Obama Invokes Kennedy in Emotional Appeal

By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2009 9:53 PM CDT
First row from left, Ellen Linderman, first lady Michelle Obama, Victoria Kennedy and Jill Biden applaud as President Obama delivers a speech on healthcare to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, Sept.,...   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Teddy Kennedy didn't live long enough to see health care reform, one of the signature causes of his Senate career, make it into law. But President Obama invoked Kennedy in his speech tonight, giving the senator known for bipartisan dealmaking the last word in his address to a joint session of Congress. With Kennedy's wife and children seated prominently in the gallery next to the First Lady, Obama quoted from a letter Kennedy wrote him in May, to be delivered on his death.

"He repeated the truth that health care is decisive for our future prosperity," Obama said of the letter, "but he also reminded me that 'it concerns more than material things.' 'What we face,' he wrote, 'is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.' ” In an emotional call to action, Obama said it was not Kennedy's ideology that drove him, but his experience as a parent with two children who were stricken with cancer, aware of the heartbreak any parent would feel who could not afford treatment for such a child.