Kennedy tributes

Please keeping checking back through the day for newly issued statements on the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy.

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Congressman Jackson Mourns Death of Ted Kennedy

Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. today issued the following statement upon learning of the death of his longtime colleague, Massachusetts Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy:

“Ted Kennedy lived one of the most extraordinary lives in American political history. He was the last brother of America’s royal family; one of our all-time great senators; and a champion for human rights. His legislative accomplishments have touched and improved the lives of virtually everyone who lived in this great country for the past half a century.

“A consummate public servant, Ted Kennedy’s human experience took him through deep valleys to majestic mountaintops. Through it all, he was undeniably a born leader, a proud liberal, a gifted legislator, and a great friend. It is ironic that, at the time of his death, the No. 1 topic of national debate is his lifelong pursuit of health care reform.

“I was deeply honored to work with the Senator on legislation to elevate the National Institute of Health’s Office of Research on Minority Health to the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. And, as a young representative, I was humbled to receive a call from Senator Kennedy inviting me to serve on the advisory panel at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

“Like great leaders, Senator Kennedy was partisan and bipartisan, passionate and compassionate, and a leader who followed the people.

“In the end, he will be forever remembered for giving much more to this world than he took from her; for carrying the Kennedy torch for so long; and for being a good man.

“My prayers and condolences are with his wife, his children, and the entire Kennedy family.”



But as — if Teddy were here, as we would say in the Senate, if you’d excuse a point of personal privilege, I quite frankly think it’s — would be inappropriate for me to dwell too much on the initiative that we’re announcing today and not speak to my friend. My wife, Jill, and my sons, Beau and Hunter, and my daughter Ashley — and I don’t say that lightly, because they all knew Teddy. He did something personal and special for each one of them in their lives; truly, truly are distressed by his passing. And our hearts go out to Teddy Jr. and Patrick and Kara and Vicki, with whom I spoke this morning, and the whole Kennedy family.

You know, Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America. And for 36 years, I had the privilege of going to work every day and literally, not figuratively, sitting next to him and being a witness to history. Every single day the Senate was in session, I sat with him on the Senate floor in the same aisle. I sat with him in the Judiciary Committee next to — physically next to him. And I sat with him in the caucuses.

And it was in that process — every day I was with him, and this is going to sound strange, but he restored my sense of idealism and my faith in the possibilities of what this country could do. He and I were talking after his diagnosis, and I said, you know, I think you’re the only other person I’ve met who, like me, is more optimistic, more enthusiastic, more idealistic, sees greater possibilities after 36 years than when we were elected. He was 30 years old when he was elected; I was 29 years old. And you’d think that would be the peak of our idealism.

But I genuinely feel more optimistic about the prospects for my country today than I did at — have in any time in my life. And it was infectious when you were with him. You could see it, those of you who knew him and those of you who didn’t know him.

You could just see it in the nature of the debate and the nature of his embrace and the nature of how he every single day attacked these problems.

And you know, he was never defeatist. He never was petty, never was petty. He was never small. And in the process of his doing, he made everybody he worked with bigger, both his adversaries as well as his allies.

Don’t you find it remarkable that one of the most partisan liberal men in the last century, serving in the Senate, has so many of his — so many of his foes embrace him? Because they know he made them bigger. He made them more graceful, by the way in which he conducted himself.

You know, he changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans, in a literal sense, literally, literally changed the circumstances. He changed also another aspect of it, as I observed about him.

He changed not only the physical circumstance. He changed how they looked at themselves and how they looked at one another. That’s remarkable, a remarkable contribution for any man or woman to make. And for the hundreds if not thousands of us who got to know him personally, he actually — how can I say it? He altered our lives as well.

Through the grace of God and an accident of history, I was privileged to be one of those people. And every important event in my adult life, as I looked back this morning, in talking to Vicki — every single one — he was there.

He was there to encourage, to counsel, to be empathetic, to lift up.

From 1972, as a 29-year-old kid with three weeks left to go in a campaign, him showing up at the Delaware Armory in the middle of what we called Little Italy, who had never voted nationally for a Democrat — I won by 3,100 votes and got 85 percent of the vote in that district, or something to that effect. I literally would not be standing here were it not for Teddy Kennedy. Not figuratively. It’s not hyberbole. Literally.

He was there, he stood with me, when my wife and daughter were killed in an accident. He was on the phone with me literally every day, in the hospital when my two children were (attempting ?) and, God willing, God thankfully, survived very serious injuries. I’d turn around and there’d be some specialist from Massachusetts, a doc I never even asked for, literally sitting in the room with me.

You know, it’s not just me that he affected like that. It’s hundreds upon hundreds of people. I was talking with Vicki this morning and she said — she said: He was ready to go, Joe, but we were not ready to let him go.

He’s left a great void in our public life and a hole in the hearts of millions of Americans, and hundreds of us who were affected by his personal touch throughout our lives. People like me, who came to rely on him. He was kind of like an anchor.

And unlike many important people in my 38 years I’ve had the privilege of knowing, the unique thing about Teddy was, it was never about him, it was always about you. It was never about him. There’s people I admire, great women and men, but at the end of the day, it gets down to being about them. With Teddy, it was never about him.

With Teddy, it was never about him.

Well, today we lost a truly remarkable man. And to paraphrase Shakespeare, I don’t think we shall ever see his like again. But I think the legacy he left is not just in the landmark legislation he passed, but in how he helped people look at themselves and look at one another.

I apologize for — for us not being able to go into more detail about the energy bill, but I just think, for me at least, it was inappropriate today. And I’m sure there’ll be much more that will be said about my friend and your friend but — he changed the political landscape for almost a half-century.

I just hope — we say blithely, you know, we’ll remember what he did — I just hope we remember how he treated other people, and how he made other people look at themselves and look at one another. That’ll be the truly fundamentally unifying legacy of Teddy Kennedy’s life, if that happens. And it will for a while, at least in the Senate.

Mr. Secretary, you and your staff are doing an incredible job. I look forward to coming back at a happier moment when you are announcing even more consequential progress toward putting us back in a position where we once again can control our own economic destiny.

Thank you all very, very much.


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement today on the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy:

“Today there is an empty chair in our Senate and an empty feeling in our hearts.”

“We all waited expectantly during Ted’s struggle with cancer for the Senate doors to swing wide and that great Irish spirit to once again return.”

“His voice roared as he battled for the poor and the victims of injustice yet he had a smile that could light a room, a laugh that would draw a crowd and a heart always ready to share your sorrow. America was blessed to have the gift of Ted Kennedy and I was blessed to count him as a friend.”



Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made the following statement:

“My friend, Ted Kennedy, was famous before he was accomplished. But by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments.

“Many of his fellow senators, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, will note today that Ted was sincerely intent on finding enough common ground among us to make progress on the issues of our day, and toward that end he would work as hard and as modestly as any staffer. Many will recall his convivial nature, his humor, his thoughtfulness. We will praise as his greatest strength the integrity of his word. When he made a promise to you, he kept it, no matter what.

“What is harder for us to express is the emptiness we will feel in the Senate in his absence. Even when we are all crowded in the chamber for a vote, engaged in dozens of separate conversations, it will seem a quiet and less interesting place, in the knowledge that his booming voice, fueled by his passion for his convictions, will never encourage or assail or impress us again.

“I will miss him very much.”


Pelosi Statement on the Passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

“Today, with the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the American people have lost a great patriot, and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved patriarch. Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy’s statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishment that has improved opportunity for every American.

“Senator Kennedy had a grand vision for America, and an unparalleled ability to effect change. Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith, and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans.

“Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration.

“Sadly, Senator Kennedy left us exactly one year after he inspired the nation with his speech of optimism, vitality, and courage at the Convention in Denver.

“On behalf of all Members of Congress, and personally on behalf of my family, today and in the days ahead, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family, especially with Senator Kennedy’s devoted wife Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr., and our colleague Patrick, who made their father so proud. I hope it is a comfort to them that our nation and the world mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time.”

# # #


CHICAGO – U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) reacted today to the death of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, who died early this morning after losing his fight against brain cancer:

“Ted Kennedy was an outstanding public servant, a prolific leader and a man with a big heart who was concerned about the least of these,” Rush said. “He leaves giant shoes to fill as the country struggles to deal with the economy, health care reform and the revitalization of forgotten America. It would be a fitting tribute to Senator Kennedy for Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform legislation in his honor, because this fight to make America better and stronger and healthier was among the last battles he waged as the curtain closed upon his life. The senator’s family remains in my thoughts and prayers.”





Washington, DC – Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., issued the following statement upon learning of the passing of his dear friend Senator Ted Kennedy:

“I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come. My heart and soul weeps at the lost of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy.”

“Senator Kennedy and I both witnessed too many wars in our lives, and believed too strongly in the Constitution of the United States to allow us to go blindly into war. That is why we stood side by side in the Senate against the war in Iraq.”

“Neither years of age nor years of political combat, nor his illness, diminished the idealism and energy of this talented, imaginative, and intelligent man. And that is the kind of Senator Ted Kennedy was. Throughout his career, Senator Kennedy believed in a simple premise: that our society’s greatness lies in its ability and willingness to provide for its less fortunate members. Whether striving to increase the minimum wage, ensuring that all children have medical insurance, or securing better access to higher education, Senator Kennedy always showed that he cares deeply for those whose needs exceed their political clout. Unbowed by personal setbacks or by the terrible sorrows that have fallen upon his family, his spirit continued to soar, and he continued to work as hard as ever to make his dreams a reality.”

“In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.”

“God bless his wife Vicki, his family, and the institution that he served so ably, which will never be the same without his voice of eloquence and reason. And God bless you Ted. I love you and will miss you terribly.”

“In my autobiography I wrote that during a visit to West Virginia in 1968 to help dedicate the “Robert F. Kennedy Youth Center” in Morgantown, “Senator Kennedy’s voice quivered with emotion as he talked of his late brothers and their love for West Virginia. ‘These hills, these people, and this state have had a very special meaning for my family. Our lives have been tightly intertwined with yours.'”

“I am sure the people of the great state of West Virginia join me in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the Kennedy family at this moment of deep sorrow.”

WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement today:

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Vicki and the entire Kennedy family. For close to five decades, Senator Ted Kennedy followed in his family’s long tradition and served his country with great distinction. His legacy should serve as an inspiration to anyone interested in public service.”



“Senator Edward Kennedy was one of the most extraordinary, influential and kind people who ever served our country. His steadfast advocacy for civil rights, rule of law and fairness in the criminal justice system has always been an inspiration to me, as I know it remains today for countless employees of the Department of Justice. His loss is an immeasurable one and on this sad day my thoughts and prayers are with his family.

“Every day I look at the portrait of his brother Robert that hangs in my office and I am reminded that the Kennedy family has shown to America, through its actions, the importance of fighting for what is right even in the face of difficult odds. I would not be in the office I now hold were it not for their contributions and commitment to our nation. Senator Kennedy’s accomplished life came to a close last night but in the struggle to provide justice and equality for all Americans we will work every day to ensure that his cause endures and that his dreams for a better America never die.”


Statement of Joan Claybrook, President Emeritus, Public Citizen*

Senator Edward Kennedy was a hero to many Americans. We mourn his death


we celebrate his life. Although born to wealth, he spent his entire


career of 47 years fighting for the rights and protection of citizens,

consumers, workers,

children, minorities, immigrants, low-income, disabled, injured and

elderly people. He relished his advocacy for those without privilege and

access to the halls of power.

Senator Kennedy sought justice for all. He not only authored key

legislation but fought to get his bills enacted into law to help his

constituency * not just those living in his home state of

Massachusetts but all Americans.

He was truly a national senator. To achieve his goals he was a

practical idealist, strategically seeking support, pushing undecided

senators, battling presidents, securing

compromises, and using his infectious enthusiasm and oratorical gift to

get to the finish line.

America was blessed to be served by this remarkable man. He was our



* Joan Claybrook was president of Public Citizen for 27 years. She

retired in January. She knew Sen. Kennedy for more than 30 years. She

worked with him on protecting the regulatory system, citizen access to

courts, the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and drug and

medical device safety.

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