State Democrats react to Kennedy news

May 20, 2008 4:25:24 PM PDT
Top Illinois Democrats, including Barack Obama and Mayor Daley, are reacting to the news of Ted Kennedy's diagnosis with a malignant brain tumor.

Word of Tuesday's diagnosis is especially hard for Senator Barack Obama. Five months ago, at a critical juncture in the presidential primary season, right before Super Tuesday, Senator Edward Kennedy made his endorsement. Backing Barack Obama, while surrounded by the Kennedy clan, he told the crowd that Obama could restore the sense of a national possibility of Camelot.

An reenergized Ted Kennedy, stalwart of the Democratic party, may have made a critical difference in Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign. At the time of Kennedy's endorsement, January 28, Obama was still trailing in many national polls. But, within weeks, Obama would be called the frontrunner.

Senator Obama says he has been in frequent contact with the Kennedy family after learning about the senator's seizure over the weekend, then learning Tuesday it was caused by a malignant brain tumor.

"I just spoke to Ted two days ago. He sounded terrific. We were all shattered...Ted Kennedy is a fighter," Obama said Tuesday.

Obama said it's a testament to how beloved Kennedy is that we are seeing well wishes coming from both sides of the aisle and from everyone in political life. That includes the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, as well as President Bush. The president has asked all Americans to pray for the senator.

That fighting spirit in the 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat is what Mayor Daley is focusing on now. He called Kennedy a great friend of his family. The mayor recalled Tuesday the fighting spirit of his own young son, Kevin.

"That's one thing I found out when my son Kevin had spina bifida. He lived to 2 1/2 and he never gave up, he wanted to live, so you never give up on anyone. Our prayers are with him and his family for a speedy recovery," Mayor Daley said.

Illinois' senior Senator, Dick Durbin, also said about Kennedy Tuesday that there is no better ally or determined fighter.

"We know that he will bring the same courage and determination to the battle," said Durbin. "We also know that Ted has spent his entire life caring for those in need. It's time for those of us who love Ted and his family to care for them and join in prayer to give them strength."


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