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The Situation Room
McCain Pays Tribute to Kennedy; How Kennedy Connected; 1991 Kidnapping Victim Found
Aired August 27, 2009 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANAYLST: And the thing about Senator Kennedy is that he didn't just have a photo opportunity with people that he helped, he followed up. He continued to call. He continued to write. And, you know, the remarkable thing about Senator Kennedy was this energy that he seemed to have -- this boundless energy -- and this ability to kind of just reach out and -- and stay in touch.
So while we talk about this family as royalty, an American dynasty, Senator Kennedy, in so many ways, was somebody who never lost touch with what he was in the Senate to do.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that goes out, also, to the people who have worked for him. And we just learned, Wolf, that at the -- when the motorcade, after the funeral on Saturday, arrives in Washington on its way to Arlington National Cemetery, it will go by the steps of the U.S. Capitol, the steps of the Senate. And they have invited Senator Kennedy's Senate staff to go and to be standing there and to say good-bye to the senator before the -- the motorcade and procession heads to -- to Arlington National Cemetery. And that is very, very appropriate for the senator.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I just want to recap. It's not just after the top of the hour. The coffin carrying Senator Kennedy's body has now arrived at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The body will lie in repose now for several hours tonight, at least until 11:00 p.m. Eastern. And then tomorrow morning starting, once again, early in the morning, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, until at least 300 p.m. Eastern. And thousands of people will be able to walk in, walk past the coffin -- the casket and say good-bye to Senator Kennedy.
It's interesting, as you look at these vigil participants -- and I've been looking at the list -- they reach throughout the entire life of Senator Kennedy.
For example, George Abrams, who will be a vigil participant from 6:00 to 7:00, was college friend of Senator Kennedy; as was Tim Hagan a college friend, Senator Hagan; several staffers who worked with him over many, many years; Patti Saris, a federal judge in Massachusetts, a former staffer, for example.
He touched a lot of people. He was touched by them. And I'm guessing, Dana -- and maybe, John, you know -- I assume he -- he personally may have selected these vigil participants.
Do you know -- Dana? BASH: John may know for sure. But I can't imagine that he didn't, because he was apparently so involved in -- in the details of this and discussing the details of the planning with his wife.
KING: Yes, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. I was wondering if you knew for sure that the senator personally selected the vigil participants who will be with -- with the casket over the these next several hours, as the body lies in repose?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can't say that he selected each and every one of them, but I was told by a close family friend that everything that happens over the next several days he was deeply involved in the planning. Obviously, in his final weeks, he was in failing health.
Could there be somebody added by Vicki or by someone else in the family?
I believe that's certainly a possibility.
But in terms of how this would play out, how the honor guard would play out, the adding of the four civilians to the constantly -- to the honor guard, he was involved in all of that planning. Wolf, everything, up -- up to where he selected the -- he solicited the church -- at Mission Church, because that's where he prayed almost every day when his daughter was being treated for cancer.
And you're looking now at the people who are very much at the front of the line. You're looking at the crowd here on -- on the grounds of the library. And now you're looking up at the entrance to the library.
And they have me back on camera now.
I am literally -- just to my left are the people who are at the very front of the line. And I'm going to ask Peter to turn camera just a little bit. And it flows back. And they are waiting here.
We were told what would happen inside is once the casket was brought inside -- and it will be a closed casket, Wolf, throughout the proceedings, is that the family would have some private time inside where this has been set up for the viewing. And after they have had some time and some prayers to reflect, then it will be open. It's scheduled to be at 6:00 tonight. We will see if they keep that schedule, because they did arrive here a little bit late.
But a very good-natured crowd, many of them telling stories about why they're here and how many times they voted for Senator Kennedy or what he might have done for them or their family in their lifetime or why they think the country or the state is a better place because of him. Some here just because this is a national event. Some don't have a personal connection to Senator Kennedy and have been happy to tell us that, just saying they thought it was important because such a big event was going on to come and take part.
And I'll say it again just quickly, when the motorcade pulled up -- this has been a crowd that has been talking all day long, very good-naturedly. It's a warm day out here. And the moment they saw the cameras turning and the cars coming, they fell almost into a hush, Wolf.
KING: Part of the tribute itself.
BLITZER: Doug Brinkley is joining us, the presidential historian.
Doug, give our viewers some -- some perspective right now on what we're seeing, because this is an extraordinary moment. He's a United States senator, but he's the last of the Kennedys -- at least that generation of public servants.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, that's right, Wolf. You know, I was just thinking about what we're going to be going through today and tomorrow into Sunday and ended up being buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to his brothers. It does seem like some chapter in American history -- an important chapter -- a chapter of our lives has ended here.
It's appropriate that this is at the Kennedy Library. This became the place in the Boston area where Ted Kennedy put all his time and effort in. It's a -- it's the Boston memorial to not just his brothers, but to the Kennedy administration and friends of the family.
You know, there are two -- two things about these libraries. There's one for every president since Herbert Hoover in the United States. The Kennedy Library, along with the Reagan Library in California, are the two most visited. That's the museum part. But then it's also the archive for, you know, the attorney general's papers or secretary of State's papers. So anybody wanting to do research on health care or the civil rights battles or Cesar Chavez -- even Ernest Hemingway's papers are at the Kennedy Library.
So all the books that are written about the Kennedys, about "Camelot," about policy in America since World War II that somehow affect the Kennedys, you go to this library to do your research. Every book written on the Kennedys has, in the footnotes -- if it's a good book -- shows papers that were used at this depository.
BLITZER: I'm going to ask Doug Brinkley to stand by; John King, Gloria Borger, Dana Bash.
We're going to take a quick break.
We're going to continue to watch what's going on.
Our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM will resume right after this.
BLITZER: The casket carrying the body of Senator Kennedy being removed just moments ago from the hearse taking -- being taken inside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Museum. The body will lie in repose now for several hours tonight, most of the day tomorrow, before the wake tomorrow night at the library, followed Saturday morning by the Catholic mass service before the body comes to Arlington National Cemetery.
You're looking at these live pictures now of the Presidential Library. We're watching all of this unfold. Pretty soon, the thousands of people who have gathered outside the library will start walking inside, walk past the casket and pay their respects to Senator Kennedy, a man so many of them loved for so many years.
Doug Brinkley, the presidential historian, is with us.
Doug, as you look at the history of Senator Kennedy -- and, you know, we can't overemphasize how many obstacles he had to overcome to get to where he eventually wound up.
DOUG BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Oh, absolutely, Wolf. I mean Ted Sorensen has been putting out there the last few days Ted Kennedy as survivor. And he has survived, you know, the deaths of his brothers. You know, he had to put to -- to watch all the tragedies which you recently mentioned and deaths in the family. And he's always been the kind of person that keeps on going.
I think the loss to the Kennedy family is going to be what to do without him. You always could turn to Ted Kennedy for a bit of advice in your personal life or political life -- and not just his family, but a lot of people in Washington.
I -- I think it's very fitting that his staff -- his Senate staff all these years, if you worked with Ted Kennedy or interned with him, you stayed very loyal to him, in most cases. And all of those people are here. It's as if part of their life has suddenly ended.
I spoke earlier today to Senator John Kerry, who's writing his remarks for this weekend -- his eulogy. And he was telling me that the main thing that Ted Kennedy was worried about this past, you know, eight, nine months, is to make sure that Massachusetts continue to be represented, that if he died -- and now we have four months before an election. But there's that period where there is a U.S. senator being seated. And I think next week that's going to be something coming out. That was Ted Kennedy's major wish, that the people of Massachusetts had a senator fighting for them this coming fall in the way that he always fought for his constituents.
BLITZER: Yes. That's not going to be easy, though.
BLITZER: They've got to pass legislation that will enable the governor, Deval Patrick, to name someone as an interim senator before the election takes place to name a permanent replacement within five months -- five months or so from now.
John King is over there at the Presidential Library -- is there a new patriarch of the Kennedy family, John, someone who emerges as -- as the leader of that family?
KING: Wolf, it is a question that so many have asked. And I've asked so many I've known over the years here in Massachusetts politics.
The remarkable thing is that Vicki Kennedy right now is, in many ways, the leader of the family that her husband, Ted Kennedy, led for so long.
And the question is, what happens next?
And just as one example of the generational change here, we were told today by sources very close to the family that Senator Kennedy, in his final year, had worked on a plan with his wife and with his sister Jean and other younger members of the family to perhaps form a non-profit and turn the Hyannis Port compound -- the place we have watched the Kennedys grow up, the place we have all those pictures of Bobby and Jack and Ted as young, vibrant men playing football together -- to turn that into a museum and an educational center, to turn it over.
That has been the place where the family has gathered for more than a half century now. And the fact that, with his passing, there are plans to somehow remake that into a museum celebrating the history of the Kennedy family and an educational center of sorts tells you about the significance of the passing here, because that was his place by the water. His 50 foot schooner, the Mya, anchored there. And he loved to be by the water and spent most of his last year, as he was ill, by that water.
So who will lead the family?
Bobby Kennedy's son, Joe, lives here. He was the former Congressman, of course. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the senator's son, represents Rhode Island.
But is there somebody who has the big stature that Senator Kennedy has had for so long?
No, there is not, in part, because he had it. He was -- he was the grandfather. He was the uncle. He was Teddy to the family. He was the glue that held them together through so much.
And as the country goes through a political change, as the State of Massachusetts goes through a political change, this remarkable and historic family is going through a big change, as well.
And one other quick point, Wolf. The crowd that was gathered here and held on my side of the road, the first several hundred people have been let across the road now to line up closer to the entrance of the library. They're starting to rope around a little bit. It is a sign we are getting closer to the public being allowed in. That is supposed to happen at the top of the hour.
They did arrive here a bit late, but we've received no official indication as yet, as we look again at the pictures from earlier, of the hearse arriving and Senator Kennedy's casket -- the flag-draped casket being taken out. They're now moving some people just to my left who were held up on this side of the road. They're now being allowed to move. Again, the line snakes around. There are thousands here. But a sign that they are making some progress.
But for now, the family is still inside for a short period of private reflection -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, which is totally appropriate.
Gloria -- Gloria Borger is here with us, as well. A lot of Kennedy lovers would love a Kennedy to -- to be in the United States Senate.
Is there a Kennedy, potentially, out there, including the widow of Senator Kennedy, who might decide, you know what, that would not necessarily be all that bad?
BORGER: She has said no, but we can't rule anything out at this point. We -- we just don't have any -- we really don't have any idea.
I mean one thing -- I just want to follow-on what John was saying, is I don't think you can overstate in any way the importance of Senator Ted Kennedy to this entire family we're watching right now.
I once spoke with Caroline about it, asked her about it. She said, you know, we call him the Pied Piper. We call him Uncle Teddy, but he's the Pied Piper. And she spoke about the summer that her brother's plane went down. And she said he was everywhere and he took care of everything. And she said nobody could have gotten through it without him.
And I'm looking at what we're watching right now and I'm thinking he's done the same thing for his family, because he's taken care of the plans for his own funeral, with his wife, to make it easier, once again, on his own family. And they have come to depend on him in so many ways. They all call him Uncle Teddy. She told me her daughter Rose, on her bed, has a Teddy bear that she's always called Uncle Teddy because she loved to hug it.
BORGER: So, you know, it -- it's -- he's been that kind of a force in their lives.
BASH: It also makes you wonder what's going to happen to the grandchildren and great grandchildren, because with any family, you -- you know, the oldest person, you sort of come and you gather around the oldest person. And that was Ted Kennedy. So it makes you wonder what will happen without him, whether or not the family will be as close, frankly, as they are now, particularly, A, because he's gone; but, B, if they do, in fact, do what John is -- is hearing, if they turn Hyannis into a museum, they're not going to have that place to go to gather. It's just not going to be the same.
BLITZER: And as we await, the body will lie in repose inside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We have, by the way, live cameras inside and you will see that scene, as thousands of people in the Boston area, they gather and they walk inside to pay their respects. We're going to show you those pictures. That's coming up. The doors are about to open.
We'll also show you some different sides of Senator Ted Kennedy.
Senator John McCain pays tribute to Kennedy's bipartisanship, talking about the friendship they forged across the aisle at the Senate and what Senator Kennedy once did for Senator McCain's son's birthday.
But Ted Kennedy could also be a fiercely partisan lawmaker. We're going to hear what he had to say about Ronald Reagan back at the 1980 Democratic Convention.
BLITZER: You saw it here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the casket being taken from the hearse and being moved inside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The body will now lie in repose throughout much of this evening and then tomorrow much of the day before the wake.
The Celebration of Life Service tomorrow night at the Library, followed Saturday morning by the mass at a nearby church. The body will then be flown to Arlington National Cemetery, where Senator Kennedy will be buried.
He may be gone, but his work certainly lives on in the lives he impacted.
CNN's Mary Snow is joining us now.
She's at the Presidential Library in Boston -- he really had an ability, Mary, to reach out and impact and affect a lot of people.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He really did, Wolf. And we talked to people who consider themselves the little guy. And they say whether it was Ted Kennedy's fight on immigration reform or civil rights, they say they felt a direct impact.
PETER DAMON, IRAQI WAR VETERAN: On one of the last letters I got from him, it says...
SNOW: (voice-over): Thirty-seven-year-old Peter Damon says if you want to get a picture of how far Senator Ted Kennedy's reach was, just look at him.
DAMON: Senator Kennedy and I are from two totally different worlds. I'm a -- a working class guy from a small city south of Boston -- Brockton, Massachusetts. I grew up in a, you know, lower middle class family.
SNOW: Damon was also an Army helicopter mechanic who lost both arms in Iraq. He met Senator Kennedy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2003. And he says following the meeting, the senator regularly checked in with him and included him on veterans' issues.
DAMON: Well, he made you feel very special. He made you feel like, you know, he was there for you and he was -- he would give you his undivided attention.
SNOW: For 22-year-old Mario Rodas, the possibility of deportation put him in the path of Senator Kennedy.
MARIO RODAS, HELPED BY KENNEDY: I don't know if I would be here right now if it wasn't for Senator Kennedy.
SNOW: Rodas is from Guatemala and was slated to be deported at the age of 19. He's now here legally and dedicated to fighting for immigration reform.
RODAS: He was my voice with immigration, helping them convince me -- to convince them to -- that I -- that I should stay here.
SNOW: From national issues to local ones, such as in Boston's Mission Hill, people in Massachusetts say they feel personally connected to the senator. Rose Braybuy says she's particularly grateful for his fight for civil rights.
ROSE BRAYBUY, RESIDENT: As an African-American woman, oh, yes. I can only honor this man. He -- he didn't back up. He wasn't scared to confront the powers that be.
SNOW: Rose is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, the church where Senator Kennedy's funeral will be held. She and others in this poor, working class, immigrant neighborhood say it's fitting his funeral will be held here.
JOAN SHIVERS, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: It is a mixed neighborhood and -- and that's the type of person he was. He interacted with everyone.
SNOW: And, Wolf, some of the people we spoke to in Mission Hill say they are looking to a younger generation of Kennedys now to pick up where the senator left off -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary Snow, thank you.
This morning, we saw the whole Kennedy family gathered at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
Brian Todd is here now -- Brian, what are you hearing about the future of this Kennedy compound? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're learning that the public could, in the future, get more access to the Kennedy compound. We're told Senator Kennedy had been discussing that in his later years as means of preserving this property's venerated history.
TODD: (voice-over): The Kennedy family's grief, so often shared with the public, so often at this place.
With Ted Kennedy's death, what does the future hold for the cherished Hyannis Port compound?
A close Kennedy family associate tells CNN the property could be given to a non-profit organization, possibly to be made into a museum or another type of educational center. The associate says plans are not yet final, but that the senator for some time had talked to family members and close friends about how to preserve the compound and its history.
Author and historian Robert Dallek says it reflects...
ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The extent to which the Kennedys are so mindful of the country's history and how much their family history is bound up with the public life of the nation, that they're intertwined.
TODD: It was Hyannis Port where the family gathered in November 1960 to hear the final results of John Kennedy's election victory over Richard Nixon; where they came to absorb the heart-wrenching aftershocks of John's and, later, Bobby's assassinations; where Ted Kennedy himself retreated in 1969 to reassess his life and career following Chappaquiddick. But it was also a place of genuine contentment.
University of Virginia Professor James Young spent nearly 100 hours interviewing Ted Kennedy for an oral history project. Much of it was done at Hyannis Port, where the senator shared simpler, happier moments.
JAMES YOUNG, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: He would mention, you know, this is where I tried to jump from the roof of the garage, being a parachutist, with an umbrella. And this is where my brother, Jack did such and such, fell on his bicycle. This is where we used to play games.
TODD: The house is also a symbol of the family's wealth. Senate disclosure records indicate Kennedy family trusts are worth at least $14 million. And its power, something Dallek says could still be worth holding onto for some members of the family.
DALLEK: And It could be useful if to any younger Kennedy who aspires to public office to maintain that kind of image.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: But Dallek says he's not quite sure if the younger Kennedys have quite the same connection to the place -- the sense of growing up there, of being part of that landscape, as the Ted's generation did. So the idea of a museum there could be very appealing to that generation, as well. They might not have the personal connection that Senator Kennedy and his brothers and sisters had.
BLITZER: I've been up to Hyannis Port. The public can get a little bit closer to that compound than might seem to be the case.
TODD: Absolutely. You've seen it there. It is not this walled off, isolated fortress that many seem to believe. And David Gergen also alluded to this. Doug Brinkley has alluded to this on our air. There are houses close by -- neighborhood houses very close, separated by not much more than bushes; people constantly strolling by. And, of course, it's still a functioning residence. Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel, lives there for at least part of the year.
BLITZER: Yes. It's an amazing place, I must say.
All right. Thanks very much, Brian.
Now, the hallmark of Ted Kennedy's Senate work was bipartisanship. And we're seeing it now in the tributes pouring in from across the aisle.
I spoke earlier with Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who will deliver one of the eulogies in honor of his friend tomorrow night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The 1980 Republican Convention was awash with crocodile tears for our economic distress. But it is by their long record and not their recent words that you shall know them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That was the wrong tape.
We're going to go to Senator McCain -- the interview I conducted with Senator McCain.
Let's see if we can get that ready right now.
BLITZER: Senator McCain, if you're there, I know this is a sad day for you and so many other colleagues that you have. But it wasn't just liberal Democrats who loved Senator Kennedy. It was a lot of conservative Republicans.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There was, because Ted Kennedy had this unique way of doing hand to hand combat on the floor of the Senate. And as soon as we stopped our speech making, he'd come over and put his arm around you and -- and make everybody appreciate that we had our differences politically, but personally, we could be friends and work together as colleagues and friends for the good of the country.
BLITZER: How much will he be missed in the Senate?
MCCAIN: He's already missed, Wolf. I think we may have made progress on this health care issue if he had been there. He had this unique capability to sit people down at a table together. And I've been there on numerous occasions and -- and really negotiate, which means concessions.
And so he will -- not only will be missed, but he has been missed.
BLITZER: He worked with you closely on immigration reform, on education, a whole bunch of other issues. He had that unique ability to -- to get people of different political persuasions on the same page.
MCCAIN: Well, he did. Let me just give you a small example. He had his hideaway in the Capitol, you know. And it was pretty nice. He was one of the most senior members, you know. And you walked into his hideaway and there was pictures of Jack Kennedy, of Bobby, of his childhood, of his family. And he'd kind of take you on a little tour of, you know, his brothers and tell stories and anecdotes, put you at ease.
And -- and whenever there was an event or anything like that, he had a remarkable way of sending out a little note or calling your family or something like that.
If I can -- I don't want to -- I know your time is limited, but when Russ Feingold and I were awarded the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award, it happened to coincide with my son Jimmy's tenth birthday. I didn't want to get there until the very end. He said, look, please come earlier because it's important. Long story short, I came with my son, Jimmy. They had a coast guard cutter there and gave us cruise around Boston Harbor, birthday cake, all kinds of presents, sang at him a bunch of times. It was probably the best birthday Jimmy McCain ever had. That's Ted Kennedy.
BLITZER: He was a unique presence for 40-plus years in the United States Senate. Now there is no Kennedy in the United States Senate. Do you believe in your gut, and you alluded to this, Senator McCain, that if he had been healthy over the past several months some sort of compromise on health care reform could have emerged?
MCCAIN: I think we would have made great progress. I'm not positive that we -- obviously of the outcome but I know that there would have been serious negotiations. And so far, there really has not been serious negotiations with all due respect. And that would have happened, and so, therefore, I think we certainly had a far better chance of an outcome.
BLITZER: Because everyone says that Senator Kennedy, even though he was very liberal when it came to making deals, he could bridge that gap and he was a man of his word and that you and Senator Orrin Hatch and a lot of other conservative Republicans trusted him. Is that right?
MCCAIN: That is absolutely correct. Probably the most overrated thing in the United States Senate is that people keep their word. Ted Kennedy always kept his word. He would keep his word where he would vote against his positions in order to preserve a carefully crafted compromise.
BLITZER: People are watching here in the United States, indeed, all over the world, senator McCain. Give me a final thought. Maybe something you would want to address directly to the Kennedy family.
MCCAIN: Well, there is -- there's one thing that I think that has epitomized the Kennedy family, and that is service to country. And a country above one's own self-interest. Ted Kennedy, I think, epitomized that service to the country. He had a very heavy burden of incredible tradition to carry on. He shouldered it. He became an institution within an institution. And all of us will not only miss him but perhaps maybe try to carry on his legacy reaching across the aisle and getting things done for the American people. We need this now more than ever before.
BLITZER: Senator McCain, good luck. Thanks very much for joining us.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Senator McCain will deliver eulogy tomorrow night at the memorial service, the wake, what they're calling the celebration of life at the presidential library, the JFK presidential library, in Boston. However, make no mistake about it, Senator Kennedy could also be a fierce partisan coming up, we'll have his fiery speech over at the 1980 Democratic convention blasting Ronald Reagan.
BLITZER: Live pictures of the John F. Kennedy presidential library. Momentarily the crowd will start filtering inside to pay their respects to Senator Kennedy as his body lies in repose tonight and tomorrow before the memorial service tomorrow night at the library itself. We're going to watch those doors open momentarily, and we'll show you live as people go inside to pay their respects. There's no doubt that Senator Kennedy had an ability to reach across party aisles. You just heard my interview with senator McCain who will be delivering one of those eulogies in honor of his friend tomorrow night. But make no mistake about it, Senator Kennedy was also a fiercely loyal Democrat and more than willing when he felt the time was right to unleash on the Republicans. Listen to him back at the 1980 Democratic convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: The 1980 Republican convention was awash with crocodile tears for our economic distress, but it is by their long record and not their recent words that you shall know them. The same Republicans who are talking about the crisis of unemployment have nominated a man, who once said, and I quote, unemployment insurance is a prepaid vacation plan for free loaders, and that nominee is no friend of labor. The same Republicans who are talking about the problems of the inner cities have nominated a man who said, and I quote, I have included in my morning and evening prayers every day the prayer that the federal government not bail out new York and that nominee is no friend of this city and our great urban centers across the nation. The same Republicans who are talking about security for the elderly have nominated a man who said just four years ago that participation in social security should be made voluntary. And that nominee is no friend of the senior citizens of this nation. The same Republicans who are talking about preserving the environment have nominated a man who last year made the preposterous statement, and I quote, 80 percent of our air pollution comes from plants and trees. And that nominee, whose name is Ronald Reagan, has no right to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The great adventures which our opponents offer is a voyage into the past. Progress is our heritage, not theirs. What is right for us as Democrats is also the right way for Democrats to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There you saw a fiercely partisan Senator Kennedy speaking at the Democratic convention in 1908. Let's talk about this with our CNN political contributors, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.
Hilary, let's just get the context. He had challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination. He lost. He was speaking at that convention not saying such glorious things about Jimmy Carter but handling the Republican presidential nominee, Ronald Reagan, who was challenging Jimmy Carter.
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He knew at that point he had lost the nomination and he foresaw a really conservative Ronald Reagan who, by the way, ultimately did decimate health care programs for the poor, did decimate nutrition programs for the poor, housing for the poor, so he foresaw all that and was trying to energize the Democrats to say we might not what we got but we have to beat Ronald Reagan. That is Ted Kennedy in essence. All about the cause.
BLITZER: As you remember, Ronald Reagan wound up beating Jimmy Carter in that 1980 election.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The way I recall history, he turned out to be a great president who produced the greatest period of economic history, brought down the soviet union, Ronald Reagan was right, Ted Kennedy was wrong --
ROSEN: Not on that issue.
CASTELLANOS: Partisanship gets a bad name in America. Thank god we have a country where we have ideas fighting about, liberal or conservative, Ted Kennedy did that, he was a happy warrior, as all the Kennedys are. And when you're fighting for something with an optimistic end, people I think want to see you do that, to try to take the country -- at times he went too far. I think the Bork nomination where he said this man wanted a segregated America, at times he went too far. That happens on both sides.
BLITZER: I wanted to play that clip because so much of the talk had been how he tried to reach across the aisle. And he did. He forged legislative partnerships with a whole bunch of Republicans including very conservative Republicans. But he was fiercely partisan and could be pretty tough as we just saw.
ROSEN: He was. But those things are inextricably connected when you're an effective legislator. One of the reasons why he was able to cut deals, as it were, and get his party to go along with it, my party to go along with it, was because we knew that he in his heart was a purist. But as a legislator he was an incrementalist. And it gave him the credibility to reach across the aisle and find the essence of some of the most important things you could accomplish and get it done and live to fight another day.
BLITZER: Because when he worked with Republicans, Alex, he did manage to get major legislative accomplishments. Let's take a look at his life's work in the Senate. What lessons should the current senators be learning from Ted Kennedy.
CASTELLANOS: I think you can learn from Ted Kennedy several things. One is that his passion for public service is something that everyone should admire. Certainly, the cost this entire family has paid for public service is something that all American should treasure. And Ted Kennedy's passion for the disadvantaged and dispossessed is something remarkable and admiral. What I think you should not learn is I think the ideology, the left of center, so far left from the mainstream that he never did, in fact, become president himself. I do think the last Kennedy is not Ted Kennedy but it's Barack Obama. He wouldn't be president today without Senator Kennedy's endorsement, and he is taking the country left of where I think a Ted Kennedy would be very happy with, but that is causing trouble within the Democratic party and splitting them. And I think we'll see how popular that is in the 2010 elections.
BLITZER: Is he the heir apparent, Barack Obama, to Senator Ted Kennedy?
ROSEN: He's clearly the most prominent member of the Democratic Party now and it is left to him to essentially decide where to draw that line between purity and execution.
BLITZER: We're going to leave it right there.
I was talking earlier with some friends, and I asked who might emerge as the new Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate. A lot of people think it might be someone else who sought the presidency, lost and decided, you know what, my life's work will now be a senator and that is Senator McCain, who has been a very good friend to Senator Kennedy. We'll see if that becomes the passion that became the passion of Senator Kennedy after he lost to Jimmy Carter in that Democratic presidential nomination back in 1980.
I want to go back to John King outside the presidential library up in Boston. John, I take it you're getting some new information on the memorial service.
KING: Most of the family is still inside the presidential library. A family spokesman came out to give us some of the speakers. He did not say this is a complete list, but some of the speakers Friday night in what they are calling the celebration of Senator Kennedy's life. Very much an Irish catholic wake, if you will.
Paul Kirk, his longtime friend, former Democratic National Committee chairman, a man who many might know involved in the presidential debate commission. He'll serve essentially as master of ceremonies and also speak of his memories of his good friend, a man he served as an aide to Senator Kennedy and then of course went on to be a very close friend of Senator Kennedy. Also speaking already Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John Kennedy. She'll speak at tomorrow night's service. Joe Kennedy, the former Congressman, the son of former Senator Bobby Kennedy. His Republican friend, John McCain. Combatants on some issues, partners on others issues. Senator John Kerry who is the Democratic nominee for president and Senator Kennedy's junior colleague for so many years. He will speak tomorrow night. As will Joe Biden. Those are among the speakers. Noteworthy, we are told that might not be a final list, but noteworthy none of Senator Kennedy's children or his widow are on this list, at least the public list we have so far, Wolf.
And one more quick point. On Saturday's funeral mass, we are told that four members of the United States Senate so far have committed to coming. They will be led, of course, by the majority leader, Harry Reid. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will lead a sizable house delegation, we are told. Former Senator Howard Baker and his wife, Nancy, both Republicans who served in the Senate with Ted Kennedy, will be here for the funeral. Birch Bayh, who pulled Senator Kennedy from a plane crash that Senator Kennedy believed he would have died in without that assistance more than four decades ago, Birch Bayh will be here as well. Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the united kingdom, prime minister of Ireland, and all four living former four presidents of the United States have committed to attend the funeral on Saturday.
BLITZER: At the Catholic Church, at the mass service, right, John?
KENNEDY: That's right, at the Catholic Church. It's called the Mission Church, the basilica of our lady. The Mission Hill neighborhood. They call it the Mission Church. Senator Kennedy handpicked that church of the many catholic churches here in his beloved state of Massachusetts because he would go there almost daily to pray when his daughter was battling cancer years ago. He'll say his final farewell before he goes to his final resting place near you jute side the nation's capital at Arlington National Cemetery.
BLITZER: That funeral mass 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning to 12:30 p.m. we'll have live coverage of all these memorial services. We're going to continue our coverage of what's going on right now at the presidential library.
Some other news we're following, as well, on this day including an extraordinary story about a girl who vanished back in 1991 when she was just 11 years old. There was a massive search for years for her, and now she's a grown woman. After 18 years, a kidnap victim resurfaces and walks into a police station. The details are just now emerging.
BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A suicide bomber killed about 2 dozen people at a Pakistani border crossing to carry supplies to NATO troops. Survivors say the bomber between the age of 15 and 20 was delivering water just when he detonated explosives strapped to his body. Some worry the Pakistani Taliban is carrying out the threats to avenge the death of their leader.
The stepfather of a girl who has been missing from the bay area since 1991 says it's not winning the lotto now that his daughter has actually been found. Jaycee Dugard was 11 years old when she was abducted. They say Philip Garato confessed. We are standing by from a press conference and will have much more information on this story coming up at the top of the hour.
It's been said that no one is immune from identity thieves. That's the case for Ben Bernanke and his wife were victims of a wide scheme of banking fraud. A thief stole Mrs. Bernanke's purse at a Washington, D.C. Starbucks last summer. 22 people were indicted in the crime ring.
Here is something that Bernanke can celebrate. The Dow closed up for an eighth straight day setting the longest winning streak since April of last year, better than expected economic news drove the rally after critical loss of an energy and utility stocks. Today, the market turned around with sharp gains in financial and industrial stocks -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Fred, for that. When we come back, we're going to go back to Boston. The presidential library. The doors are about to open there where Senator Ted Kennedy's body lies in repose. We will go there. You are watching THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The doors are about to open at the John F. Kennedy presidential library. I want to go to Jack with "The Cafferty File."
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is can Senator Kennedy's death revive the spirit of bipartisanship when it comes to the subject of health care reform?
Mack writes from Michigan: "No, it won't. The right wing talking radio head hate dispensers have long disparaged Senator Kennedy as an evil leader of the socialist agenda. They are claiming his death is a marketing cool for Obama care. The feeble-minded followers will continue to eat up the lies like candy. Bipartisanship will continue to be a concept."
Alan writes: "It is a very nice thought. I wouldn't bet a nickel on it happening. The Republicans don't play well with others. They have gotten their base so excited about the hate speech. A compromise would cause a complete revolt within the party."
C.J. writes from Virginia: "Even with Kennedy gone, with are is the money from this going to come from? Nothing has changed. The country is going brought. Gridlock is the best thing."
Larry in Connecticut says: "I am fighting lung cancer. My insurance company wants to cancel my policy due to a pre-existing condition. I have lost the one person who could possibly stop this from happening. The rest of the Washington folks really don't give a damn."
Wilhelm writes: "You will never get bipartisanship from the Republicans. The only thing President Obama can hope is that Senator Kennedy's passing women shame the so-called blue dog Democrats in the Senate into doing what's right for the American people for once."
Jerry in Colorado: "Sadly, I don't think so. With Kennedy's passing, we have last the only person in Congress who really cared about the people. I don't think there are any lions left, just some sheep and chickens."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog at CNN.com/Caffertyfile, look for yours there among hundreds of others.
BLITZER: Happening now, the breaking news we are following. A chance for Americans to pay their respect to a political legend. Senator Edward Kennedy's motorcade has arrived in Boston. It did so a little while ago. We are standing by for the public viewing, the family vigil. There are huge lines. The doors are about to open. The Kennedy family is being tested again this. Hour, their grief and their strength. How will this carry out the legacy of a man who held them together for so long. This is a place to see and hear all the moving moments of this day. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The JFK library in Boston, the people are lining up in huge numbers right now. They want to pay their respects to Senator Edward Kennedy. We want to keep you up to the moment on all the breaking news that we're following.