Vicki and I had enjoyed an especially exhilarating winter and early spring. On January 27, thrilled and inspired by Barack Obama and the hope he embodied, I took the podium at American University in Washington to endorse his quest for the presidency. The best hopes of the past and present converged around me. My niece Caroline Kennedy stood at my back, alongside my own son Patrick and the candidate himself. The crowd roared its approval for my message. And I felt myself lifted—with a renewed optimism for my country, and by the unexpected notes of an old bugle, calling me once again to the campaign trail. Other years, other hustings, other adventures swept out of the past. "It is time again for a new generation of leadership," I declared to the cheering crowd in front of us, as another voice echoed down the corridors of my memory: Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . .
I felt joyous and exuberant through the inevitable exhaustion of the Democratic primary campaign, as I had felt in Wyoming and West Virginia in 1960 for Jack, and in Indiana and California in 1968 for Bobby. "No one said we couldn’t have a little fun!" I shouted to a Latino crowd in San Antonio before belting out "Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes" in my version of Spanish. I had so much fun that I sang it again in Laredo. By mid-May, Obama had won the crucial North Carolina primary and had taken the lead in committed delegates. Some commentators were declaring the race already over. I certainly intended to keep on campaigning for him through the late spring and summer, but there was time to steal away for a few sails on Nantucket Sound.