May 25th, 2008
05:45 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama subs for Kennedy at commencement

Obama stepped in for Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was originally scheduled to speak.
Obama stepped in for Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was originally scheduled to speak.

MIDDLETOWN, Connecticut (CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was, as he called it, "pinch-hitting" Sunday for fellow Senate colleague and Obama supporter Ted Kennedy.

In his address to the crowd gathered at Wesleyan University's commencement exercises, he said the Massachusetts senator is one of his "personal heroes."

"He called me up a few days ago, and I said that I'd be happy to be his stand-in, even if there was no way I could fill his shoes," said the White House hopeful.

"Teddy wanted to be here very much, but as you know, he's had a very long week and is taking some much-needed rest."

Kennedy was diagnosed Tuesday with a malignant brain tumor. Obama said he had a message the Massachusetts senator wanted to pass along.

"To all those praying for my return to good health, I offer my heartfelt thanks. And to any who'd rather have a different result, I say, don't get your hopes up just yet!"

Kennedy's stepdaughter Caroline Raclin was among the graduates at the ceremony. Kennedy's wife, Vicki Kennedy, was also in attendance.

Obama said Kennedy had been planning to discuss the theme of service to one's country, a theme "that nobody could discuss with more authority or inspiration than Ted Kennedy."

His speech wasn't completely apolitical, either, as Obama gave subtle reminders he was still in the middle of a campaign for the presidency.

"There are so many ways to serve and so much need at this defining moment in our history," he said. "You don't have to be a community organizer or do something crazy like run for President."

He also gave a brief glimpse into an Obama administration. "As President, I intend to grow the Foreign Service, double the Peace Corps over the next few years, and engage the young people of other nations in similar programs, so that we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanity."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Sam

    This man is on to something great. I am no longer a Republican.

    May 25, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  2. About Carter's Presidency!

    While I admire Carter's post-presidency work, I can understand why he might "embrace" Obama. Their campaigns are very similar, and just like Ted Kennedy hoping to restore "Camelot" just one last time, so Carter might want to lend credibility to his own, failed presidency. .

    The reality is that JIMMY CARTER was a one-time president. The most obvious factor was lack of previous experience in Washington. Like Obama, he ran on a "leadership crisis" and skepticism about "Washington,” with confidence that his own personal qualities could end the crisis. His campaign in 1975 stressed Washington's defects and his own virtues - NOT SPECIFIC ISSUES OR A CLEARLY DEFINED IDEOLOGY. He sensed a yearning for “change,” and tried to persuade the “disenchanted” that he had the personality and values the situation demanded.
    Many voters found Carter puzzling—even contradictory—and UNTESTED. Carter only squeaked through to victory, with a popular vote of 40.8 million to Ford's 39.1 million and an electoral vote of 297 to 240.
    What Carter failed at was to have a compelling vision AND POLITICAL SKILL.
    Not surprisingly, Carter was a one-term president and even had to struggle to even obtain the re-nomination by his own party.

    Deja-vu all over with Obama!

    May 25, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Larry Buchas

    It was closed to the public and still a large crowd appered.

    We watched the simulcast and were amazed how relaxed Barack is delivering a brand new address. He brought Congressman Pat Kennedy to tears. This man is destined for greatness in the same vein as Lincoln and Jefferson.

    America, this opportunity will return us to our rightful position as leaders of the free world.

    May 25, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. concerned

    Great speech to inspire young folks to go and make a difference in this world. New leaders need to be cultivated so they can tackle the bigger problems we will face in the future. Thanks BO.

    May 25, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. Daniel, Loganville. Ga.

    Liz Trotter is the latest to continue with the garbage aganist Sen. Obama.

    When asked her opinion of the recent scandal surrounding some comments made by Sen. Hillary Clinton, which Trotter described by saying that, "some are reading [it] as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama." Hemmer quickly corrected Trotter, having noticed that she had said "Osama" when she meant "Obama." At this point, Trotter said, "Obama. Well...both if we could!" Trotter then laughed gleefully.

    May 25, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  6. Daniel, Loganville. Ga.

    This needs to stop Liz Trotter is the latest to continue with the garbage aganist Sen. Obama.

    When asked her opinion of the recent scandal surrounding some comments made by Sen. Hillary Clinton, which Trotter described by saying that, "some are reading [it] as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama." Hemmer quickly corrected Trotter, having noticed that she had said "Osama" when she meant "Obama." At this point, Trotter said, "Obama. Well...both if we could!" Trotter then laughed gleefully.

    May 25, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. B

    I feeel that Obama is during a great job. I do not like Hillary but I feel that Hillary as VP, John Edward as AG and Richardson As Sec of State is a great team.

    May 25, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. Women for Obama!

    Good look. Love you Obama!!!!

    May 25, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  9. William

    I am glad that Barack Obama subbed for Kennedy. I wish I could have been there.

    May 25, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. Barbara-California

    I have no comment about Senator Kennedy's health; I just know this, Barack Obama believes in the Democratic party and what it "used to stand for" and I admire him and the friendship and grace he shows his elders.

    I believe that he hears from and knows God, and will be a wonderful President, if the people can get beyond their prejudice to vote for him.

    Thank you, people of the United States, that I can have faith in your intelligence to see the "big picture" and vote for the appropriate and responsible and the one person who can make a difference!

    May 25, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. hrg

    Obama being presidential............

    He will restore America's image in the world and truly work for change in this country. As a boomer, I'm excited to see that some of my dreams of the '60s could be fulfilled.

    YES WE CAN!!!!

    May 25, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  12. Pablo

    He should substitute for a Kennedy. He reminds me of JFK, more every day. Come on America. Break the tired old political mold. O8ama!

    May 25, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  13. Obama's What The World Needs Now

    He's the only one that there's just too little of.

    Keep up the good work Sen. Obama. I'm sure Sen. Kennedy is very pleased you could represent him.

    May 25, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. Michele McCarthy

    Obama truly inspires us to do good and think about others, not just ourselves. So refreshing.

    May 25, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. Connielp

    The best commencement speech I've ever heard. He was excellent and it was a rare opportunity for these graduates to see the future president of the US..What an honor!

    May 25, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  16. Loretta from California

    Senator Kennedy is in our heart and prayers. God be with you, Senator. Thank you for improving the lives of every American.

    May 25, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  17. Venus

    Way to go Bam!

    May 25, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. carolinas

    Dear Barak:

    Congratulations...!!!!.

    Keepup the good work and march on with "courage" to get the nomination. I pray for your safety throughout your campaign season as world is very cruel with full of jealous, hatred and power hungry.

    Wish you all the best..OBAMA 2008.

    May 25, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  19. Alpha Shaw

    He already looks like the president. Bravo Obama...

    May 25, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  20. MK LA

    nothing like using turning a favor from a sick friend into a stumping opportunity
    Barack your not ready yet to fil Ted or Hillary's shoes

    May 25, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  21. Obama, Carter,Kennedy Deja-Vu

    While I admire Carter's post-presidency work, I can understand why he might "embrace" Obama. Their campaigns are very similar, and just like Ted Kennedy hoping to restore "Camelot" just one last time, so Carter might want to lend credibility to his own, failed presidency. .

    The reality is that JIMMY CARTER was a one-time president. The most obvious factor was lack of previous experience in Washington. Like Obama, he ran on a "leadership crisis" and skepticism about "Washington,” with confidence that his own personal qualities could end the crisis. His campaign in 1975 stressed Washington's defects and his own virtues — NOT SPECIFIC ISSUES OR A CLEARLY DEFINED IDEOLOGY. He sensed a yearning for “change,” and tried to persuade the “disenchanted” that he had the personality and values the situation demanded.
    Many voters found Carter puzzling—even contradictory—and UNTESTED. Carter only squeaked through to victory, with a popular vote of 40.8 million to Ford's 39.1 million and an electoral vote of 297 to 240.
    What Carter failed at was to have a compelling vision AND POLITICAL SKILL.
    Not surprisingly, Carter was a one-term president and even had to struggle to even obtain the re-nomination by his own party.

    Deja-vu all over with Obama!

    May 25, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  22. frank, las vegas

    Excellent representation! America will be blessed with Obama as the President!

    May 25, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  23. What if?

    Obama is a decent and kind person, he has been this way throughout this campaign. It's so sad that when their are white candidates, we the minority (including Hispanics) are to over look the color of the skin and be ever so grateful. We are lead to believe the candidate we vote for will make changes that will benefit all people.

    First it was the white hard workers voters, get ready my Hispanic bothers and sister, she has a reason for talking about how important you are, she’s desperately NEEDS your vote, once got you will be a thing of the past. For those who keep bringing up the Rev.Wright, McCain might not have been a member to either of their church, but whose to say he didn't visit them for months or years, as if he was.

    We are going to be cheated by someone whom claims she love our county and promised to unit our party when a nominee is chosen....lies, lies, lies.

    Obama vs McCain=Obama would win easily.
    Hillary vs McCain=lies, tricks and tears.

    May 25, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  24. Karen, TX

    What a wonderful honor to fill in for Kennedy. Way to go Obama!!

    May 25, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. Judy Malone

    YES WE CAN
    Go Barack lead us into the next generation.
    Judy

    May 25, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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