He spent long hours in its hallways and on the Senate floor, making impassioned speeches and negotiating with fellow lawmakers. On the grassy area across the street, Senator Edward M. Kennedy would run his dogs, hitting balls with a tennis racket for them to chase.
And today, the late senator will make one more visit to the US Capitol he so loved, as current and former staff gather to say goodbye. At about 4:30 p.m., the motorcade bearing Kennedy’s body will stop near the Senate steps for a brief prayer on the way to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be buried near his brothers.
Kennedy was a powerful and boisterous presence in the Capitol, and was commonly seen bringing his dogs, Splash and Sunny, with him as he walked from his office in the Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol itself. The trip between the two buildings provides a rare moment alone for many senators, but Kennedy was almost never by himself; a staff member was constantly next to him, briefing him on an issue.
Kennedy also had a memento-filled hideaway on the third floor of the Capitol, where he negotiated with fellow senators and hosted sessions with many dignitaries. After Kennedy’s illness made it difficult for him to walk, his hideaway was moved to the second floor. There, Kennedy hosted a strategy session on health care with members of the Senate health committee.
But George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, will not be attending the service in Boston this morning after all.
A spokesman said yesterday that Bush and his wife, Barbara, decided not to attend after learning that their son, former president George W. Bush, would. Spokesman Jim McGrath said the 85-year-old Bush feels his son’s presence would “amply and well represent’’ the family.
State Transportation Secretary James A. Aloisi ordered the message placed on most of the 128 variable message signs in honor of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, said spokesman Adam Hurtubise.
In the past, the state highway system has used the signs to honor President Reagan after he died in 2004, Thomas P. “Tip’’ O’Neill Jr. after he died in 1994, and comedian Bob Hope when he turned 100, Hurtubise said.
Quayle - who was mocked by many Democrats as President George H.W. Bush’s number two after he was plucked as a rather obscure senator from Indiana - said that while Kennedy assertively pushed his liberal Democratic agenda and criticized the Bush administration, the Massachusetts senior senator always treated him with respect.
Interviewed on MSNBC, Quayle recalled a kind note he received during an election campaign, in which Kennedy offered to speak ill or speak well of him - “whichever will help you most.’’
“I still have that note,’’ Quayle said.