Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Awaiting Kennedy Motorcade Arrival

Aired August 27, 2009 - 15:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Senator Ted Kennedy's final journey.

We're awaiting the casket's arrival at the JFK Library in Boston. We're tracking the motorcade right now and the crowd so eager to say goodbye to a local and national hero.

Plus, a New era for the Kennedys without their patriarch. We're getting some rare glimpses of this iconic family, all together right now. They're burying one of their own yet again.

And another story we're following, a New Jersey neighborhood torn up over a disturbing visitor. Will Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi pitch a tent in their back yard?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The breaking news we're following this hour, we're following the motorcade carrying the body of Senator Edward Kennedy. It's heading right now to the Boston library he helped build in honor of his brother John.

We're awaiting the arrival and the chance for the public to file past the casket and say goodbye.

Our Chief National Correspondent John King is standing by over at the JFK Library.

John, I'm going to get to you in a moment, but I want to first take a look at some of the remarkable pictures we've seen so far.

We saw the flag-draped coffin being taken from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. It was a rather emotional moment, made even more moving as the Kennedys gathered outside the compound.

Take a look at this, the Kennedy clan together.

As you know, that's Senator Kennedy's sister, Jean, in the front standing with his widow, Vicki. Jean now is the last surving member of that generation of Kennedys.

John, the crowds have been lining the streets of your hometown of Boston to watch this motorcade pass and to pay tribute to Senator Kennedy and his family. Set the scene for us where you are, John, right now as we see the motorcade get closer and closer to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at the moment, the motorcade is on what we call here in Boston the Southeast Expressway. That is the main drag.

He came up Route 3 from Hyannis. The Southeast Expressway takes you into downtown Boston. He's four or five minutes now from the center of the city, where he will take a farewell tour of the city he loved so much and that has loved the Kennedy family for some time.

He'll be in the north end, where his mother Rose was born. He'll go past historic Faneuil Hall, that dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War days, past the Massachusetts state House, a House where his brother Jack lived while in Congress. Then, of course, Jack Kennedy went on to the presidency.

Ultimately, Ted Kennedy will come here. This is a library he cared so much about. He was so involved in the planning, so involved in the day-to-day operations, the upkeep of the exhibits here. And he will lie in repose here.

And Wolf, there are thousands of people waiting in line here. They started coming early this morning, many from Massachusetts, but others from all over the country.

I just met a gentleman from North Carolina who said he wanted to pay his respects, a woman from Texas who was born in New Hampshire, moved to Texas, now said she wanted to be here, a gentleman from Massachusetts who said he needed to be here because 300 million people can't be here. And he wanted to pay his respects to Senator Ted Kennedy.

And a woman, Wolf, just handed me this poem, "The Last Night of Camelot," that she says she wrote after she heard that Senator Kennedy had passed away.

So, the everyday people of Massachusetts and from other places coming to pay their last respects. And as you know, there also will be, tomorrow evening, an invitation-only service here for Senator Kennedy after the public has had its time, an invitation only, what his friends and family are saying will be a celebration. Yes, some remorse, yes, some mourning, but mostly a celebration of his life before the big funeral mass on Saturday in Boston. And then it's to Arlington National Cemetery, where Ted Kennedy will take his final resting place near his two slain brothers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's interesting who will speak among those eulogizing the Senator. First, tomorrow night, from 7:00 to 9:00, it's a two- hour -- what the family is calling a celebration of life memorial service where you are, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. I understand that among those speaking will be Senator McCain.

KING: Absolutely. Republican John McCain, Democrat John Kerry, who, of course, is now the senior Senator from Massachusetts. He was Ted Kennedy's junior colleague for so long, and the Democratic presidential nominee four years ago. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee a little more than a year ago.

That is a reflection of the friendship and support that Senator Kennedy had. There will also be some local Bostonians and some family members speaking inside. An Irish Catholic wake, Wolf. A celebration in life that will include many tears, but also many laughs. You can bet on that.

That will be the celebration here. And at the funeral mass, the Catholic mass on Saturday, we are told family members will speak, and the main eulogy delivered by the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

BLITZER: And then the body, the coffin, will be flown to Washington, to Andrews Air Force Base, and then taken to Arlington National Cemetery. There is one problem, though, potentially. The weather, the hurricane, or at least Tropical Storm Danny, could be a hurricane, moving toward where you are.

KING: There is some talk that we could have a wet day tomorrow, Wolf, and a windy day. Some people have said the storm has moved a bit away, the weather conditions are getting more favorable. But that is something everybody is keeping an eye on because of the crowds in the streets, because of the processions and the security, because of that flight it would take to get Senator Kennedy back to Washington.

I understand -- and I hope we have the pictures of them -- I can't see our air right here where I'm standing, Wolf -- that he's now in the north end of Boston. This is one of the rich, ethnic neighborhoods of Boston. It is the Italian district.

Now, if you want a great meal, you go to the north end in downtown Boston. It is also the birthplace of Rose Kennedy and the place where she was baptized. And Senator Kennedy will drive past the church where Rose Kennedy, the matriarch of the great Kennedy family, grew up as a child.

And remember, her dad -- it didn't all just come from Joe Kennedy, the father of the Kennedy family. Her dad was the mayor of Boston at one point. Politics has been in the family's blood from the beginning. And this is truly a generational passing.

And we are told that the Senator and his wife, Vicki, spent some time planning on these final days, including what he very much wanted to do, take that farewell procession through the wonderful blue-collar neighborhoods of Boston that gave all of the Kennedys here, Jack Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy, Joe Kennedy, the son of Robert Kennedy, who was a congressman for a while -- it is in these blue-collar neighborhoods that the Kennedy family always drew its highest level of support.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, John, because Abbi Tatton is taking a closer look at the route right now.

They're getting a little closer and closer to Faneuil Hall, too, Abbi, where Mayor Menino of Boston will ring the bell 47 times. ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, that's right. They've just passed St. Stephen's Church. This is the church where the Kennedy clan gathered in 1995 for the funeral of Rose Kennedy there.

Heading down from there, down Hanover Street, going past St. Stephen's Church, down Hanover Street. What they're doing at this point, this is where they've just come from. The motorcade passing over the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. This is a corridor of Parkland, right in the center of Boston, where people are invited to go and gather today to watch this motorcade.

Now we're at Faneuil Hall. As we just heard, 47 times the bell will ring today, one for each year that Senator Kennedy was in the Senate from 1962 to this year. And then they're going to keep going through the streets here.

Next, they're going to be going past Senator Kennedy's own office there at the JFK Federal Building. They'll also be passing by the longtime address of John F. Kennedy. It was his address he kept for voting purposes for the time when he was in Congress.

The people have been invited to gather in various places back here, around the state House, on Boston Common, around city hall, so they can catch a glimpse of this motorcade before it heads down to the JFK Presidential Library, about five miles away, where, of course, many more members of the public are gathered right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we now estimate that motorcade will get to the John F. Kennedy library this hour, probably closer to 5:00 p.m., closer to the top of the hour. We're going to continue to show you a pictures of that motorcade as it makes its way through the city of Boston.

Let me go back to John King. He's over at the JFK Presidential Library.

John, as you await the arrival there, tell us a little bit about the significance, the symbolism of the passing of Faneuil Hall. That's going to happen momentarily, and I hope we'll be able to hear those bells ring 47 times.

And we're showing a picture right now of the hearse, John, going near Faneuil Hall. Once those bells start ringing, I want our viewers and listeners to hear those bells. But tell us about the symbolism of what the mayor has planned.

KING: Forty-seven bells will toll, Wolf, one for each year Edward M. Kennedy served in the United States Senate. Think about that, nearly a half-century. Ten U.S. presidents during the time Teddy Kennedy was in the United States Senate.

It is a marketplace. It is in the center of Boston, old Boston, the original Boston, steps from the city hall. The scene of so many historic events dating all the way back to the days of the American Revolution.

In more modern times, political debates have been held there. Michael Dukakis announced his selection Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate back in 1988 in Faneuil Hall.

It is right in the center of the city. It is a thriving marketplace area. It is now a hotel district.

It is steps from the north end, steps from the financial district, steps from the government offices in Boston. It is literally dead center city, a place where tourists come, but also a place where longtime residents of the city know they can go and take a great walk, see the historic sites, whether it be the old North Church a few steps away.

The Freedom Trail running right through the Faneuil Hall marketplace area where so many critical events in the birth of the United States of America took place. And, of course, the Kennedy family, because of its rich political history -- and again, Rose Kennedy's dad was the mayor of Boston at one point. He wanted very much to go right into the heart of the city that, for so many re- elections in his 47 years as a Senator from this state, were the central parts of the city, the highest Democratic turnout right here in the center of the city of Boston.

BLITZER: And we're seeing the live picture of the hearse winding its way through the streets of Boston. You can see people lining the streets. They're trying to get a glimpse of the hearse, and they're also trying to get a glimpse of the family. The motorcycles paving the way for this motorcade as it makes its way to where you are, John, over at the John F. Kennedy Library.

What do you guess, John, between the time it reaches Faneuil Hall and we hear those 47 bells? How long will it take to get from there to the library?

KING: Well, he could get here with a police escort in just a matter of minutes, Wolf. The question is, how fast will the motorcade want to go? Will it pause at any other historic stops along the way or sentimental stops along the way?

With police protection, you can get the few miles from the center of downtown, where Faneuil Hall is, to here in the Dorchester section of the city, in about eight to 10 minutes if they were driving at a steady clip. Once they get back on the highway, you'll have a better sense of how they're doing.

Right now they're in center area of the city. But we just drove in there just a short time ago. Just like a presidential motorcade, or a presidential funeral procession, there are police at every major intersection prepared to stop traffic.

But as you can see right now, that's moving at a relatively brisk pace. But nowhere near as fast as it could.

And we are told by our photojournalists and producers and others all around the city that the scene you see right there, people standing, sometimes two or three deep, to applaud, as you hear. Some of them are holding signs, many of them just waving. There are some flags. That you have this scene pretty much along the whole procession route. So, as you see the hearse right there moving quite slowly, in the central area of Boston now. And I'm a few miles to the south, in the Dorchester area. This is near Columbia Point.

Behind the Kennedy Library is Boston Harbor. It was put here on purpose on a little jetty that sticks out overlooking the harbor. A beautiful sight near the water that has been also so important to the Kennedys -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they're right in downtown Boston right now. You see the high-rise office buildings, the hotels. They're making their way to historic Faneuil Hall.

It looks like they're stopping, or at least slowing down dramatically. I guess they're going to wait and hear those bells ring out that the mayor has ordered at Faneuil Hall the bells to do.

Let's just listen briefly as they applaud and as we continue to watch.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The motorcade has stopped right now, and I guess they're going to wait for these bells to ring out. The applause was clearly for the family.

All those cars behind the hearse, those are family members, including the widow, Vicki, and other family members, the Kennedys.

John, as you know, they have a huge family. We saw that clan get together outside the compound, the Kennedy compound, as they boarded those cars to go into this motorcade, make their way from Hyannis Port through Massachusetts, along the coast, all the way to Boston. And they are in downtown Boston right now.

It's moving slowly, once again, this motorcade. But a lot of folks in Massachusetts, John, as you well know, having been born there, grew up there, they love the Kennedys.

KING: America's last royal family, if you will, Wolf. A lot of talk in recent years about the Bush family and the Clinton family and how dominant they have been in our national politics, but nowhere to the level the Kennedy family has been now for more than a half-century in our politics.

And this scene is a reminder. You know, Teddy Kennedy is known across the country -- he is the lion of liberalism, he was the conservative demon in the '80s, the tax-and-spend liberal the conservatives raised so much money off of, a national figure. But he also is a Massachusetts senator.

I had a conversation with Mayor Menino this morning. He's prepared to ring those bells. And he talked about how, yes, he was a national figure involved in the big debates of our time -- the health care debate, Supreme Court nominations. But if he needed a grant for a community center, if somebody was having trouble with their Social Security check, they called Teddy's office. That's what they call him here in Massachusetts, Teddy.

And so, he had -- he was known always as having a fabulous staff, a national political staff and a policy staff, but also a constituent services staff. And you see that in the support of the people of Massachusetts coming out to say a final farewell and to say thank you. And also along the route, a fair number of tourists.

Boston is a big tourism city, especially in the summertime. And the tourists are taking this opportunity to have a glimpse at history as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're told that the body will lie in repose at the John F. Kennedy Library, John, for, what, four or five hours tonight, and then from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. tomorrow? But those hours could be extended if there is a demand, if the lines are longer. Is that right?

KING: Absolutely right. There were 12 hours of public viewing scheduled, one of them starting at 6:00 tonight to 11:00 tonight. And then again in the morning. We'll see if they are on time beginning here, since they are running late getting here.

But all along, family spokesmen have come out from time to time saying that if necessary, they may open a little early and they may stay open a little longer. They do need tomorrow night, they said, sometime to close down for the public viewing to make the necessary changes and the security arrangements for that invitation-only wake service, moment of reflection, period of reflection service, tomorrow night. But they say if there are lines and if there are people waiting, they will try their best to keep the doors open until everybody hopefully can get inside. So, 12 hours on the schedule, but they expect to be flexible if they need to be -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, John.

I want to go to Martha's Vineyard. Dan Lothian is there. He's our White House correspondent.

Speaking about security, Dan, when the president shows up Saturday morning for the mass at the church, security will obviously be even more intense than it already is.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And you know, the first family, at least the president and the first lady, will be headed to Boston tomorrow evening. They want to get in ahead of that expected bad weather, and then the president and the first lady will be attending that funeral mass.

The president will be delivering the eulogy. And we're told by the deputy White House spokesman, Bill Burton, that the president is still working on his remarks, but that his statement will be one of a reflection on Senator Ted Kennedy and the impact that he's had on his life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BURTON, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In terms of the impact that Senator Kennedy had on President Obama and his time as president, and his campaign, it was obviously incredible and immeasurable in some ways, because he endorsed President Obama as a candidate at a time that provided a cannon burst for the campaign. It was a psychological boost that would be hard to replicate in any other way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Burton says that Senator Kennedy was a giant to the U.S., but also a giant in the life of President Obama -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And so, the president continuing his vacation today and tomorrow, but at some point tomorrow you say he'll fly to Boston and get ready to deliver the eulogy Saturday morning at the church mass.

LOTHIAN: That's right, headed to Boston tomorrow evening. And then they expect to return back here to Martha's Vineyard on Saturday evening. And then on Sunday, the entire first family will head to Washington, D.C., and then sometime next week the first family will head out to Camp David -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Dan. We're going to get back to you.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" as we await the arrival of the motorcade at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I get the feeling, watching John King on those streets, that he knows his way around that town pretty good.

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: Democrats are hoping, Wolf, that Senator Kennedy's death will help to breathe new life into the debate on health care reform. Some think the loss of Kennedy could bring a new spirit of bipartisanship to the issue and, at the very least, change the tone of the debate, which has become down right nasty.

Already, one group against reform has suspended its advertising out of respect for Kennedy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Kennedy's "... dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration." That's a quote.

Democrats plan to name the forthcoming legislation after the late senator, assuming it passes. But not everybody is so sure Kennedy's death is going to make any difference on the health care debate.

One top Republican tells "The New York Times" the fight, which pretty much has been suspended with the president on vacation this week, will likely "pick up right where we left off in a week or two." In fact, several Republicans say they think Congress would be closer to reaching a deal if Kennedy had been healthy and more involved in crafting the legislation since he is one of the few in Washington who had the ability to cross the aisle and compromise.

And it's not just Republicans who will need to start cooperating here. Some say the real question in all of this is whether Kennedy's passing will prompt those so-called Blue Dog Democrats who have been wavering on reform to get on board.

Here's the question, then. Can Senator Kennedy's death revive the spirit of bipartisanship when it comes to health care reform?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and you can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Great question. Lots of speculation. We'll see what happens. I'm curious to see what our viewers think, Jack. Thanks very much.

CAFFERTY: Sure.

BLITZER: All right. We're standing by. The motorcade continuing to work its way through the streets of Boston, heading towards the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. We're going to watch it every step of the way.

Our coverage will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: That was about two and a half hours or so ago, when they took the casket from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, put it inside that hearse. And it's now making its way to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

You're looking at these live pictures of the motorcade, the hearse. And all of the family members, they're in cars behind that hearse, going through downtown Boston right now, and eventually will wind up at the presidential library. That's where the body will lie in repose later tonight for a few hours. Then most of the day tomorrow, before the mass on Saturday, but Friday night, there will be a wake, what they're calling a celebration of the senator's life.

Lots of people along the streets. As you can see, a lot of them are emotional, including this young woman right here, as they're watching this motorcade make its way through Boston.

John King is with us.

John, as we watch this, you know, he was an institution for 40- plus years as a United States senator from Massachusetts. That state has not known a U.S. Senate without a Kennedy for more than 50 years.

KING: And isn't that just a remarkable thing? I mean, listen to what you just said. We haven't had a senator in Massachusetts without a Kennedy in the Senate in more than a half a century. And that is one of the questions being asked by all the people along the procession and all the people here waiting at the library is, what next? And that is a political question the state will have to deal with in the days ahead, even as it pauses now to reflect on the remarkable life.

Now, Senator Kennedy was not without his flaws, and any one in these lines will tell you that. But the longevity and the tenacity and his willingness to keep fighting for the things he believed in, Wolf, and to compromise, and to find a way to work with Republicans, that is why here, on the streets of Boston, and in all the statements you've seen in Washington, people who are putting aside their differences with Senator Kennedy, their occasional disagreements with Senator Kennedy, to talk about a truly remarkable life and a remarkable career. So many legislative achievements.

And this will be an interesting day. The name "Kennedy" is on so many places -- this library behind me, the Kennedy School of Government, the John F. Kennedy Federal Building. Pretty soon there will be Edward M. Kennedy buildings and other dedications here in the state of Massachusetts. But it is remarkable, and that generational passing is something this state is just beginning to deal with.

BLITZER: All right. John, hold on for a second. Our affiliate, WHDH, in Boston is interviewing a young woman who is rather emotional. I just want to listen in a little bit.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's start over again. What's your first name? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tamara (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tamara (ph), what's your last name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: DeMayo (ph).

BLITZER: All right. It's hard to hear. There's a lot of sound, a lot of noise coming in, so it's hard to hear what she's actually saying.

But I think it's reflective of the emotions that you're seeing and a lot of people are feeling in Boston right now. Not only in Boston, other parts of Massachusetts, indeed, around the country, as they remember the late senator from Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy.

And that motorcade is now moving along.

I don't know if you can tell from the aerial shots that we're getting in right now, John, where exactly in Boston. You know the city quite well. It looks like they're getting out of downtown and moving closer toward where you are.

KING: Wolf, one of the great ironies as we watch these pictures is that Senator Kennedy is going to take some roads to get here from downtown Boston that are a byproduct of one of the last big things he did for the state. It was Tip O'Neill who secured the original funding for what we call the Big Dig here in Boston. Most of downtown Boston used to have a big, ugly green steel elevated highway that ran straight through downtown.

The reason there is a Rose Kennedy Greenway, the reason you can now drive flat on the level streets of Boston and see all the glorious buildings around you, is because they sunk the highway through the downtown area underground, and they called it the Big Dig. It was a massive public works project, it did cost billions and billions of dollars, it was very controversial.

But first Tip O'Neill and then Ted Kennedy, in the end, secured the funding and kept fighting for the funding until it was done. And on the streets where he will leave Faneuil Hall and start to come south, there used to be that big green behemoth above you.

When I was a child here, when I worked here for The Associated Press in the 1980s, it was still there, right outside my office in the financial district on High Street. Now those are clean city streets on the ground, there's more parkland in downtown Boston.

It is a much more livable, much more enjoyable city to live in. And that is one of the legacies of Ted Kennedy.

And you're seeing him pass through this. The Ted Williams Tunnel was part of the Big Dig. That, of course -- that was when we had a Republican governor, Bill Weld, in Massachusetts, who worked so closely with Senator Kennedy, as did another Republican governor, Mitt Romney, who many will remember ran for president last time.

Part of his legacy is working on big things for Massachusetts. What most people are talking about, of course, is the big national debates he was involved in going back to civil rights, voting rights, abortion rights, the Vietnam War, health care, Supreme Court nomination battles. Nationally, a huge figure, but here in Massachusetts, Wolf, you won't see his name for several months until they start dedicating things. But when he drives through these streets, there are so many things that have Ted Kennedy's fingerprints and footprints all over them.

BLITZER: And in the older days, it was doing what all senators and all congressmen did, trying to get federal money to their districts and their states. Now it's called pork barrel spending, if you will. It's got sort of a bad reputation. But Teddy Kennedy was pretty good in getting money to Boston and the state of Massachusetts, wasn't he?

KING: You know, perhaps in the Senate, very few rivals when it came to bringing home the bacon, is how they say it. Well, those who like pork call it bringing home the bacon. Those who don't call it pork barrel spending.

Another interesting irony, as you see some of the products of Ted Kennedy's help for the state of Massachusetts, is another of his senior colleagues in the Senate who is known as the premier pork barrel spender, or bring home the bacon guy, is Robert C. Byrd, who, like Senator Kennedy, has been on the sidelines because of his illness over the past year, who issued a very emotional statement at the passing of his friend, Senator Kennedy, the other day.

This is part, Wolf, of a generational shift in our politics as we say farewell to Senator Kennedy, and as the people of Massachusetts are here to experience it and the people in if country and some around the world watch it.

BLITZER: John, hold on for a moment. We're going to continue to show our viewers the picture of the motorcade making its way to the John F. Kennedy Library. Stand by.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: I want to show our viewers the motorcade. It's now continuing to make its way through Boston, heading toward the John F. Kennedy Library.

John King is in Boston. He's over at the library watching what's going on.

John, we're told there are 85 members of the family traveling in this motorcade. It's a pretty large Kennedy family.

Can you tell, based on the pictures we're seeing -- seeing, these aerial shots, where that motorcade is right now?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He has left downtown Boston, Wolf.

And I will give you a little Boston geography. He is in the South Boston neighborhood now. And he has crossed out of downtown. You saw a few minutes ago the motorcade went over a small channel of water, as he took Summer Street.

And what they are doing is, they are taking the surface roads here to the library. And, if I'm correct and I see water at the end there, that is the beach in South Boston. They have decided to take the surface roads here from downtown, not the highway, I assume because it's late afternoon and it's rush hour. And the Southeast Expressway is, shall we say -- we call it a parking lot at rush hour...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: ... most of the time, instead of a highway.

And, so, they decided, again, though, coming through the streets into South Boston -- this is, again, one of those gritty, blue-collar, when I was growing up, a very Irish Catholic neighborhood, now a very diverse neighborhood. I drove through exactly where the motorcade is right now earlier today, triple-decker houses, three apartments high, blue-collar neighborhood, people who tend to work in the city, either taking a short commute by car or the subway line.

It is the red line of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. We call it the T in Boston --that runs through South Boston. And as you can see along the streets, there's parkland on the sides of the street where he is right now going down along the beaches of South Boston. Carson Beach is down there. There's an old L. Street bath house where, on New Year's Day and in the middle of the winter, the L. Street Brownies, they call themselves, run out into the frigid water and take a dunk. Questionable judgment, you might say...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: ... but they're celebrated figures here in South Boston.

And he is again going through -- if you went back to 1962 and every six years since, and looked at the voting returns, and looked at these precincts where that motorcade is passing right now, you would see the reason why Teddy Kennedy, with union support and blue-collar support, was reelected for so many times, Wolf, to represent the state of Massachusetts.

BLITZER: (AUDIO GAP) John, stand by. We're going to continue to watch.

I think this motorcade is only moments away from reaching the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The coffin will then be taken out of the hearse. And then, within an hour thereafter, the public will be able to go through and pay their respects, as the body lies in repose.

Our coverage will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The casket carrying Ted Kennedy leaving the Hyannis Port Kennedy compound earlier -- there is the motorcade making its way to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. It's almost there.

Senator Kennedy will lie in repose at the library in Boston through tomorrow afternoon, late in the afternoon. Two services that follow tomorrow and Saturday will also take place in Boston.

But Senator Kennedy will be buried with his brothers John and Bobby at Arlington National Cemetery here in Washington.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is joining -- Barbara Starr -- is joining us now from the Arlington Cemetery.

Barbara, tell our viewers what's going to happen.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we came here to Arlington today, and we were given an extraordinary opportunity to see some of the final arrangements now being made.

We can show you some of the pictures we saw of some of the chairs being laid out for the family members who will attend the service. We -- these chairs being laid out exactly at Senator Kennedy's final resting place.

We spoke to the Arlington superintendent, Jack Metzler, who has some remarkable memories of meeting Senator Kennedy many times here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK METZLER, SUPERINTENDENT, ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY: Senator Kennedy was here all time. He came on the anniversaries of -- of the deaths. He would come on the anniversaries of the births. If he was available, he would just come. Sometimes, he would announce himself. Other times, we would just be up here doing maintenance and we would find him up here.

If he came to funerals of -- of one of the soldiers from his -- from his state, he would also, before he left the cemetery, always stop and have a prayer or a -- a quiet visit here. Sometimes, he would spend five minutes. Other times, he would talk to the people until they quit talking to him. He would spend a half-hour, 45 minutes just talking to people and visiting with his brothers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: So, this lush green hillside at Arlington the final resting for both President Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy, was a place that Senator Edward Kennedy knew very well, was here many, many times. Jack Metzler says this was home to Senator Kennedy, a place he felt very comfortable.

The private funeral will be attended by about 200 invited guests. The cemetery, of course, this area will be closed to the public on Saturday morning, when they make those final arrangements for the grave. This will be a very moving ceremony, we know. This is a place where Senator Kennedy felt very comfortable -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will, of course, have coverage of all of this, including late Saturday afternoon, around 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, when the burial service for Senator -- Senator Kennedy will be held at Arlington National Cemetery, right here in the nation's capital -- all of this unfolding as we -- we get ready for the next step in this process, the hearse carrying the coffin of Senator Kennedy getting ready to arrive over at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

It will removed and will -- the body will lie in repose over the next several hours. People in Boston have already been lining up to walk through and pay their respects -- pay their respects to Senator Kennedy. That will continue tomorrow, before the celebration of life service that they're calling it tomorrow night at the library, followed by the Catholic Church mass Saturday morning in Boston.

John King is watching all of this.

It looks, John, like they're getting very, very close to where you are over at the presidential library. Momentarily, they should be there.

KING: Wolf, from the pictures, we can see he is near an area in the city called the South Bay Expo Center. It is literally a mile or so from here. A banking area, a subway area in that area, he's passing very closely.

But I want to show you, quickly, over my shoulder, an honor guard is coming right up here to the entrance to the Kennedy Library. They know the senator and the motorcade are just a few moments away.

And I want to also -- I'm going to ask Peter Morris (ph), my cameraman, to turn with me very quickly, as he shows you the honor guard. Then we will turn over my shoulder. I just want to start to show you the crowd that is forming here. And I will show you the beginning of the line with Peter's camera, as Peter turns to my left and his right here and takes it down.

And we also -- hopefully, you could use THE SITUATION ROOM wall to show we have a picture as well from the mast of our satellite truck showing this line stretches out across this parking lot, and to then the left, if you're watch this picture, goes over across into another lot. And there are people who are up in the front to see the motorcade arrive.

Thousands and thousands have been waiting, some of them since early this morning. And, as we shift back this way, we could -- you can see the crowd here. You see those red jackets. Those are volunteers from City Year. It's one of the national service -- community service programs here in Boston that Senator Kennedy was identified with.

There are Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts here, so many people involved in the community service organizations that Senator Kennedy, in some cases, helped found and establish, in other cases, just helped win support, funding here in Boston, funding from national funding sources on occasion. They are here as well.

And just right behind me, again, you can see at the entrance the preparations under way, because the motorcade is so close. There is a military honor guard here. And, Wolf, there will be four military members and four civilians on duty the entire time that Senator Kennedy is lying in repose here at the Kennedy Library.

The civilians have been chosen from his Senate staff, family friends, people who worked for President Kennedy back in the day. And they will, again, be 24/7. And, as you see the preparations under way here, the anticipation is building. There are buses bringing in more of the crowd. And, again, some of these people showed up before noon today, Wolf, as early as 10:00 this morning, for the opportunity that, at 6:00, if they come -- if they stay on schedule, the public will be allowed to go in.

And, as you see those pictures there, and you see the water, the senator is now on the grounds of the University of Massachusetts. At least, the front of the motorcade there is on the grounds of the University of Massachusetts campus at Boston. The Kennedy Library is tucked in the far back of that campus.

It is a jetty that reaches out. And just behind, you saw the -- where the honor guard was forming, the main entrance to the Kennedy Library. Beyond that is Boston Harbor. It is a spectacular view from out in the harbor. We used to boat on the harbor as a kid, and you would look back in at this library. They picked this site because of just how spectacular it sits on the water reflecting on the rocks behind it, a beautiful across, into downtown Boston.

And, Wolf, Senator Edward M. Kennedy now just moments from coming here, the library he cared for so much. He dedicated so much time to making sure it was the proper tribute to his brother's presidency. And it will be the place where he will be in repose for the next two days and be the place where, again, his friends and family members say he very much wanted to have a lively Irish wake.

BLITZER: And that will be tomorrow night. And, as you point out, both Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, both very good friends of Senator Kennedy, they will be among those speaking tomorrow night at that wake, or celebration of life, as the family is calling it.

John, stand by, because we want to show our viewers the motorcade as it arrives at the library, where you are.

Dana Bash is here. Gloria Borger is here. We're continuing to watch this.

It's interesting, Dana, as they -- they just released the list of vigil participants for this evening by the hour, from 6:00 to 7:00, from 7:00 to 8:00, from 8:00 to 9:00, very close family friends, relatives, and others of Senator Kennedy's.

From 6:00 to 7:00, for example, Bobby Shriver, the nephew of Senator Kennedy. And Natasha (ph) Shriver, Bobby Shriver's wife, will be among those sitting vigil as the body lies in repose.

Later -- it's interesting -- from 8:00 to 9:00, Alma Hart, Brian Hart, Elizabeth Hart, Rebecca Hart. Alma and Brian Hart lost their son John in Iraq when he was killed while traveling in an unarmored Humvee.

In the wake of -- of John's death, Senator Kennedy and the Hart family worked together to fight for more body armor for U.S. troops. Elizabeth and Rebecca are John's sisters.

So, they have got a nice cross-section of people who were close to the senator who will be sitting, each for an hour, as this vigil continues tonight.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Close to the senator and close to the causes that he really took pride in.

And fighting against the war in Iraq was something that he took pride in from an -- from early on. One thing I'm struck by watching this, Wolf, and listening to just you describe some of the plans for tonight and beyond is, the Kennedys really were -- were -- got used to, unfortunately, planning things in a big and elaborate and theatrical way, funerals, on short notice.

With John Kennedy, when he was shot -- obviously, that wasn't expected, and it was something that allowed the country to pay -- pay tribute in a pretty elaborate way. RFK, when he was -- when he was killed, they had the train that came down from New York.

This is something that Senator Kennedy actually did have time to plan, and clearly did plan, we understand, took a lot of time with his wife to talk about exactly what they wanted to do. So, this is a family that understands the importance of paying tribute, understands the -- the importance of the family to not only the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, but to the country and to the world.

So, they -- they -- they get the -- the -- the theater of this, that -- for lack of a better word, and the importance to -- to show this. And they did have time, and the senator had time, because he was diagnosed so long ago, to plan it.

BLITZER: Yes. It's been, what, 14, 15 months...

BASH: Yes.

BLITZER: ... since he was diagnosed, so they had plenty off time to try to make sure this was exactly what they wanted, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they did.

And what was so touching about this -- this last year was that it was very clear that the senator made a decision to allow people to hug him back and to say, thank you. His brothers were -- were shot down. Nobody had an opportunity to -- before they died to tell them how much they meant to them.

And it -- and it was very clear that the senator, from all the awards he received, to a birthday celebration in his honor at the Kennedy Center, which -- which the president attended and his wife attended, he allowed people in to say thank you and to hug him. And he always -- he always used to -- people tell stories that the best person at consoling others was Ted Kennedy. Now he let them console him.

BLITZER: And that motorcade has now arrived at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum.

There, you see the family in the -- in that limousine arriving, as well. We're told, by the way, that there are 85 members of the family traveling in this motorcade, some of them, as you can see, waving to the crowds that have gathered.

John, the president, former president of Boston College will be greeting Senator Kennedy's coffin as it arrives where you are. Father J. Donald -- I hope I'm pronouncing his last name correctly -- Monan, the former president of Boston College, also, as you point out, will be greeted by City Year volunteers, current and former staff, as well as the public.

KING: Wolf, a remarkable scene here.

The limousine has pulled up carrying Senator Kennedy. His sister Jean, last surviving of the nine Kennedy children, is in the motorcade. Caroline Kennedy and her children just went by. Senator Kennedy's three children are here as well, his wife, Vicki, in the motorcade.

There's a bus that was part of the motorcade as well, some of the grandchildren. And you see the circle here. And the white SUV blocking my direct view, but as they pull everyone around, the family at this very tough, difficult moment for them waving to the crowd and nodding their heads, saying, thank you -- Caroline Kennedy doing that out the window, Jean Kennedy Smith the same. Again, that's Senator Kennedy's his sister.

Vicki Reggie Kennedy, the senator's wife, is in the early cars, as is Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Teddy Jr. and Kara Kennedy, a remarkable collection of the family.

And, again, a reminder, it was Senator Kennedy who held the family together for so many of these events, when John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crashed in the waters off Martha's Vineyard, when Jackie Kennedy Onassis was put to rest.

Other family funerals and tests and trials, it was -- the gathering at Hyannis Port was organized by him. And now Vicki Kennedy, in his place, but with his direction, has organized the remarkable scene we are seeing play out here at the John F. Kennedy Library here in Boston.

BLITZER: Yes.

And -- and -- and, John, you know what? I -- I don't know if we can hear much, but if we can hear some of the -- some of the events going on right now as they get ready to retrieve the coffin from that hearse, let's just listen in briefly and see what we can hear.

Well, we clearly can't hear a whole lot. We can't see -- we can't see the family. They're -- they have gathered outside. They're beginning to get out of their respective vehicles and make their way, as the honor guard gets ready to take that coffin and move it inside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

And, once that happens, I -- I want our viewers to see it, because it will be an emotional moment. Earlier, we saw that coffin being carried outside the Kennedy compound. And now the next -- the next step, it will be taken inside the library, where the body will lie in repose over several hours tonight, and then most of the day tomorrow, before the wake, or memorial service, a celebration of life tomorrow night at the library.

Saturday morning, there will be the church mass at one of Senator Kennedy's favorite Catholic Churches in the Boston area. And then the body will be flown here to Washington, D.C., for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

I don't know if we can hear anything else, but I will pause for a moment. We just saw the son of Senator Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, the congressman from Rhode Island, get out of that hearse. Patrick Kennedy has been in the United States Congress for many years, has had his share of personal problems. But he's overcome a lot of those problems.

And there we see the widow, Vicki Kennedy. And Jean Smith Kennedy -- Jean Kennedy Smith, the sister of Senator Kennedy, is there, together with Vicki. She's been with Vicki Kennedy ever since they left the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. We saw them together. She's one of the surviving members of this generation, nine kids that the Kennedy parents had.

And, unfortunately, so many of them are gone right now. But we see several generations of Kennedys right there, as the family gets ready to receive the -- the coffin. There's Joe Kennedy in the middle with the white hair. Patrick, you saw earlier, the congressman from Rhode Island. And we saw earlier Maria Shriver right now.

But let's listen as this sensitive moment occurs.

KING: In the center there, former Congressman Joe Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, a remarkable scene.

Senator Kennedy's wife and his sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, walking first, Senator Kennedy's three children, Teddy Jr., Kara, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and then behind them, organized, a remarkable family, the Kennedy, the Shrivers, many of them -- all of them, just two weeks ago here, not in Boston, but on the Cape for the burial of Eunice Shriver, the senator's sister.

You see them now walking in, the family procession, into the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, scripted by the senator himself, with his wife, Vicki's, cooperation, in his final year -- Wolf, every bit of this three-day remembrance -- and the family keeps asking us to use the word celebration -- scripted by the senator himself.

And you see now more family friends going in. The family has made its way into the building, and some very close family friends and associates now going in. Several Catholic priests were here to greet the motorcade -- Vicki Kennedy taking time to hug one, before rushing back in to lead the procession into the library -- a very solemn scene, Wolf, remarkable.

Thousands of people here, and it fell so silent when they opened the back doors of that hearse.

BLITZER: Right. It looks like that family -- all the family, they are now inside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. And, pretty soon, the public -- and there's huge lines that have gathered outside the library -- the public will be allowed to walk in and pay their respects to Senator Kennedy, as his body lies in repose.

There, you see some of those crowds. This will go on for several hours tonight. And, each hour, there will be vigil participants, special -- special family members and friends, people very close to the senator, who will be among those vigil participants an hour at a time.

There's, for example, the McGinty family that will be a special -- special vigil participant between 9:00 and 10:00. Michael McGinty, husband of Cindy and father to Daniel and David, was killed on 9/11. Senator Kennedy became close to the family after reaching out to them following the attacks. They have been invited to be vigil participants between 9:00 and 10:00 later tonight.

Between 10:00 and 11:00, Jeff Coombs, the husband of Christie and the father of Michael, who was killed on 9/11, his family, Christie Coombs and Matthew Coombs, they will be vigil participants. Senator Kennedy became close to the family after reaching out to them as well following the attack.

Some staff, longtime Senate staffers will be there, close family friends, and some relatives as well, these all handpicked, all handpicked vigil participants who will be there, they will be among those receiving the individuals, the public who walk inside and pay their respects to Senator Kennedy.

He was beloved, Gloria Borger, in Boston and beyond.

BORGER: Yes, he was.

And I think, when you -- when you look at this list of people, it includes people that he reached out to, people that became important to him because of the events.

And the thing about Senator Kennedy is that he didn't just have a photo opportunity with people that he helped. He followed up. He continued to call. He continued to write.

And, you know, the remarkable thing about Senator Kennedy was this energy that he seemed to have, this boundless energy, and this ability to kind of just reach out and -- and stay in touch.