Bipartisan Tributes to Kennedy Pour In

Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:49pm

“In the Senate, Ted and I had a remarkable working relationship, and a friendship I will always cherish. We served on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, alternating as Chairman and Ranking Member as the party majorities switched. During this time Ted was always willing to not only reach across the aisle, but had the unique ability to pull people together to get things done, with both substance and a great sense of humor. He was undoubtedly one of the single most effective Senators in the history of our country and the impact of his loss will be felt far beyond the halls of Washington or the streets of Hyannis Port. Where his booming voice once echoed through the Senate, there will now be a resounding echo from this great loss, but his memory will never leave us.—
— Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.)

“The Kennedys are a part of my family’s political history. I vividly remember my parents’ joyous celebration when President Kennedy was elected in 1960. I was proud to serve as one of Senator Kennedy’s Kansas campaign co-chairs in 1980 and it was a tremendous honor to work with him throughout the course of my career. … Today, because of his work, senior citizens who would otherwise go hungry will receive meals. Millions of children across the country will have access to medical care and Head Start. And our nation is a fairer and more just place because of his tireless efforts to promote civil rights and end discrimination. … Senator Kennedy never let us forget our most important charge as public servants: representing the American people and giving voice to those who have been ignored or forgotten. We will always remember that lesson and his incredible service to our nation.—
— Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

“In the current climate of today’s United States Senate it is rare to find opportunities where both sides can come together and work in the middle to craft a solution for our country’s problems. Ted Kennedy, with all of his ideological verbosity and idealism was a rare person who at times could put aside differences and look for common solutions. Not many ever got to see that side of him, but as peers and colleagues we were able to share some of those moments.—
— Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

“Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the greatest men I ever knew. One of my first political experiences was as a volunteer on his 1980 presidential campaign. Senator Kennedy grew up with every privilege a person could have, yet he spent his entire career fighting for the most vulnerable among us.—
— Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.)

“Every time I spoke to Senator Kennedy he talked about the enormous crowds in Youngstown and Warren for his brother Jack during his run for the presidency in 1960. He rattled off the names of the Democratic Party Chairs, local labor leaders and local business people like the campaign was yesterday. He had an amazing memory, but more importantly he recognized that politics is to be used as a force for good and an opportunity to level the playing field for those who were hurt by our economic system.—
— Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)

“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. In 1994, I joined the long list of those who ran against Ted and came up short. But he was the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary. I came to admire Ted enormously for his charm and sense of humor — qualities all the more impressive in a man who had known so much loss and sorrow. I will always remember his great personal kindness, and the fighting spirit he brought to every cause he served and every challenge he faced.—
— Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R)

“Ted brought great passion and energy to all the causes he championed. When he rose to speak, it was always with a full heart. He was never reading talking points. We live in an era where everything is tested by focus groups, but Ted was old school. He spoke authentically, from the heart. At the end of the day, he cared most about the things that matter to ordinary people. … I’ll never forget one of my earliest experiences in the Senate — the first impeachment trial of a president in over 100 years. There were no rules. It was intensely partisan and political. Who was respected enough to broker a way forward? It was Ted Kennedy who hammered out the agreement of how the Senate should proceed. He had strong convictions, but he also was intensely pragmatic. Those qualities made him the type of person that leaders of both parties respected and wanted to work with.—
— Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)

“Ted was an icon of passionate public service and gave selflessly to our nation. I came to know him well through our work on immigration reform where he was a tough negotiator, and someone who knew how to reach bipartisan agreement for the good of an issue. He will be remembered as the Lion of the Senate for his voice, his style, his work, and his allegiance to always do what he thought was best for our country.—
— Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)

“Senator Kennedy was not only known as a tremendous public servant, but also as a gentleman within the halls of Congress. He was a great ally when we worked together and friendly and courteous — yet formidable — when we disagreed.—
— Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.)

“Senator Kennedy was a tireless advocate for the people he represented, the causes in which he believed, and the many family and friends who loved him. We may not have agreed politically, but I was honored to be able to call Senator Kennedy a friend. He had an infectious energy and enthusiasm about serving the American people that crossed party lines.—
— Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.)

“Senator Kennedy sought justice for all. He not only authored key legislation but fought to get his bills enacted into law to help his constituency — not just those living in his home state of Massachusetts but all Americans. He was truly a national senator. To achieve his goals he was a practical idealist, strategically seeking support, pushing undecided senators, battling presidents, securing compromises, and using his infectious enthusiasm and oratorical gift to get to the finish line.—
— Joan Claybrook, president emeritus, Public Citizen

“While some will remember Kennedy as a liberal icon,’ he also brought bipartisanship and civility to the political debate. … While the business community may have disagreed with Sen. Kennedy more often than not, we admired him for his rock-solid convictions and his passionately held beliefs. Sen. Kennedy never had to consult a poll to determine how he voted on an issue — he knew what he believed in and fought like hell for it. He was an American original.—
— Thomas Donohue, president and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce