Joe Biden: Ted Kennedy Like 'Big Brother,' Dedication Made 'Lies' of Mistakes

VP recounts "incredible quality" of Kennedy, how he "helped me get elected."

ByABC News via logo
August 26, 2009, 8:31 PM

Aug. 27, 2009 — -- On the day Barack Obama and Joe Biden were inaugurated as president and vice president, Sen. Ted Kennedy had a seizure that nearly took his life.

The next day Biden received a call from Kennedy, who joked about the seizure and then asked in a very serious tone how Biden's granddaughter was doing.

"What do you mean, Teddy?" Biden said.

"I'm afraid I frightened her. Is she OK?" he said. Biden's granddaughter, Naomi, then 15 years old, had been sitting at Kennedy's table during the inauguration luncheon where he had the seizure.

It's a story Biden recounted to "Good Morning America" Wednesday just hours after Kennedy's passing, as one example of what Biden called an "incredible quality" that, in part, defined the "Liberal Lion's" life.

"Here is a guy who has a terminal disease, has a seizure in front of my granddaughter and he's only worried about did it negatively affect my granddaughter," Biden said. "There are just so many little things that Teddy did that were just amazing."

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Watch video of historic moments in the life of Ted Kennedy.

Biden said Kennedy was a "constant" factor in his life for more than three decades and credits Kennedy with "helping [him] get elected."

"At every single important stage of my life, he was there. ... He was there when I lost my wife and daughter. He was there when I was ill. He was there at every high point and low point of my life," Biden said. "He felt like a big brother. He was always there for me.

"It just leaves a void. I'm sure for the hundreds of people who knew him well, millions of people wanted to know him better," he said.

In full view of Kennedy's life, including the controversial night in 1969 on the island of Chappaquiddick when a young Ted Kennedy left the scene of a car crash that claimed the life of a 28-year-old woman, Biden said Kennedy did more than outlive his flaws.

"He made up for them," Biden said. "Teddy Kennedy constantly improved. Teddy Kennedy constantly got better. ... Teddy's enthusiasm for life and for the opportunity to make things better. I sat with him for 36 years. Every day and every year he grew. It was a greater amount of passion, not less.

"Every mistake he made in his life, he made a lie out of the mistake by the way he lived the rest of his life," Biden said.