A Look Back: Kennedy's 1979 Presidential Run in Iowa

By Mark Geary, Reporter


By Daren Sukhram

CEDAR RAPIDS - As America says goodbye to a legendary political leader, we look back at one of Senator Ted Kennedy's historic visits to Eastern Iowa. Back in the 1970s, the Iowa presidential caucuses were just starting to gain the importance and prominence they hold today. Senator Ted Kennedy came through our state in November 1979 to campaign for president. During Ted Kennedy's two day visit to Iowa, he made stops at several cities including Cedar Rapids and Marion. At the time, he was trying to earn the Democratic nomination by campaigning against incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Roaring crowds greeted Senator Ted Kennedy as made his first appearance in Cedar Rapids as a Presidential candidate. More than 500 people packed a crowded room to meet the man who would become a legendary politician. During his visit, Kennedy wasted no time taking swings at his Republican opponent. "We saw Ronald Reagan's announcement for President of the United States. Let me tell you something, you didn't miss anything being down here," said Kennedy. But, he also wasn't afraid to challenge incumbent President Jimmy Carter. "The President has Harry Truman's old slogan on his desk...'The Buck Stops Here.' The sad truth is, the buck not only stops there, it actually shrinks there." The crowd loved Kennedy's energy. "He offers a positive approach that we really need," said one voter. Kennedy also visited a Marion farm to pledge his support for the American farmer. "It's virtually impossible for the young family farmer to get off the mark and get started. We ought to be able to develop a program that would help young couples get started in the area of family farming," said Kennedy. Despite all his efforts, Carter defeated Kennedy in the 1980 Iowa Caucuses. Kennedy never got the chance to become president, but fans would argue he was still able make a big influence on America. Click here to learn about Kennedy's visit to Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School's dedication in 1976. Senator Ted Kennedy also visited Dubuque back in 2004 to campaign for John Kerry.

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