tv American Dynasties The Kennedys CNN November 23, 2018 8:00pm-9:01pm PST
>> when bobby goes on the campaign trail, he's a complete rock star. >> jackie would say, i just fear that what happened to jack will happen with bobby. president john f. kennedy has successfully steered america through perilous times. but in battling organized crime, taking a stand on civil rights, and averting nuclear war, the kennedy brothers have made many enemies. >> president kennedy was shot in dallas at 12:25. >> as catastrophic events devastate the family, jackie is determined to shape jfk's legacy. a reluctant new leader emerges. >> robert kennedy. >> to keep the kennedy dream alive.
to give the president and mrs. kennedy a warm welcome. >> in november 1963 president kennedy arrives in dallas to campaign for re-election. >> he probably, as he was coming down those steps, felt pretty confident about his political prospects. >> his health is better. his marriage is better. he's a very confident leader. he is a person recognized as having enormous potential for his second term. >> jackie was very happy to be with her husband during her trip to dallas. and it was really the happiest time of their marriage. >> the president's car now turning onto elm street and it will be only a matter of minutes before he arrives at the piedmont.
>> bobby kennedy is at home with his family and close colleagues. >> attorney general kennedy is in his back yard, having lunch with robert morgenthau, the district attorney for the southern district of new york. >> we were having lunch by the pool with ethel, having clam chowder and tuna sandwiches. >> and bobby had a quick swim in the pool. he's just getting out, changing into dry clothes. >> suddenly the phone rang. >> and this is not just any phone. it is one of the hotlines to the white house. >> ethel picked the phone up and said, very unhappily, "it's j. edgar hoover." >> and bobby's stomach starts to sink because he knows that j. edgar hoover doesn't call him unless it's bad news. >> and he claps his hand to his mouth, and then he said, "jack has been shot.
in dallas." >> the motorcade group. there are numerous people running up the hill. the presidential car is coming up now. there's a secret service man spread eagle over the top of the car. >> and bobby decides immediately he has to go to dallas to be with his brother. but then he gets another call. >> he came in and just said, "jack is dead." nothing else. walked away. >> from dallas, texas the flash apparently official. president kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. central standard time. 2:00 eastern standard time. some 38 minutes ago.
>> jackie kennedy travels from the hospital to air force one to accompany her husband's body back to washington. lyndon johnson is waiting on the plane. >> jackie goes back to what had been her and jack's bedroom on air force one and splayed on the bed, feet up on it, is this big texan lyndon johnson. and that moment made apparent to her in a way that the kennedys would tend to resent johnson for forever that he had already taken over and that jackie was yesterday's first lady. >> eager to be sworn in, lbj calls attorney general bobby kennedy for the precise wording of the oath of office. >> and he wants to seize the reins of power and show the world that he's in charge. to bobby this is hasty to the point of obscene. >> and bobby kennedy, as the blood is still cooling in his brother's veins, begins to
recite those words that he had heard last on january 20, 1961. >> i john fitzgerald kennedy do solemnly swear that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states. >> bobby's voice breaks down. and it's too much for him. >> here is a picture of the swearing in of the 36th president of the united states, lyndon baines johnson. >> president johnson wants jackie to stand next to him for his inauguration. she insists on wearing her blood-stained clothes. >> by putting jackie kennedy in that photo lbj is showing the continuation of power, and that jfk's widow is standing there. but i think ultimately the image
conveyed utter shock and grief. >> meanwhile, bobby goes into some emotional netherworld because he realizes that everybody else may be falling apart but he's got to hold it together. he calls sister eunice and says start planning the funeral. he calls brother ted and he says, you will tell our parents what's just happened. >> and so it comes to ted to have the most onerous duty possible in that family, to tell the father that president kennedy is dead. >> ted and eunice didn't want him to hear this from anybody else. they called rose who had heard about it immediately. and they told rose to unplug every television in the house. and they arrive, and they told them. and he started to cry.
>> joseph and rose have now lost three of their nine children. >> joe kennedy always focuses ambition on his children, and you have to wonder if at some deep level he felt that he himself was responsible in some way, that by thrusting his children out into the world the world has consumed them. >> my mother, she said that a bad man had shot uncle jack, and we went home and my father was under a cedar train with the dogs and we ran over and hugged him and we were crying. and he hugged us back, and said he had a great life. >> in an instant bobby kennedy has lost his brother, his best friend, and his whole sense of professional meaning in life. >> bobby's always been the
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>> bobby heads out to andrews air force base and he finds a dark hangar and he's sitting there in the back of a truck where he thinks nobody is watching. and it was the one moment he had had of trying to take it all in, to understand what had happened. >> the plane lands at andrews. and so as all the cameras are focused on the front bobby maneuvers himself onto the plane through some back staircase. he walks through the plane calling out for jackie. they embrace and exit the plane together. >> behind the casket is mrs. jacqueline kennedy. to her right is her brother-in-law, the attorney general robert kennedy. >> they get into the ambulance. jack alongside them in a box. ab-jackie begins to unburden herself of what bobby kennedy called the full horror of what had occurred in dallas.
>> jackie thought in part she was to blame. she said, "i thought that first sound was the backfire of a motorcycle. if i had turned at the first sound, i could have pulled him into my lap and i would have saved him." >> she goes into stunning detail. and bobby would later say i didn't think about whether i wanted to hear it or not. he just listened because that was part of his role. >> he was the only one who felt the losses deeply as she had, and he was the one that she knew despite his reputation as being the ruthless kennedy he was the one with the biggest heart and the broadest shoulders for her to lean on. >> while comforting jackie, bobby struggles with his own guilt. >> there's no doubt in my mind that bobby kennedy felt at some level that he was responsible. >> bobby's afraid that his various attempts to prosecute
bad guys has in some horrible way blown back on his own family. >> you have castro. you have the ku klux klan. you have potentially the soviet union. you have the mafia. the list of suspects was immense. >> bobby kennedy's calling around to try to find out what happened. he has spies everywhere, and he has a spy in chicago who has contacts with the mafia boss sam giancana to find out if giancana killed jfk. the answer is no. >> bobby even wonders if america's own intelligence agency is to blame. >> he calls the head of the cia, john mccone, to see if the cia did it, and mccone swears to him as a fellow catholic the cia is innocent. >> as bobby searches for the truth behind jack's assassination, jackie plans for
her husband's state funeral. >> the body of the late president john f. kennedy now lies in row pose in the east room of the white house. the cameras are being allowed in at mrs. kennedy's specific request. >> jacqueline kennedy wanted to make sure that at the time and for all of history his death would have meaning and wanted to show that her husband was a martyr. >> she wanted the white house to be exactly as it was after lug president lincoln's assassination. so it was draped in heavy black fabric. the chandeliers were draped. it was a feeling of intense mourning. >> jack's father joe, confined to a wheelchair, is at home in hyannis port. >> he demanded that they go for a ride. because he was going to go to
the funeral in washington. and he drove to the airport where the kennedy plane was kept. and when he saw that the plane was no longer there, he went back and he watched it on television. >> funeral proceedings were conducted in open spaces with jackie walking with bobby and ted. a secret service agent tried to convince her to not do a lot of what she wanted to do. considering the fact that her husband was just killed by a sniper, she was taking a risk. but she took it for the country. she knew the kind of closure that america needed. >> jacqueline kennedy had such an eye for image and art. and she used every bit of that talent to plan the president's funeral. >> she thought of the military
touch of the riderless horse with the boots turned backwards in the stirrup to indicate that the leader has fallen. >> all of america was there with her. in fact, i think much of the world was there with her. it just seemed that something good had disappeared in our lives. it was almost as if people had to watch the funeral to believe it. >> there was this feeling of national mourning, of a dream deferred. >> what jfk offered the country was both a challenge and a sense of the possibilities of a country that was on the move. >> for my whole generation really he was a inspirational, indeed transformational figure. people modeled themselves after
john f. kennedy, got into public service because of john f. kennedy, at home and around the world. >> the courage that it took for jackie, i just don't think people really understand it. her brother told me she was on the verge of collapsing every single moment. >> john was only turning 3 on that very day, and jackie knew that when she finished with the state funeral she would that night give a birthday party for john, who couldn't quite understand what had happened. >> a gentle reminder from his mother, and john-john celebrates his third birthday with a soldier's farewell to his father.
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>> she spins this tale about the arthurian legend of this place that was known as camelot that she believed was perfectly suited to representing the kennedy administration. the kennedys were human like the rest of us. but jackie wanted the family to be seen as epic and royal and heroic. that's what camelot did. >> two weeks later the article is published. >> jackie oversaw every word of it. she thoroughly edited it. she annotated it. and camelot continues to be the defining word for the kennedy presidency. >> jackie is forced to leave behind a white house she'd worked so hard to restore and make way for president johnson and his family. >> jackie lived in georgetown for a period of time after the
assassination. but it was difficult for her. there were tour buses coming through. there was no privacy. >> bobby was there acting as a surrogate dad to john jr. and to caroline. he was there so that jackie could lean on him. >> bobby and jackie become incredibly close. >> they spend late afternoons together talking about jfk and wondering about what kind of world would have let him die. >> with bobby and ted by her side jackie addresses the nation and the world, giving thanks for hundreds of thousands of supportive messages. >> the warmth of these tributes is something i shall never forget. whenever i can bear to i read them. all his bright light gone from the world. all of you who have written to me know how much we all loved him and that he returned that
love in full measure. >> jackie is being pulled deeper and deeper into her depression, and she's pulling bobby with her in some ways. >> bobby was attorney general. he had been the closest thing america had ever seen to a co-president. but he became an outsider from the moment his brother died and lyndon johnson, the guy he despised, took the oath of office. >> in the white house bobby sees jack kennedy's rocking chair in the hallway. it's a reminder to him that power has passed. >> you know, my father would take long walks alone with the dogs. and you know, he was clearly -- he was shattered. >> overcome by grief, bobby wonders if the price paid for
power is too high. >> i just don't know what my future will be. i'm going to decide that sometime in the future. but i haven't decided that yet. >> he kind of immersed himself in trying to rearrange his cosmogony and try to figure out what to do with his life. >> i just don't know what i'll do. >> as bobby considers his future, his family is a source of support. >> his brother teddy is seven years younger than bobby, and the two kennedys had relatively little to do with each other growing up. it's only with the death of jack in 1963 the two brothers become extremely close. >> ted is establishing himself in the world of politics. in 1962 he was elected senator of massachusetts, filling jack's old seat. >> teddy is much more outgoing than bobby.
he likes to schmooze. and he just loved people. and that's the perfect trait to be a successful legislator. >> teddy had always been a somewhat hapless little brother. now ted kennedy as a senator actually knows what he's doing. >> as ted charts his own political course, trauma hits the family. >> misfortune strikes the kennedy family once again. senator edward m. kennedy was seriously injured when his private plane crashed in the woods near southampton, massachusetts. >> two die in the crash. ted kennedy is dragged from the wreckage with a broken back. >> in any other family to have one of the primary members in an airplane crash that almost kills them and gives him permanent back problems would be at the top of the list of tragedies. but in the kennedys it's just another check off on the list.
>> two months later a traumatized bobby addresses the democratic national convention as it honors jack's memory. >> and now it is my privilege and honor to introduce the man who stood closer to him than anyone else. his brother robert kennedy. >> and the place just breaks into this just heartfelt cathartic applause. and he stands there, and this goes on for five minutes and ten minutes, and it overwhelms him. >> i was in hyannisport. i was by myself. and i watched that 17-minute ovation. which was very, very moving. because it's -- you know, it's
for his brother, and it's sad. because it's a sense of loss. >> mr. chairman. [ cheers and applause ] mr. chairman. >> and you know, it's who are you? who are you? you're clapping for my brother. what am i supposed to do? it's very tough. [ snoring ] the volkswagen atlas. seats seven, sleeps six. life's as big as you make it. [ snoring ]
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after months of soul searching bobby kennedy has made a decision. >> bobby is looking for a platform to begin the process of restoring the kennedy family to its rightful place. >> mr. attorney general, what sort of -- >> excuse me. >> at one level he was a shy, humble guy who i think would have been perfectly happy to stay in the background. but at another level knew he had to pick up the family standard and rise to the occasion. >> i've decided to make myself available for the nomination of the democratic state convention. >> he enters the race for the new york senate seat.
>> a lot of people in the family were worried. but they all knew that this was always the way it was supposed to be. >> his backers hope the glittering magic of the kennedy name will overcome some voters' resistance to a candidate who lives in virginia and votes in massachusetts. >> when bobby becomes the democratic nominee -- >> robert f. kennedy. >> -- he resigns as president johnson's attorney general. >> running for senate from new york this was not easy. he was an outsider. he was from washington. he had no real connection with new york. and he's thought of as a very opportunistic young man. >> bobby kennedy was regarded as tough and mean, someone who dropped the hammer on opponents of jack, and he doesn't have the gifts that the good lord gave to jfk. >> attorney general robert kennedy, who is the democratic nominee for senator from new york, returned here today. >> bobby kennedy is a poor candidate.
his voice is reedy and weak. >> let me -- just let me say that's my -- >> he speaks in a monotone. >> that's my first -- >> he's stumbling for his words. he's not buttoned up. he's not polished. >> that's my first speech as a candidate. >> he's a terrible candidate. >> he was shy. he didn't like small talk. he didn't do backslapping. >> he was running against a guy named kenneth keating, an older, white-haired veteran so-called liberal republican. >> taking a page out of jack's campaign book, bobby brings in his mother rose. >> i know you have come to hear about bob and why i think he's eminently fitted to be a united states senator. >> they put his mother on television, i remember. she was really good. she insisted on writing her own
statement, by the way. she wouldn't take anything from anybody else. she was a -- she was really a tough -- she was something of a battle-ax. >> that's a very dangerous thing. i want to move it out of the way. >> all right. we'll move it right away. >> rose was the mayor of boston's daughter. she was a natural political woman herself. she loved to campaign. >> god bless you. >> i always expected them to work. and do something worthwhile. they should. >> again, she was doing teas. she was shaking hands. >> remarkable woman. >> she was working very hard for her son. >> ms. kennedy, how do you feel about transferring your family to the state of new york? >> i'm looking forward to it. >> ethel was around all the time. although there were eight kids to take care of. >> they were all shaking hands, wearing buttons, licking envelopes. it was fun. >> even jackie hit the campaign
trail. >> is this your first visit to the campaign headquarters? >> yes, it is. i just got to new york yesterday. >> jackie felt an obligation to campaign for bobby. she sets out with her little son john junior on her hand. but the crowds and the paparazzi are just overwhelming. >> it was incredibly painful for her to be playing a role and to watch what was going on. >> jackie is seriously in trouble. psychologically. she hides it well. but she's suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. >> she couldn't handle it. and so she didn't campaign any more. that was it. >> a wildly enthusiastic group
of followers cheered him as mr. kennedy defeated his republican opponent. senator keating couldn't overcome the magic of the kennedy name. >> bobby's victory makes him the second kennedy currently sitting in the united states senate. >> although confined to the hospital since a plane crash earlier in the year, senator edward m. kennedy ran up a victory of landslide proportions to join his brother robert on the floor of the senate. >> he'll make a speech if you don't look out. >> ted understood the issues that bobby was passionate about, and maybe most importantly, he was the one guy that would have bobby's back the same way jack had trusted bobby. >> he has seniority on you now. >> i explained to him that i was older. >> and to bobby winning that senate race in new york meant not just that he could win an office in his own right. it meant that he had something to do in life other than just be jack's little brother. a once-in-five hundred year storm
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the aircraft carrier "uss john f. kennedy." jackie is devoting herself to her late husband's legacy, one to which bobby seems permanently tied. >> jack and bobby kennedy had a relationship like no other that we've seen in the american presidency. they knew each other backwards and forwards. they could finish each other's sentences. and he sounds like his brother. and it reminds everyone of jack. >> but bobby had to decide what he believed, not what his brother believed, and what was best for him. >> he was looking for a new constituency. he believed that if we took minorities, poor people, black people, women, and embraced them, that we would have a new majority in our country based on their needs and their
aspirations. and so part of it really was his ambition. >> and he went to mississippi to see the worst poverty of all. >> have you ever had a job? how long ago? >> about 15 months ago. >> we went down together to mississippi, and we saw people without income. he saw grandmothers and mothers who could not provide breakfast nor even lunch for their children. >> he said to me i've been to third world places and i've never seen anything like this. it was so shocking to see that kind of thing in the united states. >> he spent time in the inner cities and was moved by those experiences and became more and more an advocate for the dispossessed. >> he had a sense of touch. he could rub a kid's cheek or he could try to get a child to respond. and that was a very different sense of the tough bobby kennedy that i had known before his
brother's death. >> he has the capacity to grow. he's tough, he's arrogant, but if you get through all that and you touch his heart you can change him. >> and i think that's what made bobby kennedy different from his brother. jack kennedy was an intellectual, and he learned from on high. bobby kennedy, as he showed in mississippi, learned at the grassroots in a way that stuck with him forever. >> when bobby returned to hickory hill from mississippi, he burst in on his own dining room where his kids were eating. >> he said, you know, i've just been to mississippi, where a family lives in a shack the size of your dining room and they have tummies that are distended and sores all over those tummies. do you know how lucky you are?
do you know how lucky you are? >> he knew that in america, the richest country in the world, there was something deeply morally wrong with having kids who were starving to death. >> we know it's a problem. we know we have the finances. we know we have the resources. what are we going to do? >> bobby is also beginning to question the morality of a war that has already claimed countless lives. >> senator robert f. kennedy makes news again with a demand that bombing of north vietnam targets be halted, a demand that could widen the differences between himself and the president. mr. johnson says we shall persist in our operations in the north. >> bobby kennedy was in a sense present on the creation of vietnam. he was involved when his brother was getting u.s. troops in there in the early '60s. but by the mid, late '60s bobby kennedy is turning against the war.
>> kennedy said all men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the error. the only sin is pride. >> bobby was being seen increasingly as a figure around whom the left could rally if it's going to challenge lyndon johnson. >> in 1968 there's a meeting at bobby kennedy's house to discuss the possibility of him running for the presidency. >> at that time he was having this debate within himself. >> he didn't want to be seen as just running against lyndon johnson out of bitterness. >> i caught you, daddy. >> also, he knew enough about politics that it's hard to run against a sitting president.
>> bobby was insecure. bobby was riddled with doubts. but his wife believed that he was a great man fulfilling his destiny and he ought to be president. ethel hangs a sheet out of hickory hill. she gets the kids to paint on the sheet, "run bobby run." >> on march 16th, 1968, robert kennedy addresses the nation from the very same room on capitol hill where john f. kennedy announced his candidacy eight years earlier. >> i run for the presidency because i want the democratic party and the united states of america to stand for hope instead of despair. >> ethel, she believes that this would be the first stepping stone of getting the white house restored rightfully to the kennedy family. and that was hard for jackie to hear. she would say, "i just fear that what happened to jack will
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[ neighing ] [ sigh ] it's bring your own phone, not pony. so i could've taken the bus? yeah. bring your phone. switch your carrier. save hundreds a year with xfinity mobile. call, click or visit a store today. in 1968 robert kennedy hopes to be the next democratic presidential candidate. >> when bobby kennedy goes on the campaign trail he's a complete rock star. security was not great. people would ripoff his cuff
links, they'd ripoff his tie. they'd take his shoes. >> if i'm elected president of the united states i'm going to work for those who have deprived, those who are poor, those who lack jobs whether they're white or black. >> he had a soft spot that had been unveiled. he was much more open to people, much more warmer. and that comes out on the campaign trail. >> people talk about the problems of the city and it's not a light subject. >> there was a sense of urgency and the sense that the world was coming apart and that he and his campaign were about trying to repair the world. >> he brought an energy, he brought a determination to do what is right. >> it wasn't exactly a well-planned campaign. it was more of a moral movement, and people were very excited about that.
>> his sister eunice and the rest of the family are never far away. >> nice to see you. >> bobby's rivals for the nomination are president johnson and eugene mccarthy, a senator from minnesota. but just 15 days into bobby's campaign johnson makes a shocking announcement. >> i will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. as angry protests mount over the war in vietnam johnson quits the race in favor of his vice president hubert humphrey. >> hubert humphrey has the establishment behind him. what bobby has is the imagination of the american people, the idea he could restore the kennedy legacy and the kennedy dynasty. >> four days after johnson's announcement bobby heads to a campaign rally in indianapolis.
on the way he is told that the reverend dr. martin luther king, jr. has been shot. >> when he arrived in indianapolis the authorities there asked him not to go. the crowd hadn't yet learned that king had been killed, but there were riots erupting elsewhere in response to it. and they were worried about his safety, and he insisted on going. >> the police tell him you can't go there. the mayor of the city says you can't go there, and he said, you know, i can go in there with my whole family and sleep in a tent on the street and be perfectly safe. and if the chief of police can't do that, that's his problem. >> he drives into the black ghetto in indianapolis. he jumps up on the back of a flatbed pickup truck. >> i have some very sad news for all of you, and i think sad news
for all of our fellow citizens and people who love peace all over the world. and that is that martin luther king was shot and was killed tonight. >> there's this anguish, the reaction in the crowd. and he starts the speech. >> for those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust of the injustice of such an act against all white people, i would only say that i can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. i had a member of my family
killed, and he was killed by a white man. >> the power of that revelation, that opening for him. they knew what he was doing, and they responded to it. >> even in our sleep -- >> one of the only cities in america that didn't riot that night was indianapolis, and the reason was robert francis kennedy. >> what we need in the united states is not violence. >> he spoke to people's incredible pain. he had the ability to bring different sides together. >> of all the kennedys i think bobby kennedy evolves the most. and the way his heartbreak opens him up to the heartbreak of the world. >> on june 4, 1968, bobby wins
the critical california primary. >> i thank all of you who made this possible this evening, all of the effort that you made. >> he won with a coalition that he sought of black people, of brown people, of progressives. and it looked as if he was on the path to the nomination. >> after years in jack's shadow bobby becomes a political force in his own right. >> the campaign was really rolling. i think we were very relaxed and confident. next on "american dynasties: the kennedys." >> for my dad the overwhelming burden to succeed was crushing. >> ted has too much to drink and gets into the car with a young woman.
>> he took a radically wrong turn. >> they called me to say that john kennedy's plane is missing. >> how much tragedy, how much death can one family take? if i'm elected president of the united states, i'm going to work for those who are deprived, those who are poor, whether they be white or black. >> robert kennedy is hoping to fulfill the family dream of a second son in the white house. but tragedy strikes once more. all eyes are on the only surviving son, ted, as he inherits the burden of expectation. >> you will not reconsider your decision about seeking the presidency? >> absolutely not. >> overcoming scandal and defeat, ted fights b