May 25th, 2008
05:45 PM ET
12 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. John Peter


    May 25, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  2. Dave, SC

    Barack, that is a good job for you. You do not deserve to be our commander-in-chief. Go away.

    May 25, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  3. Nia

    From what I heard it was a good listen...

    May 25, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  4. Concerned Canadian

    What do you call a person or a team in sports going around garaunteeing a victory ? .....yup just as I thought. Thats Obama !

    May 25, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  5. Edwin, Fayetteville, NC

    This shows the good moral fiber of a wonderful person; Sen. Obama has proven to be a true loyal Democrat and friend.

    May 25, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  6. Nia

    Hopefully the graduates will play it forward. If they can afford to with sudents loans coming due.

    May 25, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  7. Bond

    Great speech. I watched it in it's entirety. It is just uplifting to listen to this man. Leaders as such comes once in a lifetime. We are blessed to witness him in this lifetime. Past generations had their own, and so will future generations, but Barack is for our time.

    God Bless him and keep his family safe.

    May 25, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. EC

    Sen. Obama, you truly are an inspiration to the younger generation and the entire nation. YOU sir have represented Sen. Ted Kennedy honorably by your speech today.

    I commend you for your loyalty and integrity when it comes to standing by a friend and mentor in need. It's speaks to the caliber of your character as the type of President this country desperately needs. This nation is blessed to have such a GREAT leader as our NEXT PRESIDENT.


    May 25, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. John from Las Vegas

    Obama gave a great, eloguent, and inspiring speech (as usual). It's a shame so many people don't like him, but then, anyone who says racism doesn't exist anymore is very likely a racist.*

    (*see Kentucky voting results).

    Clinton did, after all, secure the "white trash" vote. She should be proud.

    May 25, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  10. Linned

    I thought his speech was great and especially the message for Senator Kennedy.

    May 25, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. Linned

    I thought his speech was great and especially the message from Senator Kennedy.

    May 25, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Nice Job!

    May 25, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  13. Bill Stapp

    It was an excellent speech. Granted it may have sounded better because it was part of a college graduation where professors get to pretend that they can speak well, too.

    I commend Senator Obama for not turning the event into a political rally. He has poise, intellegence, and maturity. If you ask me, those are good qualities for the office of President of the United States. If all other candidates had those qualities, the choice for this conservative writer would be a lot harder.

    May 25, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  14. Noemi in Los Angeles, CA

    Obama Generation 08

    May 25, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  15. Henry

    He understands what the youth has to do to empower this great nation. Obama 08

    May 25, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  16. kantor

    what a guy...he makes me so proud.

    obama 08

    May 25, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  17. Val from MA

    Oh, what a suck up! He makes me want to vomit.

    May 25, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  18. Hillary/McCain

    It is the best of times and the worst of times. the best–we have a wonderful country that we all love and constantly try to improve. the worst–we have a "forced upon us" democratic candidate who, with his wife, does not like or respect our country and tries to change all of our ideals and patriotism and make Americainto a radical left socialist country with a diminishing military. Maybe the small % of Americans that voted for Obama can move with him to one of those countries that he respects so much....Iran, Cuba, etc.

    May 25, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  19. Hope

    Saw this on YouTube. Great speech, Obama.

    May 25, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  20. Jerry Jones

    To Mr. Obama- For you to refer to Senator Kennedy as "Teddy" is not only disrespectful but downright shameful. You are so "full of yourself".
    This country is in a sad state when the Democrats are offering you up as one of their two best. Sad, Sad and more Sad......................

    May 25, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  21. Mark

    Obama is wonderful.

    May 25, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
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