Clintons to Join Obamas at Kennedy Wreath-Laying

Saturday, 16 Nov 2013 04:08 PM


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President Barack Obama together with Bill and Hillary Clinton will visit the grave site of John F. Kennedy next week, to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

The three Democratic Party champions, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, will lay a wreath close to the eternal flame that marks the resting place of the 35th US president at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington.

The poignant moment of remembrance will come two days before the November 22 half-century anniversary of Kennedy being gunned down in an open top limousine in Dallas, in a crime which traumatized the world.

The White House said Obama would also give a speech on Wednesday evening honoring Kennedy's legacy of service at a dinner honoring awardees of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The event is expected to be attended by members of John Kennedy's family.

His daughter, Caroline Kennedy is however setting off on a new chapter of her life, having just arrived in Japan as the new U.S. ambassador to Tokyo.

The annual award of the medals was initiated by Kennedy, and also on Wednesday Obama will present this year's honorees at a White House ceremony.

Former president Clinton, former Washington Post editor and Kennedy confidant Ben Bradlee and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey are among those getting medals this year.

The presence of Obama and the Clintons at the gravesite together is certain to spark new speculation about whether the president favors Hillary Clinton as his political heir.

The two former rivals buried their differences from a bitter 2008 primary campaign to serve together when Obama picked Clinton to be his secretary of state in his first term.

Clinton is now the red hot favorite to land the Democratic nomination for the 2016 election — but has not said whether she will make another run for the White House.

Presidents Clinton and Obama, two-term leaders both, laid claim to the legacy of John F. Kennedy in their own election campaigns.

Clinton was famously pictured meeting Kennedy at an event in the White House Rose Garden in July 1963, and has reminisced how he set eyes on the presidency himself after shaking JFK's hand.

Obama accepted Kennedy's torch of Democratic Party idealism in a key moment of the 2008 campaign — which irked the Clintons — from President Kennedy's late brother Sen. Edward Kennedy at American University in Washington.

John Kennedy, then 46, was gunned down as he traveled through downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963.

The killing was blamed on a gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was said to be acting alone.

But the 50 years since have been replete with conspiracy theories centering on whether Oswald was the true culprit and if he was acting on his own initiative or was part of a wider plot.

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© AFP 2014

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