In March of 1962, the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy, Edward “Ted” Kennedy, had finished a trip overseas and came back to announce his plans to join his other two brothers in what became known as “the other family business”. Having just turned 30, Kennedy was now legally able to run for office, and wasted no time making his intentions known.
And of course, it brought waves of ridicule and even a few potshots from the Press (as this Meet The Press episode demonstrates) that the youngest Kennedy brother would be a shoe-in because of his family connection and his youth. There were two Kennedys already in important public office – John was President and middle brother Bobby was Attorney General – some felt that it was too much Kennedy influence on Capitol Hill. Others felt, should Ted Kennedy win, it would be because of his brother John – and if he lost, it would be a rebuke on the Kennedy White House and subsequently be an embarrassment, casting doubts on a 2nd term in 1964. A Ted Kennedy run for public office was viewed as risky.
The other big question was Ted Kennedy’s youth and relative inexperience – a question that was posed to President Kennedy when he was running for Congress in 1946 as well as of Robert Kennedy with his appointment as Attorney General.
This interview, an episode in the weekly Sunday program Meet The Press, comes three days ahead of his official announcement. It’s a fascinating glimpse into politics of the 1960s and most certainly shows how the press treated Political candidates and treated political issues at the time. However people felt about Ted Kennedy during his career, his time in office outlasted that of both his brothers and continued to be an influence over Democratic Party politics all the way to 2008.
Here’s a reminder of what it sounded like at the starting point. The complete episode of Meet The Press, as it aired on March 13, 1962.