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Obama: Kennedy "Greatest" Sen. of Our Time

(AP PHOTO)
Statement from President Obama on the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy:

"Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

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.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today - to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family."

President Obama called Kennedy, "The greatest United States senator of our time."

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

CBSNews.com's complete coverage of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy
"Liberal Lion" Remembered
No Immediate Action on Succession
In His Own Words
"The Last Brother"
Life in the Public's Glare
In Pictures: The Kennedys