May 20th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Colleagues react to Kennedy


WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush and several of Sen. Ted Kennedy's colleagues on Capitol Hill are expressing support for the Massachusetts Democrat following the news doctors have found a malignant tumor in his brain.

Bush said Kennedy is a man of "tremendous courage."

"Ted Kennedy is a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength, and powerful spirit," he said. "Our thoughts are with Senator Kennedy and his family during this difficult period. We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery."

All three White House hopefuls praised Kennedy, calling him a Senate icon. Sen. Barack Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, told CNN that the news about Kennedy is "heartbreaking."

"I would not be sitting here as a presidential candidate were it not for some of the battles he fought as a senator - he battled for voting rights and civil rights when I was a child. I stand on his shoulders," Obama said. (Related video: Watch Sen. Obama discuss Kennedy.)

Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying, "Ted Kennedy's courage and resolve are unmatched, and they have made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history. Our thoughts are with him and Vicki and we are praying for a quick and full recovery." (Related video: Watch Sen. Clinton on Kennedy.)

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who is the GOP's presumptive nominee for president, said: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to him. We hope and pray that they will be able to treat it and that he will experience a full recovery."

Speaking in Florida aboard his campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express, he added: "I have described Ted Kennedy as the last lion in the Senate. And I have held that view because he remains the single most effective member of the Senate." (Related video: Watch Sen. McCain on Kennedy.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "The thoughts and prayers of the entire Senate family are with Ted and the Kennedy family. We are not sure when he will return to the Senate, but we all look forward to his recovery. Millions of Americans have benefited from the work of Ted Kennedy, and I know he’s not done yet.” (Related video: Watch Sens. Reid, Dodd, and Kerry on Kennedy.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Kennedy a "fighter."

"I know that that fighting spirit will hold him in good stead in the challenge that he faces now," she told reporters. "I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that our prayers and thoughts and good wishes are with Senator Kennedy, with his wife Vicky, with our colleague Patrick, his son, and with the entire Kennedy family."  (Related video: Watch Pelosi react to Kennedy's diagnosis)

Sen. Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, another close friend of Kennedy, spoke quietly on his cell phone just outside the lunch where Senate Democrats learned of the news. He looked emotional when he hung up and told a reporter, "I can't say anything."

He later released a statement saying, "Ted Kennedy has spent his life caring for those in need. Now it's time for those who love Ted and his family to care for them and join in prayer to give them strength."

Sen. Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, predicted if anyone could overcome the illness, Kennedy would. "Look what he's been through in his life," he said.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg said, "Ted Kennedy makes the Senate the place that it is, and has for so many years."

Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, described Kennedy as a "personal mentor" and said: "Senator Kennedy approaches every obstacle with tremendous courage, poise and resolve. And I know his tremendous heart and spirit will prevail now."

Related video: Watch Sen. Mitch McConnell discuss Sen. Kennedy

Related video: Sen. Specter: Kennedy diagnosis 'devastating news'

Related video: Watch Sens. Durbin, Warner, Specter, and Leahy on Kennedy

Related video: Sen. Byrd: 'distraught and shaken' by Kennedy diagnosis

Related video: Watch Sen. Kerry on Kennedy

Filed under: Ted Kennedy
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    My heart feels heavy after hearing this news. I've always had the utmost respect and love of the Kennedy family. My prayers are with Ted Kennedy and family.

    May 20, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Anne - VA

    My prayers go out to Senator Kennedy for a healthy recovery.

    May 20, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Stacy Clarks


    May 20, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. Chyrel Wallace-Jackson, Chicago Illinois

    I'm very saddened by this news. The Kennedy clan forever changed the face of American politics. Their legacy has meant a great deal to a lot of people. This is just horrible and I feel bad for this esteemed family.

    May 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Joe, Northern Virginia

    You and your are and will always remain in our prayers Sen. Kennedy. The same “fighter spirit” you have been using to fight for the causes of the poor and defenseless will see you through this. God bless!!!

    May 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. Biel Thich

    As Sudanese American, my thoughts and prayers are with Senator Kennedy and his family, I have been in this country for almost seven years and I have come to learn that Senator Kennedy is one person who fights for all Americans regardless of who are, where you come from and what color of your skin. I am praying for his full recovery and I hope to see him on senate floor soon.

    Biel Thich
    Oamah, Nebraska

    May 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    Sen. Kennedy, I wish you God's speed. May God touch you at this time and heal you of the tumor, in Jesus name, Amen.

    May 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. cpljoeb from NC

    Mr Kennedy are prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. I wish you well and Godspeed and keep your faith because god does heal.

    May 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. Lucyna

    I love you, Sir and I pray to God for you to defeat this illness..

    May 20, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Val, Atlanta, Ga

    My prayers are with Sen Kennedy and his family

    May 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Tim in Canada

    Teddy is gonna be alright, I know. He has fought many wars in life and he'll win this one.

    May 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. marcelo

    I'm truly saddened to hear of Sen. Kennedy's illness. My prayers are with him and his family... thank you for all you have done for our country Senator.

    ... I just have to say something to all those Clinton supporters claiming this is a stunt by the Obama campaign to overshadow her big win in Kentucky... SHAME ON YOU!!!

    May 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. Anette

    This is our American royalty and as I cried during other adverse situations with the Kennedy family, I shed tears today. I also pray for the family for his life and recovery. I love them all, as my parents and grandparents have also loved them.

    He has worked so hard for ALL people.

    God Bless Sen. Kennedy, and God bless American.

    May 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Billy J Austin, TX

    Whatever I may think of his brand of liberalism in the democratic party, I am certainly praying for his quick recovery. He certainly has the kind of personality that he will need to fight this thing. Good luck sir, you and your family and friends will be in my prayers.

    May 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. DoneWithDems

    Praying for you and your family*****

    May 20, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  16. Ex-Hillary supporter

    This is for "the truth" post.

    The story is about Ted Kennedy and his medical crisis. It is insensitive and bad form to use the space for your own Hillary propaganda.

    May 20, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. Eric

    I am not a liberal or a democrat by any stretch, but when it comes to a man's health, politics is pushed to the side. My prayers are with Sen Kennedy and his family. I truly hope he is back in the Senate fully healthy very soon!

    May 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. RB

    God's speed Mr. Kennedy!

    May 20, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Chris, Middletown, CT

    era era era....

    May 20, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Larry Buchas


    We're rooting for ya' every day. You are the one that caused the turning point of this election. Barack would not be ahead without you and we appreciate your leadership and wisdom.

    God bless you, Lion of the Senate!

    May 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. The Truth

    A true fighter for the people. Get well soon.

    May 20, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. Ted

    As we pray for Senator Kennedy's full and speedy recovery, let's reflect on what he stands for: Care for the poor and the powerless, courage in the face of adversity, and strength to reach across party lines and make common cause, so that real good comes out of the legislative process.

    He is someone who made a difference, who did not let partisanship get in the way of accomplishing good in health care, in civil rights, in equal opportunity for all Americans.

    Maybe his colleagues in the Senate can see a way to enact true health care reform as a way of showing that they want to do what he has been doing all along.

    May 20, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. keith-new haven

    Get Well Sen. Kennedy. I was deeply saddened by this news. He is truly
    a living legend. I pray for your quick recovery

    May 20, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Tyme4chaing

    Dear Lord our Father, lift the Sen. Kennedy and his family up. Give them the blessings they need to overcome any obstacles.

    May 20, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Jecca

    GOD BLESS YOU! You are a fighter!!

    May 20, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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