Obama and others mourn Margaret Thatcher


Margaret Thatcher, 87, has died. (Getty Images)

Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady" of British politics who died Monday, loomed large in American politics -- and the reactions to her death pouring in from politicians are a reminder of that legacy.

"With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend," President Obama said in a statement. "Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will."

Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes added that he was "sad to hear of the passing of Margaret Thatcher, a great leader."

From the right came more praise for a conservative ally of Ronald Reagan.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Thatcher "the greatest peacetime prime minister in British history." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called her "a towering figure of 20th century politics and an inspiration to millions around the globe." Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) praised a "great leader" whose "memory and legacy will always live on through the leadership lessons that defined her career." Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared that Thatcher "was and always will be one of the world’s great conservative leaders."

Former president George H.W. Bush, who presented Thatcher with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991, said in a statement: "The personal grief we Bushes feel is compounded by the knowledge that America has lost one of the staunchest allies we have ever known; and yet we have confidence that her sterling record of accomplishment will inspire future generations. His son, George W. Bush called the former prime minister an "inspirational leader" as well as a "strong woman and friend."

And Bush's successor, Bill Clinton, called Thatcher "an iconic stateswoman and a fearless leader."

"The United States has lost one of its dearest friends and most valued allies," Clinton said. "Lady Thatcher understood that the special relationship which has long united our two nations is an indispensable foundation for peace and prosperity. Our strong partnership today is part of her legacy. "

Former first lady Nancy Reagan described Thatcher and her late husband as "political soulmates" and praised the British leader as "as a dear and trusted friend" as well as "a spirited and courageous ally."

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who was reportedly snubbed by Thatcher in 2011, wrote a tribute for National Review. She calls Thatcher "an underestimated underdog and political outsider" and "a visionary always ahead of her time." Quoting Thatcher on ignoring attacks from the media, Palin writes, "I know exactly what she meant."

Several lawmakers shared their thoughts on Twitter, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.):

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took the historical view:

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R), who in 2008 tried to become the first woman to serve as vice president, said Thatcher "was a trailblazer like no other. We lost an icon, but her legacy, as solid as iron, will live on in perpetuity."

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has made a picture of Thatcher his Twitter avatar and declared in a statement that "the best way to honor Baroness Thatcher is to crush liberalism and sweep it into the dustbin of history."

Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a Democrat running in a Republican South Carolina House district, wrote that she "was so saddened to hear today about Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s death. When I talk to younger women about their careers, I point to Margaret Thatcher as a role model; she’s a tough consensus builder who cared about everybody and put her country’s fiscal house in order."

While Thatcher was disliked far more intensely by British liberals than she was by American ones, some criticism came from Democrats Monday. Robert Reich, the former labor secretary under Bill Clinton, said Thatcher was a negative influence on Reagan

Here's Jim Manley, a former top staffer for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):

Donna Brazile, a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, raised questions about Thatcher's impact:

We will update this post as more reactions pour in.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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Aaron Blake · April 8, 2013