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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 24, 2011 5:00pm-7:59pm EST

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if you admire the indian issue, cash pay, we have that too. : >> thank you. [applause] >> about ten minutes ago the space shuttle discovery launched from the kennedy space center in florida. on its way with six astronauts
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to the international space station to deliver supplies. it's the 39th and final discovery mission for the most traveled spaceship in history. nasa's shuttle program is scheduled to end altogether this year. and coming up shortly over on c-span, a live defense department briefing with officials who plan to announce the winner of a $35 billion u.s. air force aerial refueling tanker contract. the bidding process to replace the tanker fleet which dates back to the 1950s has gone on for more than a decade. see the briefing live in about ten minutes from now on c-span. [applause] up next, americans for tax reform president grover norquist joins a panel of tea party activists for a discussion on ways to cut federal spending. this is hosted by cpac, it's about 50 minutes. >> the atmosphere here today is palpable as more than ever people are demonstrating a
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renewed interest in the principles of a free society. it is an honor to be here today among an amazing panel of individuals who are committed to scaling back the size and scope of the federal government. what i'm here today to talk about in particular is a project that is new to us at the independent institute, it's called my gov what we have produced for you there is called a government cost calculator, and it enables users to come in and find out exactly how much federal spending programs are costing them personally. so not only can they find out the true cost of federal spending programs, break them down by issues and various different budgets, but they can also find out what the value of those dollars would be worth if they could save them and use them as they choose. today -- $the 14 trillion
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federal deficit we now confront will be one of the greatest wealth transfers the world has ever seen. now more than ever the issues of how to cut back spending and where to cut back spending are more important than ever. it's clear that in order to address this crisis meaningfully, large and deep spending cuts are going to be required in those areas that constitute the majority of the federal spending. these areas include medicare, medicaid, social security and national defense. this panel is designed to address these issues that clarity and taxation is not the answer. >> [inaudible] >> as i introduce the panelists joining me today, i challenge them to target these areas in particular. moreover, i invite each and every up one of you to come ande our calculator on
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to find out how federal spending issues are affecting you directly. please welcome my fellow panelists. [applause] ♪ joining me today we have john o'hare, john is author of a new american tea party. he is vice president of the illinois policy institute. he is a regular contributor to big government and the daily color, and finally, john has appeared on all kinds of relevant shows like the daily show with jon stewart and, more important, hardball with chris matthews. my second -- [cheers and applause]
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my second speaker today is amy kremer. [cheers and applause] amy is one of the original founders of the atlanta tea party. she is chairman of the tea party express, and she is an active founder of the twitter movement within the liberty and tea party movement more general. she's an activist, a mom and a regular informed citizen. [applause] finally, our third speaker of the evening is grover norquist, grover -- [cheers and applause] perhaps -- he's president of americans for tax reform. he's on the board of the national rifle association, the american conservative union and author of two books including "rock the house" and "leave us alone." [cheers and applause] welcome. all right. john will speak first.
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>> thank you very much, emily. are there any tea partiers here snodgrass. [cheers and applause] how many of you have ever been to maybe an organizing meeting or a rally? [cheers and applause] that's a wonderful thing. you know, you guys show and are really part of a really totally transforming the political landscape today and really making a significant impact. most recently, of course o, in the november elections. [cheers and applause] while this is very obvious to many of us here in the room, it's worth noting because it's no small feat, particularly with the cynicism and criticism the tea party has endured since day one. this is no doubt -- there's no doubt we made a significant impact on the political landscape but three contributions are worth highlighting to think about as we move forward. one, the tea party movement has
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brought more people into the political process. really by highlighting the dangers of a runaway big government bent on creating two classes of people. on the one hand, the wagon riders, those in the public employee unions, the political class, the corporate welfares. and on the other hand, the wagon pullers, the rest of us. hard working taxpayers that are made to pull the wagon. and this movement has really shaken people out of complacency and expanded the tent of the center-right movement, and that's a real victory. more and more of our fellow americans self-identify at tea partiers and conservatives, and despite what certain commentators will have you believe, more and more people are joining our ranks and believe in limiting government and expanding individual liberty. and part of that is though we don't always make that case well, our ideas are not only
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philosophically sound and in sync with the founding principles of our nation, they're also the best way to help the poor and disadvantaged. we need to make that case better and more often and continue to bring people into our ranks. all charitable works, any government program that any liberal touts, are made possible because of the pursuit of profit in a free market system where an investor takes a chance on a entrepreneur who takes a chance hiring workers to provide a service for product. free market capitalism, not command and control government, has pulled more people out of poverty than any system ever has or ever will. [cheers and applause] we need to tout that and champion the benefits of the free market and make that case to many of those who might not come to cpac, those outside of our base, and continue to build support for our ideas. the second major contribution i think the movement's made is to
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clearly elucidate two paths for the future of our country. are we going to be a country that depends on big government for everything, slowly suffocate ing, or are we going to be a nation of independent, liberty-oriented individuals who bereave in free markets and free minds, uninhibited to pursue our own versions of the american dream? i think i know where most folks in this room stand. and the good news is more and more people are standing with us, and we need to continue to build that momentum. [applause] third, third, i think the tea party movement's quite possibly most important contribution has been to serve as a much needed mechanism of accountability outside the republican party. [applause] the tea party movement holds not just liberal democrats accountable, but wayward republicans as well.
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[applause] this is good for liberty, this is good for the country, and it's a very important role the tea party plays. i live in illinois, as you heard in my introduction, and in many ways illinois' a proxy for what could happen to the rest of the country if we don't continue to persevere and reverse current trends. public employee unions are bankrupting our state, and we're hemorrhaging jobs and people at an alarming rate. the trend rhine is good -- line is good even in illinois, which is the good news. people are hungry for politicians who will speak the truth and articulate clear, thoughtful solutions to the serious problems we face. chris christie is a great example of this. [applause] and much like the country as a whole, illinois' fundamentally center right. before we were the land of taxes, we were the land of lincoln. before we were home to president obama, we were home to ronald reagan.
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whose legacy we celebrate tonight. [applause] and we recently lost a tough gubernatorial election, but it was very close, and we sent a handful of tea party freshman to congress here in d.c. and a republican to president obama's former senate seat. [applause] and this was all done with the substantial game-changing tea party participation in illinois. is anyone here from illinois? got a few in the back. they're probably getting lunch. [laughter] all right. i'm here to suggest the goal for us in illinois, something to redeem ourselves and send a strong signal to the nation. the goal is for illinois, the president's home state, to vote for a new person to occupy his current seat in 2012. [applause] it's an audacious goal, but with the right grassroots strategy, delivering the right message, i
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think it's an achievable goal and one that every activist should set for their state, their county, their precinct in 2012 no matter how high a hurdle they think it may be. reject those who tell you it's hopeless, and they will. if anything, we've learned that americans are rejecting the big government status quo, they're with us more than ever, and anything is possible. [applause] the tea party movement and the broader center-right movement has come a very long way, but there's still much more work to do. we must continue to be vigilant and hold elected officials accountable. we must stand by them when they do good, fire and replace them when they do bad, and continue to build our bench of candidates. we need to set our goals high and redouble our efforts if we're going to get our nation back on track, and i look forward to doing that with all of you in the months and years to come. thank you very much. [cheers and applause] >> hello, everyone.
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it's great to be here today. i'm really honored and privileged to be here because i am no one special. i'm just a mom that two years ago was curved about our -- concerned about our country and came together with some other conservatives. and we started this little thing called the tea party movement. and what happened in november is simply amazing because it all happened with no plan. absolutely no plan whatsoever. and now here we are looking at 2012, another election cycle, and we have time to come up with a plan, and to work even harder and to be more successful. [applause] you know, this tea party movement is a direct result of people being fed up and angry and just disenfranchised with both political parties.
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both the republicans and the democrats. [applause] and so people have started to become engaged. this movement is about issues. it doesn't matter if you're republican or democrat. we want principle conservatives in -- principled conservatives in washington. [applause] and that's our objective. we're not an arm of the republican party. as a matter of fact, there are many republicans that don't like us, aren't there? our objective is to send conservatives to washington, not republicans. this movement -- [applause] you know, it started the day after rick santelli had his rant, and it's all about the spending. just like the title of this panel, it's the spending, stupid. i mean, we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. [applause]
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and what american families across this country are having to sit down at their kitchen tables and balance their budgets and cut back to make ends meet, why is it that our federal government, our congress is up here and our president is up here with our credit card just charging, charging, charging? it needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. [cheers and applause] and you and i, we're the ones that are going to stop it. look, the fact of the matter is that if you truly want to effect change, you need to change the players. [applause] you cannot leave these people here and expect them to do something different because they've proven over and over again they just don't get it. >> here, here. [applause] >> so, you know, we can have rallies until the end of time, rallies, gatherings, whatever, but at the end of the day if you truly want to effect change, you're going to have to get
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involved in the political process. and that's tea party express did over this last election cycle l, and we're very proud of the work we've done. everybody said, you can't get involved in the primaries. that's not the politically correct thing to do. well, let me tell you what, i mean, we're not about being politically correct. [applause] this is about principles and values and saving this country. [applause] we have to rein in this out-of-control spending. it's not us -- if not us, then who? it's up to us. we are the last line of defense. and, you know, we've been called radicals, and we've been called the french element and this and that, but the one thing, our armor that allows us to do what we're doing s the u.s. constitution, and i don't think there's anything radical about the u.s. constitution. [applause] so we have, as i said, we had a huge success in november. it was absolutely amazing what
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we were able to do, and we all know, you know, that we took back the u.s. house of representatives, fired nancy pelosi -- [applause] we didn't do it in the senate. we tried, trust me, we tried really hard to fire harry reid, but we have another chance. we can take that gavel out of harry reid's hand and take back the u.s. senate, and we will do that in 012. [applause] 2012. and we need to do that because the one thing is we didn't get here overnight. we can't change this overnight. we can't change it in one election cycle. it's going to take us several election cycles to change this, to turn things back around. and we can do it if we all work hard together. this movement, you know, they said, oh, they're going to go away, thai going to fizzle -- they're going to fizzle out. guess what? we're not going anywhere. we saw what we can do, and we're going to do it again bigger and better. [applause] we just announced a debate with
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cnn, tea party express is partnering with cnn to do the first-ever tea party presidential debate. and the amazing thing -- [applause] the amazing thing about that is that one year ago who could have fathomed that there would be a tea party presidential debate? they didn't even think this movement was going to last. and we are here to stay. and we are going to hold these people accountable, and we are going to make them tow the line and rein in this out of control spending because it has to stop now. and these new members that we brought to congress, into the senate, i mean, they're amazing. they really are amazing. we had this big town hall with senator rand paul and senator mike lee and congressman alan webb. [applause] and, you know, one of my favorite lines at that town hall was alan was asked a question about the debt ceiling, and his answer was, just say no.
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just say no. [applause] and so we need to all continue to work together to rein in this out-of-control spending. you know, we've all been blessed to be raised and be, you know, have america as our home and to be part of this great country, and i want my child and my grandchildren to have the same things that i've had growing up. and i'm sure you all do too. that's why there's so many people involved in this movement and relate to this. because it's about the american dream. we want america to remain that shining city on the hill. [applause] that's what we need to do. so we need to march forward, we need to hold these people accountable, and at the same time a continue to work tirelessly with one another to bring more change in 2012 and take pack this country. -- back this country. not only do we need to take back the u.s. senate, but we need to take back the white house. [applause] we need a conservative in there
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that's going to stand on principles and protect the american dream, protect that shining city on the hill. i'm not ready to speak chinese yet. i don't want to speak chinese. this is america, and i'm proud to be an american, and i know all of you are proud to be an american. and i promise that i will continue to work tirelessly with all of you standing shoulder to shoulder to make change in 2012 and to let the establishment know we are not going anywhere. [applause] god bless you all. >> i'm delighted to be here to talk about the tea party and spending as a critical issue. because two years ago this country was with heading to hades, the republican party was heading to collapse, the conservative movement was disspiritted, we were going to become greece, the government
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was going to run the banks, they were going to run the auto companies, they were going to take over health care, and there was nothing in their way to stop that. and when you looked ahead from two years ago, because i was in the meetings u we were going -- we were going to lose another three senate sheets, more governorships. there was nothing stopping turning this country into something between france, greece and east germany. what happened was the tea party. and the introduction of spending as a vote-moving issue in american politics. and we all know that's what happened so far, the radical change instead of losing three senate seats, we gained seven over the course of that season. we picked up the house and governorships and over 700 state legislative races. this is central because before the tea party movement there was
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a hole in the heart of the conservative movement. there was something missing. thinking about the modern reagan republican party, the conservative movement. people were sitting around a table, who's there? they're there because on the vote-moving issue, everybody's there because on the vote-moving issue they wish to be left alone. different people for different reasons. taxpayers, leave my income alone. businessmen and women, leave my business alone. home schoolers, leave my kids alone. i'm on the board of the nra, second amendment voters, leave my second amendment rights alone. leave my gun rights alone. again, we don't go around insisting that knocking on people's doors saying you should be a hunter, we just want to be left alone in that. so all the various communities of faith, people for whom the most important thing in their life is practicing their faith and transmitting it to their kids, evangelical protestants, orr dock, jews, mormons, they do all agree they want to be left
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alone so that they can go to heaven if guy across the table completely misunderstands scripture, is going to hades on his own. it's not necessary that all of us agree why we're voting for liberty, we vote for the same candidates. and the fellow who wants to go to church all day looks across the table at the guy who wants to make money all day, and they say, well, that's not how i spend my life, and they both look at the guy who wants to pond l his guns -- fondle his guns all day. but on the key vote issue, they wish to be left alone. and that was the reagan coalition, and there was a problem with it. as george bush taught us, he said i'm going to leave your kids alone, faith alone, business alone, i'm going to leave your guns alone, i'm going to spend a little too much. and there was nobody at the table who threw anything heavy or walked out of the room. there was not a part, a vote-moving part of the modern conservative movement that said
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spend too much is my vote-moving issue because i know if the you spend too much, it will affect me. you cannot leave me alone if you're spending too much of other people's money. [applause] the tea party movement completes the reagan coalition. it brings to the table that which was not there, and we paid dearly for that missing piece of success. it's also central to have the tea party movement and people focused on spending. it's the spending, stupid. in order to compete with the other team. the other team is the taking -- we're the leave us alone coalition. we don't want other people's money, we don't want other people's time, we don't want to run other people's lives for them, okay? we just want to run our lives and have liberty. the other team, however, views
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the proper role of government as take things from some people and giving them to other people. usually they want money, yours, and it goes to them. that's the takings coalition. so sitting around their table trial lawyers, labor unions, the two wings of the dependence movement, people who are locked into welfare dependency and people who make $90,000 a year managing the dependency of others making sure none of them get jobs and become republicans. [applause] we also have all the people who get government grants. what do they get the money for? to come bother the rest of us. these are the people who invented cars too small to put an entire family into, toilets too small to flush completely, the lightbulbs that don't really light very well -- [laughter] they've set up various things such that on the sabbath you have to separate the green glass from the white glass from the brown glass for the recycle
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priests, and the national -- have these thou shalt lists, slightly longer and more tedious than he leviticus. [laughter] so around the left's table is a bunch of people who live off other people's money, yours. when we focus correctly on spending, we not only complete our coalition and make it internally consistent, but we go to the other team's table. you notice the first thing that obama did as soon as he showed up was take $800 billion and throw it in the center of the table, and then the 350 from t.a.r.p. on the center of the table, and you've got a trillion-plus dollars on the center of the table. our friends on the left can get along. kind of like that scene after the bank robbery in the movies; one for you, one for you, one
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for you, and they're all smiles, and they're all happy. but as soon as the pile of cash in the center of the takings coalition table begins to dwindle antmaller, be -- and if we say no new taxes and is mean it and put our foot on the air hose, and we stop throwing money in the center of their table, then the left begins to look at each other a little bit more like the second to the last scenes in those lifeboat movies. [laughter] now they're wondering who they're going to eat or who they're going to throw overboard. the left is not made up of friends and allies. the left is made up of competing parasites. [applause] if we say no to tax increases, stop throwing money in the
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center of their table, they will just as cheerfully gnaw on the guy sitting next to them as on a taxpayer. [applause] and our job is to say no to tax increases, not give them more money so that two years from now when we meet them in the next election, there are few fewer of them, and they're shorter. thank you. [applause] [laughter] >> i'd like to go ahead and open it up for question and answer. we'll be taking questions on the mic directed to any one of our three panelists. yep. >> hi. my name's joe howe -- i'm sorry, did you call on someone else? >> i'm sorry, joe? >> yes, you talked plenty about
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spending and the debt. i think one issue that hasn't been addressed is the elephant in the room which is what's fueling that, the fact we are on a purify yacht treasury and the federal reserve. [cheers and applause] my question is where does the tea party stand on the fiat currency? >> oh, okay. i'll take this one -- [applause] look, here's my strong suggestion on speaking with and working with the tea party. we're not what's the tea party think, it's kind of like asking what the people of indiana think. there are many leaders of the tea party movement, there are thousands of tea party members. and i think the central truth that they grasped that was missing from a lot of smart people in washington who were trying to build a republican party and a conservative movement was, guys, front and
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center, spending. there are many challenges we have and not being, not having money that's fixed to something of real value is up with of them. what we need -- is one of them. can't tell the tea party anything. anybody tells you tell the tea party what to do, but they're not following anybody, it's common sense which is a pretty good thing. [applause] but do speak out, go to the -- have panels, talk to people, share information, and ron paul has done a very good job of educating a lot of people. [cheers and applause] on just the topics. it's a one-on-one education process. ..
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so if somebody seeks to become a leader and start controlling the rest of us will be able to level back with the rest? is this a concern of the national people? >> i would answer that question, no it's not a concern. i mean, this movement cannot be controlled. there is not one leader -- one organization [applause] the important thing to understand is why there are tea party organizations out there and liberty loving groups out there, you know, we have been labeled the tea party movement, but there other organizations out there that don't use than a tea party.
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this is a constitutional based movements, each movement that is focused on the issues and quite frankly the people in this movement are not loyal to any one organization. they are loyal to the cost. that's what they are loyal to hear it and that's what they are going to work on. while my organization can go through one and the other organization of people will turn out in huge rallies or will work with roots on the ground to target a senator or congressman, there are groups that go way and in due events and work with the local groups too. i mean, the people are loyal to the cause. and we don't have to go out and tell these tea party people what the cause is. they know that the cause is we stand on three core principles and values in the free-market fiscal responsibility and limited government. and that is what we're all focused on and working for. that is all that matters. you know, this movement is like
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herding wild cat. but in the end, everybody is focused on the issue and that's what happened in november. you know, everybody just work towards ending conservatives to washington and that the concern. i'm not worried and i don't think many people are. [applause] >> keep in mind the group that keeps trying to find a leader for the tea party movement is the establishment left. why? because they can't play quarterback. the one of the strengths of the tea party movement is there are millions of members of people who described the values and tens of thousands of liters, meaning bring in somebody else the movement. that is a leader. and if we ever offered up one, believe me, they would sack the quarterback and take them out. they want to announce that it is one guy and they have plans for the one guy once they pick them.
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[applause] >> yes, ma'am. >> yeah, i'm a tea party or -- [cheers and applause] and i can honestly say that i am hopeful that governor chris christie -- [cheers and applause] is going to take the initiative to control spending however, mr. norquist, once upon a carrot cakes and in the state is burdened with additional medicaid costs, i fear that his efforts will be ignored in our taxes will possibly solar. and he may, possibly, because of that spoil his reelection bid. what are your feelings about that? >> you are quite right, one of the plans of the obama administration must oppose spending burdens on stage, to force governors and state legislators to raise taxes, to discredit them with their own
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team. the other team is not, they are people. we should never fullers of thinking the other team are idiots. they thought this through. they've been planning to move forward and make the government figure in a country that doesn't want that. they are not to be terribly clever to pull this off. you've really got to work added to get get the american people to put the pollster on themselves. what your governor has done right and exchange the world, the country, it's changed the country. he said we are not raising taxes. worldly raising spending. what the left wants us to do is say they've run up a trillion dollars deficit and they want to focus on the deficit, which is the difference between spending and taxes writing. the tea party movement and chris christie, governor christie said
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the problem is spending. the problem isn't whether you've taken it or borrowed it, it is gone. it is not how much you have, the government has of our money at the end of the day. so if we focus on spending as christie has, we win. if we focus on the deficit, the liberals come in a, we have a solution to that. will raise taxes. and the "washington post" must prefers to raise taxes solution in the cut spending solution. that one is exactly what christie did come it takes tax off the table. not an option. the other way to fix it is to spend less. different make the mistake is in the problem is the deficit, there are two ways to fix that. raise taxes and then spending, which they'll never get to. >> thanks very much. [applause] >> grover, could you update us on this status of the pledge and
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exactly what that is. >> thank you. the taxpayer protection pledge is a pledge we put together in 1985. we asked all candidates for federal and state office to make a commitment in writing, black ink preferably, that they will never raise taxes. we have all the seven republicans in the u.s. house of representatives house of representatives and all but seven of the republican senators taken the pledge and kept it. and that the state legislative level, there are 1300 state legislatures. the list is that so you can ask your state legislators, congressman, anyone who wants to run for president. her teen governors have made that commitment and because of that, we are going to see a lot of spending restraint. if they haven't made the commitment to not raise taxes, when they went to the state capitals, there would be 100 people explaining why this one time they need to raise taxes.
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>> gentleman to my left. >> i really like what has been said in this and all, that we obviously need to restrict spending and lower the size of government. but at the same time, these are the same things republicans say when they are out of power. we have come in the 90s, when they took control, and newt gingrich was elected speaker of the house and they had the contract of america, we essentially betrayed all of those points in the contract of america. in 2000, when george bush was elected, he ran a small government, don't intervention and ran the largest deficit in history. and enacted t.a.r.p., enacted several bailout and even ronald reagan, who ran these things, he ran on the same principles ran deficit similar to jimmy carter and had military inventions into nicaragua and sold arms to iran. the way like what you are saying, but we have been
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betrayed far too much in this dialogue. how can we trust you now? [applause] >> that is -- that is exactly the right question. and just for the record, when i was in high school i used to be called. it was well ago, but it true. that's why this is spending in the tea party. that's a spending a tea party or both with this panel is about. what changed is the creation of the tea party movement. it was always out there. there was a huge amount of common sense, but it likes of rush limbaugh's listeners. there were a bunch of guys begin like rush limbaugh's emma but they posted up by radio, you could count them. nobody knew they were there. before the tea party, you may have had them sent people to want to spend too much. there was no believe that if he spent too much of a church with the next election. there are people who used to be in the senate that aren't there
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now because they spend too much in 10 years ago they'd have been advertising how cool they were about bringing earmarks back. the tea party is that six for exactly what she pointed to an enemy number one are the appropriators. as you know, there's the republican party in washington, republican democrat party and the appropriations committee. they don't wear jerseys in the past. and the disciplined the republican leadership has put on the appropriations committee as a result of the tea party movement has changed the dynamics that you are right, undermine what gingrich is trying to do and what reagan is trying to do. >> i would simply add to that a few points that i believe -- i disagree with grover uncertain margins. i don't believe the left is evil, but i do see that went the money is on the table, in the interest of politicians on both sides of the aisles to start grabbing. i think what is an interesting aspect of the tea party movement in what we have seen change a
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lot amongst the youth is really a demand for changes in rules. rules can strictly limit politicians on both sides of the aisle. so when we talk about the reforms and if we are serious about banning kites, waiting to talk about not cutting particular cuts here and there in the budget, the changing roles of the game such that it makes it more difficult for the state to grow into the future. [applause] >> and the one thing i would add is you said how can you trust? the old adage trust but verify. when you vote for somebody new summoned to washington or the state capital come you can't just wash your hands and go back to running your business and living your life. the unfortunate reality is that it often times people do. you need to stay engaged and it's all about accountability, and the mechanism of accountability. so i'm not suggesting you vote for republicans because they are going to total the line on
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spending. you need to hold people accountable. if they don't do what they say they're going to do on the campaign trail, fire them. [applause] >> and also come i want to add something to that, too. i heard recently someone say the tea party movement is the concept of america and i agree with that. i mean, we are here. the difference between when reagan was here and talking about the contract with america in earlier times when republicans regained power and we lost our way again, i think one of the biggest differences is we have technology now that we are using the technology, where before in mind as andrew talk radio that all these people connect to it, but now we have twitter and facebook and other social media. the people are connecting that way and we are alive and well. and we are responsible for what is happening right now. it is then because we have been living our lives, working, taking care of families, going
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to school and not paying attention to what is going on in washington. and now we see what is going on in washington and we are saying no more. [applause] >> we will take a question from the far left. >> thank you. this is for grover. yesterday we had a panel on family values. we had husband and wife, father, mother, all the family. reticular early with the husband-and-wife thing instead of cohabitation. the problem with that is two and a half years ago i got married and found with the marriage penalty, that our tax -- our income tax jumped by a whopping 500% from what we had paid as two single people. nowadays find that we don't have any tax increases on the very wealthy, but we are definitely middle-class in this did take a cut into her standard of living. i want to know if any of the tax avoidance people or the tax
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stable people are doing anything about this. it is not a penalty for getting married. it is a punishment at the rate that the retired. >> that is a very good point, thank you. they thought they were solving this back in 2001 when they really just minimize it. you can with income splitting the lemonade the challenge. i think that is a fine idea. we both pay taxes at the rate of your own income rather than hitting the higher one. it is a real challenge, but step one is let's just keep pushing the tax rate down. you're right, when you have taxes as high as they are in people during reductions and credit to try and fix this problem or fix that problem, the problem is they are spending too much, which means they have to take too much. there is no pleasantly to take 20% of what the american people earned from them. there is no polite way to do it, no pleasantly to do it.
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there is no fair way to do it. fairness is not the government takes money from people earned it. fairness is not necessarily part of that equation. so, you are right that the high level of taxation leads to all sorts of punishing effects come included non-institutions that government was trying to be helpful too. but lower taxes, less spending and then the focus of the tea party movement on pending icann gives us hope that we'll get to solve the other challenge. >> i am over here, too. standing up. >> you are next. the gentleman right here. >> amy, i'm a college student at a typical liberal campus. in the process of starting my own tea party on campus. [applause] what advice would you have for me or any other college student
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whose campus was thinking about starting their own tea party? >> well, i think that is actually one of our biggest challenges is to be no use symbolic because you are our future. and i was very happy to see last night some brave young college republicans here from a bunch of different universities. [applause] and they are engaged and they are concerned about the direction of our country. i mean, i can tell you one of the things that is helping with our youth and it's sad, but true, but they are graduating from college and there are no jobs. so this movement is growing and you can see the youth are becoming involved as well. i think we need to use technology because if you want to reach the youth, you know, i was having a conversation with him to do last night about building multimillion dollar's websites. it's like why build a multimillion dollar website. you need to do mobile apps because if you want to reach the
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youth coming to do it through their mobile phones. and there are groups out there that, you know, are focused on this. young americans for freedom, college republicans. there is a tea party student organization that has just begun. and so, i think just getting the message out there and focusing on the fiscal issue, you know, it is a spending -- just focus on that. telco to the social issues because that is the same thing with all of us. that is what's going to divide us. so when you have kids that are graduating from college and can't get jobs and their parents are losing jobs and they can't afford to pay for their cars in this sort of thing anymore, you'll start seeing more of the youth getting involved. you know, just tell people where they can go and research the information. it is not our job to persuade them. they need to go educate themselves and i think that is going to help grow this movement in terms of the use. >> two other specifics on that
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dude is for liberty and also the leadership institute led by morton blackwell on his website. they can put you in touch with sort of a do it yourself, start your own organization on campus with bylaws and all the things you think would cost a lot of money or take a lot of time to do. so leadership institute website, if you want to start to apply yourself, that's a great place to start. >> in addition, they do offer mobile apps that are downloadable on the website so they can look at those resources as well. yes. >> thank you. guys, i've been hearing a lot of generalities of conservatives and progressives or left or right, but i see it as an ideological question of you either believe in the federal reserve system or you don't. and right now, what i see very much like these four rows of mike's is three sides over there of the far, far left, the obama last in the newt gingrich right, which defends federal reserve
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banking and that is fine, but we need to get those people in the open to say we believe in central banking and have the opposition of no we don't believe in central banking because what we are doing now is talking about the symptoms of central banking and we are not talking about the cause of all of these symptoms with high unemployment, inflation, lower standard of living, the pressures of fiat money. i think we all do a big disservice not to specifically address the issue of central fractional reserve banking and its monopoly over legal loss. as a movement i think we need to come around to galvanizing what you guys believe in central banking, that's fine, but we don't. and so, you all need -- i think that is how we need to kind of organize our forces. my question is -- >> we got the question.
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don't tell the tea party what they ought to do. but -- [cheers and applause] let me say, what ron paul has done in educating people on this subject, by having a simple bill that says we are to offset. now, the people who oppose the bill of auditing the fed makes a point there is a problem. maybe it's not a big deal, but the fact they don't want the fed on it raises some questions people have. what ron paul's approach has been this to say that is educated a lot of people on the subject of me on it to be careful when talking to the tea party movement not to tell them you have to take up my issue as their number one issue. you are responsible for your issue. everyone else's response before their issue and there are thousands of tea party figures out they are, but again, ron paul has begun the education process that i think you would like to see have been. [cheers and applause]
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>> thank you. i'm from minnesota, the windows temp all nt and michele bachmann. and i have a quick question. we talked about taking money off the table. i think one of the best ways to do that is saying no to increasing the national debt limit. it's 218 members of fiscally members can do it, what do you say about that, please click >> absolutely. >> one minute left. so it's a short answer. [laughter] >> it is an important pressure point to more spending. the only one i see out there right now. >> i'm sorry, we have time for one more question. >> the gentleman in the front has been waiting patiently. sir? >> grabbed the mic behind you.
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>> just a comment. grover, you said don't tell the tea party what to do. to me, i think what -- i agree with a lot of things the tea party does and the associated up a lot what they do. but i think they need to do like the lady standing outside, i have friends around the last that our friends. i don't agree with them, but i think we have to stop using the word left, right, liberal, slander individuals and talk about issues. and if i believe in an issue, like the man from the federal reserve, i'm not pushing these issues, but let's talk about issues because we need to bring in those people that voted for obama last time. even though they don't like him right now, they'll probably vote for him again unless we bring them in. [applause] >> amateur mature to welcome -- excuse me, to thank all of our
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panelists for a wonderful discussion. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [applause]
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>> the justice department recently held a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of robert kennedy swearing-in as attorney general. we will hear remarks from current attorney general, eric holder and former aide during his tenure at the justice department. the two are event begins at audio from the swearing-in earn money in january 1961. [applause] >> from the east room of the white house, january 21, 1961. >> mr. president, per your request, i have a very great honor to administer the oath of office to the following members of your cabinet. tina, secretary of state. huntress galan, secretary of the treasury. robert s. mcnamara, secretary of
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defense. robert f. kennedy of massachusetts to be attorney general. gentlemen, if you'll raise your right hands, state your names and repeat after me. i will support and defend the cost of tuition of the united states. >> the constitution of the united states. spin it against all enemies. >> against all enemies. >> foreign and domestic. >> foreign and domestic. >> i will bear truth, faith and allegiance to the state. the mac i take this application freely without any mental reservation. >> without any mental reservation. the mac or purpose of evasion. >> or purpose of evasion. >> i will dwell discharge the duties of the office. >> the duties of the office. >> on which i am about to enter.
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so help me god. >> so help me god. >> as president of the united states, it is my great pleasure for me to welcome non-as part of the official family. [applause] >> good afternoon. come on, folks. good afternoon. this is a happy, happy occasion. to mrs. kennedy and the kennedy family, to our distinguished guests, to my colleagues and to those who have served and supported our nation's department of justice, it is my pleasure and it is my great honor to welcome you to the
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robert f. kennedy department of justice. [applause] today, we come together to celebrate the achievement and the enduring contributions of our nation asked you for the attorney general, a man whose legacy continues to guide a in his memory continues to touch us and his example continues to inspire us. as we reflect on his remarkable life, we also mourn the reason lots of another great champion for justice. robert kennedy's tear friend and brother-in-law, sargent shriver. sargent shriver served our country in many ways and that was for equal rights and opportunities, as ambassador for this nation and as an innovator in global understanding and healing. throughout his life he worked to live up to his brother-in-law
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qualifications, and to rely to make a difference. our thoughts and prayers are with the shriver and kennedy family, just as they are also with the family of robert kennedy's longtime interested assistant, e.g. my pillow. on tuesday this week we last dose of these servants. the saturn in their presence is felt. remember the kennedy family, sergeant smiling down on us today. i believe he is. this is indeed a very social occasion. for me it is a tremendous privilege to be joined by so many former department leaders who have made this and truly horrid start researching. we have a cadre of assistant attorney general, administrative aide, attorneys and support staff who worked alongside attorney general kennedy in the criminal division, land of vision come antitrust, tax
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division and the attorney general's office among other components. i'm going to ask if you are part of the justice department from 1961 to 1964, please stand so that we may recognize you. [applause] i want to thank you all for being here and helping us pay tribute to one of america's most committed public servants and one of these departments must affect the leaders. now, there is much to admire about robert kennedy and there is much to learn in his tenure as attorney general. even now, exactly 50 years after robert kennedy stood with his older brother in the east room of the white house and swore the oath of his new office.
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like many of you, i can still remember those days. i can still remember sitting in the basement of my childhood home, watching our black-and-white television comedy and a of a young, charismatic president that was january 20, 1961, half a century ago. i was in the fifth grade and i can still recall my mother's enthusiasm, my father's pride in my own sense that something, something exciting, something important was happening. the following day was marked by another historical moment when attorney general robert kennedy was sworn in and i was told after the just disbarment initially turned them away for lack of an i.d. card [laughter] i'm not sure if they continue to work your after that, he was finally shown to his office on the fifth floor of this building. that was january 21 come in 181. my understanding of the obligations of an attorney general as a visionary come as a
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force for progress and is a model for the leadership has not yet taken for them. but it would soon enough. just two years ago, there was much talk about attorney general kennedy and the successful effort and the successful effort and the successful effort and the successful effort alabama. this had negative political consequence. this was a defining act. it was nothing easy or necessary thing to do. it was the right thing to do. on june 11, 1963, my family watched uncelebrated news reports that two brave, young with the help of this department would step has governor george wallace to become the first african-american to enroll in the university of alabama. now, years later one of those, vivian malone jones would become
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i like to svd and family, my family, to stand. [applause] now, long before i married her lovely sister, vivian became the university of alabama's first african-american graduate. surely after earning her degree, she moved to washington and began her career right here in the justice department's civil rights division. vivian passed away several years ago, much too soon. throughout her life, she was inspired by and grateful for the courage that was shown by the department under attorney general's leadership are the result standing in the schoolhouse door, progress that had marked the commitment that
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it signaled them to justice betted insureds served as my first lesson from attorney general kennedy, even if it was not taking citizenship before i could fully understand it. i learned that the law did not have an abstraction. it is a powerful tool that can even put up walls or build bridges. it is a small instrument that except the lives and circumstances of real people in real committees for good or ill. it is an effective means to transform our society into one that serves the interest of the many for the few. now, no one can doubt -- no one can doubt how robert francis kennedy chose the law when he was attorney general. he taught us that law can be a powerful force for good if we are willing, as he was, to roll up our sleeves, to summon our courage and to lead from the front lines of change.
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in doing just that, attorney general kennedy championed the cause of the elite among us and made our nation more just, more feher and more humane. he was not afraid to glean the better world. now the lessons of his life inspired my own decision in my school to come and work in the justice department criminal division, just as robert kennedy did just as he graduated from moscow. i arrived here in 1976, a dozen years after attorney general kennedy had left the department. yet, his presence was still felt and memories of him worse though often shared. i was told stories of how he walked the hallways of this building, ducking into the offices, startling and amazing employees and those who visited the foyer were likely to use the young kennedy children running by. from that very chair, he sat
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throughout his time here, attorney general kennedy called on the team to read you the department commission and to approach the great challenges of the day, not as problems to be contained or kicked down the road, that is crazy to be solved, as the young attorney come i never imagined i would have the opportunity and honor of assuming the position that robert kennedy once held. and i know that it would not have had this extraordinary opportunity to serve were it not for the commitment and the courage of robert kennedy. he and leaders like him made it possible for someone like me, an african-american kid to stand before you today as a nation attorney general. i know from the core of my being, that would dishonor comes an obligation that duty to expand and to strengthen the work of robert kennedy began here and to conduct myself a
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matter that is consistent with two visions of who would attorney general is and how one should use the powers of that office. in his first speech as attorney general, robert kennedy argued that the time after me has long since passed, that it was time to and i quote, prove to the world that's a silly meaning when we say that all men are created free and equal before the law. all of us, said, wish i time when he lived in a more world but we don't. and if our times are difficult and complex theme, so are the challenging filled with opportunity, unquote. despite all that has been accomplished in recent decades, we still cannot live in these times. we continue to face difficult injustice, division and an array of challenges that can serve to sharpen our skills, feel our resolve, focused their energy
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and the palace to actions. in times like these, the importance of robert kennedy's work becomes even clearer. i am proud to report having today's department of justice that goes on in our offices before a court and in our communities. it goes on in our demand of power in dinner at relations with those in need. it goes on in her efforts to protect our national security, to safeguard our civil liberties, to expand opportunities, to pretend and to reduce violence, to combat the causes and consequences of hate, to uphold the constitution, strengthen the rule of law from the values that define good great nation, to protect the most vulnerable among us and to honor the principles that were at the root of attorney general kennedy's actions in the heart of this decision, integrity, inclusion, tolerance and above all, justice.
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so as we celebrate robert kennedy's life and his impact on this department, let us also permit ourselves to carry non-in carrying out his mission to make gentle the life of this world and to make good on the promise of our nation. let us answer his call to face up to her nation's problems and live up to the founding principles. let us heed the wisdom of this extraordinary examples. now, this afternoon remedial tribute to her panelist discussion and from the words and memories that is beloved, kathleen is here to share, we have a chance to see a fuller picture of robert kennedy and to expand our understanding of this man and his vision as well as their ability to relate his actions. half a century ago, robert kennedy proved that a single person has the power to approve the world around us. today 50 years later, his example remains emblazoned on
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the hearts and souls of the american people and his voice echoes through the generations, calling on us to shoulder our responsibility and serve, to serve and to serve. this lesson and this message so points us down the path of robert kennedy never finished traveling. so let us keep going. let us continue his fight for a world free from injustice. let us move forward, despite the obstacles before us and the cynics around us towards progress. let us act in optimism, without delay in hearing to the highest standards of professionalism, the very standards that attorney general kennedy established. and when a signal to all the world that without delay, the spirit of robert kennedy lives on in his family, and his former colleagues, and in his, this department of justice department
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of justice, and above all in the citizens of this great nation. thank you. [applause] [applause] and now, it is my pleasure to join you in watching a department meeting don't tribute to attorney general kennedy, which recruited in his honor in an attempt to share with the man and not portray. the man who once sat in that chair was to his staff, to this department into her nation. the first, first a video message from someone who very much wanted to be here with us today, the 44th president of the united states, barack obama.
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>> hello, everybody. i want to thank attorney general holder, kennedy and the entire kennedy family for inviting me to join you in this special anniversary. sorry i can't be there, but i wanted to offer a few words in celebration of the life enduring legacy of robert francis kennedy. 50 years ago today, the ceremony at the white house, bobby kennedy swore oath in the camera 64th attorney general. his passion, his idealism's remain in the life of today's justice apartment in his memory still burns brightly, inspiring men and women, young and old here in america and around the world to take up his colleges in the foreign ideal for strike out against injustice. for me and for so many americans, bobby kennedy embodies an idea he spoke of so often, that each of us can make a difference in all of us thought to try. in the face of war, in places of
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poverty with kerry hope and empire at times the revealed man's capacity to do harm, he never lost faith in our capacity to love. he never lost successive possibility. his belief that we can, every single one of us, near the gap between the world as it is in the world as it might be. so today, let's remember and reaffirmed the legacy of robert kennedy. let's work together to build a country that is more equal and more just. let's refuse to accept things as they are. let's dream, as he did, of things that never were and say why not? [applause] been
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>> in this generation, we have seen an extraordinary change in america as the ultimate method to what the greeks wrote so many years ago, to tame the savage myth of man and make gentle the life of this world. let us dedicate ourselves to that and say a prayer for our country and for our people. >> first because it's the right thing to do in president kennedy said were going to do this because it's the right and to do. ♪
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♪ ♪ >> at this critical moment in history, he brought something to the department and the job, which helped transform the sense of the possible. it is impossible to imagine my life without him, but the standard for attorney general's now in the past and in the future as robert kennedy. >> there is a tenant need to mythologize, not only what would have been, but what had been.
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at the same time, what happened to the department of justice, what happened to the kennedy administration was real. it has been recorded, the successes were meaningful and they have changed the nation. >> no matter what talent in individual possesses, no matter what energy he might have, no matter how much integrity and honesty he might have, if he is by himself particularly a individual, he can accomplish very little. >> what he did at the start, set the tone for everything to follow. today, the most extraordinary deputy and assistant attorney general that perhaps has ever graced the department of justice. >> it was a wonderful place to be. in the end, the morale of the department was amazing.
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everybody was working on the time, but it was fun. he was serious without being serious, you know what i mean? >> well, it was clear to robert kennedy and arriving at the department of justice he was going to to have to breathe some life into this big bureaucracy, which is something that he was used to doing. he stepped into the campaigns that were slow, inefficient, hierarchical and it energized them by the force of his personality and by this committee to the overriding goal. >> he opened up his department when i first joined the department i was lucky if i knew that the attorney general was, much less meeting with him and having business with him. kennedy changed that and not only met with my own attorneys, but used to wander around and go
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into individual offices. >> he walked the halls. he also would advise all of the new layers to a stop us and talk to them about what they were interested in, so that everyone had a chance to being connected. but it was also the new case that he would befitting in your office, doing whatever and you would pop in, which was both terrifying and wonderful. >> we just all love to end it was impossible not to. not simply because of what he was her, although that was obviously important, but because of what he represented in the public light of the country, because of the ideals that we set up, because of the standard of strength, of patriotism, of
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love for and service of the country and of all of its ideals so that you are always doing of something which you could be proud. you are never doing anything of which you were ever ashamed. >> we have had a great deal of talk in this century in the past 100 years about the quality. these not talk is what is needed now. it is only relatively recently, and we must recognize, that we have a nation have again gathered our strength, our will and our determination to hunt boldly and vigorously, the degrading burdens of intolerance, bigotry and discrimination. >> what he wanted was he wanted results. he wanted something done about this zippy. he wanted something done about
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louisiana. he wanted something done about alabama and he wanted it done the day before yesterday. and the lawyers who worked for me believed in him, believe that's what he wanted and that's what they wanted. so they just put it all out for him. >> his great achievement as attorney general was sublimate. he himself grew through that period of time. he had an instinct. he always had any state for the underdog, for those who are not included. >> the schools had been closed in 1959, rather than meet the requirements of brown viewport of education, they took the position that the constitution did not compel the states to offer public education and therefore they would close the
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schools. and of course overnight he had nights cool for the african-american children. this is something he didn't have to do. both he and president kennedy focused on the children and the opportunity and under his leadership in the school system in prince edward county, probably one of the best in the country. i'm not served -- but that is a very personal example of robert kennedy responding to a problem, not just as a lawyer, but as a leader. >> we have to learn from bob kennedy sacrifice when people step out to risk their lives. we have to make sure those dreams become a reality.
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it occurs to me to know there are people who care enough to sacrifice everything. >> he could swirl in his chair and look away for a sec and after you has to make tough on or told him a terrible bit of news. >> at the same time he was very reasonable and pragmatic about it. he didn't like you bumping your head against the windmill. he wanted you to say something could be done. he looked for achievement and for a bottom line and the results, but he was opened up to many imaginative creative to meet every soul. >> i think one of the great accomplishments of the kennedy
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justice department was its very careful and successful management of the standoff with governor wallace. this is high-stakes politics and it was particularly high stakes for the african-americans who are trying to get an education and who were blocked literally by the government themselves. >> is he talking directly to the government? >> and i come here to ask you now for not aquiver coinsurance that she will permit the student to ask her all wine education at a great university. >> we don't need you to make a speech. >> will make my statement, governor. i was in the process of making my statement. i ask you with unequivocal assurance that these students, vivian malone and you will step aside peacefully for your constitutional duty as governor.
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>> is beginning to talk talk to the governor? but it was just typical. no turning back. and they're not too many people exactly like that. >> he discovered himself in action to go down to these plays as in appalachia and hold a child in his hand and you could feel was palpable, that he identified them yearn to be able to make better. >> he was wise above all, a man who deeply loves this country and its people and had such a sense of justice and decency and right conduct, that he could get
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an entire department and later a great part of the country to understand and to follow what he was going to do. >> he never backed off doing what was the right thing to do. >> there was a seamlessness in his life. and when you watch footage of the period, you'll see how his family and part of his life as the department of jet is then of course his work life comes home as well. he is back and forth at the white house, the department of justice, he was in constant motion. his family was in constant motion. everyone understood this as a dedicated family man and father of many children and that he was dedicated to those children and he was dedicated at home. >> i think you meant a lot of people in the justice department that he had his kids pictures in sauce is and they've been hung
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their kids pictures in their office. >> at the other's children around him and had something else to do for the moment, he would talk to whoever was. maybe with the president. >> he said he liked and to make clear calling of the guard and he thinks a good thing. >> want to say hello to carry? >> yeah. >> high. >> hi, gary. >> how are you doing? >> are you at our house? >> i am way out in the southland, way down south. do you know what the temperature is down here? the temperature is 98 degrees, just tell you father likes it. tell him we are all going to get hardships.
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>> okay, say goodbye. >> goodbye. >> why don't we plan that? >> he was serving his brother as president in countless ways, not only at the just as department, but as the highest council of foreign policy. it was at the time, and it was absolutely true. it was important that president kennedy wanted bobby a lot. >> there was a time when he was having a meeting of the people who are working on developing what became the war on poverty and he was going in and out in the relief for 15, 20 minutes, half an hour, come back, not missed a beat back into the conversation is that we've been there the whole time. it turns out that he was going
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down the hall to discuss what to do about the cuban missile crisis. completely compartmentalized, totally calm and doing both of those things at the same time. he was concentrating so much in his mind, in his head. i think what he was carrying around were religious issues. russia, europe and his job, which was running the department of justice. >> robert kennedy got the terrible news from jay edgar hoover in a phone call at hickory hill and his world turned upside down. >> the attorney general was not -- was not running the halls and cracking jokes for a long time after that. and it was always the sense that
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in fact a different life and different reality. he came out of that and after a period of several months like that, he was back to his normal hard-hitting self to do everything. >> history does not reveal its alternatives. you just can't be sure of any name. anyway, that's, that's why you have to make an enormous recount and he did. >> if i had a chance to talk to robert kennedy today, i would tell him we are not done yet. i would say for myself that i think of him practically every day. if i saw him today, i would say,
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you did a fabulous amount of this country. you inspired us and he made a lot of wonderful eggs have been, but we are not done yet. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [applause] [applause]
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>> this is a doubly auspicious day for attorney general, past and present. would you join me in wishing attorney general holder a very happy birthday? [applause] ..
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the next day he brought a pass and we fit the first rolled up short sleeves, constant curiosity, and black bear of a dog named brenda ennis and humor. not many days later he came to work on the president's day weekend and was impressed by all of the cars in the garage. he sent notes to all of the owners complementing them on their devotion. he soon got a note back from harold reece, who was then the
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deputy in the office of legal counsel. it said something like especially on washington's birthday i cannot tell a lie. i was parked there while wertham and i were shopping at the holiday white sales. [laughter] what a different department it was then. 30,000 employees compared with 100,000 plus today. if you asked them who was the highest-ranking woman in the department, people probably would have had to stop and think, and then finally say well, isn't b. rosenberg chief in the sectional division? plight, the dignified driver may have been the only non-white face often seen on the fifth floor. i'm not sure that there was even one african-american lawyer in
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the department then. i'm sure rfk would be gratified to see how diverse the department would become and how warmly he would thank attorney general holder for bringing us together today. [applause] in 1961 it didn't take long for people in the department to form impressions of the new attorney general, because he soon demonstrated several kinds of strength. one example was that provided by george chacha, the mayor of gary indiana. he helped jfk when 70% of gary's vote, but then was accused of income-tax evasion. with the indictment the
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department hands and waited in some dispense and the sure smiled when they heard he told the head of the tax division do when you have to do. he was convicted and spent two years in prison. yes, r.f.k. was well known as a prosecutor. what is less recognized that he also displayed strength on behalf of defendants. there was a time when rising public concern about crime in the streets, but he was determined, as he said, that this should not just be the department of prosecution, but truly a department justice. he established the ellen committee on criminal justice, created in natural conference on bill reform and sponsored the legislation that for the first time provided paid federal counsel for poor defendants. just down the 5100 corridor he had david hackett and richard boon brigade the president's
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committee on juvenile delinquency, the forerunner of of war on poverty. he was also physically strong but never asked more of his colleagues than of himself. on a cold february, saturday in 1963 along the canal he took up the challenge to president kennedy had put to the marine corps officers to hike 50 miles in 20 hours. r.f.k. did it in 17 i.c. hours and dress shoes at that. [laughter] win ed, my mentor, dropped out at mile 35, r.f.k. said your lucky your brother is and president of the united states. [laughter] of course the most historic dimensions of robert kennedy's tenure as attorney general concerned civil rights.
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talk about strength. r.f.k. was moved by the strength of all those who sat and rode and marched and sometimes downright for our civil rights. we are honored today to be joined by representative john lewis whose life and career spans the whole civil rights movement, from dissidents to the brutalities of the freedom rights, freedom summer and the so for march. he was elected in 1986 and soon became what nancy pelosi calls the conscience of the congress. john seigenthaler, a jongh and in modern journalism r.f.k.'s chief aide. a montgomery mob cracked open his skulls during the freedom rights. let me note the interviews that he and john lewis gave in remarkable award winning documentary by stand nelson
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about the freedom rights soon to be shown on hbo. charlene hunter-gault was the first african-american woman admitted to the university of georgia. she was a valued, get "the new york times" and has on repeated honors for her broadcast journalism in this country. and john doar, the pride of new richmond wisconsin who joined the department during the eisenhower years and soon came to admire r.f.k. and for much of the 1960's personified justice to voting registers throughout the south. you may recall the famous photo of him on the mississippi street facing down an angry crowd alone. we've asked each to tell what they remember best about r.f.k., why he came to stand up for civil rights, and what we have to learn from him.
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let's start with congressman lewis. [applause] >> well, thank you very much, jack. i must say that i'm honored to be here. i want to thank the attorney general for inviting us all to be here. mrs. kennedy, kathleen and other members of the committee, family, and my fellow members of atlanta, i think the first time that i got to really know whether work of attorney general robert kennedy, and i know john doar and john seigenthaler will have much more to say about this. it was during the freedom ride. i believe it became the first
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real test in the area of civil rights. just think, may of 1961, black people and white people couldn't board a greyhound bus and leave washington, d.c. and be seated together and travel through virginia, north carolina, south carolina, georgia, alabama, mississippi into new orleans without the possibility of being arrested or jailed or beaten, and that's what happened we were testing the decision of the united states supreme court. 13 of us, seven whites and six african-americans traveling on the triolet and greyhound, the violence in south carolina, between atlanta and birmingham
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outside of alabama. an organization by the name of racial equality dropped the freedom ride, and a group of us decided that we must continue from nashville. ten students, black and white, the police commission of birmingham stopped the bus birmingham city limit, the greyhound bus, arrested two young people, a young black man and a young white man sitting in the front seat in order to the passengers to get off the bus and alabama. he looked at our tickets and they read from nashville to birmingham, birmingham to
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montgomery, montgomery to jackson, jackson to new orleans. and he made the decision in an hour and a half or so to place us all in jail in protective custody. then he let another studentcam from ashbel as john seigenthaler will tell you and on a friday evening after being in jail that wednesday night and thursday night and early friday morning took us to the alabama tennessee state line and dropped off and said you can make it back to national the best way you can. it was klan territory. so we went back to birmingham, and we tried to board a bus that friday evening, like 5 p.m., and the bus driver made a passive statement. he said on only have one life to get i'm not going to give it to
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the naacp, and refused to drive. and i think the attorney general was very concerned that we were stuck in birmingham that evening, but we stayed in that greyhound bus station all that evening, all night, and we started negotiating with the local officials and at one time he became so upset that he said let me speak to mr. greyhound, and he wanted to know whether there were in the white press drivers -- bus drivers in birmingham doherty goes on to montgomery, and was that evening apparently some time that might come and you guys were in the department of justice and, you know, he negotiated we would leave birmingham that saturday at 8:30 and r - montgomery at about 10:15 or 10:30 and made an arrangement where there would be
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a car, state patrol car every 15 miles, and then there be a private plane flying over the bus. and the moment we arrived of the greyhound bus station in montgomery, and started down the steps an angry mob came out from nowhere beating members of the press, reporters, photographers, and then they would turn on us and start beating us. this young man was there. the public safety director of alabama and then by the name of floyd mann, while we were lobbying on the street, fired a gun and say there will be no killing here today, there will be no killing here today and the mob dispersed. the next day we had a mass meeting of the church, the first baptist church in downtown montgomery. a church full, not a single
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seat, and john doar and others tried to interview us before the alabama people, and we were disguised as members. i had been hit in the head and have a patch so i had a cap on my head. members of the mall start marching on the church throwing stink bombs and apparently trying to burn down the church. dr. king went down into the basement of the church and made a call to robert kennedy and said we need help here, and apparently the attorney general spoke to his brother, the president, sending the federal marshals, and i believe that alabama national guard were federalized. if it hadn't been for robert kennedy, president kennedy, i am convinced some of us would have
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died in that church that evening. robert kennedy used his power, used his devotee to save lives that evening in montgomery and i want to thank john seigenthaler and john doar for all faded to help. thank you. [applause] >> thank you so much, john, mr. attorney general kathleen, friends of robert kennedy, friends of his legacy. how moving it is to be here
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today. i don't think i can walk into this building without thinking back on the first time i came here, and it was before the swearing-in that we witnessed on tape a moment ago. it was shortly after the president and bob had talked about finally is becoming attorney general of the united states, and attorney general bill rodgers, who was his predecessor and his friend offered him a suite of offices and they came over the first week in december and we lost just a few days ago as we did
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sarge and i came down with him and with regular ready to help make the transition easy. and there had been criticism of the president's appointment of robert kennedy as attorney general. the media echoed words like nepotism. there were members of conservative bar, who questioned whether someone who hadn't been a courtroom attorney while what he had done as a government attorney was qualified to take the job on and he was cognizant of that. i remember on the day general rogers left, he gave bob present, to presents.
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congress was about to pass law off rising more than 100 new federal judges, and so bill rodgers left a bottle of aspirin and a pen to sign all of those recommendations to the president. i think his first concern was surrounding himself with people who's talent and ability and professional law or admired both inside and outside the bar the president and i talked nearly top of his becoming attorney general has first call as i'm sure bethell remembers was the bar in white and with marion on
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the phone, he already had been mentioned as the secretary of the army she invited him to become deputy attorney general and byron said bobby, i think you're going to be where the action is, and that's where i want to be. i think of the talented lawyer who then came to surround him. byron and the driver both retreated to that. byron relied heavily on lawyers he had known for his work with the american bar association and relied heavily on former the lease. byrd marshall came from to head
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the civil rights division and had the great good judgment to keep john doar over there who had broken ground in the voting rights cases in the south. nick katzenbach can use the office of legal counsel. jack miller headed the criminal division, a distinguished lawyer as some of you may remember and later represented president nixon and his troubles. archibald cox was the solicitor general and agreed to come down from harvard and sort of balance the yale contingent of yet ramsey clark hit in the land division -- headed the land division to a it was an exciting time. brad who handled the press and for jack and for me and i know
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for john it was a moment to be in the company of people who meant so much to the law. lu headed the tax division and went on to become a distinguished judge here in the district. bill headed the civil division, leader distinguished judge in the ninth circuit. it was a -- it was an exciting experience to come to lunch, to come to work every day and go to lunch every three or four weeks with that talented circle, and to listen to the work of justice on fold by these giants of justice. i think that on those days and
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of course john is right, the first crisis was the civil rights crisis in montgomery, it was that moment with the freedom rights and i am so happy to be part of this panel because my work and the justice department intersected with john that day. when he almost died what he did not say is had he not fired the pistol that day both john and lewis might have lost their lives. i remember so well, charlayne, his first speech as attorney general at the university of georgia senior law school came and invited him to come meet the
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law and robert kennedy said a young man, you know if you ask me to come i will speak on civil rights. you may not get what you wish and i remember so well he had done his research and said mr. attorney general, i remember reading that when you were a senior at the university of virginia law school you and invited ralf bunch to appear at the university of the virginia and there was an uproar, and the president of the university said he couldn't come and your classmates wouldn't support you, but you posted and the ambassador said on cannot come and will not come to speak before the sicker get it
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audience, and they're under mr. attorney general he did, and somehow you integrated that audience. and so we went to georgia where i believed i is for the first time on charlayne and the university of georgia, the president from athens called and first tried to discourage the visit and then tried to discourage any possibility that he would have any encounter with charlayne because she had entered the university and rejected first time court of appeals said you must take her in hamilton holmes. both times their lives were at serious risk and of course he went, and of course he met with
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her. i think back on those days and what a great experience it was for me as a young journalist to simply be a part of the fatality, the vision, the energy of the daring that it was to cross and it's not a cliche to cross that new frontier with him, and i think that on it and how often i remember his words, how often they echo and echo in my mind as crises occur, how often i think his words were almost prophetic and to what peter edwin said on that tape we watched a moment ago. we are not through yet. you know, the movement was about
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non-violence. nonviolence in a violent society you can only think of a few days ago in arizona to be reminded again. the impact, the power, the passion of those words he uttered again and again let us make gentle the life of the world. thank you very much. [applause] >> i wish i had gone first. [laughter] attorney general holder, kennedy and malone families, members of
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this audience and fellow panelists, it's an honor for me to be here although i don't think i needed the attorney general to remind me that he was 5-years-old 50 years ago. [laughter] i was 19. i'm not good at math but some of you have figured it out by now. i was 19-years-old, and on january 9th, i walked onto the campus of the university of georgia as the first female black student to a ritotous crowd of students shouting racial epithets and indeed, calling for the crowd to kill me and hamilton holmes, a colleague who had entered the university
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with me. four months later, i heard about law days, and i thought about it with a certain irony because despite the gentleman john just spoke about, the wall students were among the organizers of the riots outside of my dormitory that led to windows to my room being broken and ultimately to my suspension, quote on quote, for my own safety. although we were returned within a few days. ..
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>> was to introduce robert kennedy, and at the last minute, he got cold feet, so someone else had to introduce him. it was a room like this, a little bit bigger, maybe, and i got there early to get a good seat, and my anticipation turned to anxiety as robert kennedy heaped praise on some of george's segregationists
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including governor vander berg and they had no, not one black student will ever attend the university of georgia, so i sat there wondering where was this going, you know? he said, he appreciated all, and named all these segregationists, and i actually became uneasy, and at a certain point, i relaxed a little bit more and laughed when kennedy talked about being advised by georgians to identify with georgia ken folk. i said i looked around, and we don't have any kennedys in georgia -- [laughter] but in point of fact, georgia had given his brother, he said, the largest biggest percentage majority of any state in the union, and he said that was
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better than kinfolk. you know, there was a little laughter, but still, not everybody was sort of tense. at that point, i was thinking about how the mar begin he got -- margin he got was due to the number of black people who were won over the kennedys when john kennedy called heir -- harbert -- harietta king, and quietly worked with the brother to speak to the judge to get martin luther king out of the prison, so when he said that i thought, okay, that helps a little bit. my anxiety, but my anxieties soon really gave way as kennedy started to talk about the law and about how one man's rights
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are denied, the rights of all are endangered. i thought, oh, this will be interesting because people shuffled in the room, and again, you know, this was not the most receptive crowd even though it was a full house, and i knew then the reason for the boycott of the speech was justified because he was indeed about to drop a bomb shell aimed at exploding the resistance that still continued throughout the south to the law of the land. i wrote about it, and as i recalled in the book at that time i said he started out by saying the southerners have a respect for candor and plain talk. they certainly don't like hypocrisy, and then i wrote he proceeded to lay candor and plain talk on them. [laughter] including tieing the struggle for freedom of justice and
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liberty at home. as far as i was concerned, what came next was the highlight of the day. i was thinking this was a hell of a speech, and i heard kennedy say in the worldwide struggle, the graduation of charlayne hunter will aid the fight against communism, political infiltration, and guerrilla warfare, and i go, that's it. my graduation's going to do what? [laughter] i said i don't care how many people storm that stage when robert kennedy finishes speaking, i'm going to be up there with him. two weeks ago, i spoke at the
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50th anniversary of the university of georgia's desegregation, and i said at the time i was there because good people did the right thing, that i've had the life that i have had, you know, when i was a young girl i wanted to be like brenda starr, and now she could eat her heart out because i have had an amazing life as a journalist and a human being. they were good people like our lawyers who pressed our case, good people like the judge on the federal bench and ordered our admission, and good people like robert f. kennedy to believes the law is the glue that holds the civilization together and that every day must be law day or our civilization will collapse. that's what he told us that day, but on that day 50 years ago, robert f. kennedy also talked
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about the birth of black faces in the federal government, most especially in the justice department. how proud he would be to see the man in the institution who was there because of his abilities is and unashamedly black. based on his committed words back then, i would wager an educated guess that he would be unhappy about the schools that are resegregated and failing our black and minority children and the downward spiral that leads to the disproportion number of black men in jail. they yield more guilty than their white counterparts.
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they tell the stark tell in irrefutable relief. i hope that rfk would not em place the false claim of a post racial society. there is nothing post racial about these statistics and many others i don't have time to articulate here. i hope those who celebrate robert f. kennedy on this day would also elevate his message, the message that each of you has emphasized today including the words from the attorney general earlier, the words we've heard from robert kennedy himself because it is the message that is timeless and transcendent, and it is a message that urges us to keep on keeping on. thank you. [applause]
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>> mr. chairman attorney general, mrs. kennedy, kathleen issue everybody here, i'm honored to be asked to speak on behalf of the lawyers who served under robert kennedy 1961-1963. i'm thinking particularly of burt marshall, herald greene, bob owen, nonof whom are present here today and can't be here, but all of us in the division, i think i can speak for them. i first met robert kennedy on the second or third day after president kennedy was inaugurated. john had prepared the attorney
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general for a visit to my office in the first floor of the justice department, and he asked for some information as about what the division was doing. there was a black farmer from louisiana named frances joseph atlas, an independent farmer and had about 100 acres of land on which he grew, cut soybeans. he had eight or nine children, and he and his wife had educated all of them. they all had gone off to various places in the united states to work, and november or december 1960, the civil rights commission held a hearing in new orleans and asked him to come down and testify about the fact that there were no black
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citizens of east carol per rich that could register to vote because in order to register, you had to have a voucher of register official and no white person would vouch for a black man or woman. civilized division investigated that case and filed a lawsuit on the 19th day of january, 1961, and robert kennedy came to my office. this was before any of his assistant attorney generals had been sworn in, but he was there to find out what was going on in the division. i told him about this case, and he said, well, you picked a bad place to start. i said, well, that's where the
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farmer grows his cotton. anyway, he came back from the testimony in new orleans and had been met at his front door by the sheriff, and the sheriff said don't bring your cotton to the ginners in east carol. he said why not? he said civil rights. as i say, we brought a suit to convey that county, that parrish to spin the cotton. this was the fist matter that came to robert kennedy's desk after he became attorney general. for the next week or so, he devoted a good part of his time to trying to persuade the
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ginners to gin that cotton. he was successful after about a week, and he said that the ginners will gin the cotton, and i said we have to have an injunction. we have to be sure there won't be any subsequent boycotts or efforts to try to drive joseph out of the parrish. we talked back and forth about it. he called frank, i think, and worked out an arrangement where by they would all appear before the judge in monroe, louisiana, and on the record would tell the judge that they would gin frances joseph's cotton, and they would not deprive him of the goods and services that he
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needed to continue to run his farm. now, all of that was done by the third of february. i know that because have to be sure that this was going to work out the way he said it was going to work out. he sent me down there to appear in court before judge and to hear them of that parrish tell the judge that they would gin frances joseph's cotton. think of it. the attorney general for the first day put his mind and his effort, energy, and his drive just to help one cotton farmer in east carol parrish gin his cotton. that was a good omen for the country, believe me. it really was. in that first year, asaw a lot
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of robert kennedy, and i can remember still his words. you got to do more. what are you going to do about mississippi? oh, that's not good enough. i want you in every parrish and mississippi and every parrish in louisiana, and so we started, and first there was the county of alabama, and then there was the first piece under the kennedy administration in dallas county, selma, alabama, and then in july, two cases were filed in mississippi, and it's the same time the student nonviolent committees, robert moses wrote bort marshall or the attorney general, i think, and said nick
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was going to work on voter legislation in mississippi, and that put another burden on robert kennedy to see that the law was going to be enforced. all through that -- all through those months in 1961, there were cases filed in clark county mississippi and forrest county mississippi, louisiana, august third, jefferson davis county, montgomery, alabama, august 4, mississippi, october 16th, madison parrish louisiana, tallahassee county, mississippi, and then before the end of the year, the great case, u.s. versus louisiana, and then startly after the beginning of 62, the other case, u.s. versus
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mississippi. those were remarkable times, and i've been asked to what i remember best about robert kennedy. well, i remember his drive, his ability to get attorneys to work for him, his generosity, and his sense of humor. i've been asked what you think was his legacy. now, hear this. robert kennedy's legacy was the voting rights act of 1965. [applause] i've been asked why do i think he stood so strong for civil rights? i think the words of burt
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marshall best express it when he said robert kennedy had such a strong advocate for the public accommodations, you know, the lunch counter section of the civil rights act of 1964. he said, i know bob kennedy always thought i know it without a glimmer of a doubt, that just because of the trust, you know, the need to keep the black students to believe in their government. we had to support them on this issue of public accommodations. at least it was the moral thing to do. that was the robert kennedy i remember. [applause] [applause]
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>> i wonder if we can change the pace a little, and let me ask john what was it like to visit hickory hill? >> what was it like to go visit hickory hill? [laughter] >> it was -- begins with chaos. [laughter] no, it was a wonderful experience to visit hickory hill . i'd look at his six children who are here today, and you couldn't go to hickory hill and have dinner without seeing those
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angelic faces beaming, smiling, sometimes tearful faces without hearing them saying their night prayers. there was something called the hickory hill seminars. leading life to the administration came to hickory hill to conduct those seminars bringing their own expertise from their own backgrounds to share with other members of the administration. it was bob's vision that these seminars would bring the administration and those who were leading it together in
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interaction that would promote cooperation and understanding throughout that administration. to go to hickory hill for whatever reason and there was some tough decisions made there, was always, for me, a huge joy. it was an exciting experience, and so many memories reside there and i think to understand the fullness of his humanity, you needed to see him at home with ethel who knew him best and loved him most and with those
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children who are indeed the most vital segment of his legacy. [applause] >> john, i wonder if we can recall a little bit the night of ole miss. i remember -- i was in washington in the department, the attorney general was at the white house during that. it's one of the worst nights of my life, and i was just a spectator. there was so much danger, so much threat, so much violence that at about four o'clock in the morning, the attorney general's phone rang, and there was nobody else there to answer it, and so i answered it, and it was the president. he said is my brother there? i said no, he's on his way to the white house. i said, well in this case, can
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-- i'm free to ask you, how's he doing? [laughter] can you talk about that night from your perspective? >> well, several weeks before i was working on a voter registration case in forest county mississippi. it was a contempt case against a registrar, and there was a very peculiar three-judge court judging that case. the three judges were three justices of judges of the court of appeals. judge john weiner, judge brown from texas, and judge bell from georgia. during that time, james meredith was pushing to get into the university in the state of mississippi one way or another, and they were trying to keep him out. he was rejected by the governor
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for the first time, and the attorney regime said to me, he said, i think if you go to louisiana with new orleans with jim and get james mother divot, i think -- meredith, i think that they will register meredith at the university of mississippi in jackson, so we went there, and there was a crowd around the office building, and we went up to the 7th floor of the state office building, and when we got to the door to the university of mississippi's office, the door opened, and there stood the honorable ross barnett. at that time, the lights went on behind me, and he looked at me and then jim with the map of ireland on his face, and then he
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looked at james meredith, and then he said, which one of you is james meredith? [laughter] well, we got turned back there so then we went to memphis, and there was maneuverings back and forth about getting us in the university, and we went halfway to jackson one day, and we decided it wasn't safe to turn back. finally on a sunday afternoon, it worked out that we could enter the university and very suitable secure quarters were provided for james meredith about # 00 yards -- 200 yards behind the building where all the trouble started, and it began as a kind of a rally after a football game with the students jeering the mar
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shalls who had -- marshalls -- who surrounded the building. as it got dark, it got awfully mean, and there got to be real, real trouble. we were very fortunate, and it turned out as it did because it could have turned out much, much worse, but anyway, the next morning james meredith was registered, and he started his class, and he continued going to his classes, and he graduated from the university of mississippi. now, six months before that happened, i sat with an attorney in the justice department, civil rights division, and burt marshall, and that attorney expressed doubt that james meredith would enter the university that fall. he was sure that there'd be some
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deal made that meredith would not enter the university. burt said to him, there's not going to be any doubt about it. he's going to go to the university, and he's going to be able to stay in the university, and if he wants to, he'll be able to graduate from the university. he was speaking for robert kennedy, and that's what happened. [applause] >> congressman, john mentioned rightly the voting rights act of 1965. one can say that was the ultimate achievement of the department. as burt once wrote, only political power, not court orders or other federal law will ensure the election of fair men as sheriffs, school board
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members, police, mayors, governors, officials. think of the words fair men. you're a wonderful example of what happened because of the voting rights act. can you talk some about its effect to your knowledge in the south? >> well, voting rights, 1965, we wouldn't be living in the society that we're living in today. the voting rights of 65 transformed not just the american south, but transformed a nation. just think, just a few short years ago, all of these people would tell you, the lawyers that worked in the department of justice that hundreds and thousands of people stood in unmovable lines. on one occasion, the man was
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asked to count the men above him. other times he had to count the number of jelly beans in a jar. there was lines between montgomery and the county was more than 80% african-american and there was not a single registered african-american vote er in the county. you had to interpret a section of the constitution of the state, and people were beaten and shot, killed, evicted from their farms and their plantations, so the voting rights act transformed not just the south, but all of us. it was said on one occasion during the campaign, and i think that's what happened. he would be very proud. he said on one occasion there must be a revolution, not a revolution in the streets, not a revolution of violence, but a
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revolution of values and a revolution of ideas, and that is what happened in the american south. i've said over and over again without the voting rights act of 65, without the bridge in selma, there would be no barak obama as president of the united states of america. [applause] >> the congressman just mentioned changing the spirit of the south. could you tell us about the legacy of robert kennedy's contribution as they affected the world, for example in south africa? >> well, i think, you know, he began even then when he came to
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the university of georgia to talk about the importance of the emerging nations of the world and how our own destiny was linked to that, and i think that's the first time people in that room heard anything like that, but he had foresight to see where things were going, and he laid it out that day, and he talked about, you know, the country's like south africa where people were still under the awfulfully ray cyst system -- awfully racist system. what he said so often in the speeches i've read including the law day speech, his vision was about not only an american society where justice and freedom and equality were values that everybody embraced, but a
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world society that embraced those values, and i think that's where he was heading. i think that's where martin luther king was heading to talk about how the interconnection between the justice here and the justice elsewhere, and i think that's something we still grapple with even today, but as i said earlier, the values that he articulated were values that, you know, i don't know that that many people come along in a lifetime whose values are so timeless and transcendent. martin luther king was one of. we listened yesterday to john f. kennedy. i still quote him at graduation speeches, and it's still relevant to our society today so he was visionary in his thinking not only about our own society,
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but how we fit into the larger global community. >> it's a wonderful note to end on. thank you to the panel for an extraordinary presentation. [applause] [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> one of rfk's notable quality as john said -- is that better? was his extraordinary capacity to size up people. that was evident from his choice of colleagues. stellar lawyers like byron wright, lou, bob, others who are
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here today, a star among them was rfk's deputy, and then successor as attorney general. one of my favorite moments in years of friendship with nick came at ole miss when the army, the violence started before midnight, but the army was ready to move from memphis at that time, but it took them five hours to get what should have been a 45 minute trip, and at least two people were killed during that time, and there could have been many more if not for the courage of the marshalls. when the command team ariad at the building -- arrived at the building, he said you couldn't understand how did the attorney regime know so much? how did they communicate?
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the elaborate signal core facilities hadn't worked. nick took a dime from his pocket and pointed to the pay phone. [laughter] we're pleased indeed that nick could join us at least by video. i think he probably wouldn't mind my reminding you of something that his herald hays tyler, when nick was appointed finally after five months of waiting, tyler sent him a note that says congratulations, what this country needs is a bald attorney general. [laughter]
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>> i wish i could be with you physically today, age interferes. i'd like to wish the attorney general a happy birthday and not to worry about his gray hairs, and say a few words about one of my heros, bobby kennedy. i think people forget that when bobby was appointed attorney general, he was the most least popular. he was criticized as being too young, too inexperienced, and most of all, i think probably too political, and so it's interesting that 50 years later, i think nobody would have predicted except, of course, ethel, that we would be celebrating him as the greatest attorney general of the 20th
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century. how is that possible? well, it's because he himself was a remarkable person, but also because which nobody i think understood really he was dedicated to government to making government work to the law, and he was determined that he would make the department of justice the face of law in the united states as it should be. after he was made attorney general, he continued to get criticism. he got criticism from the civil rights people because he was not giving them sufficient protection which he didn't see how he could do under the laws that then existed. he did appoint many new attorneys. he went to court with them.
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he sought to vindicate their rights. that wasn't enough at that time. he also got criticized for being ruthless. i think because of his attitude towards jimmy, but ruthless is probably the most inappropriate word in the english language to describe a person of compassion as bobby was. why did he go after hoffman in organized crime which he did? not because of the criminal activities too so much because of their capacity to corrupt the government, and that's something he wouldn't stand for. so it's interesting that today we celebrate bobby from his accomplishments in civil rights, his ability against all odds to get the passage of the 1960
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story of the civil rights act, but i'd like you to think of it in a broader context. i don't think it was bobby's accomplishment in civil right alone that gave mim that rep -- him that reputation. what he did while achieving the goal of equal protection for blacks, what he did was to preserve the federal system and to preserve a government of law, and for that, it doesn't make any difference what your race or politics are,s country ought to be very grateful. i often think of bobby as a leader because he was a leader. he appointed exceptional people into the department of justice to help him run it. you never dporgt at any time -- forgot at any time that bobby
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was the attorney general, the person what made the decisions, the person who supported you in doing what you believed to be right. let me add that no attorney general can do it by himself, and that the success of an attorney general depends on every single person working in the department having the same determination, the same outlook, the same capacity to view law as in its importance to the democracy that we all love. [applause] >> well, as the attorney general, i'm going to take a couple of prief lemings here. i want to first note that we
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have former attorney regime, beaning -- general here. he was one of the first justices when i joined here. welcome back. [applause] i'd also like the members of the kennedy family to stand so we can recognize you. [applause] [applause] there are a lot of them, aren't there? [laughter] i want to thank each of our panelists for sharing their up sights and remarkable experience with us today. now it's my honor to turn the program over to kathleen kennedy townsend, an alumnum of the
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justice department and a friend of the family, her life and career have been defined by commitment to public service, and we're honored she's returned to the department today to help us honor her father to speak on behalf of her family. please join me in welcoming kathleen kennedy townsend. [applause] >> thank you so much. thank you, mr. attorney general, for welcoming us all here and the members of our family. you're a brave man. [laughter] can i mention two other people who i think are very special here? secretary cohen and his wonderful wife janet have joined us. thank you very much. [applause] thank you very much. my own attorney general from the state of maryland. thank you for coming as well.
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[applause] this has been an amazing week. there have been many joys and there's be much sadness as well as you've all heard. my uncle died this week who led a life of devoted service, accomplished so much, the peace corp., war on poverty, his work with special olympics, the support of his wife, and as a wife, i'm big on men who help you, so i loved that about serge, and what i love about the shrivers is what an excellent family they are and how the children helped one another. i want to say on behalf of my family how much we'll miss sarnlg. the other person who died this week was angie, my father's
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secretary. i can't remember life without her. she came to our house on sundays and take dictation, and that's when you had to do short hand. i didn't understand what you could understand from her scribbles, but she always said, yes, bob, with a great smile and calmness and really helped him so much. her brother-in-law was carmine who was an accountant and could figure out where the money went and who profited and because of his help, my father was able to go after many people in organized crime. that's the sadness of this week. there's been a lot of joy as well which our family has gotten together. ed did a wonderful job of celebrating his inauguration.
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we're here with my aunt and god mother who i must say brought peace to ireland. [applause] of course, it makes me remember her wonderful husband, steat smith, -- steve smith, a great friends of all of ours. vicki is with us and was said yesterday, helped so much, teddy to be the person that he could be. thank you so much for that and for your family. [applause] there are lots of other brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews, and if i mentioned all of them, i will be here forever, so i'm moving on, but it's good to be here with the cousins and i think there are a few -- [inaudible] it's good to be back at the justice department. i often visited here with my brothers and sisters when i was young, and i was lucky and fortunate enough to work here under janet reno.
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he came here as children because our father wanted us to know what was going on, what challenges he was facing whether with ross or george wallace or even jay edgar hoover which i'll get to in a minute. [laughter] we came to the attorney general's office which is now a conference room, but he chose it as an office, the largest room probably in this building almost because he liked to work collaboratively. you can see from the pictures that there's always lots of people in the room because he liked to listen and hear what everybody had to say. when we came here, we often came for dinner, we played with the large drooling newfoundland, and we tossed the football, and you saw how many of our water colors
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pictures daddy put on the wall. it was a large room and had large ceilings and murals at either end. even in the midst of the activity at the lower level, i was drawn to the murals of went and women -- of men and women walking together up a hill always striding forward, the work for justice as a constant challenge. that challenge, the work of taking on difficult and intractable questions, excited my father. he wanted to be better and to do better. every night around our parent's bed, we would pray that he would be the best attorney general ever. can i have some water? thank you, mr. attorney general. [laughter] that's very kind of you.
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i first saw his dedication to justice even before he was the attorney general. he was in the counsel of committees investigating corruption. when other mothers were taking their children to the playground to make castles in the sand box, to ride on the see-saw, to climb the jungle gym, my mother brought us to the senate racket hear committees. some of my first words were i refuse to answer that question on the grounds to incriminate me. [laughter] that was probably a useful phrase for a 4-year-old, but my father was able to see that organized crime was closing its vies on us up filtrating yiewn -- infiltrating unions that should have protected men and women and taking over what was once legitimate businesses. he said, either we're going to
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be successful, and they will own the country. looking back after 50 years, it's hard to grasp the respect and deference that jay edgar hoover commanded in government and to the nation at large, however, hoover said there was no such thing as organized crime. my father wouldn't be intimidated by conventional wisdom or by the mob, and his efforts led congress to pass a law on organized crime and to authorize the federal government to prosecute the thugs who would rob, intimidate, and kill their fellow citizens. the thugs weren't happy. they threatened my brothers and my sisters and myself. they threatened to throw acid in our eyes, and when we were at lady of victory parochial school, while the other children could leave at the final bell, we often went up to the principal's office to wait for
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my mother to come and pick us up to make sure that we were safe. as you know, once my father became attorney general, his attention increasingly turned to civil rights. during the freedom rides of 1961, civil right activists were met by clansmen with pipes, baseball bats, and chains. just another part of the greyhound bus driver's stories. at one point as you heard, the bus drivers were so frightened that they refused to drive. the riders could have been called off. my father called up the greyhound supervisor demanding they get someone, anyone to drive the busses. the government will be upset if this group doesn't get to continue that trip, he said. somebody better get in the bus and get these people on the way. he also mentioned that the
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greyhounds licensed to operate was up before the interstate commerce commission. [laughter] greyhound found a driver. in 1963, charlayne hunter was the first african-american to graduate from the university of georgia. at that time, and she said it and that's why i thought of it today, that the united states could only win the cold war by living up to the promise of equality and freedom for its citizens. he knew that it wasn't enough to mouth principles. we had to get results. i still have a letter that my father wrote me on june 11, 1963 at 4:45 p.m.. it says, dear kathleen, we're in the midst of registering two negroes at the university of alabama despite the opposition of the governor wallace. i hope by the time you get to college, these problems will be
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far behind us. love to you, daddy. one of the students as we heard was vivian mallone. good going on a choice of a wife. [laughter] my father worked hard to get the 1964 civil rights act passed and was pleased that it should come under the commerce clause. in 1968 my father predicted in 40 years the united states would elect an african-american president. he would be thrilled not only that barak obama won, but he is now fear leslie tackling the toughest challenges beginning with the collapse of the economy, moving on to health care -- [applause] and nuclear arms control. like president obama, my father
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also understood that justice is not just about passing laws or enforcing them, but also about creating a country that is just acting fairly and ceo equitably and understanding that some children are born fortunate and others are not. there's another kind of violence, slower, but just as deadly as the shot or the bomb in the night. this is the violence of faceless institutions, of indifference and inaction. what robert frost called the slow smokeless burning of decay. this is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisens relations between men because their skin has different colors. this is the slow destruction of a child by hunger and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter. my father knew that we who are fortunate have a responsibility to open our hearts and our minds to those who are plagued by
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poverty or poor health or broken families or inadequate education, and so we launched the juvenile justice initiative to create opportunities for children who didn't have the access and out of these efforts grew the poverty program and eventually the office of justice programs where i was fortunate enough to work under janet reno. she created the immunity efforts that brought together education, hhs, hud, and justice department to help build safe and healthy communities. when i became lieutenant governor, i took that example to maryland, and we reduced crime in the most violence neighborhoods by 5% in -- 35% in three years. [applause] i was also privileged to work with janet on the federal assault weapons ban. if that statute were still in
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place, the tucson shooter would not have had as easy access to the guns or easy ability to keep running his deadly activities. i believe this country has got to do a better job on gun regulation and gun control and making our citizens safe. [applause] as my father said, we glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. we make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a clean of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul. after my uncle, john kennedy,
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was killed. my father was devastated. he stayed on for justice for a time, but his heart was broken. all that he had worked for seemed torn apart. jay edgar hoover regained and stopped the work on organized crime. while the work at justice continued, the spirit that had animated was surely weakened. at that time, my father loved to walk. in fact, he had always taken our family on walks in the neighborhood. we often ended up at kox's house who was not sure what to do the attorney general, wife, seven p kids, and four dogs. [laughter] one thing he knew to do was not to invite us in. [laughter] my father also loved shakespeare. growing up, my room was next to his bathroom, and every morning
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he would do situps while listening to shakespeare records. one evening, he asked me to walk with him and recited a passage from henry the fifth. from this day to the ending of the world ring we shall be remembered. we few, we happy few, we band of brothers for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother. those words capture the camaraderie and pawrp that pushed the kennedy administration and that justice department. my father saw that spirit because along with his brother, jack, he helped to create it. the band of brothers that justice applied themselves tierlessly to the great moral questions of the nation and helped african-americans secure their civil rights. many of us today, many of us
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here today were not part of that band of brothers. we may wish that we had participated in that heroic work, but i think that my father would say that every generation has its own challenges, and its own need for he robert kennedyism -- heroism. he called on his team at the department and the nation at large to see it and address it. all of you, mr. mr. attorney general, are involved in important and critical questions in this day at this time. as you make your climb up that hill towards the just, peaceful, and equitable america, thank you for remembering my father's legacy. [applause] [applause]
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>> thank you, kathleen, for those wonderful words, and that's a very fitting way for us to end this congressmen ration, this tribute to the world's greatest attorney general. i want you all to join us on the 5th floor where we're going to have a reception. i'd like to say in my office, but not truly my office, but his office. he just lets me borrow it. please, join us on the 5th floor to continue this celebration of attorney general robert f. kennedy. thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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