Oprah: We were in a convertible....

Bobby: She said you'd just had your hair done. The convertible top wouldn't go up, so she drove you at 76 miles an hour with an open roof. She says you were gracious and good-humored about it.

Oprah: I remember that day. Do the Kennedys still have all those big family gatherings?

Bobby: Yes.

Oprah: If one of your children told you they wanted to run for office, what would you think?

Bobby: I'd think it was fine. My son Connor [age 12] is very interested in politics. He reads the papers, loves history, and knows what's going on.

Oprah: Would you ever run for president?

Bobby: I don't know what the future will bring. I really just try to live my life one day at a time and do what I'm supposed to on that day. But if opportunities came up for me to run for office, I would probably do it. If that doesn't happen, then I'll happily continue doing what I'm doing.

Oprah: An opportunity—meaning if none of your friends were running?

Bobby: If Hillary left the Senate, I might run for that seat.

Oprah: If you could create the perfect presidential ticket for 2008, what would it be?

Bobby: I can't answer that question now. The candidates are my friends, and I like all of them.

Oprah: Do you think this country would elect a woman for president?

Bobby: Yes.

Oprah: Would this country elect a black man for president?

Bobby: Yes. I think Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are terrific candidates. A lot of candidates are three questions deep on the issues. But Hillary is thoughtful. She's a problem-solver who has more than just surface knowledge. Though I disagree with her position on the war, I think she has an impressive depth that a lot of other candidates don't have.

Oprah: Including Obama?

Bobby: I don't know Obama that well, but I know him well enough to really like him. My father's best friend in Africa was a man named Tom Mboya, a labor leader from Kenya. I met him right after my father died—and a year later, Tom was assassinated. During his life, he was completely committed to human rights and democracy. His heroes were Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. He was from a tribe called the Luo—lake people who are very gentle. When I met Barack, I asked him what tribe he was from, and he said he was Luo. I told him about my father's friend. He said Tom Mboya was the man responsible for his being in the United States.

Oprah: That's amazing. For two decades, you've taken a strong stand against what you call pollution-based prosperity. What does that term mean?

Bobby: Good environmental policy is identical to good economic policy 100 percent of the time. We can measure the economy in one of two ways. We can base our assessment on whether the economy produces jobs of dignity over the long term and preserves our community assets. Or we can do what the polluters are urging us to do: treat the planet as if it were a business in liquidation and convert our natural resources into cash as quickly as possible. This is pollution-based prosperity. It creates the illusion of a prosperous economy, but our children will pay for our joyride. They'll pay for it with denuded landscapes, poor health, and huge cleanup costs. Environmental injury is deficit spending. It loads the cost of our generation's prosperity onto the backs of our children.


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