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Remembering Ted Sorensen, a Nebraska Crusader

Ted Sorensen, born and raised in Nebraska, died last night from complications related to a stroke.  He is best known for his role as speechwriter and advisor to President John F. Kennedy.  To me, he is known for being a bold crusader. 

When we started Bold Nebraska, we published a blog post about Nebraskans who left us a legacy of bold ideas.  We will be adding Ted Sorensen to this list and invite you to leave in the comments section on what we should write about him on our page of bold Nebraskans.

I met Mr. Sorensen several times at events in Nebraska as well as in Denver when I was covering the Democratic Convention for MTV.  We were at an event for my husband, Scott Kleeb, and Sorensen agreed to sit down with me to talk about the importance of the youth vote.  I still remember his smile, his quiet center and his steadfast belief in young people having the power to build a strong America.

Our prayers are with Mr. Sorensen’s wife, children and family as they mourn the loss of their husband and dad.  We will always remember Sorensen for being a crusader and for never letting go of optimism.

MTV Denver Convention 2008 Coverage, Interview with Ted Sorensen

Last night I had the opportunity to spend some needed quiet time, during all the madness of the convention, with Ted Sorensen.

If you don’t know who Ted Sorenson is, he was JFK’s speechwriter but he was also one of his closest friends who traveled with him to every one of our 50 states when JFK was still 39 and when he was still deciding if he would run for president.

The legend around Ted is that he is the one that coined the famous phrase “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Ted is too humble and leads with a quiet center to ever take credit for that historic line. 

Ted also happens to be a Nebraskan native.

Ted explained that JFK was mocked by older opponents for his age.  They called his campaign a “children’s crusade.”  Folks were always criticizing JFK and his staff for not having experience, for focusing too much on hope and optimism.

Sound familiar?

Ted said they simply ignored all of the mocking since they knew they were on the right path.  Ted also described what their youth voting strategy looked like.

He really emphasized that they did not just focus on college campuses.  Ted explained that going after young blue collar workers and young families along with young Latino and black voters was very important to JFK and the young staff.   “Kennedy Clubs” were formed all over the nation and helped elect JFK.

Ted said JFK would not have won without the youth vote.  

Sound familiar?

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