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Klein: Ted Kennedy's Liberal Clout Irreplaceable

By Jim Meyers   |   Thursday, 04 Jun 2009 06:16 PM

Best-selling author and Kennedy family biographer Edward Klein tells Newsmax that a "battle royale" will erupt in the family over Ted Kennedy's Senate seat after he leaves the scene.

Klein, whose latest book is "Ted Kennedy: The Dream That Never Died," also said that Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's children were behind her decision to withdraw her bid to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat.

See Video: Author Edward Klein discusses Ted Kennedy’s liberal legacy - Click Here Now

Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella cited conflicting reports about Caroline's withdrawal and asked Klein for the real story behind her decision.

"I think Caroline Kennedy was very upset that I got to her children," said Klein, who was the foreign editor of Newsweek magazine and editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine.

"Her children had been guarded all their lives by Caroline. She does not want them in the public eye.

"In my book I quote her children, especially [20-year-old] Rose Kennedy Schlossberg, the oldest child, who intervened with her mother along with her siblings and said, 'Mom you've got to drop out because this is turning you into a person we have never recognized.'

"That was the true story. There is no scandal behind this. Caroline wasn't having an affair, as had been rumored. Her husband Ed Schlossberg was not having an affair. She simply didn't fit as a political figure going out and trying to win votes. She was perhaps the first inarticulate Kennedy ever to run for office . . .

"She was very upset that I had penetrated this wall she had built between her and her children on the one side and the media on the other. And this is the first time that I'm aware of that a book or an article or anything has quoted her children. I think it really set her back on her heels."

Martella asked who will carry the Kennedy family legacy after Ted Kennedy, who has been battling brain cancer, leaves the scene.

"I don't think Caroline is a contender, but I do think that when Senator Kennedy passes from the scene there will be two major contenders for his seat in the Senate," Klein declared.

"One will be his wife Victoria Reggie, who is a very intelligent, very ambitious woman from a political family, and resembles in many ways Ted Kennedy's own mother, Rose Kennedy.

"On the other hand there is Joe Kennedy the Second, Bobby's oldest child and therefore the oldest cousin in that generation, who has his eye on the seat too.

"We may be in for a battle royale, an intra-family feud when Ted Kennedy steps aside."

Ted Kennedy has long been an advocate for healthcare reform, which President Barack Obama has made a major goal of his first term. Martella asked if Kennedy is expected to be a major player in that reform.

"It was announced that Ted Kennedy was going to be on the floor of the Senate to lead the healthcare debate," said Klein. "So far he's been unable to attend his own healthcare committee.

"I think his health is very fragile. We will see probably next week whether he's able to walk onto the floor of the Senate, actually speak without slurring his words, and hold a debate. I certainly hope that he can. But the odds are that he's in a race against time, and it's not quite clear yet whether he will be able to live long enough to see a healthcare bill passed."

Returning to the issue of contenders for Sen. Kennedy's seat after he passes on, Klein said of Ted's wife Victoria and Joe Kennedy that "neither one is going to have the liberal credentials to be as powerful a voice for liberalism in the Senate.

"I think Joe is a liberal. I think probably Vicki is too. But they don't have the credibility that Kennedy has built up over the years. So when he passes from the scene it's going to be a blow to what I call old-fashioned, New Deal liberalism."

Martella asked if any other liberal Democrat will have the clout that Kennedy has had.

"No. Ted Kennedy — because he's been Senator for over 40 years and is the second longest serving Senator now after [Robert] Byrd, and because of his name, Kennedy, and because he's worked so diligently and has such a great staff, and because he's made friends across the aisle with Republicans and conservatives — has the kind of power in the Senate that no one will be able replace or duplicate."

How might historians characterize Ted Kennedy 50 years from now, Martella asked.

Klein responded: "I think they're going to say, irrespective of their political bent, that because he lived so long, because he was able to hang on and overcome so many adversities, that Ted Kennedy actually accomplished more than either of his brothers, Jack the president or Bobby the attorney general."

See Video: Author Edward Klein discusses Ted Kennedy’s liberal legacy - Click Here Now

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