Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton issued separate statements this morning, remembering their friendships with, and the legacy of, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).
President Clinton called Kennedy (D-MA) "one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind, and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union."
As President, I was thankful for his fierce advocacy for universal health care and his leadership in providing health coverage to millions of children. His tireless efforts have brought us to the threshold of real health care reform. I was also grateful for his efforts, often in partnership with Republicans as well as Democrats, to advance civil rights, promote religious freedom, make college more affordable, and give young Americans the opportunity to serve at home in Americorp. I am glad the bill President Obama signed to expand Americorp and other youth service opportunities is named the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Through it, his commitment to public service will live on in millions of young people across our nation.
Hillary and I will always be grateful for the many gestures of kindness and generosity he extend to us, for the concern he showed for all the children and grandchildren of the Kennedy clan, and for his devotion to all those in need whose lives were better because he stood up for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, his children and grandchildren, and the people of Massachusetts he served so well.
As we learned during her recent trip to Africa, the secretary of state and her husband don't [necessarily like to] speak with one voice. Earlier today, she said Kennedy was "one of our nation's finest statesmen and a dear friend.
For five decades, Senator Kennedy was at the heart of our greatest debates, serving on the front lines of democracy. With optimism and courage, he helped us meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of our times. He was a champion for women and families, for health care, education, civil rights and the environment. He inspired generation after generation of young Americans to enter public service, to stand up for justice and to fight for progress. And he was a legislator without peer, who understood both when to stand his ground and when to seek out the common ground on which compromise and progress is built.
When I was First Lady, we worked together to provide health insurance for America's children. When I arrived in the Senate, he was a generous mentor and a thoughtful colleague. We worked together to raise the minimum wage, improve education, and champion the cause we shared so deeply: ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. And as Secretary of State, I valued his counsel on how to make America a force for peace and progress around the world.
I will always treasure the memory of his friendship and the time we spent together, from the Massachusetts waters he loved so much, to the floor of the Senate that will feel empty without his booming voice and broad smile.
We have lost Ted, but his life's work will shape our nation for years to come. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans who are freer, healthier, and more prosperous because of his efforts. As he said, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.