May 21, 2008
Leah Yoon, NPR





May 21, 2007; Culver City, CA Ė In an interview airing today with host Alex Chadwick on NPR Newsí Day to Day, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), says the news that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has brain cancer had made her even more determined to get new cancer legislation passed. She says now, ďItís more poignant, more personal and our commitment will be renewed.Ē

Just two weeks ago, Sen. Hutchison joined with Sen. Kennedy to hold hearings on cancer research. The two had been working together on a bill to increase funding for cancer research and prevention. Sen. Hutchison says she hopes to see Sen. Kennedy on the floor of the Senate arguing for their legislation, adding ďI canít think of anyone Iíd rather be in a fight with than him, on my side. Not on the other side.Ē

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A rushed transcript of the interview with Sen. Hutchison is below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News Day to Day. Audio of the interview is available at

Day to Day offers a fresh take on national and world news, culture, politics and technology. Hosted by Alex Chadwick and Madeleine Brand, it offers listeners a newsmagazine airing in the schedule between NPR flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Since its premiere in 2003, it is public radioís fastest-growing new program and has increased its audience in every ratings period since launch.


ALEX CHADWICK: Two weeks ago, Senator Kennedy joined with Texas senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, to conduct hearings on the state of cancer treatment in this country. The two promised to work together to renew the war on cancer and now this. Senator Hutchison joins us. Senator Hutchison, what are you and Senator Kennedy attempting to do with new cancer legislation?

SENATOR KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R-TX): We think itís time to assess where the treatments are and what we can do to improve the survivability, really, of cancer. We need more prevention. We need more early detection. And there are some areas where I think we can improve the coordination of research to get even farther down the road and really making it more survivable and also more rare.

MR. CHADWICK: This news about Senator Kennedy Ė it doesnít change your premise or what youíre doing politically, the two of you, but it does make it, what, more poignant, more personal?

SEN. HUTCHISON: Itís more poignant. Itís more personal. And our commitment will be renewed. I think everyone in the Senate has a good feeling about Senator Kennedy, whether youíre on the Republican side and you disagree with him on perhaps philosophical issues, you know that he is a good person and he is a force. And what I said on the Senate floor about him is that I canít think of anyone I would rather be in a fight with than him, on my side, not on the other side.

MR. CHADWICK: Of course, heís also a very smart and experienced and wily political strategist. He would know that the voice of Senator Kennedy right now on this legislation that you and he are proposing would be all the more powerful. Have you heard from his staff, we should go ahead with this?

SEN. HUTCHISON: Well, I talked to his chief of staff this morning and there is no question that we will go forward with this. And we have some areas that really, I think, could be quite productive. For instance, one of the key things is the cancer treatment and clinical trials, where you have the experimental drugs. And there are so many barriers to clinical trials: itís very expensive; insurance companies donít cover people in clinical trials. But they are perhaps the only hope for many people.

And then there are access issues. There are disparities in cancer treatment because many people in underserved communities donít have early detection because they donít have access to the early-detection signs, the education and the tests.

MR. CHADWICK: Well, here you are, a very notable Republican senator teamed with this most notable Democratic senator and Iím thinking of a piece I read today in the Washington Post by David Broder, the dean of the Washington Press Corps, saying there really is no one else like Senator Kennedy, especially when it comes to working with Republicans. He says the person who might miss his voice most of all would be Senator McCain, if he becomes President McCain.

SEN. HUTCHISON: I saw that article. I thought it was interesting as well because Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy do work together and they know how to work together. They know how to bridge the gaps between the two caucuses, the Republicans and the Democrats, and come to conclusions. And, you know, Iíve worked with Senator Kennedy on issues before and he will sit down and he knows the subject matter that heís on at the time so well that he can do the negotiating. Sometimes I have dealt with senators that really have the staff do the negotiations, but when you get down to it with Senator Kennedy, heís negotiating; he knows what can be done; he knows whatís already been done; and he knows where you can bring people together.

So I think that a Republican or Democratic president will miss Senator Kennedyís presence in the Senate if, in fact, heís not here. But thatís not a bet Iíd make. I think he will be here.

MR. CHADWICK: A political question, if I may, Senator. People keep talking about you as a vice-presidential candidate to run with Senator McCain. What about that?

SEN. HUTCHISON: Iím not talking about that at all. That is not something that I seek. It is just not on my mind at all.

MR. CHADWICK: Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison speaking with us from Washington. Senator, thank you.

SEN. HUTCHISON: Thank you, Alex.