"No one engendered greater respect from both sides of the aisle," the President says
Credit: Sandy Schaeffer/Landov

Currently on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard – not all that far from “Kennedy Country” in Massachusetts, where the Kennedy family has a compound in Hyannis Port – President Barack Obama released a statement regarding the state’s esteemed Senator, Edward M. Kennedy, who died Tuesday.

From Blue Heron Farm, in Chilmark, Mass., the president, who said he “spoke earlier this morning to Senator Kennedy’s beloved wife, Vicki,” and who also sent everyone’s “thoughts and prayers [to] 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,” called Kennedy, 77, “a colleague, a counselor, and a friend.”

“[Even] though we have known this day was coming for some time now, ” said Obama, “we awaited it with no small amount of dread.”

Also on Wednesday it was announced that Kennedy would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, alongside his assassinated brothers John and Robert.

Highlighting how the late “Liberal Lion of the Senate,” as Kennedy was nicknamed, championed the underdog, as well as the elderly and all those in pursuit of the American Dream, Obama said, “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 engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle.”

Bill Clinton Also Remembers

On a personal note, Obama said, “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.”

The president concluded, “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.”

In his own remembrance, former President Bill Clinton said that Kennedy’s “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.”

He added, “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.”