What is your earliest political memory?
My earliest political memory is when I was five years old, from the night that Harry Truman was re-elected. My parents were jubilant, they were cheering. I woke up, and they told me how important it was to them.

Who is your political hero?
Ted Kennedy. He combined a commitment to principle with a capacity to get things done that I’ve never seen in politics.
Who is the Republican you admire most?
Abraham Lincoln. He was a person of enormous principle and depth of conviction and great political skill.
What is your best political story from the campaign trail?
The Kennedy-Romney debate in 1994 was a singular night. Romney had been going around accusing Kennedy’s family of having invested in the Furniture Mart in Washington, D.C., and suggesting they got some special deal. In fact, it was an attempt to redevelop Southwest Washington, and the special favor was from the family to the city. Romney complained about the negative ads in the campaign. Kennedy said, well, this is what you’re going around saying about me, and looked at him and said, “Mr. Romney, the Kennedys are not in public service to make money. We have paid too high a price.” People just cheered, and you knew that the debate was won and the campaign was won.

William B. Plowman/NBC

What would you be doing professionally if you were not working in politics?
I would have been a historian. I am completely fascinated with history and I own too many books, which my wife says we haul around from place to place, and I won’t give any of them up.
What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear in life it is that people I deeply care about will be hurt or lost. My biggest fear in politics is that the march of progress in terms of social justice in this country will be halted or even reversed.
What is your biggest regret?
That the Supreme Court of the United States acted like a ward committee in 2000 and elected George W. Bush president of the United States. I think Al Gore won that election, he just wasn’t inaugurated, and I think the history of the last ten years would have been very different had he been inaugurated.
What is your most treasured possession?
A copy of Senator Kennedy’s 1980 convention speech, which he signed, “I hope you have another one in you for 1980-blank.”
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I hope that over the years I helped to move the society in a more progressive direction.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
What is your favorite book?
The Complete Poems and Plays by T.S. Eliot