Kennedys pushing Warren to run against Hillary in 2016
By Edward Klein
August 3, 2014 | 2:09am
In an echo of 2008 — when Ted and Caroline Kennedy backed upstart Barack Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton — members of the Kennedy clan have been quietly wooing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and encouraging her to throw her hat in the ring, sources tell me.
The question of whom to back in the 2016 presidential race has split the Kennedys down the middle. Robert Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, and their eldest son, former US Rep. Joe Kennedy II, favor Warren — the darling of the party’s left-wing base who now sits in Ted Kennedy’s old seat — while Bobby Jr. and Max Kennedy remain loyal to Hillary Clinton.
Over the past several weeks, the Kennedys have tried to settle their family quarrel by inviting Clinton and Warren to their compound in Hyannis Port, where each woman has been put through a kind of audition for the role of party standard-bearer.
Clinton and Warren were feted on separate occasions at a catered buffet lunch under a large tent. In addition, Hillary and Bill Clinton were treated to a sail aboard the Kennedy schooner, the Maya.
Despite the death of the family patriarch, Ted, the Kennedys still consider themselves the torchbearers of the Democratic Party.
“A Kennedy endorsement matters,” said a family member. “It’s not just the aura of being compared to JFK, Bobby and Ted. But it’s also the use of the Hyannis Port compound and the JFK Library, which are magnets for fund-raisers.”
Some members of the Kennedy family see an opportunity to repeat the kingmaker role they played in 2008, when they helped the then-little known Illinois senator snatch the nomination away from front-runner Clinton.
The Kennedy courtship of Warren follows a story, first reported by me in this newspaper, that President Obama views the populist Warren, famous for her rants against big banks and the “1 percent,” as his “Mini-Me.”
My sources say Obama authorized chief political adviser Valerie Jarrett to hold a series of secret meetings with Warren to encourage her to challenge Clinton.
Though Warren has yet to make a commitment about 2016, she and her advisers have been secretly sounding out wealthy Democratic donors about a potential run.
What worries Hillary even more is that Bill Clinton’s private polling shows Warren gaining on Hillary in precincts in key states.
“Bill and Hillary take the threat from Elizabeth Warren very seriously and are doing everything in their power to neutralize her,” said a member of the Clintons’ inner circle. “In July, they cut short their vacation in the Hamptons and flew by private jet up to the Cape, where they had lunch with Bobby and his fiancée, [actress] Cheryl Hines, Ethel, Joe, Rory, Max, Doug and Bobby Shriver and Chris Lawford.
“Bill was in full campaign mode,” this source added. “He made a point of talking to every member of the family, shook every hand, and remembered the names of everyone from the youngest to the oldest.
“Hillary was pretty reluctant about sailing on the Maya, but Bill told her that you can’t visit the Kennedys and not go for a sail. The outing on the choppy waters of Nantucket Sound was pretty rough, and Hillary was a little green around the gills.”
A week after the Clintons left Hyannis Port, Joe Kennedy invited Warren to the family compound.
“Joe meant Liz’s visit to be a countermove to Hillary’s,” said a Kennedy family member. “He wanted to expose Liz to the family to gain their support. And, sure enough, she came to the compound breathing fire about the need to rein in corporate America.
“Joe thinks Hillary has too many ties with Wall Street,” this source added. “He loves Liz because she’s a full-throated liberal like his Uncle Ted. She has Ted’s voice — loud and angry and triumphant.”