Throughout the discussion, Kennedy’s famous flowing public voice is instead choppy and often inarticulate. Also, he sounds uncharacteristically vulnerable.
For example, the possibility of losing the election weighed heavily on him.
“I wouldn’t like to try to pick up my life at 45, -6, or -7, and start after 20 years of being in politics, and try to pick up my life then,’’ he said, adding, “Maybe need a different degree. I mean, it’s like having your leg up to your ankle or to your knee amputated, it’s still disturbing.”
Antionette Bradlee asked Kennedy, who had already written two books, if he might pursue a career in writing if politics didn't work out.
“No, I couldn’t, because I’ve lost the chance. I mean, I’m sure it takes 20 years to learn to be a decent writer,” he responded. “You have to do it every day.”
When a recently published photo of him as a young man looking sickly came up in the discussion, Kennedy spoke of his personal medical problems, which became known publicly years after his 1963 assassination. Such problems would probably have been disqualifying if known to voters.
“There’s a picture that the Boston Globe ran Sunday, which had the veterans rally [in 1948] . . . Franklin Roosevelt [Jr.] and I, and I looked like a cadaver,” Kennedy recalled, noting his unusual pallor.
When asked about what was wrong with him, he responded, “Addison’s disease, they said I have.”
He then noted that a reporter “asked me today if I have it.” He denied it to the reporter, saying he was just sun-tanned. “I said no, God, a guy with Addison’s disease looks sort of brown and everything,” Kennedy told his guests, who burst out in laughter. “Christ! See, that’s the sun.”
But natural politician or not, Kennedy said he thought the ingredients to win were not all that complicated.
“You have to be able to communicate a sense of conviction and intelligence and rather, some integrity,” he said.