Monitor Breakfast with Senator Edward Kennedy

The Massachusetts senator shares his views on Iraq, the economy, and North Korea.

The Kennedy family has a long history at the Monitor Breakfasts. The breakfast's founder, Budge Sperling, was honored with an invitation to interview John F. Kennedy on his campaign plane, the Caroline, while he was running for the presidency. Senator Robert Kennedy was the guest at the 12th Monitor Breakfast in January 1968. And the senator himself made his first appearance here in 1980. Ted Kennedy has been a force in the Monitor's home state and in the political life of the nation since first taking his seat in the Senate in November 1962.

On war with Iraq:

"I am strongly in favor of continuing the inspections.... I have strong reservations about the rush to war. We will squander all the good will we have built up after 9/11. We are going to shatter all of the alliances we had built up.... And we are in danger of inflaming the Middle East."

On North Korea:

"It is an extraordinary irony that we are prepared to accept a nuclear power with North Korea.... [while] going to war in Iraq [which] doesn't have [nuclear weapons]. The inconsistency is so dramatic and the security implications are so profound that they defy any rational kinds of understanding about this."

On the impact of the Bush administration's tax proposals:

"[They are] effectively emasculating not just the Clinton years in terms of the development of [domestic] programs, but the Johnson years, the Kennedy years, and a good chunk of Franklin Roosevelt's programs as well."

On political discipline in Republican ranks:

"The Democratic party's base and scope and appeal for different parts of the country has always been more restless in terms of issues and viewpoints than Republicans. We have represented a much more diverse group. They have been much more focused in terms of representing a particular group. But in spite of that, I have never seen in the time I have been here the kind of discipline that the Republicans have. They are just a lock step. This was not the way in the Senate years ago, with [former Republican Sens.] Cliff Case and [Charles] Percy and [Jacob] Javitts and Sherman Cooper. "

On the economy and the 2004 election:

"A key element historically has always been the economy for the Democrats. Whether it is high interest rates out in the West or spending in the East, historically that has always been a unifying factor. If the administration gets [the economy] going and is able to [work its way] though the Iraqi situation, which I have real concerns about, they are going to be very strong. If the economy is flat, we are going to win it."

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