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Ailing Kennedy ignites DNC with emotion

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DENVER | Leave it to a Kennedy to steal his own show.

A tribute to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention Monday night was upstaged by the man himself who made a surprise and emotional appearance on the arena floor to the cheers of thousands of delegates.

The second-most senior senator, who is battling brain cancer, was not expected to make the trip. But in possibly his last major political appearance of his more than 45 years in the Senate, the stalwart Massachusetts lawmaker and staunch liberal electrified the crowd.

"It is so wonderful to be here, and nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight," Mr. Kennedy said.

A tribute to Mr. Kennedy was part of Monday's opening night program, with a taped segment from the senator planned. When word leaked late Sunday the 76-year-old lawmaker had arrived in Denver unannounced, speculation quickly rose he would make an appearance at the convention.

Then Monday night, he gave what is sure to be one of most notable moments of the four-day convention.

"He is a man of enormous courage who still has the ability to rally people to the causes he believes in," said Jim Manley, a longtime Kennedy aide and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "He will certainly go down in history as one of the greatest legislators this country has ever produced."

Mr. Kennedy has experienced personal and political lows few on Capitol Hill have ever known. A year after he was elected to the Senate in 1962 his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. In 1968, while Mr. Kennedy was recuperating from severe injuries he suffered in a plane crash, brother Robert F. Kennedy, also a senator, was fatally shot while running for president.

Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor this past spring and then underwent surgery at Duke University Medical Center.

On Monday night, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, daughter of President Kennedy, praised her "Uncle Teddy" for his tenacity and for influencing her life, the party and the nation.

"More than any senator of his generation, or perhaps any generation, Teddy has made life better for people in this country and around the world," she said. "For 46 years, he has been so much more than just a senator for the people of Massachusetts, he's been a senator for all who believe in a dream that's never died."

In 1980, Mr. Kennedy finished a close second to Jimmy Carter in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. After losing a challenge for the nomination at the convention, he delivered a now famous concession speech that ended with the line: "For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."

Monday night, he borrowed from that speech to end what could be the final major speech of his career: "The hope rises again," he said, "and the dream lives on."

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