For Joe Kennedy III, growing up within one of America’s most famous families has moments of profound meaning — and then there are the everyday realities of life in a big clan that are anything but profound.
In a new interview for the August issue of Town & Country, on newsstands now, the red-headed grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and current U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’ 4th congressional district talked about how he’s sometimes forced to keep it very, very real during hectic family gatherings that often occur on the family’s Hyannis Port compound.
“For Thanksgiving it’s so many people that you’re just trying to find a shred of space. You’re sitting on a little corner of a stair, eating next to a dog that’s trying to eat off your plate,” said the 36-year-old Kennedy. “Almost everybody is there. And it’s great. It’s a big family, and people are off doing their own thing, at this point now in almost every corner of the world. But they come back for these holidays, and it keeps the family together.”
The politician, who is married to attorney Lauren Anne Birchfield (they met at Harvard Law School) and is the father to their 1-year-old daughter, Eleanor, also opened up about the impact his legendary family has had on the country — something he’s reminded of daily.
“People come up every day and usually say very nice things about family, but sometimes not. You get both,” he said. “Look, my family means different things to different folks. I think for most people they have very fond memories and believe my family made important contributions to the country. And I happen to believe so too, and I’m grateful when people do mention that and share their stories: ‘I shook your grandfather’s hand,’ or JFK’s hand, or ‘I met your Uncle Teddy.’ ”
With the Kennedy name and a role in politics, it’s no surprise that he’s been asked this question: “Will you run for president?”
For now, he says he’s focused on his current position and likely won’t be trading in his congressional office — filled with Boston sports teams memorabilia — for the White House in 2020. However, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility completely — and neither have others.
Following Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s speech in March in which he called the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act an “act of mercy,” Kennedy’s response went viral.
“With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different scripture,” Kennedy said about the fellow Irish Catholic. “The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful but by how we care for the least among us.”
RELATED VIDEO: Carole Radziwill Opens Up About the Plane Crash that Killed John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
He continued, “This is not an act of mercy. It is an act of malice.”
“Wow,” tweeted Howard Dean, governor of Vermont, in response to the speech. “This is a Kennedy who could be president. A must-watch.”