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Robert F. Kennedy Remembered

The Washington Post's David Broder recalls the 1968 presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy on the 40th anniversary of his assassination. (Archive Photo: Bettmann/Corbis; video by Tom Kennedy and Ed O'Keefe / washingtonpost.com)

For more of Broder's recollections about covering RFK's presidential campaign, click to listen in on The Post Politics Podcast with Ed O'Keefe and Emily Freifeld.

The original June 6, 1968 Washington Post report on the assassination of RFK can be read here.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 5, 2008; 11:58 AM ET
Categories:  Video Report  
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Posted by: Nancy Barness | June 23, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

As a great admirer of RFK who worked in his campaign, I found David Broder's accounting moving and eloquent. There is one slight correction for the historical record.

Namely, RFK did not enter the race "after LBJ withdrew" from the Presidential contest. Rather, RFK announced on March 16, 4 days after LBJ's narrow victory in Wisconsin.

LBJ withdrew from the race 2 weeks later, on March 31. Some, with keen knowledge of Johnson and his persona, have concluded that one reason he withdrew from the race was RFK's recent entry into the campaign: LBJ did not wish to face RFK, during an unpopular war and a time of great upheaval, whose beloved brother LBJ had succeeded into office on November 22, 1963.

Hence, the historical record reflects that RFK entered the race before LBJ's surprising withdrawal, and may have helped precipitate LBJ's decision itself.

Posted by: Mark E. Kalmansohn | June 8, 2008 4:22 AM | Report abuse

He is as missed today and needed today as he was 40 years ago...My heart still hurts at our loss.

Posted by: JULIA | June 5, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Leadership is a really a matter of the "heart" and not an 'ideology' to be proved, protected or defended. Bobby is an example of wisdom in living experience and his legacy is alive in our society today are starting to come forth in Barack Obama! Inspiration in perfecting our union with one another and our world is not a choice any longer, it is a matter of survival of the human heart Bobby embodied and shared with humanity!

Posted by: Patric Roberts | June 5, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Op-Ed Contributor
NY Times
Taking 'No' for an Answer
By JOSEPH P. KENNEDY II

Boston

I REMEMBER how my father listened with rare empathy to everyone. He paid a lot of attention, for instance, to Putt, an old man who lived in a rest home at the end of Sea Street in Hyannis. A gas attack during World War I had left Putt unable to hear or speak. He spent most every day riding around Lewis Bay in a little rowboat with a five-horsepower engine.

If Putt spotted us sailing to Egg Island for a picnic, he'd pull alongside, and my father would pass him a sandwich, a bag of chips and a beer. Putt would follow the sailboat until we gently beached, and then he and my father would stand together on the sand, their heads leaning toward one another.

Years later, in the same way, my father sat down with Appalachian coal miners -- tough men, covered in soot, sharing their aches and ambitions. In a famous photo of him with his arm resting easily on the shoulder of a miner, he could be talking to Putt.

I once traveled with him to a Navajo reservation and watched in the dim light of a rundown adobe dwelling as he leaned over to hear an old man talk about the struggles of his people. I heard Native Americans share their pain as if they somehow knew, because of a certain sorrow in his heart coupled with an active and tough mind, that my father would do everything to help.

So it happened wherever he went -- on the streets of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, in a square in Warsaw or in the well of the Senate. And wherever he could, he acted. After visiting Bed-Stuy, he pressed his campaign donors to direct investments into one of New York City's poorest and most neglected neighborhoods.

After my grandfather had a stroke, he was paralyzed on his right side and could say just one word, "no," which he repeated over and over. For nine years, this larger-than-life figure, this once strong, powerful man, could say nothing more. But his son would have long political discussions with him. They talked about running for president -- the mood of the electorate, the dynamics of the various states. All you could hear from my grandfather was "no," but repeated with a nuance that allowed my father to discern his still sharp political assessments.

That same quality made each of his children feel deeply loved and made all nine of our dogs worship him, especially Freckles, who followed him on the campaign trail. Robert Kennedy had a wonderful way of allowing others to tell him how the world looked through their eyes. Indeed, so many people across this nation were grateful for his belief in their worth -- they knew his faith in the humanity of his fellow Americans.

He lived by a moral compass that others, less certain of their direction, looked to for guidance. Even if what he asked was hard to hear and heed, he gave others the strength to believe not just in his guidance but in themselves.

The truth is, we all just plain loved him.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

RFK epitomizes what we lack in politics today - Leadership.

Posted by: nclwtk | June 5, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

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