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Obama's tribute to Ted Kennedy at Martha's Vineyard. Transcript

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WASHINGTON-- President Obama on Wednesday hailed Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died late Tuesday night, a "singular figure in American history." Obama read a statement at the Blue Heron farm on Martha's Vineyard and took no questions.

Obama called Kennedy's wife Vicki earlier this morning.


Said Obama, The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party, and at times, Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who in -- who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle.

His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He could passionately battle others, and do so peerlessly, on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintain warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

Click below for complete statement.

President Obama read this statement from the Blue Heron farm on Martha's Vineyard on Wednesday morning

I wanted to say a few words this morning about the passing of an extraordinary leader, Senator Edward Kennedy.

Over the past several years I've had the honor to call Teddy a colleague, a counselor and a friend, and even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread.

Since Teddy's diagnosis last year, we've seen the courage with which he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult for him, they've also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us. His fight has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye.

The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives: in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education's promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including myself.

The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party, and at times, Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who in -- who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle.

His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He could passionately battle others, and do so peerlessly, on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintain warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

His extraordinary life on this Earth has come to an end, and the extraordinary good that he did lives on. For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was the defender of a dream.

I spoke earlier this morning to Senator Kennedy's beloved wife Vicki, who was to the end such a wonderful source of encouragement and strength. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, his children Kara, Edward and Patrick; his stepchildren, Curran and Caroline; the entire Kennedy family; decades worth of his staff; the people of Massachusetts and all Americans who, like us, loved Ted Kennedy.

2 Comments

fine, who is val callin' about the olympics? lets get beyond the bull.....

Edwards Kennedt was a man of contrasts.

In one way he was a morally flawed and indulgent narcissist.

In other ways, he took the legacy that was intended for his brothers and made it his own with his own insertion of functional and heavy-duty liberalism.

Agree with him politically or not there was no greater voice, and within the Senate no harder working senator than Ted Kennedy.

For his Public Service and the legacy of laws he left behind, he deserves our respect and honor. His mistakes were those of any human being with access to money, power and temptation. He was a Kennedy -- and he knew what that meant and what it required of him. He got things done and the USA is bettor off because of him. His absence in the Health Care debate detracted from the noble and protective asset this program will be in your country.

From a Canadian observer of Leadership

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 26, 2009 8:57 AM.

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