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SALT LAKE CITY -- Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch says he has lost a treasured friend with the death of Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Kennedy died Tuesday at his home on Cape Cod from brain cancer. He was 77.
Hatch says he and Kennedy disagreed often but join forces over many years to pass important legislation, including laws helping under-privileged kids, the disabled, the poor and more.
"All I can say is we were like fighting brothers. I don't know if he'd characterize it that way, but that's the way I would characterize it. We cared for each other and we didn't want to hurt each other," Hatch said.
He describes Kennedy as a larger-than-life personality; humorous, jovial and a man of his word even if they disagreed and debated often.
"He's get up there and flail his arms and his face would get red, and he'd make all those liberal comments and just excoriate our side. And then when it was all over, he'd throw his arms around me and say, 'Was that all right?' Things like that. You couldn't help but like him," Hatch said.
The Utah senator says he went to Washington to take on Sen. Kennedy but ended up respecting him, then working with him.
"You didn't have to agree to make things work. When we did agree, everybody tended to get out of the way," he said. "We became very good friends, even though we fought each other most of the time--and those were knock-down, drag-out battles."
Hatch says he talked with Kennedy about a month ago, and with Kennedy's widow Wednesday morning.
"I've chatted regularly with his wife and sent e-mails. He laughs at my e-mails and I've tried to cheer him up," Hatch said.
He also wrote a song for Kennedy, called "Honor Him," last July.
"He really liked that. He was really appreciative of it," he said.
Hatch says he believes the two could have helped pass bipartisan health care reform had Kennedy survived his brain cancer.
Story compiled with contributions from [John Daley](<mailto:E-mail: <a href=>), Mary Richards and The Associated Press.