Kennedy's wives stood by him in trying times

Kennedy biographer Adam Clymer credits Vicki Kennedy with a key strategic move during the senator's tough Senate race against Romney in 1994. It was Vicki, Clymer says, who with her legal background realized that the Republican's business ties could be used against him. The Kennedy campaign produced an ad featuring laid-off workers in Indiana blaming Romney, then head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm that owned their employer. What was once a tight race became a comfortable win for Kennedy, who was re-elected with 58% of the vote.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said that Vicki played "the role of the Kennedyesque figure — young, beautiful, energetic."

Vicki, now 55, is much like Ted's mother, to whom he was very close, Klein says. "Tough as nails, smart as hell, politically astute, ambitious and ready to do whatever it took to advance Ted's career. Here is finally a woman who could replace his mother in being the guiding force of his life." At the funeral of Rose Kennedy, who died in 1995 at age 104, her youngest child received Communion, an indication he was in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church, which frowns on divorce. After Kennedy's marriage to Vicki, the senator sought an annulment of his first marriage, his biographer Klein says, with the consent of Joan. "She didn't want to stand in the way of him getting remarried and (being able to) go to Mass and all that," he says.

Though Ted credited Vicki with saving his life, the couple always characterized their relationship as simply a love match. "We just met each other at good times in both our lives" she said in a 1992 television interview. "I don't think you can say anyone would make a conscious decision to get married for something other than just being in love and happy; and wanting to spend your life with someone." Did the marriage change his life? "I hope so," she said.

Ted was "really devoted to Vicki," Klein says. It was that happy and productive relationship that allowed him to become the lion of the Senate, Klein says. "I think she's been a very positive force in his life."

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