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The Prelude to Kennedy’s Endorsement of Obama

- August 25, 2009

I’ve been reading Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson’s _The Battle for America 2008_ (here), about which I’ll have more to say. Here’s one juicy tidbit that I didn’t previously know. In the various phone calls that led up to Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama, there was this one:

bq. In late December, a 2003 tape recording of Obama made while he was still in the Illinois Senate became public. It was a comment on Kennedy’s efforts to pass a prescription drug bill. Obama had described Kennedy as “getting old and getting tired” and said the backers of a strong prescription drug bill should go after him. Obama called Kennedy to make amends. “Well,” Kennedy said when he picked up the phone, “you start the conversation.” Obama began to grovel, but Kennedy stopped him. He would let Obama off the hook, he said gently, because he had once mangled Obama’s name in a speech at the National Press Club the month Obama was sworn in as senator, calling him “Osama bin Laden” before finally stammering out his right name.