"PERSON TO PERSON" WITH CHARLES COLLINGWOOD, CBS-TV
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1960, 10 P.M.
Guests: Senator and Mrs. John F. Kennedy
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Good evening. "Person to Person" is 7 years old tonight. We are delighted you could join us as we start our eighth season on the air with a visit to the home of Senator and Mrs. John Kennedy in Washington. Before we do, though, I think my friend Durward Kirby has something to say.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is, of course, one of the busiest men in the country today but he managed to find time on a rare day off from campaigning with us to visit with him, his wife, Jacqueline, and their little daughter, Caroline.
Along with their summer home in Hyannis Port, Mass., the well-known Kennedy family colony, Senator and Mrs. John Kennedy maintain this home in Washington, D.C. It's a comfortable 18th century red-brick house in the historic Georgetown section. Hello, Mrs. Kennedy.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Hello, Charles.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. According to several hundred well-informed sources your husband is spending the day away from airplanes and speeches, at home today, for a change.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Yes, he is home today. It is wonderful to have him here. If you will bear with us a few minutes he will join us soon.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Well, the Senator is very thoughtful. I am delighted to bear with you for as long as the whole afternoon. You know it has been said by people who know you fairly well though that you are basically a shy person. Has the change in the circumstances in your life since Senator Kennedy was nominated in July been painful or difficult for you?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, I think the major change of my life was the first year I got married. Instead of like most young brides who have a husband with a 9-to-5 job, I married a "whirlwind" and had to adjust to a very hectic life so I did all the adjusting then. Now it has just increased a little and I am used to it..
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. And I suppose sometimes it is sort of fun, isn't it?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, it is.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Seldom does a lady have to face a deluge in international attention that the wife of a candidate for the Presidency does. Does this mean a tremendous adjustment for you?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, it is rather strange to find oneself the focus of so much attention but I am very grateful and it doesn't bother me in any way because people are very kind to my husband. I am delighted with their interest in him and, after all, the main thing I am interested in is his winning in November, so any effort or any inconvenience, of course, is only a pleasure.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. As an expert on the subject, tell me this. Does it take a special kind of woman, a special psychology, personality, to be married to a politician, especially a presidential candidate?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, I suppose the most important thing she needs is to really love her husband and then any sacrifice or adjustment she has to make is only a joy.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Now there is a reasonable possibility that you and Senator Kennedy may be provided with other housing in Washington and may have to move away from this fine old Georgetown house. How long has this been your Washington home?
Mrs. KENNEDY. It has been our home for 3 years. Jack bought it while I was in the hospital having Caroline. We brought her home here and painted around ourselves for a year and we have been here - she has been with us ever since we have been in this house which is one reason I love it so much.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. The way you have it decorated, it certainly is in the finest tradition of Georgetown.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Yes, well Jack loves old things and he picked it because it is rather stark and stern from the outside. I have it filled with some 18th century furniture, which I love, my pictures and my drawings which I collect. He has been very nice about letting me do the inside but I haven't made it completely all my own because I never want a house where you have to say to your children, "Don't touch," or where your husband isn't comfortable and though there are lots of little things like this around, there are also big, comfortable chairs and the tables that every politician needs, next to his chairs where he can put papers, coffee cups, ashtrays, so it is a little bit of everything.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Well, it is a lovely house. I am sure, Mrs. Kennedy, that you have given some thought to the awesome task of running the White House.
Mrs. KENNEDY. I have given some but I think it is a mistake to cross bridges before you come to them. I also think the White House is equipped with an established and trained staff. It has to be. So in many ways young mothers like myself, who have to run two houses, if your husband is in Congress, plus keep up with a lot of traveling, with the very little help that is possible to get nowadays, has just as hard a job as running the White House.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. What do you say should be the major role of being the First Lady?
Mrs. KENNEDY. I think the major role of the First Lady is to take care of the President so he can best serve the people and to not fail her family, her husband and her children.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. And what about the official duties, the social responsibilities?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, of course, she can't expect to be a completely private person. She will have an official role which she must play and accept with grace but I think there is so much she can do, things she cares about - she can help. In my case it would be education, helping children, student exchange and cultural programs abroad. I was a student abroad myself and I feel it is so important for people of other countries to get to know each other. In so many things where she cares she can help.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. These are all things in which you work on in your present capacity, aren't they?
Mrs. KENNEDY. That's right, I do, yes, and I do a lot of work with mentally retarded children which has always been of great interest to my husband's family.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. In American politics, it's an arduous journey to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a candidate. How does your husband - how is he holding up physically? Is he getting enough sleep? How does he keep fit? He looks wonderful.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, he doesn't get enough sleep. When I joined him for 2 days in New York, we had 4 hours sleep each night and he had two bowls of soup each day. He doesn't sleep; he doesn't eat; he doesn't do anything to keep fit, but he thrives on it. That is what keeps him fit. It's something that amazes me. He looks wonderful, I think.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. I wish I knew the secret. Mrs. Kennedy, what does your daughter Caroline think of all that is going on around her these days ?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, I keep it so that Caroline thinks her father is no different from any other father in this block. It is slightly difficult because every other father isn't in Alaska one day and California the next. She saw someone with a Kennedy button the other day and was amazed to see them wearing a picture of daddy but she thought it was completely natural, that she loves her father so much that everyone should wear his picture. Would you like to see her?
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Oh, I'd like to very much. Are you sure it is all right for us to intrude on the young lady?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, we will see, Charles, keep your fingers crossed.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Hello, Caroline.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Can you say hello?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Here, do you want to sit up in bed with me?
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Oh, isn't she a darling.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Now, look at the three bears.
CAROLINE. What is the dolly's name?
Mrs. KENNEDY. All right, what is the dolly's name?
CAROLINE. I didn't name her yet.
Mrs. KENNEDY. You didn't name her yet.
Mrs. KENNEDY. When are you going to name her?
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Is that her favorite?
Mrs. KENNEDY. It is her favorite as of this minute.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Oh, just like all little girls.
Mrs. KENNEDY. What do you think you will name her tomorrow What color are her shoes?
CAROLINE. White. Like mine.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Like yours. What color is your dress?
Mrs. KENNEDY. And why has she got a hat on?
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. I didn't quite get that.
Mrs. KENNEDY. She has to have a hat on because the wind blows her hair.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Oh, Caroline, you are a very, very pretty little girl and I should think, Mrs. Kennedy, that the proud father would get mighty lonesome for her when he is out on the campaign trail.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, I think he does. We will go down and join him now.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Oh, that will be a treat for him.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Shall we go see daddy?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Can you take us to the parlor?
Mrs. KENNEDY. And we will go see daddy.
Mrs. KENNEDY. All right, let's go see daddy.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Thank you, Mrs. Kennedy. We will be seeing you in a little while, Caroline.
Hello, Senator Kennedy.
Senator KENNEDY. Hello, Charles, how are you?
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Pretty well, thank you. We have been having a very pleasant visit with your ladies.
Senator KENNEDY. Very good.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. They're good company. I know you have had to be away from them for more than you like for a good many months now but I don't suppose a successful politician can be one without giving up something of his personal life, can he?
Senator KENNEDY. No, I ran in seven primaries this winter and now, of course, we are engaged in a great contest this fall so that we will know in November what the future holds for our public and personal life.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Politics is a tremendous challenge. Was it family tradition that made you take up that challenge?
Senator KENNEDY. Well, there was the war and I also grew up in a family atmosphere, as you suggest; my father was active in the Roosevelt administration. My grandfather in Congress and another grandfather in the State senate, so the family conversation was always around public affairs. When the war ended I was at loose ends and, of course, vitally concerned about the United States and I had an opportunity to run and I ran and that was 14 years ago and I must say I think it is the most rewarding of all professions.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Did you always want to go into politics, or as a boy did you ever want to be a fireman or a streetcar conductor or something like that?
Mr. KENNEDY. Well, I never wanted to be in politics until nearly almost the time I ran. I was always interested in writing. I wanted to teach for a while and then I thought maybe I would work in the Government in some career service, so, really, the war changed my life and I suppose if it hadn't been for that and what happened there I suppose I would have gone on with my original plans.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. It changed a lot of people's lives. When did you decide you wanted to run for the Presidency, Senator?
Senator KENNEDY. Well, after 1956 I was a candidate for the Vice Presidency against Estes Kefauver. He beat me by about 20 votes at the convention. Then after the Democrats lost in 1956 I thought maybe I would run in 1960 and began to work weekends, traveling around the United States, and finally decided in 1958 that I would run, in 1959, and then I chose the primary route so it has been a long and arduous 4 years.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. It has indeed. Who were some of your teachers in the fine art of politics and what special lessons did you learn from them?
Senator KENNEDY. Experience is the best teacher in all these matters but my father was always active in political life - my grandfather. I spent an awful lot of time with him when I was young, and then observation. I think politics has changed a good deal since the second war. The issues are very sophisticated now and complex and the style has changed. My grandfather was successful but he was really the more traditional type of political leader.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. That is your Grandfather Fitzgerald?
Senator KENNEDY. That's right.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. He was a sort of flamboyant politician?
Senator KENNEDY. Yes, he really was; I suppose in some ways he was more equipped for it than I was, at least one phase of it, but that style has changed now. Now the problems are terribly important. Everyone in the United States is concerned with what happens in Government life and, therefore, I think what they are interested in is work and results and not so much interested in the old-style campaigning and the old-style public personalities.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Do you like it better this way?
Senator KENNEDY. It happens to suit me better.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. What do you like most about this great and serious business of politics?
Senator KENNEDY. Well, I think everyone has strong feelings about what we ought to do in foreign affairs, in domestic affairs. I have been on the Labor Committee and Public Welfare Committee for 14 years and I am now on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In fact, I am chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Foreign Relations Committee. Well, I think that any American who has a strong desire to see his country prosper and be at peace, we have a chance to do something about it, maybe it is marginal, maybe it is direct, but at least we play a role. I was on the Rackets Committee for 3 years in the Senate. I think we made it uncomfortable for a good many racketeers. We made it uncomfortable for Jimmy Hoffa and some of the others, so we have a chance to put our interest and concern and bring some results from it.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Let me turn that question around. What are the things about politics that you like the least?
Senator KENNEDY. Well, I suppose I am away from home a lot and it is exhausting work and it's a terribly involved life and the pressures are tremendous and the responsibilities are great. I am the standard bearer of the oldest political party in the United States and one of the oldest in the world now and that is a great responsibility. I would like to feel that I could meet it but the pressure is tremendous and, of course, the higher you rise, the pressures and responsibilities mount with them, so I carry heavy burdens right now.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. What suggestions would you have for youngsters who would like to go into politics?
Senator KENNEDY. Well, the way to go in is to go in. I would feel that any young boy or girl, and the age - really they can begin at an early age; in fact, when I ran for the Senate in 1952 I had the help of a good many boys and girls, 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17. The fact is that 90 percent of the tasks in politics can be done by anyone from 15 to 80 and that is writing letters, doing telephoning, working at headquarters, delivering materials, ringing doorbells. Young people, women, men, old people can do that just as well as the most skilled politician and in many cases are willing to do it when politicians are not. So I would say the time to participate is any time.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Have you ever thought, Senator, what you might have liked to do if you hadn't gone into politics, beside practicing law and teaching and writing as has been suggested?
Senator KENNEDY. No, I think I would have done one of those professions or worked in the Government in some career service, maybe in the State Department. I would have gone into some kind of public work, public service, but I am delighted I was able to do it this way.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Would it take a major speech to have you tell us what you consider the political qualities of leadership?
Senator KENNEDY. No, I think the principal qualities is to have some vision into the future about what you want this country to do and then have an ability to communicate that vision or those goals. I think that Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt did that particularly well. They set the public interest before the people, the unfinished business. Actually only the President can do that. I am merely just the Senator from Massachusetts and other Senators represent their States and Governors do and Congressmen but the President represents Massachusetts, California and Hawaii. He, therefore, is at the center of our constitutional system, the leader of the majority party, the leader of the country, is able to make a judgment as to what the country must do, what the public interest requires and then I think ask the people to do it and I don't think the people have ever failed to respond to that kind of leadership.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Well, that's a pretty important recipe which you have just outlined. What do you think are the qualities in a President which makes a great President?
Senator KENNEDY. Well, I think, of course, great times make great Presidents and great men. That is a factor. Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt - I think that they lived in times of crises and met the crises. In addition I would say vitality. Theodore Roosevelt had that; so did Jefferson, a sense of the future and the past and a wide cultural experience which makes it possible for them to draw on the lives of other men and the experiences of other men and apply it to a particular situation, moral courage, a sense of the future, a sense of the past, a physical vitality, intellectual vitality, intellectual curiosity and purpose. I would say those are the qualities.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. You spoke of the background and the wide cultural background. You had that, of course, and you also grew up under rather favored circumstances. What was it in your early life that led you to take the social stands that you have taken and that you are running on now. How did your social conscience develop?
Senator KENNEDY. Well, I represented at the end - when I first went into Congress in 1946, I represented a district that was very poor, in Massachusetts. My grandfather represented it 50 years. My father had come out of that district and so had my mother. There were many problems in housing and many families were in need of assistance. I think that the experience of representing, and, therefore, working for people, first in that district for 6 years, and then in Massachusetts, I think that as you become the representative of the people, their spokesman, it seems to me that you have to recognize that there is an obligation to help people who, either because they need good schools, if they are young, or because they are sick when they are old, or because their housing is inadequate and needs assistance and, therefore, my viewpoint on the necessity for social legislation came really pragmatically through just observation. I think it is the only way that you can maintain a free society, to meet the needs of the people, provide the atmosphere where the economy can function and also meet the needs of the people.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. During this campaign, Senator, you have spoken a good deal about your vision of America, what you think America stands for, what you want it to do. Do you feel that you are getting a response from the people who are listening to you on that line?
Senator KENNEDY. Yes; I think there is a tremendous idealistic concept of the United States held by Americans. Theodore Roosevelt struck the note and so did Woodrow Wilson, especially at the beginning of this century and we have had it ever since. I think there is a strong devotion to this country, a strong sense of public purpose by the American people and I think that they are concerned - that our generation maintains the power and influence of the United States. It isn't really just country. We also serve the cause of freedom and if we do well the cause of freedom prospers because we carry that banner. The Communists carry another banner, hostile to us. If their society moves and ours stands still they serve their cause. I want our cause to be served and I think only the United States can serve it at this particular time in history and I think the American people feel that.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Senator Kennedy, I remember that you suffered during the primaries, and I think not too long ago, about the worst ill that can befall a candidate, when you lost your voice during the campaign. How did that happen and what can you do to prevent a recurrence of it?
Senator KENNEDY. I suppose the human voice isn't meant to shout around the hills of West Virginia and the plains of Wisconsin month after month, 9, 10, 15 times a day, so that sooner or later it gave out. Probably that is just nature's way of telling you that you have talked too much.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Do the doctors think that is going to be all right?
Senator KENNEDY. Oh, it's all right, but it's hard work but the silence won't bother the country if I lose it again for a few days.
There's my daughter.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Hello, there's Caroline.
Senator KENNEDY. Hi, Caroline.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Do you want daddy to read you a story?
Senator KENNEDY. Come on over.
Mrs. KENNEDY. Read these stories to you? All right, which ones do you want him to read.
CAROLINE. That one.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. What's "that one?" Looks like a good one.
Mrs. KENNEDY. What is the name of that one?
Senator KENNEDY. That is "Turkish Fairy Tales." Do you want to come up here and we'll read it.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Mrs. Kennedy, and Senator, your family is going to increase very shortly. Have you given any thought to what you are going to do about the nursery and that sort of thing?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, it's pink now, so I might have to change the color a little - Caroline?
CAROLINE. Why don't you read a story?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Because I am talking on television. I think it is a great mistake to set your mind that you want either a girl or a boy because it is so unfair to the baby. I will be delighted with whatever I have.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Do you have any names picked out?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, if it is a son I think he should be named after his father, and a girl, I will decide when I see her.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. How does that fit with you, Senator?
Senator KENNEDY. That's fine. I would like a boy or a girl equally well. We have a girl and I would just as soon have another one.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Well, you have an awfully nice one there.
CAROLINE. Will you read it, Daddy?
Mrs. KENNEDY. Won't you read it, Daddy?
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Senator and Mrs. Kennedy, it has been very good of you to let us come by and call on you today. Thank you very much.
Senator KENNEDY. It has been a great pleasure, Charles. Thank you.
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. Goodby. Goodby, Caroline.
Senator KENNEDY (to Caroline). Which one do you want?
Mr. COLLINGWOOD. We hope that at some date in the near future Vice President and Mrs. Richard Nixon will be able to find the time in their busy schedule to accept our invitation to appear on "Person to Person."
I will be back with some coming attractions after this message from one of our sponsors.