Clinton on Kennedy: "There's Never Been Anybody Like Him in the Senate"

(CBS)

From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

LOUISVILLE, KY. – Even though he threw his support behind her Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton said today that Ted Kennedy "is probably the most effective single Senator that our country has ever seen." Clinton's comments came just hours after news that Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

Originally, the Clinton campaign had issued a simple paper statement: "Ted Kennedy's courage and resolve are unmatched, and they have made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history. Our thoughts are with him and Vicki and we are praying for a quick and full recovery."

But perhaps prompted by the on-camera reactions from Barack Obama and John McCain, the campaign quickly e-mailed the five major networks, alerting them that Clinton would give an on-camera statement regarding Kennedy.

In her televised statement, Clinton was impassioned about her feelings toward her Senate colleague. "He's a fighter. There isn't anybody like him. He gets up and goes out and does battle on behalf of all of us every single day. And I know he's a fighter when it comes to the challenges he's facing right now. There's never been anybody like him in the Senate," Clinton said. "And just as he has fought year after year to try to make the changes that will benefit our nation and the world, I know that he's going to fight with all of his might, supported by his wonderful wife Vicki and his entire family, against this latest challenge and we wish him great success in this battle as in every other battle that he has won over so many years."

It was a big shock in the campaign when Kennedy endorsed Obama early this year, a move that many thought irked Clinton and her campaign. The Kennedy family remains split over their support in this campaign, with the majority of the family members supporting Obama; however, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is a strong supporter of Clinton.