Senator Ted Kennedy was hospitalized this morning after suffering from stroke like symptoms. He was rushed by ambulance and initially hospitalized at Cape Cod Hospital and then airlifted to Mass General in Boston.
Kennedy spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter says that “Kennedy has been hospitalized in Boston after suffering a seizure,” rather than a “stroke as initially suspected.”
Cutter says “he is undergoing tests at Massachusetts General Hospital to determine the cause of the seizure.”
Ted Kennedy, the Lion of the Senate, has served in the Senate since 1962, representing Massachusetts.
He is one of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years. He is known as a liberal champion of social issues such as health care, family leave, and the minimum wage.
Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy family, is the only surviving son in a famed Kennedy family. The eldest Kennedy brother Joseph, was killed in a World War II airplane crash and “resident John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother Robert was assassinated in 1968.”
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, beginning a tour of hospitals in Eugene, Ore., told reporters that he had been in touch with the senator’s family. “Ted Kennedy is a giant in American political history. He’s done more for health care than just about anybody in history. We are going to be rooting for him. I insist on being optimistic about how it’s going to turn out.”
Kennedy gave Obama’s presidential campaign a big boost this year with his endorsement and has campaigned actively for the Illinois senator.
Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, New York. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also issued a statement.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Ted Kennedy and his family today,” she said. “We all wish him well and a quick recovery.”
The Caucus reports that “Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, was the first political figure to release a statement on Mr. Kennedy, a longtime colleague and friend.”
“Senator Kennedy’s role in the U.S. Senate cannot be overstated. He is a legendary lawmaker, and I have the highest respect for him,” Mr. McCain said. “When we have worked together, he has been a skillful, fair and generous partner. I consider it a great privilege to call him my friend.”
Ted Kennedy was preparing this morning to host the annual Best Buddies Challenge event this afternoon, “a fundraiser for the Best Buddies organization founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver to help people with intellectual disabilities.”
Hundreds are expected to participate in the event, which started with a 100-mile bicycle ride from the Kennedy Library in Boston to Hyannisport, and closes out with a concert at the Kennedy compound.
A man walking by the hospital was startled by the news when he asked why about the reason for the large media assemblage.
“Ted? Is he all right? Jeez, I’m taken aback. I just saw him on television yesterday,” said Jerry Leonard, 76, a retired bartender.
“He’s a Kennedy. His name is synonymous with this area. I’m a Bostonian, too, and he’s done a lot for us around here and for the senior citizens in particular. I don’t know him but I feel a connection.”
Longtime readers here know I am originally from Massachusetts and I have strong sense of loyalty to the two great Senators from Massachusetts. I have always considered myself to be a Kennedy (then Kerry) Democrat.
My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Kennedy and his family for a speedy recovery.