'Heartbroken' Obama Hails Kennedy as 'Greatest Senator'

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2009 10:16 AM CDT
In this Jan. 23, 2007, file photo, Sens. Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., watch President Bush's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama said he was "heartbroken" to learn of the death of Ted Kennedy, whom the president called “one of the greatest senators of our time but also one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy," in an appearance on Martha's Vineyard, where the First Family is vacationing. The president was apprised of the senator's death at 2am and spoke to his widow, Victoria Kennedy, a few minutes later, Politico reports.

"I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague," Obama said in an earlier statement. "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."