PEOPLE caught up with Tim Daly at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' Ripple of Hope Awards gala

By Sara Hammel
Updated December 09, 2015 04:05 PM
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Grant Lamos IV/Getty; Inset: Getty

Gorgeous Madam Secretary on-screen married couple Tim Daly and Téa Leoni outed themselves as a real-life item at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April, but Daly admits he’s had his eye on someone else for years.

PEOPLE caught up with him Tuesday night at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Ripple of Hope Awards gala in New York City, where several members of the Kennedy family gathered for a mini-reunion. Honorees included Georgia Congressman John Lewis, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Evercore co-founder Roger Altman and UNESCO Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis.

“I am friends with Kerry and Bobby Kennedy – and Ethel, who is sort of my crush … my Kennedy crush,” Daly told PEOPLE.

Daly revealed that his fondness for family matriarch Ethel Kennedy, 87, has endured “oh, for years. We’ve been pals, and I’ve spent some time with Waterkeeper, Bobby’s organization, and Kerry’s … which does amazing work. I guess I’m a Kennedy type. I admire [their work] greatly.”

Kerry is president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, which was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy’s family and friends as a living memorial “to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world.” She told PEOPLE before the gala that she loves seeing so many of her family members on one night.

“This is always a family reunion, always. Every year,” she said.

Her mother, Ethel, attended the event along with Kerry – who walked the red carpet with and proudly introduced her two daughters, Mariah and Michaela Kennedy Cuomo.

As for Daly, 59, he’s generally avoided speaking publicly about his romance with Leoni but did let on that he enjoys working on the show with her and is more than game for season 3 should it be renewed.

“I love it – I absolutely love it,” he said. “Right now might not be the best time to ask, because we do a long season and everybody’s starting to get a little tired. After the winter break when I’m peppy and refreshed, I’d be more enthusiastic. But yes – I’m ready for season 3!”

VIDEO: The Untold Story of JFK’s Sister Rosemary

He also commented on one eerie thing about Madam Secretary, the CBS drama that follows the life of a fictional secretary of state played by Leoni.

“I’m not hopefully psychotic. So I know that what I do is actually fictional,” he said. “That said, it is sort of uncannily prescient about things that are happening in the world. I think it’s kind of odd – sometimes I wonder, who IS [executive producer] Barbara Hall, and who does she know? Because it seems like we do a show and a couple months later it shows up in the headlines.”

One such episode aired Nov. 8 and appeared to predict the later fatal drone strike on Jihadi John (the target was “Jihadi Judd” in the show).

In the end, Daly says he wants his work to have a positive impact on the world.

“I hope that we can inspire people to do better,” he said. “And be kinder to each other and more empathetic; that would be a good thing to hope for.”