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Nancy Reagan: The Gipper and Ted Kennedy had 'wonderful friendship'

August 28, 2009 |  7:56 am

President Reagan, First Lady Nancy Reagan and former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan said this week that her husband, Ronald Reagan -- movie star, California legend, 40th president of the United States and one of the greatest icons in Republican politics -- was terrific friends with Ted Kennedy. Yep, the same Ted Kennedy who was so passionate about liberal causes that in his roar he was called the Lion of the Senate.

"Most people didn't realize the friendship, or didn't accept it, or didn't know about the friendship,” she told CNN’s Larry King. “You know, Ronny was so identified with the Republican Party. And Teddy obviously with the Democrat Party. But that doesn't make any difference, Larry, really. It shouldn't make any difference. I'm afraid it does now, but it shouldn't."

In 1981, the Reagans hosted the Kennedy matriarch, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, at the White House, her first visit since President Kennedy’s assassination.

And four years later, Reagan answered the Kennedy family's request to help raise funds for the JFK Presidential Library, where she and her husband were greeted by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy "both had very definite opinions about things," said Nancy Reagan, who also said that she and Kennedy had forged common ground over stem cell research. Of her husband and his liberal buddy, she said, "It was a wonderful, wonderful friendship."

 

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

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