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Obama may visit ailing Ted Kennedy -- if the senator's up to it

August 17, 2009 |  9:24 am

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and President Obama at a bill signing ceremony in April 2009 that tripled the number of volunteers in AmeriCorps

Ted Kennedy, the patriarch of his famous political family and 47-year veteran of Congress whose passion for progressive politics has earned him the sobriquet "The Lion of the Senate," is ailing.

The 77-year-old Massachusetts senator, who's battling brain cancer, has lasted longer than doctors expected, according to his son Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Confined mostly to the Kennedy compound at Hyannisport, Mass., the senator goes sailing and sits on the porch of his seaside home, sharing stories about family and politics, talking to his children, according to the younger Kennedy. Last week he was too weak to attend the funeral for his sister, the founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, or the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House at which his daughter Kara accepted his award. He has been described as "frail and failing during his brief public appearances."

Still, President Obama, who won the election last year after Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg bestowed the blessings of Camelot on his candidacy, is hoping to visit during his week-long vacation on Martha's Vineyard with his family. (See an earlier Ticket item on the first family's Republican-owned digs.)

The Boston Herald is reporting that the Secret Service made a security trip to the compound -- perhaps they've been there before? -- to prepare, but cautioned that an Obama visit will "only happen if the senator is up to it."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: President Obama with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Washington, D.C., charter school in April just before signing the Serve America Act, which tripled the number of AmeriCorp volunteers. Credit: Getty Images

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