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With Ted Kennedy ailing, Wesleyan grads will hear some new pol named Obama

May 22, 2008 |  5:53 pm

Ted Kennedy's very public and dire illness will keep him being the speaker at the 176th Commencement Ceremony at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., on Sunday. His stand-in: Barack Obama.

"Ted and I talked about me filling in for him at Wesleyan University earlier this week," Obama said in a statement released today. "Considering what he's done for me and for our country, there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. So I'm looking forward to standing in his place on Sunday even though I know I won't be able to fill his shoes."

Kennedy released his own statement through the Obama campaign, saying, essentially, he was taking Obama up on his offer to help as he battles brain cancer, "including stepping in to deliver the commencement address at Wesleyan University."

It's not just any commencement. Among the gowned-and-tasseled will be Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Raclin, and son Ted Jr. will be in the audience. The statement, attributed to Kennedy's office, said the Massachusetts senator accepted Obama's offer to step in "knowing it would be an historic opportunity for the school and all those attending."

It should make for an interesting weekend of campaign coverage. Hillary Clinton is planning to be in Puerto Rico, whose June 1 Democratic primary votes will count in the Democratic National Convention, but the territory will have no voice in the  general election. So expect coverage of Clinton to be light.

Obama, meanwhile, will be symbolically stepping into the shoes of Democratic liberalism in what will likely be a highly dramatic -- and widely covered -- appearance. Once again, advantage: Obama.

-- Scott Martelle