by Xinhua writer Wang Wei
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Democratic and
Republican political figures joined on Wednesday in mourning the death of
Senator Edward Kennedy, who passed away earlier in the day at 77 after a
long-time struggle with cancer.
U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) reacts
after President Barack Obama signed H.R. 1388, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve
America Act, at the SEED Public Charter School in Washington, April 21,
2009. (Xinhua/Reuters, File Photo)
Three hours after Kennedy died at his home in
Massachusetts, President Barack Obama, who is currently taking a vacation in a
vineyard in the state, issued a statement, saying his family was "heartbroken"
at the news.
Obama was also set to make a statement at a press
conference in the vineyard on Kennedy's death on Wednesday morning.
"An important chapter in our history has come to an
end," he said in the statement. "Our country has lost a great leader, who picked
up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States
Senator of our time."
The president also thanked Senator Kennedy for "his
wise counsel in the Senate" and "his confidence and momentous support in" the
presidential race last year.
Kennedy was one of politicians who endorsed the then
first-term senator from Illinois in the early phase of the presidential campaign
in 2008, and he presented himself several times at Obama's rallies.
Even after being diagnosed with a brain tumor,
Kennedy continued to serve at the Senate, pushing forward with the health care
reform and other legislative measures.
"Kennedy's dream of quality health care for all
Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his
inspiration," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who beat Kennedy in
the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination, called his old rival "an unwavering
advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country."
Carter also credited to Kennedy for "the courage and
dignity he exhibited in his fight with cancer" which "was surpassed only by his
lifelong commitment and service to his country."
Kennedy, who had represented the state of Massachusetts in the Senate for decades, was not only a model for his Democratic fellows, but also admired by those from his rival Republican Party, despite their political differences.
Siblings Eunice Kennedy Shriver (L), Jean Kennedy Smith (C) and U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) take the stage for the dedication of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in Boston, Massachusetts in this July 26, 2004 file photo. (Xinhua/Reuters, File Photo)
Former President George H.W. Bush issued a statement
on behalf of himself and his son, former President George W. Bush, expressing
sympathies from members of the Republican Party.
"While we didn't see eye to eye on many political
issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service," he
said. "Kennedy was a seminal figure in the U.S. Senate -- a leader who answered
the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter
in that body's history."
Nancy Reagan, the widow of former president Ronald
Reagan, also shared the sentiments, saying "Ronnie (Ronald Reagan) and Ted could
always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another."
As a relative, California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger, who married Kennedy's niece, Maria Shriver, gave credit to the
Senator for helping him with his Hollywood-to-politics career.
"I have personally benefited and grown from his
experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well," he said in a