Washington (CNN) – As the House was debating the controversial health care bill Sunday, Vicki Kennedy visited Arlington National Cemetery where she said she "spent some time" with her husband. Arlington is the final resting place for Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who made health care reform his passion and lifelong goal.
"I thought yesterday was an important day to be there, because I had hope and confidence and certainly, you know, wish that the bill would pass," she said in an exclusive interview with CNN's John King.
The full interview appears on CNN's new political program "John King, USA," which debuts Monday at 7 p.m. ET.
Kennedy talked about a letter her husband wrote in his final days to the President Obama. It said, in part, "When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the president to at long last sign into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society." Sen. Kennedy added, "It was the cause of my life."
Vicki Kennedy told John King her husband was not sad when he wrote those words, because he "wasn't a man who had self pity, ever."
"He was thinking, 'this is an important thing to do, I won't be here,'" she said.
Kennedy's wife added, "He was certainly hopeful that he would be here. But he said, you know, 'this, I want you to give this letter to the president if I'm not here.'"
President Obama will sign the health care legislation into law tomorrow, two Democratic officials tell CNN. When asked if she'll attend the signing ceremony, Kennedy responded, "I hope so."
Kennedy told King she's certain that once Americans fully understand what's in the bill, they'll embrace it. She described the legislation as a "fantastic victory for the American people," and praised Obama and congressional Democrats. And Kennedy noted that her late husband "fought for more than 40 years" to try and get health care reform passed and that it "had finally come to a victory."
Following her husband's death, there was much speculation that Kennedy might try to succeed him, but she decided against it. Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, won the special election to fill the remaining three years of Sen. Kennedy's term, in part because of his opposition to health care. So, is she looking at challenging Brown in 2012? Tune in at 7 p.m. ET to hear Kennedy's thoughts.