In a longer post I explain how I met Jack Kennedy in 1960 at a Democrat Party dinner in Camden, New Jersey. The event was held at the old Camden Convention Hall (since demolished) on Haddon Avenue.
Then, in 1968 I met Bobby at a raucous campaign rally, again in Camden, again at Convention Hall. It was just after Bobby announced that he would seek the 1968 Democrat presidential nomination. I was brought up to the podium to shake hands with Bobby. I also saw Bobby close up in the spring of 1968 when I was working on the presidential campaign in Indiana. I was a college senior then. He attracted huge, enthusiastic crowds.
In 1972 I met Teddy at a Democrat Party event in Cherry Hill at the old Latin Casino. At the time I was covering the event for a small community newspaper in South Jersey. Teddy was in his element that night, ruddy-faced and eloquent.
My impressions? Jack was the most charismatic; Bobby the most intense and Teddy the most gregarious and outgoing. Jack was a shrewd politician -- smart, elusive and instinctive with a keen knowledge of history. Bobby was more of a cult figure -- sensitive, daring and somewhat mercurial.
Teddy was an old-fashioned politician, a backslapper who loved the crowds and the personalities. He was very much in the image of his grandfather, "Honey Fitz," (John F. Fitzgerald) who served as Mayor of Boston. Ted was jovial and engaging and I suppose that's why he was able to reach out to Republicans and accomplish so much in the Senate.
My favorite of the three? Probably JFK. He certainly left the greatest impression on me. He exuded stardom.
Bobby was the scrapper -- not as big as his brothers but nonetheless determined. He was the fighter and the poet who was able to spar with the best of them and then touch our souls with articulate insights and compassion. If they were music, Jack would be sophisticated swing, Bobby would be folk songs and the blues and Teddy would be ragtime and razzmatazz.
That's how different they were.
They each had their triumphs and their flaws.
They remain vivid figures on the American landscape.