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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Ted Kennedy Remembered
Aired August 29, 2009 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLIZER, CNN ANCHOR: Looking at live pictures of the United States Capitol. People are already gathered in the steps of the United States Senate where they will get ready to greet and honor Senator Ted Kennedy. His body is being flown to Andrews Air Force base outside of Washington, D.C. right now. It's scheduled to arrive, they're running a little bit behind schedule, within the hour around 5:00 p.m. Eastern. The plane will touch down at Andrews and then the motorcade will take the casket, first to the United States Senate, and then to Arlington National Cemetery.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting together with Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's been a very emotional morning. The funeral service for Senator Kennedy took place several hours ago. We're going to be replaying some of the more emotional speeches, especially from his son, Teddy Jr., probably one of the highlights of the funeral service, if you can say that.
BLITZER: It made a lot of people cry. That was really the first time - I've been covering Senator Kennedy for so many years, I've never actually heard Teddy Junior speak. That was first time he delivered a speech and it was a powerful, powerful speech about his father. It moved lot of people, and he told the personal stories about how his father inspired him after he was diagnosed with cancer, bone cancer as a 12-year-old and lost a part of his leg.
COOPER: His son, Patrick, also spoke and obviously President Obama gave the eulogy. Again we'll be playing portions from all of those speeches over the next several hours as we continue to cover this. This morning, if you can say it's the personal side of Senator Kennedy, his life in Massachusetts, his family, this now we move to Washington and the political side.
BLITZER: Our achieve national correspondent John King is over at Arlington National Cemetery. John, you got there just a little while ago, set the scene for us because Senator Kennedy is going to be buried very close to his brother Bobby Kennedy and his other brother the former president, the late president, John F. Kennedy.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf and Anderson, it's a somber sense of anticipation here. As you know, you're looking at it now, one of the most hallowed sites in the United States and certainly in Arlington National Cemetery, the eternal flame there at the grave of President John F. Kennedy. Ted Kennedy will join his brothers today. It is a hallowed site. He'll have a full military burial. And when he is laid to rest, his grave site will be just about 100 feet from his brother Bobby and about 200 feet from his brother, Jack. Up on the hill and it is the site, one of the most popular sites when visitors come here to Arlington National Cemetery. And remember, this place is just so rich in history, lined with the white tombstones of those who have served in wars dating back so long or recently, of course, we've seen so many burials from Iraq and Afghanistan.
There's a special place on the grounds for victims of 9/11, for the PanAm 103 bombing and other major events in our history, but this site, the Kennedy grave site is a site that Senator Kennedy would visit quite often, not just on the anniversaries of Jack's death or Bobby's death. He would come on his own sometimes. And the people who run this, the groundskeepers, the superintendents say that he would come unannounced and they would see him there from time to time.
And in a few hours' time, he will come here one last time to take his place. They have made the arrangements, the cemetery is closed now. There has not been a Saturday burial here at Arlington National Cemetery since just after 9/11 when victims of the attack were buried. A full military burial. You will see the hearse brought in. He will have the military honor guard. The family and some invited friends will be up there, about 200 people we are today.
Cardinal McCarrick, the former archbishop here in Washington, D.C., the archbishop emeritus will be up there to help with the service and then Edward M. Kennedy will take his place just steps away from John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy at a place he visited so often in the 41 years since he lost his brother Bobby, obviously, five more years before that when Jack was assassinated. A place he has come too often in his life and now will be his final resting place. Wolf and Anderson.
COOPER: These three brothers separated in life, together once again in death. Tom Foreman is with us with a kind of an overview of the location of Senator Kennedy's grave in relation to both his brothers. We're going to go to Tom very shortly for that.
I was actually interested to learn that JFK is only the second president whose been buried at Arlington. William Howard Taft is the only other president.
BLITZER: Only two presidents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I want to show our viewers the picture of the U.S. Air Force plane, the jet that is now bringing Senator Kennedy's casket to Washington. It took off about half an hour or so ago from a U.S. Air Force base outside of Boston. And it should be landing, we're told, around 5 p.m., maybe a little bit earlier over at Andrews Air Force base. There's a delegation, family members are aboard that plane as well the plane will then land at Andrews Air Force base and a motorcade will begin the process of driving from nearby Maryland into the nation's capital and making its way to Capitol Hill.
The U.S. Senate specifically the body that Senator Kennedy loved so much, spent 47 years as a United States senator, already some of his friends and colleagues, former staffers, others are gathered on the steps. They will have a ceremony in effect, a memorial service as well, once the motorcade stops and the family gets out and they'll pay their respects to this senator.
I believe our Candy Crowley is up on Capitol Hill right now. She's covered Senator Kennedy for so many years. Candy, if you're there, tell us what's going on.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we have here as you just said is if you look behind me, sort of above the stanchion, what you see are current Capitol Hill staffers who wanted to come and pay their respects when what we believe will be about a dozen cars, including, of course, the hearse carrying the coffin of Senator Kennedy come here into this platform or onto this terrace where Senator Kennedy passed so many times over the course of his nearly half century.
Now below this what you're going to see is former and current Kennedy staffers. So they will be getting the front row seat. We are told that those immediate members of the family, obviously Vicki Kennedy and obviously the sons of Senator Kennedy will get out of their car and talk to the staffers. We're also seeing around here and lining sort of as far as I can see, all the way down to the middle of the Capitol Plaza are tourists, people who - staffers who have been encouraging them to stick around, saying listen, you're going to see something here.
So we have a lot of tourists in their normal, you know, the cameras and the shorts and all of that waiting and basically because they know it's a piece of history here that is supposed to being made and they're saying good-bye too. So this will be obviously Hyannis Port is something that Senator Kennedy always considered to be his home but the U.S. Capitol, so many people have said this politically where this man grew up to be the sort of legend that he became, certainly even more so in death. And This is the place that was truly his home away from home. Wolf.
BLITZER: And the weather, Candy, it looks like it's cooperating in Washington. What does it look like over there?
CROWLEY: Well, at the moment, it looks beautiful, but it's really hot. But yes, it's gorgeous. We were told that there might be some rainstorms. I don't see any sign of it at this particular point. So they've got a good day for it. I can tell you, certainly, the staffers on Capitol Hill and the former Kennedy staffers, some of whom I've spoken to over these previous days.
This a very important time for them obviously. Both here and some of them going to Arlington Cemetery for that final good-bye as they bury Senator Kennedy. So this, they will keep these people here rain or shine, I can guarantee you that. They are all so full, Wolf, of so many stories about Senator Kennedy and his time up here.
One of them I was talking to and they said you know, when tourists sometimes would come here and they would be surprised to see Senator Kennedy out on this what is basically the east lawn or the east side of the Capitol, throwing a tennis ball for those two Portuguese water dogs that he had, Sunny and Splash. Two great big noisy dogs, I can assure you. He may even have them in interviews as I think you may know. You would go up to interview them and these giant dogs were walking around. He'd bring them out here and throw a tennis ball or two.
So there's almost in every corner, when you talk to a staffer, whether it's a Kennedy staffer or just somebody on Capitol Hill who obviously knew of his presence, they all have little stories like that of just the senator who day after day was maybe in his office with his nieces and nephews when they were young, who is on the floor, who is in committee or even out here throwing those tennis balls back and forth to those dogs, which he loved, as you know, Wolf.
BLITZER: There were so many times Anderson, I can't help but remember how many times Candy covered the Hill for a long time, as did I, you would always see Senator Kennedy in the halls, outside, every place you went with those two dogs. They were just part of him.
COOPER: Candy, explain to our viewers, Senator Kennedy was a senator for - he was 40 years old, 47 years of his life. The number of ex- staffers is huge and there is this real sort of alumni bond between them. There doesn't seem to be much of a difference between and ex- staffer and a current staffer. They still seem connected to the senator in many ways.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. And one of the reasons for that is, you know that phrase, and I'm going it get it slightly wrong but the gist of it is that Senator Kennedy and his brothers used, was from whom much is given, much is expected. Their staff, his staffers, current and former felt the same way. He felt that they were privileged not necessarily to work with him but to be up on Capitol Hill and being involved in all these policy and he expected a lot.
I was talking to a former staffer of another senator on Capitol Hill and she said you know, what's really interesting is that Kennedy's staff really like him. It's not always the case up here on Capitol Hill. You can find some unhappy staffers with some of the senator, but I was talking to --
COOPER: Same with TV anchors.
CROWLEY: Not unlike that. And I was talking to a staffer of Kennedy's who - I said well, were you in awe of him, were you afraid of him, or did you like him, or did you have fun with him? He said yes, all of the above. He described a boss who was tough. He said look, he would yell at you. There's no getting around it when something went wrong, but 15 minutes and it was over.
And besides that, he said, you know, you could get really angry with a boss who was kind of dogging it, but he worked as hard as we did. So even though we always felt like we, we meaning the Kennedy staff always felt as though they were the hardest working staff on Capitol Hill and you would probably there would be a jump ball if you brought other staffs in, but nonetheless, a hard working staff as we know it. He said, you know, we sort of felt that even though we were working really hard, so was he. And then it doesn't bother you so much. So he was greatly admired, and I have to tell you, that somebody that had been with the senator for almost two decades said I learned everything I know about Capitol Hill from him. I learned about the politics of it. I learned about how necessary it is and how important it is to have friends on the other side of the Hill.
So they all sort of saw him as a piece of history and a piece of the present and the future. And they all kind of have this alumni association, if you will, very unofficial. Because they all shared that commonality of history in the future that he always represented on Capitol Hill.
COOPER: And that will be certainly an emotional moment when the motorcade comes an stops, so that those staffers, both present, current and former can pay their respects as well. It will be an emotional moment. Obviously, well bring that to you live.
Tom Foreman - Candy, stand by, we're going to come back to you. Tom Foreman is standing by with a look at Arlington Cemetery, really sort of the broad view to give you a sense of the location of where Senator Kennedy will be buried in relationship to his two brothers. Tom -
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, this really is the end of, I guess, what adds up to a 500-mile journey when you take it from Hyannis Port, Boston to down here. This is where it will end, coming between the Lincoln Memorial, and the Kennedy Performing Arts Center here across the bridge, and up to the famed Arlington National Cemetery. This is a place that not only has great respect in American lore but something that a place that the senator himself respected a great deal.
A few facts about it that people probably should know. About 300,000 people buried there. More than four million visitors annually. 27 funerals a day. They expect to reach capacity by the year 2020 and beyond that some of the other folks buried there. 372 Medal of Honor recipients. Of course, largely military throughout here. 19 astronauts including Memorials to the "Challenger" and "Columbia" shuttle disasters and more than 3,800 former slaves here.
This will be the place however when we move in a little closer here where you can see specifically where the senator is going to be laid to rest. This is where his brother is. Many people visit the eternal flame at the grave of John Kennedy, including the Senator himself, who has been there with family members many times.
Over here is Bobby Kennedy's grave also, also the Kennedy family stopping by there many, many times. The senator often by himself, when we listen to people out of the cemetery they say he would often come by himself simply to visit the graves and walk around, and not far away, this is where he will be laid to rest and the three brothers will be together once again on this hallowed ground they all respected a great deal. Anderson -
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. We'll come back to you as well.
BLITZER: Let me just point out one thing. The information we're getting from the Arlington National Cemetery public information officer is that almost 7,000 people were buried there last year but they say they do have enough room for burials through 2060.
BLITZER: Not 2020. So they have a few decades to go.
COOPER: Amazing to think 27 burials a day. 27 to 30 burials each day during the weekdays. And again as John King said earlier it's very rare to have a burial on a Saturday, the last times were for victims of 9/11. We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues. We're going to be playing you the entire speech from Teddy Junior from earlier this morning. A very emotional speech, many people citing it as the most emotional speech from the entire funeral. We'll be right back. Our coverage continues.
BLITZER: We're getting ready for the U.S. Air Force jet that's bringing the casket of Senator Ted Kennedy to arrive at Andrews Air Force base together with the family including the widow, Vicki Kennedy and all the Kennedy relatives, the VIPs.
You're looking at live pictures at the steps of the United States Senate right now where people are gathering. There will be a stop at the U.S. Senate on the way to Arlington National Cemetery. They will be a service there as well. They're passing out American flags. They will sing "God bless America" and a lot of people will remember Senator Ted Kennedy.
We're going to play the entire speech that his son, Teddy Junior, gave over at the Basilica, the church earlier today, but I want to go to Donna Brazile who has also been watching this, has been close to Senator Kennedy for some time. And Donna, I want you to weigh in on how to you think this whole process has been unfolding.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, Wolf, I believe it's been an incredible joyful occasion to see not only his colleagues from the United States Senate but ordinary Americans, his constituents who lined the way as his motorcade proceeded through the streets of Boston. Ted Kennedy touched so many lives not just those he worked with, but those he believed in and he served.
He was a dreamer. He believed in the constitution. He was an amazing spirit who never gave up the fight for what he believed in. And listening to the homily this morning before the various speeches, I was struck by just how close he cared about his Catholic faith and essentially those words found in the book of Matthews to whom much is given, much is required. Ted Kennedy, embodied that spirit throughout his entire life.
BLITZER: Donna, did you hear his son Teddy's speech at the church earlier today? BRAZILE: I did. And you know, as someone who practically grew up knowing Patrick, I've never really got to know his eldest son, but I thought his speech was very personal. It was warm. It really captured the spirit of his father, but more importantly, it sort of presented us with a different picture of Ted Kennedy as a dad. And I thought it was very moving, a very moving tribute to a wonderful manned and a great spirit.
BLITZER: I think it brought a lot of people close to tears, if not to tears. I think it would be appropriate right now to listen to the son of Senator Kennedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED KENNEDY, JR., SON OF SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: My name is Ted Kennedy Jr., a name I share with my son, a name I shared with my father. Although it has not been easy at times to live with this name, I've never been more proud of it than I am today. Your eminence, thank you for being here, you grace us with your presence.
To all the musicians who have come here, my father loved the arts and he would be so pleased for your performances today. My heart is filled, and I first want to say thank you, my heart is filled with appreciation and gratitude. To the people of Massachusetts, my father's loyal staff, who in many ways, my dad's loss is just as great for them as it is for those of us in our family. And to all of my family's family and friends who have come to pay their respects, listening to people speak about how my father impacted their lives and the deep personal connection that people felt with my dad has been an overwhelming emotional experience.
My dad had the greatest friends in the world. All of you here are also my friends. And his greatest gift to me, I love you just as much as he did. Sarah Brown, (inaudible) President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, President Bush, President Carter, you honor my family by your presence here today. I remember how my dad would tell audiences years ago, I don't mind not being president, I just mind that someone else is. There is much to say and much will be said about Ted Kennedy, the statesman, the master of the legislative process and bipartisan compromise, work horse of the Senate, beacon of social justice and protector of the people.
There's also much to be said and much will be said about my father, the man, the storyteller, the lover of costume parties, a practical joker, the accomplished painter. He was a lover of everything French, cheese, wine, and women. He was a mountain climber, navigator, skipper, tactician, airplane pilot, rodeo rider, ski jumper, dog lover and all around adventurer. Our family vacations left us all injured and exhausted.
He was a dinner table debater and devil's advocate. He was an Irish man and a proud member of the Democratic Party. Here's one you may not know, out of Harvard, he was a Green Bay Packers recruit, but decided to go to law school instead. He was a devout Catholic who's faith helped him survive unbearable losses and whose teachings taught him that he had a moral obligation to help others in need. He was not perfect. Far from it. But my father believed in redemption. And he never surrendered. Never stopped trying to right wrongs. Be they the results of his own failings or of ours. But today I'm simply compelled to remember Ted Kennedy as my father and my best friend. When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with bone cancer and a few months after I lost my leg, there was a heavy snowfall over my childhood home outside of Washington, D.C. and my father went to the garage to get the old flexible flyer and asked me if I wanted to go sledding down the steep driveway.
And I was trying to get used to my new artificial leg and the hill was covered by ice and snow and it wasn't easy for me to walk. And the hill was very slick. And as I struggled to walk I slipped and I fell on the ice. And I started to cry. And I said, I can't do this. I said I'll never be able to climb up that hill. And he lifted me up in his strong gentle arms and said something I will never forget. He said I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can't do. We're going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day.
Sure enough, he held me around my waist, and we slowly made it to the top. And you know, at age 12, losing your leg pretty much seems like the end of the world, but as I climbed onto his back and we flew down the hill that day, I knew he was right, I knew I was going to be OK. You see, my father taught me that even you our most profound losses are survivable. And that is what we do with that loss, our ability to transform it into a positive event, that is one of my father's greatest lessons.
He taught me that nothing is impossible. During the summer months when I was growing up, my father would arrive late in the afternoon from Washington on Fridays and as soon as he got to Cape Cod, he would want to go straight out and practice sailing maneuvers on the Victoria (ph) in anticipation of that weekend's races and we would be out late and the sun would be setting and family dinner would be getting cold, and we would still be out there practicing our jibes and spinner sets long after everyone else had gone ashore.
Well, one night, not another boat in sight in the summer seas, I asked him, why are we always the last ones on the water? Teddy, he said, you see, most of the other sailors that we race against are smarter and more talented than we are, but the reason why we're going to win is a that when we will work harder than them and we will be better prepared. And he just wasn't talking about boating.
My father admired perseverance. My father believed that to do a job effectively required a tremendous amount of time and effort. Dad instilled in me also the importance of history and biography. He loved Boston and the amazing writers and philosophers and politicians from Massachusetts. He took me and my cousins to the old north church and to Walden Pond and to the homes of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne in the Berkshires.
He thought that Massachusetts was the greatest place on earth. And he had letters from many of its former senators like Daniel Webster and John Quincy Adams hanging on his wall, inspired by things heroic. He was a civil war buff. When we were growing up, he would pack us all into his car or rented camper and we would travel around to all the great battlefields. I remember he would frequently meet with his friend Shelby Foot at a particular site on the anniversary of a historic battle. Just so he could appreciate better what the soldiers must have experienced on that day.
He believed that in order to know what to do in the future, you had to understand the past. My father loved other old things. He loved his classic wooden schooner, the "Mya." He loved lighthouses and his 1973 Pontiac convertible. My father taught me to treat everyone I meet, no matter what station in life with the same dignity and respect. He could be discussing arm control with the president at 3:00 p.m. and meeting with the union carpenter on fair wage legislation or a new Bedford fisherman on fisheries policy at 4:30.
I once told him that he had accidentally left some money, I remember this when I was a little kid, on the sink in our hotel room. And he replied, Teddy, let me tell you something, making beds all day is back breaking work. The woman who has to clean up after us today has a family to feed and that's just the kind of guy he was. He answered Uncle Joe's call to patriotism, Uncle Jack's call to public service and Bobby's determination to seek a newer world.
Unlike them, he lived to be a grandfather and knowing what my cousins have been through, I feel grateful that I have had my father as long as I did. He even taught me some of life's harder lesson, such as how to like Republicans. He once told me, he said Teddy, Republicans love this country just as much as I do. I think that he felt like he had something in common with his Republican counterparts, the vagaries of public opinion, the constant scrutiny of the press, the endless campaigning for the next election, but most of all, the incredible shared sacrifice that being in public life demands.
He understood that the hardship that politics has on a family and the hard work and commitment that it requires. He often brought his Republican colleagues home for dinner, and he believed in developing personal relationships and honoring differences. And one of the wonderful experiences that I will remember today is how many of his Republican colleagues are sitting here right before him. That's a true testament to the man.
And he always told me that always be ready to compromise, but never compromise on your principles. He was an idealist and a pragmatist. He was restless but patient. When he learned that a survey of Republican senators named him the Democratic legislator that they most wanted to work with and that John McCain called him the single most effective member of the U.S. Senate, he was so proud. Because he considered the combination of accolades from your supporters and respect from your sometime political adversaries as one of the ultimate goals of the successful political life.
At the end of his life, my dad returned home. He died at the place he loved more than any other, Cape Cod. The last months of my dad's life were not sad or terrifying but filled with profound experiences, a series of moments more precious than I could have imagined.
He taught me more about humility, vulnerability and courage than he had taught me in my whole life.
Although, he lived a full and complete life by any measure, the fact is he wasn't done. He still had work to do. He was so proud of where we had recently come as a nation. And although I do grieve for what might have been, for what he might have helped us accomplish, I pray today that we can set aside the sadness, and instead celebrate all that he was and did and stood for.
I will try to live up to the high standard that my father set for all of us when he said, "the work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives. And the dream shall never die."
I love you, dad. I always will. And I miss you already.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: An extraordinarily moving, and very personal speech from Ted Kennedy's son, Teddy Jr., earlier this morning at the Basilica in Boston. Now Senator Kennedy is in the air, on his way to his final resting stop at Arlington Cemetery. John King is standing by there.
John, is the public admitted to Arlington to see the burial?
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: No, it is invitation only at the burial site, Anderson. And the cemetery has been open during the day, but that part of the cemetery was closed to the public. I will tell you, there are several hundred people lining the area just off the cemetery.
You go towards what is called Memorial Bridge -- it's a cobblestone road that takes you down the street to Memorial Bridge. You have a breathtaking view of the Lincoln Memorial from where I am, looking to my right. There are a couple hundred people waiting, some of them with signs. It's not a huge crowd, but they're waiting patiently. Many of them, as we have walked in, members of the media, saying why they're here or why they want to come and say farewell to Senator Kennedy.
You see the view there across the Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial. I will tell you, I left outside of the Basilica this morning when the mass got under way, to go to Logan Airport, so that I could be back here in time for the burial.
We were listening to the service. I was listening on a cell phone and then I was watching at the airport. When Teddy Jr. was giving that speech, people were mesmerized. It was totally quiet in the airport, which is very strange. Airports are usually a bustling place. But people were watching the live coverage of the mass. And there were 30 or 40 people waiting for the flight I was on from Boston to Washington, and they were mesmerized, many of them crying, listening to that very moving speech by Teddy Jr., many them ignoring the calls to board the flight.
Only when they gave the final call did we get on the flight to come here to Washington. He is largely out of the public eye. I have gone back to Massachusetts several times to cover Senator Kennedy's campaigns, and you would see him then, when the senator was out campaigning. But Teddy. Jr. has stayed largely out of the public eye, except for his advocacy for people with cancer.
But he has not been in the political arena all that much. I think that's what made that speech all the more poignant. It's an unfamiliar member of the family stepping forward to offer that stunning tribute to his father, especially, of course, his memories of how his dad helped him back when he was dealing with cancer as a young boy. Everyone at the airport was simply mesmerized. You could see the tears flowing down, quite a moving moment.
I think that a personal tribute that connected Ted Kennedy the man to Ted Kennedy the public servant from his son there.
COOPER: John King at Arlington National Cemetery. Gloria, I do think that's a side of Senator Kennedy that many people did not see, those who just knew him through television, from covering him. But for those who actually knew him, what he said to that little boy on that hill about going up the hill together.
BORGER: And what people may not realize also is that some of the things that he did politically really stemmed from his personal experiences. I once spoke with him about why are you -- why do you come up with these ideas, such as you do? And he said, well, let me give you an example. Family and Medical Leave Act stemmed from Teddy Jr.'s cancer, because when we were fighting Teddy Jr.'s cancer, we were juggling our schedules, because we had this young son in the hospital and we had to figure out -- I was working -- how we were going to take care of that.
He said I have an easier life that we, but most people didn't. So we started talking about family and medical leave, so that when a young child gets sick in a family, parents can get time off to take care of that child.
BLITZER: Let's not forget his daughter Kara also suffered from cancer, survived lung cancer. In the Basilica, where the mass took place today, is the church where Senator Kennedy used to go on a nearly daily basis to say mass and pray for his daughter's recovery.
COOPER: But that theme of loss, which his son talked about today -- this is man whose life was shaped by loss, and yet not overcome by loss.
BORGER: And people who have interviewed him including me, always ask him, how do you survive? He said, look, I'm an optimistic person and I prefer to look on the brighter side of things. And I cannot let these things hold me back.
That's what Teddy Jr. was talking about today. He said learned from his father the ability to transform loss into something that could be more positive.
MARTIN: Because if you stop, if he has stopped, we wouldn't be talking about any of this. If he had just set back and just mourned his brothers' loss, and not carried on, left the Senate, there would be none of these conversations. All of this would not have even taken place. So the take-away is that you could achieve god's will for your life, you could do amazing things by recovering from something like that.
So no matter who you are, whether you're a senator, whether you work at a postal office, you can overcome any kind of loss, no matter how traumatic.
BASH: One thing I just wanted to mention -- John mentioned that, one of the reasons we were all struck by Teddy Jr. is because no one has seen him speak, at least certainly not in this kind of format and forum. A little bit about him; he actually lives in Connecticut and he works here in New York mostly. He has an investment firm, which actually focuses and specializes in health care.
I checked in with a couple of Kennedy sources to say, what's his deal? Is he ever thinking about public life himself? Because he left that to his baby brother who is now a congressman from Rhode Island. I got response back, he's thought about it. He's thought about it a little bit. But the time hasn't been right. He's from Connecticut. At least, that's where he lives now. And the state is all Democratic, in terms of representatives in Congress, both in the Senate and House.
So he hasn't had been opportunity, but maybe there's a future for him in politics, like his father.
BLITZER: He sure showed a talent for that today. James, we're going to take a quick break, but think about this for a second, how difficult would it be for any Kennedy to go back to Massachusetts and establish roots for a political future. That's something all of us certainly can think about.
We're going to continue our coverage. We're waiting for the U.S. Air Force plane carrying the casket of Senator Kennedy to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, and make its way to the nation's Capitol. Our coverage will continue after this.
BLITZER: The nation's Capitol getting ready to receive Senator Ted Kennedy on this, the final step before he's buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., right across the Potomac River. That plane carrying Senator Kennedy's casket and the family -- the Kennedy family should be arriving at Andrews Air Force Base momentarily. And then they will make their way to Capitol Hill, where there will be a service of sorts on the steps of the United States Senate.
They will pause there. The body that the senator loved so much -- and you see a lot of people, Anderson, already gathered on the steps. They've been handing out American flags. And they're going to sing "God Bless America" once that hearse and the casket arrive.
COOPER: The people in the upper rows are current staffers on the Hill. But the front rows are reserved for current Kennedy staffers, as well as former Kennedy staffers. Candy Crowley was reporting that earlier. She is there at the site.
Candy, if you're there, obviously it looks like more people now have been arriving?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They expect at some point to have about 1,000 people on the steps behind me here. I can tell you that, as far as I can see -- I'm sort of facing the Supreme Court. So there's a big lawn in front of me on the Capitol grounds. And as far as I can see, there are just people, tourists and others, who have come. And they're kept maybe what 50 feet from me.
So they're back some, but they continue to gather here to sort of capture this moment in history.
I can tell you that, in addition to the former current and former staffers for the Kennedy office, you also are going to see some senators out here. We are told to expect, at any rate, that Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, who has served with Ted Kennedy for all of those years he was in the Senate -- now himself has been ill for some time, but has been serving in the Senate. We expect him to be here also. They've marked out a spot for him.
I don't know if you recall, but there was a just a heart-wrenching speech that Senator Byrd gave on the floor when Senator Kennedy got his diagnosis. And Senator Byrd wept opening on the floor about his old friend. He also -- when Senator Kennedy died, Senator Byrd's office put out a statement about his old and dear friend. So there is a connection there of history for these two men, a connection of party, and a connection of friendship.
So lo lots of moving moments throughout these last four days, Anderson. I think up here, when you look at colleagues and the people who have known him for so long -- certainly Senator Byrd coming to say a final good-bye to a friend he has known for almost half a century will rank up there with those moments it.
COOPER: It is interesting, Candy. I think that a lot of viewers are getting a window on Washington in a way that perhaps they have not seen before, just the importance of personal relationships. And whether or not it is still as important as it once was, but certainly you get that sense when you see Orrin Hatch and John McCain and Chris Dodd and John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, and obviously Robert Byrd. Clearly the bonds between them played a role in legislation.
CROWLEY: Sure. And it does. And that is one of the things that you think that -- I have heard his staffers talk about is how -- about how he would take a half a loaf, or 75 percent if he could get it. But that he knew that those friendships across the aisle were so important.
That has become less and less so on Capitol Hill, particularly when you find that people come from either very conservative states or very liberal states. What you tend to get are politicians polarized one way or the other, and that group in the middle willing to reach across has become so much smaller. And it's been bemoaned by people like Senator Kennedy, by people like Senator Graham, or Senator McCain on the Republican, that have said we need that now.
They talk about it a lot. But the politics of this day, and sort of the 24/7 coverage of Capitol Hill, and the kind of dividing line that has been in his country now, sort of a 50/50 country for so long, even shaking down now in the polls about President Obama, has really made it difficult to make those kind of grand deals.
Usually now, when you get a bipartisan bill, it's an a easy shot. I mean, it's something -- you know, God Bless America Day, or whatever it happens to be. They are not controversial things that tend to pass with bipartisanship.
There are some. But it very hard within a party, be it Democrat or Republican, to break from party now, because what happens is you tend to get a challenge in the primaries from your own party. So it's just been increasingly difficult, although I have to tell you, and you have heard it over the last four days -- we've heard a lot about boy, we really need those days back.
Make no mistake about it, though, let's not ever assume for a moment that Senator Kennedy was anything less than a Democrat. But he was more than that, a pragmatic lawmaker and he understood when you need to make a deal.
COOPER: Candy Crowley on Capitol Hill. We're seeing members of the Congressional delegation arriving. These are members who were up in Boston for the funeral, who left very early this morning. They have now returned. Ed Rollins?
ROLLINS: I was going to say, going back to the issue, Kennedy was on his way early as a young man -- beat Russell Long, long time senator. Chappaquiddick took place. And Byrd came back and beat him. And Byrd went on to become the majority leader. Kennedy obviously knew his route to leadership was over. And then he basically got into his committee, could have had many committees, but took Labor and Health and Education, which was not a prime committee at that point in time, but took it, went on to be the chairman, because that's where he thought he could do the most work.
He could have been the chairman of the Judiciary Chairman at a later point. And he basically always was supportive of Byrd, no resentment. It was like Byrd had the votes and he beat him.
BASH: It was a real rivalry in the early '70s between the two of them. They ran against each other in their own party for that leadership spot. In fact, Robert Byrd used to talk a lot about what it was like to run against Ted Kennedy among Democrats. Obviously, he did prevail.
But Candy talked about, it is going to be quite an emotional moment when we do see Robert Byrd come over there, because that moment -- if we have it, maybe we can use it. He absolutely fell apart on the Senate floor. And he said, Ted, my friend, Ted, I love you. And he was hunching over, crying.
Obviously, it was because they do go back so long, decades and decades, and they are good friends. But also it is I think because he understood -- he's somebody who is in his early 90s, and understood what that meant in terms whatever we've been talking about. The end of an era and ages.
BLITZER: It's also fair to say, the older you get, the more sentimental you get with every year. And I think that's a fair -- you see all these --
COOPER: We certainly are.
BLITZER: I was crying like a baby before. Let me continue our coverage. There you see some of the Congressmen, Congresswomen, senators, former senators. They've made their way back to Washington from Boston. We'll continue our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: This is the Eternal Flame, over at John F. Kennedy's burial, at the cemetery at Arlington National Cemetery. Not far from there, Senator Ted Kennedy will be buried, about 200 feet or so, about 100 feet from the grave site of his other brother, Bobby Kennedy. All three will be at the same national cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery.
Donna Brazile has been watching all of this unfold. Donna, when you think about the impact that Senator Kennedy had on you personally, what comes to mind?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when you just showed the pictures of the brothers, I think about my own household back in the deep south growing up, and of course there was a picture of Jesus, and then John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King. Later Bobby Kennedy. And clearly Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. And I'm sure at some point today or tomorrow, someone will stick Ted Kennedy's picture there.
I was a kid who grew up in the deep south in poverty. So when you think of the Head Start Program, I participated in that program. The Fair Housing Bill -- Title IX, I was one of the first women to play high school sports. He has touched my life so many ways. And I was so grateful to have seen him on the day of the president's inaugural, when he was in his scooter, along with his wife Vicki, my home girl, James' home girl as well, heading towards the Capitol.
I stopped and I said, how are you feeling? He said, I'm feeling fine. He was just so vibrant. And my sister Lisa, who is a Katrina survivor -- this is, after all, the fourth anniversary of Katrina. She saw him and she said, Uncle Ted, she said, thank you so much. And she expressed her thanksgiving for all he done for the people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
And he hugged and we took pictures together. He was just a joyful, optimistic person who wanted to help out. And soon after the storm hit Louisiana, he called, along with Vicki, to see what help he could provide for my family. So he has been a part of my life.
I worked on Capitol Hill. And when I just saw Congressman Walter Fauntleroy, the delegate, the first delegate elected to Congress from the District of Columbia, it was Ted Kennedy, who along with so many others, championed home rule.
He championed freeing the people of South Africa, ending Apartheid. He's been a part of our national fabric. And we will remember Ted Kennedy by continuing his great work.
MARTIN: I was talking to Donna the other day --
COOPER: I'm sorry. There's Robert Byrd. I'm not sure how long we'll have that shot.
BLITZER: The senator from West Virginia.
MARTIN: Donna can speak to this. When they were trying to get the national holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, she said, many of the people who were working on that said, they said, man, this thing is not going to happen. And it was Ted Kennedy who called them and said no, keep getting those petitions. Keep getting those signatures. We're going to make this thing a reality.
BLITZER: You know, we -- I just want to remind our viewers that we're standing by for the plane that's carrying Senator Kennedy to land at Andrews Air Force Base. You're looking at this beautiful shot of the U.S. Capitol. If you look behind the Capital, you see a stadium there, where the squiggly lines are. That's RFK stadium. It used to be the home of the Washington Redskins. It used to be the home of a baseball team, the Washington national. They've now moved to Nationals Park outside, but that stadium was name after Bobby Kennedy. And it's right in the shadow, literally, as you can see, of the United States Capitol.
Having attended many games there, as I know James Carville has over the years.
CARVILLE: Many times.
BLITZER: We've had a few laughs. We celebrated a few of those Redskins games as well. But that's another story not necessarily for today. There you see Robert Byrd, the long-time senator from West Virginia, who has made it to Capitol Hill to pay his respects to Senator Kennedy. Today, his old friend. Dana Bash covers Capitol Hill for us. They're coming over to pay their respects to Robert Byrd as well, Dana.
BASH: Absolutely. He hasn't been -- just like Senator Kennedy, he also has missed a lot of votes in the Senate recently, because he has been in the hospital. He had an infection. He was in there much longer than we thought.
In fact, I should mention, as we're looking at the screen, on the left there, you see Congressman John Dingell. He is, I believe, now the longest serving member in the House. I think he just reached that milestone, over 51 years, earlier this year or last year. He's somebody also who worked for decades and decades, almost a half century, with Senator Kennedy. But back to Robert Byrd. It is going to be interesting when he sees that procession come by, because of the emotion you're talking about. But it also reminds of you where things stand in that building, with regard to what Senator Kennedy has been pushing, what he called that cause of his life, health care, because it's not clear whether that senator that you see there in the wheelchair, that shock of gray hair, Senator Robert Byrd, not sure whether he will be able it come in and vote.
So those are two empty seats. So it gives Democrats officially - without him there, it it will give them 58 votes. If they need 60 to actually pass health care, it will be hard for them to get it. That is primarily because Robert Byrd is someone they can't count on because of his ill-health, too.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley is there on Capital Hill watching all of this too. Candy, I can't remember a time since 9/11, immediately after 9/11, members of the House and Senate -- they came out and walked out with their little flags. They stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and sang "God Bless America." Has that happened between then and now?
CROWLEY: Dana might be a better person to answer in these latter couple of years since 9/11. But they do it certainly -- they have those class pictures. But I don't remember since 9/11, a moment this poignant. They are, by the way, we're told going to actually sing "America The Beautiful." That's been a switch in the agenda here,
But nonetheless, you're right, just the idea of so many face. I mean, the young ones, and the old ones, this whole coming together. These are rare moments on Capitol Hill. As you know, Capitol Hill has been pock-marked a lot lately by a lot of partisan bickering over the last many years. So this is one of those times when tourists come and are waiting to catch this moment. You're seeing behind me, I think -- I'm no good at crowd estimate, but they told us there would be about 1,000 or so people. I think they must be closing in on that behind me, all waiting.
It is, by the way, torturously hot here in Washington. It is, after all, August, and tends to be what Washington is like in August, very swampy. I haven't seen anybody move. We now have Senator Byrd out here, as Dana mentioned, who has been in ill health for some time, awaiting what is going to be one of those moments that does not get repeated ever. And certainly a moment that we'll read about in the history books.
So it is one of those times that is rare on Capitol Hill, Wolf. I will give you that, yes.
COOPER: There's also singers from the Duke Ellington school who will be on the steps as well. Do you know what Duke Ellington's real name was? Edward Kennedy Ellington. Tom Foreman sent me an e-mail saying that.
BORGER: Are you serious?
COOPER: Yes. BORGER: Wow.
COOPER: Odd coincidence.
BASH: One more thing about Senator Robert Byrd is that he's the sort of historian of the Senate. He has written many books about the history of the Senate. And Ted Kennedy loved to talk about the history of the Senate. And while they were political enemies at one point, they were sort of historians together about this institution in which they both served and which they both revered.
ROLLINS: -- senior member now. He's passed Strom Thurmond, who lived to be 100. Byrd is now the senior member. He was the ultimate parliamentarian. Kennedy knew the public policy and drove the public policy as the whip. But Byrd was really the parliamentarian and ran that place probably as effectively as anybody ever did. I can tell you as the White House political director for Ronald Reagan, he held his 46, 47 Democrats. We never got a vote away from him.
BASH: I won't get too into the weeds, but there is actually something called the Byrd rule, which ironically the Democrats have to get around to get health care passed, which is a discussion for another day.
COOPER: How long do staffers normally stay?
BORGER: It depends -- first of all, depends on how much you respect and admire and like your member. And that's why you have the longevity on Ted Kennedy's staff, because people did respect and admire him. Also, it depends on whether you want to leave and start making more money. There are reports that Kennedy, out of his own pocket, used to pay some members of his staff extra money so they would stay on on a government salary, rather than going and becoming lobbyists and making a lot more money.
But the third thing is that with a senator like Ted Kennedy, a senator like Pat Moynihan, for example, once you work for him, you always consider yourself a Kennedy person, a Kennedy staffer. And with this staff in particular, if the senator ever needed anything, or if there was an emergency, they kind of all coalesced and got together. And you never really --
BASH: It's happening now.
BORGER: You see it on the steps of the Capital right now.
BLITZER: It's a bond they always share. It was sort of like once you worked for the CIA, you always worked for the CIA. Once you worked for Senator Kennedy, you're always working for Senator Kennedy.
I want to pint out -- we saw one senator taking picture. That's Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He's a photographer, a pretty good photographer. You keep seeing him chronicle in photos what's going on.