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Ted Kennedy's Final Journey

5 years ago
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The motorcade carrying Sen. Ted Kennedy's body traveled Thursday from his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., through Boston, to his late brother's presidential library and museum, where mourners lined up to say goodbye to a man known as the Lion of the Senate.

Some 85 members of the storied Kennedy family -- covering several generations of the nation's most famous political clan -- gathered for a private Mass at the Cape Cod family compound before Kennedy began his final journey. Kennedy's widow, Victoria, stood at the front of the assembled family, with Jean Kennedy Smith, the last surviving sibling, nearby, according to a pool report.
Kennedy, 77, died late Tuesday night after a 15-month battle with brain cancer.
Members of the public flocked to the JFK Memorial, where Kennedy's body will lie in repose through Friday. The senior senator from Massachusetts will be buried on Saturday next to his two slain brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, at an invitation-only ceremony.
President Obama will deliver a eulogy at Kennedy's funeral. Obama and First Lady Michelle are cutting short their vacation on Martha's Vineyard off Cape Cod.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said Obama and his speechwriters are working on his remarks.
"I don't have any preview of what the president is going to have to say on Saturday," Burton said, "but it is something that he obviously takes very seriously. He's been working on it . . . He's obviously got a great team of speechwriters who he works with, but this is going to be a very personal statement that he makes on Saturday."
Kennedy's endorsement of Obama -- coming just before the 22-state "Super Tuesday" in 2008 -- gave Obama's Democratic primary campaign the kick that helped him cross the finish line and clinch the nomination. Burton called it a "cannon burst."
Burton, who worked on the Obama presidential campaign, was asked about the impact Kennedy had on Obama.
"Well, I don't know that I could improve on what the president had to say in his personal statement about Senator Kennedy yesterday, so I would reference that for starters.
"But in terms of the impact that Senator Kennedy had on President Obama in his time as president and his campaign, it was obviously incredible and immeasurable in some ways, because he endorsed President Obama as a candidate at a time that provided a cannon burst for the campaign. It was a psychological boost that would be hard to replicate in any other way.
"He was a colleague of his who helped show him the ropes in the United States Senate, one of the first people that then-Senator Obama met with, after he was elected, to get a good sense of how to be the best, most productive senator that he possibly could.
"And over the course of the campaign and his time as a senator, he did provide plenty of advice and guidance for Senator Obama and now President Obama. And it's hard to measure any of those different things. He was a giant to the United States but also in President Obama's life," Burton said.
The Friday night program at the JFK Library -- billed as a celebration of Kennedy's life -- will feature family and friends.
CNN's John King said the speakers will include JFK's daughter, Caroline Kennedy; Joe Kennedy, Robert's son and a former House member; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who worked across the aisle with Kennedy; Sen. John Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts; and Vice President Joe Biden, who on Wednesday was in tears when talking about his own close and long relationship with Kennedy.
Besides Obama, the Saturday morning funeral Mass will be attended by 44 senators (CNN's count so far), a large House delegation, former members of Congress, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and all four living former U.S. presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. This elite club was together last January at a White House lunch for Obama hosted by former President Bush.
The cable networks on Thursday continued extensive coverage of Kennedy's death and the run-up to his burial. His life -- his mighty triumphs and personal failures -- is being examined in a sort of national conversation.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to reflect on Kennedy's legacy.
"One of the great things about Senator Kennedy's life was the extent to which he shattered the notion that A was incompatible with B, you know. He was a great idealist and also one of the most pragmatically effective people ever to serve in the Senate," Frank said.
"Secondly, there was this notion that if you're a member of Congress and you care about great national issues, somehow you must be neglecting the local. He was a first-rate local politician. It was in his blood . . . in fact, one of the things about his career is that he was one of these guys who remain much more effective speaking to an audience he could see and feel than over TV."
"Sometimes, in fact, people tried to tell him, you know, stop yelling, there's electricity. They really can hear you without you yelling, and he had to calm it down a little."
Filed Under: Senate, Ted Kennedy
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