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Convention Close-up: The Kennedys

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Forty years ago, at the first Democratic convention in Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy invited Americans to be pioneers on a New Frontier. On Tuesday night, the 2000 Democratic convention heard from the keepers of President Kennedy's legacy: his daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Prior to their conventions speeches, the two Kennedys sat down with CBS News Anchor Dan Rather and CBS News Consultant Gloria Borger for a Convention Close-up.



Sen. Kennedy: Tonight’s a very special night for us and all the members of the family and having Caroline introducing me.

Rather: Why are you doing it?

Caroline Kennedy: Well, Teddy asked me and it’s very hard to say no to Teddy. I am really thrilled to do it. It means a lot to me to be here and I care a lot about this election and the issues. I think it’s really important, so I’ll do anything I can.

Borger: Why do you feel particularly that it’s so important for Al Gore to get elected. Do you have a connection yourself with the Gore family?

Caroline Kennedy: Well, actually his parents were good friends with my parents when they were first getting to know each other in Washington. So that's a very nice coming around again. But for me, the Supreme Court is something that is very important. And having children of my own is something that I really care about; making sure kids are cared for well and schools are great. I think he’ll make a great president.

Borger: You're sounding political...

Rather: Are you going to campaign for him?

Caroline Kennedy: Well, I don't know. I’m here now. One step at a time.

Rather: Caroline, you mentioned the Supreme Court. Tell me more about that.

Caroline Kennedy: I have some background in constitutional law and I think the kind of justices we have are so important going forward. Many of the justices we have now ar getting old, so the next president is going to have a chance to impact the future of our country for a long time to come. And I think that Al Gore would choose people who are outstanding.

Sen. Kennedy: This election really isn't about the next four years, but about a whole generation. And I think that's something that gets me up every single morning and urges me on, because I think it's that important to the future of our country.

Rather: Does he talk this way around the dinner table.

Caroline Kennedy: He gets us all up early, too.

Borger: Caroline, in 1988, your brother introduced your uncle [at the Democratic convention] and now you are the one who’s doing the honors. Is this sort of an emotional moment?

Caroline Kennedy: Well it is, it is. He did a great job and I hope I will, too.

Borger: When your brother was running for president, the issue was his Catholicism. Now we see Joe Lieberman out here as vice pesident in fact talking quite openly about his religion.

Sen. Kennedy: One of the statements that President Kennedy had to make - "When I was born and baptized, I shouldn't be excluded from the presidency of the United states and neither should 42 million other Americans who happened to be Catholic" - this is a continuation of knocking down the barriers of bigotry in this country.

Rather: Forty years, one month and one day ago, your father made his acceptance speech here in Los Angeles. Now you were too young to remember it, but did your family talk about it any time? Anything you remember from your youth?

Caroline Kennedy: Well, I know my mother was back in Hyannisport. She painted a painting of him coming home and us all standing on the dock and waiting. So it was a very exciting time for everybody.

Rather: We all talk about the Kennedy legacy which began with your father. What is the Kennedy legacy?

Caroline Kennedy: Well, I think it’s really a commitment to public service and to getting involved and trying to make things better for your community. Believing in the system. I mean, we’re all so lucky to live in this country and I think it’s great to have a feeling you can give something back.

Rather: How have you managed to keep your privacy so well?

Caroline Kennedy: I don't know. I guess I haven't spent enough time with you.

Rather: Forever's a long time, especially in politics. Do you ever see a time when you might run for public office?

Caroline Kennedy: Well, I’d just like to get through tonight.