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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Remembering Senator Ted Kennedy; Heat Intensifies on South Carolina Governor; Author Dominick Dunne Dies

Aired August 26, 2009 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, like you, we're trying to sum up Ted Kennedy's remarkable life, knowing full well that the job is nearly impossible, not in a phrase, a sentence, an hour, or a night.

Anyone in the public eye for as long as he was leaves many impressions. Anyone who grew into his public role and his job as Ted Kennedy did, who filled such shoes and met such expectations, sometimes failing badly at it, such a person is, in fact, many people over many years.

Seventy-seven years, almost every minute in front of reporters and cameras, nearly half-a-century in the United States Senate.

Senator Ted Kennedy died last night at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, after 15 months fighting brain cancer.

Tonight, we will try to do justice to that battle, those years, and such a life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end. And the extraordinary good that he did lives on.

COOPER (voice-over): And for the lion of the Senate, it truly was an extraordinary life, full of privilege and pain, scandal and setbacks, but, in the end, Edward Moore Kennedy's most enduring legacy will likely be that as a relentless leader and a champion of the people.

President Obama said he was the greatest senator of our time. But, before he became an elder statesman on Capitol Hill and the white-haired liberal crusader in Washington, he was the baby of a political dynasty, destined, it seems, for power and tragedy.

Born in 1932, he was the youngest of Joe and Rose Kennedy's children. He talked about his father with Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE," APRIL 20, 2006)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": He was quite a guy, old Joe Kennedy. Tough father? Tough...

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Yes, but a wonderful, inspiring...

L. KING: Loving?

E. KENNEDY: ... loving, caring, tough. I mean, he had a -- a sense of expectation for -- for each of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: While Jack and Bobby were being groomed for greatness, he became an embarrassment, suspended by Harvard in his freshman year for cheating.

Out of school, he served two years in the Army, before heading back to Harvard and then Virginia for his law degree. By 1962, he had entered the family business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote for Edward M. Kennedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: One Kennedy was president, another attorney general, and JFK's Senate seat went to his little brother, Ted. He was 30 years old.

At 31, he was mourning the big brother he had worshiped. It would, of course, happen again. Five years later in Los Angeles, a country shocked, and a shattered Ted delivered the eulogy for his brother Robert. It is, perhaps, his most famous speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E. KENNEDY: Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Kennedy retreated to the family compound in Hyannis Port. He would emerge a changed man, fighting for civil rights, demanding an end to the Vietnam War.

He was a rising star in the Senate and beyond. But then came Chappaquiddick. Driving home from a party, his car plunged off a bridge. His female passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. Kennedy went home, waiting several hours before reporting the accident to police.

He denied accusations that he had been drunk and issued this public apology to the people of his state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E. KENNEDY: This last week has been an agonizing one for me and for the members of my family and the grief we feel over the loss of a wonderful friend, who will remain with us the rest of our lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The grief remained, and so did the stain. Kennedy would never escape Chappaquiddick. Many believe it cost him his only bid for the White House, his 1980 run that ended with a fiery concession speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1980)

E. KENNEDY: For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Though never president, Kennedy led the country with historic legislation, civil rights, health care, minimum wage, and immigration.

He made sure the government funded people living with HIV, and he was the driving force behind the Americans With Disabilities Act. But Kennedy never wavered from his mission to help others and try to serve the country.

When he was diagnosed last year with brain cancer, he was determined to keep fighting. It was malignant, but Kennedy would not let the disease stop him from making a triumphant, emotional appearance at the Democratic National Convention to support Barack Obama for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 25, 2008)

E. KENNEDY: This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans.

So, with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And you're looking there at the flag at half-staff right now outside the Capitol, where Ted Kennedy was a force to be reckoned with since 1962. It is a tribute, a sad one, to be sure, of the family's place in American history that there have been Kennedy funerals for as long as most of us can remember.

This will be the first, as President Obama said today, in which we have had the blessing of time, as he called it, to prepare. Just last week, Senator Kennedy himself asked Massachusetts lawmakers to get ready to speed the choice of a successor. We will have more on that shortly, but, first, the ceremonial details now from Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arlington National Cemetery, where military heroes are laid to rest. Senator Ted Kennedy earned his place here with his two years in the Army and his 47 years as a senator, close to his brothers John and Robert.

The family says the journey that will bring Senator Kennedy from Massachusetts to Arlington begins tomorrow with a motorcade from Hyannis Port to the Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, where Senator Kennedy will lie in repose.

Kennedy worked decades to build the library as a tribute to his brother the president, and now the public will have the chance to say their goodbyes to him here before a memorial service Friday evening.

The speakers are likely to include President Obama, Vice President Biden, and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who often stood against the liberal senior senator from Massachusetts, but was friendly nonetheless.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: And we are philosophically opposed, but I have grown over the years to have the highest respect and affection.

JOHNS: Saturday morning, at the nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Hope Basilica, a private funeral, here where Senator Kennedy used to pray during his daughter's own struggle with cancer.

(on camera): Finally, Saturday afternoon, Ted Kennedy will be brought here to Arlington National Cemetery across the river from the monuments to Washington's great leaders. Television cameras will be here, but it's being called a private event.

In anticipation of all this, the senator's office on Capitol Hill today was the scene of spontaneous tributes, though all this won't be around for long. Staffers have 60 days to close up shop. All that unfinished legislative business must be left undone or taken up by a colleague prepared to pick up where Senator Kennedy left off.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joe, Massachusetts law says they have to have a special election to fill Senator Kennedy's seat in Washington.

Who are the likely contenders?

JOHNS: Well, the first contender, obviously, is the wife of -- of Senator Kennedy. That would be Victoria Reggie. Now, she's already said she doesn't want to do it. There's still a question as to whether that's settled. Some of the other names that have come up include the congressman from Massachusetts Ed Markey, very well-known congressman there. He's really built quite a reputation for himself. A congressman now out of office, actually an educator in the state, is Marty Meehan, also very well-known, apparently has a lot of money.

Another name that's come up, one of the few women's names, besides the senator's wife, is Martha Coakley. She's the attorney general there in the state, Anderson, a possibility there.

But they're still trying to figure out whether they're going to follow the law or whether they're going to change the law of succession on Senator Edward Kennedy.

COOPER: All right, Joe, appreciate it.

CNN will, of course, provide live coverage of all the public memorial services over the next several days. We have much more throughout the hour, though, right now and online at AC360.com. You can also find a timeline there of Kennedy's life, as well as an exclusive gallery of rare Kennedy photographs.

You can join the live chat with you reflections at AC360.com right now. Let us know what you think.

When we come back: Ted Kennedy's legacy in the words of President Obama, who will deliver the eulogy on Saturday, and Vice President Biden, whose emotions nearly got the better of him.

And, later, we also remember author Dominick Dunne, who used his way with words and his passion for justice to crusade for crime victims, including his own daughter. He passed away today as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 25, 2008)

E. KENNEDY: I have come here tonight to stand with you, to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: By rhetorically passing the torch there in Denver, he certainly helped.

He loved the campaign trail, but he also loved plain old lawmaker, doing the work. It's a very rare senator who gets so much done so early and so late in a career.

Ted Kennedy was that senator, from Head Start in 1964 with Lyndon Johnson, to the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1960 under the first President Bush, to No Child Left Behind with G.W. Bush. He was the student of many great legislators, a friend and colleague of our current vice president, and a mentor to President Bush.

Today, both the president and vice president paid tribute to the Teddy Kennedy they knew, they respected, and they loved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Since Teddy's diagnosis last year we've saw the courage with which he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult for him, they have also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us.

The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including myself.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't you find it remarkable that one of the most partisan, liberal men in the last century, serving in the Senate, that so many of his -- so many of his foes embrace him, because they know he made them bigger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The president and vice president today paying tribute to a man whose political war face was a smile.

Joining us now, senior political analyst David Gergen, senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, and chief national correspondent John King.

David, where does Kennedy rank, you think, in the pantheon of U.S. lawmakers?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he's going to rank in the -- in the -- in the top ranks of the 20th century lawmakers, one of the most effective legislators of the last 50 years.

He didn't have the rhetorical power, say, of a Clay or a Webster of the 19th century, but he left an enormous imprint upon our politics. He was -- all the Kennedys, as you know, Anderson, were competitors. They were warriors.

He was a happy warrior. He brought a joy to politics. He just loved it. And there was always this -- when he was -- when he was at his rhetorical height, you could always sort of see this kind of internal smile, sort of like a little laughing at himself a little bit, but caring passionately about the issues.

And so he did leave, not only a number of issues that were resolved favorably, whether it was in education or in health care or the like. But he also left some lost causes for others to champion after him, starting with national health insurance.

COOPER: John King, you're a Boston guy. You covered the senator. Why -- what made him effective?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what made him effective, Anderson, was that he fought so passionately for what he believed in, but he also was willing to go behind closed doors and cut a deal with those he disagreed with, whether it was Ronald Reagan, whether it was George H.W. Bush, whether it was George W. Bush, whether it was what fellow -- with fellow Democrats.

He argued publicly and passionately, and then he looked for the best deal. He believed, as those he did business with, Ronald Reagan -- I covered debates late in that administration, into the Bush administration. And Teddy Kennedy believed, argued, tried to get 100 percent, but know the moment in time when to need to cut your losses and get the best you can.

If it was 50 percent good. If it was 70 percent, better. That's what he did so effectively. And because of his standing in the Democratic Party, he was able to bring Democrats over to some deals they really didn't like. But, if Teddy wanted it, it had to be OK.

COOPER: Candy, you covered him for a long time. What was he like to cover?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He was -- he was a lot of fun to cover in so many ways, simply because he was an effective legislator, so you knew things were happening around him.

But there are also sort of personal sides of Senator Kennedy that you would get glimpses of when you were on Capitol Hill or from his aides, one of them, very early on, when he started what really was his redemptive last 30 years of his Senate career, and became the lawmaker that that -- that John and David are talking about.

But early on, he also became the surrogate father to the children of his dead brothers. And aides would talk about sometimes listening to him behind closed doors in his office teaching animal sounds to his young nieces and nephews, things like that, which, really, he could be a very personable -- I mean, his love for his -- those Portuguese water dogs, most lately, things like that just really humanized a man that so many people saw as a cardboard cutout.

COOPER: David, I mean, obviously, his passing comes during this heated debate on -- on his top issue, which is health care. How does his death impact that? Do we know?

GERGEN: Well, I think it's clear, Anderson, that, had he been there this year, in -- in -- in full form, that there's much more likely we would be closer to a bipartisan deal now, to go back to John King's point.

He was able to bring Democrats over to strike compromises with Republicans that could -- could form the basis for bipartisan legislation, as within the Bush administration with No Child Left Behind -- with the George W. Bush administration.

Now that he has died, and -- you know, it's going to be a very interesting question. Health care, as you know, has been withering. The cause of a robust health care plan has been withering. Whether this may open a new window for Barack Obama to change the conversation, to bring Democrats and Republicans back to the table in Teddy Kennedy's memory is, I think, one of the big questions, sort of practical questions, overhanging this very sad night.

I'm not sure that Barack Obama can do it, but I do think he's got a very short window when he could change the conversation, take charge when he gets back to Washington.

COOPER: John, this means that the Democrats have lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. There's uncertainty in Massachusetts about how and went his seat is going to be filled. What's the latest on that?

J. KING: Well, the law, Anderson, says you have a special election within five months. Senator Kennedy asked the legislature and the governor to change that, to allow the governor to make an interim temporary appointment.

Governor Patrick said today that he would like to sign that legislation. He doesn't think -- he doesn't think, until Senator Kennedy requested it, that the law should be changed.

The question is, the legislature is out of session for another week. Can they reach a bipartisan agreement to pass that or bring the legislature back? That is the big question. Republicans have objected. Some Democrats have said it would be too extraordinary a step to take, even despite their empathy -- empathy for Senator Kennedy's wishes.

So, the governor would like to do it. It's an open question as to whether he can convince enough people in the legislature to go along with him.

COOPER: All right, we have got to leave it there.

Candy Crowley, John King, David Gergen, appreciate it, all. Thank you.

When we come back: Ted Kennedy's final adversary, the cancer he fought, and why researchers may be closer to getting a handle on such a deadly enemy.

And later, South Carolina's embattled governor and what he is saying about possibly stepping down.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(on screen): "Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind, and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union."

COOPER: Former President Bill Clinton's statement remembering Senator Kennedy today.

Over and over, we have heard that Senator Kennedy's colleagues praised his ability to bring opponents to the negotiating table to find common ground. But the type of aggressive brain cancer he was diagnosed with 15 months ago does not negotiate.

Only 10 percent of people who get it are alive five years later. The sobering odds did not stop Senator Kennedy from fighting back, starting with surgery just over a year ago.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is himself a neurosurgeon, joins me now from Dublin, where he is attending a global cancer summit sponsored by Lance Armstrong's foundation.

Sanjay, what type of brain tumor did the senator have, and why was it so hard to treat?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

This -- this type of tumor is a malignant glioma. And, like so many other cancers, Anderson, it starts with a single cell that probably goes awry at some point, but then starts to divide.

But part of the issue with this -- with this part of tumor is that -- is that the rate at which it divides is so much faster than many other cancers. Now, this is a type of tumor in the brain, obviously. It does not spread to other parts of the body, but it just starts to invade other parts of the brain, Anderson.

We know, with Senator Kennedy's particular tumor, it was located on the left side of his brain, in parts of the brain responsible for speech, parts of the brain responsible for his strength on the right side of his body. And that's why he needed that surgery while he was awake back last spring.

But this is one of the fastest-growing tumors of all, Anderson. Left unchecked, within three to six months, it usually causes death -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wow, three to six months. I mean, he had surgery. He had radiation. He had chemotherapy. He lived 15 months from diagnosis. Is that a typical time frame for this condition?

GUPTA: Unfortunately, yes. It's a -- it's a pretty -- a pretty grim life expectancy.

You know, again, as you mentioned, Anderson, I am a neurosurgeon. This is the type of tumor, even with the -- with the best treatment, some of the ones that you outlined there, surgery first usually, chemo, radiation, 14 months is typically around the average life expectancy.

It's going to vary a bit, obviously, depending on age, depending on time of diagnosis. And -- and the thing about those stats, Anderson, is that they really haven't budged over the last few decades. This is an area where, I think, neuroscience is really struggling to make a difference overall in life expectancy.

COOPER: His doctor found the tumor while he was doing tests on -- on -- after the senator suffered a seizure last year. Are there early symptoms for this kind of cancer?

GUPTA: Well, you know, sometimes, people might have headaches, but, sometimes, those headaches can be vague.

If the headaches occur, they're usually worse in the morning, after someone's been lying flat all night. When they sit up or stand up, the headaches usually get a little bit better. But, again, you know, a lot of people have headaches and don't have brain tumors.

A seizure is often the first sign that someone has a tumor. It's because, as that tumor's starting to grow, it causes little electrical bursts throughout the brain. And it's that seizure that's the first thing. So, I even remember back in May of last year, Anderson, when that happened, I said, you know, a new seizure in an adult like this, you have to get scans to rule out a tumor.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, appreciate it -- Dr. Sanjay Gupta tonight from Dublin.

We're going to have more on the life of Ted Kennedy ahead, including a look at the tragedies and scandals that he could not escape throughout his life.

But, first, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, one of Iraq's top Shiite leaders died today after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim died in Tehran, where he had been receiving treatment for more than two years. His body will now be sent to Iraq for burial in his hometown of Najaf, which is one of the holiest cities for Shia Muslims. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said al-Hakim was like a brother to him.

Accusing Governor Mark Sanford of serious misconduct in office, South Carolina's lieutenant governor today called on the governor to set down. Andre Bauer offering to take over and drop his planned bid for governor in 2010 if Governor Sanford would quit in the next few weeks. But the governor declined, holding a news conference a few hours later to say he will not be -- quote -- "railroaded out of office" and plans to finish his term.

In California, smoke from a 750-acre wildfire northeast of Los Angeles is making it difficult to breathe. The good news, though, is that the flames are actually burning away from area suburbs, so they're not threatening homes.

And on the other side of the country, Tropical Storm Danny churning in the Atlantic, now near the Dominican Republic. Forecasters say it could pose a risk to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, though, as it moves north over the next few days. We will of course continue to keep an eye on it for you.

COOPER: All right, Erica.

Up next: more on the life of Senator Kennedy, a child of privilege who fought for the less fortunate, from African-Americans to Americans with disabilities -- his passion and his legacy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1980)

E. KENNEDY: For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Perseverance even in defeat, Ted Kennedy's memorable speech from 1980 as he ended his bid for the White House.

His family now gathered at the Kennedy -- at the compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. That's his niece Maria Shriver there on the left tonight, who lost her mother, Eunice, just two weeks ago. Her uncle Ted was too ill to attend the funeral.

That clip of the senator earlier showing him at the peak of his rhetorical power, even though he lost the nomination, yet, his influence endured nearly three more decades. Senator Kennedy changed the country from his Senate seat, no doubt about it, especially in civil rights, a cause that became his passion.

Tom Foreman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SCREAMING)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid the fiery 1960s, as civil rights battles raged, President John Kennedy sought passage of a landmark bill to ban discrimination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And, when he was assassinated, Ted Kennedy, already filling his older brother's Senate seat, filled his shoes, too, helping to push the legislation through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making a final stop on his tour of Ireland, Senator Edward Kennedy...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The fight to protect immigrants, minorities and so many others dominated Ted Kennedy's resume. As he argued for voting rights, bilingual education, an end to discrimination over religion or sexual identity, he backed with Americans With Disabilities Act. And, even as his presidential bid of 1980 fell, at the convention, Kennedy spoke for the Equal Rights Amendment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E. KENNEDY: And for the recognition, at long last, that our nation was made up of founding mothers, as well as founding fathers.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Civil rights pioneer John Lewis, now a Georgia congressman, stood by Kennedy in many battles.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: And I think it gave us a great deal more courage to stand up and to fight when we knew that we had a voice in Washington. He never gave up. He never gave in. He never gave out. He kept the faith.

FOREMAN (on camera): The senator pulled no punches when he felt civil rights might be in danger, notably, when he opposed conservative Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1987)

E. KENNEDY: In Robert Bork's America, there is no room at the inn for blacks and no place in the Constitution for women. And, in our America, there should be no seat on the Supreme Court for Robert Bork.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FOREMAN: For many, it is fitting that Kennedy became an early supporter of Barack Obama, the first black president...

E. KENNEDY: Si, se puede!

FOREMAN: ... reaching out to all the groups he championed in the past to carry his civil rights legacy to the future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 25, 2008)

E. KENNEDY: The hope rises again, and the dream lives on. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Tom foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, another quick reminder: The memorial ceremonies begin tomorrow, continue throughout the weekend. CNN, of course, will bring you coverage of all the public moments.

Next on the program: the demons that haunted Ted Kennedy, the tragedy of Chappaquiddick, and the controversy that lingers to this day -- how a deadly accident changed his life and most likely ended his chances of being president. We will take a closer look ahead.

And, later, remembering Dominick Dunne -- a full life and a remarkable one. We look back on the writer and a man who touched many lives -- coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It has been written, a man does what he must, in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures, and that is the basis of all human morality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Senator Kennedy in the days after the most notorious incident of his life, Chappaquiddick.

Kennedy's life was plagued, of course, by scandal and loss. He was just 31 years old when his older brother, JFK, was assassinated, 36 when Robert Kennedy met the same fate. Ten years ago, the summer he gave the eulogy at his nephew, John Kennedy Jr.'s memorial service, just as he had done for his brother, Bobby.

Kennedy led his family through its darkest days, even as he fought personal demons. Erica Hill looks back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Senator Edward Kennedy's contributions are legendary. But that legacy is laced with controversy. The most famous: Chappaquiddick.

Leaving a party on July 18, 1969, Kennedy drove off a bridge. He swam to safety and left the scene. His passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, died in the car. Kennedy didn't contact the police until the next morning.

A week later, he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene, was given a suspended two-month sentence, and took his apology on camera.

KENNEDY: No words on my part can possibly address the terrible pain and suffering I feel over this tragic incident.

SAM ALLIS, COLUMNIST, "BOSTON GLOBE": The Kennedy name was huge during the '60s. No one believes his story about what happened. But he was given the benefit of the doubt.

HILL: While the dark cloud of that night never fully left him, Kennedy pressed on. The road, often rocky. A divorce in 1982 followed longtime rumors of womanizing and excessive drinking, yet in Washington, he excelled.

ALLIS: He somehow found the ability to compartmentalize his social life away from his professional life. And it's astonishing that he could do those two together, but he was at his most productive, I could argue, during the '80s when he was in his worst performance privately.

HILL: Controversy knocked again on Easter weekend, 1991. The senator was out with his son and nephew, William Kennedy Smith, at a Palm Beach bar, the same bar where Smith met the woman who later accused him of rape that night. Smith was acquitted, but the association didn't help the senator.

ALLIS: He was humiliated. People were much less forgiving of him in Palm Beach. And if he hadn't married Vicki, I shudder to think what he would be like.

HILL: His ability to recover from seeming career enders, though, will not be his ultimate legacy.

ALLIS: I think he's going to be remembered as one of the greatest legislators in the history of the U.S. Senate. He'll be remembered, I think, for his generosity of spirit. He will be remembered as a giver, not a taker.

HILL: And as a lasting member of a political dynasty who captivated a nation.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining us now for more on Senator Kennedy's personal and political struggles, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley; host of "STATE OF THE UNION," John King; and CNN political analyst Gloria Borger.

Doug, for a long time, Senator Kennedy was associated with scandal first and then public service second. How does the country reconcile the Ted Kennedy from that era with the Ted Kennedy who's being remembered so fondly tonight?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think we've missed a little bit today the theme of Catholicism in Ted Kennedy's life and that notion of, you say you're -- you know, you go to confession and you ask for forgiveness. And I think he, at his core, was a man of lightness, a man of God, but he had a dark side and it came out with the drinking.

Some of it may have been trauma, of losing his three older brothers, a baby brother, losing three in such violent ways. Trying to cope with so much pressure on him, that he would turn to the taproom and drink too much and perhaps carouse and party too much.

But Chappaquiddick, no doubt about it, has been an albatross around the legacy of Ted Kennedy, but he did his penance, he struggled out of it, and you're dealing really with tens of millions of Americans whose lives have been helped by Ted Kennedy's struggles. And he was a political genius, and he was a flawed human being, but he worked on his flaws. And at the end of the line, end of the day, he's one of the great champions of human rights and dignity in America.

COOPER: And yet, John, there are no doubt a lot of people watching tonight who define Senator Kennedy by what happened on Chappaquiddick. How did he deal with that fact, no matter what he did in the Senate, some people would just see him through that lens?

JOHN KING, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Well, Anderson, there were times in his career when he bristled at the question if you brought it up. There were other times when he would say, "I understand some people will forever define me by that day, and that is their right."

How he would deal with it mostly is to say to the people of Massachusetts -- he addressed them on television. He ran for re- election several times after. And the people of Massachusetts sent him back to Washington, and therefore, he had their support, not all of their support, but he had their support.

People will debate for some time to come whether that was the scar that cost him, when he challenged Jimmy Carter back in 1980 to try to take the Democratic nomination from a sitting president. No easy task, Chappaquiddick or not.

But he knew it was a scar on his character, a scar on his career, but he viewed the re-election time and time again by the people of Massachusetts as proof to him that they were willing to keep sending him back to Washington.

COOPER: And yet, Gloria, despite the ups and downs, Kennedy remained a rock for his family. You can't overstate, particularly after the deaths of his brothers.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, you know, and I actually spoke with him about this. And he admitted that he's been imperfect and wasn't a perfect role model for all the children, the nieces, nephews, and his own children. And for that, he felt sad and apologized to them for it.

But I have to tell you that he wasn't only the patriarch of the Senate. He was the patriarch of that family. And I want to share with you something. I found a note when I did this interview with Ted Kennedy that Jackie Kennedy wrote him as a thank you after he took Caroline Kennedy down the aisle. And she wrote to Ted -- she wrote, "On you, the carefree youngest brother, fell a burden a hero would beg to be spared. Everyone is going to make it, because you are always there with your love."

And after I read that to him, Anderson, you know, he sort of choked up, and said, "Those are pretty nice words."

COOPER: I remember the interview on "60 Minutes," too.

There were -- Doug, there was this remarkable quote in "The New York Times" this morning. James Sterling Young, he's the director of Kennedy's oral history project at the University of Virginia. Said, and I quote, "Most people grow up and go into politics. The Kennedys go into politics, and then they grow up."

How much, do you think, of this personal struggle was the result of some sort of pressure to carry on his family's legacy? And once the pressure of becoming president was off, was that part of the change?

BRINKLEY: That's a great question. You know, John F. Kennedy was the political wizard. I mean, he was a remarkable politician.

Bobby Kennedy was feisty and tough, but he started developing a softening of his heart in '67 and '68, famously rolling up his shirt sleeves, traveling the country, fasting with Cesar Chavez, going into Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta. Then Bobby Kennedy is gunned down.

And Ted Kennedy in many ways, it was really continuing Robert Kennedy's odyssey. And he did it in an awkward way. He didn't have some of the grit, at first, that Bobby Kennedy had had, you know, willingness to be mean-spirited. Bobby Kennedy would go after the bad guys. Ted Kennedy was about redemption, reconciliation, and reaching across the aisle.

But over a period of time, Kennedy's, just, tenacity, and his ability to survive the political cycles was remarkable. And I think once he lost in 1980 and realized that his presidential aspirations were over and found a new role for himself, the one guy that was willing to say, "I'm a liberal."

Bill Clinton was saying, "I'm a new Democrat" and others were kind of abandoning the New Deal and the Great Society and the New Frontier, but not Ted Kennedy. And at that point, he became a folk hero on the left. And he widened what was the Robert Kennedy coalition of '68. And to the point today, he is literally beloved in -- by the disenfranchised of America.

COOPER: John King, it can't be understated, or overstated, I should say, the effect that his second wife, Vicki, has had on his life. KING: Without a doubt, Anderson. The last 17 years of Ted Kennedy was a man who, not perfect, but had escaped so many of the dark shadows we've been talking about the past few minutes.

Somebody that had the spring back in his step. Gloria could tell you he liked to sing a song. He liked to still stay up late and to celebrate at a party. He fell back in love, was reinvigorated in the Senate, became more of a social, happy person.

And he was always in pain because of back injuries, but he relished the last campaign with Barack Obama. Had a spring in his step, until the cancer hit him, in part because he had new romance in his life. And he would say it just as plainly as you could say that she saved him, and she changed him. And he was so grateful. You could see it, Anderson, whenever they were together.

COOPER: A spring in his step, and Gloria, a song, apparently in his heart. In this interview you did for "60 Two," which I have a clip of, you sort of got serenaded. I want to play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY (singing): Sweet Rosy O'Grady, my dear little Rose she's my special lady. Most everyone knows. And when we are married, how happy we'll be. I love sweet Rosy O'Grady, and Rosy O'Grady loves me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A charming moment you got there.

BORGER: You know, I didn't have to prompt him much, Anderson. I just had to say, what about singing a song? You know, this is the thing about -- about Ted Kennedy. There was this joy to him. There was this great heart that people -- that people were drawn to. Even his political enemies. There was this optimism about him, even given all that he had been through, and that's probably why he survived and thrived in the end.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Gloria Borger, John King, Doug Brinkley, good to have you on the program. Thanks very much, everyone, tonight.

Coming up next, we'll look at Senator Ted Kennedy's private life, the marriage that ended in divorce, and John King talked about, Vicki, his wife, the unexpected love he found late in his life. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Senator Kennedy's wife, Vicki, was with him at the end. They'd been married in 1992. Senator Kennedy was married to his first wife, Joan, for 24 years, and both women could not be more different, but they both stood by their husband in trying times.

Joan was there for the assassinations of his brothers and for Chappaquiddick. Vicki married him right after his nephew's trial and is credited, as you heard from many tonight, in helping turn his life around.

Randi Kaye has their stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): in 1957, Ted Kennedy's sister introduced him to the woman who would become his first wife, Joan Bennett, a striking blond and former beauty queen who dabbled in modeling. The couple had three children, but the marriage, though it lasted more than two decades, was not easy.

David Heymann has written about the Kennedys for decades, and says Joan sought help from Jackie Kennedy.

DAVID HEYMANN, KENNEDY BIOGRAPHER: She said to Jackie, how do you deal with these, you know, Kennedy men? I mean, there's this constant womanizing on the side. It certainly meant something to Joan Kennedy, because it gradually drove her to alcohol.

KAYE (on camera): The marriage was not easy. Their son lost a leg to bone cancer, and Joan suffered through multiple miscarriages. Still, she continued to stand by the senator.

In 1964, at just 28, she campaigned for his re-election while he was in the hospital with a broken back.

(voice-over) Five years later, in 1969, a pregnant Joan Kennedy was at the Senator's side for the funeral of Mary Joe Kopechne, after Chappaquiddick. She miscarried again the following month.

In 1982, the couple divorced.

HEYMANN: Joan tried to be a rock. But I mean, her own fragile nature prevented her from being that.

KAYE: A decade later, Ted Kennedy found his rock.

KENNEDY: We're very happy. Vicki Reggie is someone I love very much, and we're looking forward to spending our lives together.

KAYE: Kennedy's second wife, Vicki Reggie, understood politics. She came from a powerful political family in Louisiana.

HEYMANN: She had endured a lot herself. She was divorced. She was a single mother bringing up two young children.

KENNEDY: ... very proud.

KAYE: In 1991, Vicki invited the senator to her parent's anniversary party. He soon proposed at the opera. They married in 1992. Vicki helped turn his image around. She shared his political interests and together they advocated for social issues. She also curbed his drinking.

HEYMANN: She never allowed her husband to be photographed with a drink in his hand. He was well dressed. He was well coifed. He looked official. He looked senatorial. She really rehabilitated Ted Kennedy.

KAYE: For the senator who loved to sail, Vicki Kennedy was both first mate and soul mate to the end.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: First mate and soul mate. That's nice.

The Kennedy family's remembering Senator Kennedy as their irreplaceable center. In a moment, why many now see his death as the end of the dream of Camelot.

Also ahead, we remember Dominick Dunne, who today also lost his battle with cancer. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A sad day for many reasons. The author and journalist Dominick Dunne died in New York today. His family said the cause was bladder cancer. He'd been struggling for some time.

I've known Dominick Dunne since I was a little kid, and it is simply hard to imagine that he's gone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In his 83 years, Dominick Dunne lived many lives, traveled in many different worlds. He'd climbed the ranks of show business from stage manager to producer, but it was late in his life as a writer and chronicler of the crimes of the rich and famous that he'd become a household name.

Dunne covered the trials of O.J. Simpson, Klaus von Bulow, Eric and Lyle Menendez. A constant presence in the courtroom, he was a consistent advocate for justice.

DOMINICK DUNNE, JOURNALIST: I never do this equal time, you know, and then I have to get the say. I take a stand, and it doesn't always make me popular.

COOPER: His stand was shaped by personal tragedy, the killing of his own daughter. Dominique Dunne, an actress who appeared in the film "Poltergeist," was strangled to death by her estranged boyfriend. The jury called it manslaughter, not murder. The outcome left Dominick outraged.

DUNNE: I was so horrified by what went on in that courtroom. And I realized that I had the power to write about it and the ability to go on TV and talk about it and all the sort of sham that goes on at these trials.

COOPER: Dunne was a special correspondent for "Vanity Fair" magazine and also wrote best-selling novels, including "A Season in Purgatory" and "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles." He enjoyed the success that was so hard-earned. He'd overcome much and loved the life he'd created for himself.

If you were lucky enough to know Dominick Dunne, lucky enough to call him a friend, you knew how loyal and true he was. He could be counted on. He could be called on. He was true to the end.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And he will be missed by so many.

In a moment, Senator Kennedy was the carrier of the Kennedy legacy. With his death, is this the end of Camelot?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Senator Orrin Hatch, conservative, Republican from Utah, who considered the liberal lion a friend.

The Kennedys are often referred to as American royalty, and the 1,000-day administration of John F. Kennedy as Camelot. But Camelot is also the idea of the Kennedys, and after JFK and Bobby were killed, it was up to Ted Kennedy to take the helm and keep that dream alive. Now that he is gone, just two weeks after the death of his sister, Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver, has Camelot come to an end?

Candy Crowley looks back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He had a name that rang down through generations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Kennedy?

KENNEDY: Yes, I'm Kennedy.

CROWLEY: It was a gilded name in politics, but for Ted Kennedy, it was weighted with the unfulfilled legacies of three older brothers and the dreams of an ambitious father. Joseph Sr. wanted his boys in the power world of politics.

His first born, pride and joy, Joseph Jr., was killed in World War II. Second son, Jack, smart, handsome and debonair, was president for two years, ten months, and two days before his assassination.

Third son, Bobby, a tireless campaigner for the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Assassinated in 1968 in the midst of his own presidential bid, and Teddy had to say good-bye to his last brother.

KENNEDY: Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us, what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

CROWLEY: At 36, he was the patriarch of a sprawling family and keeper of the flame. The legacy was Teddy's to fill, his to write. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it reminds me, there's a great quote by Ernest Hemingway who said, "Everyone is broken by life, but afterwards, some are stronger in the broken places."

CROWLEY: His brother's lives became political mythology. JFK's legacy was shaped in part by his widow, Jackie, who compared their time in the White House to Camelot, an administration of sophisticated, smart, and dazzling people, akin to the magic and noble kingdom of King Arthur.

But Ted Kennedy's life is an imperfect story about standing public service and astonishing personal failures. He was hard living and high flying. As a U.S. senator, he drove a car off a bridge after a party, killing a young campaign aide. Massachusetts loved him, though, through it all, returning him to office for almost half a century.

KENNEDY: And I won't let you down. I won't let you down. I won't let you down, Massachusetts!

CROWLEY: Ted Kennedy would never become president, though he would try. In 1980 when he conceded the presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter, the convention hall filled with nostalgia and tears.

KENNEDY: For all those whose care has been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

CROWLEY: A glimmer of Camelot remained. Ted Kennedy was not finished. After his failed presidential bid, he spent the next 30 years in the Senate growing older, wiser, and into one of the 20th century's most accomplished lawmakers.

KENNEDY: To protect the patients, to protect the children, to protect the women, to protect the...

CROWLEY: In the Senate was redemption.

KENNEDY: The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, and I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.

CROWLEY: What of the legacy? Son Patrick is a U.S. congressman from Rhode Island. Jack's daughter, Caroline, briefly and clumsily made a bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. And Bobby's daughter, Kathleen, ran unsuccessfully for Maryland governor.

Much of the clan is involved in public service, but not elected office. Eventually, someone will take the Senate seat of Edward Moore Kennedy, but it's not likely anyone will take his place. Ted Kennedy is gone, and with him, a time and an era. The legacy is written.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll have more in a moment on the rich, sometimes dark, but deeply significant life of the late senator, Edward Kennedy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)