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Ted Kennedy was both an inspiration and political poison to North Carolina Democrats.
 
We loved him because he was the last link to the glory days of John and Bobby Kennedy, the New Frontier, the Mercury 7 astronauts, the Peace Corps, “pay any price, bear any burden…” and all that.
 
And his voice always roared for the causes we believed in: civil rights, equal rights, education, health care, fighting poverty, on and on.
 
But we couldn’t afford to be seen in public with him.
 
As he became more liberal than his brothers ever were, he became toxic in North Carolina.
 
I wonder how many fund-raising letters Carter and the Congressional Club sent out over the years featuring Teddy.
 
The paradox was captured at the 1980 Democratic Convention in New York. I went with Governor Hunt, who was supporting Jimmy Carter against Kennedy’s challenge. We fought the Kennedy people all week along.  But the last night of the convention Kennedy gave the greatest political speech I’ve ever heard.
 
For all that eloquence, Kennedy could be inarticulate to the point of incomprehensibility. The 1980 speech, like a lot of his better speeches, came from the pen of Bob Shrum, who was John Edward’s media consultant in 1998.
 
Kennedy had his faults and failings. But forget them all. He was a hell of a political warrior.
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