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. Mo


    May 25, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  2. Bill, Covington

    It gives me great pleasure to see what with a little(very little) effort you can use to replace a Kennedy. I always knew he wasn't much.

    May 25, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  3. mel

    Obama for president and superdelegates close the deal after
    June 1st. Hillary is trying to change rules alone with her husband
    Bill,looking for his 3rd term and maybe another affair in white
    house. What ever happen to Mccain lobbyist friends know one
    is talking about and the who is jumping ship before general
    election. Hillary, she can say something like did about RFK and the press make excuses for her.But Obama say you run negative press
    a couples of month,even he saids it was misworded. He have know
    control over what another man saids and Mccain taken money from
    his pastor. Mccain on talk the war and what want do in cuban,Iran,
    but say anything domestic here for the american peoples and the
    economy. We want issues at home,not any pastor,Iran,Cuban or
    Mexico. We high gas prices,grocery, High cost of homes and know
    salary increase to help with rising cost.Minium wage can't even
    pay rent on a one bedroom apartment.The government can not
    create more jobs. Most of us can not even get an government job.
    We need change and Obama can do this for us with Sam nunn VP
    and Wesley Clark Secty of defense,secty of state governor from
    kansas,atty general John Edwards,Hillary Clinton surpreme justices,
    Elizabeth Edwards secty of education and Dick Gephardt secty of
    Commerce. Let's get mccain back in house as a senator.

    May 25, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  4. Bridgette - PA

    This is why Barack will be our nominee! 10 more days baby!


    May 25, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  5. Nancy Levin

    OBama is that unique, once in a lifetime person who has gained the support of many of our leaders, Teddy Kennedy being chief among them. Many of those of us who have believed, followed and contributed
    from the very begiining find every day more reasons to respect him.
    His presidency, even now in these difficult times, will prove to be the
    most effective answer to the world's query.." Has America 'lost it'?.....
    not yet, we reply, we have hope, we have Barack O'Bama! and we
    have yet Senator Kennedy and others like him who lead the way.

    May 25, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  6. Nava-Canada

    Senator Obama should consider this invitation to stand -in for Senator
    Kennedy ,an honour as the Weslyan University board thought it fit to invite him out of many, not Clinton,not McCain, to stand-in for this great senator, who is recovering from illness. This clearly shows that the educationists in US want Obama to lead the country. This is a good sign that educationists, the economists and foreign policy experts, except the 'war lords' ,all prefer Obama to be the next president as they probably feel that he is capable of running the country in a wiser manner, away from war mongering & threats to anihilate countries who does not see eye to eye on some important issues.

    May 25, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. Anee

    Where is the breaking news report about the swipe obama took at the VA Tech victims?
    When is the MSM going to start exposing this guy for his stupidity.

    May 25, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  8. Chris

    Don’t swift boat John Kerry again; he has the same socialist views as Obama

    May 25, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. joseph

    Lets go Barack.

    Our hope are in our hands. We will make you accountable in the office. You are our voice magnified. Always try to let it be heard around the country.

    May 25, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  10. Stephan

    He is a great leader that your country desperately needs. Please don't screw him up. regards from Canada

    May 25, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  11. HENRY

    Obama is a politician just like every one else as evidenced by his use of the "opportunity" to replace one of his most rabid supporters. His calls to Hillary not to be a politician and not claim the votes she received in all the marginal states that matter in a presidential race have are hollow after this performance.

    May 25, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  12. Robert

    That's what friends are for.

    Obama 08

    May 25, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  13. ds

    Way to Go President Barack Obama!!

    May 25, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  14. ZEISO


    May 25, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. S

    Already doing his presidential duties. Go Obama!

    May 25, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  16. Go-Bama

    Obama -08

    May 25, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  17. Mark

    I actually saw the speach and was one of his best to date and i really hope the students take it to heart.

    May 25, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. octopus

    I also pray that the good old Ted Kennedy wins this fight against a brain cancer. Ted, America still needs you. Get well fast.

    May 25, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. Dan, TX

    Phoenix is sending back pictures and looks healthy.

    Obama '08

    May 25, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  20. steve in L.A

    Is Obama the best replacement they could find? The DEMS. gotta be hurting!

    May 25, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  21. onwa 2008


    May 25, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  22. From New York

    He is a great person, he is a future hope, he will be a GREAT President.

    May 25, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  23. Park More, New Orleans

    No Obama, high risk for the US economy, security and foreign policy

    May 25, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  24. Car Kennedy

    From Dreams Of My Father;
    “That hate hadn't gone away,” he wrote, blaming white people,- some
    cruel, some ignorant, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives.”

    May 25, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  25. Bill

    Obama is not the material to rejuvenate the gradual decline of America in the world stage, his simplistic views are no matched of leaders in other countries. Look at Carter, he was weak while was the president. Obama will be like him, history will be repeat again. God Save America!

    May 25, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
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