Heading into a 22-state, delegate-rich Super Tuesday showdown Feb. 5, Sen. Barack Obama got a boost from an iconic American family, earning the highly sought Kennedy anointment Monday afternoon at an American University rally.
In an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and his niece Caroline Kennedy placed a Camelot crown on the Illinois senator, describing him as an heir to the legacy of the late John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy said he was "always going to support the candidate that was going to inspire me and I thought would inspire the Democratic Party."
Speaking of a Democratic candidate pool close on issues like the Iraq War, health care, the economy and the environment, the liberal lion of the Senate said, "Barack Obama had the unique abilities to be able to galvanize the young, to speak to hope and to try and bring North, South, East, West, young and old alike together, not only to win an election, but to govern."
"I believe he has those intrinsic qualities to be a great president, and he has those intrinsic qualities on day one," Kennedy said.
Caroline Kennedy, who endorsed Obama in the Sunday New York Times in an Op-Ed "A President Like My Father," told Gibson the "impact that [Obama] was having, particularly on my children" made her take notice.
"My eldest daughter will vote for the first time and out on my book tour recently so many people came up to me and told me that they cast their first vote for my father, and they started to describe to me what that felt like. And it just sounded so much like [what] I am hearing from my own children that I thought: Well, this is really something special and we have a chance to change history here."
The highly sought endorsement was a blow to the presidential campaign of Kennedy's Senate colleague Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who prides herself on her work with Kennedy. Before the endorsement, Kennedy says he spoke with former President Clinton. Caroline Kennedy says she spoke to Chelsea Clinton.
The Massachusetts senator says despite a heated primary season, Democrats will unite around the party's presidential nominee. Of Clinton, he said, "If she's the nominee, no one will work harder to elect her."
Caroline Kennedy spoke of "immense admiration" for Hillary Clinton, but said that this point in history "is sort of an out-of-the-box time and I think we need this kind of change."
Kennedy's rhetoric on stage Monday seemed, at times, targeted at the Clintons and, specifically, toward former President Clinton, Kennedy insisted that the timing of his endorsement was not a statement on party infighting and "really to the future."
"It's the future of our party, and it's the future of our country. Barack Obama has a very special and unique quality of inspiring. And I think that is what's important," Kennedy told Gibson.
Referencing the recent back and forth between Obama and the Clintons, Kennedy said that he wasn't "interested in sort of looking at the current situation" and that his focus was on the road ahead.
Kennedy said "my endorsement is about the future. And it's Barack Obama. And it's about whether he is going to be able to win the nomination and get about the business of bringing both the party and the country together. And I believe he has."