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Rep. Patrick Kennedy Pulls a Lyndon

In other shocking political news today, Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy announced that he will not seek re-election, leaving the U.S. Congress without a Kennedy for the first time since 1947.

Wow. Now that’s what I call “pulling a Lyndon,” allright.

“I shall not seek, nor will I accept…oh to hell with it, I quit, ok?”

After Scott Brown’s stunning victory in the Massachusetts special election for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, is the tide turning in American politics? For better or for worse? Your thoughts?

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RFK Honored at Democratic Convention

ROBERT F. KENNEDY MEMORIAL 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN DENVER

* Those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to make it to Denver for the DNC, here’s what you missed Wednesday. The Kennedy family, friends, and longtime supporters gathered at the Brown Palace Hotel to remember RFK and celebrate his legacy.

We bring you coverage of this star-studded event from local and national sources below. According to all accounts we’ve heard so far, RFK Jr. was the star of the show!

The New York Daily News certainly thought so…check out this glowing review:

Bobby Kennedy Jr. politely dodged questions about his political future now that Hillary Clinton won’t be vacating her U.S. Senate seat. But he gave such a rousing speech at a Denver benefit for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial on Wednesday that admirers urged him to run for something soon.

Building on the emotional appearance of Uncle Ted at the Democratic convention two days earlier, Kennedy departed from his usual environmental concerns to connect his father’s mission with the state of America today.

“When I was 13, I went on a trip to Europe with my father and mother,” he recalled. “We went to Czechoslovakia and Poland and Germany. We were greeted by hundreds of thousands of people, who came to hear an American politician. It wasn’t because [President Kennedy] had been martyred three years before. Even when Eisenhower went to Kabul and Tehran, he was met by thousands of Muslims who carried American flags.

“It took 230 years of discipline and restrained leadership by Republican and Democratic Presidents to build up a reservoir of love for the U.S. In the last seven years, through incompetence, we have drained those reservoirs dry.”

Kennedy went on to indict the Bush administration for “torture, suspending habeas corpus and eavesdropping on hundreds of thousands of people.”

Naturally, the call to arms was cheered by the Democratic crowd, who included New York Gov. David Patterson, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Rev. Al Sharpton, Fran Drescher, Aisha Taylor, Gloria Rubin and Giancarlo Esposito.

Though Ted Kennedy was back in Massachusetts continuing his cancer treatment, 80-year-old Ethel Kennedy came with a flock of children and grandchildren. Her daughter Kerry, who’s been at the front of the RFK Memorial’s human rights crusade, told us she’s thought about running, “but I’m divorced with three kids. Right now, I want to be a mother.”

What about rumors that her increasingly visible cousin, Caroline Kennedy, might run for office?

“I don’t know,” said Kerry, “but she’d be so great. She really has the capacity to bring people together.” Bobby agreed: “We’d all be delighted to see her [run].”

Meanwhile, Gov. Patterson confirmed that the Triborough Bridge would be officially renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge on Nov. 19.

* Here’s what the local Denver CBS affiliate had to say of the RFK Memorial event:

A special tribute to Senator Robert F Kennedy in Denver

A special tribute to Senator Robert F Kennedy in Denver

DENVER (CBS4) ― The Democrats are celebrating their historic nomination this week as Barack Obama becomes the first African American candidate from a major party to run for president. But the party is also celebrating its heritage and the Kennedy family has been the focus of several events.

Many of the Kennedys joined other dignitaries to honor the legacy of another member of the family, Robert F. Kennedy, on Wednesday.

There were Kennedys everywhere: Ethel, Patrick, Robert Jr., Kathleen and Max were all at the event. Also on hand were the Clintons, Gov. Paterson of New York and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

“The life he lived was based on hope and bringing the people together,” Max said. “If you look just at that one photograph of my dad with Cesar Chavez breaking bread together … I think that encapsulates the idea of the United States coming together for the first time.”

“He was also one that stepped outside the establishment,” Rev. Al Sharpton said. “To oppose the war in Vietnam he showed courage, he showed vision and ultimately it cost him his life.”

The event was held by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, an organization that focuses on human rights and social justice.

VIDEO of the event is available on the CBS4Denver website…the link probably won’t be active for long, so check it out while you can!

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Teddy’s Return to the Senate Elicits Cheers and Tears

Teddy\'s Back!

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., followed by Caroline Kennedy, enters the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

KENNEDY RETURNS TO THE SENATE; GETS STANDING OVATION

Senator Edward Kennedy got a standing ovation from his colleagues as he returned to the US Senate Wednesday for the first time since being diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Democratic icon showed up for a vote on the Medicare state health program for seniors during a break from radiation and chemotherapy treatment, after undergoing surgery on a brain tumor last month.

He walked slowly from a car into the US Capitol building, then was greeted with a standing ovation from Republican and Democratic senators standing in the well of the Senate as he cast his vote.

“Aye,” the 76-year-old Kennedy said in a loud voice, smiling broadly and making a thumbs-up gesture as he registered his vote.

Spectators in the galleries that overhang the chamber burst into cheers — a violation of decorum that drew no complaints.

Kennedy made his way into the Senate on his own power, appearing little the worse for his illness. A patch of scalp was clearly visible through his familiar white hair, although it was not clear whether that was a result of surgery he underwent or the effects of chemotherapy or radiation that are part of his treatment.

He walked into chamber accompanied by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, his party’s presidential nominee-in-waiting, as well as fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Kennedy’s son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.

KEEPING A PROMISE

“I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens and that’s to protect Medicare,” Kennedy, the patriach of the Kennedy political dynasty, said in a written statement.

“Win, lose or draw, I wanted to be here. I wasn’t going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference.”

Seated in the Senate gallery were Kennedy’s wife, Vicki, and Caroline, his niece. As the tourists and senators alike rose in a standing ovation, Vicki Kennedy wiped away tears.

So did many of Kennedy’s colleagues and several Senate clerks.

Kennedy’s dramatic return gave Democrats the impetus they needed to free Medicare legislation from gridlock. It had received 59 votes on an earlier test, one short of the 60 needed to advance. Kennedy made 60, and when Republicans saw the outcome was sealed, several of them joined Democrats to pad the margin.

Obviously, Teddy’s vote did make the difference today. After taking care of Senate business, Kennedy flew back to Boston for his scheduled weekly cancer treatment.

Doctors at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina said last month that Kennedy’s brain surgery had been successful and was a first step in a treatment plan.

Kennedy was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on May 17 after suffering a seizure at his family’s compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod.

Following results from a biopsy, doctors diagnosed Kennedy with a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, an area of the brain which controls speech, among other functions.

THE PROGNOSIS

Doctors have not publicly offered a prognosis for Kennedy. But the US National Cancer Institute has said the outlook for such a diagnosis is poor, with average life expectancy depending on the stage of the tumor, from a few months to up to five years.

About 13,000 Americans die annually from malignant tumors in the brain or spinal cord, comprising 2.2 percent of all cancer-linked deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Survival has improved over the past decade due in part to new drugs.

The tumor kills 50 percent of patients during the first year after diagnosis and few live beyond three years. Without treatment the tumor grows back between two to three months after being surgically removed.

The brain tumor diagnosis sent shockwaves through the US Congress, where Kennedy has been a dominant figure for nearly half a century and is a champion of causes such as health care, education, workers rights and immigration reform.

Kennedy’s eighth six-year term in the Senate expires in 2012. The Senator’s nephew, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has been mentioned in recent weeks as one family member who might eventually pick up the liberal lion’s torch in the U.S. Senate.

 

AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Family and Friends Pray for Kennedy

Senator Edward Moore Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy in 2005. (AP Photo)


SENATOR KENNEDY’S FAMILY, FRIENDS REELING AFTER GRIM DIAGNOSIS

BOSTON (AP) – The grim diagnosis that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has an almost certainly fatal brain tumor was “a real curveball” that left his family stunned even as he joked and laughed with them, his wife told her friends.

In her first public comments on her husband’s diagnosis, Vicki Kennedy expressed pride in how well her husband of 15 years was handling the news.

“Teddy is leading us all, as usual, with his calm approach to getting the best information possible,” she wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to friends.

“He’s also making me crazy (and making me laugh) by pushing to race in the Figawi this weekend,” she wrote, referring to the annual sailing race from Cape Cod to Nantucket.

An Associated Press photographer who was given access to the senator on Tuesday captured Kennedy, dressed in a gray sweater and dark slacks, joking and laughing with family members as he sat at a table in a family room at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctors discovered the cancerous tumor after the 76-year-old senator suffered a seizure over the weekend. Outside experts predicted he had no more than three years – and perhaps far less – to live.

Family members with suitcases bunked with Kennedy overnight. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., was determined not to leave until doctors settled on a treatment plan.

“Obviously it’s tough news for any son to hear,” said Robin Costello, a spokeswoman for Patrick Kennedy. “He’s comforted by the fact that his dad is such a fighter, and if anyone can get through something as challenging as this, it would be his father.”

The diagnosis cast a pall over Capitol Hill, where the Massachusetts Democrat has served since 1962, and came as a shock to a family all too accustomed to sudden, calamitous news.

“He’s had a biopsy, and we don’t yet have final pathology or a plan or course of treatment. But I have to be honest, we’ve been pitched a real curveball,” Vicki Kennedy wrote.

Doctors said the senator had a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, a region of the brain that helps govern sensation, movement and language. Malignant gliomas are diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year; in general, half of all patients die within a year.

“It’s treatable but not curable. You can put it into remission for a while but it’s not a curable tumor,” said Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuroncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The doctors said Kennedy will remain in the hospital for the next couple of days as they consider chemotherapy and radiation. They did not mention surgery, a possible indication the tumor is inoperable.

In a statement Tuesday, Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary physician, said the senator “remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital.”

“He remains in good spirits and full of energy,” the physicians said.

Senators of both parties heard about his condition during their weekly, closed-door policy lunches, and some looked drawn or misty-eyed as they emerged.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving member of the Senate, wept as he prayed for “my dear, dear friend, dear friend, Ted Kennedy” during a speech on the Senate floor.

“Keep Ted here for us and for America,” said the 90-year-old Byrd, who is in a wheelchair. He added: “Ted, Ted, my dear friend, I love you and I miss you.”

In a statement, President Bush saluted Kennedy as “a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit.” He added: “We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.”

Kennedy has been active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts. He has made several campaign appearances for Sen. Barack Obama.

“He fights for what he thinks is right. And we want to make sure that he’s fighting this illness,” Obama said Tuesday. “And it’s our job now to support him in the way that he has supported us for so many years.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “Ted Kennedy’s courage and resolve are unmatched, and they have made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history. Our thoughts are with him and Vicki and we are praying for a quick and full recovery.”

Kennedy has left his stamp on a raft of health care, pension and immigration legislation during four decades in the Senate. In 1980, Kennedy unsuccessfully challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Kennedy family has been struck by tragedy over and over. Kennedy’s eldest brother, Joseph, died in a World War II plane crash; President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

Ted Kennedy shocked the nation in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge to Massachusetts’ Chappaquiddick Island and a young female campaign worker drowned. Kennedy, who did not call authorities until the next day, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month jail sentence.

Kennedy, the Senate’s second-longest serving member, was re-elected in 2006 and is not up for election again until 2012. Were he to resign or die in office, state law requires a special election for the seat 145 to 160 days afterward.

Associated Press writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report from Washington.

On the Net:

http://kennedy.senate.gov
05/21/08 06:01 © Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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Sen. Kennedy Diagnosed With Brain Tumor

THE NEWS AIN’T GOOD TODAY

We sadly bring you the following update on Senator Edward Kennedy:

By GLEN JOHNSON
Associated Press Writer

A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said Tuesday in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics’ most enduring figures.

Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat say tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma.

His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy.

“I’m really sad,” former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., said when told in a Senate hallway about Kennedy’s condition. “He’s the one politician who brings tears to my eyes when he speaks.”

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, AP photo

The 76-year-old senator has been hospitalized in Boston since Saturday, when he was airlifted from Cape Cod after a seizure at his home.

“He has had no further seizures, remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital,” said a joint statement issued by Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary care physician.

The doctors said Kennedy will remain in the hospital “for the next couple of days according to routine protocol.”

“He remains in good spirits and full of energy,” they said.

Kennedy’s wife and children have been with him each day but have made no public statements.

Malignant gliomas are a type of brain cancer diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year – and the most common type among adults. It’s a starting diagnosis: How well patients fare depends on what specific tumor type is determined by further testing.

Average survival can range from less than a year for very advanced and aggressive types – such as glioblastomas – or to about five years for different types that are slower growing.

Kennedy, the second-longest serving member of the Senate and a dominant figure in national Democratic Party politics, was elected in 1962, filling out the term won by his brother, John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a World War II airplane crash. President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother Robert was assassinated in 1968.

Kennedy is active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts. He has made several campaign appearances for the Illinois senator in February, and most recently another in April.

Kennedy, the senior senator from Massachusetts and the Senate’s second-longest serving member, was re-elected in 2006 and is not up for election again until 2012.

Were he to resign or die in office, state law requires a special election for the seat no sooner than 145 days and no later than 160 days after the vacancy occurs.

 

AP reporter Lauran Neergaard in Washington contributed to this report.

 

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Rory Kennedy Joins Team Obama

THE DIVIDE DEEPENS

In recent weeks, we’ve been watching the fireworks on the Hyannisport lawn as members of the Kennedy family split onto opposing political teams.

In what promises to be the roughest touch football game of the year, JFK’s daughter Caroline, brother Teddy, and nephew Patrick have taken up the ball for Obama. They were soon joined by Maria Shriver, who promised to run it all the way to the goal line at a Los Angeles Obama rally last weekend. (Her husband, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, formally endorsed Senator John McCain the following day.)

Meanwhile, Team Clinton seemed to have the formidably large family of RFK on her side. With star players like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Kerry Kennedy all suited up and ready to rumble, it naturally stood to reason that all of the Robert Kennedys would stand together and present a united front for Senator Clinton.

But the truth of the matter is another story entirely, as we are all now witnessing.

RFK’s widow Ethel was actually one of Barack Obama’s staunchest supporters from the early days of the campaign, and now her children are splitting into opposing camps, too. Son Maxwell Kennedy was spotted at an Obama campaign event in east L.A. last week, although he has yet to make any formal endorsements. Now the divide grows deeper still.

In a surprise play, Robert Kennedy’s daughter Rory just switched teams from Clinton to Obama. Although she has been a strong advocate for the Clintons in past years, and even as recently as December was reported to be supporting Hillary, Rory apparently was listening closely last weekend when Oprah Winfrey commented that “every free woman has the right to change her mind.” And so she has.

Rory’s endorsement of Barack Obama was published this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, no doubt sending shockwaves through the ranks of the Clinton faithful, and even perhaps within her own immediate family. We’ve reprinted the complete text below:

TWO FINE CHOICES, ONE CLEAR DECISION – OBAMA

By Rory Kennedy

Last Monday, I was very moved to see my uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, and my cousin, Caroline Kennedy, publicly endorse Sen. Barack Obama. I thought their statements of support were brave, intelligent and responsible. Given the importance of this election, and the remarkable strength of our candidates, it’s not an easy decision for anyone looking to cast a vote for a new direction in this country.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is a truly remarkable leader. She has given an enormous amount to our country as a public servant and to my family as a friend. Not only does she stand ready to be president, but she would be the first woman to hold the highest office in the land.

All that makes her very appealing. As a woman, a mother, and feminist, I can fully appreciate the symbolic power of a woman in the Oval Office. I have dedicated my life to making documentaries, many of which focus on women’s issues. I would love to have my daughters see a female president in our lifetimes. And still, that is not enough of a reason for me to vote for Senator Clinton.

I empathize with Senator Clinton. In her run for president, she has been forced to walk a difficult line. She is scrutinized not only for her political positions, but also for her clothing, hair and make-up. When she is tough, she is called cold, when she is emotional, she is labeled weak. It can’t be easy. I have an enormous amount of respect for the way she has handled this near-impossible balancing act. And still, that is not enough of a reason for me to vote for her.

I am concerned about women getting equal pay for equal work and breaking through the glass ceiling. I care about policies regarding health and education, issues that affect me personally. I have no doubt of Senator Clinton’s commitment to these issues. And still, that is not enough of a reason for me to vote for her.

Times are far too dark, the price of failure too steep and the road ahead too perilous for us to vote on identity politics. I would love to see a woman be president. I would love to see an African American be president. But right now, what I would love most is to elect the best person for the job.

I believe that person is Sen. Barack Obama. As a leader, he has inspired generations of Americans to look beyond reductive categories like gender or race. Instead, he calls on us to think past our own individual interests, to envision a world that is better for every person in it.

Like Senator Clinton, I have no doubt of Senator Obama’s commitment to the issues I care about. But, his unique ability to unify this country and transcend partisan gridlock means that we can finally get something done.

In my years making documentaries, I have traveled to remote regions, from small villages in South America, to townships in South Africa, to the hollows of Appalachia. Every trip, every film, I meet people who still keep photographs of my family on their walls. They cry when they meet me, simply because they were touched by my father, Robert Kennedy. In part, this is because my father supported policies and legislation that helped the disenfranchised. But it is also, and perhaps more importantly, because they felt that my father understood their pain. Senator Obama has that quality too. He has an open heart and an energizing spirit.

Recently, my mother, Ethel Kennedy, said of Obama: “I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did. He has the passion in his heart. He’s not selling you. It’s just him.”

I agree. Obama is a genuine leader. We Americans – women included – desperately need that kind of leader now. Not a president of a particular gender or a specific race, but a president with a different vision, one who inspires a sense of hope.

To elect Barack Obama is to choose a new direction, set a new course – to steer America toward a better place, better for women as well as men, better for us all.

Rory Kennedy, a documentary filmmaker, won an Emmy for her production and direction of “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.”

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Super Bowl `08: Kennedys vs. Kennedys

POLITICAL SUPER BOWL `08: THE KENNEDYS VS. THE KENNEDYS

This ain’t your father’s game of touch football.

The `08 race just keeps getting more interesting by the minute, with the Kennedy players taking sides on different teams, all in preparation for the big game on Super Tuesday.

As of Super Bowl Sunday, here’s the lineup so far:

TEAM OBAMA:

Senator Edward Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy

Ethel Kennedy

Maxwell Kennedy

Rory Kennedy

Maria Shriver

TEAM CLINTON:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kerry Kennedy

TEAM MCCAIN:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Clearly, Obama has the advantage going into Tuesday’s election, with more Kennedys on his team than any other candidate. Will it make a difference? Who knows, but we’ll find out Tuesday night when the final score is in.

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Camp Clinton Has Some Kennedys, Too

Three Kennedy siblings — from left, Kerry Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — stand with their mother, Ethel Kennedy, at New York’s State of the State address on Jan. 9. Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed naming New York City’s Triborough Bridge after Robert F. Kennedy. (AP Photo)

Kennedys for Clinton

She stands for Democrats and for the nation, these family members say.

 EDITORIAL

By Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy

January 29, 2008

This is a wonderful year for Democrats. Our party is blessed with the most impressive array of primary candidates in modern history. All would make superb presidents.

By now you may have read or heard that our cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and our uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have come out in favor of Sen. Barack Obama. We, however, are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because we believe that she is the strongest candidate for our party and our country.

While talk of unity and compromise are inspiring to a nation wary of divisiveness, America stands at a historic crossroads where real issues divide our political landscapes. Democrats believe that America should not be torturing people, eavesdropping on our citizens or imprisoning them without habeas corpus or other constitutional rights. We should not be an imperial power. We need healthcare for all and a clean, safe environment.

The loftiest poetry will not solve these issues. We need a president willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our national virtues.

We have worked with Hillary Clinton for 15 years (and in Kathleen’s case, 25 years) and witnessed the power and depth of her convictions firsthand. We’ve seen her formidable work ethic, courage in the face of adversity and her dignity and clear head in crisis. We’ve also seen her two-fisted willingness to enter the brawl when America’s principles are challenged. Her measured rhetoric, political savvy and pragmatism shield the heart of our nation’s most determined and most democratic warrior.

She has been an uncompromising and loyal ally for each of us in our battles to protect the environment and to promote human rights around the world and juvenile justice in America. Hillary is a problem-solver, listening to people and then achieving solutions by changing attitudes.

Her transformational leadership was on display when she ran for the Senate seat in New York that had been held by our father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. She faced rabid, heavily funded attacks from the far right and the challenge of prevailing in traditionally Republican upstate New York. Traveling with her, we watched admiringly as she persuasively articulated an inspiring and unifying vision rooted in American values and history. Then, through patience, hard work, leadership and political acumen, she transformed many of those rock-solid conservative counties into solid Democratic strongholds.

We look forward to working beside her in the general election as she uses those same talents to change once rigid opinions and political affiliations across the nation.

Like our father, Hillary has devoted her life to embracing and including those on the bottom rung of society’s ladder — giving voice to the alienated and disenfranchised and working to alleviate poverty and injustice, while urging that we cannot advance ourselves as a nation by leaving our poorer brothers and sisters behind.

She’s been an equally effective champion for human rights and for women’s rights, a worldwide cause that will profit enormously by her elevation to the presidency. She has worked for peace in Northern Ireland and fought to bridge religious, racial and ethnic divides from Bosnia to the Middle East to South Africa. She has shown a rare understanding that American values can only be exported by moral leadership, by a strong home economy and by a detailed understanding of the history and cultural backdrops of the nations we engage.

She understands, as our current administration does not, the uses of power. The world, she says, is hungry for U.S. leadership but will not accept our bullying. She knows the difference and will reestablish America’s lost prestige and moral authority.

Hillary Clinton’s political career has been centered in comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable and reminding Americans what it means to be American. As a young lawyer, she focused on children’s issues and legal aid. As first lady of Arkansas, she brought healthcare to rural areas and helped reform the state’s lagging education system.

As first lady, she courageously took on healthcare reform. When a massive propaganda campaign by Big Pharma and the radical right derailed her efforts, she didn’t give up. She helped create the nationally acclaimed Children’s Health Insurance Program. That kind of persistence in pursuit of our highest ideals is the brand of leadership America now requires. Inspirational leadership comes in many forms.

Seldom has history confronted America with such daunting challenges: a catastrophic foreign policy that has cost us our international leadership and aggravated the threat of terror; a misbegotten war that is squandering precious American lives and treasure; a healthcare system that leaves millions of Americans without coverage; irresponsible corporate power that is corroding our democracy and outsourcing our jobs, aggravating global warming and other environmental crises and reducing our economy to shambles.

We need a leader who is battle-tested, resilient and sure-footed on the shifting landscapes of domestic and foreign policy. Hillary Clinton will move our country forward while promoting its noblest ideals.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental advocate and Kerry Kennedy is a human rights activist.

Copyright 2008, The Los Angeles Times. 

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Bobby’s Standing By His Woman

Bobby Kennedy Jr.Hillary Rodham Clinton

KENNEDY STANDS STRONG FOR HILLARY

While Hillary Clinton was finding her voice in New Hampshire, Caroline Kennedy found her man in Barack Obama.

Senator Edward Kennedy is now lending his voice to the Obama campaign, along with his son, U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy. The three Kennedys appeared before a huge rally of Obama’s supporters at American University today, and on the same hallowed ground where JFK gave his landmark 1963 address, all heartily endorsed Obama.

In the flurry of media coverage that followed throughout the day, the story was too-often reported as a blanket stamp of approval from the entire Kennedy family. This, of course, is not true. But why let facts get in the way of such a delicious big story at such an “historic” moment as this?

For the record, anyway – if anybody wants `em, here are the plain ol’ unadorned facts:

While Senator Obama now has the support of the last living member of John F. Kennedy’s immediate family and his only surviving brother, many in the media today seemed to forget (or perhaps willfully ignored) that Senator Hillary Clinton already gained the endorsements of several important Kennedys months ago; the sons and daughters of Robert Kennedy.

Back in early October, this blog reported that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was supporting Hillary Clinton for president. Over the next two months, other media outlets gradually picked up the story, culminating in a formal endorsement on Nov. 29th. Soon thereafter, Bobby hit the campaign trail for Clinton in Iowa, and was joined in New Hampshire by his sisters Kathleen and Kerry. The mainstream media hardly noticed at the time.

Today was a different story entirely, as we all witnessed. All three cable news networks carried the American University rally live (NBC even aired it in it’s entirety), and the pundits went plumb Camelot crazy the rest of the afternoon; discussing historical and political ramifications of the Caroline, Patrick and Ted endorsements at length with an endless stream of historians, journalists, strategists, and Obama supporters.

Little was heard from the Clinton camp today in response. Whether by design or because the media was too high on some fine vintage Kennedy golddust, Hillary’s supporters were noticeably absent from most of the various cable news roundtable discussions.

Finally, late in the day, Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend stepped up to the plate for Hillary. In an exclusive interview with MSNBC, Kathleen was all smiles and seemed totally unshaken by the earthquake of the other Kennedys endorsing Barack Obama.

When asked about the “split” in the Kennedy family over this presidential race, Kathleen laughed it off and said, “don’t all families fight about politics over the dinner table? Of course, the Kennedys don’t agree on everything. We never have. But we respect each other’s opinions and choices, even when we have our differences.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. echoed his sister’s words later when CNN caught up to him late this afternoon. “I love and respect my uncle, Senator Kennedy, but I still believe that Hillary Clinton has the leadership and experience to lead this country right now, as I always have.”

Anyone who may have been hoping that RFK Jr. would defect to join the Obama camp is likely to be disappointed. As it stands today, he’s standing with both feet firmly planted in Hillary’s corner — and is making no apologies.

 

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

 

 

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Kennedy Family Split On Endorsements

Interesting story from Politico this week:

KENNEDY FAMILY SPLIT ON ENDORSEMENTS

By Carrie Budoff Brown

Like any other American family, the Kennedys are a house divided when it comes the 2008 presidential race.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and her sister, Kerry, have hit the trail for Hillary Rodham Clinton. So has their brother, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Old hands to President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy dote on Barack Obama, in part because he reminds them of the charismatic brothers.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver and a half-dozen other family members put money on Christopher Dodd.

And everybody wants to know where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) will go. Yet he isn’t talking — or likely to endorse.

A tangle of longstanding political ties, friendships and gut feelings has caused the Kennedys and those closely identified with them to scatter across the primary field.

But the Democratic pursuit of their endorsements and their cash underline how the presidential candidates still chase the Kennedy imprimatur like it is their party’s seal of approval, automatically transferring warm feelings of the family’s legacy to them.

“There is certainly a romantic aspect to it,” said Eric Smith, a press aide to former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Miss.) during his 2004 presidential campaign, which picked up support that year from U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D) of Rhode Island.

“That period in the Democratic Party is one of great optimism. It is one that Democratic activists think of very fondly. So an association with that time is a positive in the eyes of Democratic activists.”

Ted Kennedy is the biggest catch.

The senator reeled in Iowans for John Kerry in 2004, drawing crowds that only Howard Dean could muster. Democratic activist Bonnie Campbell, who was backing Dean, recalls walking into her Des Moines precinct on caucus night, spotting Kennedy in the doorway, and hearing her husband say: “We are screwed.”

With a field this year that includes his Senate buddy (Dodd) and two members of his Senate committee (Clinton and Obama), Ted Kennedy appears ready to sit this one out.

“Senator Kennedy has no immediate plans to endorse a candidate,” said a statement released by Kennedy’s office. “He has very strong relationships with many of these candidates personally, and he has a lot of respect for them. Senator Kennedy believes that any one of them would make a great president. He looks forward to the campaign and seeing a Democrat elected to the White House.”

His family is definitely picking sides, however.

But the former Kennedy aides are the ones drawing the most attention for their bold comparisons. Obama received an email from Harris Wofford, 81, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and adviser to President John F. Kennedy, soon after his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. The message: “Do not let this moment pass.”

“He touches my soul, and I think he has touched the soul of America,” said Wofford in an interview after endorsing Obama this month. “For me, no one has done that since John, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. I waited a long time to have that feeling.”

For George Stevens Jr., the longtime producer of the Kennedy Center Honors who worked in the Kennedy administration, Obama “captures the spirit” of Bobby Kennedy. Stevens, too, wrote Obama a letter to tell him so. And Stevens later signed on as an informal adviser to the campaign.
 
Theodore Sorensen, 79, a former speechwriter to President Kennedy, traveled to Iowa in October to endorse Obama and challenge the criticism of him as not yet ready, citing JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis as evidence. “That young president who had been accused of being too inexperienced and too young successfully steered the country through that crisis,” Sorensen said of Kennedy, who was 43 years old when he took office.

Obama, who would be 47 at his inauguration, seemingly does his part to encourage the link.
There was the February announcement speech, when he went hatless and gloveless on a frigid morning, stirring comparisons to President Kennedy’s inaugural address. He talks of a new generation of leadership and moving past the political fights of the 1990s. And he invokes the former president on the trail, usually as he defends his intention to talk to enemy states: “John F. Kennedy once said you should never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate.”

But if Obama is the new JFK, the late president’s family hasn’t received the memo. None has endorsed Obama, although several have donated to his campaign, with their contributions adding up to at least $9,000, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Kennedy family, including Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her husband, Edwin, has sent more than $15,000 to Clinton. Dodd has received more than $17,000 from members of the family, such as Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of the late president.

On endorsements, Clinton and Dodd have received $4,000 apiece from the family. None carry the heft of Sen. Kennedy, but each can claim their own constituencies.

In Clinton’s camp is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a well-known environmentalist; Kerry Kennedy, a human rights activist; Rory Kennedy, a documentary filmmaker; and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former Maryland lieutenant governor and recognized female political leader.

On Dodd’s side is Rep. Patrick Kennedy Jr.; Ted Kennedy Jr., an advocate for people with disabilities; Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics; and Bobby Shriver, who works with U2’s Bono on AIDS and debt relief.

In endorsing Dodd, they talked about his work on behalf of children, his stint in the Peace Corps and his support for foreign assistance. But they always came back to the personal — and who best embodied the Kennedy legacy.

“When my uncle Jack asked people in the country in 1960, ‘ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,’ Sen. Dodd answered that call,” said Ted Kennedy Jr., “ and that’s exactly the kind of inspiration that is needed in this country today.”

 

TM & © THE POLITICO & POLITICO.COM, a division of Allbritton Communications Company 

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