"The thing about Ted was that when the debate was over then he would put his arm around you and you moved on to the next issue," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent and anchor Bob Schieffer. "Not only didn't he hold a grudge, he would say, 'That was done. Now let's go on to the next battle.'"
McCain added that "one of the fundamental reasons for his success was once he gave his word, that was never broken. I'd love to tell you that that's a very common thing. But unfortunately it's not as common as we would like."
"He truly had a civil rights, anti-discrimination, human rights agenda that was deep in his heart," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who served on the Judiciary Committee with Kennedy. "He led the committee, I believe, in social issues."
Feinstein called Kennedy "a very dominant" member of the committee and a forceful leader.
One lawmaker who represented Massachusetts in Congress with Kennedy, Rep. Barney Frank (D), said Kennedy's preparedness, his political savvy and his understanding of the other side made him a formidable public servant.
"No one could attack him from the left," Frank said. "Ted Kennedy had the ability and the knowledge to get into a political situation and make the compromises."
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who worked with Kennedy on health-care legislation, told Schieffer, "He was a masterful politician and a very good friend."
Hatch echoed McCain's sentiment that Kennedy left political disputes on the floor.
"We fought each other most of the time, knock-down drag-out battles, but always after we would throw our arms around each other," Hatch remembered with a laugh.
"We did dozens and dozens of landmark pieces of legislation, and a lot of it was because he was able to acknowledge that he couldn't get everything that he wanted to do but if he worked with us he could get some things that were good," Hatch said.
Georgetown's Michael Eric Dyson called Kennedy "an awful powerful gust of wind" in President Obama's campaign last year. "This was a man of American royalty bestowing upon Barack Obama the mantle of that kind of liberal leadership."
By Michelle Levi