The flags at the White House and the Capitol are at half staff, mourning the loss of a beloved U.S. lawmaker. Senator Edward Kennedy died of brain cancer late Tuesday night.
They called him the Liberal Lion. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. His passion was politics.
Senator Kennedy announced his support for Senator Barack Obama over Senator Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential primaries. That declaration gave a huge boost to Mr. Obama's campaign. Wednesday morning, President Obama paid tribute.
"His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives," he said.
Senator Kennedy died late Tuesday night at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.
His death drew tributes worldwide. Israeli President Shimon Peres had this to say:
"He said once that the achievements of yesterday are the problems of today," said Mr. Peres. "Namely: that we have to achieve things anew and not just be satisfied with the past."
Australian PM Kevin Rudd: "He has made an extraordinary contribution to American politics and an extraordinary contribution to America's role in the world."
While fighting his cancer, Kennedy returned to the Senate to cast crucial votes.
Kennedy served nearly 50 years in the U.S. Senate, where flags now fly at half staff.
He was the last of four Kennedy brothers - Joseph killed in World War II, President John F. Kennedy killed by an assassin in 1963, and Senator Robert Kennedy shot as he campaigned for his own presidential nomination.
Ted Kennedy's life was not without scandal. In 1969, he drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts and into the water. He didn't report the accident until eight hours later. A 28-year-old campaign worker, a passenger in his car, died in the accident.
Senator Kennedy sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980, but was plagued by questions over Chappaquiddick and was ultimately defeated by fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter, who went on to become president. Mr. Carter spoke of his one-time rival.
"His first commitment was always to the people who were most in need and he worked for the those who were deprived in American society," said Mr. Carter.
Through that work, Kennedy emerged as the champion of universal health care.
While being treated for cancer, he made an ardent plea at the Democratic National Convention last year.
"This is the cause of my life," he said. "New hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American - north, south, east, west, young, old - will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."
As President Obama pushes health care reform on Capitol Hill, analysts say he owes a lot to Ted Kennedy, who fought tirelessly to pass what he called the "cause of his life."
Ted Kennedy, dead at 77.