'Today' Invites RFK's Daughter on to Promote Book, Bash GOP

On the day after Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, NBC's "Today" show invited on Kerry Kennedy to promote her book about her father, Robert F. Kennedy, but during the interview viewers were subjected to an anti-Republican rant.

Asked by NBC's Matt Lauer if there can be "unity in the Democratic Party," Kennedy responded by listing a series of grievances against the Bush administration -- from health care to Iraq to Guantanamo -- that would rally the Dems behind Obama.

MATT LAUER: You, you're obviously politically active. You supported Hillary Clinton, your uncle Ted supported Barack Obama. In many ways your family is representative of what happened in this country. There was a split down the middle. So are you confident, are you hopeful that there can be unity in the Democratic Party?

KERRY KENNEDY: Absolutely. You know my family always has a rigorous political debates and I think that, that's reflective of our country as well. And I think, the, the main issues are the ones, though, that, that we are agreed upon. That we need to get health care for all Americans. That we need to bring our troops home from Iraq. That we need to close Guantanamo. We need to, you know, stop extraordinary rendition and so many of the other civil rights violations that have happened under the Bush administration. And that will be, unify our party.

The following is the full interview as it occurred on the June 4 "Today" show:

MATT LAUER: 40 years ago tomorrow a towering political figure, Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated after winning the California Democratic presidential primary. Much has been written about the man, his message and of course his legacy and today his daughter Kerry Kennedy is here to share her memories of her dad. Hi, Kerry. Good morning nice to see you.

KERRY KENNEDY: Great to be here.

LAUER: 40 years, you were eight at the time.

KENNEDY: I was eight-years-old.

LAUER: And I'm curious, it struck me last night when I was looking at this I'm thinking how much of your recollections of your dad are from your personal dad are from your personal recollections and how much have come from what you've read and been told and seen of the images that have captured his life?

KENNEDY: Well you know I think that, that I've been so blessed as somebody who lost her father, at such a young age to have so many people who are willing to share those memories. But many of them are from me, directly, as well. You know one of my memories is when I was probably three or four-years-old going to the Justice Department with my father. And I, actually have a letter, on my wall, from one of those visits, where he wrote, "Today was a historic day not only because of your visit but because the, because, today, over the objections of the governor of Alabama, two negroes were allowed to register to go to college there."

LAUER: Yeah a sign of the times.

KENNEDY: And you know this was an amazing, amazing moment where you had to send in, where the President had to send in the National Guard just to get people into college.

LAUER: But I'm curious, Kerry, when you look and you realize it's been 40 years and your dad did so much to talk about and, and raise awareness of racism and poverty in this country and yet they are still very much a part of our lives here.

KENNEDY: Absolutely. And that's what the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial is doing today. For instance, on that issue of race, we are working with Steven Bradbury who is, who ran the biggest community development organization, Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, to create change in that community. Through "Speak Truth to Power," we're educating students across this country about how they, giving them a tool kit for action so that they can create change in their own communities.

LAUER: And, and when you stop and think about it, though, the events of last night are really living proof that, that some of your, your dad's dreams have come true. We had a Democratic race come down to what could have become the first woman nominated by a major political party, turns out the first African-American nominated by a major political party. So that, that speaks to progress.

KENNEDY: Well it absolutely does and still there's so much more to be done. And with the Immokalee farm workers in Florida who are working for their rights and for wage increases against organizations like Burger King, where we were able to create change there, just a few weeks ago. It's really, you know, there's, there's a lot to be done but there has been a lot of progress made.

LAUER: You, you're obviously politically active. You supported Hillary Clinton, your uncle Ted supported Barack Obama. In many ways your family is representative of what happened in this country. There was a split down the middle. So are you confident, are you hopeful that there can be unity in the Democratic Party?

KENNEDY: Absolutely. You know my family always has a rigorous political debates and I think that, that's reflective of our country as well. And I think, the, the main issues are the ones, though, that, that we are agreed upon. That we need to get health care for all Americans. That we need to bring our troops home from Iraq. That we need to close Guantanamo. We need to, you know, stop extraordinary rendition and so many of the other civil rights violations that have happened under the Bush administration. And that will be, unify our party.

LAUER: I need to, in the last few seconds, ask you about your uncle. He had surgery a, couple of days ago, for his brain tumor. How's he doing? How are his spirits?

KENNEDY: His spirits are unbelievable. Yesterday, when he got out of surgery, he said, "I'd like to do it all again." So he's, you know, great sense of humor. And he's so mighty and he's an exemplar for all of us. And he will be as he fights this cancer.

LAUER: Kerry Kennedy. It's nice to have you here, Kerry.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

LAUER: Thanks for your memories, also, we appreciate it.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.