September 9th, 2009
09:16 PM ET
13 years ago

Kennedy to Obama: 'There will be struggles' over health care

The White House has released the text of the letter from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy that President Obama referenced in his address to Congress:

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat – that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,


Filed under: Health care • Popular Posts • President Obama • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. J TN

    RIP Teddy.

    September 9, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  2. John

    Fix the Tort system and the over regulation then see what is left to do. Obama is going ass end first.

    September 9, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Healthcare for all is a human and moral right!

    September 9, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. New Democrat

    Pass a Bill and start governing the USA...there has been too much playin around with politics....I NEED HEALTH REFORM NOW.

    September 9, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. lori

    These props are the remedy for our ailing country.those who do not believe so are heartless.

    September 9, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  6. jkm

    I applaud Ted Kennedy for his service to our country – even though I don't agree with many of his views.

    But, I think Obama did not go far enough for true tort reform – which is the key to saving billions in the medical system. I am a physician and I know this to be true!

    September 9, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  7. williams

    we shall not fail this time again, let put all ours future generation in good path.

    September 9, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  8. pc

    Senator Ted Kennedy cared about the American people. His lifes work was to fight for the underdog.

    September 9, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  9. Jerry McCarthy

    Dear Ted:

    Your graceful exit from the world is a tribute to your life's work. Your help in electing Barack Obama was incalculable. It is almost as if you knew you would not be there when your life's work was vindicated, and it will be.

    Ted, the work goes on, the hope endures, and the cause will never die.

    September 9, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  10. John Kelly

    This is one of the most moving letters I have ever read. I only wish that the dreams Ted Kennedt fought for for so long become a reality under Obama's leadership. RIP our beloved leader and icon Ted Kennedy.

    John, K.

    Atlanta, GA

    September 9, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  11. steve

    Why doesn't the President's plan call for open national competition by insurance companies. That surely will increase choice and lower premium. There needs to be a specific detailed response to this idea. Are they afraid of creating more large insurance companies whose greed overreaches and then require bailout because they are to big to fail?

    September 9, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  12. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their follishness.

    Obama said nothing about insuring that Physicians having to accept medicare. They are becoming fewer and fewer who do.

    September 9, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  13. julio

    this is a great call from the tomb that universal health care reform is a " fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country"
    amen TED

    September 9, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  14. Michael

    Wow...amazing letter.

    September 9, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. Amy Candor

    Truly An American Hero!
    Sarah Palin Like Liar are doing NO service to our nation

    September 9, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  16. Tony In Largo , FL

    Let's dig in our heels Mr. President and let's get it done. If the naysayers and Republican traitors want to sell their souls to the Big Insurance companies, that's their business. We're in this for the long haul for the decent citizens of our country, all of whom deserve affordable Health Care. They've said no to this long enough. Affordable Health Care For Everyone Now, even if it means that we have to elect 70 Democratic Senators !!!

    September 9, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. Gary's Way

    Mr. President, Great speech, great resolve......but here is my bottom line. Anyone from either party who votes for a bill that includes a public option or new entitlement program will not get my vote.

    September 9, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  18. Nina

    How much is this plan going to cost us? HOW MUCH IS IT GOING TO COST? NO REAL ANSWER THERE MR. PRESIDENT! Canada has 33 million people and the average Canadian pays 48% taxes. United States has 300 million people. What percentage are we going to pay?

    No mention of how we are going to pay except that it will pay for itself by wasted money already being spent in the industry. Can I use this speech when I want to buy something and don't have the money for it. Will the grocery store let me have food with this comment...I will buy it now with the money i will save later.

    September 9, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |

    It is time that ALL Americans come together and demand the right to have health care. ALL AMERICANS not just the Democrats or Republicans, but ALL AMERICANS. Let’s make history!

    September 9, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. Allen from Illinois

    Kennedy was a great man and his death is a great loss for our country. Kennedy more than made up for the mistakes of his youth by devoting his time to taking care of the common, everyday, blue collar American, women, and minorities. His leadership will be missed.

    Rest in Pearce Ted and God Bless you.

    September 9, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  21. Petena

    How can anyone read these words and not be touched is beyond me. Republicans and Democrats: touch your heart and soul. Its about doing the right thing for America. Forget all that bashing. Lets get it done. It won't be perfect. Nothing is. We will all feel one sigh of relief that we have done something good for our country and lead again.

    September 9, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. Nikki

    I am absolutely appalled at the behavior of the Republicans during this Presidential Address. I am especially apalled at the behavior of the person who screamed "You lie" while the President of the United States was speaking. In my opinion, this person was extremely disrespectful and should have been removed. I did not like it when a shoe was thrown at President Bush and I definitely do not like it when the American President is speaking about a reform that will benefit the majority of Americans.

    September 9, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  23. Oswald T. Brown

    What a magnificent letter. It brought tears to my eyes. I have always been an admirer of the Kennedy Family. America is a better place today because President Kennedy and Senators Robert and Ted made the decision to devote their lives to public service.

    September 9, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  24. DT

    I am so displeased by the way the Republicans acted during this whole speech. My Representative was on his blackberry I am so ashamed of him. That is the problem within the house and the senate they never pay attention when it is necessary.

    September 9, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  25. Nikki

    It is this type of behavior that has contributed to the downward spiral of this country.

    September 9, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
1 2 3