Democratic icon Senator Edward Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, appeared before the cheering crowd at the party's convention in Denver to support Barack Obama and vowed to help the presidential candidate win the election in November.
Ailing liberal lion Edward Kennedy summoned up one last roar of defiance for captivated Democrats here Monday, vowing that the "dream lives on" through a new generation led by Barack Obama.
Walking gingerly onto the stage barely three months after being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor, the 76-year-old war horse sprinkled political stardust across an enraptured audience with a bravura display.
The elder statesman of America's most famous political dynasty had been expected to miss the convention on health grounds.
But the last surviving brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy wasted no time in telling an adoring crowd at the 18,000-seat Pepsi Center he wouldn't have missed the occasion for the world.
"My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here and nothing -- nothing -- is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight," Kennedy declared.
"I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America -- to restore its future and to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States."
Kennedy invoked the spirit of president Kennedy during a barnstorming address, likening the modern-day challenges facing the United States to the 1960s space race, a bygone era of optimism and hope.
"When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon he didn't say 'It's too far to get there, we shouldn't even try.' Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge," Kennedy said.
Signing off, Kennedy reprised his famously searing speech to the 1980 Democratic Convention following his unsuccessful challenge to incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
"This November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans," he declared. "The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on."
Kennedy had endorsed presumptive party nominee Obama during the primary campaign, introducing a frosty note into his relationship with Hillary Clinton.
An unapologetic liberal who recalls an era of roaring political rhetoric, Kennedy has nevertheless reached out to work with Republicans.
He remains a champion of causes such as health care, education and immigration reform, and has been a fierce critic of President George W. Bush.
He returned to those themes on Monday, earning one of several ovations with his statement that healthcare was a "fundamental right and not a privilege."
Edward Kennedy is the last surviving brother of president Kennedy, who was shot and killed in 1963, and Robert Kennedy, killed while campaigning in 1968. His eldest brother Joseph died in a plane crash during World War II.
Kennedy, whose eighth Senate term expires in 2012, was once seen as the heir apparent of his political dynasty, and seemed destined for the White House.
But that dream was derailed by the death of a young woman in his car in 1969 after it went off a bridge near Chappaquiddick island off the US east coast.
Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May. Doctors have not publicly offered a prognosis, but the US National Cancer Institute has said the outlook for patients with his condition is poor, with average life expectancy depending on the stage of the tumor, from a few months to up to five years.
Date created : 2008-08-26