Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who is battling a brain tumor, was taken away from the inaugural luncheon on Capitol Hill in convulsions.
Kennedy was at a table with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Vice President Mondale and Mrs. Mondale, and others. While at the table, Kennedy began having seizures that lasted for several minutes. As they were carrying Kennedy out of the room, he was still suffering a seizure. President Barack Obama went out of the room with him, but came back in the luncheon room.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the oldest member of the Senate, was so upset and distraught from what he had witnessed, that he needed to be taken out of the room. The two senators have been friends for a very, very long time. Byrd’s office later released a statement saying he is not ill.
Appearing stricken and extremely sober, Obama prefaced his inaugural luncheon remarks with this on Kennedy:
"First of all, I know that while I was out of the room, concern was expressed about Teddy," Obama said.
"He was there when the Voting Rights Act passed. And, along with John Lewis, was a warrior for justice. And so, I would be lying to you if I did not say that, right now, a part of me is with him. And I think that is true for all of us. This is a joyous time, but it’s also a sobering time. And my prayers are with him and his family and Vicki."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Kennedy was talking as he was taken out of the Capitol building on a stretcher to the ambulance.
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a very close friend of Kennedy’s, could be seen giving a tense laugh as Kennedy’s stretcher was put into the ambulance — as though Kennedy had made a joke. A good sign.
"He’s fine," Dodd later told ABC News. "He was talking all the way out to the ambulance. He’s just exhausted."
In an interview with ABC, Sen. Kerry said that he and Vicki were holding Kennedy during his convulsion. Kerry also told ABC News he thought Kennedy was just tired.
ABC News’ Martha Raddatz reports that a source tells her that Kennedy is stable, and that because of his brain cancer and treatment, "these things happen."
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., who is at the hospital with his father, tells ABC News, "He’s awake. He’s talking. He is going to be fine."
Patrick Kennedy said, "This is obviously not the place we want to be on a day like this, but he has good people taking care of him."
Michelle Allen, spokeswoman for Washington Hospital Center tells ABC News: "He’s alert, awake and undergoing assessment."
A statement released by Dr. Edward Aulisi, chairman of neurosurgery at the Washington Hospital Center reads: "Senator Edward Kennedy experienced a seizure today while attending a luncheon for President Barack Obama in the U.S. Capitol. After testing, we believe the incident was brought on by simple fatigue. Senator Kennedy is awake, talking with family and friends, and feeling well. He will remain at the Washington Hospital Center overnight for observation, and will be released in the morning.”
After visiting Kennedy in the hospital, Kerry said the senator’s "Irish dander is up," and said he is laughing, joking, and having a good time. Kerry described the episode as a "minor seizure" and expects Kennedy to spend the night in the hospital for observation.
"Ted Kennedy is going to be back in the Senate fighting for what he believes in. He views this as a momentary setback," Kerry said.
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Martha Raddatz, Avery Miller, David Kerley, and Z. Byron Wolf contributed to this report.