Americans pay tribute to Kennedy

Remembrances of the Democratic senator, excerpted here, come from those of all political stripes.

By , Contributor

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    President Obama pauses as he reads a statement about the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy while on vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Chilmark, Mass., on Wednesday.
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Sen. Edward Kennedy, often called the lion of the Senate, leaves behind an enduring legacy in politics that touches on everything from civil rights to healthcare. The Democratic senator also leaves behind countless friends and allies, on both sides of the political aisle.

Both everyday Americans and those who worked firsthand with Senator Kennedy are sharing reflections about the senior senator from Massachusetts after he died late Tuesday. Here is a sampling of their tributes:

President Obama, speaking from Martha’s Vineyard, where he’s vacationing with his family, called Kennedy “an extraordinary leader” and a “singular figure in American history.”

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“His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives,” he said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah, a good friend of Kennedy’s despite their opposing political affiliations, said in a statement, "Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend…. Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said Kennedy had “an unparalleled ability to effect change." She added, "No one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans.”

Speaker Pelosi also pledged to move healthcare reform forward, which Kennedy had previously called the cause of his life.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who contested Kennedy's Senate seat in the 1994 election, said, “The last son of Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Kennedy was granted a much longer life than his brothers, and he filled those years with endeavor and achievement that would have made them proud.”

“People are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family,” said Nancy Reagan, wife of former President Reagan, in a statement from Los Angeles. “But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another."

Sen. John Kerry (D), also of Massachusetts, called Kennedy the “the best senator, the best advocate you could hope for."

John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, issued a statement: “Truly one of the great champions in this battle to fight cancer, Senator Kennedy has led a passionate effort against this disease during his more than 40 years in the U.S. Senate ....”

“He’ll be respected as a person who was able to support his liberal positions and get along with people of opposite views,” said Philip Cahill, a Massachusetts constituent who has lived in the state for more than 80 years. “He was very helpful to the state. It’s a great loss.”

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Kennedy's legacy as Senate's liberal lion

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