President Obama and John McCain agree on at least one thing: The late Ted Kennedy was a model senator, and if others follow his example, there's hope for the chamber that has become so bitterly polarized.
"Yes, a Republican from Mississippi is proud to be here today."—former Sen. Trent Lott.
"There are Republicans here today for a reason," Obama said Monday, speaking at the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate museum. That reason was Kennedy, a "liberal lion" who fought for his beliefs but also for consensus.
At the dedication, Republicans Sen. John McCain, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and former Senate GOP leader Trent Lott spoke alongside some of the nation's most prominent Democratic voices, all in praise of Kennedy.
"Ted grieved the loss of camaraderie and collegiality," Obama said. " What if we carried ourselves more like Ted Kennedy? What if we work to follow his example a little bit harder?"
The Republican speakers at the dedication agreed with the sentiment that Kennedy represented the best of the institution: that Senators can disagree on individual issues, but agree on a common purpose. "Yes, a Republican from Mississippi is proud to be here today," Lott, said at the dedication. "Oh, yes, we disagreed, we had some fiery discussions, but we came together many times in a bipartisan way to get a result for America."