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Senators comment on Stevens

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii: "The responsibility our country has for its indigenous people has been one of the major causes that Ted Stevens has pursued. He has made a huge difference in it, and I want to say that I’ve been delighted working with him in helping our indigenous people in Alaska as well as in Hawaii and around the world."

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ga.: "When you come to the Senate for the first time and you’ve had an encounter with Ted Stevens in any manner, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh my God, is he really that tough to deal with all the time, or is that a façade that we see?’ Well, I have got to know over the last ten years the true Ted Stevens. And if you want someone that represents America representing you in the U.S. Senate, it’s Ted Stevens. Not only for his state, for the defense of our country, for the United Sates principles that we stand on…the goodness of its people, giving to others, allowing them to get to know you, changing that gruff exterior into pure love."

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WVa.: "You’re a youngster compared to me, some in this town would say we’ve both lived too long. But a long life is a blessing for many reasons. One of the reasons is when one learns a lot, one learns to take the bad with the good. One learns to separate the phonies from the friends. One learns that family is the most important gift. One learns to appreciate small, special moments and the really good things in life, like a good laugh. A good cry. A good dog. And a good meal. Politics is a rough business with lots of highs and lots of lows. And after a long, long time in politics, one finally comes to understand that the point of it all is in helping people."

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.: "When we were in China, Senator Stevens is treated as a hero. And he’s a hero because of his service in World War II…landed in places in China to refurbish supplies, ammunition, I think bring in intelligence sources…And this young guy is flying in there because he loves his country. And I think that service, when you talk about Ted Stevens, somebody talked about 40 years in the Senate. As I reflected on who that young guy was, flying in there with absolute fearlessness, with courage, with love of country…it’s the same guy. That’s what he’s given to this country. His entire adult life has been given in great service to this country."

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho: "I’m en route from downtown Anchorage, to the Ted Stevens International Airport. And as we round the curb and pull up to exit the cab, I look up, and there is your name. And I said, ‘Oh, Ted’s got an airport, that’s neat.’ And the cab driver says, ‘Do you know Uncle Ted?’ I said ‘Yes, I do. I work for him in the United States Senate.’ He says, ‘You do?’ I said, ‘Sure do.’ He said ‘Give him my best when you get back to Washington. Because as an Alaskan, I know of no other person who has done more for my state than Uncle Ted.’ Well, Ted Stevens now knows why I call him Uncle Ted more often than not."

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.: "More than anyone else, you have taught me he meaning of representing my state. You are unabashed about that, and that caused me on many occasions to think about what I was doing and whether I was representing my state correctly to the full extent of my ability and whether I did that with gusto, knowing that we needed things."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: "I always loved that when he wore the "Incredible Hulk" tie. I always got a big kick out of it. I even liked his crankiness because there was always a little smile behind that. He never held a grudge against anybody and was always willing to lend a helping hand and give good advice. … You’ve shown such kindness and graciousness to virtually everybody here. And enough toughness, too, when we’ve needed it."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas: "I see him as someone who has been what people say is so rare in this city, and that is a true friend. It has been mentioned a couple of time that he has a gruff exterior. And when I see pictures of him in the newspaper and he’s looking like this, it’s not the Ted Stevens that we know. It is not the person who has endeared himself to our colleagues for years and years and years in the United States Senate. This is his manner, but I always said behind his back that he’s all bark and no bite."

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii: "All of use recognize that the events of recent weeks have been less than pleasant and at times dismal and heartbreaking. But to my friend I say ‘Stand tall, Ted,’ because you have every good reason to do so. Your good and courageous service to our nation is part of our history. It can never be obliterated. Your service to the people of Alaska is legendary, and I’m certain that in decades to come, Native Alaskans, Eskimos and Indians, will be singing songs of praises. But above all, I thank you for your four decades of friendship. I will cherish them."

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut: "I love the fact that you said in your remarks that you’re confident that God has more work for you to do. I share that confidence and that faith, and I wish you and your wonderful family, beloved wife Catherine, and all your children, all of God’s blessings in the years ahead."

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: "How does one sum up the extraordinary accomplishments of the longest-serving Republican senator in United States history? The majority leader has summarized Senator Stevens’ career, but I think there is a way to measure it and to summarize it that’s even shorter. I think it’s safe to say, without any fear of contradiction, that no senator in the history of the United States has ever done more for his state than Senator Ted Stevens."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska: "You’ve all heard the stories. Ted has stood on the floor and talked about the economic conditions that we face. The fact that we don’t have road systems in rural Alaska. The fact that you have to fly to most villages or go by boat. But the reality is that in so many communities and villages still we don’t have basic water and sanitation for those who live there. Before Ted Stevens came to the Senate, so many of these villages had no running water, no flush toilets, no plumbing, no place to wash clothes, no place to take a shower. The basic, basic needs when it comes to sanitation and health. And in so many instances, our Native people have lived and still live in what can be called third world conditions. Conditions that wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in this country and conditions that Ted Stevens would not tolerate. He determined that he would change it. And he did."

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.: "I want to thank him for his years of service on the Appropriations Committee, where I watched him as chair and ranking member. While he was a strong adversary, he understood that everyone had a right to speak and offer arguments and respected that. I think that is truly a lesson all of us should remember. … In the end we serve the people of America and we do it by respecting each other."

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada: "I was a brand-new senator and my friend, Allen Bible, died. A military aircraft was provided to take those who wished to go to Nevada for the funeral. There were two people on that airplane, Harry Reid and Ted Stevens. Think about that, we flew to Reno, Nevada, for a funeral. We went out and back in one day. It takes five hours to go out that way and five hours to come back. I said – and I was a new senator – ‘Senator Stevens, why are you on the airplane?’ He said ‘I have a long memory. The Alaska Pipeline bill would not have passed but for Allen Bible…I had to go to Reno to honor what Allen Bible did for me.’"

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas: "So I came to the Senate, had the privilege of being elected to the Senate in 1996. Standing right over there. And all of the sudden there was Ted Stevens standing in front of me. That was sort of a frightening experience for a new senator. But he came up and jabbed his finger on my chest – Ted, you won’t remember this. And he said, ‘I know who you are.’ And I said, "Well, I sure as hell know who you are.’ And he said, ‘You allegedly know something about agriculture, Bob Dole told me about you, said you were a standup guy.’ I said "Thank you, that’s a real compliment.’… This is a man with a very gruff exterior but he’s a teddy bear when you really get to know him."

Sen. John Warner, R-Va.: "When I came to the Senate and joined the Armed Services Committee, it was my privilege to travel with you to many places in the world, to visit the men and women of the armed forces. And how many times did we work together on this floor, I as an authorizer, you as an appropriator, shaping that annual bill which I really regard with a sense of humility as the most important bill that this body passes every year…speaking on behalf of the men and women of the armed forces, they are grateful to you for all that you’ve done for them through these many distinguished years of service."