U.S. President Barack Obama says the late Senator Edward Kennedy was an
"extraordinary leader" who was one of the "most accomplished Americans"
ever to serve the country.
Speaking from Martha's Vineyard, a seaside resort near Kennedy's
Massachusetts home, Mr. Obama said the late senator's work in Congress
helped make the nation more equal and just. Mr. Obama, the nation's
first African-American president, said Kennedy's ideas and ideals are
in scores of laws and reflected in the lives of millions of people.
Vice President Joe Biden said Kennedy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America.
Flags at the White House, the U.S. Capitol building and other federal buildings are flying half-staff.
There were tributes to Kennedy from across the political spectrum,
including all former U.S. presidents -- both Democrats and Republicans.
Former President George H.W. Bush called Kennedy "a seminal figure in
the United States Senate." His son, former President George W. Bush,
praised the senator who collaborated with him on education reform for
"his optimistic spirit, his sense of humor, and his faith in his fellow
Former President Bill Clinton, said Kennedy was one of the most
influential leaders of modern times and "one of the greatest senators
in American history." Mr. Clinton's wife, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, described Kennedy as a "dear friend" and one of the nation's
Former President Jimmy Carter -- whom Kennedy unsuccessfully challenged
for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination -- said Kennedy's life
was devoted to improving the lives of Americans who are poor, deprived,
persecuted and in need. Mr. Carter said he hopes Kennedy's deep
commitment to a comprehensive health plan in the U.S. will now be
honored by his peers.
Kennedy called reform of the nation's health system the cause of his life.
Nancy Reagan, the widow of former President Ronald Reagan, says she
considered the late senator "an ally and a dear friend." She said
Kennedy and Mr. Reagan, who remains a hero of conservative Republicans,
could always find common ground. She said in recent years, she and
Kennedy found agreement on the issue of stem cell research.
House Speaker (Democrat) Nancy Pelosi predicted the health
care reform will pass, saying Kennedy's dream of quality health care
will be made real this year because of his leadership and inspiration.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it was "the thrill of a
lifetime" to work with the fellow Democrat, calling him the "patriarch"
of the Senate.
Senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said
Kennedy was "irreplaceable" in the Senate and in the affections of his
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is married to Kennedy's
niece, Maria Shriver, called him "the rock of our family," and a
champion of social justice. Shriver's mother and Edward Kennedy's older
sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died earlier this month.
Our Kolkata stringer Paramashish Ghosh Roy