Obama leads tributes to Kennedy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

US President Barack Obama has led tributes to Senator Edward Kennedy, who has died from cancer at the age of 77.
Mr Obama described Sen Kennedy as an extraordinary leader and "one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy".
Lawmakers from both main parties praised a man who but for a scandal in 1969 might have become president.
A Democratic senator since 1962, the liberal stalwart championed issues such as education and health-care reform.
He died late on Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, his family said in a statement. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2008.
US media reports say he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, where his brothers President John F Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy are also buried.
'Passion and vigour'
In a televised tribute, Barack Obama called Edward Kennedy a colleague, a counsellor and a friend.

He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it's hard to imagine any of them without him
Kennedy family statement

"In the United States Senate I can think of no-one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle," he said.
"His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives," he said.
Former President George W Bush, who was criticised by Sen Kennedy over Iraq, described him as "a man of passion who advocated fiercely for his convictions".
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, praised his determination to make quality health-care available to all Americans, while Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, also added his voice.
"No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigour he poured into a truly momentous life," he said.
The BBC's Richard Lister in Washington said Senator Kennedy, known affectionately as Teddy, would be remembered as one of the most effective legislators in American history.

Daniel Sandford, BBC News, Washington
President Obama was leading the tributes, saying that Senator Kennedy was the greatest US senator of our time.
But the praise was coming from right across the political divide. The Republicans were also praising him, saying that he was the kind of man that you couldn't help but like even if you disagreed with him.
That kind of praise has been echoing across the morning shows - they all broke into special coverage of the kind that is normally reserved for when former presidents die.
But of course all of the coverage has also included the controversies in Edward Kennedy's life, not least of all the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick bridge in 1969.
He was skilled at forging alliances across party lines: pushing an education initiative with Mr Bush and immigration reform with Republican John McCain.
But he was a fierce critic of the Bush administration too - particularly on Iraq and when allegations of US military abuses there emerged.
He will also be remembered as a staunch supporter of Irish nationalism - at one time calling for British troops to leave Northern Ireland - although he was later involved in the peace process leading to the Good Friday Agreement, our correspondent adds.
In the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sen Kennedy would be mourned in every continent. "I am proud to have counted him as a friend," he said.
And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised him as a man who "was a voice for those who would otherwise go unheard".
Obama endorsement
Edward Kennedy was, at his death, the third-longest senator in US history.
1932 Born, youngest of nine children
1962 Becomes country's youngest senator
1963, 1968 Brothers President John F Kennedy and Senator Robert F Kennedy both assassinated
1969 "Chappaquiddick incident" - Kennedy flees scene after road crash in which his young passenger dies
1980 Runs unsuccessfully for Democratic nomination against sitting President Jimmy Carter
He became a Massachusetts senator in 1962, replacing his brother John when he resigned to become president.
He was the only one of four brothers not to die a violent death. His brother Joseph was killed in an air crash in World War II, and both John F Kennedy and presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy were assassinated in the 1960s.
He was widely expected to be the next Kennedy in the White House, but he was never able to fully overcome a scandal in 1969 when he drove a car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick near his home, killing his female passenger.
The incident helped derail his only presidential bid, more than a decade later.
But he remained active in politics right up until his death, famously endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination during a tight race with Hillary Clinton last year.


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