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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Funeral Mass for Senator Ted Kennedy
Aired August 29, 2009 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Former Vice President Quayle said over the last few days.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to know about the relationship between Ted Kennedy and Jack Nicholson.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One time you'll see Jack Nicholson without shades on.
BLITZER: And more of these invited guests are now coming in. A lot of family members are there. The Kennedy family, as we've been pointing out, is very, very large, and impressive. And Senator Ted Kennedy simply had a lot of friends.
This is the Senate organization, and you see Orrin Hatch. They're coming in from the bus.
And what will happen after the funeral mass, they'll all get back on buses, head out to the air force base outside of Boston, and then fly back to Andrews Air Force Base where the latter part of this funeral procession will continue, the motorcade taking the casket through the nation's capital making its way through the U.S. Senate and then Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac river.
COOPER: How much debate on health care do you think would be different had Senator Kennedy been present this past year?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's an interesting question. There are a number of people who say, and they're usually Republicans, had he been president there much more, we would have been much far along.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had he been present?
GERGEN: Had he been present, yes. Had he been president, we might also have had health care in place.
But even so, I think his absence has clearly meant that it was not as bipartisan a set of conversations that might had taken place.
And yet at the same time, he did have a major hand in crafting the bill that come out of the health committee that Chris Dodd stepped in for him. And as Chris Dodd reported last night, Senator Kennedy was elated when they got the bill out of committee.
I think the evidence is pretty mixed how different where we would be right now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think at this point, he's one of the only people, and I'd be interested to see what Dana says about this, who could actually get the Democrats in line, because the Democrats are the ones who are fighting with each other.
And nobody could challenge Ted Kennedy on his principles and on his devotion to the notion of health care reform. So he could probably unite his own party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did have a big hand, even though he wasn't there, in the general principle of what his committee passed, and that does include a public option which Republicans voted against.
However, that's a very good point about Democrats. You talk to Republicans, they say the reason why Ted Kennedy was so formidable to negotiate with was because he had so much power within all of the interests in the Democratic Party.
For example, the union. He was the one person Republicans say, one of the few people who tell the unions, you know what, just deal with it, just take it. You guys have to take this particular compromise.
Using the public option as an example, the unions absolutely dug in, and they are absolutely adamant that that not be something that the Democrats compromise on. Perhaps, as we went forward in this debate and through these negotiations into the fall, that would be one area where Senator Kennedy would be able to...
GERGEN: Do you think he was passionate committed to the public option. I know it was in the bill, but do you think he was passionate about it? In the past, he was much more interested in universal coverage, period. And a public option was not central to his arguments.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that probably, who knows -- but I think that ultimately, because his goal was get this bill and get coverage for all, that perhaps that would have been an area ...
BLITZER: Hold on a second, guys, because the casket is now being carried out from the honor guard from the John F. Kennedy presidential library into the hearse. I just want to pause and listen and watch.
COOPER: As the hearse begins to make its way to the basilica where a celebratory mass will begin for Senator Kennedy, our coverage continues. We'll take a short break and we'll return in a moment.
BLITZER: Our Lady of Perpetual Health, the basilica there. That's where the funeral mass is getting ready to begin. We now see the former president of the United States. George W. Bush, Mrs. Laura Bush, they are there.
Bill Clinton, another former president is there, Jimmy Carter is there. And momentarily, the current president of the United States, Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama will be arriving over at the church. President Obama will be delivering the main eulogy at this funeral mass.
There's the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The casket, Anderson in the hearse is making its way from the John F. Kennedy library, now, to the church. It will be arriving momentarily. There you see the hearse.
COOPER: Just pulling out now from the library. It's a very short distance to the church. We won't be taking commercial breaks through the service. Of course, the service is supposed to begin in about 20 minutes.
Things seem to be moving on schedule. If the former presidents have arrived, it would seem to be that most of the people have arrived then as well.
BLITZER: Yes, it you are looking at the schedule closely, it's about 15 minutes delayed. But they may have some padding in there to make up for it.
I'm sure former President Bush and Laura Bush, they're disappointed his dad could not make it. He certainly would have liked to have been there.
By the way, as we look at John McCain, Dana Bash, correct me if I'm wrong, today is his 73rd birthday?
BASH: It's his 73rd birthday. Today he turns 73, obviously not the way John McCain likes to celebrate or would have ever have liked to celebrate his birthday, but celebrating his friend.
COOPER: John king is outside the basilica. John, has pretty much everyone who is going to be going in gone in?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are a few last stragglers, Anderson. One last bus has pulled up. At the end the line was a bit long, and so they brought in some hand magnet to help people get through.
It's quite a sight. You see the associate justice of the Supreme Court Stephen Breyer, a former aide to Senator Kennedy being hand- bagged by the Secret Service. But they did that to get the final guests through, and they have done that.
A few more buses have arrived. As you noted, the former president arrived just a moment ago. It's a remarkable mix of people, from people I met 20 years ago as young staffers for Senator Kennedy, to the former presidents and the vice president.
As you look at the pictures inside, everybody has a Ted Kennedy story. John McCain stopped by to say hello last night on his way out, and he was telling old stories about trips with Senator Kennedy.
Governor Schwarzenegger, who you see inside, he has some rip roaringly funny stories about when he joined the Kennedy family and Uncle Teddy put him through the test to see if he belonged in the family and whether he could be accepted into the club.
And this is very much -- there's President Clinton inside there as well. This is very much what Senator Kennedy wanted. His family and friends say that because he knew, he knew this day was coming, it was a question of when, not if, when he was diagnosed, that he had a very heavy hand in planning this.
And he stressed to everybody, shed your tears, be said, but please celebrate my life and laugh as you say goodbye. He very much wanted that spirit.
BLITZER: And the former President Jimmy Carter. We saw not only President Clinton, but the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well. She's there with her husband. And we saw President Bush and Laura Bush as well, three former presidents, one current president about to walk in to the basilica to participate in this mass.
This is going to be a two-hour service, we're told, complete with, not only eulogies and traditional Catholic prayers, but also musical performances by a cellist Yo Yo Ma and the great tenor Placido Domingo. So it's going to be not only a mass, but also a celebration, if you will, of the life of Senator Kennedy.
COOPER: And again, this church took on a very important role in Senator Kennedy's life when his daughter Kara had cancer.
GERGEN: She had lung cancer, and she was being treated at Dana Farber, which is not very far away. John King pointed out this church on Mission Hill is just a very short distance from Dana Farber, and Senator Kennedy had a lot to do with building it in the whole Longwood area.
But he came here every day to pray for her, and she made it through. And I think -- by all accounts that was part of the attachment he had to this church, as well as ethnic diversity in the community.
COOPER: It's a church known where people come forward for healing. You will see crutches, people leave crutches, making very specific prayers for healing for themselves and for loved ones.
BLITZER: That's Senator Jay Rockefeller now sitting down. As we have been saying, about, maybe specifically 58 sitting U.S. senators are there, 21 former senators and many members of the House of Representatives as well. There's Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Clinton exchanging a few words as they get ready to participate in this mass.
COOPER: This is an amazing collection of those who have been in power and are currently in power, to see them all together.
BASH: Largely Democratic Party, the hierarchy of the entire Democratic Party is here. GERGEN: (INAUDIBLE) do you think there is between Bill Clinton and Kennedy family because he decided to endorse Barack Obama instead of Hillary?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Now, some, not a great deal. Some time ago, a pretty good bit.
GERGEN: The Democratic primaries.
CARVILLE: I mean that was ...
BLITZER: The president and Michelle Obama have now walked in. And they are getting ready for this mass as well.
They interrupted their vacation on Martha's Vineyard. They flew in last night into Boston. They are here now at the basilica. Later they'll be flying back for one final day tomorrow to Martha's Vineyard before he comes back to Washington.
He has a lot of work to do once he gets back in Washington if he wants health care reform to be passed. He's going to have to really step up and take charge, James. He's not going to be able leave it up to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi get the job done. This is work that the president will have to do.
CARVILLE: Absolutely. And this is sort of the first day, this speech is very important. And I said earlier, the party is not doing well, and the health care bill is in trouble. And they have to acknowledge that, and the president has got to come out fighting and swinging and picking it back up.
COOPER: But your -- this speech, though, will -- you don't think will have politics in it?
CARVILLE: You know, this is Senator Kennedy's funeral. Politics is not removed from anything in Washington.
But again, I bet you that Senator Kennedy probably had conversations, and it's not going to be like a raw political speech, I'm sure we're going to hear something about we can't let the legacy die and things we cared about are the things we have to care about. I'm be surprised if we didn't hear that.
GERGEN: He does not want to politicize that. That's extremely important.
It's probably also important that he build, start building a theme coming out of this, this momentous few days, that he can build on when he gets back to Washington.
So I think we'll hear sort of a secondary theme that will be very much about where he wants to go and how he wants to draws upon this death. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been talking a lot about bipartisanship and Ted Kennedy. Look at what he's done. Look at that. You see George Bush talking to Hillary Clinton.
And you see, well, this is obviously two Democrats, but Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but especially the Bushes -- not always friends, but especially the Bushes and Hillary Clinton there.
BLITZER: They did meet Lisa Lee at the White House President Clinton came back from North Korea with those two American journalists. The president went over to the Situation Room in the West Wing of the White House and briefed President Obama and other national security officials.
James it was there situation room not my "SITUATION ROOM."
It would have been nice if he would have briefed the president in ...
BLITZER: He certainly, both of them would have been very welcome in our "Situation Room" as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing the president can learn from Senator Kennedy -- Kennedy's always had a very consistent message. They were never off message. This president has had great difficulty in articulating what it is that he wants in the health care package, and I think that's part of the erosion of the support.
I think, to a certain extent, that's a good lesson he could learn.
CARVILLE: The point is nothing is ever out of politics. But there is a difference between doing that and politicizing something. It would be a huge mistake if he politicized this.
But it would also be a huge mistake if he didn't take advantage of this forum to explain and put context into Senator Kennedy's political life and what it means going forward.
GERGEN: He wants to carry the banner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said health care reform was the fight of his life.
CARVILLE: Also, Gloria, as David pointed out, and this is going to be interesting, one of the reasons he endorsed then Senator Obama is he got a pledge, a commitment to health care reform. And it probably wasn't incremental reform.
COOPER: You get a sense in that picture besides the Kennedy family. You see that entire side of the church empty, obviously awaiting members of the Kennedy family who are following the hearse with Senator Kennedy's body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing, you have to remember, the president is going to have to -- the point you just made. He said was the fight of my life. The president has to recognize on this issue, this is going to be a fight. And they have to act like it's going to be a fight.
And so when you look at speeches of Senator Kennedy, the passion, the speech he gave at the Democratic meeting when he said "I am for that plank," it's a fight. He has to absolutely recognize that.
CARVILLE: For the last five minutes, President Clinton and President Obama have been speaking to each other.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About North Korea?
CARVILLE: I don't know, but something -- I mean, that's a pretty warm relationship there. I wonder if we will see President Clinton become more involved in the health care fight. I don't know, but I don't believe in coincidence.
COOPER: But you see President Obama taking on health care much more -- leading the fight much more than he had.
CARVILLE: He has no choice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he has to start drawing lines about what he will accept and what he won't accept.
GERGEN: This speech, it would not be inappropriate for him to signal that.
GERGEN: There is going to be -- that the dream shall not die. We will pursue the dream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no Republicans in this fight. This is all about Democrats. You're not going to get any votes, no conversions out of this service.
GERGEN: This is the last few days of the Kennedy memorial hasn't surely changed the Republican tone, has it? I think that's pretty clear
BLITZER: It's interesting, if you look at the seating, I don't know the protocol is, but you see in that first row, you see the president, President Obama and Vice President, and Michelle Obama and Joe Biden. You see the former Vice President Jimmy Carter and Roselynn Carter.
But in the second row we see the Clintons and the Bushes. I guess you have to give greater respect to Jimmy Carter than to Bill Clinton than George W. Bush, because of age, precisely, because of that.
David Gergen, as someone who used to think about these kinds of things, when you work under four presidents, is that a factor?
CARVILLE: First come, first serve.
GERGEN: It is. But what's also interesting is the relationship between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They've been out together on the speaking trail recently, and they're getting along very well. They're having a lot of fun together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe it's because the father and Bill Clinton ended up having a good relationship.
CARVILLE: That's 1,500 people in that church, there's a thousand of them that are there that don't like their seat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's hard not to recall what political memories Jimmy Carter was in 1980 with Ted Kennedy, who took on his incumbent president, challenged him in a primary.
As Jimmy Carter pointed out in the interview with him the other day, he pointed out, I just defeated him handily. He said I really overwhelmed him.
But that was a very, very tough time, and it was a fight that, by the way, was largely fought over health care.
BLITZER: And Jimmy Carter, when I spoke with him this past week, he stressed that, yes, they overcame the political differences, but there is no doubt that the fact that at that Democratic convention in 1980, the speech that Ted Kennedy gave when he acknowledged he was defeated.
The fact they didn't shake hands with each other, the fact that he never really went out and robustly campaigned for Jimmy Carter -- he went after the Republicans, he went after Ronald Reagan, but he never really enthusiastically became a great champion of getting Jimmy Carter reelected. That still sits not that well with Jimmy Carter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell by the tone of his voice. He said things are fine they became great friends, but he took the opportunity to make sure everybody knew that he did very well against him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Carter folks didn't even want to give Teddy Kennedy a prominent speaking role at that convention, if you recall. And Kennedy had to kind of get his speech sandwiched in. But it was the most memorable moment of the convention.
COOPER: John King standing by outside of the basilica. John, you have been looking at these images of all of the former presidents together. I'm sure we would all like to have a microphone near there to hear what they're talking about one on one.
KING: And it's a remarkable picture, Anderson. At wakes and funerals you hear the line what might have been. You see Bill Clinton there. He came to Washington saying he was a different kind of Democrat, he wanted to work with Republicans.
Because of the health care fight his party was repudiated, and most of the accomplishments did come when the Republicans took control of Congress after the 1994 elections. But then you had the impeachment drama which polarized Washington.
George W. Bush said he would come to Washington as a uniter, not a divider. Like in Texas, he would come to Washington and work with the Democrats. That, of course, didn't have.
Barack Obama has said and promised the same thing. In seven months into the administration, it simply has not happened. Washington is still a partisan, polarized place.
So as we say farewell to Senator Kennedy today, someone who proved you can do it, under Republican presidents and democratic presidents over the span of 40 year, I think many in the room will ask the question, as we say goodbye to the icon of his generation and the patriarch of his family, is it really possible to go back and do it the way when Ed Rollins was in the White House with Tip and Ted in those guys?
And as I toss it back to you, the buses with the family members now have begun to arrive outside. We're getting very close to this mass beginning.
COOPER: The family members will enter the church. And then very shortly after that, the service will begin as soon as the hearse with Senator Kennedy's body arrives.
BLITZER: And they'll fill up all of those empty rows that we saw in the front right side of the screen. It's a huge family, and the widow Vicki Kennedy will be first and foremost up there and a few members of the family, including Patrick Kennedy, the son of Senator Ted Kennedy will actually be speaking.
There's a long list of participants, honorary pallbearers, who will be greeting folks inside and outside of the church, the funeral procession.
His eminence Sean Cardinal O'Malley, the arch bishop of Boston, will be among the celebrants who will be participating. The chancellor of Boston College, former president of Boston College, will be among the celebrants as well, and there's a long list of priests who will be participating in this service. The family will be there as well.
It's scheduled to go for two hours, and there will be communion, there will be all of the traditional rites at a Catholic funeral that will go forward. Roland Martin, as we get ready for some of those Catholic rites that we will be watching in addition to communion, it's a pretty elaborate funeral process, the tradition and history what we're about to see.
MARTIN: First of all, you have procedures. Catholic funerals have always been like that, regardless of whether it is Senator Ted Kennedy or frankly someone who is unknown. But obviously, when you add the fact that you talk about someone of his stature, the president of the United States giving the eulogy.
It is the different kind of event. And obviously, any time the president speaks -- I think about when President Bill Clinton gave the eulogy at Barbara Jordan's funeral, former congresswoman, and it was an amazing sort of speech, as well.
Certainly, as James alluded to it, and David, what he also has to say, I think, will be in large part how folks remember this funeral, because people tend to remember eulogies. And Ted Kennedy, we still talk about the eulogies he gave, especially at Robert Kennedy's funeral.
BLITZER: And there's Robert Kennedy Jr. walking in right now. We see the Kennedy family now slowly but surely walking in, the son of late Democratic presidential candidate, attorney general, Robert Kennedy and Robert Kennedy Jr. walking in. Go ahead.
MARTIN: I was talking about to Ed and Dan, this family -- when you lose a patriarch, someone who was so forceful and powerful, it changes the dynamics of the family.
I was talking -- personally, my grandfather died. Our family has not been the same since his death in 1985. So when you talk about the end of this whole community legacy, also, the family thinks in terms of how do we continue as a family with a loss of someone like this, because he was always that figure to rally around.
And so when you think about how do you replace that, that's a huge loss as well personally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.
BLITZER: That's Maria Shriver now walking in. Her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is already inside. She called -- she spoke about uncle Teddy all of the time. She was very close with her uncle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And don't forget, this is the man who stood in for his brother and gave away Caroline at her wedding for which Jackie Kennedy was forever grateful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she just lost her mother.
BLITZER: Only two weeks ago or so, Eunice Kennedy Shiver passed away. It was very sad that Senator Kennedy was not healthy enough to even go to his sister's funeral, which wasn't all that far away from where he was at that time. CARVILLE: This is a family that has resilience in its genes. They'll be able to be fine. And remember what De Gaulle said, "The graveyards of full of indispensable people." Celebrating a life, but this is a well-read family, very resilient and very smart and somebody -- they'll emerge and do fine, I suspect.
MARTIN: As a country, we have suffered many, many years with the public tragedies. And I think that's part of the outpouring that they have been a part of everyone's life, starting with John Kennedy's assassination. And it's a family that has had more than its fair share of tragedy.
BLITZER: The hearse is making its way to the basilica, should be there momentarily, and the service will begin.
It looks like they're running a little bit behind schedule. But that's not important on this day. On this day, they want to make sure they get it right.
That's a pretty long motorcade. These are members of the Kennedy family who will be arriving and going inside and filling up all of those empty rows up in the front right-hand side of the basilica of the church.
I guess, James Carville, as you get ready to watch this, you're anticipating what emerges from this day.
CARVILLE: Well, a big thing that emerges, is there's a lot of people that have a lot of grief here.
BLITZER: There's going to be some sort of turning point in the politics of Washington.
CARVILLE: We don't -- no. I don't think the policy is -- what it can be is, this is the first day that President Obama goes to recognize the realities of where this is. And it can be some kind of a turning point in the way he's conducting the health care debate.
But it's not -- the partisanship will go back to the subtle way it was. I'm not suggesting ...
BLITZER: I guess I -- and, David, you have read history book -- will it be the case that historians, in years to come, will say, and it was on this day, at the Kennedy funeral, that things began to change in the nations capital?
GERGEN: I think it's unlikely. I agree with James.
BLITZER: By the way, that's Sergeant Shriver who's walking in, himself suffering from Alzheimer's, but fortunately he's able to make this journey to the basilica. Go ahead.
GERGEN: But we all remember when President Clinton was in trouble when Oklahoma City came. And he went and became a pastor for the nation and became this larger figure because he gave a voice to the nation's grief. And it was a turning point for his presidency. And in some ways I think that's the pressure on Barack Obama. Can he somehow give voice...
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But I also think there's a very personal relationship between these two men that I think the president really has to speak to, because not only did this man -- this man, Ted Kennedy, took him under his wing, recognized him as a star, helped him when he first came to the Senate.
And then, of course, skyrocketed his candidacy with his endorsement, but has always been there for Barack Obama.
COOPER: That's Maria Shriver's father walking down the aisle, Sergeant Shriver.
GERGEN: He was part of the Peace Corps and really personified this spirit of service that John Kennedy represented.
BLITZER: His daughter did an outstanding documentary on Alzheimer's and got very personal about her father's condition. Many of us saw that and were deeply moved.
COOPER: We have been talking how Senator Kennedy really became the patriarch of his family, and really after the deaths of his brothers became the caretaker, in many ways, or father figure for a huge extended family.
Who now fills that role? How does the family work? The house in Hyannis Port, does somebody live there full time? Who gets to go there?
BORGER: There's one sibling left, Jean Kennedy Smith. She is the oldest -- she's the elder now. She's the matriarch, if you will. So it's unclear if she will be the person, as Roland was talking about, the family will rally around and be where people go.
John King reported earlier this week that there is talk, that actually Senator Kennedy talked before he died about the possibility of turning Hyannis Port, that compound, into a museum.
COOPER: And when we talk about the compound, I haven't been out there. What are we talking about?
BORGER: It's really several houses together. The word "compound" has been thrown around for decades. It really is just a few houses in a neighborhood. But because they're together it's become known as a compound.
COOPER: For Senator Kennedy that was an incredibly important place, a place to go back to, escape to and grow in.
GERGEN: It was his refuge. It was a place where he was most in touch with who he was and with his brothers. It was often said when he went out sailing, he saw his brothers out there. Joe Klein, I had an interview with him to that effect here recently.
But when you go to -- I just went to Hyannis Port for the first time and saw the, quote, compound. I was quite struck. It's more of a cluster of houses in a neighborhood. It's a beautiful setting.
I think one of those homes may be turned into a museum, but it's inconceivable to that those kids and Ethel, who has a place out there, will not want to make that the gathering point.
BORGER: Inside the house, it really hasn't changed very much. Remember when -- the main house, the senator was intent on not changing the inside of it very much. When you walk in, it's like a walk back in time.
There's that famous picture that was taken in the living room after Jack Kennedy became president, walked down the stairs. The living room looks exactly the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, Joe Kennedy moved out of Massachusetts. He moved to Rockville, New York with his family. And the one place they kept as a residence was Hyannis Port, which was the family. And that's where John Kennedy kept his registration, that's where he ran from, and what have you.
BLITZER: John king is over at the basilica just outside.
John, the honorary pallbearers are greeting family members outside of the church. I'm looking at the list, and it's a very distinguished list, including the Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer who once worked for Senator Kennedy, Melanie Barnes who now works for President Obama in the White House, Senator Chris Dodd, a lot of others.
They're gathered along the sides. I'm guessing there are about 20, 25 honorary pallbearers who are there to greet the family and to see this casket make its way in. You see Senator Kerry on the top part of your screen.
KING: And, Wolf, they came out moments ago. We are told the hearse is just a moment or two away.
To the point you were just making, it shows breadth and depth what happen had in the 47 years of Senator Kennedy's career in the Senate. You see some of the people who served on his staff who have gone on to rich things. You mentioned Melanie Barnes. Steve Breyer, the associate justice of the Supreme Court.
He stopped by for a conversation and was talking about how he loved working with Senator Kennedy on the committee to get things done. He listed all of the things he thought average Americans who might not follow politic, the rights they have, the ramp that takes them into the building if they are in a wheelchair.
He was going through the joy and the song of working with Senator Kennedy. They came out to greet him on this final day.
We're waiting for the motorcade to come up the hill. We talked about this earlier. The church was handpicked by the senator because of his connection to it. It's a remarkable gathering by his friends.
It's a bit sad. What would he be doing if he were thriving? Call John McCain to sing happy birthday? He would be calling a friend to find out is Tom Brady's shoulder really hurt? The Patriots quarterback went down in the preseason game last night.
Instead, his closest friends are gathered here to say goodbye. It is a script, that the senator himself -- I talked to Bobby Kennedy Jr. the other night, and he talked about how involved the senator was up until the final few months when he began to lose his faculties, in planning the script of his last page of this drama.
And many of you have been discussing what comes next in the Kennedy family, is this a final chapter or beginning of a new chapter in the Kennedy family? We don't know the answers to that today, but we do know a remarkable gathering of people, famous and not so famous, who worked at his side who all have stories are here to say good-bye.
COOPER: John, how much -- do you see pedestrians nearby lining the route? Obviously it's terrible weather out there. That's going to be dampening the number of people that come out.
KING: Yes, the weather is not cooperating, although the rain has lightened up, but still a steady rain. New England can be like this, and New Englanders know that.
Several hundred lined up down the hill, down Mission Hill where the hearse will come up, a very blue collar neighbor, one of the neighborhoods that kept sending senators, Jack Kennedy to the Congress, to the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy, the Senate.
So many times it is these blue collar neighborhoods, the immigrant working class neighborhoods that were the backbone of the Kennedy machine and the Massachusetts Democratic machine.
There are several hundred gathered on the street, most of them under umbrellas. There also are dozens are people on the brownstones, some holding babies up in the window, looking out.
If you live in this neighborhood, blue collar, some work in the medical community. Some go to the colleges, where I went to high school is about a mile down the hill. They're waiting, and watching, and "Kennedy thanks" signs in the window. They are just the everyday people of Massachusetts.
A reminder that he was two very different people. He was a national icon, national political figure, a leader of his party, a very controversial figure at times in our national politics. But he was also Massachusetts senator, the guy you called when you wanted to get someone in the military academy or if your Social Security check didn't come or having a hassle with the V.A.
All the Massachusetts politicians have been telling hilarious stories in recent days of their relationship with Ted Kennedy. Mayor Menino in Boston was a volunteer in one of his campaigns before he ever thought of running for office. You hear Governor Patrick last night saying he knew of him before they knew him. You see Vice President Gore inside there.
He made everybody laugh. That has been the joy, the hard work to use on the sad moment like this, but the joy of the past few days. It is, as the senator wanted it, to so many diverse people, members of the public, members of the powerful, as you see inside the church here, laughing and telling stories that they say goodbye.
And very slowly now, Anderson and Wolf, the motorcade is coming up the hill. It's moving very, very slowly past the crowd of several hundred people on the road, making its way up to what they call the Mission Church. It is the basilica, but anybody who lives here, grows up here, knows this neighborhood, knows this church, simply calls it the Mission Church.
It is a majestic place inside, and the proceedings will begin momentarily as the casket -- you see the police motorcycles coming up the hill, and they are moving at a very slow pace to bring Senator Kennedy to his final mass here in his beloved state of Massachusetts.
BLITZER: And what's very touching is the different generations that have gathered inside the church as well. Senator Kennedy's generation, children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren, they've all gathered to honor this senator of the United States.
And right in the bottom of your screen you see the president of the United States, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Vice president and Jill Biden, and behind them former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former president George W. Bush and Laura Bush as well. They've gathered.
President Obama, I want to emphasize, will delivering the main eulogy.
These are honorary pallbearers who have gathered on both sides of the steps to receive the family and the casket as it's brought inside.
I'm looking at the list, Anderson. Greg Craig, current White House counsel, a former staffer for Senator Kennedy -- a couple former senators, of Michigan, Jim Sasser of Tennessee.
We see the motorcade coming up to the basilica, getting ready to stop and take the casket inside. And when we see the casket, Anderson, that flag that is draped around the casket, that is the flag that flew above the U.S. capitol on the last day of the current Senate's session.
It's only appropriate. He spent 47 years as a United States senator. It's only appropriate that that flag, which he loved so much and Senate which he loved so much, would be emblematic around that casket as it makes final steps towards Arlington National Cemetery later today.
COOPER: John King is standing by -- John. KING: Anderson as the hearse made its way up the hill, you see people outside cheering. There was a mother holding a young baby. There was a cheer as the hearse came up the hill.
And now in front of the basilica, the Mission Church as the hearse pulls up, a salute from the member of the Boston police, military honor guard, the state police, the hearse now coming to a stop.
You see the honor guard pulling it up, and the limousines obviously carrying Vicki Reggie Kennedy to her husband's funeral mass. The hearse is now stopped.
There was a very touching round of applause as it made it up the hill, the Kennedy name synonymous with Massachusetts Democratic politics for so long. It's an interesting question how the state makes the transition, but today it's thoughts and prayers are focused on saying farewell.
You see now the family, the attendants bringing out umbrellas now to help the family because of the rain here. And as you look at the distinguished group waiting to escort the senator in, you notice former colleagues in the Senate, current colleagues in the Senate, staffers of Senator Kennedy.
Reminder, he was the senator for ten presidents dating back to his brother. It is a remarkable stretch of longevity and public service, ten U.S. presidents, dating back to his brother Jack.
Now you see the family beginning to get out. Caroline here, the senator's children, Kara, Teddy Jr., Jean Kennedy, his sister, the sole survivor of the nine children of Joseph P. and rose Kennedy coming to yet another mass to say farewell.
BLITZER: In the middle of the screen, that's Vicki Kennedy, the widow of Senator Kennedy. The love of his life, what a remarkable love story they had over these years. She spent almost every moment with Senator Kennedy over the past 14, 15 months after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
And she's there, you see, you see that she's getting ready to go inside as well. And they'll be escorted by these honorary pallbearers.
KING: They're just about to open the back of the hearse now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The grace and peace of god, our father and Lord Jesus Christ, be with all of you.
CROWD: And also with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dear friends, in the spirit of this historic church, so close to the hopes and aspirations of this city, we welcome the body of our friend and brother, Senator Ted Kennedy.
Almost from birth, Senator Kennedy led a uniquely public life. His life was part of ours, our lives a concern of his.
But Ted also led a private life, a life of faith and of prayer, and his actions always pointed to, but that was zealously private.
It is perhaps here in the quiet of this sacred space, that he visited so often, that we can best recognize that the two lives, public and private, were actually one. It was the private life of faith and of prayer that held the secret to the extraordinary public life of compassion and of service.
And so in the spirit of the faith that star Kennedy enjoyed, and of his compassion that we share, we begin.
In the waters of baptism, Senator Kennedy died with Christ, and rose with him to new life. May he now share with him eternal glory.