FAST FACTS: Edward M. Kennedy Bio

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Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts

Hometown: Hyannisport

Born: February 22, 1932, in Boston

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married to Victoria Reggie Kennedy; three children, two stepchildren

Education: Bachelor's degree from Harvard, 1956; attended International Law School at The Hague, the Netherlands, in 1958; law degree from University of Virginia, 1959

Military Service: Army, 1951-53

Political Career:

• Served as Suffolk County assistant district attorney from 1961-1962.

• First elected to Senate in 1962 to complete the term of his brother.

• Second longest-serving current member of the Senate.

• Ran unsuccessfully against Jimmy Carter in 1980 for the Democratic presidential nomination. Serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and member of the Judiciary, Armed Services and Joint Economic committees.

Bio Information From Kennedy's Senate Web Page:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for 43 years. He was elected in 1962 to finish the final two years of the Senate term of his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy, who was elected President in 1960.

Since then, Kennedy has been re-elected to seven full terms, and is now the second most senior member of the Senate.

Throughout his career, Kennedy has fought for issues that benefit the citizens of Massachusetts and the nation. His effort to make quality health care accessible and affordable to every American is a battle that Kennedy has been waging ever since he arrived in the Senate. In addition, Kennedy is active on a wide range of other issues, including education reform and immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, defending the rights of workers and their families, strengthening civil rights, assisting individuals with disabilities, fighting for cleaner water and cleaner air, and protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.

Kennedy is currently the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee, where he is the senior Democrat on the Immigration Subcommittee, and on the Armed Services Committee, where he is the senior Democrat on the Seapower Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and the Congressional Friends of Ireland, and a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Kennedy is the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Virginia Law School. Kennedy lives in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, with his wife Victoria Reggie Kennedy. Together, they have five children — Kara, Edward Jr., and Patrick Kennedy, and Curran and Caroline Raclin. They also have four grandchildren.


Kennedy Bio Profile From Almanac of American Politics:

Edward Kennedy has served more than 44 years in the Senate-longer than all but two other senators in American history-and he is still going strong. He has served with nine presidents of the United States and ten governors of Massachusetts, most of them Republicans; the only senators who have served longer are Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Kennedy has had the highs and lows of his personal life followed by millions and criticized vitriolically by many.

"I've made mistakes. Certainly there are things I'm not proud of," he admits. He has been a presidential candidate and, while still in his 30s, was widely assumed to be the next president. He is second in seniority in the Senate, behind Byrd. His reputation as an idealistic champion of the poor has been burnished by the praise of first-rate celebrators that no American political family has attracted before, and the nation has watched him cope impressively time and again with family tragedy.

To others, he is a symbol of personal immorality and unpunished criminal behavior, a man who has gotten away with things that would have ended the public career of almost anyone else. There is some basis for both views, but neither is an entirely fair picture of this politician, who was reelected without much fuss in 2006 to a term which will take him to his 50th year in the Senate, and both in the minority and, once again, in the majority, he has done much to set national policy on any number of issues.

In most of America and even in much of Massachusetts the luster of the Kennedys has worn off, and most Americans have no memory of the years when John Kennedy was president. But Edward Kennedy has remained a major political force. There was little in the early life of this youngest of the Kennedy siblings to suggest he would be a major politician, much less for so long.

He grew up in Bronxville, New York, a rich suburb with many other rich Catholics, was thrown out of Harvard for cheating on a Spanish exam and served in the Army, returned to earn degrees at Harvard and Virginia Law School, and married a Bronxville girl who never developed a taste for politics. Then his brother was elected president of the United States at 43, and the 28-year-old Edward Kennedy was a national celebrity. His father insisted that he run for the Senate; a JFK college roommate was found to hold the seat until Kennedy reached the constitutional age of 30, in 1962.

His family money and the enthusiasm among Massachusetts Catholics for this seeming royalty enabled him to beat strong candidates with good political names: Attorney General Edward McCormack, nephew of Speaker John McCormack, in the Democratic primary; George Cabot Lodge, son and great-grandson of senators, in the general.

"He can do more for Massachusetts" was his slogan, as it had been John F. Kennedy's in his first Senate race 10 years before. Two years later, his brother Robert Kennedy was elected senator from New York, regarded generally as a carpetbagger although he had grown up from age two in the state; Robert Kennedy ran for president and was murdered just after winning the California primary in June 1968.

After his brothers' assassinations, Edward Kennedy was seen by many as their natural heir, and he could have been nominated for president in 1968, at 36, or in 1972, had he chosen to run. But after the accident at Chappaquiddick in July 1969, for which he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene his poll ratings dropped and he became a polarizing figure.

In 1972, he delivered the first of many stirring convention speeches promoting his trademark liberalism. In 1979, he did run for president, and began the race against incumbent Jimmy Carter far ahead in the polls. But he was unable to articulate his reasons for running, and his candidacy was greeted with adverse reaction to him personally as well as to his policies.

It ended in a crushing defeat, relieved only by another stirring convention speech, after which he pointedly refused to raise Carter's hand on the podium. In retrospect, it is plain that Edward Kennedy's presidential chances were ended by Chappaquiddick. But he has always been reelected with solid margins in Massachusetts, and received his toughest competition from Mitt Romney, then a venture capitalist and later governor, in the Republican year of 1994.

Source: Almanac of American Politics