Coverage of the inauguration lunch at the Capitol quickly gave way to coverage of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s health as the elder Democratic leader was taken from Statuary Hall around 3 p.m. after apparently suffering a seizure during lunch.
News organizations originally reported that it was 91-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) who was removed from the hall. The confusion apparently stemming from Byrd’s early departure, though apparently under his own steam.
News organizations quickly mobilized to get reactions from Kennedy’s colleagues in the Senate.
“I’m not a doctor so I don’t want to characterize it but he did have what appeared to be a seizure,” Sen. Orrin Hatch told NBC News.
“He seemed to go into a seizure,” Walter Mondale, former vice president under Jimmy Carter, told ABC News. “But I was just told that he’s doing much better now.”
Shots of the ambulance and Chris Dodd and John Kerry looking into the open door played over commentary.
“He was fine. He was talking,” Dodd told reporters. “He’ll be ok. The good news is he’s going to be fine.”
Kennedy, who will be 77 in February, has been battling a malignant brain tumor.
President Obama opened his address at the luncheon with an impromptu tribute to Kennedy.
“He was there when the Voter Rights Act passed,” he said. “Right now, part of me is with him.”