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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
A Look Back At Interviews With Former Senator Ted Kennedy
Aired August 30, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. Ted Kennedy was an American legend. While his last name garnered him a great deal of attention, his career in the Senate allowed him to carve his own legacy.
The youngest of nine children, he outlived all three of his brothers, Joe Jr., Jack and Bobby. He entered the Senate in 1962 and over the decades emerged as an influential and iconic figure in the Democratic party.
I had the privilege of interviewing Senator Kennedy several times. We often talked about his family legacy and world famous last name.
KING: What is it like to be a Kennedy, to be a Ted Kennedy? I mean, you drive around and it is the Kennedy Center. And then there is the Kennedy grave site. It can never leave you. It can't leave you? And you live and you work here? What is that like?
EDWARD KENNEDY, FMR. SENATOR: Well, I think the first impression that I have always had is how fortunate I've been to have grown up in a family and been able to learn what I tried to learn and continue to learn, but most of all, learned what I did from wonderful parents and great brothers and sisters.
My sisters are -- do very many interesting and caring things as well, as you are familiar with.
KING: Does it ever become common?
KENNEDY: So you have the challenges of being measured against the past.
KING: You've said that in the past.
KENNEDY: But so -- so that is really sort of a challenge, isn't it? That's to measure up. They set a high standard. You work at it. And some days you -- you measure up decently well.
KING: When you go to the Kennedy Center, do you feel emotional?
KENNEDY: Oh, well -- a personal sense of loss is obviously continues to --
KING: It can't leave you, because it is always around you? KENNEDY: Well, that's true. But, you know, you try and remember at least the -- the more hopeful times of those who you loved impressed you with. And they were -- both brothers and sisters were enormously lively, interesting and fun people, as my parents were. And they would want you to be involved.
And my father was a -- a wonderful letter writer to all of the members, large family, nine of us. And when I was eight years old -- I always make reference to the letter that he wrote me. He was in London. He had -- ambassador to London; the war was on. I had been over there and sent home when the bombing really intensified in London.
And he wrote me a letter about the bombing, and about how it was destroying people's lives, and how he would hope that when I grew up that, you know, you could work to try and avoid the wars, try and work to lessen the kinds of -- of suffering that people would have as a result of conflict and war.
KING: Tough father?
KENNEDY: Yes, but wonderful, inspiring.
KENNEDY: Loving, caring, tough. He had a sense of expectation for each of us. And it always --
KING: It was high.
KENNEDY: He was -- there was my -- my niece, Amanda Smith, did a wonderful collection of letters. She put them together in a book. My older brother Joe would write back, dear dad, I got four As and one B- plus and I am just going to work like anything to get that B plus up to another A. My brother Jack would have two Cs or three Cs and a D, and he'd be looking for his allowance.
Then you could see, as life went on, the letters from Jack began to get better and more eloquent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Kennedy takes tea with the (INAUDIBLE) at the Pine House, where his paternal great grandfather was born. Devonstown has never see a day like this before. And the Irish wit flows like tea.
KING: I was telling the senator, the late Jim Bishop was interviewing his mother once, and had asked her about John Kennedy's trip to Ireland, very famous trip as president. And Mrs. Kennedy, your mother said, when he was in Ireland, he mentioned the Kennedies a lot, but he didn't mention the Fitzgeralds much. When I see John, I am going to bring that up to him. You said you had a story about that?
KENNEDY: Well, when he came back to Boston, he had a -- an event and the press asked him some questions. One of the press asked him that very question. Why didn't you mention the Fitzgeralds? He said that when he first campaigned for Congress, with Grandpa Fitzgerald -- he ran in that district.
Grandpa had been elected to Congress in 1896, with three terms, and then came back and was mayor of Boston. But when he campaigned with my brother, right after the war, when my brother came back from the Pacific -- he said when he traveled around the district, grandpa would be in a certain part of the district which would be settled by people from Corke. And he would pretend he was from Corke. And then they'd go to a different part of the district and say he'd from Sligo. Then he'd go a different place and he'd say he was from Diegold (ph).
And my brother told the story. He said I never knew exactly where grandpa was from. And so my mother heard that story. And she didn't accept it completely. But anyway, it was a good story.
KING: Ted Kennedy, father, uncle, patriarch of an American dynasty. Stay with us.
KING: The assassination of Robert F Kennedy in June of '68 left Ted as the only surviving Kennedy brother in his generation. The death of his father, Joe Kennedy Sr., made him the patriarch of a sprawling clan. I asked him what being the head of his family was like.
KENNEDY: It's a wonderful experience. I mean, the circumstances that brought it about obviously remain with me every day. But they're really wonderful. And so many of them are doing such interesting things. I know that my brother Jack, brother Bobby would be enormously proud of their children.
So they're a great source of joy and fun. And now they're all of age, or a lot of them are of age, where they're taking on sort of the responsibilities for camping trips and things which I used to have to organize years ago. They are good enough to invite me on them. It's -- I feel very lucky because of that whole kind of experience.
KING: Can you take a step back, senator, and explain what it is about the family that keeps them going?
KENNEDY: Well, I think, like many other families, we had -- we are blessed with two parents, different, but complementary in so many ways, that made a very special house. At least I think most family members would feel that or way about their own home. Wonderful brothers and sisters, all of whom were our best of friends. All different personalities.
KING: But overcoming tragedy -- is there --
KENNEDY: Well, I think my mother really probably set the standard.
ROSE KENNEDY, MOTHER OF TED KENNEDY: Here is a very charming little picture of Ted with his father at the embassy.
KENNEDY: And my father as well in a very important way. And that was a sustaining force. I think her example at the most difficult times and her ability to try and continue to be hopeful and optimistic I think obviously helped.
R. KENNEDY: Here is Ted, our youngest son, in front of his father. He had the great distinction of receiving his first holy communion from Pope Pius XII.
KING: She has extraordinary faith. After John was killed, she was very sad, but she said, of course, I will be with him some day. She still feels that?
KENNEDY: She is absolutely inspirational of faith. It's had a very powerful impact on her children and the grandchildren. And I think to those who are closest to her, her friend, she is a very strong believer. She lives her faith.
She views it in a very positive way. It's a very hopeful faith. She doesn't have time for the negative aspects of the faith. It is a powerful, hopeful, optimistic.
KING: She doesn't walk around like the Catholic sinner?
KENNEDY: No, she doesn't. That's right, the guilt feeling. That is probably nothing really for her to feel guilty about, number one. But she doesn't -- it is a hopeful, optimistic, sort of the resurrection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another Kennedy has thrown his hat into the national political arena. Edward M., or Ted, officially announces his campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat, once held by his brother the president.
KING: Why public service? If anything, you didn't have to -- you don't need this. You don't have to serve in the Senate. A lot of business is available to you. You could travel the globe. You could lazy life through, in a sense. Why take the trials and tribulations that this brings? It would seem the minuses outweigh the pluses?
KENNEDY: Well, the public service was something which was very important in our family from the early, early beginnings. It took elective office with regards to my -- President Kennedy, my brother Bob, and myself. But it has taken other forms with my sisters. My sister Eunice has been very much involved in the founding of the Special Olympics program, which is all over the country, provides very special opportunities for those that are mentally retarded.
KING: Where did that come from?
KENNEDY: My sister Jean, a very special arts program. And it is rooted in the concept that we have -- this country has been a very important and powerful country that we -- my father was able to -- to benefit from. And that we ought to give something back to America in terms for all that it has given to us. KING: You feel you owe it back?
KENNEDY: It isn't a question of sort of an obligation -- it is as much to the country, as a sense of feeling about our fellow human beings. It's about how you might be able to have an impact, positive impact a on -- on -- on the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The younger brother of the president scored an overwhelming victory in the Democratic primary, capturing 69 percent of the vote.
KENNEDY: I think my father believed very strongly that Americans should represent sort of a level playing field for people. And that -- and then individual initiative can move ahead. And so you don't have to -- the one point that my brothers all pointed out is you don't have to be a senator or a Congressman to make a difference. All you have to do is just be involved.
I would just hope for my nieces and nephews that they would have a constructive, positive and useful lives. Don't have to be elected necessarily.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: I'll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision, and summon our hopes, and renew our belief that our country's best days are still to come.
My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey, to have the courage to choose change. It's time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The year I was born, President Kennedy let out word the torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans. He was right, it had. It was passed to his youngest brother.
From the battles of the 1960s to the battles of today, he has carried that torch, lighting the way for all who share his American ideals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The Kennedy family has been a fixture of Democratic party politics since the 1890s. Ted Kennedy was the second Kennedy brother to serve in the U.S. Senate. First elected in 1962 at age 30. When I spoke with him in 1996, I asked about his family's involvement in public service.
KING: How many Kennedys are now in office? KENNEDY: Five the last count. All of them are up, well --
KING: You, Joe.
KENNEDY: Congressman Joe Kennedy, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, my son, doing a wonderful job. Joe is too in Rhode Island. And then Kathleen Townsend, lieutenant-governor in Maryland, and Mark Shriver is doing very, very well here.
KING: How is this coming?
KENNEDY: I think they'll all -- I'm just glad I won't be around for the Iowa primary in the next century. I think he has an interest in public affairs, where -- he is on the institute of politics, school of government up at Harvard. I saw him on Monday. He is very involved with not only his project, in terms his magazine, but with those young people. He is interested in issues. He is -- he reads, interested in history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is better because of the leadership of Edward Kennedy. May he continue to guide us for many years to come. Ladies and gentlemen, my uncle, Ted Kennedy.
KING: That still exists that togetherness in the Kennedys? Doesn't go away, right?
PATRICK KENNEDY, NEPHEW OF TED KENNEDY: No. It's one of the great, lucky things about being in my family, which is staying.
KING: That gathering concept, right, it is familial?
P. KENNEDY: It is.
KING: It's a touching family, too. The boys get along.
P. KENNEDY: Yes.
KING: Go for each other kind of family, right?
P. KENNEDY: Absolutely.
KING: Must have started with your grandfather?
P. KENNEDY: I had heard. I mean, he certainly took a great interest in his. And I think he created that sort of environment and that ethos within the family, and it passed on.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. PRESIDENT: The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
KING: But probably memories of your father are not great?
P. KENNEDY: They're great, but they're not plentiful. KING: Or of your Uncle Robert, right?
P. KENNEDY: They're more vivid of him.
KING: You were how old when he died?
P. KENNEDY: I was eight.
KING: So that's a vivid memory to you?
P. KENNEDY: Yes, fairly. He was a very vivid character. He was quite a forceful presence.
KING: Was he involved in raising you too?
P. KENNEDY: At times, raising many of us. All really in our family -- I mean, Teddy and Bobby really -- I mean, one of the things that they really took great interest in was the family, and the cousins, and making a kind of a -- a sense of community, especially in the summertime.
CAROLINE KENNEDY, NIECE OF TED KENNEDY: Our family he has never missed a first communion, a graduation or a chance to walk one of his nieces down the aisle. He has a special relationship with each of us. And his 60 great nieces and nephews all know that the best cookies and the best laughs are always found at Uncle Teddy's.
I think Teddy has shown a tremendous amount of courage in his career. And there is somebody who compromises and always is working for the ideals that the he believes in.
KING: Do the Kennedys ever gather as they used to do, all of them together?
C. KENNEDY: Well, it is hard to gather so many people.
KING: How many are there?
C. KENNEDY: -- a couple weeks ago.
KING: You did? All of you?
C. KENNEDY: Not everybody, but a lot of us.
KING: How many are there?
C. KENNEDY: Grandchildren. Great grandchildren. You keep asking me that, because maybe you know.
KING: I don't know.
C. KENNEDY: There is somewhere around 70-something, or 80- something.
KENNEDY: I'll return to the United States Senate and my game -- my goal is to be the very best United States state senator and that I pledge that I will be. Thank you!
KING: You have been there 44 years. Running again, right?
KING: How long you want to stay?
KENNEDY: I say until I get the hang of it. I usually hear that question from my nieces and nephews, wondering how long are you going to stay?
KING: You have been called one of great senators of all time. "Time Magazine" dubbed you the deal-maker. That must be a great honor. You like the Senate, right?
KENNEDY: I enjoy it. I enjoy it.
KING: When we return, we are going to delve into more serious matters, tragedy, and trouble. A look at losses Ted Kennedy and his family suffered. And the scandal that shattered his life and career. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the scene at Dallas' Parkland Hospital, as the body of President Kennedy was brought out and taken to Dallas' Love Field.
J. KENNEDY: Ask not --
BOBBY KENNEDY, FMR. SENATOR: My thanks to all of you. Now it is on to Chicago and let's win this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert F. Kennedy, 43 years old, died the next day.
KENNEDY: Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us, and what he wished for others, will someday come to pass for all the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy shook this country to the core. They were the most violent manifestations of what some have called the Kennedy Curse, a series of public and personal tragedies that have plagued this American dynasty over the decades.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KING: After the tragedy that happened in the family, did you give a conscious thought to saying, I have had two brothers lose lives in elected office; I think I am going to leave it?
KENNEDY: Not, not really.
KING: That would have been logical?
KENNEDY: Well, it wouldn't be the kind of thing that would have honored their memory. Not that I am in it just to keep, in that sense. But the thought really never crossed my mind.
We have had our share of difficulties and tragedies in the family. But, by and large, not greatly different from most families around the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Misfortune strikes the Kennedy family once again. Senator Edward M. Kennedy was seriously injured when his private plane crashed in the woods near South Hampton, Massachusetts. The senator was on his way to the state Democratic Convention, where he was renominated, when the plane crashed in a heavy fog.
However, despite --
KING: Not many people have survived a plane crash. Do you think about it often?
KENNEDY: Well, when it is bothering me, I always remember. i lost a great friend, Ed Moss. I always remember Abbot Bye's (ph) father, Birch Bye, really saved my life. Dragged me out of that plane, at great risk going back to the plane, because it could have caught on fire.
KING: Senator Hines died. Your nephew?
KENNEDY: Yes. Planes are dangerous to fly in bad weather.
KING: You don't fly?
KENNEDY: Not if it is bad weather at all. It's very easy. I will come next year at this time.
On Chappaquiddick island off Martha's Vineyard, I made immediate and repeated efforts to save Mary Jo by diving into the strong and murky current. This morning, I entered a plea of guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
No words on my part can possibly express the terrible pain and suffering I feel over this tragic incident.
KING: Do you think the Chappaquiddick thing will ever go away? With the two recent books?
KENNEDY: It will be certainly a tragedy that I will live with for the rest of my life, and for the rest -- I don't -- there is no way of really knowing. KING: Do you ever say to yourself, there must be -- I would have been president without that?
KENNEDY: No, I do not. I don't.
KING: You do not?
KENNEDY: I recognize -- those -- as I have said many times, you know the past. It was a tragedy. I have taken responsibility for it. Now we are very much involved in the actions of the -- of the Senate. Listen, I have been in the business too long, 28 years.
KING: No, really, you can?
KENNEDY: You have to. Or you are not going to be able to have an impact in terms of --
KING: In other words, you can tune it out. You know the book window is featuring the book.
KENNEDY: You have to be able to do that in this business. Otherwise, you are going to spend too much of your time looking over your shoulder on a variety of distant choices and decisions.
KING: Doesn't it annoy you, though?
KENNEDY: Well, I don't really, now, spend the time worrying. This is probably the first time I have been asked about it in three years.
KING: That's because there were two recent books. One was a best-seller.
KENNEDY: I have been out and around for the last two or three years, since they've has been out. I am involved in the Senate, the leadership, in trying to, in a constructive way, on a variety of different domestic --
KING: You don't read it?
KENNEDY: I don't spend any time on it.
KING: From personal tragedy to the politics of fear. That's next on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: To them I say, I recognize my own shortcomings, the faults in the conduct of my private life. I realize that I alone am responsible for them. I am the one who must confront them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center. We have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see that the cut of the -- the incision into the building is sideways, so the plane was slightly on its side. That's what made me think it was in distress. But then, when it obviously hit, you know, there was almost no doubt that it was intentional.
It kind of went in like slow motion. It looked like something out of a movie, where explosions kind of bubbled out the north side, where it impacted. And then a huge explosion blew out the south side. And, I mean, it was just huge explosions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ted Kennedy was in his Senate office when the first terrorist plane struck the World Trade Center September 11, 2001. He was later joined by First Lady Laura Bush, who had come to Capitol Hill to testify before the committee that he chaired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: All of us deplore the acts of terrorism that we have seen in these past minutes.
LAURA BUSH, FMR. FIRST LADY: Our hearts and our prayers go out to the victims of this act of terrorism, and our support goes to the rescue workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He told me in 2006 that she showed great composure and strength as the events of that terrible day unfolded. Senator Kennedy also spoke about how he felt the Bush administration used the anxieties created by 9/11.
KENNEDY: It's really been the issue of the politics of fear. We went through the period of 9/11 with this extraordinary assault on our country. And Americans took that to heart. It burned very deeply. We had 188 families in my home state of Massachusetts that were directly affected by that tragedy.
And the -- the -- the depth of sadness and loss, it was so real and so deep. And Americans took this across the board very deeply. But I think back in other times that this country is challenged, and we were really facing almost annihilation, Cuban Missile Crisis, when we could have had a nuclear war, perhaps World War II, certainly Lincoln at the time where we had the Civil War, Washington at the Revolutionary War. And our great leaders never went to the politics of fear. They had the politics of hope. We are going to do better. We are going to come together. Americans accept a challenge, and we move on from here.
But it has been really the politics of fear that I think really has been dominated the last -- last, four years. And that has been something -- it's Karl Rove's mantra to win elections. That I think eventually catches up.
This administration feels it is above the law. And the American people and our Constitution pay the price. There is no accountability. There is no oversight.
In the United States Senate, when we go back now in the next couple of months -- you know the two Constitutional issues we are going to be facing is a constitutional amendment on -- on same sex marriage and a Constitutional amendment on flag burning in order to whip up the base. Whip up -- the -- their base to try to get them out. Rather than dealing with the kind of challenges that people are concerned about today. And that is the cost of gasoline prices, the explosion in terms of tuition for their kids to go to school, the fact that people are concerned about whether their pensions are going to still be there now.
I mean, the range of different other issues, health care costs.
KING: Will that override the fear issue?
KENNEDY: Well, I believe so. I basically am a politician of hope. And I think people have really had enough of the past.
KING: The title of your book is interesting, "Back On Track." When were we on track? When did it go off track?
KENNEDY: When I sort of entered the political process, helping my brother, seeing him get elected in the '60s, we had a whole sort of new generation that really came back from World War II. And young people had accepted great responsibility. Then they got elected, went into -- into public service.
And we had a vision about the Soviet Union. We are going to have containment of the Soviet Union. We were dealing with the issues of nuclear proliferation abroad. You know what we did here at home? We responded to the leadership of Dr. King and we addressed the issue which we have never been prepared to, which our founding fathers failed on that, which is the issue of race.
We dealt with that in the early 1960s. Republicans and Democrats, the country cam together, knocked down the walls of discrimination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are more than 200,000 thronging the mall, a crowd that is bigger than the most optimistic forecasts. Now there is a growing animation. It seems as if the demonstrators were finding strength in each another. KENNEDY: We did all of this part. This was Democrats, Republicans. It was the vision. We were saying, what do we need to do here? Americans are prepared to respond. I look at where we are at the present time.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder. And all of us must take their declared intentions seriously.
KENNEDY: It is the politics of fear. And that I have seen being infective, because Americans are naturally -- all people are concerned in terms of their security. I mean, they're concerned in security generally, about themselves and particularly about their families. And they're concerned about the security, homeland security.
KING: But is the administration doing a good job in those areas? In other words, if you are playing to fear, are you doing it well in the handling of it?
KENNEDY: Well, this is where I think, as we are seeing, Americans now are, as I think they have been, are -- when given the two kind of options will go for the politics of hope and the possibilities. I think individuals, I believe very deeply, do best individually when they're challenged. Our country has always done best when it's been challenged, coming out of the Depression, Second World War, we always have. Korean War.
Let's go. We'll go to the Moon. We have always done best when challenged, and when we are in this together. I think the country is prepared for that kind of challenge and change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Today in Iraq, we see a threat whose outlines are far more clearly defined, whose consequences could be far more deadly.
Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. And he cannot be trusted. Members of Congress are nearing an historic vote. I am confident they will fully consider the facts and their duties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ted Kennedy was first elected to the Senate in 1962. He cast a lot of votes during his decades of service. But he had no doubt about which mattered most to him.
KENNEDY: The best vote I cast in the United States Senate was -- the best vote -- best vote I cast in the United States Senate.
KING: In your lifetime?
KING: Was not to go.
KENNEDY: Not to go.
The American people deserve off to know what a conflict in Iraq might be like. None of us can foresee the course of events that will unfold if we go to war. Before Congress acts, the administration has an obligation to explain to the Congress and the American people the potential consequences of war. As of now, it has not.
KING: Why did you vote against it?
KENNEDY: Well, I am on the Armed Services Committee. And I was inclined to support the administration when we started the hearings, the Armed Services Committee. And it was enormously interesting to me that the -- those that had been -- that were the -- in the armed forces, that had served in combat, were universally opposed to going.
I mean, we had Wes Clark, testified in opposition to going to war at that time. You had General Zinni (ph). You had General Lahore (ph). You had General Nash. You had the series of different military officials, a number of whom had been involved in the Gulf One War, others involved in Kosovo, and had distinguished records in Vietnam, battle-hardened, combat, military figures. And virtually all of them said no, this is not going to work.
And virtually -- and that really was -- influenced me to the greatest degree.
And the second point that influenced me was the -- in the time that we were having the briefings -- and these were classified. They have been declassified now. But Secretary Rumsfeld came up and said there are weapons of mass destruction north, south, east and west of Baghdad. This was his testimony in the Armed Services Committee.
But I kept saying, well, if they're not finding any of the weapons of mass destruction, where is the imminent threat to the United States security? It didn't make sense.
How do we re-establish the working relationships we need with other countries to win the war on terrorism, and advance the ideals we share? And how can we possibly expect President Bush to do that?
He is the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam. And this country needs a new president.
KING: You said today that Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam and this country needs a new president. Vietnam was started under Democratic administrations. How do you compare the two?
KENNEDY: We are facing a quagmire in Iraq, just as we faced a quagmire in Vietnam. We didn't understand what we were getting ourselves into in Vietnam. We didn't understand what we were doing in -- in Iraq. We had misrepresentations about what we were able to do militarily in Vietnam. I think we are finding that out in Iraq as well.
The most important point is that Iraq has been a distraction from our attack on al Qaeda. I think most people believe now, if we had given the full force and attention that we gave to Iraq, and put that in pursuit of Osama bin Laden, we could have been successful in locating him and could have dealt a fatal blow to al Qaeda.
And now what we are facing is a hydra-headed terrorist group around the world. And it's more complicated, more difficult. And as I said, Iraq has become this administration's Vietnam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: As Democrats, we recognize that each generation of Americans has a rendezvous with a different reality. The answers of one generation become the questions of the next generation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In 1980, Ted Kennedy ran for president. Almost got the party's nomination, barely losing to the incumbent Jimmy Carter. Kennedy's speech at the convention and the reaction on the floor is the stuff that political legends are made of. Ted Kennedy had the gift of public eloquence. When he spoke out in the spotlight of major public events, people listened.
Let's look at some of those moments now, starting with the 1980 Democratic Convention.
KENNEDY: We are the party of the New Freedom, the New Deal, and the New Frontier. We have always been the party of hope. So this year let us offer new hope. New hope to an America uncertain about the present, but unsurpassed in its potential for the future.
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on; the cause endures; the hope still lives; and the dream shall never die.
The vice president says he never saw or can't remember or did not comprehend the intelligence report on General Noriega's involvement in the cocaine cartel. So when that report was being prepared and discussed, I think it's fair to ask, where was George?
I have stood with so many of you in so many great causes. The times have changed, but the ideals are the same.
We have only just begun to fight. We will never give up. We will never give in. And in 1992, we are going to win. Will we comfort the comfortable or will we strengthen the fabric of this country for all Americans? Our capacity to do better has never been greater. Let us not turn back to old policies and old ways that favor the few at the expense of the many.
Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the Moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I have seen it. I have lived it. And we can do it again.
There is a new wave of change all around us. And if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination. Not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation.
And this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So with Barack Obama, and for you, and for me, our country will be committed to his cause.
The work begins anew; the hope rises again; and the dream lives on.
KING: Edward Moore Kennedy was a man of many parts and many passions. His life was shaped by both triumph and tragedy. Born into a family of privilege and power, much of his work in the Senate was directed toward trying to help ordinary people. As "Time Magazine" once put it, he amassed a titanic record of legislation affecting the lives of virtually every man, woman, and child in the country.
That record may be Ted Kennedy's most lasting legacy and one of the truest measures of the man that he was. I'm Larry King. Thanks for watching.
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KENNEDY: In short, I will continue to fight the good fight. I will continue to see issues in the way I have always sought to see them: not as numbers and words, but as individuals and families with worries and dreams.
We must resist disillusionment, the tendency of politics to be cautious and cynical. John Kennedy believed so strongly that one's aim should not just be the most comfortable light possible, but that we should all do something to right the wrongs we see.
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