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Kennedy, the "Liberal Lion," Remembered

Updated 4:00 p.m. ET

Friends, family and colleagues offered statements of remembrance for Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy, who hailed from one of America's most powerful political families, and served the state of Massachusetts for nearly 50 years. Special Report: Ted Kennedy

From the Kennedy Family:

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank 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, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it's hard to imagine any of them without him."

Photo Essay: Remembering Ted Kennedy

President Barack Obama:

"For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

"An important chapter in our history has come to an end. 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.

"And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Mr. Obama also made an on-camera statement about Kennedy from Martha's Vineyard on Wednesday morning. Mr. Obama called Kennedy "singular figure" in American history who made the country a "more equal and more just" place for all Americans. (Click here to read more on the statement.)

Vice President Joe Biden:

"We lost a truly remarkable man. To paraphrase Shakespeare, I don't think we shall ever see his like again. I think the legacy he left was not just with the landmark legislation he passed but in how he helped people look at themselves and look at one another." (Click here for more on Biden's on-camera statement.)

Former President George W. Bush:

"Laura and I are saddened by the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. We extend our condolences and prayers to Senator Kennedy's wife, Vicki, and all of their family. Ted Kennedy spent more than half his life in the United States Senate. He was a man of passion who advocated fiercely for his convictions. I was pleased to work with Senator Kennedy on legislation to raise standards in public schools, reform immigration, and ensure dignity and fair treatment for Americans suffering from mental illness. In a life filled with trials, Ted Kennedy never gave in to self-pity or despair. He maintained his optimistic spirit, his sense of humor, and his faith in his fellow citizens. He loved his family and his country - and he served them until the end. He will be deeply missed."

Former President Bill Clinton:

"Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind, and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union… Hillary and I will always be grateful for the many gestures of kindness and generosity he extend to us, for the concern he showed for all the children and grandchildren of the Kennedy clan, and for his devotion to all those in need whose lives were better because he stood up for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, his children and grandchildren, and the people of Massachusetts he served so well."

Former President George H.W. Bush:

"While we didn't see eye-to-eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service - so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States 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."

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan

"I was terribly saddened to hear of the death of Ted Kennedy tonight. Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."

Former President Jimmy Carter:

"Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the Kennedy family. Senator Kennedy was a passionate voice for the citizens of Massachusetts and an unwavering advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country. The courage and dignity he exhibited in his fight with cancer was surpassed only by his lifelong commitment and service to his country."

Photo Essay: Ted Kennedy's Life in Pictures

Kennedy's affability and capability to span the partisan divide on an array of legislative matters prompted an outpouring of condolences from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill and around the country:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

"For five decades, Senator Kennedy was at the heart of our greatest debates, serving on the front lines of democracy. With optimism and courage, he helped us meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of our times… When I was First Lady, we worked together to provide health insurance for America's children. When I arrived in the Senate, he was a generous mentor and a thoughtful colleague… We have lost Ted, but his life's work will shape our nation for years to come. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans who are freer, healthier, and more prosperous because of his efforts. As he said, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Attorney General Eric Holder:

"Senator Edward Kennedy was one of the most extraordinary, influential and kind people who ever served our country. His steadfast advocacy for civil rights, rule of law and fairness in the criminal justice system has always been an inspiration to me, as I know it remains today for countless employees of the Department of Justice... Every day I look at the portrait of his brother Robert that hangs in my office and I am reminded that the Kennedy family has shown to America, through its actions, the importance of fighting for what is right even in the face of difficult odds. I would not be in the office I now hold were it not for their contributions and commitment to our nation."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

"Today, with the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the American people have lost a great patriot, and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved patriarch. Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy's statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishment that has improved opportunity for every American."

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Majority Leader:

"It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy. He was a friend, the model of public service and an American icon. As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so
dutifully dedicated his life. Senator Kennedy's legacy stands with the greatest, the most devoted, the most patriotic men and women to ever serve in these halls .... The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader:

"It is with great sadness that Elaine and I note the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the giants of American political life, a longtime Senate colleague, and a friend. No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigor he poured into a truly momentous life. We send our deepest expressions of sympathy to Vicki, his children, and the entire Kennedy family."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.:

"My friend, Ted Kennedy, was famous before he was accomplished. But by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments… What is harder for us to express is the emptiness we will feel in the Senate in his absence. Even when we are all crowded in the chamber for a vote, engaged in dozens of separate conversations, it will seem a quiet and less interesting place, in the knowledge that his booming voice, fueled by his passion for his convictions, will never encourage or assail or impress us again. I will miss him very much." (Click here for more of McCain on "The Early Show" this morning.)

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., House Minority Whip

"I am saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. Senator Kennedy's service in the Senate spanned nearly a half-century, and his influence upon that institution and the Democratic Party is undeniable. I offer our deepest prayers and condolences to his wife Vicki and the entire Kennedy family."

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., House Majority Whip

"America mourns the loss of a legendary leader and public servant, Senator Edward M. Kennedy. His body of work spans a near half-century, but will live forever. He was the protector of the least of these and the champion of equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all Americans. Whether it's civil rights, education, public health or a livable minimum wage, his work has improved American lives in a myriad of ways."

Former Vice President Al Gore:

"He was a true giant. He was a warm, funny, thoughtful, and generous friend and he was the most effective member of the United States Senate with whom I served. In the grief that Tipper and I share with so many, we know that the legacy of his brilliant work will carry on for decades to come. Ted was a champion for those Americans who had no voice-the sick, the disabled, the poor, the under-privileged-and they could have had no greater friend in the Senate. Now, Ted would want nothing more than for his colleagues to continue his life's work and to make real his dream of quality health care for all Americans."

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer:

"The country has lost a great senator. We who worked for him remember and will always cherish his practical wisdom, his sense of humor, his determination, and his love of his country and its history. He was dedicated to helping others. Our hearts go out to Vicki and to his family. Senator Kennedy was a great American."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"Teddy inspired our country through his dedication to health care reform, his commitment to social justice, and his devotion to a life of public service. I have personally benefited and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well. Teddy taught us all that public service isn't a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

"In 1994, I joined the long list of those who ran against Ted and came up short. But he was the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.:

"No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger than life presence who was simply the best - the best Senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague, and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times. He faced the last challenge of his life with the same grace, courage, and determination with which he fought for the causes and principles he held so dear. He taught us how to fight, how to laugh, how to treat each other, and how to turn idealism into action, and in these last fourteen months he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time. For almost 25 years, I was privileged to serve as his colleague and share his friendship for which I will always be grateful."

Read more on the life and death of Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy:

Obituary: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Dies at 77
Arrangements for Kennedy Funeral Announced
Kennedy Memoir Set for Release Next Month
Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for Kennedy
Mass. Gov Supports Quick Replacement for Kennedy
In His Own Words
Life in the Public's Glare
Brothers "Would Have been Proud"
In Pictures: The Kennedys
Washington Unplugged: Bob Schieffer and Tom Oliphant Remember Kennedy
CBS News Special Tonight at 8 p.m. ET: "The Last Brother" Special Report: Ted Kennedy

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.:

"I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come. My heart and soul weeps at the lost of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy… In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American."

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

"I'm not sure America has ever had a greater Senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy. I will always remember Teddy as the ultimate example for all of us who seek to serve, a hero for those Americans in the shadow of life who so desperately needed one."

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.:

"Senator Kennedy was a lion in the Senate. He fought for what he believed in and did so with passion. I had the opportunity to work on several legislative issues with Senator Kennedy and despite our political differences, he was professional, courteous, and thoughtful and always looked for ways to find common ground. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

"Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend. Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber."

Hatch also released a song in tribute to Kennedy. You can listen to it here.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.:

"Ted Kennedy was a gifted, inspiring, irresistible man, a great American public servant, and a real Master of the Senate. What he said of his brother Bob was true of him: Ted saw wrong and tried to right it, he saw suffering and tried to heal it... I was inspired into public service by his brother John and so it was a real personal thrill and honor to work alongside Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, to learn from him, and to laugh -- and occasionally roar -- with him."

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.:

"Today America lost an extraordinary leader, a legendary political force, and the patriarch of one of the greatest families in American history. For nearly half a century, Ted Kennedy has tirelessly served our nation during one of the most transformative times in history. He has been a leading voice for advancing civil rights, social welfare, and health care - and has always worked humbly to assist those who are less fortunate. In the Senate, Ted and I had a remarkable working relationship, and a friendship I will always cherish."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.:

"The powerful have never lacked champions. Ted Kennedy was a champion for ordinary Americans and for those who struggle. He believed everyone in this great land deserves the opportunity to pursue the American Dream."

Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.:

"Today our country and the world lost a leading light and a legislative legend. Edward Kennedy was the greatest senator this country has ever known and an inspiration to all who have answered the call to public service. Never afraid to sail against the wind in the name of justice, equality and opportunity, Senator Kennedy was a treasured friend and a legislator without peer."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine:

"With the passing of Senator Kennedy, our country has lost a giant of the Senate, and those of us who served with him have lost a warm, big-hearted, generous friend. Ted served the people of his state and our nation through five decades. His remarkable record of legislation has touched virtually every American… But my warmest memories of Ted are personal. He loved the coast of Maine and once told me there was no better sailing than Penobscot Bay."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa:

"The United States Senate will never be the same without Ted Kennedy. His presence was enormous. He fought hard, debated intensely and worked tirelessly for what he thought was right. Senator Kennedy and I had a different point of view on most every issue, but he was an ally like few others when he was on your side. Senator Kennedy leaves a legacy as a public servant and policy maker, and my wife Barbara joins me in sending our deepest sympathy to his family."

World leaders praised Kennedy as one of the towering figures in American politics, offering plaudits for his dedication to fighting for the causes in which he believed.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

"Edward Kennedy will be mourned, not just in America but on every continent."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

"I saw his focus and determination first hand in Northern Ireland where his passionate commitment was matched with a practical understanding of what needed to be done to bring about peace and to sustain it.

"I was delighted he could join us in Belfast the day devolved government was restored.

"My thoughts and prayers today are with all his family and friends as they reflect on the loss of a great and good man."

Irish President Mary McAleese:

"His outstanding and remarkable personal contribution was made, despite the sacrifice and sorrow that was part of the overall contribution of the entire Kennedy family," she said.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen:

"America has lost a great and respected statesman and Ireland has lost a long-standing and true friend," Cowen said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd:

Kennedy "made an extraordinary contribution to American politics, an extraordinary contribution to America's role in the world."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

"Kennedy has been a friend for 30 years, a great American patriot, a great champion of a better world, a great friend of Israel. He will be sorely missed."

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano:

Kennedy "has left a deep mark and deserves the homage of all the free world."

Click here for more on world reaction.