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Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009) was a United States Senator from Massachusettsmarker and a member of the Democratic Party. First elected in November 1962, he was elected nine times and served for 46 years in the U.S. Senate. At the time of his death, he was the second most senior member of the Senate, and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in U.S. history. For many years the most prominent living member of the Kennedy family, he was the son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, both victims of assassinations, and the father of Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

Kennedy entered the Senate in a 1962 special election to fill the seat once held by his brother John. He was elected to a full six-year term in 1964 and was reelected seven more times. The 1969 Chappaquiddick incidentmarker resulted in the death of automobile passenger Mary Jo Kopechne; Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, and the incident significantly damaged his chances of ever becoming President of the United States. His one attempt, in the 1980 U.S. presidential election, resulted in a primary campaign loss to incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Kennedy was known for his oratorical skills; his 1968 eulogy for his brother Robert and his 1980 Democratic National Convention rallying cry for modern American liberalism were among his best-known speeches. He became known as "The Lion of the Senate" through his long tenure and influence. More than 300 bills that Kennedy and his staff wrote were enacted into law. Unabashedly liberal, Kennedy championed an interventionist government emphasizing economic and social justice, but was also known for working with Republicans to find compromises between senators with disparate views. Kennedy played a major role in passing many laws, including laws addressing immigration, cancer research, health insurance, apartheid, disability discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health benefits, children's health insurance, education and volunteering. In the 2000s, he led several unsuccessful immigration reform efforts. Over the course of his career and continuing into the Obama administration, Kennedy continued his efforts to enact universal health care, which he called the "cause of my life."

In May 2008, Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which limited his appearances in the Senate. He died on August 25, 2009, at his home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. By the time of his death, he had come to be viewed as a major figure and spokesman for American progressivism.

Early life, military service, education

Kennedy was born at St. Margaret's Hospital in the Dorchestermarker section of Boston, Massachusettsmarker, the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald, who were both members of prominent Irish-American families in Boston and who constituted one of the wealthiest families in the nation. His elder siblings included John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. John asked to be the newborn's godfather, a request his parents honored, though they did not agree to his request to name the baby George Washington Kennedy.

Frequently uprooted as a child as his family moved among Bronxville, New Yorkmarker, Hyannis Port, Massachusettsmarker, Palm Beach, Floridamarker, and the Court of St. James's in Londonmarker, Kennedy attended ten different schools by the age of eleven. At age seven, he received his First Communion from Pope Pius XII in the Vaticanmarker. He spent sixth and seventh grades in the Fessenden School, where he was a mediocre student, and eighth grade at Cranwell Preparatory School, both in Massachusetts. His parents were affectionate toward him as the youngest child but also compared him unfavorably with his older brothers. Between the ages of eight and sixteen he suffered the trauma of his sister Rosemary Kennedy's failed lobotomy and the deaths of his brother Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. in World War II and sister Kathleen Agnes Kennedy in an airplane crash. An early political and personal influence was his affable maternal grandfather, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, a former mayor of Boston and U.S. Representative. Kennedy spent his four high school years at Milton Academymarker prep school, where his grades were ordinary and he did well at football. He also played on the tennis and hockey teams and was in the drama, debate, and glee clubs. He graduated from there in 1950.

Kennedy entered Harvard Collegemarker, and in his spring semester was assigned to the athlete-oriented Winthrop Housemarker, where his brothers had also lived. He played as a large, fearless offensive and defensive end on the freshman football team. In May 1951, anxious about maintaining his eligibility for athletics for the next year, he had a friend who was knowledgeable on the subject take his Spanish language examination for him. The two were quickly caught and expelled for cheating, but in a standard Harvard treatment for cases of this kind, they were told they could apply for readmission in a year or two after demonstrating good behavior.

Kennedy enlisted in the United States Army in June 1951. Following basic training at Fort Dixmarker, he requested assignment to Fort Holabirdmarker for Army Intelligence training, but was dropped after a few weeks without explanation. He went to Camp Gordonmarker for training in the Military Police Corps. In June 1952, he was assigned to the honor guard at SHAPEmarker headquarters in Parismarker. His father's political connections ensured he was not deployed to the ongoing Korean War. While stationed in Europe he travelled extensively on weekends and climbed the Matterhornmarker. He was discharged in March 1953 as a private first class.

He re-entered Harvard in summer 1953 and improved his study habits. He joined The Owl final club in 1954; he was also chosen for the Hasty Pudding Club and the Pi Etamarker fraternity. On athletic probation during his sophomore year, he returned as a second-string end for Harvard Crimson football during his junior year and barely missed earning his varsity letter. Nevertheless, he received a recruiting feeler from Green Bay Packers head coach Lisle Blackbourn, asking about his interest in playing professionally. Kennedy demurred, saying he had plans to attend law school and to "go into another contact sport, politics." Kennedy became a starting end on the Harvard Crimson football team in his senior year, working hard to improve his blocking and tackling to complement his 6-foot 2-inch, 200-pound size. In the 1955 Harvard-Yale game, which Yalemarker won 21–7, Kennedy caught Harvard's only touchdown pass. He graduated from Harvard in 1956 with an A.B. in history and government.

Kennedy enrolled in the University of Virginia School of Lawmarker in 1956, and also attended the Hague Academy of International Law during 1958. At Virginia he was in the middle of the class ranking but was the winner of the prestigious William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition. While there, his fast automotive habits were curtailed when he was charged with reckless driving and driving without a license. He was officially manager of his brother John's 1958 Senate re-election campaign, and Ted's ability to connect to ordinary voters on the street helped bring a record-setting victory margin that gave credibility to John's presidential aspirations. Kennedy graduated from law school in 1959.

Marriage, family, early career

While in law school, Kennedy met Virginia Joan Bennett, known as Joan, while he was delivering a speech at Manhattanville College in October 1957. She was a senior there, had worked as a model and won beauty contests, but was unfamiliar with the world of politics. After their engagement she grew nervous about marrying someone she did not know that well, but his father insisted the wedding not be put off. They were married by Francis Cardinal Spellman on November 29, 1958, at St. Joseph's Church in Bronxville, New Yorkmarker. They had three children together: Kara Anne (born February 27, 1960), Edward Jr. (born September 26, 1961), and Patrick (born July 14, 1967). By the mid-1960s, their marriage was troubled by his womanizing and her growing alcoholism.

Kennedy was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1959. In 1960, John Kennedy ran for President of the United States, and Ted managed his campaign in the Western states. Ted learned to fly, and during the Democratic primary campaign he barnstormed around the western states, meeting with delegates and bonding with them by trying his hand at ski jumping and bronc riding. His seven weeks spent in Wisconsinmarker helped his brother win the first contested primary of the season there, and similar time spent in Wyomingmarker was rewarded when a unanimous vote from that state's delegates put his brother over the top at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

Upon his victory in the general election, John vacated his Massachusetts Senate seat. Ted would not be eligible to fill the vacancy until February 22, 1962, when he would turn thirty. Ted initially wanted to stay out West and do something other than run for office right away; he said, "The disadvantage of my position is being constantly compared with two brothers of such superior ability." His brothers were also not in favor of his running immediately, but Ted desired the Senate seat as an accomplishment to match his brothers', and their father overruled them. Thus, the President-elect asked Massachusetts Governor Foster Furcolo to name Kennedy family friend Ben Smith to fill out John's term, which he did in December 1960. This kept the seat open for Ted. Meanwhile, Ted began work in February 1961 as an assistant district attorney for Suffolk County, Massachusettsmarker (for which he took a nominal $1 salary), where he first developed a hard-nosed attitude towards crime. He also took many overseas tours and began speaking to local political clubs and organizations.

First Senate campaign, 1962
In the 1962 U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts, Kennedy first faced a Democratic Party primary challenge from Edward J. McCormack, Jr., the state Attorney General. Kennedy's slogan was "He can do more for Massachusetts", the same one John had used in his first campaign for the seat ten years earlier. McCormack had the support of many liberals and intellectuals, who thought Kennedy inexperienced and knew of his suspension from Harvard, a fact which subsequently became public during the race. Kennedy also faced the notion that with one brother President and another U.S. Attorney General, "Don't you think that Teddy is one Kennedy too many?" But Kennedy proved to be an effective street-level campaigner. In a televised debate, McCormack said "The office of United States senator should be merited, and not inherited," and said that if his opponent's name was Edward Moore rather than Edward Moore Kennedy, his candidacy "would be a joke." Voters thought McCormack's performance overbearing; combined with the family political machine's finally getting fully behind him, Kennedy won the September 1962 primary by a two-to-one margin. In the November special election, Kennedy defeated Republican George Cabot Lodge II, product of another noted Massachusetts political family, gaining 55 percent of the vote.

United States Senator

First years and assassinations of two brothers

Kennedy was sworn in to the Senate on November 7, 1962. He maintained a deferential attitude towards the older, seniority-laden Southern members when he first entered the Senate, avoiding publicity and focusing on committee work and local issues. Compared to his brothers in office, he lacked John's sophistication and Robert's intense, sometimes grating drive, but was more affable than either of them.

On November 22, 1963, while Kennedy was presiding over the Senate—a task given to junior members—an aide rushed in to tell him that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been shotmarker; his brother Robert soon told him that the President was dead. Ted, with one of his sisters, flew to the family home in Hyannis Port, Massachusettsmarker, to tell his stroke-afflicted father the news.

On June 19, 1964, Kennedy was a passenger in a private Aero Commander 680 airplane flying in bad weather from Washington to Massachusetts. It crashed into an apple orchard in the western Massachusetts town of Southamptonmarker on the final approach to the Barnes Municipal Airportmarker in Westfieldmarker . The pilot and Edward Moss, one of Kennedy's aides, were killed. Kennedy was pulled from the wreckage by fellow Senator Birch E. Bayh II and spent months in a hospital recovering from a severe back injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and internal bleeding. He suffered chronic back pain for the rest of his life. Kennedy took advantage of his long convalescence to meet with academics and study issues more closely, and the hospital experience triggered his lifelong interest in the provision of health care services. His wife Joan did the campaigning for him in the regular 1964 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, and he defeated his Republican opponent by a three-to-one margin.

Kennedy returned to the Senate in January 1965, walking with a cane and employing a stronger and more effective legislative staff. He took on President Lyndon B. Johnson and almost succeeded in amending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to ban the poll tax, gaining a reputation for legislative skill. He was a leader in pushing through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a quota system based upon national origin and which, despite Kennedy's predictions at the time, would have a profound effect on the demographic makeup of the United States. He also played a role in creation of the National Teachers Corps.

Following in the Cold Warrior path of his fallen brother, Kennedy initially said he had "no reservations" about the expanding U.S. role in the Vietnam War, acknowledging that it would be a "long and enduring struggle". Kennedy held hearings on the plight of refugees in the conflict, which revealed that the U.S. government had no coherent policy for refugees. Kennedy also tried to reform "unfair" and "inequitable" aspects of the draft. By the time of a January 1968 trip to Vietnam, Kennedy was disillusioned by the lack of U.S. progress, and suggested publicly that the U.S. should tell South Vietnam, "Shape up or we're going to ship out."

Ted initially advised his brother Robert against challenging the incumbent President Johnson for the Democratic nomination in the 1968 presidential election. Once Eugene McCarthy's strong showing in the New Hampshire primary led to Robert's presidential campaign starting in March 1968, Ted recruited political leaders for endorsements to his brother in the Western states. Ted was in San Francisco as his brother Robert won the crucial California primary on June 4, 1968; and then after midnight, Robert was shot in Los Angelesmarker and died a day later. Ted Kennedy was particularly devastated by this death, as he was closest to Robert among all of the Kennedy family; Kennedy aide Frank Mankiewicz said of seeing Ted at the hospital where Robert lay mortally wounded: "I have never, ever, nor do I expect ever, to see a face more in grief." Ted Kennedy delivered a eulogy at Robert's funeral, which included the oft-quoted:

At the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention in August, Mayor of Chicago Richard J. Daley and some other party factions feared that Hubert Humphrey would be unable to unite the party, and so encouraged Ted Kennedy to make himself available for a draft. The 36-year-old Kennedy was seen as the natural heir to his brothers, and "Draft Ted" movements sprang up from various quarters and among delegates. Thinking that he was only being seen as a stand-in for his brother and that he was not ready for the job himself, and getting an uncertain reaction from McCarthy and a negative one from Southern delegates, Kennedy rejected any move to place his name before the convention as a candidate for the nomination. He also declined consideration for the vice-presidential spot. George McGovern remained the symbolic standard-bearer for Robert's delegates instead.

After his brothers' deaths, Ted Kennedy took on the role of surrogate father for their 13 children. By some reports, he also negotiated the October 1968 marital contract between Jacqueline Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis.

Following Republican Richard Nixon's victory in November, Kennedy was widely assumed to be the front-runner for the 1972 Democratic nomination.In January 1969, Kennedy defeated Louisianamarker Senator Russell B. Long by a 31–26 margin to become Senate Majority Whip, the youngest person to attain that position. While this further boosted his presidential image, he also appeared conflicted by the inevitability of having to run for the position. The reluctance was in part due to the danger; Kennedy reportedly observed, "I know that I'm going to get my ass shot off one day, and I don't want to."

Chappaquiddick incident

Mary Jo Kopechne
On the night of July 18, 1969, Kennedy was on Martha's Vineyardmarker's Chappaquiddick Islandmarker at a party for the "Boiler Room Girls", a group of young women who had worked on his brother Robert's presidential campaign the year before. Kennedy left the party, driving a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 with one of the women, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne and later accidentally drove off Dike Bridge into the Poucha Pondmarker inlet, a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island. Kennedy escaped the overturned vehicle, and, by his description, dove below the surface seven or eight times, vainly attempting to reach Kopechne. Ultimately, he swam to shore and left the scene. He contacted authorities the next morning, but Kopechne's body had already been discovered.

On July 25, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was given a sentence of two months in jail, suspended. That night, he gave a national broadcast in which he said, "I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately", but denied driving under the influence of alcohol and denied any immoral conduct between him and Kopechne. Kennedy asked the Massachusetts electorate whether he should stay in office and, after getting a favorable response, he did so.

In January 1970, an inquest into Kopechne's death took place in Edgartown, Massachusettsmarker. At the request of Kennedy's lawyers, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Courtmarker ordered the inquest be conducted in secret. The presiding judge, James A. Boyle, concluded that some aspects of Kennedy's story of that night were not true, and that "negligent driving appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne." A grand jury on Martha's Vineyard staged a two-day investigation in April 1970 but issued no indictment, after which Boyle made his inquest report public. Kennedy deemed its conclusions "not justified." Questions about the Chappaquiddick incident generated a large number of articles and books over the next several years.

Kennedy easily won re-election to another term in the Senate in 1970 with 62 percent of the vote against underfunded Republican candidate Josiah Spaulding, although he received about 500,000 fewer votes than in 1964.


In January 1971, Kennedy lost his position as Senate Majority Whip when he lost the support of several members and was defeated by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, 31–24. Kennedy would later tell Byrd that the defeat was a blessing, as it allowed him to focus more on issues and committee work, where his best strengths lay and where he could exert influence independently from the Democratic party apparatus. Kennedy became chair of the Senate subcommittee on health care and played a leading role with Jacob Javits in the creation and passage of the National Cancer Act of 1971.

In October 1971, Kennedy made his first speech about The Troubles in Northern Irelandmarker: he said that "Ulster is becoming Britain's Vietnam", demanded that British troops leave the northern counties, called for a united Ireland, and declared that Protestants who could not accept this "should be given a decent opportunity to go back to Britain" (a position he backed away from within a couple of years). Kennedy was harshly criticized by the British, and formed a long political relationship with Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party founder John Hume. In scores of anti-war speeches, Kennedy opposed President Richard Nixon's policy of Vietnamization, calling it "a policy of violence [that] means more and more war." In December 1971, Kennedy strongly criticized the Nixon administration's support for Pakistanmarker and its ignoring of "the brutal and systematic repression of East Bengal by the Pakistani army". He traveled to Indiamarker and wrote a report on the plight of the 10 million Bengali refugees. In February 1972, Kennedy flew to Bangladeshmarker and delivered a speech at Dhaka Universitymarker, where a killing rampage had begun a year earlier.

Kennedy had declared, shortly after Chappaquiddick, that he would not be a candidate in the 1972 U.S. presidential election. Nevertheless, polls in 1971 suggested he could win the nomination if he tried, and Kennedy gave some thought to running. In May of that year he decided not to, saying he needed "breathing time" to gain more experience and to take care of the children of his brothers and that in sum, "It feels wrong in my gut." Once George McGovern was near clinching the Democratic nomination in June 1972, various anti-McGovern forces tried to get Kennedy to enter the contest at the last minute, but he declined. At the 1972 Democratic National Convention McGovern repeatedly tried to recruit Kennedy as his vice presidential running mate, but was turned down. When McGovern's choice of Thomas Eagleton stepped down soon after the convention, McGovern again tried to get Kennedy to take the nod, again without success. McGovern instead chose Kennedy's brother-in-law Sargent Shriver.

In 1973, Kennedy's son Edward Kennedy, Jr., was discovered to have chondrosarcoma; his leg was amputated and he underwent a long, difficult, experimental two-year drug treatment. The case brought international attention both among doctors and in the general media, as did the young Kennedy's return to the ski slopes half a year later. His second son, Patrick J. Kennedy, was suffering from severe asthma attacks. The pressure of the situation mounted on Joan Kennedy, who several times entered facilities for alcoholism and emotional strain and was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic accident.

Meanwhile, Kennedy renewed his efforts for national health insurance. While proposing a single-payer solution favored by organized labor, he also negotiated with the Nixon administration on their preferred employer-based, HMO-oriented solution. The two sides could not come to agreement, and Kennedy would later regret not seizing upon the Nixon plan. In the wake of the Watergate scandal, Kennedy pushed campaign finance reform; he was a leading force behind passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, which set contribution limits and established public financing for presidential elections. In April 1974, Kennedy travelled to the Soviet Unionmarker, where he met with leader Leonid Brezhnev and advocated a full nuclear test ban as well as relaxed emigration, gave a speech at Moscow State Universitymarker, met with Soviet dissidents, and secured an exit visa for famed cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Kennedy's Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees continued to focus on Vietnam, especially after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

Kennedy was again much talked about as a contender in the 1976 U.S. presidential election, with no strong front-runners among the other possible Democratic candidates. But Kennedy's concerns about his family were strong, and Chappaquiddick was still in the news, with The Boston Globe, The New York Times Magazine, and Time magazine all reassessing the incident and raising doubts about Kennedy's version of events. In September 1974, Kennedy announced that for family reasons he would not run in the 1976 election, declaring that his decision was "firm, final, and unconditional." The eventual Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, built little by way of a relationship with Kennedy during his primary campaign, the convention, or the general election campaign. Kennedy himself was up for Senate re-election in 1976; he defeated a primary challenger angry at his support for school busing in Boston, then won the general election with 69 percent of the vote.

The Carter administration years were difficult for Kennedy; he had been the most important Democrat in Washington ever since his brother Robert's death, but now Carter was, and Kennedy at first did not have a committee chairmanship with which to wield influence. Carter in turn sometimes resented Kennedy's status as a political celebrity. Despite generally similar ideologies, their priorities were different. Frustrated by Carter's budgetary concerns and political caution, Kennedy spoke at the Democratic mid-term convention in 1978 and said, "Sometimes a party must sail against the wind."

Kennedy and his wife Joan separated in 1977, although they still staged joint appearances at some public events.Kennedy visited Chinamarker on a goodwill mission in late December 1977, meeting with leader Deng Xiaoping and eventually gaining permission for a number of Mainland Chinese nationals to leave the country; in 1978, he also visited the Soviet Union and Brezhnev and dissidents there again. Kennedy did become chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1978, by which time he had amassed a wide-ranging senate staff of a hundred.

Carter and Kennedy could not agree on a health care reform plan for the country. Kennedy wanted an ambitious, mixed private-government plan with comprehensive coverage, while Carter thought such a plan far too expensive given the troubled economic times, and instead proposed an incremental plan to be phased in over five to ten years. Neither plan gained any traction in Congress, and the failure to come to agreement represented the final political breach between the two. (Carter wrote in 1982 that Kennedy’s disagreements with Carter's proposed approach "ironically" thwarted Carter’s efforts to provide a comprehensive health-care system for the country. In turn, Kennedy wrote in 2009 that his relationship with Carter was "unhealthy" and that "Clearly President Carter was a difficult man to convince – of anything.")

1980 presidential campaign

Kennedy finally ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1980 presidential election by launching an unusual, insurgent campaign against the incumbent Carter, a member of his own party. A midsummer 1978 poll had shown Democrats preferring Kennedy over Carter by a 5-to-3 margin. During spring and summer 1979, as Kennedy deliberated whether to run, Carter was unintimidated despite his 28 percent approval rating, saying publicly: "If Kennedy runs, I'll whip his ass." Carter later asserted that Kennedy’s constant criticism of his policies was a strong indication that Kennedy was planning to run for the presidency. Labor unions urged Kennedy to run, as did some Democratic party officials who feared that Carter's unpopularity would lead to bad losses in the 1980 congressional elections. By August 1979, when Kennedy decided to run, polls showed him with a 2-to-1 advantage over Carter, and Carter's approval rating slipped to 19 percent. Kennedy formally announced his campaign on November 7, 1979, at Boston's Faneuil Hallmarker. He had already received substantial negative press from a rambling response to the question "Why do you want to be President?" during an interview with Roger Mudd of CBS News broadcast a few days earlier. The Iranian hostage crisis, which began on November 4, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which began on December 27, caused the electorate to rally around the president, allowed Carter to pursue a Rose Garden strategy of staying at the White House, and knocked Kennedy's campaign out of the headlines.

Kennedy's campaign staff was disorganized and Kennedy was initially an ineffective campaigner. The Chappaquiddick incident became a more significant factor than the staff expected, with several newspaper columnists and editorials criticizing Kennedy's answers on the matter. In the January 1980 Iowa caucuses that began the primaries season, Carter demolished Kennedy by a 59–31 percent margin. Kennedy's fundraising immediately dropped off and his campaign had to downsize, but he remained defiant, saying "[Now] we'll see who is going to whip whose what." Nevertheless, Kennedy lost three New England contests. Kennedy did form a more coherent message about why he was running, saying at Georgetown Universitymarker: "I believe we must not permit the dream of social progress to be shattered by those whose premises have failed." In a key March 18 primary in Illinois, Chappaquiddick hurt Kennedy badly among Catholic voters; during a St. Patrick's Day Parade the day before, Kennedy had to wear a bullet-proof vest due to assassination threats as hecklers yelled "Where's Mary Jo?" at him. Carter crushed Kennedy on polling day, winning 155 of 169 delegates.

With little mathematical hope of winning the nomination and polls showing likely defeat in the New York primary, Kennedy prepared to withdraw from the race. But due in part to Jewish voter unhappiness with a U.S. vote at the United Nations against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Kennedy staged an upset and won the March 25 vote by a 59–41 percent margin. Carter counterattacked by issuing ads that by implication criticized Kennedy on Chappaquiddick, but Kennedy still managed a narrow win in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. Carter won 11 of 12 primaries held in May, while on the June 3 Super Tuesday primaries, Kennedy won California, New Jersey, and three smaller states out of eight contests. Overall, Kennedy had won 10 presidential primaries against Carter, who won 24.

Although Carter now had enough delegates to clinch the nomination, Kennedy carried his campaign on to the 1980 Democratic National Convention in August in New York, hoping to pass a rule there that would free delegates from being bound by primary results and open the convention. This move failed on the first night of the convention, and Kennedy withdrew. On the second night, August 12, Kennedy delivered the most famous speech of his career. Drawing on allusions to and quotes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Alfred Lord Tennyson to say that American liberalism was not passé, he concluded with the words:

The Madison Square Gardenmarker audience reacted with wild applause and demonstrations for half an hour. On the final night, however, Kennedy arrived late after Carter's acceptance speech, and while he shook Carter's hand, he failed to raise Carter's arm in the traditional show of party unity. Carter's difficulty in securing Kennedy supporters during the general election campaign was one of many causes that led to his defeat in November by Ronald Reagan.


The 1980 election saw the Republicans capture not just the presidency but control of the Senate as well, and Kennedy was in the minority party for the first time in his career. Kennedy did not dwell upon his presidential loss, but instead reaffirmed his public commitment to American liberalism. He chose to become the ranking member of the Labor and Public Welfare Committee rather than of the Judiciary Committee, which he would later say was one of the most important decisions of his career. Kennedy became a committed champion of women's issues and of gay rights, and established relationships with select Republican senators in an effort to block Reagan's actions and preserve and improve the Voting Rights Act, funding for AIDS treatment, and equal funding for women's sports under Title IX. To combat being in the minority, he worked long hours and devised a series of hearings-like public forums to which he could invite experts and discuss topics important to him. Kennedy could not hope to stop all of Reagan's reshapings of government, but was often nearly the sole effectiveDemocrat battling him.

In January 1981, Ted and Joan Kennedy announced they were getting a divorce. The proceedings were generally amicable, and she received a reported $4 million settlement when the divorce was granted in 1982.

Kennedy easily defeated Republican businessman Ray Shamie to win re-election in 1982. Senate leaders granted him a seat on the Armed Services Committee, while allowing him to keep his other major seats despite the traditional limit of two such seats. Kennedy became very visible in opposing aspects of the foreign policy of the Reagan administration, including U.S. intervention in the Salvadoran Civil War and U.S. support for the Contras in Nicaraguamarker, and in opposing Reagan-supported weapons systems, including the B-1 bomber, the MX missile, and the Strategic Defense Initiative. Kennedy became the Senate's leading advocate for a nuclear freeze and was a critic of Reagan's confrontational policies toward the Soviet Union. A 1983 memorandum from KGB Chairmanmarker Viktor Chebrikov to General Secretary Yuri Andropov noted this stance and asserted that Kennedy, through former Senator John Tunney's discussions with Soviet contacts, had suggested that U.S.-Soviet relations might be improved if Kennedy and Andropov could meet in person to discuss arms control issues and if top Soviet officials, via Kennedy's help, were able to address the American public through the U.S. news media. Andropov was unimpressed by the idea.

For a while Kennedy toyed with running in the 1984 presidential election, but with his family opposed and his realization that the Senate was a fully satisfying career, in late 1982 he decided not to run. Kennedy campaigned hard for Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale and defended vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro from criticism over being a pro-choice Catholic, but Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.

Kennedy staged a tiring, dangerous, and high-profile trip to South Africa in January 1985. He defied both the apartheid government's wishes and militant anti-white AZAPO demonstrators by spending a night in the Sowetomarker home of Bishop Desmond Tutu and also visited Winnie Mandela, wife of imprisoned black leader Nelson Mandela. Upon returning, Kennedy became a leader in the push for economic sanctions against South Africa; collaborating with Senator Lowell Weicker, he secured Senate passage, and the overriding of Reagan's veto, of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. Despite their many political differences, Kennedy and Reagan had a good personal relationship, and with the administration's approval Kennedy traveled to the Soviet Union in 1986 to act as a go-between in arms control negotiations with reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The discussions were productive, and Kennedy also helped gain the release of a number of Soviet Jewish refuseniks, including Anatoly Shcharansky.

Although Kennedy was an accomplished legislator, his personal life was troubled during this time. His weight fluctuated wildly, he drank heavily at times – although not when it would interfere with his Senate duties – and his cheeks became blotchy. Kennedy later acknowledged, "I went through a lot of difficult times over a period in my life where [drinking] may have been somewhat of a factor or force." He chased women frequently, and also was in a series of more serious romantic relationships but did not want to commit to anything long-term. He often caroused with fellow Senator Chris Dodd; twice in 1985 they were in drunken incidents in Washington restaurants, with one involving unwelcome physical contact with a waitress.

Influenced by his personal difficulties and family concerns, and content with remaining in the Senate, in December 1985 Kennedy publicly cut short any talk that he might run in the 1988 presidential election. He added: "I know this decision means I may never be president. But the pursuit of the presidency is not my life. Public service is." Kennedy used his legislative skills to get passed the COBRA Act, which extended employer-based health benefits after leaving a job. Following the 1986 congressional elections, the Democrats regained control of the Senate and Kennedy became chair of the Labor and Public Welfare Committee. By now Kennedy had become what colleague Joe Biden termed "the best strategist in the Senate," who always knew when best to move legislation. Kennedy continued his close working relationship with ranking Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, and they were close allies on many health-related measures.

One of Kennedy's biggest battles in the Senate came with Reagan's July 1987 nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker. Kennedy saw a possible Bork appointment as leading to a dismantling of civil rights law that he had helped put into place, and feared Bork's originalist judicial philosophy. Kennedy's staff had researched Bork's writings and record, and within an hour of the nomination – which was initially expected to succeed – Kennedy went on the Senate floor to announce his opposition:

The overdrawn, incendiary rhetoric of what became known as the "Robert Bork's America" speech enraged Bork supporters, who considered it slanderous, and worried some Democrats as well. But the Reagan administration was unprepared for the assault, and the speech froze some Democrats from supporting the nomination and gave Kennedy and other Bork opponents time to prepare the case against him. When the September 1987 Judiciary Committee hearings began, Kennedy challenged Bork forcefully on civil rights, privacy, women's rights, and other issues. Bork's own demeanor hurt him, and the nomination was defeated both in committee and the full Senate. The tone of the Bork battle changed the way Washington worked – with controversial nominees or candidates now experiencing all-out war waged against them – and the ramifications of it were still being felt two decades later.

In the 1988 presidential election, Kennedy supported the eventual Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, from the start of the campaign. In the fall, Dukakis fell to George H. W. Bush, but Kennedy won re-election to the Senate over Republican Joseph D. Malone in the easiest race of his career. Kennedy remained a powerful force in the Senate; after prolonged negotiations during 1989 with Bush chief of staff John H. Sununu and Attorney General Richard Thornburgh to secure Bush's approval, he directed passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Kennedy had personal interest in the bill due to his sister Rosemary's condition and his son's lost leg, and he considered its enactment one of the most important successes of his career. In the late 1980s Kennedy and Hatch staged a prolonged battle against Senator Jesse Helms to provide funding to combat the AIDS epidemic and provide treatment for low-income people affected; this would culminate in passage of the Ryan White Care Act. In late November 1989, Kennedy traveled to see first-hand the newly fallen Berlin Wall; he spoke at John-F.-Kennedy-Platz, site of the famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in 1963, and said "Emotionally, I just wish my brother could have seen it."

Fall and rise

Kennedy's personal life now came to dominate his image. In 1989 the European paparazzi stalked him on a vacation there and photographed him having sex on a motorboat. In February 1990, Michael Kelly published his long, thorough profile "Ted Kennedy on the Rocks" in GQ magazine. It captured Kennedy as "an aging Irish boyo clutching a bottle and diddling a blonde," portrayed him as a Regency rake, and brought his behavior to the forefront of public attention. The death from cancer of brother-in-law Stephen Edward Smith in August 1990 left Kennedy emotionally bereft at the loss of a close family member and troubleshooter. Kennedy pushed on, but even his legislative successes, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which expanded employee rights in discrimination cases, came at the cost of being criticized for compromising with Republicans and Southern Democrats in order to gain passage.

On Easter weekend 1991, Kennedy was at a get-together at the family's Palm Beach, Floridamarker estate when, restless and maudlin after reminiscing about his brother-in-law, he left for a late-night visit to a local bar, getting his son Patrick and nephew William Kennedy Smith to accompany him. Patrick Kennedy and Smith returned with women they met there, Michelle Cassone and Patricia Bowman. Cassone said that Ted Kennedy subsequently walked in on her and Patrick, dressed only in a nightshirt and with a weird look on his face. Smith and Bowman went out on the beach, where they had sex that he said was consensual and she said was rape. The local police made a delayed investigation; soon Kennedy sources were feeding the press with negative information about Bowman's background and several mainstream newspapers broke a taboo by publishing her name. The case quickly became a media frenzy. While not directly implicated in the case, Kennedy became the frequent butt of jokes on The Tonight Show and other late-night television programs. Time magazine said Kennedy was being perceived as a "Palm Beach boozer, lout and tabloid grotesque" while Newsweek said Kennedy was "the living symbol of the family flaws."

Along with Bork, the other most contentious Supreme Court nomination in U.S. history has been the one for Clarence Thomas. When the Thomas hearings began in September 1991, Kennedy pressed Thomas on his unwillingness to express an opinion about Roe v. Wade, but the nomination appeared headed for success. But when the sexual harassment charges by Anita Hill broke the following month, and the nomination battle dominated public discourse, Kennedy was hamstrung by his past reputation and the ongoing developments in the William Kennedy Smith case. He said almost nothing until the third day of the Thomas–Hill hearings, and when he did it was criticized by Hill supporters for being too little, too late. Thomas was confirmed by a 52–48 margin, the narrowest ever for a successful nomination.

Biographer Adam Clymer rates Kennedy's silence during the Thomas hearings as the worst moment of his Senate career. Writer Anna Quindlen said "[Kennedy] let us down because he had to; he was muzzled by the facts of his life." Due to the Palm Beach media attention and the Thomas hearings, Kennedy's public image suffered. A Gallup Poll gave Kennedy a very low 22 percent national approval rating. A Boston Herald/WCVB-TVmarker poll found that 62 percent of Massachusetts citizens thought Kennedy should not run for reelection, by a 2-to-1 margin thought Kennedy has misled authorities in the Palm Beach investigation, and had Kennedy losing a hypothetical Senate race to Governor William Weld by 25 points.

Meanwhile, at a June 17, 1991 dinner party, Kennedy saw Victoria Anne Reggie, a Washington lawyer at Keck, Mahin & Cate, a divorced mother of two, and the daughter of an old Kennedy family ally, Louisianamarker judge Edmund Reggie. They began dating and by September were in a serious relationship. In a late October speech at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Kennedy sought to begin a political recovery, saying: "I am painfully aware that the criticism directed at me in recent months involves far more than disagreements with my positions ... [It] involves the disappointment of friends and many others who rely on me to fight the good fight. To them I say, I recognize my own shortcomings — the faults in the conduct of my private life. I realize that I alone am responsible for them, and I am the one who must confront them." In December 1991, the William Kennedy Smith rape trial was held; it was nationally televised and the most watched until the O. J. Simpson murder case several years later. Kennedy's testimony at the trial seemed relaxed, confident, and forthcoming, and helped convince the public that his involvement had been peripheral and unintended. Smith was acquitted.

Kennedy and Reggie continued their relationship and he was devoted to her two children, Curran and Caroline. They became engaged in March 1992, and were married by Judge A. David Mazzone on July 3, 1992, in a civil ceremony at Kennedy's home in McLean, Virginiamarker. She would gain credit with stabilizing his personal life and helping him resume a productive career in the Senate.

With no presidential ambitions left, Kennedy formed a good relationship with Democratic President Bill Clinton upon the latter taking office in 1993, despite his having initially backed former fellow Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic presidential primaries. Kennedy floor managed successful passage of Clinton's National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993 that created the AmeriCorps program, and despite reservations supported the president on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). On the issue Kennedy cared most about, national health insurance, he supported but was not much involved in formation of the Clinton health care plan, which was run by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and others. It failed badly and damaged the prospects for such legislation for years to come. In 1994, Kennedy's strong recommendation of his former Judiciary Committee staffer Stephen Breyer played a role in Clinton appointing Breyer to the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker.

In the 1994 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, Kennedy faced his first serious challenger, the young, telegenic, and very well funded Mitt Romney. Romney ran as a successful entrepreneur and Washington outsider with a strong family image and moderate stands on social issues, while Kennedy was saddled not only with his recent past but the 25th anniversary of Chappaquiddick and his first wife Joan seeking a renegotiated divorce settlement. By mid-September 1994, polls showed the race to be even. Kennedy's campaign ran short on money, and belying his image as endlessly wealthy, he was forced to take out a second mortgage on his Virginia home. Kennedy responded with a series of attack ads, which focused both on Romney's shifting political views and on the treatment of workers at a paper products plant owned by Romney's Bain Capital. Kennedy's new wife Vicki proved to be a strong asset in campaigning and Kennedy won a key October debate against Romney as he reconnected with his traditional bases of support. In the November election, despite a very bad result for Democrats overall, Kennedy won re-election by a 58 percent to 41 percent margin, the closest re-election race of his career.

Kennedy's mother Rose died in January 1995. Kennedy intensified practice of his Catholism from then on, often attending Mass several times a week.

Carrying on

Kennedy's role as a liberal lion in the Senate came to the fore in 1995, when the Republican Revolution took control and legislation intending to fulfill the Contract with America was coming from Newt Gingrich's House of Representatives. Many Democrats in the Senate and the country overall were depressed, but Kennedy rallied forces to combat the Republicans. By the beginning of 1996, the Republicans had overreached; most of the Contract had failed to pass the Senate; and the Democrats could once again move forward with legislation, almost all of it coming out of Kennedy's staff.

Kennedy's official Senate portrait in the 1990s
In 1996, Kennedy secured an increase in the minimum wage law, a favorite issue of his; there would not be another increase for ten years. Following the failure of the Clinton health care plan, Kennedy went against his past strategy and sought incremental measures instead. Kennedy worked with Republican Senator Nancy Kassebaum to create and pass the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996, which set new marks for portability of insurance and confidentiality of records. The same year, Kennedy's Mental Health Parity Act forced insurance companies to treat mental health payments the same as others with respect to limits reached. In 1997, Kennedy was the prime mover behind the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which used increased tobacco taxes to fund the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage for children in the U.S. since Medicaid began in the 1960s. Senator Hatch and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton also played major roles in SCHIP passing.

Kennedy was a stalwart backer of President Clinton during the 1998 Lewinsky scandal, often trying to cheer up the president when he was gloomiest and getting him to add past Kennedy staffer Greg Craig to his defense team, which helped improve the president's fortunes. In the trial subsequent to the 1999 Impeachment of Bill Clinton, Kennedy voted to acquit Clinton on both charges, saying "Republicans in the House of Representatives, in their partisan vendetta against the President, have wielded the impeachment power in precisely the way the framers rejected recklessly and without regard for the Constitution or the will of the American people."

On July 16, 1999, tragedy struck the Kennedy family again when a Piper Saratoga light aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Oceanmarker off the coast of Martha's Vineyardmarker. The accidentmarker killed its pilot John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife and sister-in-law. As patriarch, Ted Kennedy consoled the extended family along with President Clinton at the public memorial service. He paraphrased William Butler Yeats by saying of his nephew: "We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years." Ted now served as a role model for Maria Shriver, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, and other family members. The Boston Globe wrote of the changed role: "It underscored the evolution that surprised so many people who knew the Kennedys: Teddy, the baby of the family, who had grown into a man who could sometimes be dissolute and reckless, had become the steady, indispensable patriarch, the one the family turned to in good times and bad."


Kennedy had an easy time with his re-election to the Senate in 2000, as Republican lawyer and entrepreneur Jack E. Robinson III was sufficiently damaged by his past personal record that Republican state party officials refused to endorse him. Kennedy got 73 percent of the general election vote, with Robinson splitting the rest with Libertarian Carla Howell. During the long, disputed post-presidential election battle in Florida in 2000, Kennedy supported Vice President Al Gore's legal actions. Afterward the bitter contest was over, many Democrats in Congress did not want to work with incoming President George W. Bush. Kennedy, however, saw Bush as genuinely interested in a major overhaul of elementary and secondary education, Bush saw Kennedy as a potential major ally in the Senate, and the two partnered together on the legislation. Kennedy accepted provisions regarding mandatory student testing and teacher accountability that other Democrats and the National Education Association did not like, in return for increased funding levels for education. The No Child Left Behind Act was passed by Congress in May and June 2001 and signed into law by Bush in January 2002. Kennedy soon became disenchanted with the implementation of the act, however, saying for 2003 that it was $9 billion short of the $29 billion authorized. Kennedy said, “The tragedy is that these long overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not,” and accused Bush of not living up to his personal word on the matter. Other Democrats concluded that Kennedy's penchant for cross-party deals had gotten the better of him. The White House defended its spending levels given the context of two wars going on.

Kennedy was in his Senate offices meeting with First Lady Laura Bush when the September 11, 2001, attacks took place. Two of the airplanes involved had taken off from Boston, and in the following weeks, Kennedy telephoned each of the 177 Massachusetts families who had lost members in the attacks. He pushed through legislation that provided healthcare and grief counseling benefits for the families, and recommended the appointment of his former chief of staff Kenneth Feinberg as Special Master of the government's September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Kennedy maintained an ongoing bond with the Massachusetts 9/11 families in subsequent years.

In reaction to the attacks, Kennedy was a supporter of the American-led 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistanmarker. However, Kennedy strongly opposed the Iraq War from the start, and was one of 23 senators voting against the Iraq War Resolution in October 2002. As the Iraqi insurgency grew in subsequent years, Kennedy pronounced that the conflict was "Bush's Vietnam." In response to losses of Massachusetts service personnel to roadside bombs, Kennedy became vocal on the issue of Humvee vulnerability, and co-sponsored enacted 2005 legislation that sped up production and Army procurement of uparmored Humvees.

Despite the strained relationship between Kennedy and Bush over No Child Left Behind spending, the two attempted to work together again on extending Medicare to cover prescription drug benefits. Kennedy's strategy was again doubted by other Democrats, but he saw the proposed $400 billion program as an opportunity that should not be missed. However, when the final formulation of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act contained provisions to steer seniors towards private plans, Kennedy switched to opposing it. It passed in late 2003, and led Kennedy to again say he had been betrayed by the Bush administration.

In the 2004 Democratic Party presidential primaries, Kennedy campaigned heavily for fellow Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. and lent his chief of staff, Mary Beth Cahill, to the Kerry campaign. Kennedy's appeal was effective among blue collar and minority voters, and helped Kerry stage a come-from-behind win in the Iowa caucuses that propelled him on to the Democratic nomination.

After Bush won a second term in the 2004 general election, Kennedy continued to oppose him on Iraq and many other issues. However, Kennedy sought to partner with Republicans again on the matter of immigration reform in the context of the ongoing United States immigration debate. Kennedy was chair of the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Refugees, and in 2005, Kennedy teamed with Republican Senator John McCain on the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. The "McCain-Kennedy bill" did not reach a Senate vote, but provided a template for further attempts at dealing comprehensively with legalization, guest worker programs, and border enforcement components. Kennedy returned again with the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which was sponsored by an ideologically diverse, bipartisan group of senators as well as having strong support from the Bush administration. The bill aroused furious grassroots opposition among talk radio listeners and others as an "amnesty" program, and despite Kennedy's last-minute attempts to salvage it, failed a cloture vote in the Senate. Kennedy was philosophical about the defeat, saying that often took several attempts across multiple Congresses for this type of legislation to build enough momentum for passage.

In 2006, Kennedy released a children's book from the view of his dog Splash, My Senator and Me: A Dog's-Eye View of Washington, D.C. Also in 2006, Kennedy released a political history entitled America Back on Track.

Kennedy again easily won re-election to the Senate in 2006, winning 69 percent of the vote against Republican language school owner Kenneth Chase, who suffered from very poor name recognition.

Illness and a new president

Kennedy initially stated that he would support John Kerry again should he run for president in 2008, but in January 2007, Kerry said he would not. Kennedy then remained neutral as the 2008 Democratic nomination battle between Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama intensified, as his friend Chris Dodd was also running. After the initial caucuses and primaries had been split between the two and Dodd had withdrawn, Kennedy became dissatisfied with the tone of the Clinton campaign and what he saw as racially tinged remarks by Bill Clinton. Kennedy gave an endorsement to Obama on January 28, 2008, despite appeals by both Clintons not to do so. In a move that was seen as a symbolic passing of the torch, Kennedy said that it was "time again for a new generation of leadership," and compared Obama's ability to inspire with that of his fallen brothers. In return Kennedy gained a commitment from Obama to make universal health care a top priority of his administration if elected. Kennedy's endorsement was considered among the most influential that any Democrat could get, and raised the possibility of improving Obama's vote-getting among unions, Hispanics, and traditional base Democrats as the Super Tuesday primaries approached.

On May 17, 2008, Kennedy suffered a seizure, and then another one as he was rushed from the Kennedy Compoundmarker to Cape Cod Hospital and then by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospitalmarker in Boston. Within days, doctors announced that Kennedy had a malignant glioma, a type of cancerous brain tumor. The grim diagnosis brought reactions of shock and prayer from many senators of both parties and from President Bush.

Doctors initially told Kennedy the tumor was inoperable, but he looked around for other opinions and decided on the most aggressive and exhausting course of treatment possible. On June 2, 2008, Kennedy underwent brain surgery at Duke University Medical Center in an attempt to remove as much of the tumor as possible. The 3½-hour operation, conducted by Dr. Allan Friedman while Kennedy was conscious in order to minimize any permanent neurological effects, was deemed successful in its goals. Kennedy left the hospital a week later to begin a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Opinions varied regarding Kennedy's prognosis: the surgery typically only extended survival time by a matter of months, but sometimes people lived for years.

The operation and follow-up treatments left Kennedy thinner, prone to seizures, weak and short on energy, and hurt his balance.Kennedy made his first post-illness public appearance on July 9, when he surprised the Senate by showing up to supply the added vote to break a Republican filibuster against a bill to preserve Medicare fees for doctors. Though additionally ill from an attack of kidney stones and against the advice of some associates, Kennedy insisted on appearing during the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention on August 25, 2008, where a video tribute to him was played. Introduced by his niece, Caroline Kennedy, the senator said, "It is so wonderful to be here. Nothing – nothing – is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight." He then delivered a speech to the delegates (which he had to memorize, as his impaired vision left him unable to read a teleprompter) in which, reminiscent of his speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, he said, "this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So, with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on." The dramatic appearance and speech electrified the convention audience, as Kennedy vowed that he would be present to see Obama inaugurated.

On September 26, 2008, Kennedy suffered a mild seizure while at his home in Hyannis Portmarker, for which he was examined and released from hospital on the same day. Doctors believed that a change in his medication triggered the seizure. Kennedy relocated to Florida for the winter, continuing his treatments, sailing a lot, and staying in touch with legislative matters via telephone. In his absence, many senators wore blue "Tedstrong" bracelets.

On January 20, 2009, Kennedy attended Barack Obama's presidential inauguration in Washington, but then suffered a seizure at the luncheon immediately afterwards. He was taken via wheelchair from the Capitol building and then by ambulance to Washington Hospital Centermarker. The following morning, he was released from the hospital to his home in Washington, as doctors attributed the episode to "simple fatigue".

As the 111th Congress began, Kennedy dropped his spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee in order to focus all his attentions on health care issues, which he regarded as "the cause of my life". He saw the characteristics of the Obama administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress as representing the third and best great chance for universal health care, following the lost 1971 Nixon and 1993 Clinton opportunities, and as his last big legislative battle. Kennedy made another surprise appearance in the Senate to break a Republican filibuster against the Obama stimulus package. As spring arrived, Kennedy appeared on Capitol Hill more frequently, although staffers often did not announce his attendance at committee meetings until they were sure Kennedy was well enough to appear. On March 4, 2009, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown announced that Kennedy had been granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his work in the Northern Ireland peace process, and for his contribution to UK–US relations, although the move caused some controversy in the UK due to his connections with Gerry Adams of the Irish republican political party Sinn Féin. Later in March, a bill reauthorizing and expanding the AmeriCorps program was renamed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act by Senator Hatch in Kennedy's honor. Kennedy threw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Parkmarker before the Boston Red Sox season opener in April, echoing what his grandfather "Honey Fitz" had done to open the park in 1912. Even when his illness prevented him from being a major factor in health plan deliberations, his symbolic presence still made him one of the key senators involved.

However, by spring 2009 it was clear that Kennedy's tumor had spread and that treatments were not going to cure it, although this was not disclosed publicly. By June 2009 Kennedy had not cast a Senate vote in three months, and his health had forced him to retreat to Massachusetts where he was undergoing another round of chemotherapy. In his absence, premature release of his health committee's expansive plan resulted in a poor public reception. Kennedy's friend Chris Dodd had taken over his role on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, but Republican senators and other observers said that the lack of Kennedy's physical presence had resulted in less consultation with them and was making successful negotiation more difficult. Democrats also missed Kennedy's ability to smooth divisions on the health proposals. Kennedy did cut a television commercial for Dodd, who was struggling early on in his 2010 re-election bid. In July, HBO began showing a documentary tribute to Kennedy's life, Teddy: In His Own Words. A health care reform bill was voted out of the committee with content Kennedy favored, but still faced a long, difficult process before having a chance at becoming law. At the end of July 2009, Kennedy was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was unable to attend the ceremony to receive this medal, and attended a private service but not the public funeral when his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver died in mid-August. By the end, Kennedy was in a wheelchair and had difficulty speaking, but consistently said that “I’ve had a wonderful life.”


Kennedy died of brain cancer on Tuesday, August 25, 2009, at his home in Hyannis Portmarker, two weeks after the death of his sister Eunice. He is survived by his wife Victoria, his sister Jean Kennedy Smith, and his three children and two stepchildren. In a statement, Kennedy's family thanked "everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice". President Obama said that Kennedy's death marked the "passing of an extraordinary leader" and that he and First Lady Michelle Obama were "heartbroken" to learn of Kennedy's death, while Vice President Biden said "today we lost a truly remarkable man," and that Kennedy "changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans". Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Governor and Kennedy's opponent in the 1994 senate race, called Kennedy "the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary" and former First Lady Nancy Reagan said she was "terribly saddened." She went on: "Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised how close Ronnie [Ronald Reagan] and I have been to the Kennedy family. ... I will miss him." Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginiamarker, the President pro tempore of the Senate, issued a statement on Kennedy's death in which he said "My heart and soul weeps at the loss of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy". Upon his death, his sister Jean Kennedy Smith is the only surviving child of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Kennedy's nine children.

Kennedy's body traveled a journey from the Kennedy Compoundmarker in Hyannis Port, past numerous landmarks named after his family, to the John F. Kennedy Librarymarker in Boston, Massachusetts where it lay in repose and where over 50,000 members of the public filed by to pay their respects. On Saturday, August 29, a procession traveled from the library to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilicamarker in Boston, for a funeral Mass. Present at the funeral service were President Obama and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (also representing his father, former President George H. W. Bush, who declined to attend), along with Vice President Biden, three former Vice Presidents, 58 senators, 21 former senators, many members of the House of Representatives, and several foreign dignitaries. President Obama delivered the eulogy. Kennedy's body was returned to Washington, D.C. for burial at Arlington National Cemeterymarker near the graves of his brothers. Kennedy's grave marker is identical to his brother Robert's: a white oak cross and a marble white foot marker bearing his full name, year of birth and death.

True Compass, the memoir that Kennedy worked on throughout his illness, was published three weeks after his death. Kennedy's passing left his Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat vacant. A special election was scheduled for January 19, 2010. Shortly before his death, Kennedy had written to Democratic Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts legislature to change state law to allow an appointee to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy, for a term expiring upon the special election. (Kennedy had been instrumental in the prior 2004 alteration of this law in an effort to prevent Governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican senator should John Kerry's presidential campaign succeed.) The law was amended, and on September 24, 2009, Paul G. Kirk, former Democratic National Committee chairman, and former aide to Kennedy, was appointed to occupy the Senate seat until the completion of the special election. Kirk announced that he would not be a candidate in the special election.

Political positions

Political scientists gauge ideology in part by comparing the annual ratings by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with the ratings by the American Conservative Union (ACU). Kennedy had a lifetime liberal 90 percent score from the ADA through 2004, while the ACU awarded Kennedy a lifetime conservative rating of 2 percent through 2008.Using another metric, Kennedy had a lifetime average liberal score of 88.7 percent, according to a National Journal analysis that places him ideologically as the third-most liberal senator of all those in office in 2009.A 2004 analysis by political scientists Joshua D. Clinton of Princeton Universitymarker and Simon Jackman and Doug Rivers of Stanford Universitymarker examined some of the difficulties in making this kind of analysis, and found Kennedy likely to be the 8th-to-15th-most liberal Senator during the 108th Congress.The Almanac of American Politics rates congressional votes as liberal or conservative on the political spectrum, in three policy areas: economic, social, and foreign. For 2005–2006, Kennedy's average ratings were as follows: the economic rating was 91 percent liberal and 0 percent conservative, the social rating was 89 percent liberal and 5 percent conservative, and the foreign rating was 96 percent liberal and 0 percent conservative.

Various interest groups gave Kennedy scores or grades as to how well his votes aligned with the positions of each group.The American Civil Liberties Union gave him an 84 percent lifetime score as of 2009.During the 1990s and 2000s, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood typically gave Kennedy ratings of 100 percent, while the National Right to Life Committee typically gave him a rating of less than 10 percent.The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Kennedy a lifetime rating of 100 percent through 2002, while National Rifle Associationmarker gave Kennedy a lifetime grade of 'F' (failing) as of 2006.

Cultural and political image

At the time of his death, Kennedy was the second most senior member of the Senate, after President pro tempore Robert Byrd of West Virginiamarker, and the third-longest serving senator of all time, behind Byrd and Strom Thurmond of South Carolinamarker (he was passed later in 2009 by Daniel Inouye).

Following his presidential bid, Kennedy became one of the most recognizable and influential members of the party, and was sometimes called a "Democratic icon" as well as "The Lion of the Senate". Kennedy and his Senate staff wrote about 2,500 bills, of which more than 300 were enacted into law. Kennedy co-sponsored another 550 bills that became law after 1973. Kennedy was known for his effectiveness in dealing with Republican senators and administrations, sometimes to the irritation of Democrats. During the 101st Congress under President George H. W. Bush, fully half of the successful proposals put forward by the Senate Democratic policy makers came out of Kennedy's Labor and Human Resources Committee. During the 2000s, almost every bipartisan bill signed during the George W. Bush administration had significant involvement from Kennedy. A late 2000s survey of Republican senators ranked Kennedy first among Democrats in bipartisanship. Kennedy strongly believed in the principle "never let the perfect be the enemy of the good," and would agree to pass legislation he viewed as incomplete or imperfect with the goal of improving it down the road. In April 2006, Kennedy was selected by Time as one of "America's 10 Best Senators"; the magazine noted that he had "amassed a titanic record of legislation affecting the lives of virtually every man, woman and child in the country" and that "by the late 1990s, the liberal icon had become such a prodigious cross-aisle dealer that Republican leaders began pressuring party colleagues not to sponsor bills with him". In May 2008, soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee John McCain said, "[Kennedy] is a legendary lawmaker and I have the highest respect for him. When we have worked together, he has been a skillful, fair and generous partner." Republican Governor of California and Kennedy relative Arnold Schwarzenegger described "Uncle Teddy" as "a liberal icon, a warrior for the less fortunate, a fierce advocate for health-care reform, a champion of social justice here and abroad" and "the rock of his family". At the time of Kennedy's death, sociologist and Nation board member Norman Birnbaum wrote that Kennedy had come to be viewed as the "voice" and "conscience" of American progressivism.

Despite his bipartisan legislative practices, for many years Kennedy was a polarizing symbol of American liberalism. Republican and conservative groups long often viewed Kennedy as a reliable "bogeyman" to mention in fundraising letters, on a par with Hillary Rodham Clinton and similar to Democratic and liberal appeals mentioning Newt Gingrich. The famous racially motivated "Hands" negative ad used in North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms's 1990 re-election campaign against Harvey Gantt accused Gantt of supporting "Ted Kennedy's racial quota law". University of California, San Diegomarker political science professor Gary Jacobson's 2006 study of partisan polarization found that in a state-by-state survey of job approval ratings of the state's senators, Kennedy had the largest partisan difference of any senator, with a 57 percentage point difference in approval between Massachusetts's Democrats and Republicans. The Associated Press wrote that, "Perhaps because it was impossible, Kennedy never tried to shake his image as a liberal titan to admirers and a left-wing caricature to detractors."

Ted Kennedy was, from 1968 on, the most prominent living member of the Kennedy family, and was the last surviving son of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy was never able to carry on the "Camelot" mystique the same way his fallen brothers had, with much of it disappearing during his failed 1980 presidential bid. The loss of life at Chappaquiddick and Kennedy's well-documented later personal problems further tarnished his image in relation to the Kennedy name, and Chappaquiddick significantly damaged Kennedy's chances of ever becoming president. The Associated Press wrote that, "Unlike his brothers, Edward M. Kennedy has grown old in public, his victories, defeats and human contradictions played out across the decades in the public glare." But Kennedy's legislative accomplishments remained, and as The Boston Globe wrote, "By the early 21st century, the achievements of the younger brother would be enough to rival those of many presidents." And with his death came the public realization that the "Camelot era" was truly over. Kennedy's New York Times obituary described him via a character sketch: "He was a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair, his florid, oversize face, his booming Boston brogue, his powerful but pained stride. He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly. He was a Kennedy."

Awards and honors

Senator Kennedy received a number of awards and honors over the years. These include an honorary knighthood bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdommarker, the Order of the Aztec Eagle from Mexicomarker, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Order of the Merit of Chile, and honorary degrees from a number of institutions including Harvard Universitymarker.

Electoral history



  1. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 13, 16–17.
  2. Clymer, A Biography, p. 11.
  3. McGinnis, The Last Brother, p. 194.
  4. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 18–19.
  5. McGinnis, The Last Brother, p. 198.
  6. McGinnis, The Last Brother, p. 201.
  7. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 20–21.
  8. Moritz (ed.), Current Biography Yearbook 1978, p. 226.
  9. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 25–27. In practice, Larry O'Brien and Kenneth O'Donnell were the actual campaign managers.
  10. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 23–24.
  11. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 27–30.
  12. Done so under the authority of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, and Massachusetts state law.
  13. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 33–35.
  14. Barone and Cohen, Almanac of American Politics 2008, p. 791.
  15. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 43, 45–47.
  16. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 244, 305, 549.
  17. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 80–82.
  18. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 99–103.
  19. McGinniss, The Last Brother.
  20. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 123–126.
  21. Kennedy has denied this; see Clymer, A Biography, p. 130.
  22. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 131–132.
  23. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 141–142.
  24. " The Mysteries of Chappaquiddick". Time, August 1, 1968.
  25. p. 184
  26. Bly, The Kennedy Men, p. 213
  27. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 171–173.
  28. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 13.
  29. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 173–177.
  30. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 180–183.
  31. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 187–190.
  32. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 205–208.
  33. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 198–199, 217–219.
  34. Moritz (ed.), Current Biography Yearbook 1978, p. 228.
  35. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 212–215.
  36. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 245–250.
  37. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 252–256.
  38. Clymer, A Biography, p. 259.
  39. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 270, 273–274.
  40. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 27.
  41. Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 86–87 ff.
  42. Moritz (ed.), Current Biography Yearbook 1978, p. 227.
  43. Carter, Keeping Faith, p. 463.
  44. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 284–285.
  45. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 38–39.
  46. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 294–299.
  47. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 45–47.
  48. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 50.
  49. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 303–304.
  50. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 309, 312.
  51. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 316–319.
  52. Barone and Cohen, Almanac of American Politics 2008, p. 792.
  53. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 321–322.
  54. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 55–58.
  55. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 325, 354.
  56. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 63.
  57. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 60–63.
  58. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 341–342.
  59. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 360–361.
  60. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 77–78.
  61. Clymer, A Biography, p. 326.
  62. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 391–393.
  63. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 66–67.
  64. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 83–84.
  65. Clymer, A Biography, p. 385.
  66. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 382–383.
  67. Clymer, A Biography, p. 415.
  68. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 73–75.
  69. Clymer, A Biography, p. 428.
  70. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 407, 439.
  71. Clymer, A Biography, p. 443.
  72. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 73.
  73. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 437–439, 463–466.
  74. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 457–459.
  75. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 86–88.
  76. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 89, 94–97.
  77. Clymer, A Biography, p. 487.
  78. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 100.
  79. Barone and Cohen, Almanac of American Politics 2008, p. 364.
  80. Clymer, A Biography, p. 495.
  81. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 493–499.
  82. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 98.
  83. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 492–493.
  84. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 104.
  85. Clymer, A Biography, p. 512.
  86. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 519–523.
  87. Our Campaigns - Candidate - Edward "Ted" Kennedy
  88. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 114.
  89. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 539–541.
  90. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 137–139.
  91. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 141–142.
  92. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 152, 153.
  93. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 155–158.
  94. Hersh, The Shadow President, pp. 163–164.
  95. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 578–581.
  96. Clymer, A Biography, p. 570.
  97. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 600–603.
  98. Clymer, A Biography, pp. 604–605.
  99. As an American citizen, the British title would be purely honorary, and therefore Kennedy was not entitled to "Sir", though he is able to use the post-nominal Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) outside of the United States. See
  100. ,
  101. Lifetime rating is given.
  102. Kennedy's composite average only goes back to 1981, when National Journal began their ratings.
  103. Barone and Cohen, Almanac of American Politics 2008, p. 791. In 2005, the ratings were E 95 0, S 90 0, F 95 0; in 2006, E 87 0, S 88 11, F 98 0. Examination of two previous volumes of The Almanac of American Politics shows similar scores for 2001–2002 and 1997–1998.
  104. Hersh, The Shadow President, p. 82.


  • Guyon, Monica (2009). Ted Kennedy: The Early Years. California: Createspace ISBN 1449565794

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