Passing the Torch: Kennedy's Touch on Obama's Words

JFK speechwriter says he's given "phrase or suggestion" to Obama's writers.

ByABC News
February 7, 2008, 6:38 PM

Feb. 8, 2008— -- It's no accident the Kennedy magic has infused itself into the campaign of Barack Obama.

Theodore "Ted" Sorensen, the adviser whom John F. Kennedy once called his "intellectual blood bank," is lending his unabashed support -- and eloquence -- to the Obama campaign.

Oprah, another gushing Obama supporter, may have star power, but Sorensen has brain power.

At the age of 24, he joined the staff of the newly elected Sen. John F. Kennedy and later helped him win the presidency, calling on Americans to pass the torch to a new generation.

The legendary speechwriter helped Kennedy craft the now-famous 1961 Inaugural address in which the new president proclaimed, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis -- when Sorensen was 34 -- he penned the letter to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev that historians say saved the world from nuclear destruction.

Today, at 79 years old and blind, Sorensen has a new mission: to resurrect Camelot. And it seems the Obama campaign is listening.

"I've given them a phrase or suggestion or two," Sorensen admits.

As for all the comparisons that have been drawn between Obama and Kennedy, "I probably started it," he told

Sorensen has not only given his support and advice to the Obama camp, he's grown close to the senator's young speechwriters as well.

The candidate's deputy writer -- Adam Frankel -- assisted Sorensen with his memoirs, which Harper Collins will publish in time for his 80th birthday in May.

"We've become close friends," Sorensen said of Frankel, 26, one of Obama's wordsmiths.

"He knows me and my style and JFK's style and his speeches. It's surprising the little touches that creep in to whatever he writes for Obama."