tv Kennedy Brothers MSNBC November 22, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PST
devotion, which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. >> welcome it our special evening marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of president john f. kennedy. november 22nd, 1963 forever changed us and whale we remember tonight what jack kennedy achieved in his lifetime we mark too the role of his brothers robert and edward kennedy. the kennedy brothers. they stirred the country's blood and maddened their rivals. bill safire, richard nixon's speechwriter put it this way -- when you beat a kennedy, you beat the best. the trouble was, nobody did.
here is the "hardball" political story of how these extraordinary brothers sought the american presidency. let the word go forth from this time -- >> we have the capacity to make this the best generation. >> let us offer new hope. in the 1950s, politics meant men in gray flannel suits, guys like dwight eisenhower, robert taft, adlai stevenson, and richard nixon. they were dull, stodgy and sexless. then in 1956 someone new appeared on the political radar. at the democratic convention in chicago that summer, a young politician battled the old guard for the vice presidential nomination and in the process catapulted himself on to the national stage. his name was jack kennedy. >> i want to take this
opportunity first to express my appreciation. >> he was young, alive, great looking, and while he lost the nomination, he wowed the country. >> he tried to get it. he came very, very close. as it turned out, he did not get it, but he did become, overnight, a national figure. >> and then there was this stunningly beautiful wife. for us, 1956 was jacqueline kennedy's debut. >> tell me, were you able to adjust to this? >> well, yes, because i've never known anything else since i've been married. >> no one could ever be counted a loser with her at his side. we also met his family. boy, did he have lots of brothers and sisters. and his fabulously wealthy father. joseph kennedy sr. was our ambassador to great britain in the late 1930s. but by 1940, his political career was over. he had nailed himself as a defeatist, or worse, when he predicted that war with nazi
germany would end democracy in britain and possibly in the u.s., so his dreams of the white house were now for his sons. >> once his own political future was undone, he could pour all his life energy into those boys. he wanted them to go places that he, himself, could not have gone. >> first up was the handsome hard-charging oldest brother, joe jr. he took his first political steps in 1940 as a delegate for the democratic presidential convention. he was on his way. but then the war came, a war that claimed his life when his b-24 bomber exploded in mid-air during a secret mission to bomb german missile sites. >> there is no question that joe jr. was meant to be head of the family. and had he lived, he was the one that joe sr. thought would be the one to go into politics and carry that legacy onto the future. when joe jr. died, then that burden of carrying the family legacy fell on to jack.
>> in 1946, 29-year-old jack ran for congress for massachusetts' 11th district, cutting in front of local politicians waiting patiently for the seat to open. the year before he died, while beginning to dictate his memoirs, jack confessed to having been something of a carpetbagger. >> i was an outsider, really. i'd never lived very much in the district. my family roots were there, but i'd lived in new york ten years. on top of that, i had gone to harvard, not a particularly popular institution at that time in the 11th congressional district. >> the kennedy tactics in 1946 would be used in succeeding campaigns. one was an astute use of public relations, image building. joe sr. had been a hollywood mogul and knew how to promote. >> he basically was the one who took hollywood publicity techniques and applied them to politics. >> fortunately, joe sr. also had a good product to sell.
lieutenant kennedy had rescued his crew when his pt boat was rammed by a japanese destroyer, a story joe sr. got reprinted in "reader's digest" and then handed out 100,000 free copies to local voters. to win, there was a willingness by father and son to do whatever was necessary. though raised a young aristocrat, jack found himself trudging up countless triple-decker walk-ups to meet working-class voters. to the amazement of many old hands the thin, young upstart won. he was part of a new generation of veterans taking power all over the country that year. it was clear congressman kennedy was a young man in a hurry. >> congressman kennedy, how do you feel about your race for the senate up here? >> i think it's going very well. >> in 1952, only 35 years old, jack ran for the senate against henry cabot lodge, the popular incumbent and old-line man. his campaign manager was fellow irish catholic larry o'brien.
>> my father was one generation removed from very bitter experiences. this presented an opportunity for the irish catholic community of massachusetts to step up to the next plateau. >> the kennedy campaign exploited the catholic voters' grudge against patrician yankees like lodge. as they had in '46, the family mobilized. his sisters hosted teas, a chance for aspiring irish and italian ladies to share the allure of the celebrated kennedys. kennedy ended up defeating lodge. he was now a u.s. senator. but it was clear that jack had a bigger prize in mind. >> i don't think he had any natural interest in the senate. i think he felt that if this was the game he wanted to be captain. >> kennedy now had his eye on the white house. he recruited the best and the brightest, speechwriter ted sorenson, pollster lou harris, advance man kenny o'donnell, and
campaign managers larry o'brien and younger brother bobby. >> i believe that there is a real trend on now for senator kennedy and the democratic party. we are extremely encouraged. >> to make sure his brother's presidential campaign succeeded, bobby ran interference, toughness was in the kennedy's dna, an immigrants' toughness, and bobby was the least assimilated of them all. >> the role he found was the guy to do all the dirty deeds, the hard stuff, telling people to go away. saying no. that allowed jack to float above the fray. >> with his impressive campaign team in place, jack was now ready for the toughest test yet, 1960. thousands of tailgaters realized they needed one thing...and fast. mom, i need a bathroom. [ male announcer ] that's when the charmin tailgating potties rolled in, providing real relief to everyone. it felt like i was at home. that was an awesome experience!
[ male announcer ] clutching victory from the seat of defeat, charmin saved the day. we scored a td with this tp. [ male announcer ] tailgating potties. one more way the charmin relief project is helping people enjoy the go. onavo: thesales event the charmin relief pr"sis back. drive" which means it's never been easier to get a new passat, awarded j.d. power's most appealing midsize car, two years in a row. and right now you can drive one home for practically just your signature. get zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first month's payment on any new 2014 volkswagen. hurry, this offer ends december 2nd. for details, visit vwdealer.com today
go forward until the united states achieves that great goal of practicing what it preaches. >> for 1960, jack's campaign team developed a new playbook, one that has become familiar in every presidential campaign since. use the power of television, and most importantly, take the candidate's case directly to primary voters, unheard of at the time, and use their toughness, political savvy and money to win it all. it was a campaign like no other. >> well, i hope we're going to do well. i guess we'll know better by the time the votes are counted. >> they actually made a targeted list based on cold-blooded kind kind of cogent analysis of what states might be important and what states he could win in, so he traveled around the country to those states for almost a year. he very rarely, if ever, ran into anybody from any of the competing campaigns. >> most other top democratic
candidates, including senate majority leader lyndon johnson, didn't campaign in the primaries. they would stubbornly do it the old-fashioned way, working the smoke-filled rooms of the convention hall itself. >> the question was would i accept a second spot on the kennedy ticket? i think the question could have better been put if kennedy would accept a second spot on the johnson ticket. >> johnson didn't think kennedy had any serious chance of being nominated for president because he was a young upstart, not part of the inner circle or club in the senate. >> kennedy and a popular liberal from minnesota, senator hubert humphrey, were left alone to contest the early primaries. >> thank you, ladies and gentlemen, from the great city of charleston, west virginia. >> in 1960, the key battleground was west virginia, a heavily protestant state where kennedy's religion would be put to the test. compared to the cool jack, humphrey looked and sounded like a typical politician. >> this is my wife, mrs. johnson.
how do you do? mrs. halston, glad to see you. >> as planned, kennedy's team played up their man's youth and war records, contrasting lieutenant kennedy's hero status with humphrey's failure to serve in world war ii, a fact that still amuses kennedy friend ben bradley who served on a destroyer in the pacific. >> humphrey wasn't in world war ii. he wasn't, you know -- what was he, a hospital maid or something like that? >> you guys are unbelievable. this is what i'm talking about. you guys kept score on who was in the front. >> we knew people's war records. we sure did. >> remember, senator john f. kennedy can be our next president. with four weeks left kennedy trailed humphrey by 20%, so his campaign turned up the heat, buying tv time, to address head on what his pollsters saw as growing concerns about kennedy's catholic religion. >> i don't believe it to be one
of those serious issues where i go to church on sundays. >> the strategy worked. senator kennedy crushed humphrey with 60% of the vote. but more went into this victory than an appeal to patriotism and fair play. it was common knowledge in west virginia that county politicians could be swayed by cash. the kennedys had it, lots of it, and used it. >> i offer my congratulations to my friend and senate colleague jack kennedy. >> humphrey dropped out, the newest victim of the kennedy juggernaut. at the democratic convention in july, jack kennedy, a few votes shy of the nomination, fought off a growing challenge from lyndon johnson. johnson's people revealed that kennedy suffered from addison's disease, which, if the kennedy people had not succeeded in denying it, would have killed kennedy's chances. bobby kennedy couldn't contain his anger. >> there were a number of instances over the course of the 1960 convention where he
approached the johnson people, waved his finger in someone's face and said, you johnson people are going to get yours. >> i come to you today full of admiration for senator johnson. >> but the "yours" johnson people ended up getting was to be jack's pick for vice president. kennedy had done his political calculus. he needed the texas electoral votes, and he needed the local man on the ticket to get them. with the hard-fought nomination in hand, the kennedy campaign fixed its sights on beating richard nixon. contrasting jack's vitality and promise to get the country moving again to the candidate tied to the status quo of the 1950s. >> the republican nominee, of course, is a young man, but his approach is as old as mckinley. >> nixon was thrown at first by the coldness and efficiency of the kennedys' frontal assault. he'd known and liked jack since they came to the house together in 1947. jack's father had donated money to nixon's senate campaign. jack hand-delivered the check to
nixon's office and even told newspaper columnist charles bartlett, a close friend, that he would vote for nixon for president if he, jack, didn't get the nomination. but jack kennedy was not one to let political fellowship affect his game. >> good evening. the television -- >> kennedy's team knew that the new medium of television was the way to persuade voters. his suntanned radiant image was worth a thousand words and hundreds of thousands of votes. to exploit his edge on the tube, they brought in bill wilson, a seasoned tv producer. in the first presidential debate, wilson made sure viewers saw lots of shots of the ashen-faced nixon, who had famously refused to wear make-up. >> i wanted more reaction shots. >> you've got kennedy seven times, you need six more on nixon. and it was like night and day between before the debate and after the debate. the crowd was enormous.
it was loud. it was noisy. ♪ everyone is voting for jack because he's got what all the rest lack ♪ >> with a theme song by frank sinatra, the kennedy campaign was far more glamorous than nixon's. it also put lou harris' scientific polls to work in a way that had never done before. team kennedy focused like a laser on winning big states and their electoral votes, while nixon campaigned in all 50 states. >> we surveyed 38 states for kennedy and wrote off about half the states. he had the guts to write off whole states. just lose them. >> in the end, just 100,000 votes separated kennedy and nixon out of some 70 million cast, 0.1%. >> at 7:19 a.m. eastern time, senator kennedy was elected president of the united states. >> but true to their big-stage
strategy, kennedy had an overwhelming majority in the electoral college. >> kennedy has won 296. that alone is enough. >> in those big states, many of the voters were catholic. kennedy had turned an historic negative into an electoral positive. >> kennedy played the catholic issue extremely well, making sure that he got all the catholic votes and had a minimum reverse effect among non-catholic voters. >> so now my wife and i prepare for a new administration and for a new baby. thank you. >> the kennedys had played politics perfectly, and their tough tactics continued as jack picks his cabinet, listening to his father's advice that he needed to keep bobby close at hand. >> i am pleased to accept the position of the attorney generalship of the united states. >> with jack now in the white house and brother bobby at
justice, the stage was set for the era of kennedys. even at a distance of 10 miles... the length of 146 football fields... they can see the light of a single candle. your eyes are amazing. look after them with centrum silver. multivitamins with lutein and vitamins a, c, and e to support healthy eyes and packed with key nutrients to support your heart and brain, too. centrum silver. for the most amazing parts of you. shhhh! i have a cold with this annoying runny nose. [ sniffles ] i better take something. [ male announcer ] dayquil cold and flu doesn't treat that. it doesn't? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast-acting antihistamine. oh what a relief it is! you're talking to the guy who hasn't approved a new stapler purchase in three years. but then i saw the new windows tablet,
with a real keyboard, usb port, and full office. it's a tablet that works for work. plus, it's got apps and games, for after hours, of course. compared to an ipad -- way more value. these tablets are such a steal; i couldn't find a reason not to buy them. ♪ honestly, i wanna see you be brave ♪ yep. got all the cozies. [ grandma ] with new fedex one rate, i could fill a box and ship it for one flat rate. so i knit until it was full.
just as jack had been a different type of politician, the kennedy white house was unlike anything americans had ever seen. suddenly, we had a first family that was beautiful, stylish, with just the right touch of aristocracy. >> he took the best qualities of the rich, old wasp, old guard and infused it with the kind of energy and vitality of rising immigrants. >> just like jack's hero james bond, we never saw jfk sweat. a political 007, president kennedy was smooth, savoring the action, sophisticated. what was kennedy like? >> i think he was cool. >> my uncle jack was dispassionate, detached, cool. >> he was cool.
>> what the country learned only later was how well this suave exterior hid his secret life, the risky affairs, that if revealed, could have ruined everything. his addison's disease which had almost killed him in '47 and a back operation that required him to take steroids and reliance on energy-boosting amphetamines, which may have compromised his judgment. >> everything about his health was a lie. he looked like a god, but as bobby would say, if a mosquito bites my brother, the mosquito dies. >> but america, knowing none of this, had bigger worries, as the country faced numerous challenges. from the bay of pigs, the berlin wall. the toughest test came in october 1962, when u.s. spy planes photographed soviet nuclear missile bases in cuba,
just 90 miles away. >> we will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the course of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth. >> jack's key advisor during the 13 days of the cuban crisis was his old campaign manager. together, the kennedy brothers came up with a creative solution. the u.s. put a naval quarantine in place while secretly agreeing to pull obsolete u.s. missiles out of turkey. in exchange, the soviets removed their missiles from cuba. the crisis was averted. it was the kennedys' finest hour. what did your dad say about it afterwards? >> well, what he said was we avoided a nuclear holocaust, the end of the world. >> back home, another issue was reaching the boiling point -- civil rights. kennedy knew that every step he took could hurt him in the upcoming 1964 election. >> he didn't want to move too fast. he didn't want to antagonize
southern white democratic voters, so we had to stay with him. we had to continue to encourage him. he wanted to be able to say to southern democrats that these people are pushing me, they are putting pressure on me. >> i think if the president would sign an executive order declaring segregation unconstitutional on the basis of the 14th amendment, this would do a great deal to lead us out of this dark night of violence and prejudice which we still face in so many areas. ♪ >> in the spring of '63 in alabama, fire hoses and police dogs were used to brutally disperse nonviolent protestors. ♪ >> kennedy realized that it was
becoming a moral issue and as president of the united states he had to respond. >> spurred to action and pushed by bobby, kennedy delivered one of his most powerful addresses. >> we are confronted primarily with a moral issue. it is as old as the scriptures, and is as clear as the american constitution. the heart of the question is whether all americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow americans as we want to be treated. >> by the fall of 1963, kennedy had introduced a strong civil rights bill to congress. his first thousand days had seen many successes -- the peace corps, the moon program, negotiating a nuclear test ban treaty, and a growing economy. among the failures, the increasingly troubled american commitment in vietnam.
in late november, president kennedy and jackie flew to texas to do some political damage control for his approaching re-election campaign. on the 22nd, they landed in dallas. >> good evening. the essential facts are these. president kennedy was murdered in dallas, texas. he was shot by a sniper hiding in a building near his parade route. >> a wave of sadness and horror swept the nation while the kennedy family struggled to comprehend their loss. even in her grief, the president's widow began to romanticize jack's legacy. she coined the term "camelot" to describe the white house. >> jacqueline kennedy was one of the great pr people of all time and she really knew how to play not just the press but how to play the myth. >> once jackie labeled camelot, what it did was remind later
generations of the fact there was a moment when there was this young president. there was a moment when people believed that they could change the world. >> our problems are man made, therefore, they can be solved by man. >> the celebration of jack's legacy elevated and enshrined the kennedy brothers. it would become the foundation for not one but two attempted restorations. now was the next brother's turn to carry the kennedy torch, bobby. the tough, behind-the-scenes enforcer had to step forward to the spotlight. charitable giving. really. i get bonuses even working part-time. where i work, over 400 people are promoted every day. healthcare starting under $40 a month. i got education benefits. i work at walmart. i'm a pharmacist. sales associate. i manage produce. i work in logistics. there's more to walmart than you think. vo: opportunity. that's the real walmart.
we've learned how to stretch our party budget. ♪ the only downer? my bargain brand towel made a mess of things. so goodbye so-called bargain brands, hello bounty basic. the affordably priced towel that's an actual bargain. watch how one select-a-size sheet of bounty basic is 50% stronger than a full sheet of the bargain brand. it takes a strong towel to stretch a budget. bounty basic. the strong but affordable picker upper. and try charmin basic.
i got this. [thinking] is it that time? the son picks up the check? [thinking] i'm still working. he's retired. i hope he's saving. i hope he saved enough. who matters most to you says the most about you. at massmutual we're owned by our policyowners, and they matter most to us. whether you're just starting your 401(k) or you are ready for retirement, we'll help you get there.
here's what's happening. sleet and freezing rain are causing travel delays in the midwest at the start of another busy holiday travel season. virginia state senator left the hospital today three days after he was stabbed repeatedly by his son who then took his own life. the pentagon says it is overhauling its military strategy in the arctic as climate change opens new ceilings sparking a global race for arctic energy resources.
i just have an eerie feeling as you see the effects of one president being moved out and the effects of the new president, president johnson, coming in. >> those who knew bobby say after his brother's death he seemed in a trance. even if he brooded, he began to actively position himself as jack's rightful heir. in 1964, after lyndon johnson denied him the chance to be his vice president, bobby resigned as attorney general and ran for the senate from new york. he hadn't lived in the state since he was a boy, but the kennedys were never ones to play by the rule book or wait their turn. >> no one committed to participating in public life can sit on the sidelines with so
much at stake. >> yet, facing taunts that he was a carpetbagger and haunted by the suspicion that the cheers were not for him but for his lost brother, bobby had trouble finding his political footing. >> what's the largest minority of hecklers you've ever had? >> i don't know. >> he didn't want to trade on his brother's name. on the other hand, he didn't quite know what to say on behalf of himself. >> kennedy ended up defeating the popular incumbent senator ken keating by riding on lyndon johnson's long presidential coattails. but even as the new senator joined his younger brother ted on the hill, he was poised for higher office, and everyone knew it. >> the feeling of most of those who watched him was that his presidential years were almost inevitable.
there was always that feeling among the press and among his colleagues that one day they were going to have to deal with him on quite a different level. >> robert kennedy wasn't a cool politician like his older brother jack. he was emotional, intense, full of passion. >> the inadequacy of human compassion, the defectiveness of our sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellow, they mark the limit of our ability to use knowledge for the well-being of our fellow human beings throughout the world. >> and as the vietnam war's death toll rose and protestors took to the streets, bobby found his voice. >> you do lose nothing by sitting down with the north vietnamese and seeing if we can resolve this conflict, and i'm ready to do that. >> even though he wanted to reclaim the white house, bobby wasn't ready to take on the president who was expanding the war, a war his brother had
backed. >> he was quite resolute that he wasn't going to run. but it became quite clear we couldn't go through another four years of the johnson presidency. >> part of him said you don't undertake something unless you think you can win. part of him said you have to do what's right. >> while bobby anguished, another anti-war candidate stepped up, minnesota senator eugene mccarthy. in march 1968, mccarthy, a virtual unknown, proved johnson's clear vulnerability, losing the new hampshire primary to the president by a handful of votes. a few days later, bobby was in, announcing in the same senate chamber his brother had. >> i do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. >> many people saw bobby's announcement as naked political calculation. >> you opportunist. you know, you waited until you saw lyndon was really vulnerable.
you let mccarthy pave the way and followed in his wake. even if it was ill-timed, an inopportune time to do it, but he did it. so he was off and running. >> robert kennedy's passionate 1968 campaign had little in common with the well-oiled kennedy campaign machine that made jack president eight years earlier. the bobby kennedy campaign, what was different about that from what you remember and knew about the jack kennedy campaign? >> well, it was a lot less organized. as you know, my father was very ambivalent whether to run. it was put together more in a haphazard way. it was his spirit that got the through, rather than the organization. >> are you going to vote for this man who sings like this? >> there was this enormous, enormous surge everywhere he
went of youthful enthusiasm. it was extraordinary. grabbing him, mauling him and snatching his cuff links and kids on tricycles and bikes pumping along the motorcade. >> on march 31st, the kennedy campaign had the floor fall out from under it. >> i shall not seek, and i will not accept, the nomination of my party another term as your president. >> bobby had been running against lyndon johnson and his war policies. and now, for a brief time, he was at sea. that changed on april 4th. >> i have some very sad news for all of you. martin luther king was shot and was killed tonight. >> from that night in indianapolis, his campaign had a new direction. >> what we need in the united states is not violence and
lawlessness but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country. >> he wasn't just running against a president or a war but trying to heal a country's racial and economic wounds, as well. bobby went on to win in indiana and then in nebraska. >> we want bobby! >> but he lost the oregon primary to mccarthy, a first for a kennedy in presidential politics. to have any chance, bobby needed to best mccarthy in california. on june 4, 1968, he did just that and won in south dakota, too. >> we want bobby! >> for a brief moment, bobby was atop a wave of excitement that might, just might, have secured him the nomination. >> my thanks to all of you, and now it's on to chicago, and
let's win there. >> is there a doctor? >> senator robert francis kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. today, june 6th, 1968. he was 42 years old. >> i believe that robert kennedy would have won. and i think he could have defeated richard nixon. think about it, no nixon? war ends? no watergate? what would this country have been like over the ensuing 40 years? >> present at the hospital, the youngest kennedy brother, ted. >> i saw him briefly. his face just contorted with grief. i've never seen a man so torn as
he was that night, for all kinds of reasons. >> my brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life. to be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. >> it was that eulogy that turned bobby kennedy into the saintly liberal figure we associate with bobby kennedy. so all along it was ted who was investing the kennedy name with sort of concrete values. you know, civil rights, anti-war, health care, education. and that is a key to their endurance, that people consider the kennedys to be a fixed brand name. >> now there was only one brother left.
the right medicare. no one could have left this much money here. whoo-hoo-hoo! yet many seniors who compare medicare d plans realize they can save hundreds of dollars. cvs/pharmacy wants to help you save on medicare expenses. talk to your cvs pharmacist, call, or go to cvs.com/compare to get your free, personalized plan comparison today. call, go online, or visit your local store today. for all those who sleep too hot or too cool, for all those who sleep now there's a solution. sleep number dual temp, the revolutionary temperature-balancing layer with active air technology that works on any mattress brand, including yours. it's only at a sleep number store, where this holiday season, the hottest sleep innovations make the coolest gifts - including sleep number dual temp. discover dual temp at one of our 425 sleep number stores nationwide. sleep number. comfort individualized.
and it feels like your lifeate revolves around your symptoms, ask your gastroenterologist about humira adalimumab. humira has been proven to work for adults who have tried other medications but still experience the symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease. in clinical studies, the majority of patients on humira saw significant symptom relief, and many achieved remission. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal events, such as infections, lymphoma, or other types of cancer, have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira, your doctor should test you for tb. ask your doctor if you live in or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you have had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, or sores. you should not start humira if you have any kind of infection. ask your gastroenterologist about humira today. remission is possible.
of the four kennedy brothers, ted, the youngest, was the most connected to the others. in 1946, the family gathered in hyannis port to celebrate jack's 29th birthday. when teddy rose to speak, the 14-year-old raised his glass and said, i'd like to drink a toast to the brother who isn't here. he stunned the room into silence. >> i think the three of them were not only a kind of band of brothers all their own in mythology but in reality. >> in 1960, ted was given a key role in jack's campaign, overseeing the western states.
>> in the state of oregon, do give jack an enthusiastic and overwhelming endorsement. >> when jack's senate seat came open in 1962, his father joe made the call, declaring that ted, all of 30 years old, would be the candidate. >> jack and bobby did not want ted to run for the senate. they felt he was too young. >> joe said, no, it's his turn now. he helped you. you help him. >> there are hot times brewing on the democratic political scene. at the state democratic convention, edward j. mccormick, 38-year-old nephew of house speaker mccormick, seeks the party nomination for senator. in a contest with edward ted kennedy. >> the kennedy operation swung into action dusting off jack's slogan from 1952, he can do more for massachusetts. ted won, but the joy of ted kennedy's triumph was sadly muted. prior to his triumph, joe senior suffered a debilitating stroke.
but his fourth son was now on his way. and unlike his brothers, ted found a home in the senate. >> i think teddy kennedy was very happy being a senator. he just seemed more comfortable there within two days than either of the brothers may have felt being there for several years. >> then, on the night of july 18, 1969, with kennedy poised to perhaps challenge nixon in 1972, he drove off a bridge on an island near martha's vineyard. the passenger with him, robert kennedy staffer mary jo kopechne was killed. kennedy said he was driving her to catch a ferry to the vineyard when the accident occurred. >> there is no truth, no truth whatever, to the widely-circulated suspicions of immoral conduct that have been leveled at my behavior and hers regarding that evening. >> there were many reasons to believe they weren't heading to the ferry. first of all, she, mary jo left
her purse and her keys, her motel key back at the cottage. they also didn't head to the ferry. they headed in a different direction over a dirt road heading out to the beach. and the ferry had stopped running more than a half hour before they left the party. >> it seemed that ted kennedy's political career and any hope of the presidency was over. but in 1970, just 16 months later, the people of massachusetts overwhelmingly re-elected him to the senate. in a may 1971 poll, he led all democrats as a challenger to president nixon's re-election. a kennedy restoration still seemed possible. nixon was not anxious for a rematch, as becomes clear in the watergate tapes.
>> nixon got a break. ted didn't run in 1972. >> the prime reasons for not running are because of responsibilities to my family. >> for ted, being a kennedy brother was a heavy burden. >> senator, there's obviously a great price that one has to pay these days for political life. is the price worth the pain? >> well, i suppose it is. >> i, jimmy carter, do solemnly swear. >> that i will faithfully -- >> with ted sitting out again in 1976, jimmy carter and the democrats retook the white house, but senator kennedy had little affection for carter and vice versa. >> president carter probably regarded teddy kennedy as this constant, daily, hourly challenge, and for the kennedys, i thought they regarded carter as sort of a bumpkin. >> in 1979, with carter's popularity at a record low,
kennedy decided to revive the kennedy party and do what his brother bobby did, run against a sitting democratic president. >> today i formally announce that i'm a candidate for president of the united states. >> there did seem to be this family legacy to be satisfied to be the president. and more than that, he obviously knew from watching his brothers that the presidency had a power, that no matter how big a senator you could be, you could still do more for the things you cared about if you were president. >> he did it in some degree of discomfort because he's taking on a president of his own party. he also, i think, had personal reservations about whether, you know, his personal skills fit well with the presidency. >> that became clear after kennedy agreed to a high-profile television interview with cbs' roger mudd, taped prior to announcing his candidacy. >> why do you want to be president?
>> well, i'm -- were i to make the, the announcement to run, the reasons that i would run is because i have a great belief in this country. >> unfortunately, ted's campaign turned out much like his interview -- ill prepared, unfocused, awkward, un-kennedy. of the 34 primaries, carter one -- won 24, kennedy just 10. >> it wasn't a very well-run campaign. it never got traction. i think the reason was he probably never felt it in his skin that this was his destiny. >> at the convention, ted gave more of an acceptance speech than what it was supposed to be, an endorsement of carter. >> for me, a few hours ago this campaign came to an end.
for all those whose cares have been our concerns, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die. >> they got to see the ted kennedy they should have gotten to see earlier in the campaign. >> by convention's end, with the balloons falling kennedy's speechwriter quietly counseled ted to be a good soldier and team player. >> i looked at him and said you are going to raise his hand, aren't you? he said yes, and he went out, and it never happened. >> some of crowd was still chanting "we want ted, we want ted." it was slightly awkward. >> at the end there was some sort of brief hand touch, but it was on full view of the nation, this absolute physical contempt for the senator toward the president.
>> the kennedy campaign machine, which for decades had intimidated and destroyed political foes from lodge to humphrey to nixon, for those could now only wound. for those hoping for the kennedy restoration, the dream had been deferred. which means it's never been easier to get a new 2014 jetta. it gets an impressive 34 highway mpg and comes with no charge scheduled maintenance. and right now you can drive one home for practically just your signature. sign. then drive. get zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first month's payment on any new 2014 volkswagen. hurry, this offer ends december 2nd. for details, visit vwdealer.com today
[ male announcer ] we all deserve a good night's sleep. thankfully, there's zzzquil. it's not for colds, it's not for pain, it's just for sleep. ♪ because sleep is a beautiful thing™. ♪ zzzquil. the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil®. i'm here to say a few words about the power of baking stuff with nestle toll house morsels. you can heal a broken heart with a bundt cake. make a monday mornin' feel like a friday afternoon with some nestle toll house morsels.
in the decades following his 1980 presidential bid, ted kennedy finally let go of his dream of reclaiming the white house. in the end, the youngest of the kennedy brothers found that his true calling was in the u.s. senate, fighting for health care, especially. >> this administration missed the boat, so to speak in understanding where we're going. >> i think senator kennedy has a very, very deep feeling that he's carrying on a legacy that really matters. he's gone beyond carrying it on.
he's expanded it and probably passed more significant legislation than many presidents have. >> in 1957, jack kennedy was chosen to select the greatest senators in history. of course he could only look backwards. looking forward, he could've included his youngest brother. >> he's willing to be bipartisan. i think he goes down in history as one of the all-time great liberal senators, democrat senators, no question about it. >> in january 2008, ted kennedy once more responded to the siren call of the white house, not for himself, but to support a presidential candidate who personified the kennedy vision, that legacy, that dream, that would never die. >> i know what america can achieve. i've seen it, i've lived it, and with barack obama, we can do it again. >> despite being challenged by a
serious illness, kennedy refused to quit, going to denver to speak to the democratic convention. >> this november, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of americans, so with barack obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. the work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on. >> my father said, 40 years ago, there will be an african-american president. and i think there was a sense that what barack obama was doing was continuing the sense of engagement, excitement.
>> in truth, the next generation of the kennedys is a guy named obama. >> yes, we can. thank you. god bless you, and may god bless the united states of america. >> for 50 years now, the story of the kennedy brothers' dogged pursuit of the presidency has been without parallel. what caught us up in jack and roused us with bobby and allured us with ted was deliverance from political mediocrity. they said we could do better. most of all, despite their human frailties, they called us to a higher and, yes, nobler cause. >> all free men, wherever they may live, citizens of berlin. and therefore, as a free man, i take pride in the words ich bin ein berliner.
>> everyone here will ultimately be judged, will ultimately judge himself on the efforts he has contributed to building a new world society. >> it is the glory and the greatness of our traditions to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten. three of the four kennedy brothers died in the service of our country -- joe in world war ii, jack as president, and bobby fighting to end a war. we'll remember them by how they made politics, government, and our national life so much grander, so much more exciting, more vital. yes, they were tough, and yes, they made a difference. and for the longest time, they took our breath away. >> ask not what your country can do for you. ask what you can do for your country. >> for msnbc, i'm chris mathews. thanks for watching.
hello. welcome to our special evening on msnbc to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the president john f. kennedy. november 22nd, 1963, was undeniably a day that changed america, but when it comes to the issue of guns, did the killing of a popular president lead to real change any more than so many other days in which gun violence struck this country? up next on our all new documentary, "50 years of guns" reverend al sharpton reflects on that history and travels around the country talking to gang members, second amendment advocates, and victims of mass shootings. reverend sharpton finds a common loss in the suffering and a tighter grasp on the anger surrounding the issue of