Within minutes of his loss, several politicians issued tributes to the 35-year member of the Senate. President Obama, a former Senate colleague of Lugar, issued a statement. But we were most struck by comments by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who has served alongside Lugar on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since the 1980s.
See Kerry’s full statement below:
“This is a tragedy for the Senate and the loss is particularly felt by all of us who have been privileged to serve with Dick on the Foreign Relations Committee. It’s a blow to the institution during a period when the institution itself has been strained. Whether he was serving as Chairman or Ranking Member of our Committee, wielding the gavel or working the floor, Dick’s approach to governing was always the same: he wanted to find serious answers to some of foreign policy’s most vexing questions. He’s a class act and a gentleman and in a Senate that has seen so much change and transition these last years, his expertise on complicated issues honed over 36 years simply can’t be replicated. I know, however, that Dick Lugar will finish out his sixth term in the Senate with the same determination and effectiveness that has marked every year of his service here, and he will have many more contributions still to an institution he reveres and that reveres him.
“Dick’s Nunn-Lugar efforts have become almost shorthand for bi-partisanship in foreign policy, and they should be recognized. But for me, on a personal level, two other efforts stand out as epitomizing who Dick is and why he’ll be missed. For me, it started with the work we did together in the 1980’s to help bring about free and fair elections in the Philippines. I was just a freshman senator, but I was lucky to get to know Dick Lugar as a dignified, thoughtful and capable public servant who even then was becoming an institution within this institution. He was serious, he was fair-minded, and I saw firsthand during our trip to the Philippines that he had a very personal and special understanding of what the United States means to the rest of the world. That cause animated a Hoosier who was a reserved and humble public person, but who proudly recounted for President Reagan the difference the United States made in giving voice to the Filipino peoples’ democratic aspirations. I saw that same commitment in Dick Lugar many times over the years but never more so than in the long, tough, and patient process required when we worked together on the New START Treaty two years ago. His wisdom and his patience was invaluable in laying out the case and particularly in building Republican support and finding the path to those 71 votes.
“It will soon almost sound cliched to say that America is safer today because of Dick Lugar’s 36 years of service in the Senate, but it really does bear repeating. His record on our Committee will long be remembered in the same context as another chairman, William Fulbright of Arkansas, whose Senate service also ended in a difficult primary defeat, but who is remembered today not for one loss, but for a legacy of following the facts and speaking the truth despite the political risks. This is a tough period in American politics, but I’d like to think that we’ll again see a United States Senate where Dick Lugar’s brand of thoughtful, mature, and bi-partisan work is respected and rewarded. That kind of seriousness of purpose should never go out of fashion.”
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