Veteran US Senator Edward Kennedy, the brother of former
President John F Kennedy, has died at 77, after a long battle with a brain
He became a Democratic Massachusetts senator in 1962, replacing his brother
when he resigned to become president, and was re-elected seven times.
Senator Kennedy was a dominant force in US politics for almost 50 years.
President Barack Obama, of whom he was an active supporter, said he was
"heartbroken" to hear of his death.
"An important chapter in our history has come to an end," he said. "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."
Senator Kennedy had championed issues such as education and healthcare,
central to Mr Obama's first term.
In 2006, Time magazine named him as one of America's "Ten Best Senators"
saying that he had "amassed a titanic record of legislation affecting the lives
of virtually every man, woman and child in the country".
The BBC's Richard Lister in Washington says Senator Kennedy, known
affectionately as Teddy, will be remembered as one of the most effective and
popular legislators in American history.
Our correspondent says he was also skilled at forging alliances across party
lines: pushing an education initiative with President George W Bush, and
immigration reform with Republican John McCain.
But he was a fierce critic of the Bush administration, in particular over
Iraq and the prisoner abuse scandal.
He will also be remembered as a staunch supporter of Irish Republicanism - 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.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said the Kennedy family and the Senate had
"together lost our patriarch".
"The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall
never die," he said.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that Senator Kennedy would be "mourned
not just in America but in every continent".
"Even facing illness and death, he never stopped fighting for the causes
which were his life's work. I am proud to have counted him as a friend."
The Kennedy family announced his death in a brief statement in the early
hours of Wednesday.
EDWARD MOORE KENNEDY
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
"Edward M Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we
loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port
(Massachusetts)," the statement said.
"We've lost the irreplaceable centre of our family and joyous light in our
lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on
in our hearts forever."
Edward Kennedy was the only one of four brothers to die a natural death.
His brother Joseph was killed in an air crash in World War II, and both
President 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 the scandal caused 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
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.
At his death, he was the third longest serving senator in US history.
Last week, he asked the Massachusetts governor to change state law to allow a
speedy succession when his Senate seat became vacant.
Analysts suggest that Senator Kennedy feared a lengthy gap could deny
Democrats a crucial vote on Mr Obama's flagship health reform.
His death comes weeks after that of his older sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver,
on 11 August.
US MEDIA REACTION TO TED KENNEDY'S DEATH
Kennedy was at the center of the most important issues facing the nation for
decades, and he did much to help shape them. A defender of the poor and
politically disadvantaged, he set the standard for his party on health care,
education, civil rights, campaign-finance reform and labor law
Joe Holley writes in The Washington Post on Ted Kennedy's political importance
a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life, instantly recognizable by his
shock of white hair, his florid, oversize face, his booming Boston brogue, his
powerful but pained stride. He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a
hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a
melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly. He was a
New York Times journalist John M Broder describes the Kennedy effect.
in my memory: When I interned at the Heritage Foundation, I would pop into Mass
at Saint Joseph's on the Hill. And I would almost always find myself sitting
near Ted Kennedy. He's responsible for things that are deeply offensive to my
conscience and diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Catholic faith, and
he probably led some people astray by his example. But our faith also teaches
that we are all sinners and that there is redemption. He had some incredibly
good forces in his life, not least among them his sister, Eunice, who just died.
I pray for the repose of his soul. R.I.P. Senator Kennedy.
Kathryn Lean Lopez blogs her
tribute at the National Review.
Elected first in 1962, the 77-year-old Massachusetts liberal was rooted in the
civil rights and Great Society battles of that decade, but his enduring strength
was an ability to renew himself through his mastery of issues and the changing
personalities of the Senate. Nowhere was this clearer than in Kennedy's early
support of Barack Obama in 2008, when the young Illinois Democrat needed to
establish himself against more veteran rivals for the White House. Kennedy not
only campaigned for Obama but, at risk to his own health, opened the Democratic
National Convention a year ago in Denver and returned to Washington repeatedly
last winter to cast needed votes to move the new president's economic recovery
David Rogers in Politico highlights the veteran senator's lasting political
many ways, he was the last man standing, straddling a mythic family mantle of
fame and a vaunted career of political service, all the while wearing the crown
of Camelot decades after its heyday...the senator's death brought to a close a
storied political era - of assassinations, Jackie O, Palm Beach, Chappaquiddick
- and a lifetime of both tragedy and public service.
Andrea Billup writes in the The Washington Times that 'Camelot' fades with Kennedy passing
losing Kennedy, Obama loses a key Senate dealmaker at a crucial moment in
legislative negotiations over the health care bill. Though an icon of Democratic
liberalism, Kennedy was known to colleagues as a jovial pragmatist, whose many
friendships with colleagues across the political and ideological spectrum made
him one of the Senate's most influential players.
Kathy Kiely in USA Today examines the impact of Ted Kennedy's death on healthcare