Ted Kennedy’s last Iowa visit

As news of the death of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) broke this morning, I thought of Kennedy's last appearance in Iowa.  It was the last weekend of September in 2003 and Kennedy had just endorsed John Kerry's bid for the White House. Kerry and Kennedy appeared, together, at a rally staged in the Hoover High School gymnasium. 

From the Radio Iowa text archives (we're unable at present to search the audio archives), here's an account of the day:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a Massachusetts Senator, got a boost this weekend from another Massachusetts Democrat, Senator Edward Kennedy, as the two campaigned in Iowa. The two men, though, clearly had their eyes on the new entrant in the race, retired General Wesley Clark who has surged in polls after announcing his candidacy earlier this month.

During a speech in Des Moines, Senator Kennedy sought to bolster John Kerry's foreign policy and security credentials. Kennedy said Kerry was a decorated military hero of the Vietnam era who "knows more about national security and foreign policy than any other candidate."

For his part, Kerry sought to distinguish himself from Clark by pointing out that while Clark had voted for President Richard Nixon, he had opposed Nixon on Vietnam. Kerry said he's proud that at the "ripe age of 27," he had landed on "Nixon's enemies list."

"The last thing we need in America is a second Republican party," Kerry said. 

Kennedy ran for president in 1980, challenging then-President Jimmy Carter. Kennedy won over 31 percent of the Democrat delegates selected on Iowa Caucus Night in 1980, but President Carter garnered over 50 percent. Kennedy said Iowans can redeem themselves this time around by supporting the candidate he's chosen. Kennedy said "all will be forgiven" if Iowans "make up" by helping elect Kerry.

Ted Kennedy's son, Patrick, campaigned this weekend for his choice in the Democratic presidential race, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt.

Kerry and Kennedy campaigned in Des Moines, Waterloo and Iowa City on Saturday. Patrick Kennedy made stops Sunday in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Waverly, Independence

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. As much as it pained us Deaniacs to admit it, Ted was the big draw at the Johnson County Dems 2003 barbecue that day. We literally couldn’t fit everyone into the building.