August 29th, 2009
01:15 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama remembers Kennedy as 'soul of Democratic party'

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) - President Barack Obama hailed Sen. Edward M. Kennedy as "a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate - a man whose name graces nearly one thousand laws, and who penned more than three hundred himself" at the late legislator's funeral Saturday.

"Ted Kennedy's life's work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections," Obama said.

"It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow," the president said.

"We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers' rights or civil rights," he said, calling him "the greatest legislator of our time."

But he also remembered the towering Washington figure as a generous, caring person.

"We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office," Obama said. "We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy - not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved."

Filed under: Ted Kennedy
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