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Election 2000
Democratic National Convention
Ted Kennedy
Sen. Ted Kennedy
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Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy thrilled the Democratic National Convention in 1988 with a blistering attack on then-Vice President George Bush in an attempt to cast Bush in a poor light and connect him with investigations of the Reagan administration.

The "Where was George?" speech failed in its ultimate purpose, as the nation's voters went on to elect Bush as president. But it has joined the lexicon of memorable political oratory.

When the senior Massachusetts senator returns to the stage in Los Angeles, he confronts another Republican nominee named George Bush. Most observers expect an equally vivid speech from the liberal lion of the U.S. Senate.

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There's another parallel to that 1988 speech. Kennedy will be appearing with his niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who will be making a rare public appearance. In 1988, Kennedy also had a family member along -- nephew John F. Kennedy Jr., who delighted Democrats with his introduction of "Uncle Ted."

The appearances with the children of JFK are a reminder of the upheaval Ted Kennedy has endured during his 40 years in public life. The violent deaths of his brothers John and Robert propelled Ted, the youngest of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's nine children, to the role of family patriarch long before his time.

Now 68, Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the Senate since 1962. He was elected that year to finish the term of his brother Jack, who had moved on to the White House.

He was considered a likely presidential candidate himself, but his ambitions were weighed down by his involvement in the car accident that killed the young secretary Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969. He made a final bid for the White House in 1980, but lost the battle for the Democratic nomination to President Jimmy Carter.

In the years since he has settled into a role as the social conscience of the Senate. He's the senior Democrat on the Senate Health, Education and Labor Pensions Committee. His Web site sets out a list of goals that include curbing "the abuses of HMOs," giving every child a healthy start, improving the nation's schools, making college "accessible and affordable for all" and fighting "for all those who need our help the most."

No doubt, the Gore-Lieberman ticket will be calling on Kennedy's help as well.


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