In his half-century in the public glare, Kennedy was, above all, heir to a legacy - as well as a hero to liberals, a foil to conservatives, a legislator with few peers.
Alone of the Kennedy men of his generation, he lived to comb gray hair, as the Irish poet had it. It was a blessing and a curse, as he surely knew, and assured that his defeats and human foibles as well as many triumphs played out in public at greater length than his brothers ever experienced.
He was the only Kennedy brother to run for the White House and lose. His brother John was president when he was assassinated in 1963 a few days before Thanksgiving; Robert fell to a gunman in mid-campaign five years later. An older brother, Joseph Jr., was killed piloting a plane in World War II.
Runner-up in a two-man race for the Democratic nomination in 1980, this Kennedy closed out his failed candidacy with a speech that brought tears to the eyes of many in a packed Madison Square Garden.
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