CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In a politically savvy move, Democrats on Tuesday used clips from Mitt Rommey's losing 1994 campaign for Senate against the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a moving video tribute to Kennedy, who served nearly five decades in the Senate.
Clips shown during the first night of the Democratic National Convention included Romney's now infamous reiteration of his pro-choice position, in which he assured voters, "You will not see me wavering on that." More recently, as he pursued national office, Romney has reversed himself on abortion rights, and is now firmly anti-abortion.
The video, filled with many of Kennedy's most memorable speeches and political moments, also portrayed President Barack Obama as the spiritual successor to the man known as the "Lion of the Senate," and effectively contrasted Romney with Obama and Kennedy.
The tribute to Kennedy, part of the first formal night of the convention, was especially meaningful to those Democrats who remembered Kennedy's 1980 Democratic convention speech -- widely considered one of the greatest convention speeches ever -- as well as the senator's final 2008 appearance, as he was dying of brain cancer, during which he called universal healthcare "the cause of my life." Clips of both speeches appeared in the video tribute.
The video was introduced by Kennedy's grand-nephew, Joseph Kennedy III, who fully embraced his family's political legacy with a brief, but rousing speech.
A grand-nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy III, 31, is running for the House seat of retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D) in Massachusetts' 4th District. As of Tuesday night, he led in polls two days ahead of Thursday's statewide elections.
Should Kennedy win election to Congress, it will mark the return of his dynastic family to electoral politics after a brief absence. In 2011, the retirement of Kennedy's first cousin once removed, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) marked the first time in 60 years that there were no members of the family in elected office.
Kennedy is not the only member of his family scheduled to speak in Charlotte this week. Sen. Kennedy's widow, Vicky Kennedy, and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president, are also on the roster.
As a family, the Kennedys offer Democrats an interesting contrast to Romney and an appeal to older and independent voters who still have respect and fond memories of the family. Like Romney, the Kennedys are ultra-wealthy, Massachusetts-based multi-generational politicians.
But that's where the parallels end. Romney, while personally charitable, champions private sector managed healthcare, and has spent a career amassing great wealth using tools like the "creative destruction" of companies that once employed thousands of people.
The Kennedys who have entered politics have embraced a different ideal, largely pursuing careers in public service before running for office (Joseph Kennedy III has worked as a pro-bono lawyer and assistant district attorney). Once elected, they've pushed for policies to aid the most vulnerable in society, including universal healthcare, civil rights legislation, and federal aid for drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect that Joe Kennedy III and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) are first cousins, once removed.
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