The reactions are pouring in on the news of Senator Kennedy’s diagnosis that he has a malignant brain tumor. CNN reports that “Senate Democrats and Republicans were having their weekly closed policy lunches in the Capitol when the news broke.”
When Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told his Democratic colleagues about Kennedy, there was “stunned silence,” one senator said.
Capitol police officers and Senate staffers gathered around television screens off the Senate floor and watched news reports about Kennedy.
Senator John Kerry, fellow Massachusetts Democrat and longtime Kennedy friend, is reported to have arrived late to the policy lunch and entered through “a back door.”
Looking drained, he declined to comment except to nod that he had spoken to Kennedy’s family.
Later, Kerry said “every one of us knows what a big heart this fellow has. He’s helped millions and millions of people in so many way in so many times.”
“Now, everybody needs to pull for him and his family … and remember, this guy is one unbelievable fighter,” he added.
Senator John Kerry’s full statement as released The Dem Daily on Senator Kennedy’s illness follows:
“Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family have faced adversity more times, in more instances, with more courage and more determination and more grace than any family should ever have to face even just once.
“He’s helped millions and millions of people, in so many ways, at so many different times, from countless big pieces of legislation in Washington to the most personal of issues.
“Now, everybody needs to pull together on behalf of Ted. We must pull for him and his family and remember that Teddy is one unbelievable fighter.
“Over the weekend, I saw him and he’s in a fighting mood, and I’m confident that he will continue to draw strength from his tower of strength in Vicki, from each of his children and grandchildren, and from his unbelievably loving and caring family, both in Boston and from his extended family of Americans and people all over the world.
“I know that Ted is determined to fight this because he wants to continue his fight for the people of Massachusetts and he wants to continue to fight for everything that he believes in here in the United States Senate and throughout our country.
“Teresa’s and my prayers – and the prayers of a nation – are with my good friend and his family in these most trying of times.”
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, who “appeared alongside Kerry and added that Kennedy’s a “strong guy and has great heart, and we’re confident he’ll be back here.””
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, released a statement saying, “Ted Kennedy has spent his life caring for those in need. Now it’s time for those who love Ted and his family to care for them and join in prayer to give them strength.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said it’s “one of the worst days I’ve spent in the Senate to hear this news.”
A distraught and shaken Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, teared up on the Senate floor, saying “Thank God for you.”
“I hope and pray that an all-caring, omnipotent God will watch over Ted and keep Ted here for us and for America. Ted, my dear friend, I love you, and I miss you.”
On the campaign trail, the partisanship disappeared as “Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain responded to their colleague’s illness.”
Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, said the news about Kennedy is “heartbreaking.”
“It’s our job now to support him in the way that the supported us for so many years. He’s not just a great senator, he is a great friend. He is beloved by me and beloved by colleagues,” Obama added.
Clinton, speaking on the campaign trail, called the news “very difficult.”
“Obviously, he’s a fighter. There isn’t anybody like him. He gets up and goes out and does battle on behalf of all of us every single day. And I know he’s a fighter when it comes to the challenges he’s facing right now,” she added.
McCain, the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to him. We hope and pray that they will be able to treat it and that he will experience a full recovery.”
From the other side of the aisle, “Republicans expressed concern for Kennedy, perhaps the best-known Senate liberal.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, offered “heartfelt support and prayers” for his “good friend” on Tuesday.
“Ted and I have sparred a lot. So I know firsthand what a formidable fighter he is, and I know that he will do all he can to battle this disease. I join my Senate colleagues, Massachusetts residents and a grateful nation in wishing him a full and speedy recovery,” Hatch said in a news release.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he was “hoping for the best and for a speedy recovery for our colleague Sen. Kennedy. And I know I speak for every Republican in the conference that this was a development of a great concern and sadness for all of our members.”
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor two years ago and is battling Hodgkin’s disease, said “Kennedy is a real fighter. We all know that. And … I’m betting on it,” he said.
President Bush also released a statement, saying “Laura and I are concerned to learn of our friend Sen. Kennedy’s diagnosis. Ted Kennedy is a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength, and powerful spirit. Our thoughts are with Sen. Kennedy and his family during this difficult period. We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.”
And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, “whose wife, Maria Shriver, is Kennedy’s niece, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, “While we are still learning the extent of Teddy’s diagnosis and treatment options, what we do know is that Teddy is an incredibly courageous and tenacious man who will tackle this with the same determination with which he approaches everything in life.””
Over in the House, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said the news of Kennedy’s brain tumor “has been met throughout the country with great concern. I have confidence, though, because Sen. Kennedy has been a fighter all his life. I know that this fighting spirit will hold him in good stead.””
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland released a statement saying, “Kennedy is a giant in the Senate, a wonderful public servant, and a great American.”
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, called Kennedy “the greatest senator in American history and a tireless fighter for America’s families.”
There’s an outpouring of reaction in the blogosphere as well, with warm wishes and prayers from both sides of the political blogosphere. Here are some of the notable posts: Open Left, Hullabaloo, Michelle Malkin, Comments from Left Field, skippy the bush kangaroo, Done With Mirrors, Political Byline, TVNewser, Connecting.the.Dots, American Street, The Carpetbagger Report, The Other McCain, The Moderate Voice, Taylor Marsh, and Pam’s House Blend.
Finally, I want to add the the Boston Globe reports that Kennedy’s prognosis is not good. However, AP News has released this photo of Kennedy and his family at the Mass General today:
He’s a fighter. Please keep a good thought and send your prayers out to Ted Kennedy and his family.