There was an overflow crowd today at American University in Washington, D.C. as Senator Ted Kennedy, joined by his son and his niece, formally endorsed Barack Obama for President:
Sen. Barack Obama today picked up the endorsement of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), giving the Illinois Democrat a key boost as he and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) head into their final week of campaigning before the potentially crucial “Super Tuesday” presidential primaries on Feb. 5.
In a speech at American University in Washington, Kennedy, 75, a 45-year veteran of the Senate and a standard-bearer for liberal Democrats, joined his niece, Caroline Kennedy, and his son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), in publicly backing Obama for the party’s nomination.
The three Kennedys, taking turns speaking at a lectern bearing the slogan, “Change We Can Believe In,” invoked the inspiration of former President John F. Kennedy in supporting the candidacy of Obama, a first-term senator who seeks to become the nation’s first African American president.
Addressing a cheering, overflow crowd in the university’s Bender Arena, Sen. Kennedy hailed Obama as a candidate who “has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now.” Calling on Americans to “have the courage to choose change,” he declared: “It is time again for a new generation of leadership! It is time now for Barack Obama!”
In accepting the endorsements, Obama told the crowd: “We will change the course of history. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”
I’m no Ted Kennedy fan by any means, but there’s no way to downplay the significance of this endorsement, or of it’s importance in the race for the Democratic nomination. The Kennedy name still carries with it a certain cachet among Democrats, even more so than the Clinton name, and the association between the legacy of a fallen President and the hopes of a young Senator from Illinois are not going to be lost on many voters.
Will it be enough to give Obama the edge he needs ? I don’t know, but I can’t help but think that we’re witnessing something extraordinary here.