Senator Kennedy collapses at President Obama luncheon today

Senator Kennedy taken from congressional lunch with the new president

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An ambulance carrying Senator Kennedy rushes past the inaugural parade band.

During the luncheon between both houses of Congress and the president which traditionally follows each inauguration, Ted Kennedy had several seizures at his table, collapsed and was rushed to a DC hospital in an ambulance.

President Barack Obama interrupted his speech to offer a prayer for his recovery.

Dr. Edward Aulisi, chairman of Neurosurgery at Washington Hospital Center, said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon that Kennedy was feeling well.

“Senator Edward Kennedy experienced a seizure today while attending a luncheon for President Barack Obama in the U.S. Capitol," Dr. Aulisi said. "After testing, we believe the incident was brought on by simple fatigue. 

"Senator Kennedy is awake, talking with family and friends, and feeling well," Dr. Aulisi said. "He will remain at the Washington Hospital Center overnight for observation, and will be released in the morning.”

President Obama, who appeared shaken, made an announcement about Kennedy leavingduring the lunch after Kennedy was taken out in a stretcher.

The president said, "I would be lying to you if I did not say thatright now a part of me is with him. And I think that'strue for all of us. This is a joyous time. But it's also a soberingtime. And my prayers are with him and his family and Vicki."

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Obama embraces Kennedy at inaugural.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a close friend of Kennedy, was with him when he collapsed.  He said that, while he was no medical expert, it looked as though Kennedy had a seizure.

"It looked like a seizure and it was painful to him,'' Hatch told CNN reporters, and then added, "But as he gradually was able to calm down ... as he got into theambulance he kind of looked over at me and smiled that old Irish smilethat I know [meant] that things are going to be all right. I think he's going to be ok ... but it was scary".

Kennedy was taken to the Washington Hospital Center, where aspokeswoman said he was awake and answering questions. He is expected to be kept there overnight at least.

Kennedy was at a table with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., former 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 seizing. President Barack Obama went out of the room with him.

Statement by Dr. Edward Aulisi, Chairman, Neurosurgery, Washington Hospital Center

"SenatorEdward Kennedy experienced a seizure today while attending a luncheonfor President Barack Obama in the U.S. Capitol. After testing, webelieve the incident was brought on by simple fatigue. Senator Kennedyis awake, talking with family and friends, and feeling well. He willremain at the Washington Hospital Center overnight for observation, andwill be released in the morning."

Kennedy's statement earlier today

Senator Kennedy, a crucial and early supporter of Obama's campaign for the presidency, had hailed the new president in a statement released earlier Tuesday afternoon.

“Two years ago President Barack Obama embarked on an incredible journey that has inspired our people and made us believe again in our ideals and our ability to achieve them," Kennedy stated.

“During that time, I marveled at the president’s skill and grace as he traveled the country, inspiring record turnouts," the senator said. "I’ve seen him connect with people of all ages from every walk of life and with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. 

"With every person he meets, every crowd he invigorates, the President creates new hope that this generation of Americans can come together to meet the immense challenges we face," Kennedy stated.

“At this special moment in our history, as the world witnesses the extraordinary power of our democracy, I’m full of new hope that, as the poet wrote, America will be America again. I have every confidence that our nation will be a stronger, better and fairer land because of Barack Obama.”

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