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Senator Ted Kennedy Hospitalized

Aired May 17, 2008 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: His family is spread out from the Washington D.C. Area to the Massachusetts area and even Long Island. What do you know about how his family is responding to this, how they are gathering to get at the right place at the right time?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Fredricka, obviously when you talk about gathering, the Kennedys gather at the place where Senator Kennedy was this morning when he apparently, according to sources, did suffer some stroke-like symptoms.

And what we know, I guess the best thing to do is update on what we know, and we don't know very much. But what we do know, according to a spokesman for a hospital in Cape Cod is that he did get to the hospital because of those stroke-like symptoms at about 9:00 a.m. this morning and then he was there after going to the emergency room in Cape Cod. He was there for about an hour and then was taken to Mass General in Boston.

And so, I think that it might enlighten our viewers a little bit. We don't' know if there's any connection here, but remember, back in the fall, in October, Senator Kennedy actually had surgery at Mass General, where he is now and that surgery was to clean out a partially blocked neck artery and the doctors at that point wanted to do that because that artery, the blocked artery, put him at risk of a stroke. He obviously went through that surgery fine, he recovered and he was back to work with a lot of vigor, the vigor that everybody who has followed Senator Kennedy and covered Senator Kennedy, knows him for.

But at this point, that is about all we know except that I'm told from a couple of Democratic sources that we are expecting a statement from Senator Kennedy's office soon, we hope. Soon, to give us a little bit more information about his status, about his health and about exactly what happened this morning and his current status now -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And Dana, he has had a very rigorous schedule, as you say, after his surgery, he really got right back into the throes of things, he know that he threw his endorsement behind Senator Barack Obama. He's been on the campaign trail, in a way, campaigning for Senator Obama, as well. What know about how he's been able to hold up with that kind of schedule?

BASH: Well, you know, I -- unfortunately, I have not been able to follow him around as he'd been campaigning for Barack Obama, but in talking to some of my colleagues who have been able to do it, it's been quite amazing to watch him in the sense that the reports of Ted Kennedy on the campaign trial for Barack Obama is that he kind of got his mojo back when it comes to politics.

Obviously this is something that he eats, sleeps and breaths, has since, you know, 1960, and even before that, you know, when he was on the campaign trail for his brother John F. Kennedy. So, you know, this something, again, that's in his blood.

That was a big political story, just a couple of months ago, because he had been and still is a long-time friend of the Clintons, but in terms of his vigor, from what I had heard from colleagues who were with him and when he went out on his own to campaign for Barack Obama as a surrogate, that he certainly had all of the energy that he was known for.

And I can also tell you that our Capitol Hill producer, Ted Barrett (ph), said he was managing a bill on the Senate floor all week long, something that he has done umpteen times in his life, something that takes a lot of energy and a lot of time and you work early hours until late at night and it's something that Senator Kennedy was doing all week long on the floor of the U.S. Senate before he went up to Cape Cod for the weekend.

WHITFIELD: All right, Dana Bash, thanks so much in Washington. We know you're going to continue to work your sources and we'll keep tabs with you as well.

T.J. Holmes is staying with me here because this is a -- has a lot of moving parts. It's still in the very early stages. We're learning bits and bits from our various correspondents who have various ties with Senator Ted Kennedy and the family as a whole. What do you have right now?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And he has a lot of ties, as you know. Everybody who has been covering Capitol Hill, pretty much, they have been covering him the whole time they've been there. Yeah, he's in the Senate for some 40 years. And John King who has been covering the Capitol Hill and covering Ted Kennedy for quite some time.

We talked to you a short time ago, John, you were the one that broke this story for us with a source there in Massachusetts giving you the info about this happening. And also, remind people, he actually did have, Ted Kennedy, the end of last year, he had surgery, as we just heard from our Dana Bash, on an artery in his neck, a corroded artery, that was cleared for the very -- for the reason of, doctors were saying, because it could potentially cause a stroke later on.

Remind us of that surgery and give us any updates you might have.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, my memory is that surgery is that they did it as a precaution. The senator came back to work and many were surprised how quickly he came back and with the vigor that he had, as Dana was just noting. He is 76-years-old and he is someone who, obviously, would keep on preventive care look on his life. But the vigor he has had lately, as Dana was discussing, has been remarkable. I grew up in Boston and I worked there before I came to Washington and I remember covering Ted Kennedy when he ran against Mitt Romney. I remember that race many years ago. And he always has loved the campaign trail, whether it was the presidential campaign trail or home in Massachusetts. And from all accounts of my friends up in Boston, that he was having the time of his life, being out campaigning for Barack Obama.

As for updated information, they're very hard to come by, T.J. We know he is at Massachusetts General Hospital now, transferred from the Cape Cod Hospital early this morning. I have spoken to a couple of Democratic sources. I spoke to a source a short time ago in the state police in Massachusetts, they were alerted when the call came in from the Kennedy compound, this morning.

None have any new information or detailed information about his medical condition. All say that they were told there were stroke-like symptoms. I want to be very careful because that can be misconstrued, a stroke-like symptom could be disorientation, could be any number of things. And so, we know very little and we want to be careful and not lead our viewers to any conclusions that may turn out not to be true.

But, we were told stroke-like symptoms. And at Cape Cod Hospital the determination was made that he should be transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital because it has much more advanced technology and capabilities. And he is now at Mass General Hospital. And the Kennedys have instituted what long-time aides and former aides and associates call the "fire drill."

Unfortunately, this is a family that has been marked over the years by tragedy and other political crises, and when they happen, Ted Kennedy and his family have the most loyal (INAUDIBLE) of former staffers probably in Washington, so when these things happen they all come together. And I'm told that several former aides are on their way to Boston, some who live in the Massachusetts area have been notified as well and we're waiting for that statement Dana Bash was just talking about it.

And the Kennedy family is dealing with another crisis. And we just don't quite know enough about this one yet.

HOLMES: And John, one thing we want to hear from you and we're watching this video. Every time you see Ted Kennedy, he appears to just be energetic, more fiery than any senator standing around him. Again, he's 76 years old. You've been watching him and much of the country has been watching him, but you much more closely and more personal level, and closer to him than a lot of people have.

Over the years, has he shown by sign of slowing down, has he had any health issues? We talked about this health issue with the artery that had to be cleared, but he came back to work a lot faster than a lot of people said, or have thought he would. I mean, just talk about his health and what you have seen as his energy level over the years. And has he lost a step at all?

KING: Well, he's battled weight problems throughout his entire life, his political career and so, you see him sometimes and you know that he's having trouble with is weight and then you see him other times and you see him and he's looking better.

My recent recollections of him, and I've been more on the Republicans when I have been traveling this year, so I haven't physically seen him in a few months, but he has looked better. He's always been overweight and he has chronic back problems, T.J. One of the things (INAUDIBLE) Ted Kennedy, and he makes the joke about it is you can always hear him coming because he shuffles his feet because he has chronic back problems that sometimes cause him gripping, terrible pain. But he has struggled through them his entire life.

And he loves campaigning and he loves working the intricacies of legislation on the Senate floor, as Dana was just discussing, and he has been at this for so many years and many others have become bored or (INAUDIBLE), but it is his life and it is his blood and by all accounts, when he made the decision -- and it was very difficult, he's very close to Senator Clinton and admires her work ethic in the Senate, and when he made what he thought was a very difficult decision, he made it because he believed Obama -- Senator Obama was the best hope for the Democratic Party the year.

And I can tell you he was invigorated by the prospect, after eight years of George W. Bush, this is a very fierce partisan Democrat, he has respect for the Republicans, but he has vigor for the game of beating the Republicans when he can. And he was very much looking forward to a presidential campaign, an is looking forward to a presidential camping in which he thinks advantaged Democrats and so, by all accounts, he was at this with considerable relish and we'll obviously wait now to hear the details of this condition after being rushed to the hospital.

HOLMES: All right, John King for us this morning on the line. We appreciate you this morning. We know you will continue to work that phone and that Blackberry of yours and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Thank you so much, John.

WHITFIELD: T.J., we continue to work all of our sources as well as our correspondents. And Bill Schneider, our political analyst, he has been following Ted Kennedy for a long time. And Bill Schneider is joining us actually from Boston.

And I'm hanging on the words, Bill that John just used, that Senator Kennedy was invigorated by this campaign season. What do you know about his health leading up to today?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as John indicated he has had back problems in the past and you can tell from the way he walked he was suffering under some disability. But, he seemed very vigorous. I've known him for years. I am here in Boston, in fact, for a commencement at Brandeis University.

When I started college was the year -- I started college in the fall when Kennedy ran for the Senate seat that was held by his brother. That was a long time ago, that was in the Fall of 1962. So, he was one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, certainly one of the longest-serving Democrats in the Senate. He's represented Massachusetts all those years.

He had a bit of a scare in 1994 when his opponent was a gentleman named Mitt Romney and people thought Romney could be given the run of his life and there was some concern he might lose. But, he beat Romney here in Massachusetts quite handily and has maintained a steady strength here in Massachusetts ever since then, a state that's remained loyal to him as it was to his brother Jack Kennedy when he ran for president.

So, there's a lot of concern here in Massachusetts. He is at a good hospital, Massachusetts General, one of the finest in the country, so everyone's hopes an prayers are with the senator, today.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, underscoring the word loyalty. We know that to be, especially with the Kennedy family for many, many decades. And now with words that he is at Massachusetts General Hospital, I don't know where you are in proximity to that hospital. but any sense as to what kind of activity may be taking place at that hospital. Here we are in the weekend usually hospitals are shorter staffed, I imagine with a name like this, being admitted at the hospital, a whole lot of people are being called in.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, they are. My understanding is that he was stricken in Hyannis Port, which is, I would say about 100 miles away, maybe shorter than that, taken to a Cape Cod hospital, being transferred to Massachusetts General. This is a. Major, major hospital affiliated with Harvard University, a teaching hospital. I'm certain that they have the staff to deal with problems like this and particularly with Kennedy as a patient of the hospital, I am certain they will be totally prepared to deal with it.

I'm near Brookline where our CNN bureau is, headed to the bureau, right now. I should mention, in terms of politics, there was one slight embarrassment where Massachusetts voters were not as loyal as a lot of people expected. Ted Kennedy, as John indicated, endorsed Barack Obama for president.

In the Massachusetts primary back in February, they didn't vote for Barack Obama, they voted for Hillary Clinton. There was a little bit of an embarrassment for Ted Kennedy because it looked like his own state, they couldn't carry them for Barack Obama. They did vote for him in Massachusetts for Hillary Clinton. It was a minor, minor setback, but it was notable at the time.

WHITFIELD: And despite that, he didn't seem to be too -- or his feathers weren't ruffled by that at all. He had maintained the kind of vigor that we've seen for this campaign. It's almost as if his message is, you know what, I'm not making a mistake, despite what my constituents are saying.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. And his son, of course, is also a representative in the state of Rhode Island. His family remains prominent in politics. His niece, Kathleen Rand, did not succeed for governor of Maryland. So, there are a lot of Kennedys and the tradition will continue and we all hope, of course, that he will continue to serve the people of Massachusetts. We don't know how serious this condition is. It was described as stroke-like symptoms. We'll see exactly what the hospital has to report, probably later today.

WHITFIELD: And Bill, you know, John was saying that Senator Kennedy was certainly on the campaign trail. Any idea how much so was he on the trail in addition to carrying out his senatorial duties?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I don't think he was on the trail a great deal. You didn't see much of him campaigning for Barack Obama. There was the moment, it was an amazing moment in Washington, I think it was in...

WHITFIELD: At American University, that moment?

SCHNEIDER: Yeah. It was American University and there was an amazing moment. It looked like a huge -- one of the biggest rallies I've ever seen, when Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama, which was, of course, a breakthrough for Senator Obama to get this huge endorsement from what he's constantly called the "Liberal Lion" of the Senate, this was an amazing moment.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, and we're looking at that video now of, you know, of Caroline Kennedy, his niece, was there, Patrick Kennedy, his son, there congressman, and of course Barack Obama. But, continue with your thought, because I know you're not seeing the picture that we are, because you're joining us by landline. But, continue.

SCHNEIDER: And that moment electrified the Obama campaign. I would say that was Barack Obama's big breakthrough. When he got the endorsement of the senior liberal Democrat in the United States Senate, a man who is deeply respected by Democrats and even Republicans, this was really like holy water over Barack Obama. And then he was OK. And that the senior Democrats were certifying him as someone they could have confidence in and really meant a great deal and it was, as I said, an amazing moment. I've never seen a crowd like that in my life.

WHITFIELD: Bill Schneider, thanks so much for join us from Boston. We'll continue to keep tabs with you.

Just in case you're just now join us, 76-year-old Senator Ted Kennedy here, while enjoying the weekend at Hyannis in Massachusetts, suffered stroke-like symptoms and was rushed to a Cape Cod hospital and then had since then transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. You saw live pictures a moment ago of Massachusetts General Hospital, at least the rooftop of that. Lots of activity, there. We'll continue to update you on the progress of administering medical aid to Senator Ted Kennedy.

We're going to take a short break right now and T.J. and I will be right back with you after this short break.


WHITFIELD: Well, welcome back to the NEWSROOM. We're continuing to watch the developments out of the Boston area. Senator Ted Kennedy there, 76-year-old senator, the second longest serving senator in Washington, is now being admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital because of stroke-like symptoms.

He was enjoying the weekend in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, before he was rushed into Cape Cod Hospital and then transferred to Massachusetts General. We continue to watch the developments, there. And hopefully we'll be able to keep you apprised as we continue to work our sources as well as many of our correspondents who are fanned out throughout the northeast with close connections to the Kennedy family -- T.J.

HOLMES: And as we were just talking about a minute ago with Bill Schneider about how much Ted Kennedy meant to the Obama campaign and how that moment of endorsement really did change things for Obama in this race for the White House.

Our Jim Acosta is actually out in Portland, out in Oregon with the Obama campaign. And I see you there, Jim. We'll tell your viewers again, we are going to be hearing here from our Jim Acosta.

But tell us, are we getting yet reaction from the Obama campaign about this news just coming out? And also, tell us just how much, since you've been covering the Obama campaign, you know how much he means to that group.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, T.J. and I'm just getting handed a Blackberry message from our producer, Kerry Bodenheimer (ph), and this is an e-mail from Mike Roselli (ph), who is traveling with the Obama campaign on behalf of CNN and that the point, is this right, Kerry (ph), this is saying that thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family. This is from Barack Obama? This is from the Obama campaign at this moment?

A spokesman with the Barack Obama campaign is saying that the senator is extending his thoughts and prayers to the Kennedy family and a quote here from the Obama campaign, that Ted Kennedy is certainly one of their favorite people and not just on a personal level, but certainly on a political level, when you consider -- and Bill Schneider just talked about this a few moments ago -- the magnitude, the impact of that endorsement from Senator Ted Kennedy to Barack Obama.

What that did to his campaign, he really electrified the campaign and put it on its course to make that impressive run of 11 or 12 primaries in a row, really lined up many liberal Democrats out there behind Barack Obama. Say what you will about Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family, there are lots of conservatives out there who would like to take their shots, but among liberal Democrats the Kennedy campaign -- or excuse me, the Kennedy family, and the Kennedy clan still carries a lot of currency.

And so, at this point, we're waiting to hear from Barack Obama to see exactly what he is going to say about this. He has an event coming up in Roseburg, Oregon, that is in the southern part of this state, coming up in a couple of hours from now. We expect that Barack Obama will make some sort of statement at that point.

And we should also note that Barack Obama is expected to come out here to Portland tomorrow, but depending on how things go with Senator Kennedy's health, there in Boston, if things take a turn for the worse, obviously, that could up-end this campaign. I don't want to speculate, but obviously things could take a dramatic turn for the worse, obviously with the senator, and that would, of course, change things out here on the campaign trail for obvious reasons.

But T.J., no doubt about it, when Senator Ted Kennedy came out along with Caroline Kennedy, and you'll remember, they both came out just before supervisor Super Tuesday, Caroline Kennedy with that op-ed out in the "New York Times" that said that she hasn't seen anybody since her father who has inspired the American people like Barack Obama.

So, the Obama family, the Obama campaign, very tight with the Kennedy family. So, it will be interesting to watch and listen to exactly what the senator from Illinois has to say about all of this as the hours move forward, here.

HOLMES: Yeah, and we expect to hear from him, like you said, in the next couple of hours. Our Jim Acosta there in Oregon for us, in Portland specifically, covering the Obama campaign out there. We do want to tell our viewers, again, we do not have official word about the condition of Ted Kennedy.

We are only getting word from sources, high-place sources, good sources that, in fact, the senator has been taken to the hospital because of stroke-like symptoms, is the word. We are still waiting for the official word from someone from the -- either from the hospital or from possibly from the Kennedy camp.

WHITFIELD: And T.J., we're just now getting the first image now, according to the "Cape Cod Times," an image of what they are saying Senator Ted Kennedy, being transported there into that MEDEVAC helicopter after being transferred from Cape Cod Hospital and on his way after boarding -- after being loaded on to the MEDEVAC helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital.

These images being supported by the "Cape Cod Times" and that is how they are describing this image that we're seeing, the first image that we're seeing reportedly of Senator Ted Kennedy.

So again, if you're just now join us, Senator Kennedy was at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, this weekend and appeared to show some symptoms that some believe are stroke-like and thereby taken to Cape Cod Hospital and because the facilities are much more sophisticated and advanced at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, he was thereby transferred. And the "Cape Cod Times" says this is an image showing that transfer.

Elizabeth Cohen, our medical correspondent here at CNN, is on the line with us now.

And perhaps, Elizabeth, you can describe for us what could be stroke-like symptoms, because certainly there are a host of potential symptoms that you can experience, but what might be some of them that would also be I guess, confused with or identified as stroke-like?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. When people talk about stroke-like symptoms, Fred, often they're talking about confusion, often they're talking about problems speaking, sometimes they're talking about having problems moving one side of the body. And certainly someone with Senator Kennedy's health history, any of those signs would make you go to the emergency room.

WHITFIELD: And this is something that, I mean, clearly has to be addressed right immediately. That he was taken to Cape Cod Hospital. I don't know what you know about that hospital versus Massachusetts General, but what do you know needs to be at a hospital? What do they have to be equipped with to best address symptoms that could fall under this category?

COHEN: Right, what they need is they need a drug called TPA, it's sometimes called the clot-busting drug. And you want to get that to a stroke victim as soon as you can, certainly within a couple of hours, within three hours, often is the time that you hear.

And that is a powerful drug that can get in there and can break up what we call plaque, it's stuff that is clogging up arteries, whether it's an artery to a heart that's causing an heart attack or an artery to the brain that's causing a stroke. And it's very important that it be administered by people with experience administering it because it can be tricky, and so you want people with experience.

Now, I'm actually from Massachusetts. I'm familiar with both of those hospitals. The hospital in Cape Cod is a great hospital, but it's definitely a much smaller hospital. Mass General is one of the biggest and best hospitals in the world. So, it would make perfect sense that if someone were having stroke-like symptoms you would want to get them to Mass General.

WHITFIELD: And you mentioned this clot-busting type of drug that would likely be administered. As soon as you said that it made me think about, you know, back in October, our Dana Bash was reporting just reminding us that his left carotid artery was blocked and he had surgery successfully to take care of that. Does what we're hearing today, of these symptoms that may be stroke-like, does it certainly seem very related to an experience that he may have had last fall?

COHEN: Sure, absolutely. I mean, that's an important part of his health history. Let's talk a little bit about the carotid artery. I think we're all familiar to the arteries that go to the heart and probably many of us know people who have surgery that clear out some of those arteries.

People are less familiar with the carotid artery, that's an artery that goes along the neck and supplies blood to the brain and it was found in an imaging study, that -- in an MRI -- that the senator had some plaque, has some blockage in that carotid artery, and so they did surgery in October to clear it out and they said that it was successful. So, certainly if he had that problem back then, that says something about his likelihood to have a stroke now.

WHITFIELD: But it would also say that he probably is under some pretty strict medical care and follow-ups.

COHEN: Oh, absolutely. Under -- I mean, you can bet that someone who's had that procedure is being watched very closely and also that he and his family have been informed of what the signs of a stroke are, so you can bet that they watch very carefully. Things can still happen. You know, strokes can happen no matter how careful you're being, no matter what drugs you're taking, things can still happen.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, you can't necessarily, I guess, predict or anticipate when these symptoms might crop up.

COHEN: Correct, that's absolutely correct.

WHITFIELD: All right, medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much for dialing in. We'll continue to keep posted with you, as well, as we continue to reach out to a number of our correspondents and sources to better flush out this story that is just breaking within the past couple of hour or so.

Seventy-six-year-old Senator Ted Kennedy, the second longest serving senator on the Hill, right now suffering from these stroke- like symptoms and now being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital.

HOLMES: And as people are seeing there at the bottom of the screen, the quote we're getting from Senator Obama who has received the endorsement of Ted Kennedy, "He is one of my favorite people, my thoughts and prayers are with Teddy." We will keep an eye on this story.

Again, Senator Ted Kennedy, the "Liberal Lion" of the U.S. Senate, with the last name synonymous with political royalty, really, in this country, rushed to the hospital with symptoms of a stroke. We have our eyes on this story, we are all over it, working our sources. Quick break and we're right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. You can -- we're continuing to bring you the latest developments here on Senator Ted Kennedy, 76-year-old senator who has been rushed to the hospital in Hyannis Port initially, the Cape Cod hospital, where he had been enjoying the weekend in Hyannis Port. And then, he was medevac'd to Massachusetts General Hospital.

We understand that he has suffered stroke-like symptoms. That's all we know. We have not gotten an official statement from his family or medical personnel on the ground there.

However, our Josh Levs does have some new information, it comes from the Hyannis Fire Department there because they were involved in responding to the 911 call that there was trouble at the Kennedy compound -- Josh? JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I just got off the phone now with Hyannis Fire Department. The Kennedy Compound itself is in Hyannis Port. It was Hyannis, which is another village right there, the Hyannis Fire Department that was called to the scene.

I've got some details that can trace us through the canalogy (ph) of what's happened today with Senator Kennedy. I'm going to tell you first off, they don't say his name, they're not allowed to. But they do tell me that at 8:19 a.m. this morning, they got a phone call to go to that address, which is known as the Kennedy Compound, it's on Mark Shawn (ph) Avenue, but it is the Kennedy Compound, what's known as the Kennedy Compound.

They took a male patient, they say, to Cape Cod Hospital and subsequently that person was then transferred to the Municipal Airport to be brought into Boston to a larger hospital. They say it was a medical emergency.

Now, they're not giving the specifics, but I asked whether any treatment needed to be given at the scene. They say they standardly do administer some treatment at the scene. They did here as well. They can't say exactly what they did.

But the 911 call was requesting an ambulance this morning. And they ended up sending two paramedics, they say, and two EMTs. They also tell me that the EMTs sent over -- or the 911 operator also dispatched police to the scene, not necessarily because of any suggestion of some kind of foul play, but purely it could be just for traffic reasons, just to make sure that the ambulance is able to turn on its sirens, get where it needs to go. They told me no one else rode with that patient in the ambulance. But that it's possible that they followed in a separate car.

They tell me the entire ride -- they left the scene of the house at 8:43 a.m. That's when they left the house. They tell me they were at the hospital within seven minutes, at 8:50 a.m. And then, they say it was a little bit later after this patient was checked into the hospital that they were able to find out if this person had been transferred over to Boston.

So, we know from what our sources obviously, Fred, and what we've been reporting throughout the day, this morning, since we've gotten this information, that we are talking about Senator Kennedy here. The Fire Department obviously cannot use that information, but they're able to give us that sense.

So again, 8:19 a.m., they get that 911 call. They rush to the scene. They say they leave the house at 8:43. They have this patient at the hospital by 8:50. The sirens were on for that ride. It was all done very quickly. And after the person was taken to that hospital, he needed to be taken to Boston.

Now, they can't say the specifics on why. They can't give me any medical information. That's not something they would have. But there you go, Fred and T.J., that's the chronology we now have of this morning. It's not something from overnight as far as we're told. It's Eastern time, just like us here. It's 8:19 a.m. that they first got that call and then everything happened very quickly from there.

WHITFIELD: And of course, just a reminder, we are looking at an image that the "Cape Cod Times" said that they were able to capture there and they claim that that is Senator Ted Kennedy on that gurney, on that stretcher being put on to that medevac helicopter as it is leaving the Cape Code Hospital and on its way to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Josh, thank you so much.

LEVS: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right. And we do want to pass along to our viewers as well, this is the first official word I guess possibly we're getting, this is being reported by the "Associated Press." "A.P." is saying that a spokeswoman for Senator Ted Kennedy is now confirming that the senator is under evaluation at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Again, this according to the "Associated Press." This would be the first official word from someone officially in the Edward Kennedy camp, officially in the Ted Kennedy camp saying that a spokeswoman says the senator is under evaluation. Not saying at all why. Not saying at all how he's doing, any update about his condition and what's happening with him, only that, in fact, he is under evaluation.

We do want to turn now to our Dana Bash who of course covers Capitol Hill for us. She does have more for us here. And I understand, Dana, you actually have an official statement.

BASH: T.J., you know, I'll just read it to you. And this is a statement that's coming from the office of Senator Ted Kennedy. I'll read it to you in full.

"Senator Kennedy went to Cape Cod Hospital this morning after feeling ill at his home. After discussion with his doctors in Boston, Senator Kennedy was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital for further examination. He is currently under evaluation and information will be released as it becomes available."

And that's the entirety of the statement. So, this is the first confirmation of what we've been reporting for some time, unfortunately that Senator Kennedy was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital and that's about it. They're clearly evaluating the situation and that's all the information that his office will officially give us at this point.

But again, this is the first official word that Senator Kennedy is at Massachusetts General Hospital from what our sources are telling us, appear to have been stroke-like symptoms, that he was suffering from this morning at his home in Cape Cod, on Cape Cod, specifically in Hyannis.

HOLMES: And again, this statement seen in front of me now, and I guess the line, it kind of jumps out, there was a discussion I guess there with his doctors in Boston. It sounds like, I guess he might have been coherent and OK and ready to at least to some extent, if you will, relatively speaking, OK and was able to discuss, have some kind of discussion with his doctors and then he was sent there to Massachusetts General for further examination.

But like you said, Dana, we appreciate you. And like you said, it's a very short statement, but this is the first official word confirming that, in fact, Senator Kennedy is in the hospital right now being evaluated, according to his office.

We will wait further word to see exactly what that evaluation is and see if we get further confirmation of what his condition is, how he is doing. Hopefully, he is doing OK and this is maybe just a scare and everything will work out. But certainly, a scare for really this is an icon and an iconic name here in American politics.

WHITFIELD: We're going to have much more of this coverage right after this.


WHITFIELD: Well, welcome back to the NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We continue to watch these developments out of the Boston area. Seventy-six-year-old Senator Ted Kennedy has been rushed to the hospital because of stroke-like symptoms. His family is confirming to CNN in a written statement, Senator Kennedy went to Cape Cod Hospital this morning after feeling ill at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was spending the weekend. After discussion with his doctors in Boston, Senator Kennedy was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital for further examination.

You're looking at live pictures right now of Massachusetts General Hospital where he is undergoing that examination. The statement goes on to say he is currently under evaluation and information will be released as it becomes available.

And of course, we've been reaching out to a number of our correspondents and sources all morning long. Really, this broke a little over an hour ago. And since then, we've learned just a lot of great information about who this man is. He has been called the "liberal lion." And he's certainly has been a stalwart in politics. He is the second longest serving senator right after Senator Byrd there. And you're looking at file pictures right there of 76-year-old Senator Edward Kennedy.

Rick Sanchez is among our correspondents who's continuing to follow this story throughout the day and into the evening. Rick, what do you know about the circumstances here?

VOICE OF RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As we watch this story develop, Fredricka, and as we work on it with our crew as we head into the primetime tonight, I think it's important that we don't lose sight of the fact that Ted Kennedy is not just an icon. He's not just a fixture in American politics, he's a present day player in what's going on right now. I mean, we heard my colleague Acosta's report a while ago about the Obama's campaign and their reaction to this. Ted Kennedy at this particular point in his career is playing an important part in what's going on for Barack Obama.

Consider this, with the exception of former presidents in this country, few, if any person, can be a better fundraiser and a better booster for the Democrats than Ted Kennedy. And that's extremely important. We don't know if Ted Kennedy is going to be out of commission at this point. The facts just -- we don't have those facts yet. We don't know, heaven forbid, if he's going to be incapacitated in anyway.

But looking at this story, concretely from what we have right now, if that is the case, and he needs some down time, there's no question that it's going to be a loss of some sort, don't know how significant at this point, for the Democratic Party, for the Democratic Party's fundraising efforts and, of course, if he is, in fact, the presumptive nominee as it looks like right now for Barack Obama directly.

Now, there ...

WHITFIELD: Yes, and Rick, you know, as it pertains to Barack Obama's campaign, Senator Obama has put out a statement saying, "We're putting in a call to Vicki Kennedy," that's Senator Kennedy's wife, "and we're going to try to find out as quickly as possible what is going on. Obviously, my thoughts and prayers are with Teddy. He is one of my favorite people. And so, hopefully, he is going to be OK."

That statement coming from Senator Obama on the campaign trail. This out of Eugene, Oregon. But as you said, and underscoring, the senator has had a very vigorous schedule and has campaigned hard, if not by his presence, but certainly verbally for Senator Obama.

SANCHEZ: And there's another -- you know, the other side of this which is interesting as well, which is what we're going to be looking for tonight as we prepare our coverage on a special report that we're going to have tonight at 10:00 p.m. is, what about the other side? What about the GOP? What about the Republicans?

Because let's also consider this, as good a fundraiser as Teddy Kennedy has been for the Democrats, he's also been a fantastic fundraiser for the Republicans. Of course, looking at it from the standpoint of criticism, Republicans for years have been able to say, if you want this to be the party of Ted Kennedy, then do anything. But if you don't want it to be that way, well then, you've got to get behind and then fill in the blank of the GOP or the Republican running for office.

So, you know, as important as Ted Kennedy has been for the Democrats, he's been equally important, less so in the last, I'd say, five or six or seven years when he's gotten together with the McCains and the Bushes and got some legislation through -- of a bipartisan nature. But it's had that came effect, that's how powerful the man is, that's how powerful the man still is in politics. We're going to be looking at that side of the equation tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern as well -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rick Sanchez, thanks so much. We look forward to your reporting later on today -- T.J.

HOLMES: We're going to turn now to our Ed Henry who is actually following the president, President Bush, on his Middle East trip. Right now, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

I know you've been busy with the president. The president been hopping around a lot actually, shaking a lot of hands there in the Mideast. But have you gotten any word from anybody in the Bush administration, any reaction to what we see now happening with Senator Ted Kennedy?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, T.J. The White House is not reacting just yet. Obviously, they're just getting this information. I can tell you all the reporters traveling with the president in the Mideast obviously are following this very closely.

But I have been working some sources back in the United States. And I have one bit of new information that I think is important to put out because it may actually be an encouraging sign about his health. It's from a source close to the Kennedy family who told me on the phone just a few moments ago, confirming what Dana Bash has been reporting, that the family's understanding is that it's stroke-like symptoms that they're dealing with.

But secondly, that at about 10:30 a.m. Eastern time this morning, the senator himself called another family member and said that he would not be able to make a lunch that was happening right across from his own home later today.

He was supposed to be hosting this luncheon as I think you know, for the Best Buddies charity. He was hosting it not at his own home but at the late President Kennedy's home just down the street and what's significant is that Senator Kennedy himself, about 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, I'm told, called another family member to say that he couldn't make it.

So, where that -- we'll have to figure out where that fits in the timeline from when he was at the emergency room in Cape Cod and then when he actually made to it Boston, where that was in that process.

But the key is that at least some point mid-morning, after he'd already been at the emergency room, Senator Kennedy himself, according to this one source close to the family, called another family member and said he couldn't make this lunch. I'm told this lunch is still going forward this afternoon because there are a lot of family members, friends of the senator, who are going to it. They've been flying in from around the country.

So, they're still going ahead with the lunch, but they're obviously all checking in, trying to get a lot of information and this one source close to the family told me right now, they're not getting a lot of information. They're -- obviously, their thoughts are with the family. They don't want to interfere with the situation, but they're all trying to get information just like we are. But significant that Senator Kennedy himself placed a phone call suggests perhaps that he was lucid even amid this medical evaluation, T.J.

HOLMES: And we have to ask, I got to follow up with you here right quick. Ed, we kind of -- when we heard that comment from you, we kind of smiled and grinned a little bit. Yes, that would be encouraging to hear that he's making his own calls and canceling his own lunch plans, a man who is having stroke-like symptoms.

But was there any further word about how he sounded on the phone, even when he placed this call, but this would certainly be in line with this man who, again, who had surgery to remove -- to help repair his artery or to help remove gunk from his artery in October and was back at work in a couple of days. I mean, this is a tough, tough guy. So, it just sounds -- almost, it almost make you grin a little bit, he's canceling his own lunch plans in the hospital with stroke-like symptoms.

HENRY: That's right. Well, this source did not have any more information about exactly how he sounded, but what I was told is that it was sort of business like, is the impression I got. That basically, the senator called this other family member and said, look, I can't make it, but didn't even get into any more details about his own condition because this family member only learned later that he was having a stroke-like symptom.

It may have just been that Senator Kennedy didn't know the full extent of it. It may have been that he was trying to deal with the situation, didn't have time to explain it. I don't want to speculate on it, obviously. But the bottom line is that Senator Kennedy himself called this family member. And I'm told that he sounded like himself in terms of saying, I can't make the lunch, go ahead without me.

So, that suggests at least that at that moment, this is a couple hours ago obviously, at that moment, Senator Kennedy was lucid, he was talking to a family member, he was fully aware of the fact that he had this lunch, that he was supposed to be hosting. And he suggested that they go ahead without him.

So, you know, it's a couple of hours old, but it's important information that that might be an encouraging sign, that even if it's stroke-like symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean that he had a stroke. And obviously, you're also aware that people can have a stroke without really realizing it. So, we have to get more information obviously. It's one piece of information. But it might be an encouraging sign, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, we appreciate that piece of information as we try and piece a lot of things together today. But certainly, you're right, that would be encouraging to hear, that the man was canceling his own lunch plans today and sounded awfully business like about it some couple of hours after we know this episode all started at Hyannis Port there at his home in Massachusetts.

Ed, we appreciate you. You get anymore, we certainly appreciate you bringing that to us.

And as you see there, we are awaiting a statement from the people there at Massachusetts General Hospital, a statement about Senator Kennedy. We did get official confirmation from a family member that in fact he is being evaluated there at the hospital.

But without specifics about why he was being evaluated, what exactly his condition was, not sure what we'll get from the officials there at the General Hospital, the Massachusetts General, as you're seeing a live picture of. But we do hope to get more information and continue to possibly piece this thing together -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes, encouraging signs there from Ed Henry's reporting based on a friend of the family who knows about that phone call. And that would be indeed encouraging because that would be just roughly two hours after that initial report in the 8:00 a.m. hour of a 911 call coming from Hyannis Port or the Kennedy Compound as people know it to be, calling 911, paramedics arriving there, having dialogue with Senator Kennedy's doctors and then making a decision to then transport him to Cape Cod Hospital before taking further action, getting him on a medevac helicopter.

We saw the images from "Cape Cod Times" that shared their image with us, saying that is Senator Ted Kennedy on that stretcher and then put into the medevac helicopter and then to Massachusetts General. So of course, we'll update all of you as we get an update from Massachusetts General on that statement.

Much more of the NEWSROOM right after this.



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WHITFIELD: Welcome back. You're in the NEWSROOM.

Live pictures right now outside of Massachusetts General Hospital because one of the admitted patients is Senator Ted Kennedy, 76-years- old, suffering from stroke-like symptoms early this morning in Hyannis Port before being transported. And about the 8:00 a.m. hour from the Kennedy Compound, so to speak, to Cape Cod Hospital.

You're looking at the images that the "Cape Cod Times" says is of Senator Kennedy on the stretcher there, being transported from the Cape Cod Hospital and into that medevac helicopter and then taken on to Massachusetts General Hospital, where we understand the family has released a statement, Kennedy's office.

The family has said that, indeed, Senator Kennedy went to the hospital after feeling ill at his home. And then after discussions with his doctors in Boston, Senator Kennedy was sent to Mass. General Hospital for further examination. He is currently under evaluation, is what the family is saying, and information will be released as it becomes available.

And we're also waiting for information to be released now from Mass. General Hospital where we also find our Dan Lothian based there in Boston. You've been on the campaign trail. Decided to get back to Boston, spend a little time with your family and now ...


WHITFIELD: ...we have you reporting to us about what you're learning from Mass. General and the condition of the senator.

LOTHIAN: That's right. We're standing right out in front of the hospital. And that live shot that you were just taking a look at, a number of local stations here waiting to get the latest information.

What we have just heard from hospital officials is that someone will be coming out in a matter of minutes, is what we were told. Now, you know oftentimes, when they say that it could be a matter of minutes or it could end up being an hour or so. But we're told that someone could be coming out here in a matter of minutes to give us an update on the information with regards to Senator Kennedy.

This could perhaps give us more information than we've already learned from the family, from that press statement, released a few minutes ago that you were reading from or it might simply be just that information, that he is at the hospital and he is currently under evaluation.

Nonetheless, we are waiting here out in front of the hospital for that hospital representative to come out and give us whatever updated information they can provide.

WHITFIELD: And Dan, it would be nice if it would just underscore what we heard a little tidbit of encouraging information from Ed Henry who is traveling with the president, he's in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and he reported based on sources he knows, that Senator Ted Kennedy actually made a phone call from the hospital, himself, about two hours after that initial 911 call, making a call from Mass. General to call some friends saying I'm not going to be able to make those lunch plans for today.

That certainly would be very encouraging if indeed those sources, you know ...

LOTHIAN: Yes, that's right.

WHITFIELD: ...their account, it's nice. So, I wonder if there's a way of sensing what the mood might be there outside the hospital, because sometimes with all of those reporters and other media outlets nearby, everyone has different sources, or sharing information. Does it seem that they're getting encouraging info as well?

LOTHIAN: You know, I think pretty much what we're seeing out here is everyone's really starving for information. Everyone has put out calls to all their sources and so forth just as we have. But the information really has just been trickling in. Other than confirmation that he is there and certainly this is encouraging news.

What Ed Henry was reporting earlier from a family member or a family friend, I believe, who said that he indeed did made that call, that would certainly be encouraging news, if he indeed did make that call, much better than if we hadn't gotten any information at all about his condition.

So, certainly, we continue to wait. We continue to wait and find out what this information is that this hospital official will be providing us shortly.

WHITFIELD: Dan, you're a resident there in Boston. You know what the Kennedy name means there, in Massachusetts as a whole. And certainly, there in Boston. You know this is, you know, an icon, this is, you know, a political royalty ...

LOTHIAN: He really is.

WHITFIELD: ...American royalty residing there in Boston. Give me an idea of the importance of this man, Ted Kennedy, and the importance of the Kennedy name as a whole.

LOTHIAN: Well, it's huge, as you know. And certainly in the Boston area, a lot of people look to him certainly as an icon who has provided a lot, not only for them in their lives, but certainly brought a lot to their state. And so, anytime anything happens to Senator Kennedy, there's always keen interest here in terms of finding out how is he doing and how will he be.

He was in the hospital here, as you've been reporting it last October where they were able to do what the hospital called routine procedures to unclog an artery in his neck.