decades as the rock and suddenly he is not there. And they're going to need to learn how to be like he was for them all these years now.
RIDDELL: Dana thanks for that. If you just tuning in to us here on CNN the news we are leading with is that the legendary Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, the brother of course of the former President John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy as well -- both of whom were assassinated -- he has died at home following a year-long battle with brain cancer. He passed away at the age of 77.
Let's return to CNN's Ed Henry, he's also been providing us with inside and sorts on the passing of a really a political legend and a political heavy weight in the United States.
Ed, we've been mentioning the fact of course that Edward himself had to run for the presidency. How much of a personal disappoint was it for him not to have made it to the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In many ways he feels -- he felt he had a bigger impact as a senator, perhaps than as a president. Of course, it was a brass ring that he always wanted and as you say he ran for it in 1980 and came close to, you know -- he ran against Jimmy Carter then the incumbent Democratic president. He ran again for the Democratic primaries had a strong showing.
And I think as John King noted in the 1980 Democratic Convention gave what is still many decades later a legendary speech about how the dream will never die and he basically took that dream back through the United States Senate.
And for several decades now has been putting his imprint on every major -- just about every major domestic piece of legislation in the United States has had a mark of Ted Kennedy.
And as John was mentioning before when you read the statement from Nancy Reagan. I remember talking to Senator Kennedy when he was celebrating his 40th anniversary of being in the Senate. So some 7 or 8 years ago and he basically was telling me about as John was talking about back in the Reagan era and the first Bush presidency how -- you know in public there was a lot of fighting, there was a lot of back and forth. There was a lot of money being raised by conservatives by using Ted Kennedy's name and saying he was going to raise you're taxes.
But in private, you know then President Reagan and the first President Bush always picked up the phone to reach out to Ted Kennedy when they really needed to reach across the aisle and get something done and they very much what sort of how sort their differences out over a cocktail in the late hours either at the White House.
And it's just something that's not done anymore. It's just something that has been lost in Washington. That sort of art of reaching across the aisle, the putting your differences aside to try and find some sort of bipartisan compromise on an issue like health care.
And that's why President Obama, in part is missing that kind of ability right now because it goes far beyond just Senator Kennedy this does mark end of an era. But there is sort of just a much different rules of the game right now in Washington where it's a lot more bitter, it's a lot more nasty. And I think in the next few days we're going to hear a lot of people reflecting on how Ted Kennedy was a fierce advocate for what he believed in. Very, very liberal and yet he worked very closely as Dana said with many, many conservatives.
And that kind of you know, there's nothing wrong with standing up for your principles, standing up for your beliefs but it also can be a good thing to reach across the aisle and hear the other side. And I think you're going to hear a lot of Democrats and Republicans in the days ahead saying that that maybe something that -- especially in this health care debate could be used right now.
RIDDELL: Ed, as we've been talking our colleague John Roberts has joined us as well. And Ed, I just want to ask you, you know many of us internationally of course know the Kennedy family most notably for the presidency of John F. Kennedy but also for the work provided by Robert F. Kennedy.
And sadly both were assassinated and the Kennedy family for all its dominance and all its work in U.S. politics really is a tragic family. How do you think the losses of his brothers affected Edward Kennedy? Did they motivate him in any way to be so strong and driven politically?
HENRY: It certainly motivated him to fight on many years after they were both tragically assassinated. And it's hard to remember now but as you read history in the immediate years after those two assassinations, there were many friends of Senator Kennedy saying that he should get out of politics in the early 70s and late 60s.
Saying that you know he was sort of a marked man and that he had his life on the line by staying in politics. And he felt like he had a duty to fight on and push the causes that he wanted.
And I have to tell you in recent years in covering him. He was somebody who was certainly not afraid of the potentials of what might happen to him because he would be out hitting tennis balls outside the United States Capitol without any security but for his dogs. He had his dogs that he loved and we've been showing pictures of him playing with his dogs.
And he used to -- in the middle of a big debate in the Senate he go blow off some steam by walking outside into a middle of a park right outside the United States Senate with tourist walking by and the number of people. Hitting tennis balls to his dogs so that he could blow off a little steam.
And so he was somebody who was not afraid of the potential for an assassination and understood very much that he wanted to fight on and he was going to literally put his life on the line to try to finish what was obviously -- a lot of unfinished business because of his two brothers' tragic assassinations.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CO-ANCHOR: So we saw Ted Kennedy on the grand stage was at the Democratic Convention in Denver last year. And I remember that there was a lot of speculation as to whether or not he was going to show up; A lot of anticipation of an appearance on one of the big nights there at the convention.
And he reiterated to some degree in that speech what he had said back in 1980 about the dream remains alive and I wonder you know we were both there on that night. We were both watching very closely and I was wondering if you can just sort of recount for me your thoughts, your experiences and your observances on that night.
Ed Henry, are you still with us?
HENRY: Yes I hear you know, I'm sorry John we were in transition there. You know yes, I mean I remember the impact certainly there were many people who didn't think Senator Kennedy was up to giving that speech in Denver.
And they were concerned about his health it was soon after the diagnosis. And he sort of willed himself to be there and willed himself to give that speech because he felt it was important not just to show the world that he was still fighting personally.
But as you know, he really wanted to stand up for Barack Obama, it's easy to forget it's only been a year and a half or so since it happened but it was a pivotal moment when Ted Kennedy sort of put his reputation on the line and said I'm going to endorse Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.
This were two big strong candidates, two heavy weights in the Democratic Party and many Democratic luminaries have sided with Hillary Clinton. Other Democratic luminaries were sitting on the sidelines because they didn't want to pick sides. They didn't want to offend one or the other.
Ted Kennedy said, you know what? I'm going to pick sides and he went with Barack Obama and it was -- when he did that endorsement at the American University in Washington it was sort of passing of the torch from his own brother to Barack Obama. That he was putting it all on the line behind the first what would become the first African-American president. We didn't know it then but it was certainly a turning point. And I think that at the convention Ted Kennedy clearly wanted to sort of to have book ends on that. He wasn't sure how much longer he was going to be around. He wanted to be there for Barack Obama and that was also a big, big moment -- John.
ROBERTS: Yes, I think we still have John King with us this morning Ed. And John, on that point of Ted Kennedy's support for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton; you're such a veteran of Massachusetts politics John. Was Barack Obama's campaign and the ideals that he espoused more in keeping with sort of the history of the Kennedy family when you looked back to Ted Kennedy's involvement in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act?
Did he sort of really represent, Barack Obama, what the Kennedy family had fought for so many decades for?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Without a doubt that is how he viewed it John and remember he brought his family with him. It wasn't just his powerful endorsement but he brought the brand name with him.
And remember, John F. Kennedy rallied the nation to go to the moon. He said the torch has been passed to a new generation and to the point where many of us having making. Senator Kennedy himself grew tired of the polarized Washington and as much as he respected Senator Clinton, he did not believe that she was capable as a President Clinton, of ending the partisanship in Washington.
Now we have seen in seven months of the Obama administration that nor has he been successful in ending the partisanship in Washington and some Republicans will tell you he has contributed to it as much as they might have back and forth. It was the Congressional debate.
Senator Kennedy viewed this new relatively unknown nationally young man a 47 year-old man Barack Obama of somebody with enormous potential and a gift that had the potential to unite the country and change the politics. And that is why he took the risky decisions that he did.
And it's also remarkable John that those of us old enough to remember the Kennedy challenge to Jimmy Carter. His liberalism was repudiated by the country, he lost in that primary. The Democrats have been unsuccessful in presidential politics.
KING: and the liberal brand in American politics has been defeated. Bill Clinton ran for President as a different kind of Democrat, more moderate. Jimmy Carter was a southern more moderate Democrat. In Barack Obama the Democrats have for the first time in more than a generation a candidate who is left of center who is a liberal on the ideological spectrum and one of the great tests of our politics at the time is that what the American people wanted.
Did they elect a liberal president with a mandate or did they simply repudiate George W. Bush as a Republican Party after eight years. And that Ted Kennedy has been missing from that debate, the policy debate and the more broad ideological debate. It has been a bad thing in our politics for the past year.
ROBERTS: Hey, John let me just pause for a second here we are getting some more tributes to Senator Kennedy. And this one coming to us from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch who writes quote, "Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant and a leader of the Senate and today, I lost a treasured friend. Ted Kennedy was an iconic larger than life United States Senator whose influence cannot be overstated.
Many have come before and many will come after. But Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber. When I first came to the United States Senate I was filled with conservative fire in my belly and an itch to take on any and everyone who stood in my way including Ted Kennedy. As I began working within the confines of my office I soon found out that while we almost always disagreed on most issues. Once in a while we could actually get together and find common ground which is essential in passing legislation.
For almost two decades we alternated as chairman and ranking members of the Senate Labor Committee now called the Health Education, Labor and Pensions -- the HELP Committee. During this time we were able to come together in a bipartisan fashion to craft some of this nation's most important health legislation.
In the current climate of today's United States Senate it's rare to find opportunities where both sides can come together and work in the middle to craft the solution for our country's problem. Ted Kennedy with all of his ideological verbosity and idealism -- where verbosity rather -- and idealism was a rare person who would times could put aside differences and look for common solutions. Not many ever got to see that side of him but his peers and colleagues were able to share some of those moments.
Elaine and I express our deepest condolences to Ted's beloved wife Vicky and their extended family. And I am hopeful that they will find peace and comfort in the memories in life they were able to share with this giant of a man."
So that's Utah Senator Orrin Hatch paying tribute to his long-time friend in the Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy the lion of the Senate.
And John King and Dana Bash let's talk a little bit about this, that Ted Kennedy was able you know for all of his liberalism and for all of his dedication to the Democratic Party he was able to work across party lines.
And we remember back in the early days of the Bush administration when President Bush brought in Senator Kennedy on one of this signature issues. Education and together they worked on the "No Child Left Behind Act." And I recall John being there at the White House when Senator Kennedy came out and Dana if you're free to bring in on this as well with your vast experience there covering Congress.
Senator Kennedy was quite optimistic about the future of the "No Child Left Behind Act" and then a couple of years later he very much felt like he had -- to some degree the agreement that they had together -- he and President Bush was not lived up to John. Because there was not enough funding for the "No Child Left Behind Act" and he became very bitter about it.
KING: He did become bitter about that and another big issue he was involved with the President George W. Bush was the Medicare prescription drug benefits. And in the context of Senator Hatch's statement when I first came to Washington in late 1988 and in early 1989 when I was working for the Associated Press I was covering Labor. And it was Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch and the first President Bush, George H.W. Bush and the Republicans. Hatch and Bush sparred with Kennedy publicly repeatedly over proposal to raise the minimum wage in the United States.
And overtime, they brokered a deal and that was the way it worked. And Senator Hatch and Senator Kennedy would do that for many years and as you mentioned then Senator Kennedy will do that again with George W. Bush when we were all covering the White House together.
And that was his MO, he would stake out liberal principle position and he would rail against the Republican and say they were against the working man, they were against the poor and he would hold his position he would infuriate the opposition. They would fire back with as much ideological vehemence back at him and saying he was a big spender, a tax & spend liberal. And then they went to a private room when it came the moment and they would cut a deal.
That was the trademark of his life in Washington and that will be his legacy, more legislative accomplishment than anyone can come before him in the Senate and I would ventured to say that anyone who will come at least in the near future.
ROBERTS: But Dana Bash yes, your thoughts.
BASH: And on that note John, on that note talking about just those two issues for example that he did work with President Bush on education and Medicare prescription drugs. He made a lot of liberals pretty angry because in order to get that done he did have to compromise.
And there were many in his party who were not so quiet about the fact that they thought that he maybe gave too much in order to get that -- get things done on both of those issues to the president. But he felt like he did what he had to do to get legislation done because he had done it so many times before.
And one thing I thought was so interesting about the statement we got from Senator Orrin Hatch that you read John on the air obviously, Orrin Hatch being one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate but also one of Senator Kennedy's really best friends in the Senate.
He actually just recited the list, just some of the legislative accomplishment. This is a Republican sending in a statement listing Ted Kennedy's accomplishment like the "Orphan Drug Act" which provided tax credits for encouraging the development of medicines for rare deceases. "Ryan White Aids Act" which established a federally funded program for people living with HIV. The S-chip program which of course gave insurance to children across the country.
And then he goes on the list of several other pieces of legislation. And that just goes not only is informative in terms of what Senator Kennedy did but also goes to show you that -- that even Republicans who worked with him take great pride in some of the legislative accomplishments that he had.
ROBERTS: And of course, one of his signature issues is why you know he can take off the Civil Rights Act 1964, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Americans for Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, as we said, "No Child Left Behind Act" and then the Medicare Part D - the Prescription Drug Act during the Bush administration but of course one of his signature issues was -- was health care; and how to get more health care to those 46, 47 million Americans who are currently without it.
He was a voice that would have been welcomed on Capitol Hill in these last few months as the debate has heated up in its tone and tenor back and forth on both sides of the fences. And Dan Lothian from the White House perspective -- Dan Lothian is with us the Martha's Vineyard where the president is vacationing.
How much from the White House's perspective Dan, was Ted Kennedy's voice missed in this debate over health care?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were certainly missed I mean when you would talk to city administration officials they would tell you that this something, health care is something we've been talking about this all morning now that he had been pushing now for his entire career.
Health care for all Americans and certainly for the under privileged and this is something that was very important to him and so the White House really did miss that voice. And you know we talked so much all of the questions that we've been raising lately about you know the administration being able to get their message out there about health care reform.
We've seen all of the raucous town hall meetings and a lot of questions from Americans such as what health care reform would really mean for them. And you often sort of reflect and think. You know if Senator Ted Kennedy had been sort of out front, had been in good health, had been very visible and been able to really assist the White House in a very public way, if that would have changed the debate at all.
I mean, certainly his voice was missed in this debate as the top priority for this administration. And he is someone that they really could have used in a public way.
ROBERTS: Right and Ed Henry, your thoughts on that as well. How much could Senator Kennedy have added to this debate and might the President be having a bit of a smoother road than he is now. That Senator Kennedy have been able to participate in the way that everyone knows he would have liked to.
HENRY: No doubt about it. To pick-up on what Dan was saying when he talked top White House aides. They say not only on help smoothing away with fellow Democrats on the health committee. Of reaching across the aisle of the Republicans as Dana was talking about. People like Orrin Hatch, let's not forget that that earlier in this process, Orrin Hatch walked from the negotiating table on health care, even though he's been a critical voice on that in recent years.
Saying that he just didn't trust the Democrats, he didn't think you know he could continue to produce fake. You just cannot imagine that happening if Ted Kennedy was still at the table because Hatch implicitly trusted Senator Kennedy.
And also I think it could have given the President a little more cover to have someone like Senator Kennedy in working with people on the left. I mean, right now the President's bigger problem than dealing with the Republicans is fellow Democrats. He's got the centrist who are not in favor of the public option. He's got the liberal who are saying look, without a public option we're going to walk we're not going to support any sort of health reform. We don't think it's a real reform if there's no public option.
Having an elder statesman like Ted Kennedy saying to the left, "Hold on a second, you know, it's better to get 60 or 70 percent of it than nothing at all." That would be very important for this president at this stage of the negotiation. Instead, he's obviously lost a critical, critical voice.
ROBERTS: And John King, the health care issue was so important to Senator Kennedy that in recent days, I remember late last week he sent an appeal to Deval Patrick the Governor of Massachusetts, asking if the law could be change in terms of succession for a departing member of the Senate. Currently it requires a special election to replace a Senator who departs.
Senator Kennedy had asked if the law could be modified to provide for a temporary appointment before that special election takes place. He said that the reason he wanted to do it was to have two very strong voices coming from the State of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on health care.
But even the "New York Times" said if that were to be done it really would be flying in the face of democracy because it was the voters themselves who approved this idea of if a senator departs that there has to be a special election to replace him or her.
KING: And you saw some of that in the reaction from Massachusetts officials who on the one hand so greatly empathized with Senator Kennedy in his final days -- knowing that he was in his final day trying to do something to get a Democratic voice to Washington sooner.
Sooner -- one assumes but we don't guarantee this but one can assume that a Democrat would certainly have a commanding position in any Senate race in Massachusetts. But with Senator Kennedy now gone and with -- that means the Democrats lose one vote of this important issue and it seems a bit crass to be talking about vote counts on a night like this.
But it is worth noting because it is the profound challenge at the moment for President Obama and Robert T. Byrd, another veteran Democratic Senator in ill health. And so at a time when the Democrats may need every vote they can muster for this key legislator priority the President has lost one of his most dependable and reliable voices. And it could now be five months.
Well five months a little bit more because the current law in Massachusetts plays out in that special election. As you said and there was hesitancy to pass that law for just the reason you know that it was the law of the land that to make an exception for Senator Kennedy would seem perhaps beyond the pale and it will be interesting it's like 48 hours or so to see what the reaction is in Massachusetts politics.
But it was not just the Republicans John, many Democrats in Massachusetts know the law they understood and empathize with Senator Kennedy. They thought that would be -- perhaps too extraordinary of a step to take.
ROBERTS: Right. And as you said, it could be seen to be a little crass talking about vote counts in a moment like this but we bring up the point because Senator Kennedy thought that it was important enough that the near of the very, very of his life he wanted to ensure that there some sort of continuity here in terms of keeping up the number of senators from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
ROBERTS: Biographer, Adam Clyver is with us on the telephone. Mr. Clyver thank you so much for with us this morning. What were your thoughts today as we ponder the passing of Ted Kennedy at the age of 77?
ADAM CLYMER, KENNEDY BIOGRAPHER: Well, I think the long term thought is that this was easily the greatest Senator, Senator of the twentieth century and a fragment of the twenty first. In areas from civil rights to health care, to education, to the minimum wage, Ted Kennedy affected hundreds of millions of Americans. He was probably best known for the -- his ability to work with Republicans.
Republican Party raised hundreds of millions of dollars, with direct mail appeals to protect the country from Ted Kennedy but there was hardly a piece of legislation that he ever got passed where he didn't have a major Republican ally. Frequently they are leaders and sometimes they are more obscure members but he knew -- he knew that to get things done in the Senate you needed to work across the aisle.
ROBERTS: And this maybe sort of -- you know the type of question we ask a parent. Which one of your children do you love the most? But which piece of legislation do you think was Ted Kennedy's most important. Which was his signature piece of legislation?
CLYMER: Well, sometimes the most important things you do or to prevent bad things from happening and he fought for civil rights against the Reagan administration. But if you're looking for one particular bill, I guess, I'd say the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. His Civil Right Bills enormous impact in the country as we've seen over the last 19 years.
ROBERTS: And when look back over the great history of as you've said the person who could be considered the greatest senator of the 20th century and the successive generations because he did served for 47 years in the senate. It always comes back to that day in July in 1969 on Chappaquiddick Island. How much of a part of his enduring legacy will that moment be, Mr. Clyver?
ADAM CLYVER, "EDWARD M. KENNEDY: A BIOGRAPHY": Well, it will never be left out or forgotten. We have dreadfully on one occasion, a young woman lost her life and it was his fault. So it kept him from being president in my view but he saved a lot of lives too, through the health care legislation and actually saved one when an elevator door in the Capitol was closing on (INAUDIBLE) once. So you know, I wouldn't say it was a dominant event of his life but it's not one that's going to be forgotten.
ROBERTS: Yes, certainly it's one that will be mentioned.
CLYVER: It should be.
ROBERTS: As people remembered Edward Kennedy going forward. This is just, you know, a little bit of - obviously, speculation on your part that I'm asking for but had things turn out differently in 1980, had that incident not happened and kept him from being president, in his fight against Jimmy Carter, what type of a president do you think Ted Kennedy would have been?
CLYVER: Well, you know, that's mostly hard to guess. We are often surprised by whether people are good or bad when they're in the office. One thing that would make him a good one I think is that he has, always has a remarkable talent for picking able staff. I think he would have translated that in the White House, both in terms of the White House staff and the cabinet. So that's sort of an upbeat and beyond that, who knows - it's awfully hard to say. I mean, presidents had been - hardly any president in my lifetime has been as good or as bad as I expected. So I hesitate to guess about him.
ROBERTS: Just to let our viewers know what we're looking at here. On the left side, live pictures outside the Kennedy compound in Hyannis port. We are also seeing some pictures there of his triumphant return to the stage in August of last year at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Adam, I don't know if you were there at that convention but I'm sure that you were watching it very closely. Such a triumphant return after his diagnosis of malignant glioma in his brain, surgery to take it out. People wondered if he would be coming back at all in the public eye and there was that incredible night that he had there at the Democratic National Convention. Your thoughts on his appearance there as we look at this videotape from a year ago.
CLYVER: Well, he was determined. As soon as he finished with the initial treatment that he was going to speak there. And I talked with Bob Shrum who worked with him on the speech and they met almost every day, working on it, practicing it. In the end, he almost didn't give it because of pain but oddly enough, not from the brain tumor but from kidney stones which he suffered.
It was, you know, it was a triumphant moment, probably if not one of the greatest speeches he ever gave but it certainly caught the mood in the hall. For those of us who watched it on the screen at home, as I did, it was a great moment. The poignant element to it is that he spoke of how under Barack Obama we would achieve universal health care, the cause of my life as he called and now he's gone with that still up in the air.
ROBERTS: And in terms of his endorsement of Barack Obama, he and his entire family had been such good friends of President and then Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton as well, now Secretary of State, how difficult the decision was it for him to break with those long standing ties with the Clintons and endorse Barack Obama.
CLYVER: Well, he basically - he was reluctant to endorse either of them. Kennedy for a long time didn't endorse presidential candidates until they have it wrapped up, unless they came from Massachusetts as John Kerry did. But his children, his niece, Caroline, had an impact. I mean, he had a sense that the younger generation was very much impressed with him and you add to the fact his very considerable annoyance with Bill Clinton over what he perceived as Clinton (INAUDIBLE) South Carolina primary. So he did and it wasn't bad and in the end, it wasn't that hard for him. He insisted that he was, you know, for Obama but not against her. She was fairly bitter about it but - and I don't know whether the two of them have reconciled.
ROBERTS: Right. So, and you know, Patrick Kennedy, obviously, is still in politics. But the passing of Ted Kennedy now - you know, the three brothers are gone and he survived so much longer than John Kennedy and his brother Bobby but the fact that now, the three brothers have passed, what kind of an impact do you think that will have on American politics that none of the original Kennedys will be in government anymore?
CLYVER: Well, you know, he's been the only one around for the last 40 years. He is the Kennedy we saw grow old. There is, you know, occasional nostalgia over his brothers but he's been the one on stage since Robert's death in 1968. And so I don't think - I mean I think there will be a lot written about Camelot in the next few days but I think it's a little unreal. I mean, I think this is the one who because of his tenure and his skill probably affected more American lives than either of his brother's did.
ROBERTS: Adam Clyver, thanks very much. Stay with us, if you could as we just continue to go around the horn here with our correspondents and their memories of Ted Kennedy.
And on that point, John King, let's bring you back in. That this is not just the passing of Senator Kennedy. This is not just the passing of the lion of the Senate. This really is the end of an era.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it certainly is and someone who grew up in Massachusetts, I think I said this a bit earlier - the Kennedys are the gold standard and they were the comfort zone and they were a source of great pride and obviously that I've noted, it was 41 years. 41 years since 1968, one of the most tumultuous years in American history domestically because of Vietnam, because of the civil rights movement, because of Dr. King's assassination, Ted Kennedy has carried the family torch for four decades now.
And John, in the next 48 hours, the next 100 or so hours, people are going to go through and they're going to find voting rights, civil rights, education, health care, his passion. And if you look around Washington, you'll also find an extraordinary reach. There is a Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer who is a staff member for Senator Kennedy. The Obama White House has a number of people who had their (INAUDIBLE) as young staff members for Senator Edward Kennedy.
They are all around Washington and they are all around Massachusetts and you can find some of them sprinkled around the country. He was always known as a senator who had among the best staff in Washington both for his national political agenda but also if you were the elderly woman from Newton or Brookline or Springfield or the Berkshires who couldn't get her social security check.
He did the constituent services. He was a Massachusetts senator and he was the national political figure all the once and there are - you will turn to different places in the country and different places in our ideological spectrum but you will find just about everybody who has been involved in politics for at least 10 years, will have a Teddy Kennedy story, guaranteed.
ROBERTS: And it is impossible to spend almost five decades in the (INAUDIBLE) halls of the Senate on Capitol Hill without influencing so many people as deeply as he did.
Dana Bash, he hasn't been - we've lost Dana Bash unfortunately.
Ed Henry, are you still with us. I take it that - Ed, you know, you are covering for so long before you went on to cover the White House. How much will his influence in the halls of Capitol Hill be missed. He obviously has not been a frequent presence there for the past year but he has certainly been missed by his Democratic colleagues but now that he has passed, how much do you expect his influence on Capitol Hill will be missed?
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Oh, big time. Because it's not just about the politics and the policy as you mentioned, it's the personal. I mean, I remember covering Congress and you knew Senator Kennedy was coming around the hallway because you hear his laughter before you actually saw his face. He would sort of be walking briskly along the hallways and patting people in the back and laughing along the way and I had so many senators over the years tell me that when they a family member tragically die, the first person on the phone, the first person to write a handwritten note to the family was always Ted Kennedy.
Perhaps because he had been through so many tragedies of his own, he knew how much that meant, that personal bond, so when we talked about how - you know, his legacy, how strong it is in terms of the legislative accomplishments as Adam was running through and John was running through as well. Part of the reason why he was able to accomplish that, a major part of why he was able to accomplish that was because of that personal bond he formed not just with Republicans and Democrats alike but that ability to reach across the aisle and form those personal bonds with other senators and House members that you wouldn't expect him to form and he did that through a very, very personal touch.
ROBERTS: And Ed, if I could, you've actually just forwarded this e- mail around. Let's take a moment to read it if we could, a statement from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the passing of Senator Kennedy. He writes "Maria and I are immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy," as he calls him, "He was known to the world as the lion of the Senate, the champion of social justice and a political icon, most importantly he was the rock of our family, a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character.
Teddy inspired our country through his dedication to healthcare reform, his commitment to social justice and his devotion to a life of public service. I have personally benefited and grown from his experience and advice and I know countless others have as well. Teddy taught us all that public service isn't a hobby or even an occupation but a way of life and his legacy will live on."
Adam Clyver, if you're still with us, maybe you could give us - we've lost him. So let's go back to John King then on that point. You know, the one thing that Ted Kennedy had above everything else, John, certainly was passion. I remember seeing him out on the stump with Al Gore in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the 2000 election campaign. He was such a firebrand and spoke with such passion about trying to get Al Gore elected. But talk about this idea that Governor Schwarzenegger illuminates here in his statement that "Public service isn't' a hobby or even an occupation but a way of life and his legacy will live on."
KING: That I think is part of the generational challenge that we have. Governor Schwarzenegger obviously a Republican but a more moderate, some would say, liberal Republican who finds himself in the great American political dynasty family by nature of his marriage to Maria. And he loved Teddy. I talked to the governor about this so many times. He just loved the force of will and character. They didn't agree on everything but Governor Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver are among, Mrs. Obama, Michelle Obama are among those who are trying to create a new epic of public service.
And in some of the pictures we've shown, Senator Kennedy in his sailboat, he is wearing a (INAUDIBLE) jacket. That is a public service, a volunteer program that started in the city of Boston with his help and with his encouragement has become a national public service program. The Americorp program that blossomed under President Clinton and then it was kept on under President Bush. Even the points of life program that President H.W. Bush had that many Democrats derided at that time. Ted Kennedy wanted to support that anything that would get people to volunteer, to give.
And of course, John, we should note that the Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy-Shriver -- we just lost her most recently, was the founder of the Special Olympics, anything where you can give yourself. It didn't have to be elected office for Ted Kennedy, volunteer service, public service, community service. He would always give his time, his effort, and help with the fund raising because he viewed it as so important and that was part of the Kennedy legacy.
This is one of America's most wealthy families and one of the things that bound him to those with home he disagreed on the issues in so many ways, George H.W. Bush, the first President Bush was from a wealthy Connecticut family. Ted Kennedy from a wealthy Massachusetts family. They gave to public service because they thought it was their duty to give back. Not just to have the power and the influence which they love. Don't get me wrong but they also believe it was their obligation to give back.
And one more quick (INAUDIBLE), we keep showing these pictures of his wife Vicki, and you see her again there in the pink jacket. They were married in 1992 and she changed his life. Senator Edward Kennedy had his personal flaws in addition to his great legislative achievement and she changed the last 15 to 17 years of his life in a remarkable, remarkable way, John.
ROBERTS: Yes, certainly she was an incredible influence on his life and helped to turn things around for him and you know, set him on an entirely new course for the last, almost 20 years now. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the Live Strong Cancer Summit in Dublin, Ireland. He's been there for the last couple of days. He reported extensively on Senator Kennedy's diagnosis, more than a year ago, of that malignant glioma in his brain.
And Sanjay, thanks for being with us. He really put up a heck of a fight, didn't he?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): He really did. We talked about these malignant gliomas, John. You know, this is a difficult tumor to treat and you know, talk since May of last year, when he was first diagnosed and we became aware of that. The treatment was pretty well documented. He went down to Duke. He had a what was known as an awake brain surgery.
John, as you remember, those tumors were located in a part of the brain that was close to the area that was responsible for his speech and his ability to move the right side of his body. So that was the first type of therapy and then he had different types of additional therapy including chemotherapy. But you know, one thing we've known about these types of tumor is the average survival. Unfortunately for these tumors, right around 14 months and over many years now, that hasn't changed much.
As a medical community, it just had not been - made a lot of difference, a lot of movement in terms of being able to treat these particular tumors, John.
ROBERTS: Right. So you said the average survival is about 14 months. he lived longer than that. What would his, you know, quality of life had been over the last few months. We saw him - his great love, his great passion was sailing.
ROBERTS: We saw over the last few months, he certainly was trying to spend as much time on the sea as he possibly could.
GUPTA: You know, one thing that happened and one of the first signs of a tumor like this would be a fissure and that was exactly what happened to Senator Kennedy as well. When you have abnormal cells growing in the brain, they can sometimes set off these reactions and as treatment goes on sometimes those seizures can be reduced if not eliminated for a period of time but likely John, to you question, some of those might come back. You might have some weakness on one side of the body. Speech is something that doctors, neurosurgeons always think about especially with a tumor located in that area where we're talking about not only the ability to speak but also to understand as well.
It's a tumor that affects several different areas of the brain and you know, it's obviously impossible to predict time. Of course, there are people who lived, you know, years, obviously outliers with this sort of tumor and there are people who don't live as long but that's sort of the general sort of time course and history, John.
ROBERTS: And you know, Sanjay, we recall that during the luncheon following the presidential inauguration back in January that there was some concern when Senator Kennedy suffered a seizure during that luncheon following the actual inauguration and had to be taken away in an ambulance.
Ed Henry, if you're still with us, you know, he wasn't well. it was an effort for him to be there for that inauguration but that is one place where he wanted to be. He wanted to be right there front and center as Senator Barack Obama was inaugurated and sworn in as our 44th president.
HENRY: You're absolutely right, John, and you and I were there that morning, very early and you'll remember how cold it was and many of us were speculating on whether Senator Kennedy could make it. And you know, given his health concern, given the bitter, bitter cold on that January morning but you're right. He had invested so much in Barack Obama, his political rise. He wanted to be there despite all the difficulties. He made it through the early part.
But you're right, he had that seizure at the inaugural luncheon after the swearing in and that was really one of the signs, obviously that all of us saw so publicly that things were heading in a bad direction and that he had been battling but things were getting worse and then I remember that he came to the White House, I believe for the last time in March. The president kicked off a health summit to try to begin, you know, kick off the whole debate on health reform and Senator Kennedy was there with a cane and he actually look pretty good given the circumstance.
And he spoke very briefly. And I remember President Obama teasing him and calling him Sir Edward Kennedy because he had just been knighted and he sort of kidded him about that and Senator Kennedy was roaring with laughter and I recall it being the last time he was at the White House, a place where obviously his family had been many, many times.
ROBERTS: And John King, you get such terrific behind the scenes information that's one of the hallmarks of your tenure as one of the best political correspondents in this country. When you talk about Senator Kennedy's appearance there at the inauguration, his appearance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, what was the calculus behind the scenes as to whether or not he'd be able to make those public appearances.
KING: His personal (INAUDIBLE) from everybody close to him and the family I've talked to was that he knew his days were numbered and if his days were numbered, why would he miss such a big event. He wanted to be at the convention because he thought he could help then candidate Obama, nominee Obama and he also wanted to share in the moment and pass the torch. The whole theme of the speech was to pass the torch. He wanted to be there for the inauguration because it was the history he had hoped for. And again, the passing of the torch.
If you go back to the pictures of the inaugural, of Barack Obama's had is on the Bible, just over his shoulder is Senator Ed Kennedy, out there in those element with a big smile on his face. And of course, he had the seizure a short time later, at that luncheon and as Ed noted, he came to the White House event. But there were many times when he came back that he did so against the advice of his doctors and I know at least on once occasion after being asked by his wife not to come to Washington. Please don't do this and he said I have to go and of course, she supported him and came with him.
He loved the stage of politics and he wanted to do everything he could and you saw John, the essay on "Newsweek" magazine. A couple of times he has tried to inject himself at the healthcare debate and the fact that he couldn't come back to Washington for one more vote, one more speech, spoke volumes as to how his condition did deteriorate in the final weeks and months and as everyone has noted, he loved the water.
And one of the reasons when he first returned dramatically to Washington, he returned from Florida, last winter because he was getting grumpy on the Cape because it was cold and he couldn't sail. So he asked the family to take him down to Florida so that he could be at least close to the water and get out and sail sometimes. He so loved the ocean. In his office, where you would see his dogs run around, he also had these spectacular photos of the waters off Hyannis port, playing football with his brothers on the ground and it was the thing that cheered him most. The sunrises and the sunsets of Hyannis port and off the Nantucket Sound, he loved it (INAUDIBLE)
ROBERTS: You know, when you think about back to where you're talking about John, his appearance at the inauguration, his appearance at the Democratic National Convention going to Washington against the advice of doctors, against the advice of his wife, Vicki. You know when you are beset with a terminal illness and you know that there's nothing to lose, it's difficult to tell a person not to go ahead and do what they really want to do.
We are getting a statement in here now from Nancy Reagan, former first lady, her thoughts on the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. She writes "Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I had been to the Kennedy family. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research and I consider him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."
Dan Lothian, if you're still with us, on that issue of stem cell research which has created some interesting alliances across party lines, Senator, President Obama picking up on that signature issue of Senator Kennedy and stem cells, where is that whole debate headed now because this was an issue that was so close to Senator Kennedy's heart and Dr. Sanjay Gupta will attest to and we'll bring him later on, one of the promising areas of stem cell research may be in treating brain disorders.
LOTHIAN: It really is and in terms of where it's headed, I mean, this is one thing that we heard about several months ago. But you have not heard about that debate lately because there's been other priorities that this administration has really been focusing on. You know, healthcare reform, this top priority for this administration. So it's unclear as to what direction that debate will take next on. But, you know, I wanted to reflect back to something and perhaps others have addressed this as well but I look back to the last time that we know of, that Senator Kennedy was at the White House.
And it was for that healthcare forum. And we were there, the White House and I remembered when he walked out, there was this sort of rousing, standing ovation. There's applause and then President Obama came to the mic and said this is the kind of welcome that a knight deserve. But what was also important about that day was that there were a number of different - both Republicans and Democrats and healthcare professionals and others who were at that meeting and Senator Kennedy was kind of like the person cheering every one on for the big fight ahead. And what stands out in my mind was the closing words that he said. Before he sat down, he said, you know - he wanted to be a foot soldier in this fight for health care reform and he said "this time, we will not fail."
This is I think a moment that really stands out in my mind of Senator Ted Kennedy most recently and also Senator Ted Kennedy and what he meant to the whole battle of healthcare reform, John.
ROBERTS: We are getting another statement, Dan, that we'd like to pass along to you. This is from Bush41, George H.W. Bush, the former president who said "Barbara and I were deeply saddened to learn Ted Kennedy lost his valiant battle with cancer. While we didn't see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service. So much so in fact that I invited him to my library in 2003, to receive the Bush award for excellence in public service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate. A leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body's history. Barbara and I all Bushes send our heartfelt condolences to Victoria, Ted's kids and the entire Kennedy family."
And Ed Henry, just - you know, another sign there of how Senator Kennedy for all of his liberal ideals was someone who is respected across party lines with so many different people.
HENRY: He was and as you know, I've been covering Washington so long and it's sort of a dying art in terms of people, reaching across the aisle like that. We've seen the bitterness right now in healthcare debate. We see some of the bitterness in the town halls across the country. It's not just among politicians, it's among people. A divided nation in many ways on some of these big, big issues. And Ted Kennedy was always someone who fought lactiferously for his passions, for his principles, for his causes but nevertheless did it in an agreeable way.
For the most part, there were moments when he crossed the line. I think back to the Bork (ph) battle, the Supreme Court battle 1987. Certainly some of the conservatives who said very nice things about Ted Kennedy over the year were very angry with how he handled that Supreme Court nomination battle but he almost single-handedly defeated Robert Bork from getting on the Supreme Court. There was Reagan appointee obviously, nominee. And he was missed as well in the recent Supreme Court battle over Sonia Sotomayor. It's not just the healthcare battle where was missed.
It was noted by our Jeff Toobin that this was the first time in Ted Kennedy's career where he had missed the vote on a Supreme Court nomination that was so rare because he not only was there for the votes, he was there for all the debates in the judiciary committee and on the Senate floor, leading the charge for the Democrats. And so there were certainly a lot of moments where conservatives were angered by what he was saying on the Senate floor but you would find just many times were conservatives respected what he was pushing for, even if they didn't agree with him. There was deep respect across the aisle and I think that's why when you see former President Bush put a statement out like that, it just reiterates how this is a passing of an era.
ROBERTS: And let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta one more time. Doc, I know that you've got that conference to attend that starts very soon. He's at the Live Strong Cancer Conference in Dublin, Ireland. We were talking just a couple of moments ago, Sanjay, about his work on stem cell research and how he was able to cross party lines with support for that as well. Nancy Reagan saying that she and Ted Kennedy came together on that very same issue.
GUPTA: This was something that was obviously - that's controversial for some time. There was a some federal funding but many felt it's not enough back in the beginning of around 2001 and then there was a lot of movement to try and ease some of the regulation regarding federal funding for stem cell research. And you're absolutely right. Nancy Reagan talked quite a bit about. Senator Kennedy talked quite a bit about this and there has been a lot of stem cell research, sort of in the world of cancer.
John, as you alluded to earlier as well including brain cancer have this idea that if you could somehow figure out what exactly, what glitches go wrong in someone who has this type of brain tumor and some of those have to do with the way stem cells are regulated, you might be able to make some real progress. Again, John, you know, I think for a long time, people are sort of looking for a, see change in the way brain tumor are treated. The sort of average life expectancy of someone with one of these malignant gliomas being about 14 months and you know, they thought - a lot of people thought in the scientific community that stem cells may hold an answer in terms of how to really lengthen that, John.
ROBERTS: Right. All right. Sanjay Gupta for us. Sanjay, thanks so much for being with us on our special coverage here of the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy.
Just to recap for you if you 're just joining us. We have sad news to pass along to you. The lion of the Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy after serving eight full terms in the Senate and a fixture in Washington politics since 1962 has died at the age of 77, after a long battle with brain cancer.
Our Dana Bash takes a look back at the life and the legacy of Senator Ted Kennedy.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: We first met him as the kid brother to Jack and Bobby, and yet Edward, Teddy, was the survivor, the one we watched grow old, evolve into the patriarch and struggle with the challenge and burden of carrying the Kennedy torch.
Edward Moore Kennedy was born February 22nd, 1932, the last of Joe and Rose Kennedy's 9 children. His first prominent role in the family business of politics came at age 30. JFK was elected president and Teddy kept his senate seat in the family.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The President of the United States is dead.
BASH: He was 31 when he said goodbye to Jack. Five years later in 1968, another assasination, another goodbye, Bobby this time. Often invoking his brothers, Ted Kennedy turned to make his mark in the senate in the '60s and '70s, a proud liberal, champion of voting rights and civil rights. In 1980, he set his sights on the White House, but perhaps the most haunting of his personal demons, Chappaquiddick 11 years earlier, would block his path.
EDWARD KENNEDY: I regard as indefensible, the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately.
BASH: In 1969, Kennedy drove his car off the Chappaquiddick bridge, and 19 year old Mary Jo Kopechne, a former aide of brother Robert, drowned. Ted Kennedy fled the scene. It was a character stain he could not overcome. He would lose his bid to beat President Carter, but he promised to carry on in one of his most famous speeches.
KENNEDY: The work goes on, the cause endures, the hopes still lives and the dream shall never die.
BASH: He would not be President but he would master the senate and make his mark on government policy.
KENNEDY: If we really care about work, about families, about children, and the future, we will vote for an increase in the minimum wage for all workers.
BASH: Fighting for workers' rights, leading on education, and healthcare reform...
KENNEDY: It's morally right; it's what this nation is all about.
BASH: ...and immigration reform.
KENNEDY: Si se puede. Si se puede.
JOHN MCCAIN: I described Senator Kennedy as the last lion in the senate. That's my view because he remains the single most effective member of the senate if you want to get results.
BASH: To get those results, liberal Kennedy learned the art of compromise, sometimes angering fellow Democrats by partnering with ardent consevatives.
ORRIN HATCH, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: Even though we fight each other most of the time -- and those are knock-down, drag-out battles -- I have to say there are very few people in my lifetime that I have more respect and now a reverence for than that Senator Kennedy.
BASH: All too often, it fell to Uncle Teddy, the patriarch, to steer the family throught trials and tragedy. The death of Jackie Onassis, a more painful goodbye to JFK Jr. and the dreams of Camelot. His hunch and shuffle, the legacy of a brush with death in the 1960 -- a plane crash that broke his back and caused constant pain. He brought some pain on himself. Dogged by too much drinking, a messy divorce, Kennedy was frequent fodder for tabloids. But he remarried, carried on added to his policy accomplishments.
BUSH: I've come to admire him. He is a smart, capable senator. You want him on your side, I can tell you that.
BASH: And he stepped, once again, into presidential politics, bypassing Hillary Clinton and harkening back to brother Jack's call for a new generation of leadership.
KENNEDY: I'm proud to stand with them here today and offer my help, offer my voice, offer my energy, my commitment to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States.
BASH: Just 5 months later, he had a seizure, followed by a grim diagnosis: a malignant brain tumor. Still, with great drama, he made it to the Democratic convention to pass the torch.
KENNEDY: The hope rises again and the dream lives on.
BASH: He ignored his doctors and when needed, he came back to his beloved senate.
KENNEDY: I look forward to being a part of the team.
BASH: He made a dramatic appearance in the White House Summit on Healthcare Reform.
KENNEDY: I'm looking forward to being a foot soldier in this undertaking. This time we will not fail. BASH: He never stopped looking forward and never lost that trademark smile. Until the end, the survivor. Dana Bash, CNN Washington.