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American Morning

Senator Edward Kennedy Dies at Age 77

Aired August 26, 2009 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Thanks very much for being with us as we come up to the top of the hour. It's just about 7:00 Eastern Time. Our special coverage this morning on the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy at the age of 77 from brain cancer after 47 years serving in the U.S. Senate.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. This morning, the papers have the headline, "Ted Kennedy 1939 to 2009." Many of them probably had to go into another print because it was in the early, early morning hours that the news of his passing came out. We have reporters spanned out across the nation today, especially in Massachusetts where Kennedy hails from. And a look at Hyannis Port where the Kennedy family compound is and where his loved ones are behind close doors this morning.

ROBERTS: You know, this is a -- this is a shot that we have seen so many times in the past, and it's typically associated with tragedy, the death of John Kennedy Jr. You know, so many other Kennedys and the media flocks to the compound there in Hyannis Port today. The tragedy is that Senator Ted Kennedy has passed away.

CHETRY: That's right. And his family released a statement basically talking about how much they will miss him saying that, you know, "we've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and the joyous light in our lives."

The other people that are mourning him -- his colleagues in the Senate, where he's being described as the liberal lion of the Senate, a place where he spent 47 years making major inroads on some of the legislation that was nearest and dearest to his heart, passing everything from the Voting Rights Act to the Civil Rights Act, to the Americans with disabilities, the Family Medical Leave Act, health insurance as we know something extremely important to him. 1997 was the passage of the children's health insurance program, something that we now know as SCHIP.

There you see his picture, the flag. The beautiful sun in the background, bouncing off the Capitol and the flags that half-staff to remember Senator Edward Kennedy this morning.

ROBERTS: Our John King, the host of our "State of the Union" program on Sunday morning is a native son of Massachusetts, knows Senator Kennedy quite well, knows a lot about his life and what will be his legacy.

John joins us this morning. And John, if we could we ask you where your thoughts are going in the passing of Senator Kennedy this morning?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you just mentioned, John, Kiran, 47 years. Think about that, 47 years. His career spans ten presidencies, beginning with his brother's presidency.

He came to the Senate, replacing his brother Jack when John F. Kennedy became president of the United States. He was there for the Johnson administration, all the way through the Nixon administration and Watergate and General Ford. He challenged Jimmy Carter, the sitting Democratic president in the 1980 Democratic primaries.

Whether it is civil rights, voting rights, abortion rights, gay rights, Vietnam, the fall of the Berlin and the cold war, health care and education -- pick a major issue the country has dealt with in the last half century and Ted Kennedy has been in the thick of it.

Which is why it's such a sad irony he passes at a time when the issue he cared most about, health care reform, is front and center in the United States Congress, front and center in President Obama's agenda, and in trouble.

What the president needs right now more than anything is a gifted legislator to help him out of a mess, a mess mostly right now in his own party. And what he lost today was a gifted legislator who has a history of stepping up at moments like this and finding the way to compromise.

CHETRY: It's interesting, it was just a year ago, August 25 of 2008, shortly after that diagnosis as we know and the treatment he went through for brain cancer that he actually appeared at the DNC strong. He looked happy, strong, and just -- you could see it.

He was thrilled. He stepped out there and endorsed Barack Obama. And all of the buzz that was created from that back in January of that year. And he sort of got to see it through to fruition that the candidate he was behind, a candidate he truly believe in getting the Democratic nomination and possibly becoming one step closer to becoming the first African-American president.

KING: And Kiran, so many said where did he muster the energy to come to the convention and give that speech? How did he muster the energy to come to Washington on inauguration day and stand just behind his friend Barack Obama on the Lincoln bible and took the oath of office.

How did he come still later to that White House health care summit that President Obama had?

If you knew Ted Kennedy and spent time talking to him, he dealt with so much, the deaths of his brothers, more family tragedies. And he was someone who, it sounded perhaps cliched, but he would live to the last day, fight for the last day.

And the tenacity he showed throughout his political career, you knew at moments like that if there was any way he could get there, he would get there, which is why you knew how much in decline he was in recent weeks when the health care debate was collapsing and Washington and the president was having so many trouble that Senator Kennedy could not come back to Washington to help nor deliver any kind of a public statement told you about the decline in his condition that brought us very obviously to the very sad chapter that played out overnight in Hyannis Port.

ROBERTS: I'm sure it was very frustrating for him too, John, because several times in the past year he had been told by his doctors, his wife, we think you're too weak to go. He must have the courage and the strength to get down there. It's tough to tell a dying person you can't do anything.

John King for us this morning. John, thanks so much.

Let' go to Martha's Vineyard. That's where our Dan Lothian, White House correspondent, is. And he's got reaction from the White House. Good morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. We have learned that the president found out about the passing of Senator Kennedy at 2:00 this morning. This is according to Bill Burton, the White House deputy spokesman.

About 25 minutes later, the president then called Mrs. Kennedy. This is obviously a very dark day for President Obama. But we are told he will be stepping before the cameras in the next couple of hours or so to make a public statement.

But earlier this morning, he did release a paper statement, and he said, and I'll read it -- "Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health, and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the presidency.

And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I profited as president from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time."

And the president ended the remarks saying "The Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today, to his wonderful wife Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Tera, his grandchildren, and his extended family."

So this coming from President Obama this morning. And, again, in the next couple of hours, we should be hearing from President Obama in person - John.

CHETRY: Dan Lothian for us. Thank you so much. We'll be checking in with you again. You're following the president. Maybe we'll hear more. We're set to hear from one of his advisors, David Axelrod coming up a little later coming in the next hour.

But now we want to head back to Hyannis Port outside of the compound that we showed you. Our Deb Feyerick drove throughout the night and she is not there this morning.

I can only imagine the morning that's going on behind the closed doors of that compound. At this point all we had is the statement that was released from the family announcing the death of Senator Kennedy in the early hours of the morning, Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kiran. And the death was expected, but still a lot of sadness here. The family releasing a statement at 1:20 this morning saying, "We lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light of our lives. But the inspiration and optimism and perseverance will live in our hearts forever."

At about the same time the statement was released, a van entered the compound. We're told that it may have been either from the medical examiner's office or from the funeral home.

His family was with him. They have been with him for several days. His wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, his three children from the first marriage, Patrick, Edward, and Kara Ann.

Police are guarding the compound. During the week we were told that Senator Kennedy appeared to be in good spirits. He was in and out a little bit. He did not go sailing in the last couple of days. Weather, of course, may have been a big factor in that. He was a very big sailor.

But now with senator gone, the only remaining Kennedy of the nine Kennedy children is Jean Kennedy Smith. His sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, as you know, died just recently.

And just to give you a sense of how important he is not just nationally but here locally, this is what the front page of "The Boston Globe" looks like, a full headline here, full top of the page there announcing he has passed. It was one of the few papers we went to this morning that had released this with such prominence.

So again, a lot of people in this community where the Kennedys are known and known so well because they were the vital part, mourning the loss of a man they consider a neighbor and great politician -- Kiran?

CHETRY: And Deb, it's interesting that you held up that paper, "The Boston Globe." It had a wonderful article this morning, a very thorough one that weaved in not only what he did politically and not only what he did in terms of public policy, but just the individual he was for better or for worse. And some of the more memorable parts of his life, as they point out, even though he knew that he was dying, one of his long-time staffers quoted in the article said he died the way he lived, fully in the moment with incredible courage and knowing exactly what was going on.

And we saw that when he threw out the first pitch of the Red Sox game when he gave the first family, Bo, the Portuguese water dog he loved himself, that even though he was fighting the terminal illness, he was determined to live life.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. I remember I was up here also when it was first announced he did have brain cancer. And one of the first images of him after he left hospital after surgery was of him back on his boat. So there wasn't a sense of vitality, that life has tragedy in it, but life still goes on. And you really got that sense.

And he really was the center of this family. So they're going to come to terms with that loss now. But, again, he gave them a lot to remember and a lot to carry on.

CHETRY: Deb Feyerick for us outside of the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port this morning. We'll be checking in with you throughout the morning. Thank you, Deb.

ROBERTS: Of course, one of the famous moments in Senator Ted Kennedy's life was the Democratic National Convention in New York City n 1980 where he was challenging Jimmy Carter for the nomination of the Democratic Party.

And he gave a speech which to this day remains one of his signatures. We want to play a little bit of that for you, a little moment in history -- August 12, 1980, New York City at the Democratic National Convention.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSSETS: I congratulate President Carter on his victory here.


I am confident that the Democratic Party will reunite on the basis of Democratic principles and that together we will march towards a Democratic victory in 1980.


And someday, long after this convention, long after the signs come down and the crowds stop cheering and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith. May it be said of our party in 1980 that we found our faith again.

And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days -- in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now -- "I am a part of all that I have met. Too much has taken, much abides. That which we are, we are, one equal temper of heroic hearts, strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

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.


ROBERTS: 1980 memories of Senator Ted Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention when he conceded the nomination to President Carter and Carter went on to lose to Ronald Reagan.

Ray Flynn is the former mayor of Boston, also the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. He joins us now. And Ambassador Flynn, what are your thoughts this morning on the passing of Senator Kennedy?

AMBASSADOR RAY FLYNN, FORMER MAYOR, BOSTON: I'm very interested in hearing the various comments from prominent people throughout the United States, throughout the world about Senator Kennedy.

You know, I'm reminded of this famous day back in 1960 when I was listening to the radio just after watching Jack Kennedy at the Boston Garden the night before the election when he became the first Catholic to be elected president of the United States. It was a momentous evening for all of us. We felt overwhelmed.

And people felt that same way now towards Barack Obama and some of the changes that are making in the United States.

So certainly Kennedy has had a remarkable career on the United States Senate. But I guess our thoughts of people like me who grew up in south Boston and saw Kennedy walking the streets and Jack Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy in Charlestown and other neighborhoods of Boston, my thoughts are really about what they achieved, Teddy and Bobby and Jack, what they achieved in politics in breaking down the barrier of discrimination of people because of their religion as Barack Obama did about the barriers against his race.

ROBERTS: So you remember his accomplishments. But what will you remember about him as a person?

FLYNN: I knew him very well. I worked very closely with him when I was mayor of Boston and even when I was United States ambassador. We achieved a remarkable accomplishment in terms of bringing money to Boston for the big dig and the Ted Williams Tunnel and the cleanup of the Boston Harbor.

His effectiveness, I wish that it wasn't so partisan the way it is now, because Teddy could really bring me in to meet Orrin Hatch and Ala Simpson, and Bob Dole and all those people -- don't forget, they were in charge of the Senate at the time, the Republicans were, when Ronald Reagan for the president for such a long period of time.

But at the same time, Teddy could bring me into the White House and into the Senate and introduce me and file legislation to help working class people build a new city hospital in Boston. Teddy could do that. And that's the way it was in the country at that time.

And unfortunately, that's not the way it was now. Politicians really can't get very much done. It's polarized, it's divisive. And I think that's the biggest legacy of Teddy Kennedy. He could cut a deal. And he could make sure that if he didn't get the whole loaf, the people that he represented got a half a loaf anyway.

ROBERTS: Ambassador Flynn, in the year 2000, you famously backed President Bush for president. I'm sure you heard from Senator Kennedy about that. What did he say to you?

FLYNN: I told him I was a Democrat but I was a pro-life Democrat. Senator Kennedy understood that very, very clearly. And that was the relationship we had throughout my political life. And he wasn't going to back down what he believed and I wasn't going to back down on what I believed.

And I guess that's what -- that's what you call a couple of stubborn Irishmen.


ROBERTS: Or a couple of stubborn New Englanders.

Ray Flynn, former mayor of Boston, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Thanks for joining us this morning. We sure do appreciate it.

FLYNN: Sure.

ROBERTS: It's a case in point how he could have the differences Ideologically but still get along with the man, the senator.

ROBERTS: Absolutely. And that's true among so many difference people. One of his closest friends was conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. Could there be two people further apart Ideologically and politically? And they were very good friends.

CHETRY: Exactly.

Well, we are covering so much more when it comes to the life and legacy of Senator Ted Kennedy who lost his battle with brain cancer early this morning. We're going to be joined in a few moments by phone, by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He'll be weighing in.

We also have many of our political reporters who have covered Ted Kennedy for years. Dana Bash, Donna Brazile, John Kind is going to be joining us as well as Paul Begala, James Carville. So lots more ahead. We're going to take a quick break.

But we want to tell you about a quick programming note. Tonight, 7:00 eastern, we'll be airing HBO's acclaimed documentary, "Teddy in his Own Words." It chronicles Senator Kennedy's remarkable life from his childhood to his speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, in fact, just a year ago that was.

It includes also rarely seen archival footage. It's a great documentary. HBO's "Teddy in his Own Words" will be airing, the special tonight, 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.


CHETRY: Welcome to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. It's 20 minutes past the hour this morning.

We're covering the passing of Senator Ed Kennedy. At 77 years old he lost his battle with brain cancer in the early hours last night. We have a live picture right now of the family compound in Hyannis Port where he was when he passed away.

You see the police presence there, as John pointed out, a familiar picture, both in good times and bad for the Kennedy clan. We expect many to be gathered outside there today to pay their respects also at the Kennedy Library in Boston as well.

Here's a look at the capitol in Washington, D.C. where many of his colleagues will be remembering him as the liberal lion of the Senate -- that was his nickname. But it didn't matter what side of the aisle you were on, he was a very popular member of the Senate, able to bring people together for consensus regardless of whether or not they saw eye to eye on some issues and ideologies.

But there you see the flags at half past this morning to remember Senator Ted Kennedy.

ROBERTS: Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant glioma, a form of brain cancer in May of 2008. In early June he underwent surgery at Duke University. They removed as much of the tumor as they possibly could. He underwent chemotherapy after that to reduce the size of the tumor even further.

Throughout the summer, there were rumors and speculation that he might make an appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. I remember being there on the day, and it was August 25, ironically, a year to the day that he passed away.

And there was a big buzz going on in the House that he was -- he was there. He was in the arena. But was he well enough to come out on stage? And when he finally did, the house just erupted.

And any -- any thoughts that people had that he would be too frail to be able to give his typical stem-winder of a speech were put to rest.

And he wrapped up the speech with echoes from the speech that he gave in 1980 in New York in the Democratic National Convention about the dream never dying. Let's rewind that moment in history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KENNEDY: 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.


ROBERTS: Senator Ted Kennedy, August 25, 2008 at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Let's bring in our Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash. And Dana, you remember covering that convention, an extraordinary moment there and one that will obviously live on, and one that many people thought senator ken dip was not going to be able to participate in.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There's no question about that. But the sad reality is that in the months and really in the past year since that moment, we haven't seen a lot of Senator Kennedy.

On the cover, the place where he spent nearly 47 years, of course, the United States Senate. And that has meant, as we've been talking about all morning, that he has been absent from the -- what he called the cause of his life -- and that is health care reform and the debate over it and being the navigator on that.

However, we should remember that there was a moment not too long ago, it was in early March. It was probably just about the last time we heard one of those rousing Kennedy speeches. And it was on the issue of health care.

And it was at the White House. The president was having a health care summit, and Senator Kennedy made one of his last-minute appearances, which he has done because of the touch-and-go situation of his illness.

But I think we should play a sound bite from that speech that he gave trying to rile and rouse the Democrats and members of the health care industry who were there to have a summit on health care. Let's listen.


KENNEDY: I'm looking forward to being a foot soldier on this undertaking. And this time we will not fail.



BASH: And that was after actually Senator Kennedy was knighted in Great Britain, was knighted. The president had a little fun calling him "Sir Kennedy."

It is actually again a sad truth that that was in March -- that was many months ago. And that was the last time we heard Senator Kennedy give that kind of speech which we would have been hearing him give over and over on the Senate floor as this debate raged on here in Washington.

For a while, Senator Kennedy's aides told us that he was heavily engaged just by phone with his staff. But we know that in the past couple of months, that really wasn't the case. He wasn't able to do what he had hoped to do for so many years.

CHETRY: It's interesting. We were talking with John King a little earlier, and he said he believe the a person who perhaps knew the most about where he was viewing this fight going was Senator Dodd, his fellow colleague and a person that had taken over on that committee role.

Are we going to hear from Senator Dodd? As we know, he also wants to see this happen, as to what Edward Kennedy was thinking and whether or not the Senate thought it would move forward despite his absence.

BASH: Senator Chris Dodd has been one of Ted Kennedy's best, best friends for some time. There is lore that in the early years before both of them got remarried that they were also drinking buddies. And so they certainly have a history together.

But Chris Dodd did take over for him. Chris Dodd is now recovering from his own bout of cancer. He had prostate cancer earlier this summer. So that's what he is doing now. We're waiting to hear from him. I'm sure he'll release a statement soon.

But the other thing we've been talking about, Kiran, is the fact that Senator Kennedy, although he has been known as an icon of liberalism and has been for half a century or more, is the fact that he has reached across the aisle.

I have to tell you one moment I remember that caused some peril for the Republicans he's been dealing with. We covered a couple of years ago the raging debate over immigration reform. He was heavily involved in trying to find a compromise on that.

One of the people he was working with, negotiating with, was Republican Senator John McCain. I remember sitting in a press conference. And it was just as the Republican primaries for the 2008 election were heating up.

I remember sitting in the press conference and watching the picture of Ted Kennedy and John McCain. There you can see it, right behind him.

I remember thinking in my head, this is going to be ad after ad after ad of John McCain's Republican competitors running against him saying, aha, you elect John McCain as a Republican nominee and you get a Republican that works for Ted Kennedy, which have been the worst thing in the world with regard to Republican primary voters.

So that gives you a sense of how it helps in terms of legislative accomplishment but did cause some problems for some of the Republicans he worked with.

CHETRY: Absolutely. And I remember that very clearly as well, because I interviewed John McCain right around that time. He remarked to me in the interview, you know, I heard loud and clear from my constituents that perhaps let me work more on the border security before we can look at an overall comprehensive reform for immigration.

And he really was hammered for having his name on that legislation and having it be with the favorite punching bag of the GOP Senator Ted Kennedy.

BASH: But just quickly -- John McCain is one of the first people to tell you and has in recent days that one thing that he really admired about Senator Kennedy is he is one of the -- in his words, one of the few people around the Senate who did keep his word when he made a commitment in back room negotiation on the legislation.

CHETRY: Absolutely. And you know how politics goes. John McCain also hailed as a maverick for being able to work across the aisle with someone who's viewed as very liberal. So it's very interesting how politics works, and you know it firsthand.

Dana Bash this morning for us. We're going to have much more on this. We're going to take a quick break right now.

It's 28 minutes after the hour.


KENNEDY: I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we now not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we, together, will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future.

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!



ROBERTS: Coming up on the half hour now. It's 7:30 Eastern as we continue our ongoing and special coverage of the death of Senator Ted Kennedy who died from brain cancer late last night at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts at the age of 77.

And whether you agree with his politics or not, Senator Kennedy had so much respect on Capitol Hill among his colleagues and among people across the nation as well.

And he did work across party lines many, many times as well to pass important legislation. Let's get a Republican perspective on Senator Kennedy's life now. CNN contributor and "Morning in America" radio show host Bill Bennett joins us on the telephone.

And Bill, if I could ask you, how will you remember Ted Kennedy this morning?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The lion on the left. Really, there's no one like him. If you think about it, there's no one in the Senate now of his force, sheer impact on either side.

And lion is, I think, right. He roared a lot, and when he roared, people listened. He ruled like a king, the king of the jungle. And he devoured a lot too. A powerful, powerful man.

And really no one is his equal. He will be remembered, I think, for obviously 40 years of -- of influence in the Senate. And the fact that, you know, a reckoning came, a guy they always put forward because, you know, I was before him several times in the hearings.


BENNETT: And had fiery exchanges with him. But one tough customer.

ROBERTS: Well, how is it that you know, he was, you know, reviled as a tax and liberal by people on the right and his closest friends was Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah.

BENNETT: Well, they logged a lot of time together. And the word among senators, I've heard this many times, is Ted Kennedy kept his word. That's a big deal in the Senate. You can have huge disagreements but if you keep your word, that's a big deal. You can understand why that matters.

ROBERTS: All right. Bill Bennett for us this morning. Bill, thanks so much. Really appreciate you being with us.

BENNETT: Thank you, John.

CHETRY: All right. And we want to hear from James Carville as well. He joins us this morning on the phone. Always great to get your perspective - oh, in person, sorry about that. You made it there. You made it there quickly. That's good news. Your personal thoughts about Senator Ted Kennedy, what he was like both in his public life, but also as a man.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think as a man - I don't know if anyone had more loyal staff people. All of the people that worked for him stayed in touch with him, were just crazy about him as a human being. I know my friend, Bob Shrum who worked for him - probably still does in some sense, really almost worshipped Senator Kennedy. Anybody in health - you have to talk to my colleague and friend Paul Begala.

He helped Paul when he's the former head of health (INAUDIBLE) and Senator Kennedy was there the whole way trying to get the best treatment. He was sort of a remarkable guy in that sense and people felt very personally attached to him. He was a very engaging, social guy. He was, you know, one bigger than life people. And that's a side of him. Secretary Bennett was talking about his record, which is true. I think he was in the Senate, I think, 1962. I could be wrong. Forty-seven years in the Senate. ROBERTS: Yes, '62.

CARVILLE: Probably more legislative achievements than any postwar United States senator. And was relevant all the way.

ROBERTS: You know, James, we were talking with former Senator Bob Graham in our last hour here on AMERICAN MORNING. And he was saying that the closing of the gap between the perception of the young Ted Kennedy and the legislator he became was really one of the more surprising things about him.

I mean, here's a guy who got kicked out of Harvard in 1950 because he got some guy to go in and take his Spanish test for him and he was seen as not having the political weight, not having the credibility to take after his brothers when, you know, he went to the Senate, as you said, in 1962. And yet he became this amazing legislator. How did that whole transition take place? That whole transformation.

CARVILLE: You know, I guess I was a little young at the time. He just was a very tenacious guy. And he built up respect. You know it didn't matter who was in power. He might have been more powerful during the Bush presidency than he was at any other time, to some extent, the Reagan presidency. I mean, I think the interesting thing about Senator Kennedy was he was relevant, he was in the middle of things, it didn't matter who the president was, which was a real kind of testament to how he was able to - to navigate the - the United States Senate and Congress in Washington.

It's pretty amazing. People who know a lot more about that than I do are going to be talking about that today. And you know, the other thing is he could bounce back from anything. He was just a tough guy.

CHETRY: And we look at the personal tragedies that happened to him throughout his life and how he was able to still find joy in everyday life, which is, you know, politics aside, just a remarkable reflection of how you can live your life.

CARVILLE: Boy, and let me tell you, he was the - the right really hated him. I mean, all you -- you can see all of the birthers and deathers. The intellectual ancestors were the Kennedy haters out there.

CHETRY: And that's what I want to ask you about, you're writing a piece about that, right? About how the tone of the health care debate has taken a turn sometimes down a road where civil debate isn't there in some cases. But you believe that some of it has to do with the hatred of Kennedy?

CARVILLE: Well, look, I remember when his brother was shot. You know, I'm checking myself here. But, you know, in West Point, Mississippi, as I recall, children were not unhappy about that. This stuff has a long history. And you know, as much as anybody since Kennedy has been subjected to this kind of stuff. And it was part of who he was. And he was able to - to lead and become very effective in spite of it. So I have to say where my research takes me. ROBERTS: Hey, James, stay with us. We want to just pause for a second and remember Ted Kennedy in his own words. This is August 25th, 2008. A year to the date that he passed away. This is the Democratic National Convention in Denver. An appearance that many people thought that he wasn't going to be able to make because of his failing health. But he came out there on stage looking very robust, particularly for the fact that he was gravely ill and really gave an incredible speech. Let's listen to some of that.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: My fellow Democrats. My fellow Americans. It is so wonderful to be here. And nothing - nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight. I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America. To restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama as president of the United States.

As I look ahead, I'm strengthened by family and friendship. So many of you have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days. Together we have known success, and seen setbacks, victory and defeat. But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you - I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate as we begin the great recovery.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!

KENNEDY: Thank you. Good. For me, this is a season of hope. New hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many and not just for the few, new hope. And this is the cause of my life. New hope. That we will break the old grid lock and guarantee that every American, north, south, east, west, young, old, will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes we can! And finally, yes, we will! Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race, and gender, and group against group and straight against gay. And Barack Obama will be a commander in chief who understands that young Americans in uniform must never be committed to a mistake but always to a mission worthy of their bravery.

We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor. But when John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn't say - it's too far to get there. We shouldn't even try. Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon.

Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I've seen it. I've 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.


ROBERTS: Senator Ted Kennedy, one year to the day before his death, August 25th, 2008, in the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. He just brought the house down with that speech. So many people thought that he was just not going to be able to make it. He just summed up the strength that he could. He was out there looking vibrant and vigorous and gave what for all intents and purpose for him was one of the greatest speeches of his life.

CHETRY: I mean, looking at him, you would not know that he was going to succumb to deadly cancer. He looked very healthy.

ROBERTS: Yes, you have to remind yourself that he was gravely ill. Yes.

CHETRY: And he teared up. Choked up a little bit. Because of the passion of what he was saying, not because he was ill.

ROBERTS: Quite a moment for American politics, no question.

CHETRY: Well, right now we're joined once again by James Carville. He is weighing in this morning. And the interesting thing - you said it as well - it's - it almost has this feeling as if it's the end of the Kennedy legacy or Kennedy dynasty coming to an end. There are grandchildren, he has children. His wife, some people have talked about, Vicky. Is this the end of the Kennedy political dynasty?

CARVILLE: Well, I might add with a great deal of pride that Miss Vicky is a native Louisianan, another testament to Senator Kennedy's good sense he has to marry one of ours. Look, a lot of talented people in that family. And it's a big family. And people feel like the Kennedys served this country long and with great distinction. I wouldn't be surprised if the Kennedy dynasty or Kennedy tradition goes on in American politics. I wouldn't be surprised at all.

ROBERTS: And James, you know, as we go forward with the health care debates and when Congress comes back in September, how do you think Kennedy's impact on that particular issue is going to be felt in the months to come?

CARVILLE: You know, it's - it's obviously a tragedy for the Kennedy family. It's a real loss for the nation. And I think it's a real loss for the president. I did not have Senator Kennedy's counsel on something like this, the issue he knows so much about. And as Secretary Bennett pointed out, he commands so much respect in the senate. He knows he would be able to know things that other mortals would not know.

So, on a - in a whole variety, I think we should not underplay the adverse effect this has on the president's health care fight. Now there are other de Gaulle thing that's observed, a graveyard full of indispensable men. But to the extent that there's anybody indispensable in a particular fight, I think Senator Kennedy would have been a big, big help to the administration in this fight. Now, I'm sure he gave the president counsel prior to this. He benefited his wisdom. This is a loss for everybody.


CARVILLE: A loss for the country, for the (INAUDIBLE), for this administration. We should acknowledge that.

ROBERTS: James, we always appreciate your insights and your recollections. Thanks for joining us this morning.

CARVILLE: Thank you, John.

CHETRY: Also with us is Gloria Borger. And Gloria, we were talking a little bit more about despite the fact that Senator Kennedy was unabashedly liberal, he also was able to build consensus with people he had very different ideological thoughts with, points of view. Senator Orrin Hatch, case in point, a good friend of his. As we move forward with this healthcare debate, what direction does it take now in your opinion as we've seen at times it gets pretty nasty and personal.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it will continue to - although the Democrats will continue to talk about the legacy of Ted Kennedy and try to pass some version of health care reform that Ted Kennedy would have supported and would have liked. But you know, as I've heard everybody talk this morning, I think the one thing about Ted Kennedy that everybody asks is, after all these years of tragedies in his life, how did this man endure and triumph and become such an important part of American history?

And I remember asking Ted Kennedy about this in an interview. And, you know, how did you live after the deaths of your brothers, the - you know, the -- and he said to me - and I'm going to quote here. 'You know, I try to live with the upside of life. I try to live with the joyous aspects. And I try to muffle the sadness of it."

And I think what you'll find and one of his legacies in the Senate, one of the things you'll find is when you talk to senators about Ted Kennedy, they will say to you that when something was wrong in their lives, Ted Kennedy was the first person to reach out to them. Ted Kennedy's note was the first note they ever receive in the mail. Ted Kennedy was the person who embraced them, even though after John Junior died in that plane crash and people came up to him and wanted to console Ted Kennedy, they found it difficult to console Ted Kennedy because he didn't want to talk about it.

And he said to me, "You know, I don't do as well as others in trying to talk about my inner feelings." So he was kind of a tough person to console. But he became the eulogizer for his family. The memorializer for his family. He became the surrogate father to Caroline Kennedy, giving her away at her wedding. Very, very close to Jackie Kennedy as well. ROBERTS: And we also - we remember when John Kennedy Jr.'s plane went down, how Senator Kennedy was struck by that tragedy because, as you said, it was a surrogate father to Caroline and to some degree to John Junior as well.

BORGER: Absolutely. Absolutely. It was very tough for him. I remember standing with him in his Senate office looking at a picture that John Junior had signed for him after John Junior died. And he could barely speak. And I want to read you guys something. There's a letter that I have that Jackie Kennedy sent to Ted Kennedy as a thank you note after he gave Caroline away at the wedding.

Let me read you part of this letter. And it was "To Ted. On you, the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would beg to be spared. Everyone is going to make it because you are always there with your love. Jackie."

ROBERTS: Wow. That's incredible.

CHETRY: It is incredible to hear that, Gloria. It actually gives you goose bumps to hear that. And that was echoed in the statement from the Kennedy family. When they said this morning, we've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and the joyous light in our life. So you can imagine the type of mourning that's going on in Hyannis port today. As Dana Bash put it, they knew in their head that he was going to go. They knew that he had cancer. But in their hearts, they weren't ready for it.

BORGER: And when you talk to people who were very, very close to Ted Kennedy, the thing they're so grateful for is that he gave them an opportunity to say goodbye to him. And he gave them an opportunity to honor him. There was -there was a joyous event at the Kennedy Center not too long ago in honor of Ted Kennedy. An it was full of show tunes - the things that Ted Kennedy loves to sing.

You know, one thing we haven't talked about this morning is what a joyous man he was. For his birthday recently, his wife Vicki gave him singing lessons because he loved to sing and so there was this event for Ted Kennedy and everyone was singing show tunes and folks from Broadway came to Washington just to honor him. And people were grateful that he let them say goodbye.

ROBERTS: Well, yes, as Kiran was saying and Dana Bash reiterated, you can prepare yourself all you want for the eventuality and you can resign yourself to the fact that it's going to happen but still, when it happens the shock of it is something that's difficult to measure. Gloria Borger in Washington. Gloria, thanks so much for that.


ROBERTS: And stick with us. Because we're now being told that President Obama will address the passing of Senator Kennedy. They did release a paper statement but we expect to hear from the president in person at 8:30 Eastern this morning. That's about 40 minutes from now. CHETRY: All right. And also tonight at 7:00 Eastern time we want to let you know about a special program that's going to be airing. HBO's acclaimed document "Teddy In His Own Words," that chronicles Senator Kennedy's remarkable life, his childhood, through that speech we've just shown you, parts of today at the 2008 Democratic National Convention last year. It is 7:00 tonight right here on CNN. We'll be right back, we have much more. Fifty-one minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: And we continue our coverage this morning, our special coverage of the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. Look at the Capitol Building where the flags are at half staff. We want to bring in Sam Allis. He is a columnist for "The Boston Globe" and also a contributor to the book "The Last Line: The Rise and Fall of Ted Kennedy," covered the Hill for "Time" magazine back in the early 1980s, was at Madison Square Garden when Senator Kennedy gave that famous speech in 1980. And Sam, you've got some recollections of yours and examples of the way that Ted Kennedy reached out and touched the hearts of people. Good morning.

SAM ALLIS, COLUMNIST "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Good morning. I think he will be known most for his generosity of spirit. It manifested itself both in his legislation and certainly in his personal life. I think more than either of his brothers. I remember Carl Wagner, who was one of his political team in the early '80s. His wife had to go in for surgery. There was a growth on her throat and it was very troubling obviously and Wagner saw Kennedy as he was leaving the office and said I'm going to be a while. My wife has to have this surgery.

And Kennedy said OK. Good luck and went about his business. Later that day when Carl Wagner arrived at the Georgetown Hospital, the entire senior staff at the hospital was there from the president, chief of surgery, in the room. There was a spray of flowers that was like a Mafia funeral and a handwritten letter from Senator Kennedy wishing her good luck and saying how we both have to endure Carl. Just a funny, light, perfect note. And Wagner returned the next day to the office and it was as if nothing had happened. There are millions and millions of stories like that. I look at him as an Irish Catholic mensch, that great Yiddish word meaning a real person.


CHETRY: Right.

ALLIS: He had that, I think, as much if not more than anyone else in his family and I think that's how people in Washington and certainly the people in Massachusetts are going to remember him. There was a constancy to him, as well, here. For anybody born in 1962 and beyond, they grew up, married, had kids, got jobs, knowing no one else in the Senate for them but Ted Kennedy.

CHETRY: Right.

ALLIS: I mean, like FDR a little bit only much longer with the duration of his time in the Senate and what that meant to people here in Massachusetts.

CHETRY: And Sam, I want to ask you about that. Because you have this long view, this perspective about Senator Kennedy whose life was also marred with many tragedies, the loss obviously of his three brothers. Also other personal losses, the loss of his nephew John F. Kennedy Jr. in a plane crash but all the way back to the terrible situation that happened in Chappaquiddick Island. Some people say that really is the biggest scar or mark on an otherwise storied career. How did those tragic events sort of shape the person he ended up becoming?

ALLIS: I think well before Chappaquiddick he had to learn to soldier on. He was 12 years old when somebody drove up to the door and told him that his older brother Joe had been killed in World War II. He got just more and more of these things and early in the game he learned simply to go on because there was no other option. He was mourning deeply but he just kept going on.

I know when he returned to the Senate in 1981, having lost the nomination for the presidency, he was getting a divorce. He was alone. He'd lost - his party went out of power. And people I talked to who knew him well like now vice president Joe Biden said he just shouldered on and he did not demonstrate outwardly any of the darkness that he must have felt inside. I think that came very early in his life.

ROBERTS: I think he showed a lot of personal strength. Sam Allis, columnist with "The Boston Globe." Thanks for being with us to share your recollections of Senator Kennedy. We do appreciate it.

We'll go live to Hyannis port coming up right after this. It's now 58 minutes after the hour.