Reactions to US Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Passing


President Obama mourned the loss of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) Wednesday morning in remarks from Martha’s Vineyard. Obama’s eulogy came less than one month after he bestowed the prestigious Medal of Freedom on the late senator. Other elected and prominent officials have stepped forward to share their thoughts.


Vice President Joe Biden remembered when Kennedy showed emotional support after his wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident in 1972:

You know, it’s not just me that he affected like that — it’s hundreds upon hundreds of people.  I was talking to 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.  It was people I admire, great women and men, at the end of the day gets down to being about them.  With Teddy it was never about him.

Well, today we lost a truly remarkable man. To paraphrase Shakespeare: I don’t think we shall ever see his like again. 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.

Gov. Deval Patrick ordered all American and Commonwealth flags in Massachusetts to fly at half-mast:

One of the Commonwealth’s brightest lights went out last night. Ted Kennedy was a compassionate, effective, visionary statesman, family man and friend. Diane and I were blessed by his company, support and many kindnesses, and miss him profoundly. We pray for comfort for his beloved wife and partner Vicki and his entire family.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called Kennedy “a friend, the model of public service, and an American icon.”

As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life.  Senator Kennedy’s legacy stands with the greatest, the most devoted, the most patriotic men and women to ever serve in these halls.

Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy.  More young adults could afford to become students.  More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives.  More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them.  And more Americans could be proud of their country.

Ted Kennedy’s America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom.  Ted Kennedy’s life was driven by his love of a family that loved him, and his belief in a country that believed in him.  Ted Kennedy’s dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and his brothers sought to realize.

The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, husband of Kennedy niece and California First Lady Maria Shriver, mourned the loss of “Uncle Teddy”:

Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character.

Teddy inspired our country through his dedication to health care reform, his commitment to social justice, and his devotion to a life of public service.

I have personally benefitted and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well.

Teddy taught us all that public service isn’t a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on.

Massachusetts Sierra Club director James McCaffrey said Kennedy’s “leadership, wisdom, and political skills were without equal”:

He was an environmental champion for decades, advocating for clean air and water legislation, and supporting mass transit and completing the North South Rail Link, which would get 55,000 cars off the road daily. The people who worked with him knew him well — and knew that his promises meant action.

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, described Kennedy as “a champion for progress and a better future for all of us”:

He will be deeply missed by all who care about protecting America’s clean air, clean water and wild places. During his amazing life of public service, he consistently stood up for the public over corporate interest. He was a defender of low-income families fighting air and water pollution in their neighborhoods, and helped poor communities save money and energy with weatherization and home heating assistance programs. Senator Kennedy fought against giveaways for oil companies for decades and has been a founding supporter of better fuel economy standards for cars and trucks. He strongly supported economic stimulus through investment in renewable energy. We will work hard to follow-through on Ted Kennedy’s vision of a clean energy future that works for everyone.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Kennedy “one of the giants of American political life.”

No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigor he poured into a truly momentous life.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mourned the loss of “a great patriot” and “a beloved patriarch.”

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.

Nancy Reagan, widow of the late President Ronald Reagan, said the Reagans and the Kennedys had grown close in the years after her husband’s presidency:

Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) described Kennedy as “a treasured friend.”

Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy’s name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber.

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