Archive | January, 2008

RFK’s Kids Stand With Clinton

30 Jan

Three Kennedy siblings — from left, Kerry Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — stand with their mother, Ethel Kennedy, at New York’s State of the State address on Jan. 9. Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed naming New York City’s Triborough Bridge after Robert F. Kennedy. (AP Photo)

Kennedys for Clinton

She stands for Democrats and for the nation, these family members say.


By Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy

January 29, 2008

This is a wonderful year for Democrats. Our party is blessed with the most impressive array of primary candidates in modern history. All would make superb presidents.

By now you may have read or heard that our cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and our uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have come out in favor of Sen. Barack Obama. We, however, are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because we believe that she is the strongest candidate for our party and our country.

While talk of unity and compromise are inspiring to a nation wary of divisiveness, America stands at a historic crossroads where real issues divide our political landscapes. Democrats believe that America should not be torturing people, eavesdropping on our citizens or imprisoning them without habeas corpus or other constitutional rights. We should not be an imperial power. We need healthcare for all and a clean, safe environment.

The loftiest poetry will not solve these issues. We need a president willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our national virtues.

We have worked with Hillary Clinton for 15 years (and in Kathleen’s case, 25 years) and witnessed the power and depth of her convictions firsthand. We’ve seen her formidable work ethic, courage in the face of adversity and her dignity and clear head in crisis. We’ve also seen her two-fisted willingness to enter the brawl when America’s principles are challenged. Her measured rhetoric, political savvy and pragmatism shield the heart of our nation’s most determined and most democratic warrior.

She has been an uncompromising and loyal ally for each of us in our battles to protect the environment and to promote human rights around the world and juvenile justice in America. Hillary is a problem-solver, listening to people and then achieving solutions by changing attitudes.

Her transformational leadership was on display when she ran for the Senate seat in New York that had been held by our father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. She faced rabid, heavily funded attacks from the far right and the challenge of prevailing in traditionally Republican upstate New York. Traveling with her, we watched admiringly as she persuasively articulated an inspiring and unifying vision rooted in American values and history. Then, through patience, hard work, leadership and political acumen, she transformed many of those rock-solid conservative counties into solid Democratic strongholds.

We look forward to working beside her in the general election as she uses those same talents to change once rigid opinions and political affiliations across the nation.

Like our father, Hillary has devoted her life to embracing and including those on the bottom rung of society’s ladder — giving voice to the alienated and disenfranchised and working to alleviate poverty and injustice, while urging that we cannot advance ourselves as a nation by leaving our poorer brothers and sisters behind.

She’s been an equally effective champion for human rights and for women’s rights, a worldwide cause that will profit enormously by her elevation to the presidency. She has worked for peace in Northern Ireland and fought to bridge religious, racial and ethnic divides from Bosnia to the Middle East to South Africa. She has shown a rare understanding that American values can only be exported by moral leadership, by a strong home economy and by a detailed understanding of the history and cultural backdrops of the nations we engage.

She understands, as our current administration does not, the uses of power. The world, she says, is hungry for U.S. leadership but will not accept our bullying. She knows the difference and will reestablish America’s lost prestige and moral authority.

Hillary Clinton’s political career has been centered in comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable and reminding Americans what it means to be American. As a young lawyer, she focused on children’s issues and legal aid. As first lady of Arkansas, she brought healthcare to rural areas and helped reform the state’s lagging education system.

As first lady, she courageously took on healthcare reform. When a massive propaganda campaign by Big Pharma and the radical right derailed her efforts, she didn’t give up. She helped create the nationally acclaimed Children’s Health Insurance Program. That kind of persistence in pursuit of our highest ideals is the brand of leadership America now requires. Inspirational leadership comes in many forms.

Seldom has history confronted America with such daunting challenges: a catastrophic foreign policy that has cost us our international leadership and aggravated the threat of terror; a misbegotten war that is squandering precious American lives and treasure; a healthcare system that leaves millions of Americans without coverage; irresponsible corporate power that is corroding our democracy and outsourcing our jobs, aggravating global warming and other environmental crises and reducing our economy to shambles.

We need a leader who is battle-tested, resilient and sure-footed on the shifting landscapes of domestic and foreign policy. Hillary Clinton will move our country forward while promoting its noblest ideals.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental advocate and Kerry Kennedy is a human rights activist.

Copyright 2008, The Los Angeles Times. 


Ted Kennedy’s Obama Endorsement – TRANSCRIPT

29 Jan


Caroline Kennedy, Barack Obama, Edward Kennedy

On January 28, 2008, Caroline Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy gathered onstage at American University in Washington, D.C. to endorse presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Here is the full text of Ted Kennedy’s rousing speech in support of Senator Obama:

Thank you, Caroline. Thank you for that wonderful introduction and for your courage and bold vision, for your insight and understanding, and for the power and reach of your words. Like you, we too “want a president who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again.” Thank you, Caroline. Your mother and father would be so proud today.

Thank you, Patrick, for your leadership in Congress and for being here to celebrate and support a leader who truly has the power to inspire and make America good again, “from sea to shining sea.” Thank you, American University.

I feel change in the air.

Every time I’ve been asked over the past year who I would support in the Democratic Primary, my answer has always been the same: I’ll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country’s best days are still to come.

I’ve found that candidate. And it looks to me like you have too.

But first, let me say how much I respect the strength, the work and dedication of two other Democrats still in the race, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. They are my friends; they have been my colleagues in the Senate. John Edwards has been a powerful advocate for economic and social justice. And Hillary Clinton has been in the forefront on issues ranging from health care to the rights of women around the world. Whoever is our nominee will have my enthusiastic support.

Let there be no doubt: We are all committed to seeing a Democratic President in 2008. But I believe there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history. He understands what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “fierce urgency of now.”

He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past. He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view. He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”

I am proud to stand here today and offer my help, my voice, my energy and my commitment to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

Like most of the nation, I was moved four years ago as he told us a profound truth—that we are not, we must not be, just red states and blue states, but one United States. And since that time I have marveled at his grit and his grace as he traveled this country and inspired record turnouts of people of all ages, of all races, of all genders, of all parties and faiths to get “fired up” and “ready to go.”

I’ve seen him connect with people from every walk of life and with Senators on both sides of the aisle. With every person he meets, every crowd he inspires, and everyone he touches, he generates new hope that our greatest days as a nation are still ahead, and this generation of Americans, like others before us, can unite to meet our own rendezvous with destiny.

We know the true record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq.And let no one deny that truth.

There is the great intelligence of someone who could have had a glittering career in corporate law, but chose instead to serve his community and then enter public life.

There is the tireless skill of a Senator who was there in the early mornings to help us hammer out a needed compromise on immigration reform— who always saw a way to protect both national security and the dignity of people who do not have a vote. For them, he was a voice for justice.

And there is the clear effectiveness of Barack Obama in fashioning legislation to put high quality teachers in our classrooms—and in pushing and prodding the Senate to pass the most far-reaching ethics reform in its history.

Now, with Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign—a campaign not just about himself, but about all of us. A campaign about the country we will become, if we can rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.

I remember another such time, in the 1960s, when I came to the Senate at the age of 30. We had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier. Those inspired young people marched, sat in at lunch counters, protested the war in Vietnam and served honorably in that war even when they opposed it. They realized that when they asked what they could do for their country, they could change the world.

It was the young who led the first Earth Day and issued a clarion call to protect the environment; the young who enlisted in the cause of civil rights and equality for women; the young who joined the Peace Corps and showed the world the hopeful face of America.

At the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps, I asked one of those young Americans why they had volunteered. And I will never forget the answer: “It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country.”

This is another such time.

I sense the same kind of yearning today, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward. I see it not just in young people, but in all our people. And in Barack Obama, I see not just the audacity, but the possibility of hope for the America that is yet to be.

What counts in our leadership is not the length of years in Washington, but the reach of our vision, the strength of our beliefs, and that rare quality of mind and spirit that can call forth the best in our country and our people.

With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion. With Barack Obama, we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay. With Barack Obama, we will close the door on the old economics that has written off the poor and left the middle class poorer and less secure. He offers a strategy for prosperity—so that America will once again lead the world in better standards of life.

With Barack Obama, we will break the old gridlock and finally make health care what it should be in America—a fundamental right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few. We will make the United States the great leader and not the great roadblock in the fateful fight against global warming.

And with Barack Obama, we will end a war in Iraq that he has always stood against, that has cost us the lives of thousands of our sons and daughters, and that America never should have fought.

I have seen him in the Senate. He will keep us strong and defend the nation against real threats of terrorism and proliferation. So let us reject the counsels of doubt and calculation.Let us remember that when Franklin Roosevelt envisioned Social Security, he didn’t decide—no, it was too ambitious, too big a dream, too hard. When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn’t say no, it was too far, maybe we couldn’t get there and shouldn’t even try.

I am convinced we can reach our goals only if we are “not petty when our cause is so great”— only if we find a way past the stale ideas and stalemate of our times – only if we replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope – and only if we have the courage to choose change.

Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can bring us that change. Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can be that change.

I love this country. I believe in the bright light of hope and possibility. I always have, even in the darkest hours. I know what America can achieve. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it—and with Barack Obama, we can do it again.

I know that he’s ready to be President on day one. And when he raises his hand on Inauguration Day, at that very moment, we will lift the spirits of our nation and begin to restore America’s standing in the world.

There was another time, when another young candidate was running for President and challenging America to cross a New Frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic President, who was widely respected in the party. Harry Truman said we needed “someone with greater experience”—and added: “May I urge you to be patient.” And John Kennedy replied: “The world is changing. The old ways will not do…It is time for a new generation of leadership.”

So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now. I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future.

My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey — to have the courage to choose change. It is time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.

Ted Kennedy Endorses Obama

28 Jan
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, rejecting entreaties from the Clintons and their supporters, is set to endorse Senator Barack Obama’s presidential bid today as part of an effort to lend Kennedy charisma and connections before the 22-state Feb. 5 showdown for the Democratic nomination.
Both the Clintons and their allies had pressed Mr. Kennedy for weeks to remain neutral in the Democratic race, but Mr. Kennedy had become increasingly disenchanted with the tone of the Clinton campaign, aides said.
He and former President Bill Clinton had a heated telephone exchange earlier this month over what Mr. Kennedy considered misleading statements by Mr. Clinton about Mr. Obama, as well as his injection of race into the campaign.

Mr. Kennedy called Mr. Clinton Sunday to tell him of his decision.

The endorsement, which followed a public appeal on Mr. Obama’s behalf by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, was a blow to the Clinton campaign and pits leading members of the nation’s most prominent Democratic families against one another.

Mr. Kennedy, a major figure in party politics for more than 40 years, intends to campaign aggressively for Mr. Obama, beginning with an appearance and rally with him in Washington on Monday. He will be introduced by Ms. Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy then heads west with Mr. Obama, followed by appearances in the Northeast. Strategists see him bolstering Mr. Obama’s credibility and helping him firm up support from unions and Hispanics, as well as the party base.

The endorsement appears to support assertions that Mr. Clinton’s campaigning on behalf of his wife in South Carolina has in some ways hurt her candidacy.

Campaign officials, without acknowledging any faults on Mr. Clinton’s part, have said they will change tactics and try to shift Mr. Clinton back into the role he played before her loss in the Iowa caucuses, emphasizing her record and experience.

Mr. Kennedy, of Massachusetts, has worked closely with Mrs. Clinton, of New York, on health care and other legislation and has had a friendly relationship with both Clintons, but associates said he was intrigued by Mr. Obama’s seeming ability to inspire political interest in a new generation. For his part, Mr. Obama actively courted Mr. Kennedy for several years, seeking him out for Senate advice and guidance before making the decision to enter the presidential race.

Mr. Kennedy had been seriously considering an endorsement for weeks — a break with his traditional practice of staying clear of primaries.

He remained uncertain of his decision as late as the middle of last week. But, according to allies, when he learned that his niece’s endorsement would appear as an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times on Sunday, he decided to bolster that with his own public embrace of the campaign at a joint rally at American University in Washington on Monday, giving Mr. Obama, of Illinois a potentially powerful one-two Kennedy punch.

As Mr. Obama flew here on Sunday, he smiled when asked about his new wave of support from the Kennedy family.

“For somebody who, I think, has been such an important part of our national imagination and who generally shies away from involvement in day-to-day politics to step out like that is something that I’m very grateful for,” Mr. Obama said of Caroline Kennedy’s support. Ms. Kennedy declined requests on Sunday to discuss her endorsement.

Trying to dilute the impact of the twin endorsements by the brother and daughter of the late president, the Clinton campaign on Sunday issued a statement of support from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor in Maryland and a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.

“I respect Caroline and Teddy’s decision, but I have made a different choice,” Ms. Townsend said in her statement, adding: “At this moment when so much is at stake at home and overseas, I urge our fellow Americans to support Hillary Clinton. That is why my brother Bobby, my sister Kerry, and I are supporting Hillary Clinton.”

But two years ago, Ms. Townsend’s mother, Ethel Kennedy, referred to Mr. Obama in an interview as “our next president” and likened him to her late husband.

The Kennedy endorsement grants Mr. Obama, who has been framed by the Clintons as being short on experience, the approval of one of the Senate’s senior members.

Before the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Kennedy had planned to stay out of the race, largely because he had so many friends in the contest, chiefly Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. He also said he was waiting for one of the candidates to spark a movement.

“I want to see who out there is going to be able to inspire not only our party, but others, because I think we’re going to need the inspiration in order to bring a change in American foreign policy and domestic policy,” Mr. Kennedy said last year on ABC News’s “This Week.”

After Mr. Obama won the Iowa caucuses, associates to both men said, Mr. Kennedy concluded that Mr. Obama had transcended racial lines and the historical divisions the Kennedy family had worked to tear down. Mr. Kennedy was also impressed at how Mr. Obama was not defined as a black candidate, but seen as a transformational figure.

It was then, associates said, that Mr. Kennedy began talking with his children, nieces and nephews, including Caroline Kennedy, who had reached her own judgment some time ago independently of her uncle. They then agreed last week to move ahead with their endorsements, coordinating their decision before the Feb. 5 contests.

Mr. Kennedy has a long history of working with the former president and Mrs. Clinton on health, education and other social issues and, according to his associates, has a good relationship with both. While the Clintons were in the White House, the families socialized and sailed off Cape Cod.

Mr. Obama courted Mr. Kennedy as well, using late-night sessions in the Senate to get some tutoring about the intricacies of the institution. Conversations about the White House began more than a year ago, with Mr. Obama paying Mr. Kennedy a visit to seek his thoughts about whether he should run for president. Mr. Kennedy told him that he should because such opportunities rarely come along.

On the night of Mr. Obama’s national political debut at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, he was preceded on stage by Mr. Kennedy, a symbolic bookend of the party’s dean and its new generation.

A year later, near the end of Mr. Obama’s first year in the Senate, Ethel Kennedy asked him to speak at a ceremony for her husband’s 80th birthday. At the time, she referred to Mr. Obama as “our next president.”

“I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did,” Mrs. Kennedy said in an interview that day, comparing her late husband’s quest for social justice to Mr. Obama’s. “He has the passion in his heart. He’s not selling you. It’s just him.”


The Kennedys: A House Divided in `08 Race

28 Jan

It’s Kennedy Envy on the Campaign Trail

The Hillary Clinton camp didn’t waste any time trying to blunt the effect of Barack Obama’s big Kennedy endorsements. Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama in a New York Times piece Sunday. And Teddy Kennedy will be endorsing Obama on Monday.

The Clinton campaign hurried out a statement at midafternoon Sunday reminding everybody they’ve got some Kennedys too.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Bobby Kennedy’s daughter, has endorsed Hillary: “I respect Caroline and Teddy’s decision but I have made a different choice . . . She shares so many of the concerns of my father.” And Ms. Townsend noted that her siblings — brother Bobby and sister Kerry — are also supporting Hillary Clinton.

So for those keeping score at home, it’s JFK’s daughter and brother for Barack. Bobby Kennedy’s kids for Hillary. Got that?

4:20 PM Sun, Jan 27, 2008 |
Wayne Slater  

The Dallas Morning News

Caroline Kennedy Endorses Obama

26 Jan


For 28 years, Caroline Kennedy-Schlossberg steadfastly refused to endorse any presidential candidate, always wisely staying out of the political pillowfight.

All that changed as of about an hour ago when the last surviving member of the John F. Kennedy family broke her nearly three decade-long long silence and formally endorsed Barack Obama

The news came just moments before Obama took the stage to thank supporters who handed him a whopping 2-to-1 victory over Senator Hillary Clinton in tonight’s South Carolina Democratic primary.

Maybe she didn’t have time to “change”? Although Michelle Obama is always immaculately attired, her choice of the Jackie Kennedy-esque pink suit seems somewhat ill-advised in light of Caroline Kennedy’s nearly-simultaneous endorsement. (AP photo)


In her New York Times Op-Ed column (which hits newsstands tomorrow), Caroline explained the endorsement this way: 

“My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

…He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans. “


All eyes now turn to the senior senator from Massachusetts, one of the most conspicuous of Democratic fence sitters, who is known to have become mighty annoyed with Clinton campaign tactics in recent weeks. (See related story: “Teddy Tells Bill to Chill”)

Meanwhile, many of the Robert Kennedys – RFK Jr., Rory Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend – have been out on the campaign trail stumping for Hillary Clinton. (Although their mother, RFK’s widow Ethel, is reportedly an Obama supporter.)

Caroline’s endorsement of Senator Obama certainly creates an interesting dynamic both within the Democratic party and indeed the Kennedy family itself. Does this point to the possibility that the House of Kennedy is a house divided in the 2008 election?

Perhaps it will actually turn out to be a good thing in the end. A little healthy competition has always been welcomed within the Kennedy ranks, not to mention a spirited, passionate, good ol’ Irish family political debate. (Like the kind we always had at my house!) What some of us wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall at that pow-wow!

JFK Jr., Caroline, Jackie Kennedy with Bill clinton

Ah, but we were so much older then…we’re younger than that now: the late president’s family – John F. Kennedy Jr., Caroline Kennedy-Schlossberg and Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis with then-president Bill Clinton back in the day.




Teddy Tells Bill to Chill

22 Jan


Leading Democrats have called on Bill Clinton to tone down his attacks on Barack Obama, while Obama himself has called the former president’s attacks “troubling and “not factually accurate,” according to news reports.
In an ABC interview on “Good Morning America,” Obama said he’s ready to confront Clinton, saying his stumping for Hillary’s presidential campaign has been “troubling,” reported yesterday.
Obama told ABC News’ Robin Roberts today, “You know the former president, who I think all of us have a lot of regard for, has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling. He continues to make statements that are not supported by the facts – whether it’s about my record of opposition to the war in Iraq or our approach to organizing in Las Vegas. This has become a habit, and one of the things that we’re gonna have to do is to directly confront Bill Clinton when he’s making statements that are not factually accurate.”

Clinton had referred to Obama’s claim that he opposed the Iraq war from the start as a “fairy tale,” noting Obama has voted to fund the war as a senator. Clinton also has claimed Nevada union officials were pressuring their members to vote for Obama.

Clinton’s “fairy tale” remark drew fire from black political leaders who suggested it was a racially charged dismissal of Obama’s candidacy, a claim Obama himself later disputed. He also refered to an Obama presidency as “a roll of the dice.”

Clinton and Kennedy

(Clinton and Senator Kennedy during happier days. Image: Boston Globe.)

Meanwhile, Newsweek, citing anonymous sources, reported yesterday on its Web site that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) have told Clinton “heatedly” in phone conversations that he needs to tone down his attacks on Obama. Newsweek reported that Clinton, Kennedy and Emanuel had all declined to comment.

Newsweek noted that while Bill Clinton is seen as a huge fund-raising draw and brings Democratic starpower to the campaign, he’s been losing his temper with the media and raising concerns that his long-term image as a statesman may be harmed.

“This is excruciating,” the magazine quoted a “member of the Clintons’ circle” as saying. “But the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s worth it to tarnish himself a bit now to win the presidency.”


(Editor’s note: This tension creates an interesting dynamic, as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and other members of the Kennedy family have endorsed Hillary Clinton. As of yet, Senator Edward Kennedy is declining to endorse any candidate in the race.

But if I were to wager a guess, I might think that Senator Kennedy is only enchoing the feelings of many Democrats when he expresses disdain for the tone of recent attacks on Obama. Stories like this breaking on MLK day only serve to remind us that the media simply can’t resist any opportunity to stir the pot, even on a national holiday to honor the memory of a fallen civil rights leader.)

Story from The Boston Herald. Copyright 2008 Herald Media.

Stars Support Kennedy’s Environmental Cause

20 Jan


Alexandra Burroughs
Calgary Herald

BANFF – Hollywood glamour peaked in the mountains of Banff Saturday night when dozens of stars came out for a red carpet gala in support of the environment.

Susan Sarandon, one of the most highly anticipated guests of the night, arrived in a short, stunning cocktail dress with drop back that showed off a new tattoo. It is the Oscar winner’s first trip to Banff to support Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance.

“We’re really only here for today, so we just sort of took it easy and walked around town,” said Sarandon, as she posed for photos with longtime partner and fellow Oscar winner Tim Robbins, who attended the event last year.

“I know that everyone understands now how important it is to keep our water clean. I’ve been working with Bobby Kennedy for years. I’ve been with him and lobbied with him and I know this organization is one I can trust.”

Margaret Trudeau came to the event with an arm in a sling after separating her right shoulder in a mishap on Friday.

“I fell skiing,” she said. “I had to take it easy today.”

When asked what she was wearing, she replied: “I’m wearing anything that would fit!”

Inside the party, celebs such as Alec Baldwin, Alicia Silverstone, Kelsey Grammer, Justin Trudeau, Jason Priestley and Luke Perry sipped cocktails and got busy bidding on the silent auction to raise money for Waterkeepers, which protects water sources throughout the world.

“It is a good cause and it’s got a lot of celebrity appeal,” said Anthony Jankowski, an accountant who came with his wife, Jennifer, to celebrate her 30th birthday.

“We’re from Calgary, and in southern and central Alberta we hear a lot about a water shortage, so we thought it would be a good cause to support.”

After the cocktail hour, party-goers, who paid $500 each or $10,000 for a table with a celebrity, dined on salmon tartar and Alberta beef tenderloin. Vegetarian and vegan celebs, such as Baldwin and Silverstone, were treated to a special selection of organic offerings.

After dinner, Baldwin was expected to emcee the festivities, which included an incredible live auction. Among the items up for bidding were: a private concert by Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip featuring the Sadies; a luxurious week-long whitewater rafting trip with Kennedy in Chile; and a week with Mark Messier at his home in the Bahamas.


Although celebrities were willing to share their names for the event, these activists know there’s a lot more to environmentalism than fundraising. Many are closely watching the presidential primaries with the hopes that change will come with the next White House.

“Edwards,” said Sarandon flatly when asked who she supports. “He’s the only one that’s against nuclear power and hasn’t taken lobby money.”

Edwards, who finished a distant third in Saturday’s Nevada caucus, wasn’t at the top of everyone’s list, but the Democrats certainly were. With a host named Kennedy, however, that might not be a surprise to many.

“Anybody on the Democratics’ side is going to be a lot more environmentally conscientious because it seems like they are not as beholden to big business corporations that are actually the polluters,” said Fran Drescher.

Earlier in the weekend, Kennedy announced Waterkeepers recently won a landmark court appeal that will allow Canada to bring criminal prosecutions against American companies that pollute Canadian air and water.

“These are issues that affect everybody, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat if you’re breathing air that’s causing cancer or drinking water that’s polluted,” says actor-director Chad Lowe.

This event has been running in Banff and Lake Louise for eight consecutive years, but Kennedy’s connection to Banff goes back to 1966, when he visited the mountain town with his father Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated while running for president two years later.

“I remember them going fishing at Cascade in their Cadillac convertible,” says Dave Moberg, a 40-year employee of the Banff Springs who’s known to friends, including Kennedy, as “Mo.”

“At that age, he and his brother were a little mischievous and playful. They damaged the grandfather clock in the vice-regal suite. (Kennedy) remembers and he chuckles about it. I think he thought he trashed the suite, but he didn’t.”

By press time, that appeared to be the consensus at the gala. Former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald was expected to take the stage following Baldwin’s work as emcee.

Although final numbers won’t be in until Monday, last year’s event raised $1 million for Waterkeepers.

© The Calgary Herald 2008