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Ted Kennedy takes his star turn

August 25, 2008 |  7:00 pm

DENVER -- He made it; how could he not?

In the first emotional high point of the Democratic National Convention, a somewhat unsteady -- but stalwart -- Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts took his place at the podium as the lights at the Pepsi Center went up after a video tribute to him.

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His appearance had become widely expected; the crowd, in fact, was armed with "Kennedy" placards.

Still, it roused the audience as the party's liberal lion, battling a brain tumor, not only appeared but proceeded to deliver a patented stemwinder on behalf of his favorite cause -- healthcare -- and his favorite candidate -- Barack Obama.

Kennedy's voice was shaky at times, but mostly remarkably strong.

He told his listeners that "nothing, nothing" was going to "keep me away from this special gathering tonight."

That drew a huge cheer. But an even louder, more heartfelt one arose when he said, "I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the U.S. Senate."

That sparked chants of "Teddy, Teddy, Teddy..."

When Kennedy first appeared, state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon of Texas wiped tears from her eyes and called out in joy when Kennedy appeared.

"When he came out my heart fluttered, she told The Times' James Rainey. "He represents the best in the Democratic Party and the best in the American people."

She added: "This is his moment in history, his moment to put a cap on his legacy. He saw someone he could pass the torch to and he wanted to be there to see it happen. It's a blessing."

She then danced and sang along as Kennedy took his curtain call to "You're Still the One."

-- Don Frederick

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
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