Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on Family's Split Support for Presidential Candidates

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: As you may know, Senator Edward Kennedy and his niece Caroline have come out in favor of Barack Obama.


SEN. TED KENNEDY, D-MASS.: I'm proud to stand with him here today and offer my help, offer my voice, offer my energy, my commitment to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: It's time for a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and inspire all of us to achieve it. I would like to introduce the person that I believe will be that president, Barack Obama.


O'REILLY: However, Robert Kennedy Jr. and his sisters Carrie and Kathleen are sticking with Hillary Clinton.

Joining us now from Baltimore, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, author of the book "Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way."

All right, from what I know about your family, and as you know, I'm a great admirer of your late father.


O'REILLY: I thought he did an unbelievable job as attorney general, getting the mafia and the civil rights people who deserved to be taken down. But from what I understand, it's always been a bunch of dinner rolls flying around the dinner table at the Kennedy household. And this is not unusual. Am I wrong?

TOWNSEND: Well, my mother tries to stop us from throwing the dinner rolls, but not always successfully. But you're completely correct that what we have always been encouraged to do is to talk about public life, public issues and disagree. Hear different points of view, try to defend our own. And it's a vibrant, interesting time…

O'REILLY: Now did you tell your uncle...

TOWNSEND: …at the dinner table, and actually we do this a lot. Over the phone. We talk all the time.

O'REILLY: Sure, sure.

TOWNSEND: It's fun.

O'REILLY: Did you tell your Uncle Ted that you weren't going with him on the Obama train?

TOWNSEND: Well, he knew that. I mean, I've been with Hillary Clinton for as long as I can remember.

O'REILLY: OK, so he knew?

TOWNSEND: So he knew. We talked about it. And he — you know, that's what — Teddy's terrific. He's wise and kind and understanding.

O'REILLY: All right. So there's no acrimony here. This is just you see it your way with your brother Robert Kennedy Jr. and Carrie.

TOWNSEND: Yes, and my sister Carrie, yes.

O'REILLY: And they see it the other way. And then you'll have dinner and you'll debate it and this and that. OK. Now one of the reasons that you came out in favor of Hillary Clinton was the gender issue, OK? Am I correct there so far?

TOWNSEND: The gender played for me personally a large role.

O'REILLY: Right.

TOWNSEND: I had run for office. And I know how tough it is for a woman to run. I mean, there isn't any — there are other women who would run that I wouldn't support, but that was certainly compelling to me. Obviously...

O'REILLY: OK, but that disturbs me a little bit because NOW president here in New York came out and said that, you know, Ted Kennedy, your uncle's a traitor to women. He's a terrible man. And I'm saying to myself hey, that means that anybody who doesn't support Hillary Clinton, any male is a terrible man. I don't get that.

TOWNSEND: Well, you probably disagree with the head of NOW.

O'REILLY: Well, yes. I mean, I don't think gender should be an issue at all.

TOWNSEND: Right. It should — well, it might not be, but there is — I have to tell you from my viewpoint, I certainly have sympathy for a woman running. And there's just — you can't take that away.

O'REILLY: Why? Why do you say — what's the difference? What's the difference?

TOWNSEND: What's the difference between what?

O'REILLY: A man and a woman running for office. What's the difference? Why are you sympathetic to women?

TOWNSEND: Oh, one of the differences is that if you just think very simple, what are the adjectives to describe men? And what are the adjectives that describe leader? Strong, tough. Those adjectives are very seldom used to describe women.

So our image in our country is that men are leaders. If you look at our deep consciousness, we don't have images of women leaders. We don't — we never had queens. We're a Protestant country, so we don't have saints. If you think of who the great stories we heard growing up, they're about cowboys and Indians or the pilgrims or the captains of industry.

O'REILLY: Yes, but Annie Oakley got in there. And Pocahontas got in there. They got — all right, I understand that in the political realm...

TOWNSEND: Pocahontas was a wonderful person, but you didn't hear her as a leader.

O'REILLY: Look, let me clarify your point. OK?

TOWNSEND: I'm trying to say it's hard.

O'REILLY: All right. Let me clarify this point because I'm looking out for you.

TOWNSEND: You are so great.

O'REILLY: I am. A man is tough. A woman is the "b" word. OK. That's what you're saying, and that's true.


O'REILLY: All right. We got a minute to go.

Is there anything you can do about your brother, Doug? He works for FOX News as a reporter. He chases me down the hall everyday. He goes, "O'Reilly, you're so wrong on this, you're so wrong on that." Now I want to be respectful, but is there anything you can do about him? Can you like maybe — I don't know. I like him. I like him.

TOWNSEND: You know what? I think Douglas is having a major role on FOX News.

O'REILLY: He is.

TOWNSEND: He's terrific. He had a great story tonight about the guy who saved somebody in the train. He's terrific.

O'REILLY: You've got to get him under control though.

TOWNSEND: He describes what it's like to be in FOX News. And I think FOX is courageous to take Douglas. And Douglas is really courageous to work at FOX.

O'REILLY: No, no, no. You're wrong on both counts. We take the best reporters we can get. And he's a good reporter. And FOX News treats everybody regardless of their background.

TOWNSEND: Oh, fair and balanced, right?

O'REILLY: That's right. You bet. All right, Kathleen, thanks very much. Yes, you can play to your little lib friends, but I know you like us.

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