August 27th, 2009
10:43 AM ET
5 years ago

Nancy Reagan illuminates Kennedy-Reagan friendship

Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan forged a strong friendship.
Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan forged a strong friendship.

(CNN) - It was a surprising, little-known Washington pairing: Liberal icon Ted Kennedy and conservative stalwart Ronald Reagan were actually quite close, former first lady Nancy Reagan told CNN Monday.

"Most people didn't realize the friendship, or didn't accept it, or didn't know about the friendship," Mrs. Reagan told CNN's Larry King. "You know, Ronny was so identified with the Republican Party. And Teddy obviously with the Democrat Party. But that doesn't make any difference, Larry, really. It shouldn't make any difference. I'm afraid it does now, but it shouldn't."

Mrs. Reagan also said the two men were happy to lend a hand to each other, either privately or publicly. In 1985 then-President Reagan even spoke at a fundraising event for the John. F. Kennedy Memorial Library in McLean, Virginia after Ted Kennedy asked him to.

"Teddy had asked Ronny to speak…he did, very happily," Mrs. Reagan said.

Mrs. Reagan also said the two men were drawn to each other's firm commitments to their own beliefs.

"They both had very definite opinions about things. It was a wonderful, wonderful friendship," she said.

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Filed under: Popular Posts • Ronald Reagan • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Paul D.

    Reagan and Kennedy, country before party.

    August 27, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. John

    Rest in Peace Senator Kennedy & President Reagan. Total political opposites, but they GOT IT. Country before party. Dying breeds, literally, I am afraid.

    August 27, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. Michael

    Ideally, politicians should follow Shakespeare's advice: "strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends." Reagan and Kennedy were able to do that. And sadly, they were in the minority. So much of politics nowadays involves hatred, personal attacks, spreading lies, and accusing one's opponents of being Nazis or communists. And the people who really suffer for it are the voters.

    August 27, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Oregon calling

    When a 13 year can know who this man was and be very saddenn by his death, you know that America lost a great person that touched the lives of some people that you wouldn't even know about. That 13 is my child and I didn't even know that she paid so much attention. Bless this family for their loss and it's time that we as Americans can continue with the work that this fine person started.

    Rest In Peace Senator Kennedy

    Peace :-)
    Caryle Tylerkays

    August 27, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. patNY

    Also remember that Reagan had a great personal friendship with then speaker of the house Tip O'Neal...another Lion of the Congress, despite being Democrat, and liberal....its called being a Statesman, and quite frankly, a good person. Yep, not many of those left around the beltway.

    August 27, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. AndrewCPA

    People on both sides just can not relax, pause, and think. This is a sad time for the Kennedy and Mrs. Reagan was sharing something that not many know of. These were able to work with each other, left and right. I wish we had more people like them, true to their cause, but also flexiable and willing to work together for the greater good.

    August 27, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. ANGIE IN PA

    I bet Reagan would be Ashamed at the Way the Republican party stands now

    No Bipartianship
    Fear mongering
    Lying
    Spreading hate
    Spreading Mis Information

    The Republicans today do not put country over party its the other way around Party is first Reagan would not have that!

    August 27, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. FL for Change

    It's truly a shame that bipartisianship is dead in D.C. I truly believe that President Obama wanted to reach across the aisle, but his hand has been slapped back several times by the Republicans. If only there were great statesmen still around who can agree to disagree, but work for the betterment of all Americans.

    August 27, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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