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tv   Senator Harry Reid Tribute  CSPAN  January 2, 2022 11:59pm-1:18am EST

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of representatives from 1980 to 1987 he was 82 years old. in 2016, joe biden and hillary clinton joined senators mcconnell and schumer at a portrait unveiling to commemorate senator reid's
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service as the democratic leader in the senate. mitch mcconnell: i must say, this is a bit of an out of body experience for me. it is not every day the vice president and secretary clinton come to visit us on the capital, but it is not every day the democratic leader heads to show us how he looks on canvas. i know our guests would not miss it. the rest of the reid family will not miss this moment either. it's great to see all of you here. you will hear some tributes to harry's service shortly. i offered my own on the senate floor earlier today. one of the stories i told was about leandra and harry's first date. he promised her a movie. she wound up pushed starting his
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car. but landra, unlike most teenagers, did not storm off or complain. she reassured him instead with a warm smile. harry says that smile changed him. he says it stuck with him through the decades and so has landro. they have him fight each other side through the highs and the lows -- they have been by each other's side through the highs in the lows, the ups and downs, political scares, health cares, they have seen it all -- health scares. but we haven't. we still have not seen harry in two dimensions. i'm sure you are all curious to see what lies behind that curtain. is it harry sitting in his office? is it harry leaning on a cactus?
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is it harry high-fiving bryce harper? well, we will find out soon enough, just as soon as the vice president finishes his remarks. actually, you might be here a while. in any case, let me welcome everyone. congratulations, harry. now, on with the show. nancy pelosi: good afternoon, everyone. thank you leader mcconnell for your hospitality, your kind words about our special guest. the presence of such honored guest is a potent testimony to the towering leadership of harry reid. vice president joe biden, president of the senate, the best and most beloved vice president in our history, and i mean that sincerely.
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[applause] nancy pelosi: secretary hillary clinton. [applause] nancy pelosi: thank you for your immeasurable contributions and leadership to our country. senator chuck schumer, an outstanding leader in his own right, who will build on senator harry reid's legacy. [applause] nancy pelosi: when i first learned of the ceremony, i thought there would be only one musical accompaniment worthy of harry reid's life. aaron copeland's for the common man. of course, harry reid, unique in
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washington for another reason, harry reid does not like listening to other people complement him. or sing his praises. many of us have found that harry has left us alone on the phone call, because he has figured out the business of the call is over and we just wanted to say nice things about him. harry, when i learned of his -- when his shy we say departure was imminent, i said harry, we have to have a bid for dinner in your honor inviting all of your friends from all over the country. he said forget that, i would rather spend the money feeding the poor or giving it to the university. that is how he is. [applause] it's really a miracle that we've gotten him to think -- persuaded
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him to sit through all of us saying how wonderful he is. harry, in case you attempted to walk out from all of this praise, we have asked the sergeant at to bar the door. it has been my privilege to work side-by-side with harry reid for more than a decade. to observe harry biz to observe a master at work. -- is to observe his respect for his colleagues. he had many occasion to evaluate leadership and courage of our colleagues as we have entered one phrase or another. -- one phrase or another. working with harry as a leader, he always spoke in the most glowing, respectful, and understanding way about all of his senators. and republican senators as well. very respectful of everyone's point of view, the constituents they represented. never, never anything but the
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finest word. his respect for them was reciprocated in his repeated election as leader. and here we are. in every battle, in every bill, he has -- anyone who is work side-by-side with harry reid would say that it has been -- he has been unparalleled. his leadership on the floor, his mastery of the senate rules, his command of the respect that he has on both sides of the aisle -- on both sides of the capital, and we know up and down pennsylvania avenue. today, we unveil a portrait of one of the greatest leaders the senate has ever known indeed, it is hard to imagine, with all the respect, that we will ever see his like again. to his family, he talked about you all of the time.
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the children and grandchildren. he was here because of his biography from searchlight to capitol police officer to senate majority leader. he was here because of his values. he was here because of his family and the strength that they gave him. to his family, i think everyone in this room can say, we have heard about you, we know the love that has had for you and we hope that you will always know how respected your grandfather, your father, and launcher, the joy of his life, your husband. thank you for sharing your husband with the country. we are all in your debt. -- and leandra [applause]
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hillary clinton: thank you, thank you very much. thank you all. thank you. thank you. thank you very much. this is not exactly the speech at the capital i hoped to beginning after the election, but after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, i thought it would be a good idea to come out. and i am very grateful to harry for inviting me to be part of this celebration as we celebrate a great leader and a great senator, and, yes, a great american. i just want to pause for a moment and mark the passing of one of our great americans as well.
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senator john glenn, a friend to many of us and a genuine american hero, passed away today. and i know the tributes will be flowing. i'm sure the congressional record will be filled with pages of appreciation and recognition of this extraordinary americans life. it is fitting that we are here in the kennedy caucus room, which has seen so much history. harry got his start in politics organizing for jfk, even then, he knew how to win. my very first experience as an intern here on the hill was helping with hearings right in this caucus room. and it is fitting that we would gather in a place that represents the values of this extraordinary, deliberative body. i want to thank the entire reed
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family for sharing harry with us all these years -- the entire reid family. i'm delighted to be here with president biden, leaders mcconnell and pelosi, and my former leader from new york, chuck schumer, as well as so many other former wrens and former colleagues. today -- former friends. we are hanging harry's portrait from the capital, but the morphing portrait of him will be one that goes in the dictionary next to the word fighter. throughout his career, harry has fought the good fight on behalf of the working families of nevada and all americans. harry welcomed me as a new senator more than 15 years ago. and over the years, he became both a trusted colleague, as well as a friend. one of my favorite memories,
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harry, is going with you to fallon, nevada. we went to hold a hearing about the high rates of leukemia in that small town. we both shared a passion for health care and a worry about so-called cancer clusters. and on that trip, and on many occasions, i saw firsthand harry's deep commitment to the state and country he loved and served so well. no matter how high he rose here in washington, he never lost touch with the people in values he grew up with back in searchlight. in the little house where he was born, there was an embroidered pillow case with a quote from franklin roosevelt. that embodied harry's life and career. "we can, we must, we will." i have walked the neighborhoods,
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sat in union halls, met workers in casino kitchens, and everywhere i went, nevadans told me how much it meant to them to have harry reid as their corner man. we have seen the strength of that bond in election after election. i benefited from it and so have many democrats. harry's commitment to our country runs just as deep. throughout his career, he has fought tirelessly to protect america's public lands and natural beauty. from protecting the great basin national park to restoring lake tahoe, to leading the way on clean energy. harry's legacy is embodied in landmark legislation that made life better for american families. like the affordable care act. which would not have passed without his leadership and now provides health coverage to more than 22 million people.
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millions of young people can stay on their parents health plans because harry reid fought for it. and that is not all. millions of seniors rely on social security today because hair he led the fight to stop it from being privatized. -- harry led the fight. he fought to pass comprehension -- comprehensive immigration reform and got it through the senate. if it had been signed into law, millions of families would have been fearless. our economy would have benefited from the millions of workers coming out of the shadows. as a senator, i learned a lot from harry about how actually to get things done in this place. he is not a man of many words, but when he uses them, he always tells it as he sees it. he is never afraid to speak out, even when it is not easy or popular. harry has fought for the simple
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but powerful idea that yes, we are all created equal. he understood that all our leaders and our citizens alike have a responsibility to defend the rights of every single american. after the constitutional convention, it is well known benjamin franklin was asked what form of government the new nation should have. a republic, he replied, if you can keep it. well, that is still our charge and it is as urgent as it has ever been. we must stand up for our democracy, just as harry has done his entire career. let me just mention briefly one threat in particular that should concern all americans, especially those who serve in our congress. the epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year. it is now clear that so-called
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fake news can have real-world consequences. this is not about politics or partisanship. lives are at risk, lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days, to do their jobs, contribute to their communities. it is a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly. bipartisan legislation is making its way through congress to boost the government's response to foreign propaganda. silicon valley is starting to grapple with the challenge and threat of fake news. it is imperative that leaders in both the private sector and the public sector step up. to protect our democracy and innocent lives. harry reid and vice president biden may be stepping back from the daily scrum of politics and governing, but i know i speak for them, as well as tens of millions of americans, when i say that we are all counting on
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those of you who remain. counting on you to defend this institution that all three of us love so much and the democratic values it embodies. counting on you to carry forward harry reid's legacy to stand with working families and fight the good fight for a better, stronger, fairer america. harry, my friend, thank you for your service and your friendship. i can't help but think of that wonderful song, the boxer. you left your home and your family when you were no more than a boy. now in the clearing stands a boxer, a fighter by history. -- a fighter by his trade. you carry the reminders of every glove you have faced, but even more, we carry the reminders of every fight you waged for us. and we will never, ever forget. i wish you and your family all
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the happiness in the world. you have earned it. thank you, my friend. [applause] joe biden: my name is joe biden and i work for harry reid. harry, i got to admit, years to come, every time i hear a dial tone, i will think of harry. he does not do that to you girls, does he? he stays on the line longer, right? please talk to me more, he tells
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you that right? what a beautiful family. what an incredible family were both raised. and i also want to point out, nancy, that gracefulness is more abundant in san francisco than in brooklyn. when he said that nice thing about me in the senate, he looked at me and said yeah, schumer said it could have been ehrenberg. you know what i mean? yeah, i don't get it. you know what i mean? one big play on broadway and everything changes. all man. --oh, man. mitch, i know your reputation is now in tatters. having said nice things about me yesterday and being here today. but on a serious note, you
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remind me of what this room reminds me of. the great traditions of this body, the great traditions of the united states senate, the way in which we all, democrat or republican, would use this place as ultimately a sort of healing room. at the end of the day, some of the biggest in the 44 years i have been here, some of the most monumental fights and debates and arguments occurred right here in this room. the most controversial supreme court hearings in history, the whole watergate year. but every single time, every single time when the nation seems so divided, there are a few democrats or a few republicans who crossed over and embraced one another.
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whether it was howard baker and bill cohen in the house doing watergate -- during watergate or it was. i could get on the list. so it seems appropriate to mention, i want to personally thank you for it. leandra, you know, when we honor members of the senate, we really don't spend much time taking the time to honor their spouses. no man or woman with a spouse or significant other has a right to run for office in the united states senate without it being a joint agreement. because there is no way, no matter what we say, no matter what we do, that you can avoid being caught in the crossfire,
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that you can avoid being called upon, that you can avoid becoming the subject of scrutiny, yourself. and you have been an enormous, enormous asset, not only as a partner, but in your own right. your work on literacy and women's health has been real. it has been substantial. it affected the women of your state, it affected the women in this country. you are preserving national landmarks like the ford's theater. it matters. it matters. history matters. and your courageous fight and your battle against cancer has given so much -- how can i say? so much hope and courage to sony women, not only here but around the world. -- to so many women.
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you deserve our undying gratitude. [applause] it's been hard raising this boy, hasn't it? first time i met harry and went to campaign for them. i was 32 years old, i think. the first thing i learned, great respect for him. he said i used to have to go out and shoot the mad dogs. i thought oh, my god, what am i doing here. and to the whole family, what a
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remarkable family. i really mean it. what a remarkable family. you know, where i come from in my family, like i suspect yours, if i heard my dad say it wants, i heard him say it a thousand times. -- if i heard my dad say it once you've got to be a man of your word. without your word, you are not a man. you got to be a man of your word. without your word, you are not a man. my word is a biden, -- as a biden was emblazoned in our hearts and our minds. and harry, i think the highest honor any woman or man who served in this body can receive his universal acknowledgment that you have been a man of your word. whatever you say, whatever you
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say, you do. in the tradition after the man for whom this room was name, teddy kennedy, or chris dodd, it was a common trait. today, not just in politics, but there is this notion that i gave you my word, i told you i would do it, but things have changed for me. oh, on the times of you heard that? -- how many times of your debt? things have changed. when i told you that my situation was. never. never the case with you. no matter how much has changed and how much keeping your word would hurt you politically, and that is one of the reasons i have such high respect for you. you know, i served with a lot of great majority leaders and minority leaders.
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phil byrd, mitchell, tom daschle, and, you know, i don't think any of them had or were handed a tougher job at a tougher time than you were. at the time, i could recite why i admired them all. but you took over 2 years before we got elected, as the earth was crashing. the greatest recession in the history of america, short of a depression. that is not hyperbole. that is just simple fact. a financial meltdown that affected the entire world. and you made a commitment to a president that when you thought he was right, you would support him.
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and you kept your word. forcing your colleagues through cajoling them, probably trying to intimidate occasionally, to cast some of the most unpopular votes anyone in the 36 years i served here would have to cast. passing the tarp, bailing out the very people who the world thought cause a crisis. that is like delivering a snake in the mail to every american. it was that popular. i don't really think that there was much of a more unpopular vote to cast, including busing and serious social issues that were controversial. you ended up passing the recovery act by just a couple of votes. a hard, hard, hard case to make to our colleagues.
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we are drowning and yet we are going to go out and spend almost a trillion dollars. to try to revive the economy. you went ahead and, at a time when there was anger, but also confusion, you shepherded through the passage of dodd frank, still extremely controversial, but in my view, stabilized the economy and wall street. and you were able to get new start past at a time when tensions between east and west were extremely delicate, as they are now. but the reason why i think your colleagues went with you, harry, is they knew you would always have their back. you are not going to ask them for the telephoto, you're going
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to do everything in your power to help them. -- for the tough vote. and you did, through your packed, through your contacts, through your personal engagement. -- through your pact ask anyone who has run on our side of the aisle. i'm sure it is similar for you, mitch, on your side. the very election, i can think of a half a dozen senators in the past eight years rested on harry's organizational intervention. he -- harry did not ask without giving. and you know, your background, i am not going to repeat because some of it we talked about already. but i don't think it is any surprise to people why i like you so much.
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i, you know, you grew up in searchlight and i grew up in scranton and claremont. you always knew the one person in your crowd who, when you were jumped by two or three guys, would jump in, even though he was going to get the hell beat out of them too. no, i'm serious. i am being deadly earnest. [laughter] that's you, harry. always, always there. except the difference between you and me, you know how to box. [laughter] you know how to box. and on a personal note, harry, the way you embraced me and my family, whether it was when i was hospitalized for seven months or personal losses occurred, the way you did what a lot of senators do, but you did it constantly. you know, another especially my
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dad had, you do me a favor, i appreciate it. do my son or daughter a favor, i never forget it. you embraced my beau, my son. you helped him get elected. you embraced my son, hunter, and you reached out to my daughter. not a lot of highfalutin rhetoric, just there. just there. you know, it kind of reminds me again of what i like most about this place. whether it was the last vote, teddy kennedy cast, everybody knew he was dying, everybody. democrat and republican. and he came to make sure he could break a tie. everybody, including his political opponents, stood and
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cheered. and cheered and cheered and cheered. and cried. i'll never forget the day that hubert humphrey walked on the floor, it was clear he did not have many days left. he was gaunt, his hair was gone. and he walked down to vote and your dad was there, man. and barry goldwater walked up to hold -- to him and embraced him. they hugged each other and they cried. now let him go. i think you were there, john. i remember the absolute deadly silence in the chamber. men who could not have been further apart, they love each other. one of the things that i have
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learned from my senior colleagues, if you are here long enough, and you listen, you learn the other woman or man's perspective. you learn that no one's perspective is the only perspective. each of us understands that our actions, if you are here long enough, how to represent decency and reflect on her. -- reflect honor. the american people, who we are privileged to serve, that is the only way we can satisfy them. my guess is harry that you believe what i believe. that this is the greatest profession, it is the honor of my life to serve the united states senate. i never had the high honor and privilege you had of leading the
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senate, both in majority and minority. but you have served at the behest of the people of your state, who trusted you consecutively to represent them. i cannot think of any greater honor and you have done it so well, harry. let me close with a quote from john adams. one of my favorite quotes about the senate. john adams said and i quote "the senate is the colossus of the constitution. no republic can ever be for any duration without a senate. and the senate deeply and strongly rooted, strong enough to bear up against all popular storms and passions,
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that is the place i am proudest of. all of our ups and downs, men and women like you, harry, still fill that role. there is another quote, harry, goes like this. "an institution like the senate, an institution is little more than the lended shadow of a man or woman. the reason why it is the colossus still" because of men like you. i love you, pal. i know that embarrasses you. [applause]
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harry reid: scheduled to be in canada right now to meet with prime minister trudeau. but he is going to go late, real late. so joe, thank you so much. i said yesterday in a fairly long speech i gave regarding senator biden as i call him, his life is what movies should be made of and are made of. what a story. i have great affection for jill biden, for how he has treated me always.
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phone calls returned. his chief of staff steve is the best. so joe, thank you for being who you are to me and everyone else. [applause] i gave a long speech this morning, and so everybody, just relax, this is not going to be a long one. as most of you know, i don't talk long. i might talk too much, but not long. but as i look around the room, i have such warmth for so many different reasons. my wife, my children, grandchildren down at the front row. beautiful human beings inside and out.
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i look around this room and see my staff, former staff, they have made my career. i take the credit for it, but they have made my career. i look over here at the senators i serve with now and senators i have served with and i feel so bad about john glenn. he was such a hero. i can or member the first caucus i attended -- i can remember the first caucus i attended. john glenn said i'm going out on the aircraft carrier kennedy friday or saturday, anyone want
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to go with me? not a person raise their hand except. as i said this morning, i do not go to a lot of stuff. one super bowl, one world series, that was enough. [laughter] never been to a congressional white house ball. i went to one state dinner, that is because spent two years in argentina. i went to one congressional picnic, that is because of kaye. i wanted to show off and he did a good job because they're married now. but i went out on the aircraft carrier. once was enough for me. boy, that was rough. but i was there with john glenn. one more story about john glenn,
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he called me when i decided i was not going to run again. he said i am so dam mad at you that you're are not running. i said joe -- sorry, i said john, i hurt myself and will not be able to do that. he said i'm still mad. he was so good to me, but as i look over here, i am not going to go through the rollcall, but what memories. ben nelson. then, i have said this before, i will state again, bennett nelson gave up his career for something he believed in. i call him once in a while just to remind him, because if there were ever anything that brings a tear to my eye, it is ben nelson, the sacrifice he made for the country. and he was right, it was the end of his career. so the nation owes you a lot, the people of nebraska ou a lot. [applause]
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-- the people of nebraska owe you a lot. and you have heard about the bill, he is here that did it. there he is. bennett, stand up. [laughter] [applause] but i will tell you, we are the reason, you and i, and a few others, why earmarks should come back. [applause] because when we were together, barbara mikulski, when we were together, we did what the constitution said we should do. we had congressionally directed spending. there were earmarks. why should we as members of congress give that authority to the white house?
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that is what is happened. and it has brought the congress to a standstill. bring back the earmarks. [applause] and one of the great year markers of all time is right on there. --ear markers with the red tie. so bennett, thank you very much were a friend, i have so many fond memories of you. we did a lot of stuff together. we were together, we got things done. paul, the sage of the senate. i am not going -- i mean, i would love to talk about each one of you, because there are so many memories i have of everyone. i served with 281 senators. joe, you served with more than
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that, but i served with 281. and i say this without any reservation, there is not a single senator that i don't like. it was hard to get here. you had to admire them just for that alone. and i said this morning, and i will say again, mitch mcconnell and i are lawyers. i was a trial lawyer, i went to court a lot. there were 100 jury trials. and you know, i would be so upset if my lawyer opponent, how could he talk this way? he's wrong, he's wrong on the facts, he's wrong on the law. and when the kiss was over, that day of court was over, we walked out -- when it was over. we were friends. i know you'll like the story, but mitch mcconnell and i are friends did we were together. we were doing our best to annunciate our cause and i don't
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like what he does a lot of times. he don't like what i do most of the time. but that's ok. we understand what our jobs are. now, nancy, thank you so much. i know that someone mentioned that i killed privatization of social security, but we did it together. [laughter] i found her to be so thoughtful, so kind, and so considerate. we love her and love paul. when leandra took over the spouses operation, they had -- what is it called? what's it called? fashion show. [laughter] and she, of course, i do so see myself, she looks pretty good
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most of the time. -- i do so say myself. the only times she does not is my catch her in her pajamas sometimes. -- is when i catch her in her pajamas sometimes. but anyway, [laughter] anyway. paul pelosi is handsome. would you be part of a fashion show? of course, he walked down with everyone else. he got the biggest applause of anybody. so, nancy and paul are good sports, they are good people. and i'm going to miss you so very much, nancy. hillary clinton, there is no way that i, in the brief time i have here today, can adequately patriot to hillary clinton as a person, a leader, a role model -- adequately pay tribute to. and a friend, a loyal person.
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one of the finest public service in -- public servants in the history of our country. a skilled statesman. or should i say a skilled statesman woman. whatever. and of course, a dignified legislator, a good legislator, and a wonderful deputy. so thank you so much, hilary, for being here. [applause] but i do have to say i mentioned her loyalty. my son, rory, basically took a year and a half off work to work in her campaign years ago. she has never forgotten him. when she comes to town, or bill comes to town, he is part of the
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entourage that goes to dinner that night. so thank you for being who you are. i mentioned my staff and the one person i did not mention and i should, because he devoted such loyal service to me and was so good to me and to leandra and my staff. a lot of my staff here today were hired by david. so thank you so much for all that you've done. [applause] now, did rahm emanuel show up? where is he? mayor? has your finger ever gone back? rahm emanuel, that's a little private joke.
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he was cutting meat and whacked off his finger. and i guess i should not joke about that, but. he has done ok with missing part of a finger. [laughter] rahm, i know you have some real obligations as mayor of that huge, very viewed full city, but i want everyone here to know, that he was president obama's first chief of staff. and he took no prisoners. we worked so hard, that was during the first obama congress. you are a that, joe. and we -- you remember that, joe. and we worked hard together, and i was always a nice guy. he was not. oh, he could be so uptight. and as far as language, we all know his language. he tried to convert me to a lot of those words, but i did not
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fall for it. [laughter] rahm, but thank you very much. because that congress that we worked with with the present, the vice president, or congress, was the most productive in the history of the country. more so than the first roosevelt administration. and i will never forget, we did a lame duck. that was a lame duck we will remember because lindsey graham was so impressed with what we did that he said numerous times harry reid our lunch. and of course, you are behind a lot of that. so thank you for being here. that means so very, very much to me. chuck schumer. he is my friend, he is going to be my successor. he is going to talk to us in a little bit. and i appreciate the friendship that he has shown me, the sacrifices that he has made for
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the country, for democrats, and for taking positions that he did not want to take. he led the democratic committee twice. chuck, so thank you very much. i'm not going to tell anybody how smart you are, because we already know that. ok, i will tell them. [laughter] everybody here, those of you who have taken the lsat, oh you hate to hear that? yeah, i will bet. [laughter] perfect score. s.a.t., perfect score. and he has a perfect score with me. durbin, what a great guy. we came together, came to the senate together. he, schumer, and murray, my
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leadership team, we've done it here together. i so admire dick durbin for the person he is, the sensitive man. there are very few people who legislate as much with their heart as he does. he legislates with his heart. he has a heart as big as his chest. thank you very much for being the friend that you have been to me. [applause] patty murray has been indispensable to me during my time as leader. her counsel has always been private. it has always been sage. and it has been direct. not a lot of words, i appreciate it very much and i am very happy to know that senator schumer is going to have her as part of his leadership team, and that is something that he will never forget. i talked this morning about majority leaders. well, one of them is here and as
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responsible as anyone for allowing me to be a leader. tom daschle. tom, thank you for being here. [applause] shortly after i was elected assistant leader of the whip, i went to him to complain about something. i thought he went after the other senators too much. he said stop that. the whip's job, you're going to make that what you wanted to be. and i did, didn't i? so thank you a lot tom. thank you for trusting me. you gave me the privileges of the floor. i was there when the senate opened and when it left. thank you so much. john boehner was going to come. did john show up? well, good. the speech is getting too long
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anyway. [laughter] you know, i can't thank everyone who is here today, but please know how much you have meant to me. i wish i could talk to each of you. but i can't. i talked this morning about my family. i love my voice and my girl and my 19 grandchildren. as i indicated this morning, we learn from them when we were children raising them. we called them the big kids in the little kids and then we waited 6, 7 years, and we've learned with them, just like we did with the big kids. so i told everyone this morning, that my desire in life has been
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and always will be to make sure that i let you know how much i care about you, how much affection i have for you. how proud i am of you. and what a wonderful parent you are to my grandchildren. leandra and i have had a love affair for more than 60 years. she was a sophomore in high school, i was a junior. and we have been inseparable. we've done it together. i mean, i would have dropped out of law school so quickly to go back to my friends in nevada, but not with her. it was hard, but she knew what we wanted to accomplish together in life. she helped me always. always has been my rock. and
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above all, i love her. so, this room is filled with leaders, leaders of the senate, leaders in the house, vice president, former secretary of state, the majority leader of the senate, we all know what leadership entails. it is not easy and not glamorous a lot of the time. leaders understand the highs and the lows. as i said this morning, it is joy and wow, what are we going to do now? as much as i love my job as leader of the senate, there have been times when i have been terrified, frustrated, but you know, the care and the frustration passes quickly and chuck, that is what you have to realize. we have had a lot of issues and were not going to go through them, but we have made it through them.
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so, i feel gratified that someone with my background could be a leader for our country. so now, i am going to introduce the person that has painted my picture. this young man worked for me. i first saw him when he was a little boy, his dad, who is here, worked for senator stennis in the appropriations committee. and gavin can still remember, he was there drawing pictures and i went up to him and said what are you drawing? and talk to him a little bit. well, he worked for me. he was 22 years old, had been with me a year and a half or two years, and he got sick, really sick. he had a tumor in his chest at the size of a tennis ball. and we were not sure he was going to make it. his parents were not sure and he certainly was not sure.
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we were wheeling this young man into the operating room, where this stunningly terrorizing event in his life, he says to himself nobody is there to listen, if i make it out of this, i am not going to work in some office. what i am going to do is draw pictures and paint, that is all i have done all my life and i'm going to try to do that. and his good parent, when he got out of the hospital and was well, he moved in with them. and spent years in their home, perfecting his craft. gavin galactic's is a great painter. -- gavin galakus he has paintings all over america, he is a portrait painter, a landscape painter, and above all, he is my friend. gavin? [applause]
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gavin: thank you so much. senator and misses reid, thank you so much for choosing me to paint her portrait. this means such a great deal to me on both a personal and professional level and i will always be proud of this. senator be told the story, i did not know if you remember. -- senator reid told this story. i worked -- i went with them to work and i was sitting in a remake this, it seemed that there were hundreds of people in there and i was wrong in my sketchbook. when it finished up, the hearing finished up, and everyone filed out, a nice dominate suit came over and he took a knee and he said hey, son, what do you have there? did you do those drawings? how about that. he made a big deal out of my drawings and when he walked off, my dad came up to me and said do you know who that was? that was senator reid. so fast forward 10 or 12 years,
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i was going out of college, and i decided not to pursue artful time. people told me how difficult it is. so the plan was to go to law school and paint on the weekends and i got a job working for senator reid on his staff. and it was a great experience. i should say that i was the lowliest of lowly lcs, but one of the highlights of my time on the hill is that i use to meet with senator reid wants a week for five minutes to go over something. and we developed a really nice relationship. i was the lowest man on the totem pole. and he was always really sweet to me. and we always got along. and i would go over to his whip office, he had just become the whip. i would go over to the capital, and as i was going over, i was in all of the great paintings in the hallways. i have always loved portraits, history, psychology, and politics. i've always thought it was a great challenge to give yourself as an artist. but those paintings were a constant reminder that i simply did not have the courage to pursue the only goal that i had ever had. so after about one year and a half i made my decision and i
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drove over to my parents house and sat them down. in a very curious thing happened. as senator reid told you, i got very secured i asked the doctors and they told me that that could have happened to me at any time. it happened exactly when i made that decision. and i spent about six months in and out of the hospital. and they eventually took the tumor out of my long and i have been fine ever since. but at the risk of sounding melodramatic, there were moments when i was not sure if i would make it. and that is when i realized, life is short. i only have one goal, the goal i have had my whole life. i have to throw everything i have at it. and that was 15 or 16 years ago. and i consider that, by far, the most fortunate thing that has ever happened in my life. so now but the fact of the matter is, there are portrait orders out there that are older and further along than i am that but have painted every president in europe and we won this race race into senator reid could easily have chosen one of them and as
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far as i can tell the reason he didn't is that underneath it all, underneath the great statesman and the brilliant strategist and a hard kid that fought his way through college and fought his entire life for people that are not strong enough to fight for themselves, underneath all of that, the bedrock of all of that is a sweet, sweet person who when given the opportunity to walk by and help someone up has spent his entire life helping people up. senator, i can't tell you how much i've enjoyed working with you on this. if you want to spend sundays next summer watching baseball while i paint, i'm in. i will be proud of this the rest of my life. thank you so much. [applause]
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>> well, good afternoon everybody. it's been an amazing afternoon. you will be a hard act to follow this afternoon and harder even to follow as a leader. i want to thank the vice president and secretary clinton and the majority leader mcconnell, leader pelosi, all of the great family, so wonderful and beautiful. i see how excited you are. as he said, you are his rock. my great colleagues past and present, it's amazing. harry, how embarrassed are you that we all showed up? i know of nothing you would rather do less than sit and hear
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us all go on about you but i also know you are a good sport. i have seen it over and over again. one of my favorite memories is on a congressional trip. he kept begging me to go and it was to china. there was a group of ten of us and it is very ecumenical. we spent easter sunday at an evangelical church. it was sort of being oppressed by the chinese government, but it was also passover and there were a few jewish members. and we had a seder. he was there with the spirit of looking out for someone else and his generosity. on the trip were frank and bonnie lautenberg. they spent the whole time -- passover before you eat -- they prolonged it by arguing with each other about how to conduct it.
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frank, you don't do it that way. shut up, bonnie. it's this way. [laughter] and it went on and on and on. harry was seated next to iris and me and he was squirming. i know him well, steam coming out of his ears. he wanted to get on with it. it was getting late. but inpatient as he was, they always win and so it did. but god bless his heart, he sat there a whole hour, another hour very polite and never said a word. that's who he is. he's been a good sport and it takes what comes. doesn't complain, doesn't fly -- doesn't wine, -- doesn't whin e, just does the best to does the best with whatever situation he is in. so i will try to add a few words to what has already been said.
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he is not only somebody who can be quiet and take it as it is, he can also be passionate. i'm going to let some of you who know the story that i but i will let you in on a secret. there is another woman he gave a big fat sloppy kiss to in this room. harry and i were sitting there election night of 2006. it was all hanging in the balance whether we would get the majority. when the tv came on and claire mccaskill came out as the winner, harry in front of everyone marched up to the tv and started kissing claire over and over again. [laughter] i had to go up and fight off the -- wipe off the tv. [laughter] i got to know him when he came to the senate in 1999.
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here was this man, soft-spoken mormon from searchlight nevada a town miles from nowhere and here i was a kid out of brooklyn. a match made in heaven. i quickly learned soft-spoken didn't mean he would keep his opinions to himself or sand down the rough edges. we all heard him on the floor. he has never been cagey with the reporters. he would look at my shoes every so often and pulled me aside in the corner and slipped $20 dnc -- slip me $20 and say, get a shoeshine already. he was blunt even about his bluntness and remarked about the political flareup. could i have couched my words more carefully? maybe. but i said it, and i meant it, and i'm not apologizing for it.
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it's just the truth. [applause] that is vintage harry. if you heard about his childhood as we all did today in his final speech, you begin to understand why he is so plainspoken. he is a product of his environment like we all are, but it's not exactly the way that you would expect. hardscrabble childhoods like his, especially when they produced this person of such prominence tend to instill that mythology of rugged individualism picking yourself , up by your bootstraps going at it alone, and harry learned that lesson. but he had such a big heart he also learned a much different lesson. and that is, in tough circumstances we need each other , more. he wrote about how he and his brother would stick together to stand up to their father if he
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was being rough on their mother. and as a young lawyer he would take cases no one else wanted defending folks he knew were guilty but he also knew they were treated unfairly by the system. ultimately, the lesson he carried with him throughout his life is that no one goes it alone and was part of his responsibility to stick up for those caught in the tentacles of circumstance as lbj put it. it was that same instincts that led him to take a hard charging freshman from new york under his wing. i'm telling you there is no one better to have in your corner than harry reid. much has been made of his career -- his boxing career, and it's
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true he is tenacious and , relentless, but what these descriptions often miss is that the important thing is not that you fight. it is what and who you fight for. he thought for people and to protect seniors had the privatization. he fought to get the aca over the finish line providing healthcare to 22 million americans who never had health care before. he fought for the environment and was one of the most illustrious records when it comes to clean energy, land conservation and preserving historical landmarks he had a passion for. i remember when he visited hyde park for the first time and he talked to me about it for a half hour on and on. and that was it until one day , about seven or eight months later, i got a call from the
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head of the hyde park monument. she said thanks for the $15 million earmark you put in the appropriations bill. i didn't even know it was there. it was harry reid. he fought for the things he cared about and though he doesn't always prevail, he always kept fighting. and in the true tradition i have the exact same's -- exact same lines that hillary read, but i will read them again because they are so apropos. in the clearing stands a fighter by his trade, and he carries the reminder of every glove that laid him down but the fighter still remains. he is the third longest-serving senate leader and as we all
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know, the higher you go, the more fiercely the winds blow. you can easily lose your way and get blown off course and beat -- beaten down. what keeps people going is there internal gyroscope, their sense of right and wrong. no one has a better internal gyroscope than harry reid. while he carried the scars of the battle and hard-won victories and setbacks, he was -- she was always guided through those fights by his internal gyroscope. and that's why having talked to him i know he has very few regrets. watching him, working by his side, it taught me how to be a senator and a leader. he told me that our senate caucus is a family. he taught me how we all look out
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for each other's back. he taught me to stay true to myself and despite the obvious differences, we are both from these remarkably defining places, he goes by the same credo that i do. i'm from brooklyn. sometimes it helps me and sometimes it hurts me but i would be less of an individual if i tried not to be from brooklyn. the same exact thing could be said about harry and searchlight nevada. in fact, writing about his hometown, harry says that "much attention is paid in public life to the important collection of attributes that we call character." somewhat less attention is devoted to the consideration of where the character is born. character and values come from places you wouldn't necessarily think to look because some of the men and women of the greatest character that i will
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ever meet in my life came from this place of hard rocks. he was talking about his friends and family and the people he knew growing up, but i don't think truer words could ever be spoken about the man himself. in my life, he's one of the men of greatest character that i've ever met. powerful but with uncommon humility, honest and loyal, unsparingly funny, a fighter with a great big heart. a titan of the senate. one of the most unique men that any of us will ever meet, truly one-of-a-kind and i've been lucky to call him my colleague my mentor, my friend.
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harry, i would not be the senator or the man i am today without you. i can only say thank you from the bottom of my heart and i will miss you. so folks, it will be quite some time until we see another like harry reid. until then, this portrait will have to do. thank you. [applause] and folks, please remain in your seat after the portrait is unveiled until vice president biden and secretary clinton depart the room following their
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photos with senator reid with his portrait. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [applause]
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