U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who is recovering from prostate cancer story at his East Haddam home, said he feels like he's lost not only his best friend in the Senate, but also a brother.
"It's like losing a brother. I lost my sister about a month ago and I feel this pain almost as much," Dodd said.
Kennedy "fought like a lion" in the year since being diagnosed with brain cancer, Dodd said.
When Kennedy was too sick to push the national health care plan through Congress, he tapped Dodd to make sure someone was shepherding it through Congress.
“I’m not sure America has ever had a greater Senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy,” Dodd said in a statement he released Wednesday morning. “He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life – ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need.
Dodd and Kennedy's friendship went beyond the walls of Congress. Last Memorial Day, shortly after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Dodd was with Kennedy for the second half of the Figawi boat race, from Nantucket to Hyannis, the Cape Code Times reported. Kennedy finished second in his class.
Earlier in 2008, Kennedy was greeted by applause from thousands of Connecticut voters. He was in Hartford during the heated 2008 presidential race after throwing his support to then-candidate Barack Obama.
Kennedy hit the campaign trail with the then president-to-be, and one of those stops was at the XL Center, where about 15,000 fans greeted them just before the state’s presidential primary.
"This election now is in your hands. I'm asking each and every one of you to do for Barack Obama what you did for John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy,” Kennedy said, according to MSNBC.
In 2006, Ted Kennedy campaigned for Ned Lamont in Connecticut and came to Lamont’s defense after then Vice President Dick Cheney said on national television that Connecticut voters would help terrorists if they elected Lamont over Sen. Joe Lieberman.
In 1980, Kennedy was running for president and won Connecticut’s Democratic primary.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney expressed his condolences to the Kennedy family and issued a statement about Kennedy's death.
“Ted Kennedy championed civil rights for minorities and the disabled, as well as passing legislation to create fairness for those who suffer mental illness,” Courtney said. “’The Lion of the Senate’ has passed, but his legacy of service to America will remain for generations to come.”
Wednesday, Dodd called Kennedy one of the most respected Senators in history.
“But it was his sympathetic ear, his razor wit, and his booming, raucous laugh that made him among the most beloved,” Dodd said. “Whatever tragedy befell Teddy’s family, he would always be there for them. Whatever tragedy befell the family of one of his friends, he would always be there for us. … I will miss him every day I serve, and every day I live.”