ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports: Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., will fill in for Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in giving the commencement address at Wesleyan University this Sunday.
Kennedy was slated to give the university’s address but, since being diagnosed with brain cancer this week, asked Obama to take his place.
"Ted and I talked about me filling in for him at Wesleyan University earlier this week," Senator Obama said in a statement, "Considering what he’s done for me and for our country, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him. So I’m looking forward to standing in his place on Sunday even though I know I won’t be able to fill his shoes."
Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, endorsed Obama’s presidential bid on January 28 and has since his the ’08 trail many times campaigning on Obama’s behalf.
Kennedy’s family has several ties to Wesleyan. His son, Edward Jr., graduated from the school in 1983 and his step-daughter Caroline Raclin is set to receive her bachelor’s degree at Sunday’s ceremonies. Wesleyan also granted the senator an honorary doctorate in 1984.
In a statement released by Kennedy’s office, "Throughout the last week, Senator Obama has offered his support to Senator Kennedy including stepping in to deliver the commencement address at Wesleyan University. Senator Kennedy accepted knowing it would be an historic opportunity for the school and all those attending…He’s enormously grateful to Senator Obama and the support he’s received from all of his colleagues this last week."
Wesleyan holds its 176th Commencement ceremony on campus on Sunday at 11am. The speech will be Obama’s first commencement address of the 2008 graduation season.