He told them he was raised poor. "I've gone hungry. I've gone without," he said. "When people can't help themselves but want to, government does have a role in helping them."
Outside of legislation and politics, Kennedy and Hatch became close, and Hatch even became a defender when Kennedy became involved in a scandal after his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, had been out drinking with his uncle, then met a woman who claimed Smith raped her later that night at the Kennedy compound.
Hatch told the Boston Herald at the time about talks with Kennedy. "I said, it's time to change. It's time to quit drinking. He (Kennedy) said, `I know.' He knew I was right. He acknowledged it would be better for him not to drink. He knows sooner or later he must come to grips with these things."
Hatch also loves to tell the story about how in Kennedy's drinking days, Hatch once convinced a somewhat tipsy Kennedy to agree to speak to about 200 LDS missionaries.
Hatch said about 11 p.m. one night after Kennedy had several drinks, he remembers saying something like, "I have a favor to ask …"
"It's done," Kennedy immediately replied.
"Do you remember Frank Madsen, my old administrative aide?"
"Sure, sure. Great guy."
"Well," Hatch said, "he presides over 200 LDS missionaries in Boston that would like you to meet with them and me at a conference."
"Well, they would also like you to arrange to have it in (historic) Faneuil Hall."
"Done, no problem."
Hatch said the next day he quickly wrote up a detailed letter about what Kennedy had agreed to do. He said Kennedy's hands shook when he read it, and Hatch realized Kennedy didn't remember the promise.
"What else did I agree to?" he asked.
"Oh, this is just page one," Hatch quipped, as Kennedy threw up his hands and walked away. But he did as agreed and met with the missionaries in Faneuil Hall.
Hatch and Kennedy kept up their partnership to the end. Earlier this year, when both knew Kennedy was dying, they worked together to pass the Serve America Act, which authorizes spending billions to further volunteer programs.
Immediately after the Senate passed it, Hatch asked the Senate to rename it for Kennedy, which it did unanimously. Kennedy and Hatch hugged, as other senators applauded.
Hatch and Kennedy last met about two months ago, Hatch said on Wednesday. Most of the talk was about health-care reform, but Hatch also presented the ailing Kennedy with a song he wrote called, "Headed Home," which he said Kennedy appreciated.
Hatch says that health-care reform, which is currently stalled, likely would have passed if Kennedy had been healthy. "He and I could do it," he said, but he doubts it will happen with current proposals.
Hatch added, "Kennedy was the only Democrat who could move their whole base — members of unions, trial lawyers and right on down the line. If he finally agreed, then the base would come along if they didn't like it."
With a shaky voice after talking about Kennedy, Hatch reflected and said, "I will deeply mourn him. … We were like fighting brothers."
Sen. Kennedy services
Sen. Edward Kennedy will be buried 5 p.m. EDT Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery near his brothers, former President John F. Kennedy and former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, after a funeral Mass in Boston at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in which President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy. He will lie in repose at Boston's John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum this afternoon and Friday. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to educational programming at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
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