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tv   Book Discussion Bobby Kennedy  CSPAN  November 26, 2016 12:45pm-1:46pm EST

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it can change. i don't see it right now. i don't see it with mitch mcconnell. i don't see it with nancy pelosi. i do see hope in paul ryan. i don't know what to expect from chuck schumer who will be the senate democratic leader. he is smarter than harry reid, every bit as partisan as harry reid but there is a difference, he is transactional. you can do business. they don't say it that way in new york city but they understand it. there is hope out there but it all begins in the white house. leadership begins in the white house. days.
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bill green became and implemented the first deadly force policy, said a lot of interesting things about santa claus. city council is the worst legislative body in the free world. we always had a debate that limited the free world the world emphasized it. i might add that his son william j green, a city councilman, helped fight back wholesale closers of the free library of branches. without further into it is my privilege to welcome bill green. [applause] >> thank you for that
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introduction. phil goldsmith and i are good friends, he has done more for the city than you might imagine, he was managing director, ran schools, the park, all the institutions and more, a pulitzer prize-winning reporter. [applause] thanks again. i am pleased to be part of this presentation as you will find out tonight, some of the most memorable days and happiest days of my life are the times i spent with robert kennedy. let me begin by offering praise for larry tye and this book "bobby kennedy: the making of a liberal icon". it is the result of extensive research including previously
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unpublished reports, newly released materials from the kennedy library, and other office didn't have, most notably to kennedy, larry made his career at the boston globe as an award-winning reporter, new york times best-selling author including the book satchel which is a biography of satchel paige. varied topics, railroad car workers, superman and jewish renewal in different global areas come to life for readers, not only because of his research but his captivating style which he runs the boston base, coverage of fellowship which helps the media do a better job reporting on health issues. bobby -- "bobby kennedy: the making of a liberal icon" is not a valentine but his strength, compassion and courage shine
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through any perceived shortcomings with each trait chronicled and largely admiring. the book has drawn praise from far and wide, from john meacham to former secretary of state henry kissinger. the new york times book review praised in this fashion. we are in larry tye's debt for bringing back to life a young presidential candidate who for a brief moment half a century ago instilled hope for the future in angry fearful americans. what we will never know with certainty, not from 1000 books is what might have been, no one can say, less time in vietnam, no one knows but i do know this.
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from the crushing pain that followed his brother's death, he emerged a wiser and more compassionate man who jazz president he would admit his mistakes was war would be the last resort. we would talk to our adversaries, containing nuclear weapons would be a major, urgent focus. he would be welcomed around the world, fight the corrupt coming gather the greedy and most of all would remember the forgotten, those stuck in urban ghettos, mostly black, those in rural hollows across the land, mostly white, those who were mostly hispanic. better yet they would know it. they would see it in his face. that is what might have been.
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robert kennedy said we can do better. he was right. never have those words, we can do better, been so true. larry, you are a great writer, you have written a great book and i am pleased to introduce you to my fellow philadelphians. [applause] >> what i would like to do in trying to introduce bobby kennedy you, how many in this room lived through bobby kennedy's campaign in 68? everybody. i will call all of you up here. what i would like to do, take you through three moment in bobby kennedy's life that i think were indicative of who he was at three critical times.
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the first one starts out 1957, and his first boss, senator joe mccarthy from wisconsin had died and was being buried in a town called appleton, wisconsin. for anyone not old enough member, the table something, read chasing senator who saw a communist behind everyone in the state department and shows up at the airport in green bay, wisconsin the day of the funeral. enormous plane comes in from washington. off that plane steps 19 us senators, mostly republicans, mostly conservatives, seven congressman and a bunch of other dignitaries and all of them do what secretaries always do when they get off the plane, they get off their limousines and are whisked away to appleton,
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wisconsin, the air force after that gets very quiet and when there is an especially clear notion that nobody will get off the plane, one last person does and it is a thin, young, congressional aid named robert f kennedy. to take him to the airport he bombs a ride from a reporter he finds covering the funeral of madison, wisconsin, newspaper. at the funeral in the church bobby kennedy watches from the choir loft at the graveside service while dignitaries are over here, what he managed to do after the service in a way you could never get away with today, anyone could ask a reporter, be obliged back then, got all the reporters covering the funeral to leave out of their story that there was this young guy, bobby kennedy because they were obliging political reporters and
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he was a kennedy generally got his way. what that story does is says two things about who bobby kennedy was. one thing it says is the loyal friend of joe mccarthy who understood not just joe mccarthy was a bad friend but gave him first job and in an era when much of america fought communism was a huge threat so did bobby kennedy and he thought there was only one person in washington standing up against the communists. jack kennedy said stay away from the funeral bobby kennedy did what he often did, exhorted and went and was going to stand for his buddy joe mccarthy. that was bobby kennedy the loyalists. i don't know what you think of joe mccarthy but something noble about his being there when there was a potential risk. the other half of bobby kennedy
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was bobby kennedy the realist, bobby kennedy who knew some day he wanted his brother to be president and he might run for office himself. he went to the funeral, showed up, he was going to make sure nobody was going to see him and anybody who saw him wasn't going to talk about it, the loyal side, real aside and that is who bobby kennedy was then. who america was back then in the conservative era of eisenhower. starts out as the ultimate cold warrior much like his dad, joe kennedy was which i want to take you from 1957 to a moment i think if bobby kennedy had an epiphany moment in his life, that was in 1963, november 1963. bobby kennedy on a november day in 1963 came home from work at
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the justice department with a couple aides, had a swim at his pool at the estate in hickory hills just outside washington, was settling back to have a great lunch and go back to work. at the moment he started eating lunch the phone rings and it is the hotline to the white house and by the way, there were more hotlines to the white house in his estate in hickory hill than in the vice president's residence which it was a huge bone of contention for lyndon johnson. anytime the phone rang was generally not good news and especially not when the guy on the other end of the line is one of the people bobby kennedy most hated in the world, fbi director j edgar hoover. j edgar hoover tells bobby kennedy in a voice that bobby
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kennedy would generally describe has a monotone like j edgar hoover found another communist on the faculty at howard university, he says in that monotone voice your brother has been shot. an hour later somebody call back and said your brother is dead. that moment changed bobby kennedy's life in a way that was different from losing his brother. he had lost his brother, lost his best friend and his whole sense of purpose. bobby kennedy had been close enough to his brother from the time they went overseas when they were both in their 20s, the idea that jack kennedy was gone was a world changer for him and yet something happened magically for the next month. the kennedy family was as you imagine totally distraught, somebody had to take charge and bobby kennedy for the next month gave out assignments to the
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family, you will take care of mom, dad had a stroke, you will do all these things that need to get done. bobby kennedy went to the white house and decided whether it would be an open capture. bobby kennedy held the hand of jackie kennedy and john john and caroline when they were devastated they lost their father, in jackie's case a husband, bobby kennedy helped the country that was going through a kind of morning for their young president that was deeper and more profound than they ever had happened. bobby kennedy was the nation's mourner in chief for the next month and that was quite an extraordinary thing to do given how devastated he was the almost a magical moment a month out from the death of jack kennedy when the family started pulling it back together and went back to work, when the country
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endeded their period of morning and they were pulling it together bobby kennedy lost it but he went for the next 7 months through something we would describe as a cynical depression and ethel remembers 50 years later like it happened a moment ago. .. it wasn't until the middle of that campaign that he really started coming out of this
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depression. it was at a moment that he could actually lose an election which would have been first for a kennedy. he started having a sense of two things. one is, he really did something still to contribute and the other as critically that people were responding to people. people were turning out in droves to all of his rallies, not because he was jack kennedy's brother, but because he was bobby kennedy and he had something to offer. during the period when he was coming out of his compression the waybill suggested, he came out of it as a different person. he was as jackie's suggestion reading greek tragedies, this was a guy for intertakenment played a bloody-nose touch football game and that's what he considered distraction.
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reading about what he had that the world was there to do what they wanted and suddenly it all crashed around him. he came back in the world with a kind of empathy that he had never quite had before. we are all, i suspect, if i interviewed everybody in this audience, we -- some balance but the tragedy had started out waiting to the tough side suddenly starting understanding and being empathetic to the underdog. he in 14967 came out of this miserable experience with a whole new way of looking at the world and it was a good thing because all the kennedy power had disappeared and had to find a new role for himself.
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so we started out in '57 with a top guy called warrior bobby kennedy and in 1963 we see him going through a tram attic experience that changed him. where i want to take you for our story who bobby kennedy was when he ran for president in 1968. that's a story that has particular resonance today as we look to try to get excited of the presidents that are running for president today. does anybody do remember what the first contested primary was in '68 when bobby was running? >> i think that was indiana. >> very good. hi hasn't been coached. you said, when i ask you a question, just say indiana. [laughter] >> possibly if you had picked a
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single state in america you a massachusetts politician wouldn't have had contested primary it would have been indiana. kennedy had no idea on anything going on with farms, he was a massachusetts born and bred guy and senator of new york and this was al new territory to him and he was about to in this indiana primary just before the indiana primary, he was about to fly in to indianapolis and go to a very important rally in the middle of the city and that's the night that when he flew in and landed in yips -- indianapolis he was told that martin luther king had been shot and killed. the major of indianapolis was richard who became powerful, you will not go bo the african-american ghetto tonight
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and held a rally, partly because i'm worried if you're going to come out alive or create awry yacht just by being there. bobby kennedy just did what he had done with jack kennedy's advice in 1957 when jack kennedy told him not to go to the funeral, thank you, that's great advice and proceeded to go to the rally and he underup, he ends up having his police escort peel off before he gets to the ghetto and stands up in the back of a flat bed truck and for the next five minutes he gives one of the great speeches, maybe the great speech of his life and one of the great speeches in the history of american political territory. he is telling the audience that night several hundred people, he is telling 490% for the first time that they slain leader has been killed, martin luther king
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is gone. you can hear if you listen on youtube to the speech from that night, you can hear gasp from the audience. people are devastating but he proceeds for the first time in his life to talk about what it was like to lose his own brother and the anger that he had felt when jack kennedy had been killed and he said our temptation is and now what happened that night in yint -- indianapolis was quite extraordinary. there were race riots in more than a hundred cities and in washington part of the city was burned down that night, there was one city in america that had a sizable african-american population that stayed peaceful that night and that city was --
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>> phil. [laughter] >> indiana. [laughter] >> it was a tone that was predicted when much of the civil rights movement in the early days of giving up on bobby kennedy ever getting what was really going on in the civil rights movement, there was one person who had faith in him and said we have to stick with this guy because some day he's going to get it and that person was the guy that had been killed that day, martin luther king and was proven right that night when bobby kennedy in indianapolis gave exactly the speech that, i think, that hillary clinton and that donald trump and that barack obama have try -- tried to deliver after dallas, baton
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rouge and none of them -- none of them could find the tone that bobby kennedy managed that night in indianapolis and from that moment to the end of the campaign i can say without any hyperbole that bobby kennedy was the most popular white man in ghetto america. it was the first short sign that set it all and red but all white and there aren't many white politicians that people in black america would have said about in 1968. so i want to do is take you who bob you kennedy is and why we should still care about him a half century after his death and i think that many of us have spent the last 450 years looking for somebody that was able to do
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what bobby kennedy seemed on the verge of doing at a moment where the country was equally driven over racial issues, was equally stressed out by what was going on overseas, in that case a war in vietnam. bobby kennedy seen on the cusp of putting together a kind of coalition that we have never seen in this country. it was a coalition of the blue collar white who supported him in early days as a joe mccarthy cold warrior. it was a coalition of the blacks who listened to him and stayed peaceful that night in indianapolis a group that no politician ever spoke to who were hispanics. bobby kennedy was the only one to went the california. only politician in america who went to california and stood with césar chávez during all of his hunger strikes and reached out to hispanics in a way that they rewarded him with almost
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100% of the vote in the california primary. he was bringing together the group of the dispossess that we dream about doing today, the people who support donald trump and the people who hillary clinton and he seemed on the vernal of becoming the tough liberal or if you prefer the tender conservative that we are still searching for in america, and before i go on and before we open it up to questions, one of the most tinder moments that i heard anybody describe about what bobby kennedy was in those later years was a guy name billed rain who talked about after his dad died. can you tell us the story. >> sure, my father died in one month after president kennedy. >> microphones. >> can you hear me? >> so would you mind reintroducing me and -- [laughter] >> i think you said --
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[laughter] >> after my father died i will tell you a couple of stories about that. when president kennedy died, my father did not wanting to to washington because he did not want to interfere with the kennedys, he did not want to brewed on their moment of sorrow and my mother said to him, bill, you should go down and and he went to the white house and he came home and told me the story that he was walking up to the second floor and bobby came walking down from the second floor to the first, they took one look at each other, they both cried and bobby kennedy was greaseful to my father and i had that experience because when my dad died a month later, robert
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kennedy on christmas eve left his then, i think, eight children in virginia while he came to philadelphia december 24th for my father's funeral and he brought with him a letter from jackie kennedy which he had basically gotten from her the day before which is as beautiful letter as you'll ever want to see. so he came to the funeral. so about a week later i get a call and he says to me, i understand you want to run for your father's seat. and i said, that's that's correct. i sent kenny and a lot
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organizations that your father built are lined up against you but if they take you on, i want you to understand that we will be in. and i thought, i said to him, can i ask you a couple of questions and he said, yes, i said, explicitly what does we will be in mean? [laughter] and he said to me, if they take you on, kennedys will call all over your district. now this is a monday after the president's death. if you -- in fact, several months later there were 30-40,000 people going to 13th street, there was a momb scenes.
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what do i tell? tell them all. what he was saying, you know, you can tell them i'm attorney general too because we are not going to lose this. he didn't say that but bobby would not be in favor of i think to anything but making sure i won in every way he could. the last question he asked me was, do you need money, and i said no, i think that friends of my fathers will back me in this contest and he said if you don't have enough, you write the check and we will sign it. i would like you to come to see me in washington. and i went to washington and i walked into his office and i almost couldn't control myself. i had never in all my life and have not until this minute seen a face that sad. he was absolutely crushed, heart
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broken but not so heartbroken that he couldn't function that he couldn't be at my mother's funeral and i said to him, i can't tell you what this means to me. a lot of the people my father helped in philadelphia like mayor and others are against me. and you with all that's going on in your life are for me and he put his head down and he just said to me, don't you know what your father did for my brother, don't you know what your father did for my brother. what he really did was not carry philadelphia by 331,000 votes when people credited my father for producing that victory, my father would laugh at home, he would say the people win elections, politicians win primaries and the real help at
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the 1960 democratic convention. i'm talking about robert kennedy, not jack kennedy. >> that was kennedy for the rest of his life, that was the highest complement he could pay to anybody was what you had done to john because they were like that. they were like that to the point where ethel kennedy described the fact, there's a cliché that people are so close that the -- they finish their each other's sentences. they could pick up one another's expressions, there's another cliché in politics that people talk about co-presidents and before people are elected, this is going to be the closest-working relationship we've ever had between a president and a vice president. truth is no president in their right mind ever gives up power
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to vice president or anybody else as a co-president, but the closest thing america has ever had to a co-presidency was when bobby kennedy was jack kennedy's attorney general because he was not just his attorney general, he was his sodo, cia director, hi consulted bobby kennedy more often than the secretary of state on foreign affairs. he was the guy that jack kennedy knew he could go to whether it was the bay of pigs or civil rights or the cuban missile crisis, he could go to and bobby would have his back. he would be looking at what was best for the country and best politically for jack kennedy and that was an extraordinary relationship. >> and that's why he would hang back in mccarthy's funeral. if he was seen there, he had to be there because he was loyal and he knew the public could see him, that it would hurt jack. i don't think he was being sneaky like, you know, trying to have it both ways but he was
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always trying to help his brother. >> he did. >> he also wanted to be loyal. >> he did and he wanted to, so there was a magical moment and i'm not sure exactly when it happened and it was not 1957 where bobby understood when jack was alive that she had a political career himself. they used to joke that bobby, you know, that joe kennedy had had initial aspirations to be the president himself. and during the world war ii at the start of world war ii when he was the u.s. embassador to great britain, he had not in moment, he went public with it and never denied it and the boston globe helped get him fired by fdr as investor of great britain and the moment that joe kennedy knew it couldn't be him, it was going to be his son and was going to be
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his sons in order of birth, joe, jr., until joe, jr. was killed in a courageous mission trying to take out b-24 bombing sites in europe and the day that joe, jr. died the mantle was passed to jack and then when jack tragically was killed it was clear that it was going to be bobby and that's the way it was. >> president kennedy was here in philadelphia in october 31st, 1963, 31st. i was in an elevator with him with my father and i hasn't had an opportunity to converse -- well, actually i did once. he turns to my father and says, what are you going to do with him, bill? i was in my last day in law school. what are you going to do with him bill? they called him billy, jackie, everybody had larry, it's a
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natural for you. [laughter] >> and my father said to him, i don't know, mr. president, what do you suggest? he said, do what my father did, run him for congress and what's so incredible about is that a month later i was running for congress and they were both and bobby called me to help. there's no way for me to explain in you how not just indebted but how admiring i am of both the president and bobby and i think that -- can i say this? >> sure. >> bobby just compounded with what happened to the president. it was so harmful to this country that it's hard to imagine. and one of the things they did and one of the things i have always believed is that words count and you mentioned what he
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did in indianapolis, what he did in south africa every time a man stands up for injustice, against injustice or speaks out. he sends forth ripple of hope and to go to the berlin wall and have a million people, my advice, my father's advice in the short period of -- between president's desk and my father's desk which my father went to new york on december 8th. we are now talking november 4th to december 8th. he had talked to bobby and i don't -- i think that some of the big city democratic leaders in the north were perhaps a little concerned that johnson might not be the candidate that bobby would be and i don't know that bobby ever expressed any interest in running for president at that point or gave it any serious thought, by i know there was a discussion and
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joe must have been there or heard about it because lyndon johnson asked to governor of pennsylvania to something he was saying, you know -- >> so at that convention where lyndon johnson was nominated in 1964, bobby kennedy had no interest of doing this, johnson was so paranoid, he asked j. edgar hoover to check out what was going on in the kennedy camp and be stationed at station and report if there's going to be a kennedy movement and the truth was that the best speech at that convention was the speech that bobby kennedy delivered. depending on whose count you use, it was 17 minutes of interruption applause during
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bobby kennedy's speech and a speech that lbj talked it was a critical speech about him, he talked about loz of brother jack and in truth the end of that speech was the most rousing endorsement of lbj, bobby kennedy was, he was three things, he was a catholic, he was joe kennedy and loyal to the kennedy family and the third, pill or that he stood on he was a democrat and he darn well was going to support and even though he detested lbj he was going to support him in 1964. maybe we can get microphones over -- >> do you want me to pass this to someone? >> here we go right here. >> great.
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>> in 1964 when mccarthy showed that the map that was vulnerable, the stories came out that robert kennedy was thinking of running for president, i wrote him a letter and i said, stay out, divide the anti-war movement three weeks after he announced he sent me a letter and said, as you see i have entered the race. in my letter neither of them would go to convention with enough votes and third or fourth ballot you will be the compromised candidate. three weeks after -- [inaudible] >> i received a letter from him. he said as you can see, i have entered the race but i disagree with you, he said. i am not dividing the anti-war
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movement, i'm adding my voice to the anti-war movement. and i said to myself, you signed the death warrant when he had accepted -- the war on commission report on the death of his brother, when he announced because there was no way that the people who killed his brother were going to allow him to be president. >> i would like to just make a couple -- >> well, i would say there's no way to get around the fact that someone was pretty clear i really love robert kennedy. it was a very awkward entry into that race. you know, i would have preferred if he was going to do it that he did it earlier. so he did it -- let's remind people, he did it four days after mccarthy beat -- when you
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added the republican writer, beat lbj in new hampshire. >> we are talking about mccarthy beat lbj before robert kennedy got into it, the truth was, so he gets into it and he looks like the ultimate -- the cut-throat politician who let jean macmccarthy do the hard work and a guy wrote telegram saying that what you've just done, what your brother has just done in new hampshire shows that st. patrick didn't drive all the snakes out of ireland. [laughter] >> now, that was maybe the most entry ever. if you go back at what happened, the evidence is clear cut that nine days before the new hampshire primary bobby kennedy had decide today enter and he
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decided that it was only fair that mccarthy had been fighting new hampshire for a long time and it was only fair to give mccarthy a clear shot before he came in and when he was being a gentleman and doing the kind of thing that a political campaign manager in him would have asked him to do, he ended up hurting himself badly with the press and it took almost the entire campaign for reporters like murray to come around and trust bobby kennedy. by the end of the campaign, one of the ways the campaign offers a dramatic contrast to what is going on today in 2016 the way the press had a relationship with the candidate. today as we all know, donald trump starts out by bashing and then vanishes the press from his events. hillary clinton spends too much time ducking and pairing with reporters. bobby kennedy started out with reporters like the ones we were just talking about being
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skeptical of him. by the end something strange happened and it was wasn't of the things that drew me into the bobby kennedy story from the beginning. the reporters started falling in love with him. my mentor and journalism, david who won a prize for coverage in vietnam ended up writing a book that was a valentine to bobby kennedy. a guy who was covering the campaign for the washington post named richard was assigned by ben bradley to cover the campaign because he was very cynical, he despised bobby kennedy and that was bradley thought the perfect guy to cover, he would never be won over by him. by the end of the campaign, richard made a plea to ben bradley, take me off the campaign. i have fallen in love with the candidate. the reason, i think, the press fell in love with bobby kennedy was exactly what the press is looking for today in a candidate
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as is the public. it was the candidate who was authentic, it was somebody, the political press in those days like today has a better sniffer of who is real and who doesn't seem real. they decided by the end that bobby kennedy was the one who had the courage to stand up in the senate and say my brother jack and i got us into vietnam and we were wrong and that's not something i'm sure that mayor green had the courage to stand up when he was running to say he was run and not something many political figures do. bobby kennedy, the way he shifted from the cold war he started out with to the liberal he became in the end was often defined the political winds of the day to do that and that was something reporters loved to see and it was something that i think the public would have liked to see and probably something mayor green and i would agree on is that after his victory that night in california, the night he was
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killed at the embassador hotel in california, after his victory, he was scheduled the next morning to go to chicago and the son of the then mayor of chicago richard daily, the son bill daily who was obama's chief of staff for a couple of years, says that that next day his dad was 70% chance that his dad was going to endorse bobby kennedy for president. and what that would have been, there was no more powerful establishment politician in america then than the mayor of chicago richard daily and i think if daily had endorsed we had guys in philadelphia who were ready to go all out for bobby kennedy, i think bobby kennedy would not just become the democratic nominee but nobody in america who understood richard nixon's vulnerabilities better than the guy who eight years before had led his brother's successful campaign against richard nixon and i think it's not too much of a
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what if to say that bobby kennedy would have been the nominee, would have been the president and would have from day one, he was a guy who was too passionate and too impatient to wait to try to get things done and from day up with, he would have made a difference. >> you know, i was going -- you didn't mention that or get into that at some point i was going to say that one of the things that i did not know or see anyone else write about was the fact that daily might have endorsed and with his son bill saying it, i can only tell you that the night before robert kennedy was killed i was with him. i was strategizing as to what we would do, arthur left his suite and strategized how we are going to deal with company back here
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in philadelphia and i said that night with robert kennedy that daily was going to be with him. i'm going to see daily tomorrow and he was fairly confident that daily was going to endorse him. went to bed at 4:00 o'clock in the morning and i got a phone call. it's 4:00 o'clock in the morning. can't this wait? i didn't know and the reporters said to me, you know, he's been shot. i cried, i prayed and eventually i fell asleep. i believe now that -- if daily would have been there, that it would have greatly enhance the chances of pulling it off. we will never know.
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as i said, we will never know what could have been. >> nobody can prove me wrong, i want to add one other predicament of what would have happened then. i think what would have happened in those days candidates, i think there would have been robert kennedy and humphrey ticket. right there. you have a microphone there, sorry. >> can you hear me in. >> change of focus, you describe the hierarchy of the kennedy brothers, what was the relationship of john and bobby to teddy? >> right. so the kennedy brothers, first of all, would you repeat -- the question was what was the relationship of the kennedy brothers in terms of hierarchy and specially where did ted kennedy fit into that relationship and the kennedy's
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dreams that one of her sons would go into priesthood. i would say that if they had done that, if jack kennedy would have been priesthood, he would have been pope because that's the guy that he would have been. he was intellectual and rose above things and had bobby kennedy he would have been parish priest, that was who he was, he was grassroots, ted kennedy, the question would have never come up. i think ted kennedy, i'm a massachusetts guy and ted kenny was when i was at the boston globe arguably my best source for about 15 years and i think ted kennedy as we all know greatest senators ever but i think ted kennedy spent years in the senate not trying to emulate brother, i think ted kennedy spent those 50 years trying to be bobby and he's so adored, his
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brother when they were senators together actually ted was a senior senator, the only time that the staff never knew where they were was when they were visiting one another's offices and ted kennedy gave bobby and in the kennedy everything matherred and bobby kennedy got to chose the issues, he chose vietnam as his issue. they adored one another. when bobby died, ted kennedy for the rest of his life felt the pressure that i mentioned before when one of the sons died the mantle fell to the next one, i think, ted kennedy never we wanted to run for president. i don't think he specially wanted to be president but that was something he had grown up thinking it was his responsibility. the party kept turning to him and i think it was happiest in
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life and happiest as a u.s. senator when he unsuccessfully challenged jimmy carter and he could just go back to being a senator. there was a question. >> so my understanding that jay edgar hoover got permission from bobby kennedy to put microphones in the motel and tape martin luther king and blackmail him. is that correct and -- >> so the first half of what you said is absolutely correct. j. edgar hoover kept going back to bobby kennedy wanted permission to wiretap martin luther king.
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there was a fear that hoover without any convincing evidence that they were leftist and communist in martin king's hierarchy and at the moment, j. edgar hoover survived through endless attorney generals and presidents because he always had dirt on somebody and he knew exactly at the moment to ask what he wanted and he asked repeatedly for authority to wire tap in the end bobby kennedy gave it to him without defending the position. he gave it to him for a strategic reason. the kennedys were about to propose a major civil rights bill and the most embarrassing thing in the world to them would have been if a bunch of leftists had turned up in martin luther king's camp and j. edgar hoover would have used the information to embarrass the kennedys. the idea that the wiretaps which did provide embarrassing information about king, the idea
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that bobby kennedy wanted that circulated is exactly the opposite of the truth. bobby kennedy when he realized what was happening and that hoover was using this to tarnish martin luther king's reputation he tried to withdraw the transcripts and reputation and it was too late. remember our story from what state? our story from indiana was that the one who forgave bobby kennedy who understood the goodness in him and who forgave him wasn't anybody else, was martin luther king at the point where they said bobby kennedy was no good. what matters much more by the end of the tenure as attorney general bobby kennedy was calling in federal troops to stand up to -- most of you all are old enough to remember, the famous stand in schoolhouse door and bobby kennedy had learned
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from his mistakes in aniston, birmingham that you had to call in troops early because you weren't going to apiece the segregationists and by the end of his time as attorney general bobby kennedy understood that. there is nobody in america who did more during his lifetime not just with civil rights but for the other great passion of martin luther king's life which was ending poverty. so one last thing i want to say about that and this is more than you we wanted to hear and the answer to your question, but bobby kennedy in his life had four great enemies, we talked about one of them and that was j. edgar hoover and another great enemy was a guy who had discovered in recent months was a tutor of donald trump in his early days, a guy named roy cone and bobby kennedy despised roy cone and fairly blamed all of
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mccarty and hateed hoover and detested jimmy hoffa, the head of the most powerful union in america which bobby thought was corrupt. those people you could argue there was a reason to detest. the fourth person to one is a great tragedy and to me that was lbj. constitutionally the guys were so different. one was a harvard educated guy who grew up rich in massachusetts, the other was a guy from east texas who grew up poor and resented anybody who was harvard-educated and talked like kennedy talked. had they ever united in a coalition, they could have gotten more extraordinary things done. they both we wanted to promote civil rights. they both wanted to end poverty and the idea that they were at cross purposes to me is a huge tragedy and i think one of the things that made the lbj more determined than ever to stay in
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vietnam was that bobby kennedy was calling him to come out of vietnam and bobby would track things and every time he gave a antiwar speech, it seemed like the next day lbj increased the bomb ohing of north vietnam. >> one of the things that struck me in the book that i didn't remember -- >> would you tell him how many times you read the book, by the way? >> i'm the only person in america that read his book twice. [laughter] >> i think. >> my wife. >> his wife read it five times. every day he comes home and says, read it again. [laughter] >> that was wasn't of the things in the book. >> what lyndon johnson did with civil rights bill for which he gets enormous credit put bobby in charge of getting it through. >> that is so true. >> the purpose of doing that was that if it failed, he would have bobby to blame.
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>> so i think there were two purposes. >> and he wanted it. >> he knew nobody better who could play off the dead president's memory. jack kennedy filed that civil rights bill, lbj, was a better bill that lbj ended up with but jack kennedy who filed that fill and advisers who told him you ought to file a civil rights bill, he we wanted to wait until they won reelection in '64 to file a bill. bobby said you have to do it now and that was who bobby kennedy was. he has no patient, he came from a essentially a couple of years apart in age but a different generation. jack kennedy from from world war ii, we know what life is like generation, bobby kennedy was a enlisted in the navy and he saw active duty going out of port
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and coming back to port and that was the war injury bobby kennedy ended up with and for the rest of his life he felt a little bit inadequate because he hadn't fought in the war and he spent so much of his life dealing with what he thought were inadequacies. bobby was the one his dad described the runt of the litter and least likely to be able to do anything. and bobby spent his life working harder than any of his siblings to show the dad that he wasn't the runt and could get things done and joe kennedy acknowledged that the kid that was most like him, the kid he most adored at tend and the kid he made competent executor of his estate and nothing more important than who executed that estate was his son bobby kennedy
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. we have time for one more question here. one more question there. take that mic. >> thank you very much. >> what do you think the older for lack of better word was much more conservative and very judgmental. >> that is i don't know this woman but that was the perfect last question. >> how older kennedy judged the younger kennedy, i wonder if i was being too tough. i used precisely that standard.
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what would the later bobby kennedy said about the early one and he would have said at the mccarthy era that america was anticommunist and was standing up legitimately against communist threat. the early bobby kennedy was tone deaf to all of joe mccarthy's victims in the way that bobby kennedy would never have let him get away, that he would have said about vietnam and went to vietnam and said in vietnam, we will standby you because we think you can win this war and it's an important fight and one of the primary authors of the u.s. counter and he did that issue after issue and so that the standard it's the later bobby kennedy


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