Reaction is still coming in from all over the political world to the news that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) lost his battle with brain cancer and passed away last night. Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter have all released statements remembering Kennedy.
President George H.W. Bush said, “While we didn’t see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service — so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate — a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body’s history.”
President Bill Clinton said, “Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind, and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union.”
He continued, “As President, I was thankful for his fierce advocacy for universal health care and his leadership in providing health coverage to millions of children. His tireless efforts have brought us to the threshold of real health care reform. I was also grateful for his efforts, often in partnership with Republicans as well as Democrats, to advance civil rights, promote religious freedom, make college more affordable, and give young Americans the opportunity to serve at home in Americorp. I am glad the bill President Obama signed to expand Americorp and other youth service opportunities is named the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Through it, his commitment to public service will live on in millions of young people across our nation.”
Clinton concluded, “Hillary and I will always be grateful for the many gestures of kindness and generosity he extended to us, for the concern he showed for all the children and grandchildren of the Kennedy clan, and for his devotion to all those in need whose lives were better because he stood up for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, his children and grandchildren, and the people of Massachusetts he served so well.”
President Jimmy Carter said, “Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the Kennedy family. Senator Kennedy was a passionate voice for the citizens of Massachusetts and an unwavering advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country. The courage and dignity he exhibited in his fight with cancer was surpassed only by his lifelong commitment and service to his country.”
Here is video of Carter expanding on his statement:
Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, few non-presidents have ever had the kind of impact on legislation and policy that Ted Kennedy had. He was the sort of political giant that our history books highlight, but it is likely that we won’t see anyone else that will have the impact that he did. The combination of the Kennedy legacy and his love of the Senate made him a unique figure in American political history.