The Kennedy Endorsements
Theodore C. Sorensen, former special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy and a widely published author on the presidency and foreign affairs, practiced international law for more than 36 years as a senior partner, and now of counsel, at the prominent U.S. law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. The former chairman of the firm’s International Practice Committee, he has represented U.S. and multinational corporations in negotiations with governments all over the world and advised and assisted a large number of foreign governments and government leaders, ranging from the late President Sadat of Egypt to former President Mandela of South Africa.
Mr. Sorensen and his team at Paul, Weiss have advised U.S. corporations on factories in Russia and Africa, pipelines in the Caribbean and Latin America, and disputes in the Middle East and North America, and negotiated on their behalf with government officials at the highest level in dozens of countries. He has advised foreign corporations from five continents on investments in the United States and elsewhere, foreign governments on problems with the World Bank, the United Nations, the U.S. government and foreign investors, and on changes in their respective mining, petroleum, investment and election codes, and constitutions.
In 2002, Mr. Sorensen was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Sorensen is on the advisory board of the Foreign Policy Leadership Council, a director of the Council on Foreign Relations (until 2004) and the Century Foundation, a member of the advisory board of the Partnership for a Secure America and an honorary co-chair of the ABA Commission on the Renaissance of Idealism in the Legal Profession. Mr. Sorensen is the author of the 1965 international best seller Kennedy, seven other books on the presidency, politics or foreign policy and numerous articles on those subjects in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times and other publications. As an active figure in the Democratic Party, he has participated in 10 of the last 12 Democratic Party National Conventions and served in a number of governmental, political and civic posts. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, he served on the boards of the Central Asian-American Enterprise Fund (covering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) and the Commission on White House Fellows. He is experienced in the ways of Washington, the United Nations and the multilateral (World Bank, IFC, etc.) and U.S. (AID, OPIC, etc.) financing institutions.
Mr. Sorensen was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1928. He is father of three sons, one daughter and is married to Gillian Martin Sorensen, a former New York City commissioner, a former United Nations under-secretary general and current senior advisor and national advocate at the United Nations Foundation. Mr. Sorensen's memoirs, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, were published by HarperCollins in May of 2008.
Question: What do you make of the Kennedy family split over endorsements?
Sorensen: With all due respect, John F. Kennedy . . . President John F. Kennedy’s branch is Caroline, and Ted Kennedy is the United States Senator who has been the leader of the Kennedy family and the Democratic Party for more than 40 years. And with all due respect to John F. Kennedy’s other siblings, I don’t think anyone believes that the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland has quite the same voice and stature in national politics as the United States Senator since from Massachusetts 1962, and the daughter of John F. Kennedy.
I believe that Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy all endorsed Obama because the conduct of his campaign was most like that of John F. Kennedy than that of any other candidate. Because the ideals expressed by Obama were most like the ideals of John F. Kennedy, and by Ted Kennedy and his son and niece. So it was logical that they would endorse Obama as the best candidate . . . whom they thought ___________ that in my book most endorsements have very little impact. Sometimes I have said to more than one candidate the endorser, you can be sure you’re gonna get his vote, and maybe his mother’s if she’s registered. But that’s about it. People make up their own minds. The endorsement of the New York Times has been proven by all the candidates in the endorsement over the years who lost who lost – including, by the way, the endorsed opponents of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 and Harry Truman in 1948. Who needs the New York Times to tell them to vote against well-known national figures? So I think the New York Times endorsement was not a disastrous blow to Obama. I think the Kennedy’s are different because Obama has been so identified by many people with the spirit of John F. Kennedy that it’s logical, it’s fitting, it completes the picture for the one Kennedy in national politics – Edward – and John F.’s own daughter and Edward’s son . . . son in politics now . . . that makes a lot of sense. I think . . . I think that Kennedy family endorsement of Obama will help, but mostly endorsements . . . I can tell you a true story. I was in Chicago introducing Obama at an event, and afterwards a member of the press came up to me and said in a very snippy way, “Would John F. Kennedy endorse Obama?” And I said, “Frankly I don’t think there’s much power attached to the endorsement from live politicians. But I’m certainly not gonna speculate on an endorsement from a dead one.”
Recorded on: 1/30/08
Not all Kennedy endorsements are created equal.
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