The Kennedys Embrace Obama: A Man with Extraordinary Gifts of Leadership and Character

Sen. Ted Kennedy Endorses Barack Obama

Obama Understands the Fierce Urgency of the Now

Two generations of Kennedys endorsed Barack Obama for president on Monday, with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy describing him as a ”man with extraordinary gifts of leadership and character,” a worthy heir to his assassinated brother. ”I feel change in the air,” Kennedy said in remarks edged with scarcely veiled criticism of Obama’s chief rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as her husband, the former president. ”I have marveled at his grit and grace,” he said of the man a full generation younger than he is.

From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq. And let no one deny that truth,” he said, an obvious reference to former President Clinton’s statement that Obama’s early anti-war stance was a ”fairy tale.” ”With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion. With Barack Obama we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay,” Kennedy said.

There was another time, when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a new frontier. He faced criticism from the preceding Democratic president, who was widely respected in the party,” Kennedy said, referring to Harry S. Truman. ”And John Kennedy replied, ‘The world is changing. The old ways will not do…. It is time for a new generation of leadership.”

So it is with Barack Obama,” he added.

The senator made his comments at a crowded campaign rally that took on the appearances of a Kennedy family embrace of Obama, who sat smiling as he heard their praise. He was introduced by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president, who said that ”Obama offers that same sense of hope and inspiration” as did her father. Representative Patrick Kennedy also endorsed Obama from the stage before a jubilant crowd at American University.

This is more than just politics for me. It is personal,” Obama said when it came time for him to speak. He said he was too young to remember President John F. Kennedy, ”My own sense of what is possible in this country stems from what my parents had told me about the Kennedys.”  “I stand here today with a great deal of humility,” Mr. Obama said after Mr. Kennedy’s endorsement. “I know what your support means. I know the cherished place the Kennedy family holds in the hearts of the American people.”

Barack Obama: The Kennedy Endorsements are a Great Honor

Also on Monday, Senator Obama picked up the endorsement of Nobel Prize winning author and Pulitzer Prize recipient Toni Morrison, who read from her work at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration and once labeled him the ”first Black president.” Morrison said she has admired Hillary Clinton for years because of her knowledge and mastery of politics, but she cited Obama’s ”creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom.” Morrison said that her endorsement had little to do with Obama’s race, but rather with her great admiration of his personal gifts.

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