New Kennedy book mixes personal, political

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. Edward Kennedy was a wide-eyed 14-year-old when his brother Jack, a newly minted congressman, treated him to a personal tour of Washington’s landmark buildings – the White House, the Supreme Court, the House floor.

“It’s good that you’re interested in seeing these buildings, Teddy,” Kennedy, D-Mass., recalls the future president telling him. “But I hope that you also take an interest in what goes on inside them.”

Sixty years later, it’s clear the brotherly advice stuck.

Kennedy recounts the scene in his new book, “America Back on Track,” which is to go on sale April 18. The senator invokes memories of his famous family’s personal brand of politics.

His grandfather, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, who served in Congress and as mayor of Boston, would scoop up fistfuls of pencils embossed with “U.S. Congress” from the House floor and hand them out back home in Massachusetts, Kennedy said in an interview Friday in his Senate office.

“Talk about retail politics,” he said.

His family’s political success, Kennedy said, is rooted in the personal relationships his grandfather and late brothers forged all across Massachusetts.

“The Kennedy strength is still the resonance of all that contact,” he said. “These family relationships go back. We’re one of the states where you really have it. That doesn’t exist in California.”

Kennedy’s book also outlines seven “critical challenges” for the nation, including embracing globalization and restoring faith in government. His prescriptions cover many of the same issues he’s pushed during his 43 years in the Senate, including workers’ wages, education, universal health care and civil rights.

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