Vicki Reggie Kennedy has ruled out running for public office as she opens up on the incredible love story she says she experienced with her late husband Edward Kennedy.
She says she spent the last year involved in political and personal work. She says she has fielded numerous requests as a public speaker, especially as commencement speaker at various universities.
She also says she has spent time at the U.S. Capitol talking to lawmakers and trying to speed up the progress of the health care plan, appearing at events her husband would have attended and supporting political friends of Ted’s.
Thought these might seem like the actions of someone running for office she made it very clear that this was not the case.
“I think there’s more than one way to serve,” said Kennedy. “And for me, that’s not it. I have enormous respect for people who do. And I think I can have a wonderful, productive life serving, but that doesn’t have to be elective office.”
Currently she remains focused on the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate along with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum. Though some have criticized the institutions as being yet another shrine to the Kennedy’s she insists the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is a monument to education, history and the Senate.
“What it is is the place that he loved. It’s really a shrine to citizenship,” she explained. “It’s hopefully a place where people, young and old, get reengaged, get engaged or reengaged, with what their government is. We are the government, we the people. The people can start to say, ‘Look, we’ve had huge problems in the history of our country, but people have come together and they’ve solved them. And this is how they did it.’ ”One year after the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy his wife, Vicki Reggie Kennedy, has continued with the work, in advocacy and activism that they both loved.
Over the last year she has been offered jobs in the White House and she is currently deciding where she will run for office. She spoke to the Boston Globe about what’s next for the “Lion of the Senates” wife and how much she misses and adored her husband.
She explained “I adored him, and he got me. He understood me. And he knew I needed to be ‘gotten…He knew if I were getting upset about something, how to get me un-upset. He was on my side.”
Although she may be starting to make new plans, which will no doubt be in connection with the nations politics in some way, she is quick to comment, also, “there is only one Senator Kennedy.”
Her husband who succumbed to a brain tumor just a year ago had been ill for over 15 months. A year after his death she said “I have to tell you, my heart is so heavy.” She misses him greatly.
“I like to just kind of keep busy and keep moving on,” she said. “And that’s why it’s been great, to kind of get around, and when people honor Teddy, to be there, to always sort of look at it from his point of view, the future, and to try to make a positive difference going forward. But when you get into that level, of really thinking about really living his life, that’s a step that’s just, just too hard.”
Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May 2008. Vicki took, immediately, to managing his daily schedule. He decided he would have surgery to thwart the growth and then plotted with Vicki on how to get him to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
The duo also worked on his autobiography and then read the whole book aloud with Ted editing as they went. She said “He kept saying he just wanted to get it right for history. It was such a big goal of his…He felt like so many people had told his story, and he wanted to tell his own.”
By summer 2009 Ted Kennedy was becoming weak. She recalls how she burst into tears when her husband was very ill. One of the dogs had made a mess inside their house and her emotions got the better of her. As she cried he pulled her head to his shoulder.
She said “There I was caring for him, and the roles were totally reversed. And there he was comforting me, about how we were going to get somebody to come up and help me clean up after the dog. And this was going to be OK. It was all going to be OK.”
Of the last 15 months of his live, as his health failed, she said “I consider it to be a privileged time, and having those 15 months was like the greatest privilege I ever had. It was like a magical time for us. And it really wasn’t a sad time, and I give that totally to Teddy. Because he was never a sad person. He was always optimistic, and he was always the man with the big shoulders.”
She explained that the entire time that Ted was ill he was his usual optimistic self. He would never complain, never talk about the pain or the fears he must have had. She believes that he never really entertained to thought that he would not beat it.
He spent his time in the family home in Cape Cod and kept up with his treatment regime. Vicki described how in the evenings he would sit and look out to see and look at her and say “Aren’t we lucky?...Aren’t we lucky?”
Although she plans to spend most of her time working on these two projects job offers have been rolling in. Health care advocates are urging her to try to preserve some of the Democratic seats on the upcoming election day. However she says she’s still thinking that over.
The Obama administration are trying to get her to come to work on Capital Hill. They recognize her political skills. A senior advisor to the president, David Axelrod, said officially have approached Kennedy about various positions within the administrations.
He said “We’re eager to employ her talents any time she’s ready and willing. There’s a standing interest on our part.”
Even Ted Kennedy attempted to hire his wife. She said “He certainly talked to me about it…He certainly talked to me about it on a few occasions, and I would never entertain the conversation.”
Since her husband’s death senators like Harry Reid of Nevada have spoken to her about running for office. Others have also urged her to use the good will from senators who she and her husband worked with throughout the years.
John Kerry said “I think she can do what she wants…She’s unbelievably capable, unbelievably smart, committed, knowledgeable about the issues.”
Senator Christopher Dodd, who is retiring after this term believes she would be perfect for a role in public life. He said “A lot of times, you meet people who would be wonderful, if you could get them into office. And other people, you say they’d be dreadful in office, but God, they’re wonderful candidates. And then, occasionally, you get people who, God, they’d be a great candidate, and they’d be really good in the job. And she’s one of those rare people I think of as not only being a great candidate, but really great in the job. And there are not that many of those.”
Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican was close to Ted Kennedy. He said “She’s a very popular person, very beloved and revered…I don’t know how it translates into political campaigns.”
Governor Deval Patrick said “I think she could do anything she wanted…She’d be a great elected official, she’d be a great diplomat, could run a not-for-profit. What we owe her is the space to grieve.”