August 26th, 2009
11:02 AM ET

How Kennedy shook up politics in the Granite state

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Jennifer Donahue
Political Director, New Hampshire Institute of Politics

Senator Edward Kennedy shook up the New Hampshire Primary for 50 years, from stumping for his brother, John F. Kennedy in 1960, to running against Carter in 1980, and then helping Barack Obama in 2008.

In the most recent New Hampshire primary, Kennedy surprised observers when he endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama instead of then-Senator Hillary Clinton. Stumping in the Granite state for Obama will be the last campaign Kennedy affected, but not the first.

On December 14, 1979, Senator Edward Kennedy officially entered the New Hampshire primary himself, running for president against incumbent President Jimmy Carter. The results of the New Hampshire Primary in 1980 were surprisingly close, given that Kennedy was challenging a sitting President. Carter won with 47 percent of the vote; Kennedy was 10 points behind him with 37 percent.

Senator Ted Kennedy had gone through the 1960 presidential campaign helping his brother , John F. Kennedy, win the New Hampshire primary win 85 percent of the vote. And in 2004, when he noticed his junior colleague, John F. Kerry, was trailing in the state, Senator Edward M. Kennedy traveled to New Hampshire and gave a full-throated endorsement of the Kerry's presidential campaign.

During the 2004 race, Senator Kennedy told a New Hampshire crowd at what was billed as a health-care rally, that Kerry deserved their vote because he had often toiled outside the spotlight on important issues, from normalizing relations with Vietnam or resolving a nursing strike in Brockton.

Voters and lawmakers of both parties will miss Senator Kennedy.

Sen. Judd Gregg said this today: "In the Senate, Ted and I had a remarkable working relationship, and a friendship I will always cherish. We served on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, alternating as Chairman and Ranking Member as the party majorities switched. During this time Ted was always willing to not only reach across the aisle, but had the unique ability to pull people together to get things done, with both substance and a great sense of humor. He was undoubtedly one of the single most effective senators in this history of our country."

Filed under: 360° Radar • Sen. Ted Kennedy
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Steve Baker

    Ted Kennedy's political life has always made me proud to be a New Englander. His social life was a drawback, but his influence on the entire 6 state region can be assessed by the number of Republican Congressmen, or lack of in the area.

    August 27, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  2. DesireeSimmons/whitefox306@twitter

    I remember that he was in the hospital and I said a prayer and
    knew he would pull through…
    I’m sure each American has wish a loved one would live for ever,
    but they must move on to the next phase of life some would call it
    the next level of the experience in the universe.
    My son ran to me this morning and said mom,Ted Kennedy is dead ( He said it three times) and when I heard it I was not anxious I paused and while on a phone call,
    I looked at him and said I know…
    I didn’t get to meet you Senitor Ted Kennedy but I’m sure my prayer reach heaven so you had a longer stay with your family…
    An exceptional human being.
    Now there’s another star in the skys its name is Ted Kennedy

    Rest friend of humanity…
    The battle is won…
    I hope that you where truly cherished by your wife.

    August 26, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  3. lampe

    I'm sure there are many Democrats, till this day DO NOT UNDERSTAND, how Teddy could have supported Obama over HRC, when The Clintons and The Kennedys were supposed to be such good friends.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  4. adela palenzuela

    R.I.P Teddy

    You alway will live in our family and in our hearts

    ......now how about Robert Kennedy Jr?

    August 26, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    Senator Gregg's statement that Kennedy was undoubtedly one of the single most effective senators in the history of our country is not emotional hyperbole – many have felt this way about Senator Kennedy for some time. I'm glad that Senator Gregg said it for us today.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  6. alex lyrics

    Senator Kennedy, an army man, a family man, a public man. I think that all our government should get together and name this healthcare bill after him, he deserves that much.
    The dream goes on threw President Obama, and also through us Americans to save our future.
    "GOD REST HIS SOUL" he was a great caring man

    August 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  7. Mharlyn Merritt

    There is a hole in my universe now, but heartened by the fact that when one door closes another opens. President Obama's vision for the United States is in keeping with Sen. Kennedy's legacy. There's nothing wrong with hope.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:05 pm |