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A bipartisan appreciation of Kennedy

From NBC's Mark Murray
Even if you disagreed with his political views, the late Ted Kennedy was adored by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers -- as these statements below suggest.

Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd: "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."

Democratic Sen. John Kerry: "We have known for some time that this day was coming, but nothing makes it easier. We have lost a great light in our lives and our politics, and it will never be the same again."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigor he poured into a truly momentous life. We send our deepest expressions of sympathy to Vicki, his children, and the entire Kennedy family."

House Minority Leader John Boehner: "Ted Kennedy was my friend. While there were few political issues on which he and I agreed, our relationship was never disagreeable, and was always marked by good humor, hard work, and a desire to find common ground."

GOP Sen. John McCain: "What is harder for us to express is the emptiness we will feel in the Senate in his absence. Even when we are all crowded in the chamber for a vote, engaged in dozens of separate conversations, it will seem a quiet and less interesting place, in the knowledge that his booming voice, fueled by his passion for his convictions, will never encourage or assail or impress us again. I will miss him very much."

Former President George W. Bush: "He was a man of passion who advocated fiercely for his convictions. I was pleased to work with Senator Kennedy on legislation to raise standards in public schools, reform immigration, and ensure dignity and fair treatment for Americans suffering from mental illness. In a life filled with trials, Ted Kennedy never gave in to self-pity or despair. He maintained his optimistic spirit, his sense of humor, and his faith in his fellow citizens. He loved his family and his country - and he served them until the end. He will be deeply missed."

Mitt Romney, who lost to Kennedy in a bid for the Senate: "In 1994, I joined the long list of those who ran against Ted and came up short. But he was the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary. I came to admire Ted enormously for his charm and sense of humor - qualities all the more impressive in a man who had known so much loss and sorrow. I will always remember his great personal kindness, and the fighting spirit he brought to every cause he served and every challenge he faced. I was proud to know Ted Kennedy as a friend, and today my family and I mourn the passing of this big-hearted, unforgettable man."

*** UPDATE *** Susan Collins, Republican senator from neighboring Maine: "With the passing of Senator Kennedy, our country has lost a giant of the Senate, and those of us who served with him have lost a warm, big-hearted, generous friend. Ted served the people of his state and our nation through five decades. His remarkable record of legislation has touched virtually every American. I worked most closely with Ted on education issues, joining with him to expand Pell grants which help low-income families afford college. We also worked together for years on the Senate Armed Services Committee where we advocated for a strong Navy. But my warmest memories of Ted are personal. He loved the coast of Maine and once told me there was no better sailing than Penobscot Bay. We shared pride in our Irish heritage. Ted once inscribed a book written by his mother for my mother. It was those countless kind gestures that I will remember most about Ted. I will miss Ted so much.