August 26th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
5 years ago

Kennedy remembered

Friends and colleagues are reacting to Ted Kennedy's death.
Friends and colleagues are reacting to Ted Kennedy's death.

(CNN) - Several of Ted Kennedy's colleagues and friends have issued statements on the
Massachusetts senator's passing.

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."

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."

CNN Radio reports on Kennedy's legacy:


More reactions after the jump:

Former President Bill Clinton: 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.

As President, I was thankful for his fierce advocacy for universal health care and his leadership in providing health coverage to millions of children. His tireless efforts have brought us to the threshold of real health care reform. I was also grateful for his efforts, often in partnership with Republicans as well as Democrats, to advance civil rights, promote religious freedom, make college more affordable, and give young Americans the opportunity to serve at home in Americorp. I am glad the bill President Obama signed to expand Americorp and other youth service opportunities is named the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Through it, his commitment to public service will live on in millions of young people across our nation.

Hillary and I will always be grateful for the many gestures of kindness and generosity he extend to us, for the concern he showed for all the children and grandchildren of the Kennedy clan, and for his devotion to all those in need whose lives were better because he stood up for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, his children and grandchildren, and the people of Massachusetts he served so well."

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."

John Kerry (D-Massachusetts): "We have known for some time that this day was coming, but nothing makes it easier. We have lost a great light in our lives and our politics, and it will never be the same again. Ted Kennedy was such an extraordinary force, yes for the issues he cared about, but more importantly for the humanity and caring in our politics that is at the center of faith and true public service.

“No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger than life presence who was simply the best - the best Senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague, and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times. He faced the last challenge of his life with the same grace, courage, and determination with which he fought for the causes and principles he held so dear. 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 fourteen 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.

“Teresa and I send all our love to Vicki, Teddy Jr., Patrick, Kara and their family, and to the entire Kennedy family for whom Teddy was always a rock at times like this. Massachusetts and our entire nation feels their loss and grieves with them."

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.

“Many of his fellow senators, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, will note today that Ted was sincerely intent on finding enough common ground among us to make progress on the issues of our day, and toward that end he would work as hard and as modestly as any staffer. Many will recall his convivial nature, his humor, his thoughtfulness. We will praise as his greatest strength the integrity of his word. When he made a promise to you, he kept it, no matter what.

“What is harder for us to express is the emptiness we will feel in the Senate in his absence. Even when we are all crowded in the chamber for a vote, engaged in dozens of separate conversations, it will seem a quiet and less interesting place, in the knowledge that his booming voice, fueled by his passion for his convictions, will never encourage or assail or impress us again.

“I will miss him very much.”

Chris Dodd, (D-Connecticut): “I’m not sure America has ever had a greater Senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy.

“I will always remember Teddy as the ultimate example for all of us who seek to serve, a hero for those Americans in the shadow of life who so desperately needed one.

“He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life – ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need.

“The commitment to build a stronger and fairer America, a more perfect union, was deeply ingrained in the fiber of who he was, and what he believed in, and why he served.

“That’s why he stands among the most respected Senators in history. But it was his sympathetic ear, his razor wit, and his booming, raucous laugh that made him among the most beloved.

“Whatever tragedy befell Teddy’s family, he would always be there for them. Whatever tragedy befell the family of one of his friends, he would always be there for us. And in this moment of profound grief, our hearts are with his wonderful wife Vicki, his fantastic kids Ted Jr., Patrick, Kara, Curran, and Caroline, his grandchildren, and the wide and wonderful extended family for whom he was always a safe harbor.

“I will miss him every day I serve, and every day I live.”

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.

Tipper and I send our love and heartfelt condolences to Vicki, his children, and all of his family. The nation and the world will miss him a great deal.

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."

Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader: “It is with great sadness that Elaine and I note the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the giants of American political life, a longtime Senate colleague, and a friend.

“No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigor he poured into a truly momentous life. We send our deepest expressions of sympathy to Vicki, his children, and the entire Kennedy family.”

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."

Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts), former governor: "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."

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."

"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."

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.

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."

Tim Kaine, Democratic Committee Chairman: Today we mourn the loss of one the greatest and most consequential political figures in American history with the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy.

Senator Kennedy was adored by millions of Americans and was respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his energy, his passion, his humor, his compassion, his friendship and above all his commitment to serve his country in pursuit of a more common good for every American.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Senator Kennedy devoted his entire adult life – in the great tradition of the Kennedy family – to public service. And, in his forty-six years in the Senate, Senator Kennedy's primary focus – and the legacy he will be most remembered for – will be his work to improve the plight of ordinary Americans, to empower the powerless and to end the scourge of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and economic background that was all too prevalent in an earlier time.

For his efforts to ensure civil and voting rights for minorities to equal rights for women, Senator Kennedy was a champion. For providing health care to millions of our nation's children to fighting for the cause and rights of workers and organized labor, Senator Kennedy was a hero. For working to improve education and educational opportunities for children and college students to fighting for the security and dignity of older Americans, Senator Kennedy was an icon. And, for his career-long pursuit of quality, affordable health care for every American, a cause he was devoted to until the very end, Senator Kennedy was an inspiration to millions of Americans who are fighting today for that just cause.

In the Senate, he was called the Lion. To the Democratic Party whose values and ideals were embodied in and shaped by this great man, he was a giant. To the American people, he will be remembered as one of the greatest and most accomplished legislators in American history. And to his family he will be remembered as a father, a husband, an uncle, a brother, a grandfather and a friend.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family as we mourn the loss and celebrate the extraordinary life of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia): "I have known Ted Kennedy for more than 47 years. In that time, it has been my greatest pleasure to work with him in the Congress to try to tackle many human problems, but I am especially gratified by his contributions to the cause of civil rights and voting rights. 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."

Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire): “Today America lost an extraordinary leader, a legendary political force, and the patriarch of one of the greatest families in American history. For nearly half a century, Ted Kennedy has tirelessly served our nation during one of the most transformative times in history. He has been a leading voice for advancing civil rights, social welfare, and health care – and has always worked humbly to assist those who are less fortunate.

“In the Senate, Ted and I had a remarkable working relationship, and a friendship I will always cherish. We served on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, alternating as Chairman and Ranking Member as the party majorities switched. During this time Ted was always willing to not only reach across the aisle, but had the unique ability to pull people together to get things done, with both substance and a great sense of humor. He was undoubtedly one of the single most effective senators in this history of our country and the impact of his loss will be felt far beyond the halls of Washington or the streets of Hyannis Port. Where his booming voice once echoed through the Senate, there will now be a resounding echo from this great loss, but his memory will never leave us.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): “The people of Massachusetts and the United States Congress have lost a tireless public servant.

“Ted Kennedy was my friend. While there were few political issues on which he and I agreed, our relationship was never disagreeable, and was always marked by good humor, hard work, and a desire to find common ground.

“Ted Kennedy was also a friend to inner-city children and teachers. For the better part of the last decade, Ted and I worked together to support struggling Catholic grade schools in inner-city Washington. By helping these schools keep their doors open and helping them retain their committed teachers and faculty, this joint effort made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of inner-city children, who otherwise would have been denied the opportunity for a quality education. It wouldn’t have been possible without Senator Kennedy and his genuine desire to give something back to help inner-city students in the city in which he’d served for so many years. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Kennedy on this project, and I will dearly miss his friendship and his partnership in this cause.

“Debbie and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Vicki and the entire Kennedy family at this difficult time.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts): “Today our country and the world lost a leading light and a legislative legend. Edward Kennedy was the greatest senator this country has ever known and an inspiration to all who have answered the call to public service.

“Never afraid to sail against the wind in the name of justice, equality and opportunity, Senator Kennedy was a treasured friend and a legislator without peer. Throughout his distinguished career, he helped bring health care to millions of children, enabled many young people to afford a college education and ensured that so many could realize the American dream.

“In these difficult times, my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family, especially with Senator Kennedy’s wife Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr. and my colleague Patrick.”

“To echo his own immortal words, the causes which he championed shall endure, his hopes will live on in the millions of people his work touched and the dreams of Ted Kennedy shall never die.”

Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-Missouri): “This man was so much more than his image,” McCaskill said. “While his vision soared, the power of his personality and the magnet of his intellect drew his colleagues to the table of compromise. It was there he did his best work. His love for the little guy and his affection for the underdog influenced everything he did. And importantly, his sense of humor and contagious laughter made him real and approachable in spite of his power and privilege.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois): “Today there is an empty chair in our Senate and an empty feeling in our hearts.”

“We all waited expectantly during Ted's struggle with cancer for the Senate doors to swing wide and that great Irish spirit to once again return.”

“His voice roared as he battled for the poor and the victims of injustice yet he had a smile that could light a room, a laugh that would draw a crowd and a heart always ready to share your sorrow. America was blessed to have the gift of Ted Kennedy and I was blessed to count him as a friend.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut): “Ted Kennedy was a gifted, inspiring, irresistible man, a great American public servant, and a real Master of the Senate. What he said of his brother Bob was true of him: Ted saw wrong and tried to right it, he saw suffering and tried to heal it. A passionate Democrat, he nonetheless was at the center of great bipartisan accomplishments over the last five decades of American public life. He knew when to stand and advocate and when to sit and negotiate. That's why he got so much done.

“I was inspired into public service by his brother John and so it was a real personal thrill and honor to work alongside Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, to learn from him, and to laugh - and occasionally roar - with him.

Hadassah and I mourn the passing of Ted Kennedy, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to Vicki, Kara, Patrick, and Ted Jr, and promise them we will keep Ted and them in our prayers.”

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor: I would like to extend our sympathies to the Kennedy family as we hear word about the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. He believed in our country and fought passionately for his convictions.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia): “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.”

“Senator Kennedy and I both witnessed too many wars in our lives, and believed too strongly in the Constitution of the United States to allow us to go blindly into war. That is why we stood side by side in the Senate against the war in Iraq.”

“Neither years of age nor years of political combat, nor his illness, diminished the idealism and energy of this talented, imaginative, and intelligent man. And that is the kind of Senator Ted Kennedy was. Throughout his career, Senator Kennedy believed in a simple premise: that our society's greatness lies in its ability and willingness to provide for its less fortunate members. Whether striving to increase the minimum wage, ensuring that all children have medical insurance, or securing better access to higher education, Senator Kennedy always showed that he cares deeply for those whose needs exceed their political clout. Unbowed by personal setbacks or by the terrible sorrows that have fallen upon his family, his spirit continued to soar, and he continued to work as hard as ever to make his dreams a reality.”

“In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.”

“God bless his wife Vicki, his family, and the institution that he served so ably, which will never be the same without his voice of eloquence and reason. And God bless you Ted. I love you and will miss you terribly.”

“In my autobiography I wrote that during a visit to West Virginia in 1968 to help dedicate the “Robert F. Kennedy Youth Center” in Morgantown, “Senator Kennedy’s voice quivered with emotion as he talked of his late brothers and their love for West Virginia. ‘These hills, these people, and this state have had a very special meaning for my family. Our lives have been tightly intertwined with yours.’”

“I am sure the people of the great state of West Virginia join me in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the Kennedy family at this moment of deep sorrow.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York):“Ted Kennedy was a mentor, a guiding light, and a close friend - we all loved the man. In the Senate, Ted Kennedy was our sun – the center of our universe. To be pulled by his strong gravitational field, to bask in his warmth was a privilege, an honor, and, for many of us, even a life changing experience. His death leaves our world dark but, as he said in his own words, ‘the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.’ Ted, we will not let your flag fall.”


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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Kevin in Ohio

    May God have mercy on your soul.

    August 26, 2009 08:20 am at 8:20 am |