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. Listen Carefully!

    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.

    May 25, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. David- Dallas Tx

    Thats my man right there. Every word uttered by this young articulated man makes me happy as a rudimentary in politics. I'm working towards and adapting his style of delivery as I'm working hard to become a senator one day myself. you deserve it. It's time for you, you've been appointed by the Almighty to save us from this mess.

    May 25, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. Alfred.Jr

    I have come so close to his mantled search to turn the "great nation" around in unsumantable paste.
    Am proud of you, If not for other Republican, I dont the major election will turflie him like that of the primary race.
    Soonest I will take as my personal obligation to make a diffrence that will turn all the infirmty right up side down.

    May 25, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  4. pedro ngalaxi

    Let´s Unite the Country ..
    NO MORE MCBUSH ERA..

    Go..

    Obama / Webb 08

    May 25, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. laura from canada

    This is nauseating to see that now this inexperienced nobody is tying his image to that of a Kennedy....wake up America....there is no substance here....he is not a Kennedy and is totally inexperienced to become President. Without a script he can't put cohesive paragraphs together without stuttering.

    You have shown that you prefer a man, however inexperienced to a woman... congratulations you are not a racist country afterall, you are sexist. If I were HRC I would feel a double standard and somewhat cheated...out of voters and delegates; comparing spouses OK if it's Bill but not OK if it's Michelle; experience only counts if you're a woman.....and so on plus the condescending "you're likeable enough Hilary", not to mention Rev. Wright sage. I hope McCain wins in November. When America falls in love with a star, they are blinded by the light.

    May 25, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. Trinidadian for Obama

    I think an Obama Administration will be the best medicine for this drought that the United States had for the past 8 years. Also, it still astounds me that the rules that Senator Clinton agreed to previously somehow has no importance now. That is a Bush-like rationalization.

    May 25, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. WRITE IN HILLARY ON NOVEMBER BALLOT!

    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.

    May 25, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  8. Cindy in California

    I watched the speech, and as an independent I thought it was inspiring. Everytime I here him speak I am so confused as to why people make negative comments about him. What is not to like about a person who encourages people to be the best they can be. He seems to be genuine American who cares about others and our country. I may just vote for him.

    May 25, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. Hillary is a winner

    Carter telling Hillary to give it up is like a young person telling him to go to leave the earth.

    Yes, he has a right to speak, but he is such a turkey who wants to listen. Isn't he the one who botched rescuing our POW's in Iran and let Ron Reagan do that. He is such a quitter that maybe he thinks everyone should be a quitter.

    By the way, why are all the anti Hillary people so angry and hateful.

    Why not gather around the mother hen and let he choose the inexperienced one term US Senator as a VP. That is all he is qualified to be from my point of view.

    May 25, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. 1926

    How tacky. People usually wait to be asked to perform a job. Maybe he had someone else in mind, Obama. You have no manners

    May 25, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. Charlene

    I am so proud to see Senator Obama at the podium for Senator Kennedy.

    God bless them both as they continue doing God's will in their lives. I look forward to a happier America with President Obama leading us. Senatory Kennedy and his family are in my prayers for a speedy and 100% return to good health.

    May 25, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  12. Luis Mejia

    A Graduation speech became part of his political campaign...

    That is tacky

    May 25, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. Sam

    Did Obama smile at all the sweeties?

    May 25, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. dwho

    CNN, what is the total fund that the Obama Campaign has raised? Since your $240 millions report in March, no total yet for April and May.

    May 25, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. YES WE CAN

    God Bless Ted Kennedy and the entire Kennedy family. God Bless the families that have lost loved ones. To the soldiers that are home – welcome home. God Bless Barack Obama. You make us proud. You are going to be one of the greatest President's in US history. YES WE CAN WHEN WE UNITE.

    May 25, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. HILLARY HAS THE POPULAR VOTE!!!!!!

    WHAT A JOKE!

    JUST ANOTHER WAY TO TRY AND BOOST OBAMA!

    THE FACT IS HE CANNOT WIN IN NOVEMBER!!!!!

    BUT HILLARY CAN!!

    THIS COUNTRY NEEDS A PATRIOTIC HERO!

    THIS COUNTRY NEEDS HILLARY CLINTON!!!!!!

    May 25, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  17. Terry in Fl

    Where does this man get the gall to suck up and bald face lie to millions of people? It's sickening.Somebody stop this joke, it's getting out of hand.

    May 25, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  18. Sean Deason

    I knew Ted Kennedy, and you sir are no Ted Kennedy! You are *way* cooler! :)

    May 25, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. lol

    obama can't wait till the october surprise tape, of your wife at the pulpit at the tucc church, ranting about the "whitey's". then the superdelegates will be speed dialing up hillary, to be the nominee.

    May 25, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    OBAMA-EDWARDS '08

    Our hope for the future!!!

    May 25, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Joseph Adewole

    Well done Mr. President !!

    May 25, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. fred

    LMAO....he looks like an Idiot!!

    May 25, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. Frank smith

    Obama is right .
    He cant feel kennedys shoes or any one else

    May 25, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. Cocoa

    Excellent topic, Obama. Befitting of our next president to speak of community service to our nation and the world. Great. We are our brothers and sisters' keepers. Great speech!

    May 25, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  25. Army Officer

    Whatever Obama may lack in "accepted" experience, he more than makes up for in judgement, inspirational initiative, and vision.
    Aretha Franklin defined soul as, "...the ability to make someone feel what YOU are feeling".

    I'm feeling Obama!

    Hooah!

    May 25, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.