Ted Kennedy


Ted Kennedy at the 1976 DNC

Ted Kennedy was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1977 to 1985. He is remembered as a powerful progressive who oversaw the raising of the minimum wage, expansion of medicaid and medicare, and who defended social security from Republican attacks.

On July 3, 1975, Senator Ted Kennedy announced he would be running for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. His family name and image as a strong progressive made him the front runner in the primaries, in which he easily defeated Alabama Governor George Wallace. At his famous convention speech, he sent a clear message to the Democratic Party when he said "Segregation is over. We must embrace all people, for we are all Americans." Kennedy chose little known Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter as his Vice President, believing that he would help him keep Southern support. In the 1976 election, the Kennedy Carter ticket defeated the Reagan/Dole ticket with 312 electoral votes to 236, with a popular vote lead of 52% to 47%.

In the 1980 election, Kennedy faced a sluggish economy. Though he was agreed to be handling foreign policy well, his economic policy came under attack. Indeed, in July of 1980, before the Democratic National Convention, Kennedy/Carter were behind the Jack Kemp/George HW Bush ticket by 3 to 5% in most polls. However, in the three debates between Kennedy and Kemp, Kemp attempted to categorize Kenendy as an extremist. Kennedy delivered an aggressive response,saying that "Congressman Kemp, you believe in an economic growth fueled only by gambling and sickness. You believe that supreme court decisions made eight years ago are still open for debate. You believe that working families should have no assistance in finding medical care. Congressman, one of us is an extremist, but I'll let the people decide."

In 1980, Kennedy/Carter were re-elected in a landslide over Kemp/Bush with 493 electoral votes. Kenendy's second term, in which the inflation crisis was sorted out and job growth reached new highs, was viewed as a great success. After leaving office, Kennedy became a high profile speaker at political conventions before his death in 2009.

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