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.

Follow Alex Mooney on Twitter @awmooneyCNN


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

    Yes and they both worked for HEALTH CARE REFORM, and stem cell research. Let's pass this bill with a strong public option for them both.

    August 27, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. jeff jackson, alabama

    Just goes to show the parties don't have to be
    enemies.
    The morning after W. Bush won the 1 ST. election Pelosi
    was on national T.V. at a press gathering and said
    "We need to go to war against George Bush immediately."
    I remember her comments and they were made before
    Bush had made any decisions as President. That kind
    of mind set by our leaders is childish and small minded.
    No wonder there is gridlock in D.C.

    August 27, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. BBB

    EXACTLY... it should be about the common good, the Country NOT about the party!

    Too bad there are so few politicians that actually believe that now.

    Such a loss....

    August 27, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. he worked with a lot of wing nuts

    not surpising, what is surprising is what the GOP has become

    the party of no and the opposite to their family values

    Reagan is ashamed of you GOPers I am sure

    August 27, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. dan

    3 true American heroes: Ted Kennedy, Ronald and Nancy Reagan

    August 27, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. once upon a horse

    even after reading such a heartwarming you still have folks here on the right and left taking potshots at each other. I guess some people are happy when they can do such things no matter what the occasion is.

    August 27, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. LacrosseMom

    Another example of how friends can have differing opinions and still love and respect each other.

    Sadly, civility, friendship between opposing sides has been killed by vitriolic politics. By the questioning of one another's love of Country. Questioning of one another's patriotism. We ALL love our Country both Liberals and Conservatives, we must come together for the sake of our nation! IF two men whose ideologies were so different can be friends and come together for the good of our Country, why not ...... us? Why not the present Congress, who were vote for by the People and for the People?

    Yes, Alfred E. Neuman...... Reagan & Kennedy led different lives, chose different paths. But.......... BOTH were ....... sinners. What you forget, brother, is that Jesus died for us ALL, no one is exempt from sin, and we all have salvation and forgiveness! Peace, Alfred!

    Sadly the Right, thinks it is holier-than-thou, and refuses to seek compromise, this will be their downfall, their refusal to come to the table. What a shame!

    August 27, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Lisa B

    Where has such civility and dignity gone? Can we get it back?

    August 27, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  9. D. Tree

    Nancy Reagan makes an interesting comment about partisanship – back then, it seemed that both parties were able to work together on occasion.

    Now days, I can't remember the last time the GOP even acted like they care about the other party.

    At least Democrats are making a real effort to bring the Republicans to the table on Health Care Reform.

    August 27, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Patrick - Indianapolis

    Remember folks, demonizing your opposition does nothing to promote your agenda. It only serves to make you look foolish. The only people who are attracted to negative campaigning are the ignorant and uneducated. Sadly enough, there are so many people that fit into this category. What has this nation come to?

    August 27, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. No Party Affiliation

    As much as I share in the sadness ot Ted Kennedy's passing it only highlights the deplorable state of todays legislative and executive leaders.
    Now they will praise and honor him but NOT ONE of them can come close to his commitment to a BIPARTISAN approach to our problems.
    I'm afraid Obama has left the nations helm to Nancy Pelosi and company.....to all of our detriment.

    August 27, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Paulies

    Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy's did not think of what's in it for me. They like helping poor people or people who did not have much. They were not selfish. The Republicans are a selfish breed of people. As long as they have, they could not care less if you have or not. For example, they can afford to have the best health care for themselves and their families, yet they don't want the less fortunate or poor people to have it. I tell you the Republicans are a selfish group of people, the Rush Limbough, Glenn Beck, the entire Fox News and the Sean Hannities of the world is a disgrace to the human race.

    August 27, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. Lasy Honest man

    Get over it. This country is driven by Celebrity. Very Very sad.

    August 27, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Bob from Florida

    Anyone who thinks bitter partisanship and nasty personal politics is new to American politics needs to study American political history. The truth of the matter is that what Nacy Reagan describes (if it is true – who knows?) very much represents the exception. In reality, American politics has been a nasty dog fight for a long, long time. What is diffeent is that we now "benefit" from the media and how it reports (distorts) politics in order to make good ratings.

    August 27, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. Jackie in Dallas

    This was the Kennedy "charm" at work, as well as the Reagan charm. Unlike our current crop of politicians, these two men - on opposite ends of the political spectrum - respected each other, and admired each other's committments to their causes.

    You cannot get cooperation and bipartisanship if you don't respect each other, and acknowledge each other's right to an individual opinion. Politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle need to learn - or relearn - this valuable skill. While they are playing political games with our future in the guise of "conservative standards" or "democratic ideals" and lying to each other or calling each other names, this country is floundering in the rhetoric, responding to fear mongering on both sides, and becoming more and more alienated from each other. That is a guaranteed path to second-class status for this country.

    August 27, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Megan

    "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."

    The truth of Mrs. Reagan's last statement will be illustrated by the number of posters who will not be able to respond to this article without betraying their partisan leanings. We shouldn't be blaming particular current politicians so much as ourselves for villifying the opposition, and yes, both sides do it.

    August 27, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Paul from Phoenix

    A lost art in politics: Civility.

    NO leader today know how to respect his/her opponenet. Instead, they are a bunch of spoiled brats whining about each other.

    August 27, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. RonM

    Some of my best friends are Republicans. Go figure.

    August 27, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Radi Awartani

    In memory of Senator Kennedy for all his achievements as visionary, Politician , leader and distinguished human being- we will remember Ted most for his compassionate spirit, his sense of fairness and the vigor of his commitment to the cause of freedom and equal rights in the America as we know it now- we mourn his passing but will be forever grateful that he lived. Ted was indeed a true American who fought for people who have no voice and perhaps this country will put a side Pickering and act on a fair and meaningful health care reform that will honor Ted's Legacy

    August 27, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. harvey

    Mrs. Reagan keeps adding to her reputation as a truly class act. Take that, Beaner, Limbaugh, Hannity, Rove, and the rest of you dirtbags!

    August 27, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. J

    you can agree to disagree and still be nice to each others

    Plus
    There was no Twitter, facebook, 24/7 media cycle, or Youtube to fuel the fired during Ronald Regan presidency.

    August 27, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. Donald

    Nancy should just honour Ted without the mentioning the horror of Ronald Reagan. She tries to bring the attention back to yourself and Ronnie.

    August 27, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. rr

    It's a shame that people are using an article like this to spew partisan hatred. It's also ironic.

    August 27, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Deb

    What should be important here is to remember a man who worked for more than 40 years to make things better and he could work with anyone; regardless of their political affiliation. If we had more of that today there would be a lot less of the problems we have; laws and changes would pass more quickly and we wouldn't be considered a joke by so many other countries. Let's honor a man who has passed on and leave it at that. Bottom line; he cared about this country.

    August 27, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Liberal in madison, WI

    We need more Ted Kennedy's in office. I hope he is replaced with someone that thinks the same as he did.

    August 27, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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