Defying cancer, Kennedy shows up in person for Democrats

August 26th, 2008 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

Denver (Colorado), Aug 26 (DPA) Senator Edward Kennedy put aside his family’s concerns about his cancer to give a rousing speech to Democratic delegates behalf of Barack Obama.Sounding his life-long theme of health care for all, Kennedy shuffled onto the podium Monday night at the Democratic convention in Denver laughing out loud.

“Nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight,” Kennedy said. “I have come here to help elect Barack Obama president of the United States.”

“Teddy” Kennedy, the venerable Democratic stalwart, underwent surgery for a brain tumour this summer and has only made one other public appearance since then - in the US Senate to cast a decisive vote on health care legislation.

Kennedy secretly flew Sunday night to the convention site in Denver, Colorado, after aides had earlier said the Massachusetts senator was unlikely to make the trip because of his health.

Kennedy, 76, only surviving brother of slain president John F. Kennedy, was an early and vocal Obama supporter.

The third-longest serving senator in US history, Kennedy was diagnosed in mid May with a malignant brain tumour and has since been recuperating from a successful surgery.

While Kennedy’s Senate office confirmed that he would attend Monday’s opening, it remained uncertain whether he would actually speak at the convention on a night to be highlighted by Obama’s wife, Michelle.

It still seemed unsure as his niece Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain president, introduced a special videotaped message from Kennedy to the convention. She praised Obama as someone who had inspired her as she has been told her father had inspired people.

The auditorium went dark when the video ended, and then the crowd screamed as Kennedy appeared on stage with his wife.

Kennedy said he had come to the convention to help the country “restore its future, rise to its best ideals and elect Barack Obama president of the United States”.

In the Nov 4 general elections, Obama will face presumptive Republican candidate John McCain, whose nominating convention is next week.

“We have never lost our belief that we are called to a better country and newer world,” Kennedy said.

He pledged that he would “be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate” to help a president Obama push through health coverage for the country’s more than 40 million uninsured.

After he finished, the crowd chanted “Teddy, Teddy!” as the stage band played “Still the One”.

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