A display on stage shows a video tribute to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Honoring Edward M. Kennedy, the crusading liberal titan who died in 2009, was sure to warm the hearts of Democrats in Charlotte. But remind delegates of how Kennedy sacked Mitt Romney in a Senate race? Hang on to the roof.
Democrats roared for the late Lion of the Senate throughout a video that played in the arena on the opening night of the party’s national convention, but never quite so loudly or as gleefully as when the warm tribute turned to scenes from a 1994 Kennedy-Romney battle.
Romney was shown at a debate pledging to support Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land, to which Kennedy responded that while he was pro-choice, his rival was “multiple choice.” Later, at a campaign rally, Kennedy spoke of Romney’s evolving positions, before joking, “If we give him two more weeks, he may even vote for me!”
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The snark had the desired effect. The delegates grew louder with each reminder of that battle, culminating with the posting of the final vote tally.
The video went on to link the Kennedy and Obama brands, from the passing of the torch from senior senator to phenom candidate with Kennedy’s powerful endorsement of Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries, to their shared efforts on issues such as immigration, consumer protection, women’s rights and, most of all, healthcare.
Though Kennedy died before Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, his widow spoke in the video of how the victory was a “long time coming,” and one he would have loved to have seen.
“Everything he did was about the future. It was about going forward,” Victoria Kennedy said, alluding to the Obama campaign’s 2012 slogan.
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The tribute at the gathering in Charlotte, the first Democratic National Convention without Kennedy since 1956, was introduced by his great-nephew Joseph P. Kennedy III, a candidate for Congress in Massachusetts.
The late senator’s spirit “guides us in a tough campaign ahead, as we fight for our middle class and an economy that’s built to last,” said the young Kennedy, a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy. “We recommit ourselves to the leader he entrusted to carry on our cause.”