Meet the Press   |  October 25, 2014

Brokaw: Russert had ‘enormous ambition’

June 15: Tim Russert’s closest friends and colleagues look back at his life on a special edition of “Meet the Press.”

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MR. BROKAW: I always thought that if Tim had gone into the priesthood, he would have been a cardinal, or maybe...

MR. CARVILLE: A pope. Come on.

MR. BROKAW: I was going to say. The first...

Ms. KEARNS GOODWIN : Don't stop at cardinal.

MR. BROKAW: Yeah, the first holy father from this country. If he'd gone into politics, he certainly would have been a governor and maybe president of the United States . He had enormous ambition, and people need to know about that, and I mean it in the right sense of the word. He had this path that he could never have imagined as a working-class kid from Buffalo , that would take him to the summit, and he wasn't going to, he wasn't going to forfeit his opportunities along the way.

MR. BARNICLE: Tom...

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: And ambition, ambition is a worthy thing, though, if it's put in the purpose of the country.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: And I think it's important for people to understand that. You know, a couple weeks ago when Teddy Kennedy was diagnosed with his brain tumor , we were talking about the fact that Rose Kennedy had once said to me that, if her children who died young, could to come back, meaning Joe Jr . and Jack and Bobby , they would still choose the lives they've been given to lead even though they had shortness of years because they had such productivity, such achievement. And Tim said to me, you know, "I would feel that way, too. If I, if I didn't have any more right now, I've had the life that I've wanted to lead, except that I want to see Luke grow up. I want to see him have a child. I want to have him be a father." And I just keep thinking about how extraordinary his life was, just as Mike said, everything he had he loved. He said, "I love my family, I love sports, I love this program." The people around him loved him, so he led a full life. He just wasn't give the length of years that he deserved.

MR. BROKAW: Well, and...

MR. BARNICLE: There was, there was, Tom , to your point about Tim , you know, may have been a cardinal or a pope, he was very Catholic in the big C definition of, of the faith, and, and he was a Jesuit -educated Catholic . And he brought to this table, to this form, to his life, elements of what we used to call working priests, Jesuits and Marian Oles , dealing with people who were damaged, the most vulnerable among us. That's what he brought to his life, this program, each and every day. He recognized the flaws in human beings and in himselves.

MS. IFILL: You know, you know, Tom , one of the things I -- that reminds me of, one of the -- this has been a horrible weekend, and one of the most calming, soothing things was told to me by a friend of ours who used to work with this program, Collette Rooney . And she was talking about how there was this long line of Irish-Catholic Pauls who were all talking to each other and always told stories, and he was a great Irish storyteller. But that she was comforted by the idea that somewhere, Mary McGory , and perhaps Moynihan , are standing, they're holding the door open, saying, "Catch me up on what's been going on. I hear it's been a great year."

MR. BROKAW: You know, I don't -- the only comfort I found in the, in the events of the last several days is that, in many ways, this is the greatest year of Tim 's life. He was so proud of all the work that Maureen was doing for Vanity Fair , the big story on Sarkozy recently, the seminal work that

she did in Russia on what was going on, Luke graduates from Boston College , and the greatest political year of the last 50 years, Tim was in the midst of that morning, noon and night.

MS. FISCHER: And he did not want that primary season to end. He just -- I mean, we would say, "OK, this is the last Tuesday night. There can't possibly be..." "No, bring it on. More, more, more, more!" you know. And, and he just -- that enthusiasm that he brought to it, and he loved, he loved every minute of it. He loved every minute of it.