Ted Kennedy left behind his wife Victoria, his children Kara, Edward Jr. and Patrick, grandchildren Kiley, Edward III, Grace and Max (Allen) and stepchildren Curran and Caroline Raclin. His sister Jean Kennedy Smith is now the only surviving child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s nine children.
Ted Kennedy served as Senator from 1962 to 2009, following in the footsteps of his elder brothers John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) and Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968). When Robert was killed in 1968, Ted was offered to take his place in the campaign for the Democratic nomination, but declined. Everyone expected him to become his party’s candidate in the 1972 election, but his presidential ambitions were destroyed by the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, something his unsuccessful challenge to President Carter in 1980 confirmed. Serving in the Senate for so many years, he probably got far more influence on American politics, especially in the fields of health and education, than he ever would have if he had become President.
In a statement on Wednesday morning 26 August, President Barack Obama said that he and his wife «were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy». «For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts». In a public speech held at Chilmark, Massachusetts later on Wednesday President Obama said that Ted Kennedy «became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy».
In a tribute to Ted Kennedy Vice President Joe Biden Jr. said that he «changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans -- in the literal sense, literally -- literally changed the circumstances».
The news of Edward Kennedy’s death has also dominated the news here in Norway. In the obituary by the Norwegian Telegraphic Agency, NTB, published in among others VG, Kennedy was described as the most influential politician in the Democratic Party. NTB mentions among others the late senator’s fight to increase the minimum wage and his opposition to the war in Iraq.
One Norwegian expert on American politics, Professor Ole Moen, characterizes Kennedy as a political giant and a "welfare democrat". - His death must be a great loss to Obama, as he was an important voice in the work for reforming the health service. To Aftenposten Ole Moen says that Kennedy’s death "er som en vegg som faller ut av senatet" ("is like a wall of the senate falling down"). - A dynasty has disappeared from American politics.
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