The First Draft: Kennedy dies of cancer at 77
Focus in Washington turned to memories of Edward Kennedy, the third longest serving U.S. senator, who died late Tuesday night after a 15-month battle with brain cancer.
Friends, former colleagues and people who never knew him were offering words of praise for the man who took the helm of one of America’s most fabled political families after two older brothers — President John Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy — were assassinated.
“An important chapter in our history has come to an end,” said President Barack Obama. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time.”
Kennedy was a staunch advocate of healthcare reform — the signature issue of Obama’s presidency. His presence on Capitol Hill, particularly over the past few months during fierce debate over Obama’s costly reform plan, was sorely missed.
Kennedy was also a critical supporter of Obama’s during his presidential candidacy and his unexpected appearance at the Democratic Convention last year energized the crowd even more as he gave a rousing speech in support of change and Obama.
For the second day in a row, Obama is scheduled to interrupt his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to make a statement to the media. This time, it’s expected to be about Kennedy.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed (Kennedy reacts after Obama signs Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in April)