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Known as the “Lion of the Senate,” Democrat Ted Kennedy was a staunch liberal who was elected to Congress 9 times, spearheading many legislative reforms.
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Looking somewhat weak, but elated, Kennedy delivered a short but rousing speech to hundreds of delegates.
On January 20, 2009, during Barack Obama's post-inauguration luncheon at the U.S. Capitol, Kennedy suffered another seizure. Paramedics arrived quickly, and he was escorted to an ambulance by Senators John Kerry, Chris Dodd,
and Orrin Hatch. His doctor released a statement saying he believed the incident was a result of "simple fatigue."
After convalescing in Florida for several weeks, Kennedy called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and said, "Kennedy, reporting for duty." On the following Monday, he came to the Senate to vote for its version of the economic stimulus package. In a statement released that day, he said, "I returned to the Senate today to do all I can to support our President and his plan to get our country back on track. We face a historic crisis and must act quickly, boldly and responsibly to enable our economy to begin growing again in Massachusetts and across America."
On August 20, 2009, Kennedy made a sudden request to change Massachusetts state law, allowing for his swift replacement. The note to state leaders asked for an interim senator to be appointed in the case that his seat was suddenly vacated. Current law requires a special election to be held within five moths of the seat vacancy. It was Kennedy's hope that if his seat were to be unexpectedly empty, another Democratic senator could continue work on new healthcare legislation that Kennedy felt was vital to the country's progress.
Kennedy's aides insisted the move had nothing to do with the senator's health. But several days later, on August 25, 2009, Kennedy's struggle with brain cancer came to an end. He passed away in the evening at his Cape Cod, Massachusetts, home.
Senator Kennedy was considered the "liberal lion of the Senate." His massive compilation of legislative acts reflect his savvy political skills, pragmatic vision, and ability to reach across party lines. As the youngest member of a family with many larger-than-life figures, Ted Kennedy consistently proved that he was a formidable force in American politics—and one that left a legacy of public service to be studied, admired, and emulated.
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There's no such thing as royalty in the United States, but if anyone has ever come close to that level, it's the Kennedy family. For 64 years, Washington had at least one Kennedy in public office. Descended from Irish Catholics who fled the potato famine, the family has a strong tradition in the Democratic party, the most prominent member being President John F. Kennedy. In addition to fame and political power, the Kennedy clan has had more than its fair share of tragedy—several members of the family have died in accidents and assassinations, in what's been called the "Kennedy curse."
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