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Liz Cheney on her run for US Senate; Can President Obama 'fix' ObamaCare?
Written by Chris Wallace / Published November 17, 2013 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Karen Ignani, Fmr. Sen. Ben Nelson, Liz Cheney, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Patrick Kennedy
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," November 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
Low enrollment numbers and millions of canceled policies have the Obama White House on the ropes.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We did fumble the ball and what I'm going to do is make sure that we get it fixed.
WALLACE: But the so called fix isn't very impressing insurance industry leaders or regulators. We'll talk with the head of America's Health Insurance Plans, Karen Ignagni, and former Senator Ben Nelson, CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
And our Sunday panel weighs on the uphill battle to rescue ObamaCare.
Then, in Wyoming, a bitter Republican primary between three-term incumbent Mike Enzi and a potential political dynasty.
LIZ CHENEY, R – WY, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running because I believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate.
WALLACE: Liz Cheney joins us live in our first Sunday show interview since announcing her run for the U.S. Senate.
Plus, it's been 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The questions about that tragic day remain.
Do you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin?
KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, ATTORNEY: I don't know, I don't know.
WALLACE: We'll talk with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy about their uncle's legacy.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
President Obama is scrambling to save ObamaCare and just possibly his presidency. On Friday, he met with insurance industry executives to discuss his new plan to undue the cancellation of health insurance for millions of Americans.
Joining me now are two key figures -- Karen Ignagni, head of the industry's top trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans; and from Nebraska, former Senator Ben Nelson, CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Ms. Ignagni, after the president announced his so-called "fix", you put out this statement, "Changing the rules after health plans already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers."
You and other insurance executives met with the president for more than an hour on Friday. Did you change your mind or do you fill have those same concerns?
KAREN IGNAGNI, PRESIDENT, AMERICA’S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: Chris, I felt it was a good discussion. All the CEOs felt that way. We have an opportunity to discuss the marketplace challenges. We have the same goals. We're working to work together to try to get people into affordable coverage. That's what Americans want. We want to provide people coverage , but we do have challenges.
The question is what happens, who will join the markets? Will it be the young and the healthy balancing out the old and the sick? Which is absolutely important to make sure that whomever buys, they'll have affordable coverage.
WALLACE: So, it still could destabilize the markets, it still could result in higher premiums?
IGNAGNI: We have work to do, there's no question. But we have an interest in doing it together and working together on that.
WALLACE: Senator Nelson, your insurance commissioners also put out a statement and you said the president's so-called "fix" "threatens to undermine the new market and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond."
Now, the president called you personally on Friday, has your group changed its mind or do you still have the same concerns?
FORMER SEN. BEN NELSON, D – NE: Well, I think the commissioners have the same concerns. And keep in mind, some of the commissioners have already found a way to extend the coverage that people currently have into 2014. So, there is some that have already done something comparable to what the president is talking about. Others have taken other steps to try to mitigate against this. Some have decided that they're not going to follow what the president has suggested.
Keep in mind: it is a suggestion. It is not a ruling and it certainly is not a law.
WALLACE: Ms. Ignagni, explain why this is such a problem for reinsurance companies, reinstating policies, figuring out premiums for the old plans and the new plans before the end of the year? And what do you think the result is? We know that there are millions of cancellations; do you think most of those policies will be reinstated or not reinstated?
IGNAGNI: Well, let's step back, first. First of all, the reason that people are seeing changes and seeing communications from insurers is that after January 1, 2014, the requires us to meet the new benefits. So, that's principal number one.
In terms of the new announcement, the state insurance commissioners, as Ben Nelson just said, will decide what the rules are in a particular state. Our members are going to work very, very hard to try to support their customers, to provide them options, at the same time making sure that the new market will be affordable and that's the key point. That's where I think there are a range of interests that are very important.
Insurance commissioners, the insurance industry, health plans, the administration, consumers working together to try to make sure that they can buy affordable coverage. And that is the issue.
How do we balance those risk polls? Who stays out? Who goes in? And there is a strong interest in talking on that and working on that now so that people can in fact get the coverage that they need. And that's what we're focused on.
WALLACE: Senator Nelson, let me ask you a blunt question. Do you think the president is trying to shift the blame for his promise that if you want your policy, you can keep your policy, from the White House to the insurance companies, and frankly to your insurance regulators?
NELSON: Well, I don't know that that's the case. What I do think is that the insurance commissioners of every state will do their level best to try to take care of their people back home and try to do it within the confines of the law and within the actuarial considerations as well. Worrying about rate increases, trying to hold the line, make certain that the risk pool is sufficient.
Under the rules of law of large numbers, which is what you get with actuarial science, the more people you have in the plan, generally the better the plan is. So excluding some people from the plan creates certain issues.
Also, the commissioners are focused on solvency. They want to make certain that this doesn't the cost to the point that the insurers face and risk insolvency.
WALLACE: Finally, Ms. Ignagni, the president started out working with the insurance industry when it came to ObamaCare. But, lately, the White House has taken to bashing it.
Here are a few statements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That market has been like the Wild West. It has been under-regulated.
OBAMA: Some of them have health insurance -- they think they do -- and they get sick, and, suddenly, the insurance company says, I'm sorry, you owe $50,000.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WALLACE: Ms. Ignagni, when the president was going around the country promising, if you like your plan, you can keep your plan -- did you know that that was not possible under the terms of ObamaCare? IGNAGNI: I think, Chris, I'm not in the blame game biz. What I want to really focus on is how do we address these reasonable problems. We have an interest in doing so, so, as Senator Nelson said, the markets don't blow up. I think there is a joint interest in doing that. And that's what we're focused on right now, helping our customers.
When you set rules in place and an industry meets them, then the rules are changed, that creates the kind of problems that Senator Nelson talked about.
So, we are focused on trying to address those problems and moving forward. We have a policy disagreement, and we're going to work, we continue to work with the White House and with the administration. We're going to continue to do that because we have a shared goal of getting people covered, and, most importantly, getting people covered affordably.
WALLACE: Ms. Ignagni, Senator Nelson, we want to thank you both so much for coming in today.
IGNAGNI: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: We want to continue the conversation now with our Sunday group.
Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, Judy Woodruff, co- anchor of the PBS "NewsHour", syndicated columnist George Will, and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.
Brit, in the wake of the president's so-called "fix", how much trouble is ObamaCare in? How much trouble is President Obama in?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think he did a great deal to relieve him of the political peril that's his obviously broken promise -- regarded by many as the lie -- has put.
And despite the diplomatic language employed there by your guests about the fix, it seems clear to me that the fix won't go very far and won't do very much. If it did, it could destabilize the market because it would leave out of the exchange policies a great many people of the very kind that they need. They need young healthy people to sign up and buy these more expensive policies to balance the risk to the risk pool so that they'll be enough money to afford to pay for the care of the older, sicker people who are also getting a chance.
So there is both the political problem and a substantive problem, and I don't see that what he's done so far has much alleviated it.
WALLACE: Well, let's talk a little bit about the political problem. In the House on Friday, 39 Democrats jumped ship and voted with a Republican plan that I think most people feel would, in effect, gut ObamaCare, and there's a general estimate that had the president not announced his fix, that more than 100 Democrats would have joined the Republican effort.
Here's a clip from a California Democratic freshman who still voted with the Republican plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AMI BERA, D - CA: What we have to take the things that are working and continue to build off of that, but we have to be open as a party for those things that aren't working, to be ready to identify them, and fix them, and make them better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Judy, we're a year out from the election, but Democrats in both the House and Senate have a real problem, don't they?
JUDY WOODRUFF, CO-ANCHOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: Well, and the White House knows that. And what they know, though, is that that vote could have been worse if the president had not made the accommodation that he did a few days ago.
Look, Chris, this -- they know this could imperil the presidency, certainly when it comes to domestic issues for the rest of the term. Everything the president is trying to do is now on the line -- if they can't get this Web site up and running, if they can't find people to have confidence in this plan.
But you talk to smart policy folks in the White House, and they say that there is at least a 50/50 chance, at least, that the Web site will be working, that people will be signing up, and that it will be experienced overall that the benefits will outweigh the negative.
WALLACE: But they're telling you that there's 50 percent chance --
WOODRUFF: But it's an uphill climb.
WALLACE: They're telling you it's a perfect chance it won't be working by the --
WOODRUFF: Well, I'm probably being more conservative that they are. I mean, they are trying to scale down expectations. I think they think there's a good chance. And, by the way, they think they have common cause with the insurance industry. I mean, they tell that they say the insurance companies tell them there is pent up demand for these policies. They want coverage, and it's in the interest of the insurance industry to sell these plans.
So, the White House is counting on that too.
WALLACE: Meanwhile Republicans are having a field day with the president's problems with ObamaCare. In the weekly GOP, media address, Senator Ron Johnson said that the president's phony -- his apology was as phony as his fraudulent marketing of ObamaCare.
Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON, R - WI: Consumer fraud this massive in the private sector could and should bear serious legal ramifications. For President Obama, however, it helped secure enough moments to pass ObamaCare and win reelection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: George, is this now a free fire zone for Republicans? And do they have any obligation in a political sense to offer a serious alternative?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I think Republicans have offered serious alternatives all along. But right now -- no, I mean, the president, his name is on it. He did it without any other votes, so live with it.
One Republican put it brazenly, Scalise of Louisiana -- congressman. He said the president is like a man who burns your house down and then shows up with an empty water bucket, and then delivers a lecture on how bad your house was before he burned it down. That's an untenable position for the president to be in.
It was nine months ago, an official of the Centers on Medicaid and Medicare Services told a conference, what we want to avoid a shirt world experience. And we've had the third world experience.
And what Judy rather delicately the president's accommodation looks to a great many of us to be illegal. What we're told in grade school when we study civics is that in that building behind you are the two legislative chambers of the federal government, Senate and the House. It turns out there is a third, it's called the White House press room, into which the president can, on a whim, sashay and rewrite laws. It's an extraordinary civics lesson.
WALLACE: I didn't learn that in school.
You know, I hate when people come to me and say, you know, you've been around this town a long time because I always know what that means.
Bob, you've been around this town a long time, have you ever seen anything like this? A president with his three years to roll out his signature accomplishment, literally with his name on it, and it gets so botched.
BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I have to think about what this is. It's a mess, clearly, but what it isn't. And I think you have to look at motive. And the president's motive here -- even though there are deep problems with the implementation -- he wants to do something good for 30 million people and get them health insurance.
So, this isn't Watergate. This isn't Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
WALLACE: No, I'm not saying it's a scandal. I'm just -- what it seems to be is rank incompetence.
WOODWARD: Yes, there's no question about that. But you see all of these stories and this frenzy out there, the game over, the presidency is over, some people are saying. I think that's not the case.
But here's the other side of this -- which I would agree with George Will on -- when you go down the road, it's going to get worse, because you talk to the experts and they will tell you that this is a money issue. It's going to blow a whole in the budget. And as we go in two or three months from now and have more -- are we going to shut down the government? Are we going to pay for the debt that we have? All of a sudden, this is going to come on the table and people are going to say, "My God, it's going to cost much more money than we were spending on these things before."
So, how you disentangle is now on Obama's head. Now, can he learn? Can he -- this is an executive function, which is something he's not starred in so far in this presidency. And can he get it together? You know everyone says and knows he is quite bright, and can he learn to manage? Because this is --
WILL: Ms. Ignagni certainly got my attention a few moments ago when she said, "What we're trying to do is prevent blowing up the insurance markets." That's rather a big deal.
And I do think this is a constitutional scandal. Suppose the next Republican president and there will be another Republican president, comes into the press room someday and says, "You know, I really think the capital gains tax does not serve the national interest, so we're just, as an act of executive discretion, going to quit enforcing that for a few years."
WOODWARD: Yes, what --
WILL: That's not the rule of law.
WOODWARD: It is in a way, but as you know, there is a strong other side on that. And we're at the moment here where people have to make decisions and this is an implementation issue. And the pre -- I think people are going to give him discretion.
WALLACE: All right. We're going to keep you all hanging. We're going to talk to the panel, bring them back a little bit later. But, first, Liz Cheney joins us for her first Sunday show interview since launching her controversial run for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming.
WALLACE: Interest is growing in the 2014 election. And one of the hottest races is the battle inside the Republican Party for the Senate seat in Wyoming. Three-term incumbent Mike Enzi faces challenger Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president.
Joining me now for her first Sunday show interview as a Senate candidate is Liz Cheney.
And welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
CHENEY: It's great to be back. I feel like I should be on the panel, though.
WALLACE: Well, no, you're a guest, a full-fledged guest.
Do you believe that President Obama knowingly lied when he went around the country and promised, if you like your insurance plan, you can keep your plan?
CHENEY: I do. I think there is no way he could not have known the truth. There was very clearly a situation in which they were thinking, you know what? The media never holds us accountable. They're not going to hold us accountable here. He believes and, ultimately, he wants to move to a single-payer program. I think he probably figured that he had to say this in order to get it passed.
So, there is no question that he lied, and that we're all paying the price for it now. And you see real turmoil, frankly, inside the Democratic Party, because now, even Democrats are having to admit what the president said was fundamentally untrue and that this has been a train wreck.
WALLACE: All right. Your opponent on this race, Senator Enzi, voted against ObamaCare, but you say that's not enough. And you point to the fact that he was a member of the so-called "gang of six" that beforehand worked -- three Republicans, three Democrats -- who tried to work out a compromise, unsuccessfully, even dropped out and voted against it.
Isn't that what legislating is about?
CHENEY: You know, legislating is about knowing where to draw the line. Certainly, at some point, we all believe in compromise for the good of the nation. But, you know, the Code of West out in Wyoming, rule number 10 is know where to draw the line.
So, when the president of the United States walks into a room or when his allies walk into the room and they say, hey, we're going to impose this massive new federal program.
CHENEY: We're going to take over a sixth of the economy, you know, Senator Enzi's response was essentially to say, OK, all right, let's negotiate about that.
The right response would have been: absolutely not, under no circumstances.
And, frankly, if all of the Republicans had done that at the beginning, had stood their ground and refused to negotiate, to compromise on this, we probably wouldn't be where we are today. Instead, you have Republicans like Senator Enzi who gave the president running room and they gave him cover, and they gave him the ability to say, hey, this is a bipartisan effort -- when, in fact, it wasn't. It was never intended to be. And they got used.
The right answer then would have been: no, we're not going to allow you to go down that path.
WALLACE: You have started running your first TV ad of the campaign, and here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: When I was 12 years old, my dad ran for Congress and we campaigned together as a family all across Wyoming. I'm running for the United States Senate because it's time for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: A couple of things about that ad, you talk about in the ad, not that specific part, about your long family roots in Wyoming, and that's true. But you, your husband, and your children just moved out from northern Virginia last year. Some people in Wyoming are saying you're a carpetbagger.
CHENEY: You know, I think, first of all, what that ad shows is I'm a fourth generation Wyomingite, and I also want to give a plug to the my 13-year-old, who was the kid you saw on the horse at the end of the ad.
WALLACE: Very good.
CHENEY: Thank you.
But, no, look, I mean, I -- on my mom's side, I'm a fourth generation Wyomingite. On my dad side, I'm a third generation Wyomingite.
The folks making the carpetbagger charge tend to be people who don't want to talk about Senator Enzi's lack of resolve. You know, I would say also the time that I spent outside Wyoming, the time that I spent working inside federal agencies in Washington, D.C., is experience that's very important for what I think that has got to be the top priority of a Wyoming senator, which is rolling back the massive expansion of our federal government, cutting agencies, cutting their size, cutting their funding. You got to get the federal government under control.
Sitting in Wyoming, absolute abuse that's going on by agencies like the EPA, the BLM, the war on coal -- this president's policies across the board involved a massive, unsustainable expansion of the federal government. Having worked inside federal agencies, I know how to cut them. I know what it's going to take to roll it back and that's going to be our top priority.
WALLACE: You also say in that ad it's time for a new generation. But let's look at Mike Enzi's record. Let's put it up on the screen.
He has a 93 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, 100 percent from the National Right to Life Committee, and an A-plus from the NRA.
Is there something wrong with that record? Or are you just saying that at age 69, he is too old?
CHENEY: It's not about age. It's about A, he's been here for 18 years, the last five under Barack Obama. And the people of Wyoming are suffering greatly. We're ground zero for this president's policies.
When you're in a position like that, it's not enough just to say, you know what, I'm going to go along and get along. I'm going to continue business as usual here in Washington. You've got to demonstrate results.
And it's going to will take on our side of the aisle people who are willing to lead, you know, people who are willing to stand up and say, you know what, the president's war on coal isn't just going to devastate Wyoming, anybody around this country who likes to flip a switch and have the lights come on, who appreciate affordable electricity, you're with us in the war on coal.
But it requires leadership. It requires mobilizing people to stand up against this onslaught of our constitutional rights, our liberties and our values. And, frankly, over the last five years, things have gotten worse for the people of Wyoming, not better.
WALLACE: But if I may --
CHENEY: You may.
WALLACE: -- the president is the president. The Democrats hold control of the Senate. You know, the numbers are the numbers. You say it's not enough to say I tried or that you need to push back more aggressively. What specifically can you point to and say that you would have been a able to block in the Obama agenda, with the Democratic controlled Senate that Mike Enzi failed to block?
CHENEY: Across the board. I mean, we talked about ObamaCare. I would not have participated in the "gang of six". Senator Enzi --
WALLACE: But he passed it without a single Republican vote.
CHENEY: That's right. But part of this is not just about voting, it's about whether or not the Republicans have a new generation of leadership, new voices to stand up and mobilize people on our side to begin to roll this back. If we're ever going to be able to change the fact that the Democrats have a majority, we've got to get a new generation elected on our side.
Secondly, Senator Enzi's hallmark piece of legislation that he's done with Dick Durbin, one of the most liberal members of the United States Senate. That's the Internet sales tax.
And I fundamentally believe either you're on the side of the government has got plenty of money, we need to have people more of their own money, or you're looking for ways to tax people more.
The Internet sales tax is a way to tax people more. As Wyoming senator, I would, every single day, be fighting to help people in Wyoming keep more money in their own pockets.
WALLACE: Some of your conservative critics and, frankly, some of the Enzi people, say that you have flipped positions on some issues to try to attract voters that you didn't previously hold. You now say that you oppose same sex marriage, but they point out that in 2009, you opposed a constitutional amendment -- I know you say it's a state issue -- a constitutional amendment that would have banned same sex marriage and they point out that you supported the State Department offering benefits to same sex partners. They say that's a flip.
CHENEY: It's not and I stand by both of those positions. I don't believe we've got to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. If people are in a same sex relationship and they want their partner to be able to have health benefits or be designated as a beneficiary on their life insurance, there's no reason they shouldn't do that.
I also don't support amending the constitution on this issue. I do believe it's an issue that's got to be left up to the state. I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage.
But, frankly, you know, Senator Enzi's friends and supporters are running a really scurrilous ad in Wyoming. And the senator said many times that he doesn't believe in gutter politics. He said he won't stoop to that left.
You know, I think he ought to renounce it. I think he ought to run the kind of campaign that frankly the people of Wyoming deserve, which is what I'm doing, which is to campaign based on substance and based on issues.
WALLACE: You talk about your position against same sex marriage. Your sister, Mary, who is married to a woman, put out this post. She said, "For the record, I love my sister," you, "but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage."
CHENEY: Yes. And I -- listen, I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue in which we disagree.
WALLACE: Finally, the primary is not until next August. I mean, this is a long time from now. Your dad has already gotten into a dust up with Senator Enzi. Your mom has gotten into a dust up with former Senator Alan Simpson, who is supporting Enzi. Any qualms about getting involved in what almost seems like a family feud inside the Wyoming Republican Party?
CHENEY: No, you know, look, I think the statement that the state party put out the day I announced is a very good one. They said they remind the people of Wyoming that this seat doesn't belong to any individual. It belongs to the people. I think primaries are very healthy. I think it's a good thing for the state, for the party. The voters ought to have a chance to make a decision.
And, again, Chris, we're facing huge issues. We are -- the stakes here in terms of the threat to our freedom and the threat to our values, what it means if we allow this president, the next three years, essentially unopposed if we don't decide right now we're going to stand and fight. The stakes are so high. That's what matters. That's why I got in this race, and I really do believe we can't continue business as usual and hope to be able to save our fundamental freedoms to defend our constitutional rights against this onslaught.
WALLACE: Liz, thank you. Thanks for joining us. And please come back.
CHENEY: I sure will. Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: And we also have invited her opponent, Senator Mike Enzi. We hope he'll agree to that.
Next up, remembering JFK. As we approach the 50th anniversary of his assassination, we'll examine the president's life and legacy with two people who called him "Uncle John".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY: Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Kennedy seeking to dial down the Cold War with Russia just five months before his assassination. His death shocked the world. And it still has a deep emotional resonance a half century later. Earlier, I sat down with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Patrick Kennedy to discuss their memories of Uncle Jack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Kathleen, you were 12 years old when President Kennedy died and there is a wonderful old video of you and all the Kennedy children rushing to the helicopter to greet the president. What are your memories of John F. Kennedy?
KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, NIECE OF JFK: Well, that is a big memory. Every Friday, the president came to Hyannis Port with my father and all the grandchildren or the children or the cousins whatever you call us, would rush to the helicopter and greet our fathers. Because we were so excited about seeing them. And then usually the president would get into a golf cart and we would pile on and he would run it up and down the hills in Hyannis Port as quickly and fast as he could and we'd laugh and scream and think it was all so much fun.
WALLACE: Did you think of him as the president or Uncle Jack?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: He was Uncle Jack to me up until he was president. But when he became the president, that was very important, and as you can imagine, my father, being the attorney general each night, we would pray that my father would be the best attorney general ever and that Uncle Jack would be the best president ever. So there was always a connection that he was the president and had a lot of important work to do.
WALLACE: The day he died -- your father gave you a letter.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Actually, this is the day that my uncle was buried. My father wrote me. And you can imagine, it was a very tough time, there was a lot going on, and he -- my father was devastated. And yet he had the love to say, "Dear Kathleen, you seem to understand that Jack died and was buried today. As the oldest of the Kennedy grandchildren you have a special responsibility to John and to Joe. Be kind to others and work for your country. Love, Daddy. And when I think of that letter, I'm, you know, stunned that he had the time and care to write it and then to also realize what the message was. Because you could understand, Chris, as you, I know, interviewed so many, a horrible death, people could be bitter, and angry, and want revenge. And that message could easily have been the one that he sent us, and we would have spent the last -- many members of our family would have spent the last 50 years angry at the forces that caused President Kennedy's death. And instead he asked us to be kind, to work for our country and to love one another. It is a really amazing legacy and so important what you say.
WALLACE: Patrick, you weren't born until 1967, but what did your dad used to tell you about the president?
PATRICK KENNEDY, NEPHEW OF JFK: We had this legacy of public service. And I think it is something I think Kathleen can speak to it, too, that when we travel the country and people met us, they tell us how much both her father and President Kennedy meant to them as inspirational figures who just as Kathleen referred to, inspired people to give of themselves whether it's through the Peace Corps, many of the domestic programs, of course, civil rights, which President Kennedy played such a pivotal role, in helping to usher in. So that legacy lives on and we're very blessed to have that legacy.
WALLACE: Kathleen, I understand that 35 members of your family went to Ireland this summer to commemorate the president's visit there, and also, I'm told, to prepare for the onslaught of all of this coverage. How do you regard all of the attention to this 50th anniversary? Is it celebration of the president's life or an unseemly focus on his death?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: People have remembered, for instance, our trip to Ireland, President Kennedy said it was the happiest four days of his life, and Jackie very thoughtfully, sent to New Ross, which is where his grandfather came from, the rosary that he'd carried when he was shot. Because she understood how much it meant to the people of Ireland. What I have seen is in the last few months, is looking back on what the civil rights movement did, President Kennedy said this was a moral issue. His ability to go to Berlin and say, Ich bin ein Berliner, 20 years -- less than 20 years after World War II when people didn't like the Germans, but he was able to put himself in those views. What we heard and what you know, Chris, is we're remembering him not because he died. There are a lot of people who died 50 years ago. And we are not remembering them. We remember him because he asked us to be better. He said, each of us can give more, can do more. What's -- you know, he challenged us, you know, for the Peace Corps, but also to go to the Moon. Not because it's easy, but because it's tough. What a great message to believe that you can take on tougher issues.
WALLACE: Patrick, I have to ask among all of this celebration of his life, do you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman?
PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, as Kathleen pointed out, our family really visits both her father's grave and President Kennedy's grave on their birthdays, and, of course, those are the celebratory events that celebrate a life. So, I agree with you, Chris, a lot of focus is on the death and the conspiracy around the death, but we have to live in the future. My father was an example of someone who always kept moving forward. He set that model for all of us. When it could have easily taken him down. If you're just being preoccupied about the tragedies that had -- he had witnessed. So that was the message we all were given is that we ought to keep looking forward.
WALLACE: Kathleen, do you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: I don't know. I don't know. I think it's -- I don't know.
WALLACE: Do you question it?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: What we learned from that letter from my father is that we are not -- I'm not going to solve that problem. And so what I'm going to do is focus on things that I can do to make a difference. And that was a really terrible time in our country's history.
WALLACE: Let's talk about President Kennedy's legacy half a century later. There is a growing body of thought that, in fact, that President Kennedy was quite conservative in some of his policies. He was a fierce Cold warrior, he believed that tax cuts spurred the economy. Kathleen.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Well, as you know it, Chris, the tax cuts when I was growing up and when you were growing up were 90 percent of the margin.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Top [INAUDIBLE]of the marginal rate. So he lowered it to 70 percent. So, when you could say 90 percent to 70 percent, is that down to 22 percent or now -- so I think he was a smart guy and balanced and he realized that we needed to put more money in the hands of the citizens. And that would help spring (ph) the economy. And I think he was right about that. He did not like communism, that is for sure, he believed in freedom and liberty a lot. But he also resisted at almost every turn the generals who wanted to go to war when they wanted -- during the Bay of Pigs. When they wanted to bomb -- he said no, during the Cuban missile crisis, when the generals wanted to bomb, he said no. Because he thought that as George Kennan pointed out, that if you have a long twilight struggle, in which you can stop communism and then believe in freedom -- freedom eventually vents out. It's your hazard.
WALLACE: Patrick, I know you're very involved in mental health care with the very troubled -- I think some people would say disastrous rollout of ObamaCare. Some people are questioning whether this raises doubts about big government solutions?
PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, I think President Kennedy was so universally beloved because his message was such idealism. It was setting the goals. Obviously, in our own lives and the life of our government we're not always that efficient in achieving the goals we set for ourselves. But the goal is right. The goal is to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated from the vantage point that you don't want to be discriminated against because of preexisting condition in health care. So, let's examine what this goal is. Now, do we have trouble implementing it? You bet, but is the goal right? I think it is. Now, we have to fix this, but the good news, is if we work together, which is what President Kennedy was about, I think we can attain and achieve anything. And that was his inspiration to all Americans. Is that instead of tearing each down, we need to build each other up and help each other make this country an even better place to live.
WALLACE: Finally, for anybody who was old enough to be around at that terrible time, there is a question of how much the world changed that day, November 22nd, 1963 before there was peace and prosperity. There was a sense that America's place in the world was certain. After that there was -- there were riots. There were assassinations as you know all too well Kathleen. Vietnam, Watergate ...
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Right.
WALLACE: How much did the world change that day?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: I think it changed a lot. I mean I'm -- I do believe that individuals can make a difference and leaders can make a difference. And I think the loss of President Kennedy was devastating to the world. And the loss of my father. So, it shows that what one says and how one says it, and what the leaders do, makes a difference. And the loss of President Kennedy and my father, I think, was devastating.
WALLACE: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Patrick Kennedy, thank you both so much for sharing this day. And I hope that it is seen as a celebration of the president's life, not a focus on his death. And just now when I speak for everybody when I say that and our thoughts and prayers are with your family this week.
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Thank you, Chris.
PATRICK KENNEDY: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: And when we come back, our Sunday panel weighs in on that fateful day and the legacy of President Kennedy.
WALLACE: Sights and sounds from the funeral procession that took the countries 35th president to his final place of rest some 50 years ago this coming week. And we're back now with the panel. George, your thoughts about John F. Kennedy's legacy and this growing notion that he, in fact, espoused a lot of conservative values.
WILL: Well, he was a conventional liberal before liberalism changed in the late 1960s. He was a Cold warrior in the position of Harry Truman, and domestically, he hired his Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon, a Republican from Wall Street, he did believe in supply side tax cuts, increased revenues from lowered rates.
Chris, more people, substantially more people visit the fifth floor museum in the Texas Book Depository as it then was, than visit the Kennedy library. Which suggests to me that his hold on the nation's imagination has more to do with the way he died than the way he lived. In fact, his record was rather thin. And what his death did, was it gave rise to a narrative that America was somehow deeply flawed because of this. If you look at Arthur Schlesinger's book, he was the court historian, about a thousand pages. Look under the index -- under O, you won't find Oswald mentioned. Not in the book. This was two years after the assassination. Now, the narrative that immediately emerged, was a streak of violence, particularly on the right, killed Kennedy. We happen to know he was killed by (inaudible) communist.
WALLACE: Bob, when you look at Kennedy a half century later, what matters and what endures?
WOODWARD: Well, I think the real message in what George is saying, I mean the death was so abrupt and so tragic that the real lesson is that awful things can happen that change history. And this changed history in a way that was unimaginable. I was in college, and there was just this sense of everything is coming apart. That there is no civility, there is no rationality. And, you know, one person -- I mean I happen to believe, I think the evidence is there that Oswald did it, and did it alone. And there is lots of people who just don't want to say, gee, this is the act of one madman, and they want to say that there were these forces out there. I don't see the evidence.
WALLACE: And let me ask you that. As I would say the pre- eminent investigative journalist of our generation, did you ever think of delving into the Kennedy assassination?
WOODWARD: For years even up to this day I get emails and questions. People say look as this, and my answer always is tell me who was a member of the plot and bring them to me and I'll listen. But you go through all of this and you take any of these big moments in history, and there are always unanswered questions and inconsistencies. But that doesn't mean that the body of evidence about Oswald is not substantial.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on something that Bob and George said, and that is, that I think that their reading of history would be that President Kennedy's promise exceeded his accomplishments and perhaps, the most president thing was in fact his death. Why do people 50 years later care so much?
HUME: I think he was the coolest president we ever had. He was just a cook guy and therefore, appealing.
WALLACE: You look at the pictures of him that were running, it is impossibly glamorous.
HUME: Yes. No question. I think, however, despite the thinness of the record, that you just mentioned, that George mentioned, he has been the subject of the most successful public relations campaign in political history. That notion that he was a great president did, perhaps, in some surveys he has been listed the greatest president, that is a remarkable testament to the ability of those who so admired him and others to have built this man's legend, and it is a legend bordering, I think, on myth.
And one other thought about this, Chris, and that is we have never had a better lesson in the reasons why courts have rules of evidence than his death. Because Lee Harvey Oswald was himself murdered and never brought to trial, we never had the facts of that case tested in a courtroom, with rules of evidence, and the result is that there is a mount of evidence pointing in a multitude of directions about this thing, to the point, I would remind you, that one man's book even succeeded, after much difficulty, in getting Lee Harvey Oswald exhumed, because the book's theory was that he wasn't the guy in the grave. Well, they dug him up. It was Oswald.
WALLACE: Judy, I want to pick up on the question that I asked Kathleen Kennedy Townsend near the end. Do you degree with the notion that the world somehow changed, if not that day, but in that period? And one of the cliches is, we've lost our innocence?
WOODRUFF: I absolutely do, and I pick up on what Bob said. It was the end of -- if we were innocent as a nation, it ended with the Kennedy assassination. But what I find remarkable about it, Chris, and yes, the historians are arguing today over whether he had a successful presidency or not, where he was on civil rights, on dealing with the Russians, and it just -- dealing with problems with both domestic and foreign policy. But setting that aside, he continues to inspire. I was a teenager, a young teenager when he died, and he inspired me, and he continues to inspire. I think young people today -- and look at the reaction even internationally to John Kennedy. People still look at him as someone who represents this country. So that is something that endures about him.
WALLACE: And very quickly, you have got kids, I got kids, do they get John Kennedy?
WOODRUFF: I don't think they get him the way that we do. But they're interested in him. And I think that is something, again, that endures.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday. Up next, our power player of the week. The 272 words that helped define a nation.
WALLACE: As we said, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy, but it is also the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg address. Here is our power player of the week.
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," November 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SCOTT HARTWIG, HISTORIAN: Like a North Star for the country, it's what we aspire to be, it's what we want to be, and I think that's in a way what Lincoln intended it to be.
WALLACE: Scott Hartwig has been the National Park Service historian at Gettysburg the last 18 years, and this is a special week for him.
When is the last time you read the Gettysburg address?
HARTWIG: This morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
WALLACE: Hartwig says you have to understand the circumstances. Union and Confederate troops fought the first three days of July 1863 in a battle that helped turn the tide of the Civil War. Four months later, Lincoln came to the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery, where 3,500 Union troops were buried.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
HARTWIG: The dedication on November 19TH was a huge event. It was between 15,000 and 20,000 people.
WALLACE: But Lincoln was not the main speaker. Former Senator Edward Everett delivered the oration for two hours. The president spoke for two minutes. 272 indelible words.
Did people realize that the Gettysburg address was the Gettysburg address?
HARTWIG: In the immediate aftermath, I don't know that a lot of people who were here recognized something historic in what Lincoln had said.
WALLACE: But Edward Everett did.
HARTWIG: The day after, he writes Lincoln a note and he says, "If I could have come as close to the central meaning of what we were there for in two hours as you did in two minutes, I would be satisfied."
WALLACE: This is thought to be the draft Lincoln read that day. The first page, written in ink on White House stationary. The second, rewritten, perhaps the night before, in pencil.
HARTWIG: Lincoln sees this as a chance to speak for the people in a brief speech and define, this is the heart of what this war is about and this is also who we are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From these honored dead, we take increased devotion for that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
HARTWIG: Now it says it's for us, the living. To fight for what these men died for. And he defines what that is. It's a new birth of freedom.
WALLACE: It is a message that endures a century and a half later, a lesson Scott Hartwig still loves to teach.
HARTWIG: The idea being able to share the relevance of Gettysburg, the relevance of the Civil War in people's lives today, it's incredibly rewarding to be able to do that. It's a wonderful, just a wonderful job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
WALLACE: Hartwig notes Lincoln only had two weeks to write the Gettysburg address, but he says the president had been developing the themes at the heart of the speech his whole life.
And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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