Kennedy and Hatch have long had an unusual partnership that has spanned decades, one that has allowed them to combine on numerous pieces of legislation and left the two men with what, by all accounts, is a genuine affection for one another.
"We've passed a lot of bills together, and we've done an awful lot together. I have a great deal of feeling for him," Hatch said.
When the two work together, Hatch said, "He gets all the credit. I get all the blame. The conservatives can't understand why I'd have anything to do with him. But actually he's a very good legislator. He's a very, very fine friend. I pray for him every day that he might get well."
Obama now wants a health care reform bill he can sign by the end of the year. That job is made more difficult by the absence of the issue's top advocate on Capitol Hill.