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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[…]

Not all Kennedy endorsements are created equal.

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