Rep. Kucinich on Ted Kennedy's Passing and Health Care

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 27, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The man you quoted, Ted Kennedy, having his final ride through I guess you would call it the old neighborhood in Boston. He's just arrived in Boston proper, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, named after his mom, again, got to be a very big environmental push that Senator Kennedy pushed as well for Rose Kennedy on her behalf.

A little later on, to Faneuil Hall. It was from here that he not only announced his senatorial ambitions, but later on, his presidential ambitions to challenge Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination back in 1980. It was in Faneuil Hall as well, you might recall, that his brother Jack decided to run for president at the tender age of 42.

That was then. This is now. This old neighborhood stomping ground for the Kennedys that really made Boston and Camelot the stuff of international lore is now getting one ride-through from the last surviving member of that original Kennedy gang, as you will.

Well, here's what is going to be happening a little after they wind through part of downtown Boston. In Faneuil Hall, you are going to see the mayor, Menino, ring about 47 times in honor of every year than Ted Kennedy served as a representative of the people of the state of Massachusetts.

And it will be a very quiet, dignified a share. Later on, they are going to be sort of going through some of the haunts of the Kennedy family, not only where Ted Kennedy had his offices when the first became a senator, later on replacing his brother, who had served in that same Senate seat before he became president.

And then they go to the JFK Federal Building, to the JFK Presidential Library, a library that more than 15 years after his brother's death was finally established. And it is this library site that was really a better- than-decade-long effort on the part of Ted Kennedy to honor his late brother where he will lie in repose until tomorrow.

I do want to bring in, as we are watching a lot of this, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

Congressman, we were just talking a little earlier with a woman who felt that those who are pushing and aggressively debating health care are far from besmirching Ted Kennedy's good name, but reminding folks about what Ted Kennedy served for in the Senate, the right to feisty debate, the right to challenge the way those who in Washington might want to do something.

What do you make of that?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: For 40 years, Ted Kennedy had — has been a champion for health care for all.

And I think that is going to be a constant reminder to people, whatever their position happens to be. I mean, and now we honor his memory and console his family and come together as a nation to pay honor to one of our fallen sons. But, at the same time, in this great health care debate, we certainly are going to remember his contributions.

CAVUTO: All right, that looked like Joe Kennedy passing, one of the Bobby Kennedy's sons, and one of the folks who could be on the short list to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate, as is the senator's wife, Vicki. She has expressed no interest. Joe possibly could. But there is some baggage with Joe Kennedy we will get into a little bit later. That is not the issue now.

Congressman, I want to get a sense from you, though, about using the senator's good name either for or against health care. I know there are many advocates who are saying, do this for Teddy. Get health care reform for Teddy, many, just like my prior guest, who are saying, debate this aggressively. It would be what Teddy would have wanted.

Are we going overdoing this?

KUCINICH: Well, we have to be very careful that his passing isn't seen an opportunity to appropriate his memory for a specific course of action at this time.

I think that it is important that we focus on — on his service to the country, on — on the love that he and his family have for this nation. And once his funeral services have concluded, then I think is appropriate that we get back to the debate.

And I think that we — those of us who have worked with him for years understand his sentiments on the issue of health care. But it is really a question of propriety right now. And we have got to be very careful that his passing not just be used as a — a simple opportunity to advance an issue.

His life was about public service. And we — we celebrate his public service. And — and we love him and everything that he stood for as a public servant. But let's — let's focus on Teddy, his contributions to America, while we are going through the services. And, then, afterwards, we will have plenty of time to remind people what he has stood throughout his whole life.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I heard one — you know, obviously, the accolades come in from all over the world when — when someone of this stature passes.

But one particularly struck me, and I was thinking you coming here today. The — the last great lion of the liberals has passed, and we will know — and that liberalism will — will seen no one of his heft for some time, maybe ever. Now, you are a pretty big liberal, and you have considerable heft in your own right. But what do you make of that argument that, as everyone tells the president he should moderate and pull a Bill Clinton after his health care disaster, that that is where the American people are, they are not where Ted Kennedy was or, frankly, nationally, where you are?

What — what do you say to that?

KUCINICH: Every one of us in public life, to the extent that we have vision and we can see far about the needs of the people, we always are standing on the shoulders of giants.

And that was — that's true of our standing on Ted Kennedy's shoulders at this time. Each one of us who is in public life who works for health care has — has a very serious responsibility here, to be very clear what we stand for, and to be ready to not just pick up a — a — a banner from our fallen brother, but also to be able to describe the vision that we would have for America...


CAVUTO: But are you troubled...


KUCINICH: ... Senator Kennedy's..

CAVUTO: But — I am sorry, Congressman. Maybe I was not clear, and I apologize, that maybe what is going on here in the — in the declining support for health care and the growing public angst over all this government spending is that visions such as yours, maybe, with all due respect to Senator Kennedy, are not shared by the American people.

If anything, they — they — they get kind of nervous about it. And it's being reflected in polls that look worse for Democrats and worse for some of the big-spending initiatives we have seen. What do you make of that?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, remember, I voted against the bailouts. And I'm not someone who believes that government should be picking winners and losers in the private sector.

I also think that you have to keep in mind that the way this whole debate has unfolded I don't think has been very glamorous, very — very sure and deft in the way that it has proceeded.

I think that the polls that you talk about, Neil, really relate to the mishandling of a serious public issue, the attempt to try to force something towards the American people, without properly preparing the people or going to the people and saying, what do you think, instead of saying, this is what we in Washington think.

CAVUTO: Right.

KUCINICH: I just don't like the way it was handled. And, so, I think the public is responding to that. In addition to that, as you implied, there's broad economic problems in this country that I don't think Congress has adequately addressed yet, the unemployment, people losing their investments, their homes, their retirement security.

We — we need to be sensitive to that, and then we can have credibility when we go back to the people and say, well, here is what we think we should do on health care. You know, right now, there's a great frustration with government. I understand it, and I think that the — the people are always right.

And we have to be listening carefully to what the people are saying right now, and maybe realign our goals to the public awareness, and then take a step back and listen to the people again and what they are saying about their experience with health care.

And, you know, we — we have to take a long-term view on this, Neil, not just try to force something at — trying to capitalize on the moment.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, very good having you. Thank you very, very much.

KUCINICH: I am very grateful to be on your show. Thank you.

CAVUTO: Same here, Congressman.

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