Obama on the Death of Ted Kennedy

Obama on the Death of Ted Kennedy

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On August 25, 2009, after a 46-year career in the Senate, Edward M. The next day, President Barack Obama honors "one of the nation's greatest senators."

Why the Kennedys Went for Obama

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama poses with Senator Ted Kennedy, Monday, January 28, 2007.


Thousands had been lining up outside American University's Bender Auditorium in Washington, D.C., hours before Barack Obama's arrival Monday afternoon. The campaign had initally booked the arena for a rally, but the news that he would be getting the endorsements of three members of the Kennedy clan there had given it the aura of a historic event.

The scene that greeted the candidate backstage could have been a Kennedy family reunion. Ted's branch of the clan had gotten there first. The senator was there with his congressman son Patrick, Ted's wife Vicki, and Vicki's son Curran. Then Caroline arrived with her three teenagers. Teddy's sisters, Eunice Shriver and Jean Kennedy Smith, showed up too, along with an assortment of their children and grandchildren. Through the blue curtains, the crowd was thundering: "Yes. We. Can."

For a moment, Obama looked overwhelmed when he saw all of the Kennedys waiting for him. Then he gathered Caroline in a big hug. "Thank you so much," he whispered. "I'm so excited."

As they prepared to go onstage to declare their support for Obama, Caroline and Ted Kennedy discussed their decisions to support him in exclusive interviews with TIME. Afterward, Obama talked about what the endorsements meant to him, and what they might mean for his chances of becoming President.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

TIME: Everyone had thought that you would wait until after the Democratic race was more settled after Feb. 5 to endorse a candidate. Why did you decide to do it now?
E.K.: I said for the last year I was always going to support the candidate that inspired. I said that on the Stephanopoulos show and also on Meet the Press and in various interviews. And it always seemed to me that at the start of this campaign there were a number of people that I knew that have absolutely wonderful qualities and are capable to inspire. And a number of them have dropped out. That was just now three weeks ago. So after that period of time, I continued to sort of observe the campaign and it became more apparent to me. It was sort of a growing process about the inevitability of Barack Obama, that he would appeal to the youth, that he had a message of hope and that he had this ability to draw across age lines, between the young and the old, and between the east and the west and the north and the south, between black and white, straight and gay. And it's a process really, isn't it?

And then you come down to the particular issue on time: Is [the right time] today, or is it yesterday, or tomorrow? So by the middle of [last] week, I'd made up my mind.

How did Caroline's decision and yours affect each other?
E.K.: Well, Caroline and I are very close, and she started this process — she could tell you about it — but she started it really last summer. She took her children to listen to all of the candidates, and they were very, very good. They were very thoughtful about it and very knowledgable about it and care very deeply about what's happening in the country. All of which is very, very inspiring. And they talked with me, I remember we had a long lunch in the middle of the summer. They were talking about it at that time they were talking about Barack Obama.

But Caroline normally hasn't gotten involved in politics.
E.K.: I think what she wrote [on the New York Times op-ed page Sunday] is really what she felt. She wrote that in just a few hours. She writes very quickly, very eloquently and carefully. She introduced me one time at a convention, and she wrote the talk in about three or four hours, and you didn't have to change it a bit. So she writes what she thinks, thinks what she writes, and does it very powerfully, and I think that article really sets it out.

This has been, of course, seen as a rebuke in some ways of the Clintons.
E.K.: I'm for a candidate I'm for Barack Obama. I have enormous respect for Senator Clinton I have great respect for President Clinton. I've worked with them on different issues. I have as well with John Edwards. I've worked with him on the Patients Bill of Rights I worked on the Judiciary Committee [with him]. I would campaign wholeheartedly if they gain the nomination. I indicated that to them. This is about who you're for, not who you're against. That's the way I looked at it.

It's also in some ways a referendum on Clintonism and the 1990s. Isn't it to some degree?

Oldest child of late Sen. Ted Kennedy dies at 51

Kara Kennedy, the oldest child of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, died suddenly Friday evening at a Washington-area health club.

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy confirmed the death of his 51-year-old sister, adding "she's with dad."

Kara Kennedy had herself battled lung cancer: In 2003, doctors removed a malignant tumor. Patrick Kennedy said that his sister loved to exercise, but that he thinks her cancer treatment "took quite a toll on her and weakened her physically."

"Her heart gave out," he said.

Kara Kennedy was the oldest of three children. She and her brother Edward Kennedy Jr. helped run their father's U.S. Senate campaign in 1988. The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome lists her as a national advisory board member on its website.

Edward Kennedy Jr. himself was a survivor after losing a leg to bone cancer as a child. And Patrick Kennedy had surgery in 1988 to remove a non-cancerous tumor that was pressing against his spine.

In 1990, Kara Kennedy married Michael Allen. The couple have two children: Max Greathouse Allen, 15, and daughter, Grace Kennedy Allen, 16.

'Beautiful baby'
Kara Kennedy was born in 1960 as her father campaigned for his brother, John F. Kennedy, during the presidential primaries.

The late senator wrote in his 2009 memoir, "True Compass," that "I had never seen a more beautiful baby, nor been happier in my life."

She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002 and was given a grim prognosis by doctors, her father wrote. She had an operation in 2003 that doctors said was successful, and Edward Kennedy accompanied his daughter to chemotherapy treatments.

In the book, Edward Kennedy recalled her operation, along with her aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

"Kara responded to my exhortations to have faith in herself," he wrote. "Today, nearly seven years later as I write this, Kara is a healthy, vibrant, active mother of two who is flourishing."

In 2009, shortly before his death, Edward Kennedy was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. Kara Kennedy accepted the award on behalf of her father.

'Part of something larger'
Five months before her death, Kara Kennedy wrote of her father and the institute named in his honor in an article published in The Boston Globe Magazine. She described Christmas 1984, when her father insisted on spending the night helping relief workers feed hungry people in the Ethiopian desert. And of how each summer, Ted Kennedy loaded the family into a Winnebago for road trips to hike through historic battlefields and buildings.

She wrote of family trips in the summer when the late senator would lead his children on explorations of historic battlefields and buildings, trips she said taught her that one person can make a difference.

"What mattered to my father was not the scale of an accomplishment, but that we did our share to make the world better," she wrote. "That we learned we were part of something larger than ourselves."

Kara Kennedy, a graduate of Tufts University, also worked as a filmmaker and in television. She helped produce several videos for Very Special Arts, an organization founded by her aunt Jean Kennedy Smith. She also served as a board member for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute director emerita and national trustee of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and as a national advisory board member for the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

The New York Times noted that many members of her generation of the Kennedy family have died relatively young: John F. Kennedy Jr., killed in a 1999 plane crash Michael L. Kennedy, killed in a 1998 skiing accident his brother David, who died of a drug overdose in 1984. The Times also noted that her father was the only one of four brothers to live to old age.

In addition to her children, she is survived by her mother, Joan Kennedy, and younger brothers, Edward Kennedy, Jr., and Patrick Kennedy and their families.

President Obama's Statement on the Passing of Ted Kennedy

The overnight news that the Democratic Party's long-serving Senator, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, has passed away, marked the end of an era in American politics. That's a fine cliché, but there is no doubt that an enormous body of legislative accomplishment—the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 Immigration bill, the SCHIP program, the Americans with Disabilities Act, even George W. Bush's contentious No Child Left Behind legislation—was passed on the strength of Kennedy's committment to liberalism. (As a friend reminds me, it's also worth noting his 1985 arrest, for protesting apartheid).

And it's all the more impressive that the roaring liberal so often worked with and was highly regarded by decades of Republican lawmakers and politicians. It's a mark of humility, and real committment to principle, rather than political posturing.

My first live encounter with candidate Barack Obama came at the moment when the old guard and the fresh face began their brief but strong alliance. A motley crowd had gathered to hear Obama speak in Washington, DC—but it was clear that the thousands came not merely to hear the stump speech that was by now old news to politicos, but to see Ted Kennedy, and his niece Caroline, and his son Patrick, all three public servants together and passing the torch to the young, slim, good-looking man who promised to change America's self-regard.

The real analogy between Obama and the Kennedys may be strained unlike, for example, the vice president, Joe Biden, or Obama's campaign opponent, Sen. John McCain, President Obama had not known Ted Kennedy for long. Obama came from nowhere (certainly not Hyannis), and enjoyed only the briefest of tenures in the United States Senate—leaving after only three years. Kennedy has been ill and away from Washington for nearly every day of Obama's presidency. Far more ink has been spilled on Obama's Abraham Lincoln fetish.

Yet the president has continuously invoked and absorbed the Kennedy family legacy, from the educational initiatives under JFK that brought Barack Obama Sr. to the United States, to the rumors of Obama's preference for Caroline to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate, to the handwritten letter Obama carried from Ted Kennedy to the Pope, down to the gift of his family dog. Why?

Listen to the speech Kennedy delivered at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, one year to the day before his death, for the broad liberal message, the generous faith in Obama, and the crowd's wild reaction to both. Just as Teddy seemed perpetually willing to anoint Obama's story as the continuation of his remarkable family tradition, there is a way in which America wanted to see a link, too.

And, in the beginning, at the February 2008 event in Washington, speaking about JFK and his father's humble origins for the first time in the campaign, Obama seemed to choke up as he realized the enormity of the myth that had just been signed away.

Obama spoke for himself on Ted Kennedy's passing from Martha's Vineyard Wednesday morning:

I wanted to say a few words this morning about the passing of an extraordinary leader, Senator Edward Kennedy.

Over the past several years, I've had the honor to call Teddy a colleague, a counselor, and a friend. And even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread.

Since Teddy's diagnosis last year, we've seen the courage with which he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult for him, they've also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us. His fight has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you — and goodbye.

The outpouring of love, gratitude, and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education's promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just — including myself.

The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party. And at times, Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth, and good cheer. He could passionately battle others and do so peerlessly on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintain warm friendships across party lines.

And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end. And the extraordinary good that he did lives on. For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was the defender of a dream.

I spoke earlier this morning to Senator Kennedy's beloved wife, Vicki, who was to the end such a wonderful source of encouragement and strength. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, his children Kara, Edward, and Patrick his stepchildren Curran and Caroline the entire Kennedy family decades' worth of his staff the people of Massachusetts and all Americans who, like us, loved Ted Kennedy.

Obama family announces death of family dog Bo, the "loyal companion" who spent two terms in the White House

Former President Barack Obama's family dog, Bo, who spent two terms in the Obama White House, has died of cancer, Barack and Michelle Obama announced on Saturday.

The Obamas posted a series of photos of Bo on social media on Saturday, paying tribute to the role the dog had in their family. On Instagram, former first lady Michelle Obama said they had to say goodbye to their "best friend" after his battle with cancer.

She said that Bo, who was gifted to the Obama's in 2009 from the late senator Ted Kennedy , was originally adopted as a companion for their daughters. The Obama's other Portuguese water dog, Sunny , moved into the White House in 2013.

"On the campaign trail in 2008, we promised our daughters that we would get a puppy after the election," the former first lady wrote. "At the time, Bo was supposed to be a companion for the girls. We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us."

She described Bo's presence in their lives, noting that he greeted their daughters with a wag when they came home from school.

"He was there when Barack and I needed a break, sauntering into one of our offices like he owned the place, a ball clamped firmly in his teeth," she wrote. "He was there when we flew on Air Force One, when tens of thousands flocked to the South Lawn for the Easter Egg Roll, and when the Pope came to visit. And when our lives slowed down, he was there, too &mdash helping us see the girls off to college and adjust to life as empty nesters."

Malia Obama walks with new dog Bo, followed by President Barack Obama, Sasha Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2009. (AP Photo./Charles Dharapak AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

And when the pandemic hit, forcing everyone back home, Mrs. Obama said, "no one was happier than Bo."

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"All his people were under one roof again &mdash just like the day we got him. I will always be grateful that Bo and the girls got to spend so much time together at the end."

Mr. Obama posted a similar tribute on his social media accounts, saying that, for more than a decade, Bo "was a constant, gentle presence in our lives &mdash happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between."

"He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair," Mr. Obama wrote. "He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly."

Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives&mdashhappy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between. pic.twitter.com/qKMNojiu9V

&mdash Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 8, 2021

The day Bo made his press debut on the South Lawn of the White House, Mr. Obama said Bo had "star quality."

"You know what they say about if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog?" Mr. Obama joked. "Well, I'm finally going to have a friend."

President Obama and his new dog Bo run through the White House halls. White House Photo

First published on May 8, 2021 / 4:54 PM

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Li Cohen is a social media producer and trending reporter for CBS News, focusing on social justice issues.

Obama, other leaders eulogize Ted Kennedy he'll be buried with brothers in Arlington

UPDATE: Source says Kennedy will be buried at Arlington, President Barack Obama and others make statements.

HYANNIS PORT, Mass. -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in an enduring political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died at his home on Cape Cod after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.

In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy, a liberal Democrat, served alongside 10 presidents -- his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them -- compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.

Speaking briefly to reporters at his rented vacation home on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., President Barack Obama eulogized Kennedy as one of the "most accomplished Americans" in history -- and a man whose work in Congress helped give millions new opportunities.

"Including myself," added the nation's first black president.

A source, speaking on grounds of anonymity because plans were still under way, told The Associated Press that Kennedy, who died Tuesday night, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

At the eternal flame rests four Kennedy family members, including the former president, Jacqueline Kennedy, their baby son, Patrick, who died after two days, and a still-born child.

Former Sen. Robert Kennedy F. Kennedy is buried a short distance away.

Kennedy's only run for the White House ended in defeat in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter turned back his challenge for the party's nomination. More than a quarter-century later, Kennedy handed then-Sen. Barack Obama an endorsement at a critical point in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, explicitly likening the young contender to President Kennedy.

To the American public, Kennedy was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, father figure and, memorably, eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy. But his career was forever marred by an accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969, when a car he was driving plunged off a bridge, killing a young woman passenger.

Kennedy's death triggered an outpouring of superlatives from Democrats and Republicans as well as foreign leaders.

Vice President Joe Biden said he was "truly, truly distressed by his passing" and said that in the Senate, Kennedy had restored his "sense of idealism."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the conservative Republican from Utah who formed a political alliance with Kennedy on some health-related legislation, called Kennedy "an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated."

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving senator, said: "I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come. My heart and soul weeps at the lost of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy."

Kennedy's family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," it said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all."

A few hours later, two vans left the famed Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port in pre-dawn darkness. Both bore hearse license plates -- with the word "hearse" blacked out.

Several hundred miles away, flags few at half-staff at the U.S. Capitol, and Obama ordered the same at the White House and all federal buildings.

In his later years, Kennedy cut a barrel-chested profile, with a swath of white hair, a booming voice and a thick, widely imitated Boston accent. He coupled fist-pumping floor speeches with his well-honed Irish charm and formidable negotiating skills. He was both a passionate liberal and a clear-eyed pragmatist, willing to reach across the aisle.

He was first elected to the Senate in 1962, taking the seat that his brother John had occupied before winning the White House, and served longer than all but two senators in history.

His own hopes of reaching the White House were damaged -- perhaps doomed -- in 1969 by the scandal that came to be known as Chappaquiddick. He sought the White House more than a decade later, lost the Democratic nomination to Carter, and bowed out with a stirring valedictory that echoed across the decades: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."

Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in May 2008 and underwent surgery and a grueling regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.

He made a surprise return to the Capitol last summer to cast the decisive vote for the Democrats on Medicare. He made sure he was there again last January to see his former Senate colleague sworn in as the nation's first black president, but suffered a seizure at a celebratory luncheon afterward.

He also made a surprise and forceful appearance at last summer's Democratic National Convention, where he spoke of his own illness and said health care was the cause of his life. His death occurred precisely one year later, almost to the hour.

He was away from the Senate for much of this year, leaving Republicans and Democrats to speculate about what his absence meant for the fate of Obama's health care proposals.

Under state law, Kennedy's successor will be chosen by special election. In his last known public act, the senator urged Massachusetts state legislators to give Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the power to name an interim replacement. But that appears unlikely, even though Patrick said Wednesday in radio interviews that he would sign such a bill if it reached his desk. The vacancy leaves Democrats in Washington with one less vote for at least the next several months as they struggle to pass Obama's health care legislation.

Obama calls Kennedy 'greatest U.S. senator of our time'

(CNN) -- A sampling of reactions to the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died Tuesday night at age 77:

Sen. Harry Reid says Kennedy's "mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

U.S. President Barack Obama: For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

Vice President Joe Biden: "It was infectious when you were with him. You could see it, those of you who knew him and those of you who didn't know him. You could just see it in the nature of his debate, in the nature of his embrace, in the nature of how he every single day attacked these problems. And, you know, he was never defeatist. He never was petty -- never was petty. He was never small. And in the process of his doing, he made everybody he worked with bigger -- both his adversaries as well as his allies."

Bill Clinton, former president: "Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union."

Jimmy Carter, former president: "Senator Kennedy was a passionate voice for the citizens of Massachusetts and an unwavering advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country. The courage and dignity he exhibited in his fight with cancer was surpassed only by his lifelong commitment and service to his country."

Al Gore, former vice president: "He was a true giant. He was a warm, funny, thoughtful, and generous friend and he was the most effective member of the United States Senate with whom I served. In the grief that Tipper and I share with so many, we know that the legacy of his brilliant work will carry on for decades to come.

Ted was a champion for those Americans who had no voice -- the sick, the disabled, the poor, the under-privileged -- and they could have had no greater friend in the Senate. Now, Ted would want nothing more than for his colleagues to continue his life's work and to make real his dream of quality health care for all Americans."

Gen. Colin Powell, retired, former secretary of state: "I knew Senator Kennedy very, very well. He was a great legislator, marvelous representative of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and I considered him a very close friend. I have known him for something like 46 years, if I count properly -- longer, more like 47 years, and I knew him at the very beginning of his career when he first got out of the Army and he started to run for office. . He was for the underprivileged. He was for the poor. He was for those who did not have health care. He was for the reduction and elimination of racial barriers. And so Ted Kennedy was somebody who reached out for all of those, who were not yet benefiting from the American dream. And he strongly believed that America had the potential to give all of its citizens an opportunity to lead a good quality, healthy life.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick: "One of the Commonwealth's brightest lights went out last night. Ted Kennedy was a compassionate, effective, visionary statesman, family man and friend. Diane and I were blessed by his company, support and many kindnesses, and miss him profoundly. We pray for comfort for his beloved wife and partner Vicki and his entire family."

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona): "My friend, Ted Kennedy, was famous before he was accomplished. But by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments."

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia): "I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come. My heart and soul weeps at the loss of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy."

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader: "Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country. Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize. The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

Nancy Reagan, former first lady: "Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah): "Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend. "Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber."

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker: "Today, with the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the American people have lost a great patriot, and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved patriarch. Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy's statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishment that has improved opportunity for every American."

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"Senator Kennedy had a grand vision for America, and an unparalleled ability to effect change. Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith, and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans."

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia): "At some of the most tragic and difficult moments in this nation's history, Ted Kennedy gathered his strength and led us toward a more hopeful future. As a nation and as a people, he encouraged us to build upon the inspirational leadership of his two brothers and use it to leave a legacy of social transformation that has left its mark on history."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (married to Kennedy's niece Maria Shriver): "Maria and I are immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy. He was known to the world as the "Lion of the Senate," a champion of social justice, and a political icon. Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character."

Former President George H.W. Bush: Barbara and I were deeply saddened to learn Ted Kennedy lost his valiant battle with cancer. While we didn't see eye-to-eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service -- so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate -- a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body's history.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archdiocese of Boston: "For nearly half a century, Senator Kennedy was often a champion for the poor, the less fortunate and those seeking a better life. Across Massachusetts and the nation, his legacy will be carried on through the lives of those he served. We pray for the repose of his soul and that his family finds comfort and consolation in this difficult time."

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, (D-Massachusetts): "He taught us how to fight, how to laugh, how to treat each other, and how to turn idealism into action, and in these last 14 months he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time. For almost 25 years, I was privileged to serve as his colleague and share his friendship for which I will always be grateful."

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts: "The last son of Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Kennedy was granted a much longer life than his brothers, and he filled those years with endeavor and achievement that would have made them proud. In 1994, I joined the long list of those who ran against Ted and came up short. But he was the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary. I came to admire Ted enormously for his charm and sense of humor -- qualities all the more impressive in a man who had known so much loss and sorrow. I will always remember his great personal kindness, and the fighting spirit he brought to every cause he served and every challenge he faced."

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City: "There will never be another first family of American politics like the Kennedys, and there will never be another United States Senator like Ted Kennedy. Inspired by the noblest of ideals -- a life of service in pursuit of justice, equality, and peace -- Senator Kennedy's compassion and charisma were matched only by his extraordinary legislative accomplishments over five decades."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair: Senator Kennedy was a figure who inspired admiration, respect and devotion, not just in America but around the world.

He was a true public servant committed to the values of fairness, justice and opportunity. "I saw his focus and determination first hand in Northern Ireland where his passionate commitment was matched with a practical understanding of what needed to be done to bring about peace and to sustain it. I was delighted he could join us in Belfast the day devolved government was restored.

My thoughts and prayers today are with all his family and friends as they reflect on the loss of a great and good man.

Gordon Brown, British prime minister: "Senator Edward Kennedy will be mourned not just in America, but in every continent. He is admired around the world as the senator of senators. He led the world in championing children's education and health care, and believed that every single child should have the chance to realise their potential to the full. Even facing illness and death, he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life's work."

Brian Cowen, Irish prime minister: "In this country, Ted Kennedy will be remembered with great affection and enduring respect. Throughout his long and distinguished career in politics, Ted Kennedy has been a great friend of Ireland. He has used his considerable influence in the world's most powerful parliament for the betterment of this island."

Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany: "For decades Edward Kennedy was a towering figure in U.S. politics. His battle for justice and equality was defined by persistence and resoluteness. In Senator Kennedy both Germany and Europe have lost a great and dear friend."

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general: "He was not just a friend to those of power and high position, but even more to those who had neither. He was a voice for those who would otherwise go unheard, a defender of the rights and interests of the defenseless. Those who feel that government can too often be faceless and inhumane did not know Senator Kennedy. He stood for the best in all of us, and he will be missed."

Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile: "He was a great politician who supported Chilean democracy during very difficult times for our country. He raised his voice strongly to denounce the trampling of human rights, asking that democracy be re-established."

Obama "heartbroken" at death of Edward Kennedy

CHILMARK, Massachusetts (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he was heartbroken by the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, a pillar of the Democratic Party who he praised as an enormous force behind social programs that improved the lives of Americans.

“His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected on millions of lives . in all who can pursue their dreams in an America that is more equal and more just, including myself,” Obama said of the senator, who was a crucial supporter of his presidential campaign.

Kennedy, who had been battling brain cancer for more than a year, died late on Tuesday at his family compound in Cape Cod town of Hyannis Port.

In January 2008, Kennedy endorsed Obama, who was serving his first term as a senator, for the Democratic presidential nomination. Many saw the endorsement as the passing of the political torch to a new generation.

The Massachusetts senator’s illness had provided time “to say thank you and goodbye” that was denied to his assassinated brothers, President John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy, who was a U.S. senator and attorney general, Obama said in brief remarks outside the compound where is spending his vacation.

Obama was awakened shortly after 2 a.m. (0600 GMT) and told of Kennedy’s death. He spoke with Kennedy’s wife, Victoria, about 25 minutes later. Obama is on vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, just 7 miles off Cape Cod and about 40 miles (65km) from Hyannis Port.

“Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy,” Obama had said in a written statement released overnight.

Healthcare reform has been Obama’s No. 1 domestic policy goal and Kennedy called it “the cause of my life.” The death of Kennedy, one of the most effective lawmakers in U.S. history, leaves a void as Obama and his supporters push for his nearly $1 trillion plan. One of the last conversations between the Obama and Kennedy was on the issue.

“The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party, and at times Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle, Obama said.

Obama, who was elected in November and took office in January, had last seen the senator in April at the White House. They also discussed health care on June 2, and they last spoke on July 10, after Obama gave Pope Benedict a letter from Kennedy, whose brother was the only Roman Catholic U.S. president and whose family are perhaps the most prominent Catholics in the United States.

Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts Editing by Peter Cooney and Bill Trott

Obama Praises Edward Kennedy, and Mourns the Loss of Collegiality

SOUNDBITE (English): US President Barack Obama: “What more fitting tribute, what better testament to the life of Ted Kennedy than this place that he left for a new generation of Americans. A monument, not to himself, but to what we, the people have the power to do together.” SOUNDBITE (English): US President Barack Obama: “I did not know Ted as long as some of the speakers here today, but he was my friend. I owe him a lot. As far as I could tell, it was never ideology that compelled him, except in so far as his ideology said, ‘you should help people, that you should have a life of purpose. That you should be empathetic, be able to put yourself in somebody elses’ shoes and see through their eyes’.”

BOSTON — President Obama on Monday condemned the demise of bipartisan compromise in American politics that he said had prompted voters to turn away in bitterness and “disgust,” using the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute to call for a new era of consensus-building.

“We live in a time of such great cynicism about all our institutions, and we are cynical about government and about Washington most of all,” Mr. Obama told about 1,800 people in a speech outside the institute, which was constructed to help repair the reputation of the United States Senate, where Mr. Kennedy represented Massachusetts for 47 years.

“We can fight on almost everything, but we can come together on some things, and those some things can mean everything to a whole lot of people,” Mr. Obama said.

In a 26-minute speech by turns hopeful and mournful that evoked both Mr. Kennedy’s thundering Senate oratories and his sometimes impish antics, Mr. Obama paid tribute to the man often called “the lion of the Senate” while acknowledging how the institution he revered had changed.

“It’s a more diverse, more accurate reflection of America than it used to be, and that is a grand thing, a great achievement, but Ted grieved the loss of camaraderie and collegiality, the face-to-face interaction,” Mr. Obama said. “He regretted the arguments now made to cameras instead of colleagues, directed at a narrow base instead of the body politic as a whole, the outsized influence of money and special interests, and how it all leads more Americans to turn away in disgust and simply choose not to exercise their right to vote.”

The president, who served one term in the Senate — much of it consumed with speculation over whether he would seek the presidency, indirectly acknowledged his own role and that of his generation in the transformation of Congress. He noted that Mr. Kennedy had waited more than a year before delivering his first speech in the Senate’s august well, an exact replica of which is the institute’s most striking feature.

“That’s no longer the custom,” Mr. Obama said, to laughter. (He made his debut on the Senate floor just two days after being sworn in, in January 2005.)

Nor does Mr. Obama’s style or temperament bear much resemblance to that of Mr. Kennedy. Where the president is aloof, disciplined and disdainful of the social aspects of serving in Washington, the senator was warm and often boisterous, and he excelled at the art of feuding by day but socializing by night with political adversaries.

Still, Mr. Obama and Mr. Kennedy forged a bond that helped propel the president to the White House, one that he acknowledged on Monday.

“He was my friend I owe him a lot,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama routinely went to Mr. Kennedy for Senate advice, including guidance before entering the presidential race in 2008. Mr. Kennedy’s endorsement of Mr. Obama during that year’s Democratic presidential primaries gave Mr. Obama the high-profile stamp of approval of a party symbol at an important moment.

The capstone to their alliance came in 2010 when Mr. Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, legislation that Mr. Kennedy had championed and that his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, noted in introducing the president on Monday was “what Teddy called the cause of his life.”

But Mr. Obama said that while colleagues knew Mr. Kennedy as “somebody who was willing to take half a loaf and endure the anger of his own supporters to get something done,” his brand of political courage was a disappearing trait.

“Fear so permeates our politics, instead of hope,” the president said. “We fight to get these positions, and then don’t want to do anything with them.”

Mr. Obama said he hoped that the institute would inspire people to emulate Mr. Kennedy, and as he briefly toured the Senate replica after his remarks, he told a group of visiting students that he hoped they would learn about democracy there.

The dedication drew a host of prominent figures from both parties, including the former Senate majority leaders Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, and Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, a tribute to Mr. Kennedy’s deep relationships in Congress.

“He was an anchor to many of us in our personal lives, but he was also the anchor in an institution that we revered,” said Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who served for 36 years with Mr. Kennedy. He said the senator “treated me like a little brother.”

Mr. Biden described how Mr. Kennedy acted as his “tutor and my guide” when he arrived in the Senate, squiring him around the gym introducing him to senators who were undressed. “God, was I embarrassed,” Mr. Biden recalled.

The vice president went on to praise Mr. Kennedy for instilling in him the importance of maintaining trust and a personal rapport even with archnemeses such as Southern senators opposed to the Civil Rights Act.

“All politics is personal, and no one, no one in my life understood that better than Ted Kennedy,” Mr. Biden said. “This country hungers for a resurgence of a baseline belief in a system of self-governance admired for its wisdom in the face of passionate differences, and for the ability to compromise seemingly unbridgeable divides with some dignity.”

Obama on Ted Kennedy: 'An important chapter in our history has come to an end'

He is the last of the Kennedy brothers who rode across the national stage to shape American leadership in the 20th century. Now Ted Kennedy is dead, at 77.

Edward Moore Kennedy was the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1963, and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1968. A fourth brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., anointed as the family’s chosen envoy to the political world, died during World War II.

They were Joe Kennedy’s sons, tethered to pride in power and money, and they were Rose Kennedy’s sons, brought up to respect church and public service. Ted Kennedy, after a youth of fast cars and carousing.

. became a passionate and serious defender of the have-nots. For his fervent commitment to his brothers' agenda -- civil rights, education and healthcare reform -- they called him The Lion of the Senate.

Early this morning, President Obama issued a statement from Martha's Vineyard, where he and family are vacationing.

Ted Kennedy, along with Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain young President Kennedy, passed the mantle of Camelot to the young Obama early in last year's campaign. It was an embrace of memory, a recognition that in the Illinois senator and his stylish wife Michelle there was an echo of the charisma that had come to characterize the Kennedy White House.

Here is the president’s statement, as provided by the White House.

Statement from President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. 

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague.  I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency.  And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.   ###

Photo Credit: Undated file photo of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy / Associated Press