Ted Kennedy’s Advisers

It is part of the Camelot mythology that if Teddy Kennedy runs for President, old knights of the realm would drop everything and rally to the last brother—everyone from Arthur Schlesinger and John Kenneth Galbraith to Ted Soren-sen and Larry O'Brien. Not so. While the Kennedy name would be sure to attract plenty of political and academic celebrities, a Teddy-for-President campaign would be more likely to feature a new generation of the best and the brightest.

Kennedy has several pools to draw from. Veterans from Bobby Kennedy's 1968 campaign, such as Frank Mankiewicz and Fred Dutton, would be available for part-time counsel. So would academics like MIT president Jerome Wiesner, Harvard Prof. Abram Chayes and Yale Prof. Burke Marshall. But Kennedy's hard-core troopers would almost certainly come from the top levels of his Senate office and committee staffs, an inner circle of heady and sometimes brash young men thoroughly committed to Kennedy and his programs. "Most of his people are damned good and the reason is that Kennedy starts with talent and gives them leeway," says another Senate staffer. Five men would probably play the most crucial roles:

If Kennedy runs, chief campaign man is likely to be Paul Kirk Jr., 41, now a partner in the Washington office of Sullivan and Worcester, a Boston law firm. Kirk was drawn into politics by old Kennedy hand Kenneth O'Donnelland worked on Robert Kennedy's 1968 Presidential campaign. After Bobby was assassinated, Kirk was "ready to quit politics," he recalls. But in 1969, he signed on to Teddy's staff and soon became Kennedy's most important political adviser—filling the vacuum left by David Burke, who is now a vice president at ABC News. Kirk, shrewd and low-key, left in 1977, but stayed closely in touch. More than anyone else, Kirk has known Kennedy's mind this year. And, very quietly, Kirk has kept tabs on the draft-Kennedy movements around the country. "Behind Paul's quiet exterior is an equally quiet interior," says an associate. "But he's smart as hell, works hard as hell and he's tight with Teddy."

Carey Parker, 44, Kennedy's chief legislative assistant, is known around the Senate as a brilliant and prodigious worker. "Little of substance legislatively or politically happens there without Parker being in on it," says a former staffer. Parker, a Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law graduate, has worked on Kennedy's staff for ten years, writing speeches, targeting issues and putting together just about everything that Kennedy signs off on. "He's one of a kind," says a former colleague. "He is a risk-taker who miraculously combines hard work with a level head." Parker is so valuable, in fact, that he may simply mind the Senate office if Teddy takes his hown on the road.

Carl Wagner, 34, joined the Kennedy staff last year—triggering speculation that Teddy was getting ready to run. He is generally thought to be one of the few topsiders on the current Kennedy team who know how to organize a 1980-style Presidential campaign. Wagner worked on George McGovern's 1972 campaign and was on the scene in his native Iowa to see how Jimmy Carter took advantage of the new rules of the game. He turned down a chance to work with Carter in 1976 and has since been offered more than one job by the Carter White House.  Before joining Kennedy's staff to line up public support for legislative programs, he was a field organizer for AFSCME, the public-employees union. "Give Carl a mission and he'll perform," says a onetime labor associate. In a Presidential campaign, he would likely move from state to state as chief field operative and organizer.

Dr. Lawrence Horowitz, 34, is a bright and sometimes exasperating man who left the Stanford medical school staff to head Kennedy's health subcommittee staff. Like Parker, he is an issues man with total access to Kennedy—particularly on health insurance, which he pushes vigorously in the Senate. Horowitz has been known to play office physician. Once, when reporters were asking about the senator's "tennis elbow," Horowitz said that discussing it would "violate my medical ethics." Aggressive and occasionally abrasive, Horowitz would probably be in on most everything. "He's somewhat like Adam Walinsky was with Bobby," says a Kennedy insider. "He can't keep his hands off issues or politics."

The most familiar face in any Kennedy campaign would be brother-in-law Stephen E. Smith, 51. Smith has been involved in every Kennedy campaign since JFK's second Senate run in 1958 —almost always as the money man—and he would serve a similar function, officially or not, if Teddy goes for the White House. Smith joined the clan by marrying youngest sister Jean in 1956 and is every bit a Kennedy—an athletic millionaire socialite who helps manage the family fortune.

Join the Discussion