Leader McConnell Remembers Senator Richard Lugar
‘So we mourn Dick’s passing, but we celebrate this life that was lived so well and so fully. Our friend left us at 87 years old with the affection and gratitude of his colleagues, with the respect of his country and leaders around the world, with the love of his beautiful family, and with a world that is measurably safer for his work. A remarkable legacy that suits a remarkable man.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the passing of former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN):
“I know many of my colleagues were as sad as I was to learn yesterday that our esteemed former colleague Senator Richard Lugar had died at the age of 87. Many members past and present knew Dick Lugar as a senior peer who always seemed to have the perfect advice or the exact perspective you needed to hear. More recently, others got to know Dick as a wise mentor. He felt a personal responsibility to help newcomers on both sides of the aisle learn the ropes and make an impact.
“As I was reflecting yesterday on Dick’s towering legacy, I found myself admiring all the ways he was really the consummate U.S. Senator. He was a total patriot who put principle first, but also a highly talented politician and a savvy deal-maker. He was a major asset and leading voice within the Republican Party, a true elder statesman in our Conference, but also a famously productive bipartisan collaborator on all manner of important issues. He was a proud son of Indianapolis, devoted to the Hoosiers he was proud to represent, but also built a national and international profile by mastering issues that touched all 50 states and far beyond.
“Dick came to the Senate already in possession of one of those gold-plated resumes that almost sounds too good to be true: Eagle Scout, valedictorian in high school, valedictorian in college, Rhodes Scholar, star intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy, businessman, mayor of Indianapolis. Yet somehow, his personal reputation and character managed to be even more impressive than those achievements. I literally don’t think anybody on Capitol Hill had a bad word to say about Dick Lugar.
“His intellect, his commitment, his prudence, his kindness, and his deliberate focus on mentoring the next generations of leaders – this man was the complete package. A total gentleman. Thoroughly impressive. So a lot of Dick’s legacy lies in all the people he mentored and encouraged. Here I can testify firsthand. Dick was running the NRSC back in 1984 when I decided to try to run for the Senate. As you can imagine, as Jefferson County Judge-Executive I had not exactly built a national profile and I didn’t have a whole lot of people in my corner. But Dick thought he saw potential. That was an unusual lapse in judgment, I would add. But he thought he saw potential and took a chance on this young Kentuckian.
“But, of course, the rest of the world knows Dick Lugar best for his towering impact on U.S. foreign policy and world affairs. His interest in international affairs dated back to his and his brother’s success at drumming up more export business to turn around the family factory -- and it blossomed into something remarkable. For years he represented one of our nation’s most listened-to, most respected voices when it came to our role in the world. Whether he happened to be Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee or Ranking Member, at a given time, the respect for his expertise was universal.
“His most famous accomplishments – for good reason – revolve around his work on arms control. The 1991 Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threats Reduction Program stepped into the breach at a critical moment as the Soviet Union was dissolving. It took action to dismantle and decommission nuclear weapons before they could disappear or fall into the wrong hands. Those efforts, which were expanded after September 11th into the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, have neutralized thousands of warheads, hundreds and hundreds of missiles, and other deadly chemical and biological weapons.
“Nations which once ranked in the global top ten largest nuclear arsenals were certified as nuclear-free. The entire world is safer as a result. These early efforts helped set a new tone right from the start of the post-Cold War era. Dick understood that it was time to turn the page on Cold War competition. America would extend our hand and seek to work together with Russia and the former Soviet states to build a safer world.
“Consistent with Dick’s leadership and guidance, Republicans and Democrats alike took a deliberately magnanimous approach. For decades, we sought to work with Moscow instead of against it; to welcome Russia back into the community of sovereign nations. As an aside, the general foreign policy consensus about Dick’s approach to the former Soviet Union is especially worth remembering today. It demonstrates that Putin’s hostility toward the West and our interests is not the result of American hostility toward Russia. The source of this hostility emanates from the Kremlin.
“‘Deliberately magnanimous’ – that really is the Lugar Doctrine in a nutshell. From friendship to foreign policy. Dick also built a formidable legacy on agriculture and food security as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee -- everything from working on the Farm Bill and fighting for Hoosier families to international questions of aid and development. The good news is that, on these and other subjects, Dick’s legacy did not end with his Senate retirement -- and it won’t even end now. The Lugar Center -- which has thrived under not only his name, but his active leadership since retiring from the Senate -- will continue to serve as a home to thoughtful research and an important voice in national policy conversations.
“And of course, that Center isn’t even the finest part of the ongoing Lugar legacy. That would be the family Dick and his beloved wife, Char, built together. They’ve been an inseparable team since their days as co-class presidents at Denison University. And today, that team includes their four sons, Mark, Bob, John, and David, thirteen grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren.
“So we mourn Dick’s passing, but we celebrate this life that was lived so well and so fully. Our friend left us at 87 years old with the affection and gratitude of his colleagues, with the respect of his country and leaders around the world, with the love of his beautiful family, and with a world that is measurably safer for his work. A remarkable legacy that suits a remarkable man.”
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