Kennedy, in death, passes torch to Obama
When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy stood before exuberant supporters 18 months ago making the surprise announcement he was backing presidential-primary candidate Sen. Barack Obama, he did more than lend his iconic family name to the Democrat who would become president.
He was declaring the youthful Illinois senator the rightful heir to one of the nation’s most enduring political legacies.
“Every time I’ve been asked … who I would support in the Democratic primary, my answer has always been the same: the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country’s best days are still to come,” Mr. Kennedy said during the speech on Jan. 28, 2008.
Check out more video coverage of Sen. Kennedy, here.
This was the candidate who represents a “new generation of leadership,” Mr. Kennedy declared. “The torch will be passed again.”
The political marriage sanctified that day turned out to be fruitful and rejuvenating for both men.
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Obama campaign aides viewed the endorsement as a symbolic and even magical moment, a transfer of power and moral authority that lifted their spirits during a brutal primary battle. Coming when it did, after a tough defeat in New Hampshire and days before the critical test of Super Tuesday, the announcement led campaign manager David Plouffe at the time to call it “the biggest day of the campaign.”
For Mr. Kennedy, it was a chance to forge a bond with the next generation of Democratic leadership.
Check out the Washington Times interactive Remembering Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Alan Solomont, a top Boston fundraiser for the Obama campaign, said in the days prior to Mr. Kennedy’s speech a story was being shared by those in the campaign’s inner circle.
“Right before the endorsement,” Mr. Solomont said, “Senator Kennedy reportedly said to [his son] Patrick … ‘Our family has to be on the right side of history.’ ”
“I believe he saw it in those terms,” Mr. Solomont said. “This was not about personalities.”
Those who worked inside Mr. Obama’s campaign said Wednesday it’s easy to forget it now, but securing Mr. Kennedy’s support was far from assured. Ever since Bill Clinton’s campaign for president released the photograph of his encounter with President John F. Kennedy at the age of 17, there always had been an implied understanding that he had been bequeathed the Kennedy family’s liberal legacy.