May 25th, 2008
05:45 PM ET
10 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. Time for What Counts

    For him to take time from his campaign to give this speech says a lot about his character. Friendships and family obvoiusly mean a great deal to him.

    He will make us a good president.

    May 25, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. amtFresno,CA

    I heard the whole thing & thought it was excellent as usual. I am sure TK was pleased.

    May 25, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. leecoleman

    i think no one could full fill this speech for ted kennedy than barack obama i hope americans give barack obama a chance i think he gona be a good president.

    May 25, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  4. Lilarose

    The supers can't vote for me in November.

    My Independent vote in November goes to Hillary Clinton.

    May 25, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. Desmond Sequeira

    Natural choice by Ted Kennedy.
    OBAMA is the legacy of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy to the USA and to the world.

    May 25, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. Joe

    It should be easy for Obama to sub for Kennedy.
    They are both cut from the same LIBERAL SOCIALIST COMMUNIST DEMOCRAT PARTY bolt of cloth.

    May 25, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. Texas Vet

    The so called Millennium Generation, born in 1980 to 1995 is in fact the best hope for change in the country.

    My generation, the Baby Boomers, was energized by President Kennedy. We participated in Government, joined the Peace Corp or served in the Military. Some of us participated in the Freedom Marches and protested the War in Vietnam. It was a time for change, but instead of the Age of Aquarius, we went back to Politics as usual.

    But the new voters that predominantly support Obama are hopefully the future of this Country. To most of them Sexism and Racism are not an issue.

    Obama’s plans to make Higher Educational Opportunities available to everyone and require some form of Service to this Country should get more Press than it has received.

    May 25, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. syl

    On Memorial Weekend and not a word about serving in the US military.
    And yet he criticizes John McCain about military benefit and how he should vote.
    This guy lacks experience and credibility.
    More focus should be placed on his record and precisely what kind of changes he is taking about,.

    May 25, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. JS of Atlanta

    Obama for President!

    May 25, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Change We Need

    God Bless America. Obama for President!

    May 25, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. David, Santa Rosa, CA

    OBAMA 08'

    Well, I'm a huge Obama supporter these days, but i gotta say, his commencement speach was rather blah.

    I'm sure the man is very tired. (as well as Sen. Clinton).

    Once Sen. Clinton accepts what is, I hope Sen. Obama and his team take a well desered week off, or at least cut way back on hours while putting together the GE strategy and team.

    Barack Obama/Janet Napolatino 08'

    May 25, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  12. Buddy

    Ted went sailing. A brief look at Obama socialism.

    May 25, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |

    The best thing that American's can do is to allow for a change that has eluded her for the past 8 years.And the worst thing she can do is to allow a third term for bush and co,

    May 25, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. Jon, Los Angeles

    Uncle Ted, may God bless you richly!

    May 25, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. wendy

    It was great of Obama to fill in for Ted Kennedy. Who better to give an inspirational speech to the graduates.

    May 25, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  16. CB

    Beautiful speech. Calling on young people to give to their country, self-lessly. To help the poor in other countries. Wonderful. I love this guy.

    May 25, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |

    This is a fully deserved honour for Obama. And his choice is quite apt at these moment of our sociopolitical life. He represents the freshness, hope and a new beginning that America needs at this time. The world has changed and has gotten closer, so must America.

    May 25, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. FB-CA

    Obama inspired all my family and me. We are so greatful to have him as presidential canidate and hopefully next president of united state.
    He run campain without any debt and lending money and proved that he is a great leader.
    Obama 08

    May 25, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Ok...I'm a Republican....and I'm so happy to support Obama and donate to his campaign....was so excellent to see him in my home town!!...well....I didn't really get to see him...just to know he was here made everyone talk

    May 25, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. NuAmerica

    Way to go President Obama

    May 25, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  21. JOYCE

    president obama
    you made a really good speach as usual
    the young people was honored to have you

    May 25, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  22. Angela

    I think Senator Obama is absolutely fantastic. The man is the epitome of what this country is all about. He struggled with a single mother and with grandparents. He worked hard to become a Harvard graduate. It makes my blood boil when people refer to him as an elitist just because he's educted and professional. I can't help but wonder if he were a white guy would he be called an elitist?

    May 25, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. Fazio

    Barack Obama is an honorable man. America needs him.

    May 25, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  24. girl texas

    God, Oblahma makes me ill. So arrogant and empty.

    May 25, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. New Day

    That's nice. I tried to see it on but the president of the university was rambling on forever and I had to go. 😦

    May 25, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7