Senator Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy died Tuesday night after a long struggle with brain cancer. He was 77. Kennedy will be buried at Arlington Cemetery after a funeral mass in Boston. (August 26, 2009)

UNDATED (AP) - A conservative Republican who didn't often see eye-to-eye with Ted Kennedy says that while his political battles with Kennedy were real, "you couldn't help but like him."

Orrin Hatch of Utah says he and Kennedy were "like fighting brothers." He and Kennedy were able to form a political alliance on some health-related issues.

Even though Kennedy was a favorite target of Republican opponents, his affability and his willingness to bridge the partisan divide on an array of issues are prompting condolences from Republicans and Democrats alike after his death last night.

Former President George H.W. Bush says he "always respected his steadfast public service." Nancy Reagan says her late husband could "always find common ground" with Kennedy -- and that she herself joined Kennedy in support for stem cell research.

Former Vice President Al Gore calls Kennedy "a champion for those Americans who had no voice."

And the current vice president, Joe Biden, says Kennedy "spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America."

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Several local, state and national officials have issued statements on the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy.

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Statement by U.S. Senator John Cornyn, (R) Texas

"I am deeply saddened by the news of Ted's passing, and thankful for the opportunity to work side by side with him over the last six years. Ted's passion and dedication were without parallel. His dogged determination, an inspiration. When he decided to take on an issue, he didn't hold anything back. No senator was better prepared than he was. Having the honor of serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee together, I saw first hand this passion, dedication and determination applied to the great issues of our day. He and the entire Kennedy family are in Sandy's and my prayers during this difficult time."

*** Statement by President George H.W. Bush

"Barbara and I were deeply saddened to learn Ted Kennedy lost his valiant battle with cancer. While we didn't see eye-to-eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service - so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate - a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body's history. Barbara and I - and all Bushes - send our heartfelt condolences to Victoria, Ted's kids, and the entire Kennedy family."

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Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

"Last night we lost a hero, and I lost a friend. The passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy is an indescribable loss for our nation and the world. In 2000, I had the great honor of being presented the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award by the senator. And, I will always remember his insights and advice during my confirmation hearing. A tireless champion of working people, Sen. Kennedy dedicated his life to making America a better place. Over the past half century, his efforts shaped every major piece of legislation advancing the labor and civil rights, education, health and economic well-being of past, current and future generations. His leadership, commitment and ability to work across the aisle set the standard for policymakers. And he made progress a reality for everyone in America. It is difficult to think of our country without 'Ted Kennedy.' Such is the passing of one who has done so much good for so many. Our hearts go out to his wife, Vicki, and his children, Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara. And we find comfort in knowing his legacy will endure as long as justice, fairness and opportunity for all remain the core of America's values."

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Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

"The American Federation of Teachers mourns the passing of one of our own, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was sometimes nicknamed "the senator from AFT." He earned that playful moniker by virtue of our substantive and long-lasting partnership. Several years ago, we made it official by bestowing upon him an honorary lifetime membership in the AFT. Ted Kennedy was an incomparably passionate, persuasive and persistent advocate. The causes he championed were some of the most urgent of our time-extending healthcare to those who lacked access, raising the minimum wage to lift hard-working people out of poverty, and pursuing the promise of public education and the labor movement as America's great equalizers. Ted Kennedy was a man of gravitas and great accomplishments, yet he wore himself lightly. He was the standard-bearer for progressive policies, yet forged close alliances with opponents to ensure that the right thing became a reality. He built coalitions, and he saw the humanity in all people. Sen. Kennedy will always be a part of the AFT family. And we will honor his memory by continuing his life's work-his passion for social justice, his special concern for the most vulnerable among us, and his belief that government can and should be a force for good. There is so much left to be done, but we will pursue our shared goals with the commitment and courage that Sen. Kennedy brought to every cause he championed. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and to all those who worked so closely with him. They are in our thoughts and prayers."