(CNN) - Ted Kennedy's widow Thursday formally endorsed Democratic nominee Martha Coakley's bid to fill the final three years of the term of the late senator from Massachusetts.
"Time and again Martha Coakley has answered the call for public service," said Vicki Kennedy.
"My husband fought for health care reform for more than 40 years. He called it the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right and not a privledge," added Kennedy. "Martha Coakley shares those beliefs and she'll go to Washington to fight for us."
Former Rep. Joseph Kennedy, the late senator's nephew, and Sen. Paul Kirk, a long time adviser and friend to Ted Kennedy who is serving as his interim replacement, were among others who attended the campaign event in Medford, Massachusetts.
Vicki Kennedy avoided endorsing any candidate during the Democratic primary campaign, but she supported Coakley, who is the state's attorney general, after she won the December 8 election against three opponents.
Coakley is facing off against Republican nominee Scott Brown, a state senator, in the January 19 election. Joseph Kennedy, a third party candidate who is not related to the late senator, is also in the race.
The 77 year old Kennedy, who died of brain cancer in August, was the fourth-longest serving senator in American history.
"Senator Kennedy was one of our nation's greatest advocates for justice, equality, and those less fortunate," Coakley said in prepared comments. "It is incredibly humbling to receive the support of the members of the Kennedy family as well as Senator Kirk. While no one can ever fill Senator Kennedy's shoes, I will work every day to follow in his footsteps and fight for issues such as meaningful health care reform and equal rights for all."
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