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Looking Back at Highs, Lows of Kennedy’s High-profile Life

Kwame Holman looks back at the life of the last surviving Kennedy brother and his role as a liberal stalwart.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now, more on Sen. Edward Kennedy. We begin with a look back at the life of the last surviving brother of a one-of-a-kind political family. NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has the story.

  • SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, D-Mass.:

    I feel that it is essential that we provide a medical care program to meet the needs of our senior and elderly citizens.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    For nearly half a century, Senator Edward Kennedy was one of the nation's and his party's most prominent voices. The eight-term Massachusetts Democrat lent his eloquent and forceful voice to many causes: civil rights…

  • SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY:

    I am accusing them of creating a climate that encourages discrimination…

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … the minimum wage…

  • SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY:

    If you work hard 40 hours a week, 52 weeks of the year, you shouldn't live in poverty.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … education…

  • SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY:

    If you're going to turn around schools, you're going to have to invest.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … immigration policy…

  • SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY:

    One way or the other, they're going to come in, and that is where the temporary worker program comes in.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … and health care.

  • SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY:

    You do not need a stethoscope to diagnose the cause of health care cost inflation. Hospitals and doctors charge too much.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Indeed, it was health care that Kennedy regarded as the cause of his life. Just as political debate on Capitol Hill heated up, he made the case for health care reform in Newsweek magazine in July, with the assistance of long-time friend and political strategist Bob Shrum.

    Ted was the youngest son of one of the nation's most-storied political families, legendary both for its service and the tragedies that befell it. Two of his older brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy, were struck down by assassins in the span of just five years.

    He mourned Robert at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1968.

  • SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY:

    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. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Tragedy was followed by scandal that impacted both his private and political lives. It was in 1969 that the senator's car plunged off a bridge on the Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick. A young woman riding with him, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident.

    Like his brothers before him, Ted Kennedy sought the White House. In 1979, he challenged the incumbent Democrat, President Jimmy Carter. But Kennedy's campaign stumbled from the start, when he seemed unready for a question from Roger Mudd of CBS.

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