August 20th, 2009
12:58 PM ET
5 years ago

Kennedy letter followed discussions with Kerry, Frank

Sources tell CNN that Sen. Kennedy decided to release his letter to Massachusetts Democratic leaders after word of his discussions reached the Boston Globe.
Sources tell CNN that Sen. Kennedy decided to release his letter to Massachusetts Democratic leaders after word of his discussions reached the Boston Globe.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A source close to Ted Kennedy tells CNN that he decided to write his letter on how he believed a Senate vacancy should be filled after a series of private discussions in late June with Massachusetts colleagues and friends including Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. William Delahunt.

The Democratic senator wrote the letter on July 2, at a time when he was sitting down to pen a series of letters. But he decided not to send it primarily because, after consulting with Kerry and others, they concluded that it would likely disrupt already intense and tumultuous health care discussions in the Senate at that time.

Read: Kennedy's letter

"He's talking about his potential vacancy here, and the threat of Kennedy's vote on health care is a powerful incentive to get it done," said this source about the thinking at the time. "If the letter gets out, it could have a negative impact."

This Kennedy associate confirms what CNN was told by another Kennedy source - that another factor was his efforts to deal with the failing health of his sister Eunice, who died earlier this month.

The two Kennedy sources say the only reason he actually sent the letter this week was because the Boston Globe had gotten wind of some of his discussions, and were prepared to go with what Kennedy thought was an inaccurate account of his efforts - so he decided to make his desires clear by delivering the letter, knowing it would go public.

One of the sources described how "tough" this letter was for Kennedy to write, a acknowledging he will likely, and soon, no longer be in the Senate.

"It was typical of him - putting this outside himself, and thinking about health care and the state of Massachusetts," said the Kennedy source.


Filed under: Massachusetts • Senate • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. JB - NYC

    Funny that when a republican was Gov of MA, Ole Swollen head wanted just the opposite.. When oh when will this murderer die already?

    August 20, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. lindsey

    I can't wait for the day the federal govt is free of the entire Kennedy clan. I'm sorry that Ted is in ill health, but I'm tired of these "champions of the poor" lobbying to givie away other people's money. If they really wanted to help the poor, they would pay their own taxes instead of hiding all the assets in tax-free family trusts. This "American royal family" built their wealth on bootlegging and smuggling. Not exactly presidential or senatorial material in my book.

    August 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. machtim akannah

    Now he is for it after he pushed for a change that would delay such an appointment only 5 years ago when the governor of MA was a Republican. You just cannot trust the character of a politician.

    August 20, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Kevin in Ohio

    Gawd, now its even worse! Can anyone spell C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y? These Massachusetts democrats are all arrogant crooks.

    August 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. RealityKing

    Private discussions with colleagues and friends but not a word with voters until after the decision was made. Typical elitest politician..

    August 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Deuce

    CNN? They keep calling themselves: "the Worlds most popular News-Media". You gambled and you lost CNN. "The Moment". Barack Obama is doomed to failure, and your going with him.

    August 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. Johnny the Boy

    Kennedy will never die, he's been pickled after all those gin and tonics.

    August 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. sickofthelibs

    really.???? I'm sick of the liberal double standard. The Dems changed it in 2004 so the republican governor wouldn't be able to appoint a person of his choosing for Kerry's vacant seat and now 5 years later it's come back to bite them, so Kennedy wants to change it back.
    Sorry..let the people decided by vote-that's the way it should be done in the entire country.

    August 20, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    It shows how much this issue of health care reform matters to Senator Kennedy that he would go to this length to ensure it passes. Education and health care have been the primary issues he has pushed throughout his political career, and this effort on his part shows that it wasn't just about politics......he really cares deeply about these things. Thanks for looking out for us Senator.

    August 20, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Yeah, it was typical of any Kennedy.

    Closet socialists the lot of them, arrogantly sure they know better than everyone else, most of all us mere citizens, what's best for us.

    August 20, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. MT

    I always thought Illinois was to the left of Massachusetts on the map, now I think they are closer than ever (politically). Sure sign up whoever you want Teddy, I'm sure your state approves and even if they don't what do they dare do? After all they supported you for all these years.

    August 20, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Can't stand Kennedy ethically or on almost any issue but hope he fares well. My best friend in college had this disease and it killed him and he was a lot stronger than the Senator. I have always thought of the Senator as selfish and thuggish so this article does not ring true with me but God Bless him and make his time here comfortable.

    August 20, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Dorothy

    sentor Kenndy, Has done the right thing and his replacement if it would come to that should be someone who has his veiws,as he has been someone who has fought for the litte people be healthcare or anything that will help those less fortunate.God Bless Him!!!!!

    August 20, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Nagudcm Sugna

    I love how they look into each other's eyes. It's as if they are thinking "he is soooo dreamy!"

    August 20, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    When Massachusetts had a Republican governor, the Democrat controlled legislature changed the law so that a special election would determine a Senate replacement and not a (Republican) governor. The mandated special election would leave a Senate seat open for 5 months – something Dems cannot afford now. Now that Massachusetts has a Democrat governor, Kennedy wants the law changed back so the governor can quickly appoint a Democrat Senator who would presumably vote for Obamacare.

    August 20, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. mjm

    "A source close to Ted Kennedy tells CNN that he decided to write his letter on how he believed a Senate vacancy should be filled.."

    Here's an idea, follow the law that was written in 2004. It calls for a special election to fill vacancies. It was written by Democrats to keep Mit from appionting someone in place of Kerry.

    August 20, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. David S.

    What he says does not matter, the law is the law there and must be followed. The Dems changed the law so that a GOP Governor couldnt give a seat to that party now they are stuck with it.

    August 20, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. Conan

    Please let this be the end of the Kennedy blight on American politics.

    August 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Carlos

    What are the people in Massachusetts thinking when they keep electing and reelecting people like Ted and Barney, do they not know or not care that the rest of the United States think they are idiots.

    August 20, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. J.P.

    Kennedy is *THE* Poster Child in the argument FOR term limits.

    No republican could ever drown some broad in an Oldsmobile and extricate himself from the ensuring fracas with his political career intact.

    TERM LIMITS NOW
    535 bumbling adulterers, cheats and lawyers (AKA "Congressmen") can't be wrong.

    August 20, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. J in NJ

    Funny that Ted is the one who lobbied to have the law changed the first time. now he wants to change it back. Neither time did he do this in the interest of his consitiuants but simply for party politics.

    August 20, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Sorry Teddy... you don't call the shots in MA. And if those same MA legislators reverse a law they enacted 4 years ago when the shoe was on the other foot, they deserve to be kicked out with said shoe.

    August 20, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. Rich, Englewood, NJ

    He is such an inspiration. A great man. A flawed man, as I'm sure he would readily admit. But his love of our country, his passion for compassion – these transcend his personal life and make him one of the great Senators of our history.

    August 20, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. Bluebonnet

    Talk about cronyism!!

    August 20, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Reality

    People you need to understand something. If you watch All these Republicans in these interviews EVERY single one of them says the system will collapse and has to be reformed. So the system is GOING to change if you like it or not. If any of you would actually stop and listen to their comments you would realize what they are doing. Their plan is to stall, not work for reform period. This way it's pushed off until they have majority. What they plan to do is EXACTLY what they did with Medicare D. Place all reform in the hands of insurance companies and let them regulate themselves. When that happens you can forget Medicare or any government sponsored health care period. So you may hate what the Dem's are proposing but reality is, it will smell like roses compared to what the Republicans are planning for reform.

    August 20, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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