tv Lawmakers Pay Tribute to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid CSPAN December 8, 2016 8:06pm-10:22pm EST
[applause] >> i must say this is a bit of an out of body experience for me. [laughter] it's not everyday the vice president and secretary clinton come to visit us at the capital but it's not every day that democratic leader gets to show us how he looks on campus. i know our guests wouldn't miss it. i know lander and the rest of the reid family won't 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 land or a and harry's first date. he promised her a movie. she wound up push starting his car. [laughter] but the mic most teenagers she didn't storm off or complain. she reassured kerry instead with a warm smile. harry said that smile changed him. he said that stuck with him through the decades and so has landra. they have been by each other side through the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, the political spheres, health scares , they have seen it all. we still haven't 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 this? is it harry high-fiving bryce harper? we will find out soon enough as soon as the vice president finishes his remarks. [laughter] actually you may be here for her while. in any case let me welcome everyone. congratulations harry. now on with the show. [applause] >> good afternoon everyone. thank you leader mcconnell for your hospitality and your kind words to the special guest.
such honored guest is a potent testimony to your towering leadership of harry reid. vice president jojo biden, president of the senate and most beloved vice president in our history and i mean that sincerely. [applause] secretary and senator hillary clinton. [applause] thank you for your immeasurable contributions and leadership to our country. senator chuck schumer and outstanding leader in his own right who build on senator harry reid's legacy. [applause]
when i first learned of the ceremony i thought there would only be one musical accompaniment worthy of harry reid's life. copland fanfare with the common man. of course harry reid unique in washington for another reason, harry reid doesn't like listening to other people complement him or saying praise. many of us have found that harry has left us alone on a phonecall because he has figured out the business of the call is over and we just want to say nice things about him. when i learned, when his shall be say departure was imminent i said sub three we have to have a beautiful tenor in your honor inviting all of your friends from all over the country. he said forget that i'd rather spend the money feeding the poor
and giving it to the university and that is how he is. [applause] is really a miracle that we have persuaded him to sit through all of us saying how wonderful he is. harry in case you are tempted to walk out from all of this praise we have asked the sergeant at arms to bar the door. it has been my privilege to work side-by-side with desaulnier for more than a decade -- with harry reid for more than a decade. to observe harry is to observe a master at work. his commitment to his values and his respect also for his colleagues. harry had many occasion to evaluate the leadership and the courage of our colleague as we ventured one fray or another. all of my years working with harry as leader he always spoke of the most willing respectful
and understanding we 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 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 come anyone who has worked side-by-side with harry reid would say that he has been unparalleled. his leadership on the floor, his mastery of the senate rules, his command and the respect that he has on both sides of the aisle on both sides of the capitol and we know up and down pennsylvania avenue. today we will unveil a portrait of one of the greatest leaders the senate has ever known.
indeed it's hard to imagine with all due respect that we will ever see his likes again. to his family, he talked about you all the time. landra and the children and the grandchildren. he was here because if this biography, the capitol police officer to set the majority leader. he was here because of his values. he was here because of his family and his strength that they gave him. to his family think everyone in this room can say we heard about you and we know the love that he has had for you and we hope you will always know how respected your grandfather, your father and landra the joy of his life your husband thank you for
sharing harry reid with our country. we are all in your debt. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. thank you all. [applause] thank you. thank you very much. this is not exactly a speech at the capitol that i hope it's didn't be giving 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 the celebration
as we celebrate a great leader and a great senator ngsa great american, i just want to posit for a moment and mark the passing of one of our great americans as well. senator john glenn, a friend to many of us and a genuine american hero passed away today. i know the tribute will be flowing. i'm sure the congressional record will be filled with pages of appreciation and recognition of this extraordinary american's 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 writing this caucus room. and it's fitting that we would gather in a place that represents the values of this extraordinary deliberative body. i want to thank landra and the entire reid family for sharing harry with us all these years and i'm delighted to be here with vice president biden, leaders mcconnell and pelosi and my former partner from new york, chuck schumer as well as so many other friends and former colleagues. today we are hanging harry's portrait here in the capital but the more fitting portrait of him will be the one that goes in the dictionary next to the word fighter. throughout his career harry fought the good fight. on behalf of the working family of nevada and all americans.
harry welcome to 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 of harry is going with you to 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 the worries about so-called cancer clusters in on that trip and on many occasions i saw first-hand harry's deep conviction to the country he loved and served so well. no matter how high he rose here in washington he never lost touch with the people and values he grew up with back in searchlight. in a little house where he was
born there was an embroidered pillow case with that quote from franklin roosevelt that embodied his life and career. we can, we must, we will. i have walked to the neighborhoods stood in union halls metalworkers and 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 law and in election after election. i have benefited from it and so have many democrats. harry's commitment to our country runs just as deep. throughout his career he fought tirelessly to protect america's public land and natural beauty, from protecting the great basin national park to restoring lake tahoe to leading the way on
clean energy. kerry perry's legacy is embodied in landmark legislation that made life better for american families like the affordable care act which wouldn't have passed without his leadership and now provides health coverage to more than 22 million people. millions of young people can stay on their parents health plan because harry reid file for it and that's not all. millions of seniors rely on social security today because harry red -- led the fight to stop it from being privatized. he fought to pass comprehensive immigration reform and got it through the senate. if it had been signed into law millions of families would not be living in fear of being torn apart and our economy would benefit 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's not easy or popular. harry has fought for the simple but powerful idea that yes, we are all created equal. he understood that all of our leaders and all of our citizens alike have responsibility to defend the rights of every single american. after the constitutional convention is well-known benjamin franklin was asked what form of government the new nation would have. a republic he replied and you can't keep it. that is still our charge and it's as urgent as it's ever been we must stand up for our democracy just as harry has done his entire career. let me just mention briefly one in particular that should concern all americans democrats,
republicans and independents alike especially those who serve in our congress. the epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that has flooded social media over the past year. it's now clear that so-called fake news can have real world consequences. this isn't about politics or partisanship. lives are at risk. lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days and it's their job to contribute to their community. the 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 and silicon valley starting to grapple with the challenge and threats of fake news. it's imperative that leaders to 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 we are all counting on those of you to remain. counting on you to defend this institution that all three of us love so much and the democratic values that embodies. counting on you to carry forward harry reid's legacy to stand with working families and fighting the good fight for a better stronger and 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 his trade.
he carried the reminders of every glove but even more he carried the reminder of every fight he waged for us and we will never, ever forget. i wish you and your family all the happiness in the world. you have earned it. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> my name is joe biden and i work for harry reid. harry act got to admit and members have got to admit the years have come every time i
hear a dial tone. he doesn't do that to you girls, does he? he stays in line longer, right? please, talk to me more. he tells you that, right? what a beautiful family. what an incredible family you have raised and i also want to point out nancy that gracefulness is more abundant in san francisco than it is in brooklyn. when you said that nice thing about me in the senate schumer said you know it could have been aaron burr, you know what i mean? i don't get it, you know what i mean? one big play on broadway and everything changes. [laughter] oh man.
[laughter] mitch i know your reputation is now in tatters and you said nice things about me and being up here today but on a serious note remind me what this room reminds me of, great traditions in this body, great traditions in the united states senate. the way in which we all democrat and republican would use this place is ultimately a healing and some of the biggest in the 44 years i've been here and some of the most monumental places and to me right here in this room. controversial supreme court hearings, the whole watergate
era. every single time, every single time the nation seems divided their there are few democrats and a few republicans who crossed over and grace one another weather was howard baker and bill cohen in the house during watergate. i could go down the list. so it seems appropriate mitch. i want to personally thank you for it. landra you know when we honor members of the senate we really don't spend much time taking the time to honor your spouses. no man or woman spouse or
significant other has the right to run for a sunni united states senate without it being a joint agreement. there is no way no matter what we say and no matter what we do that you can avoid being caught in the crossfire, that you can avoid being called upon, that you can avoid becoming the subject of scrutiny yourself. 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. spend substantial and it has affected the women in your state and affected the women in this country. you are preserving national landmarks. it matters. history matters and your courageous fight in your battle
against cancer has given so much , how can i say, so much hope and courage to so many women not only here but around the world. you deserve our undying gratitude. [applause] [applause] and it's been hard raising this boy, hazmat? the first time i met harry went out to campaign for him and i was 32 years old i think.
the first thing i learned, he said i used to have a go out and shoot the mad dogs and i thought holy god, what am i doing here? as they say you have done good, girl. and the whole family. what a 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 once i've heard him say the thousand times and he set said it to my sister as well. you have got to be a man of your word. without your word you were not a man. you have got to be a man of your word and without your man -- without your word you are not a man. that phrase was emblazoned in our hearts and our minds. and harry i think the highest
honor and a woman or man who has served in this body can receive is universal acknowledged meant that you have been a man of your word. whatever you say, whatever you say, you do. in the tradition of the room and for whom this name -- whom this room is named, it was a common trait. today not just in politics but this notion that i gave you my word. i told you i would do it if things have changed for me. how many times have you guys heard that? things that change. when i told you that, my situation was. never the case with you. no matter how much has changed
and how much keeping your word would hurt you politically, and that's 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. mansfield, byrd, mitchell, tom daschle and you know i don't think any of them had a tougher job at a tougher time than you. i can recite why i admired them all. but you took over two years before we got elected as the earth was crashing. the greatest recession in the history of america short of the depression. that's not hyperbole. that's just a fact grade a
financial meltdown that affected the entire world. and you made a commitment to a president who when you thought he was right you would support him and he 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 years that i have served here would have to cast. passing tarp, bailing out the very people in the world caused the crisis. that's like delivering a snake in the mail to every american. i really don't think there was more an unpopular vote to cast including all those serious
social issues that were also controversial. you ended up passing the recovery act by just a couple of votes. a hard, hard case to make to our colleagues. we are drowning yet we are going to go out and spend almost a trillion dollars to try to revive the economy. you went ahead and added time when there was anger but also confusion you shepherded through the passage of dodd-frank still with controversy and stabilize the economy and wall street. and you were even able to get new start passed at a time when tensions between the east and the 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 were going to do everything in your power to help them and you did through your pack, three or contacts, through your personal engagement. ask anybody who has run on our side of the aisle and i am sure on your side. the election and i can think of the think of a half-dozen senators in the last eight years rested on harry's organizational intervention. he is a new harry. he would ask without -- and you know your background, i'm not
going to repeat because some of it has been talked about already but i don't think it's any surprise to people why i like you so much. you grew up in searchlight and i grew up in scranton and claymont you always knew the one person in your crowd who when you were jumped by two or three guys even though he was going to get the hell beat out of him too. i am serious. that's you, harry always always there except the difference between you and me, you knew how to box. [laughter] you knew how to box. on a personal note harry the way you embraced me and my family
whether it when i was hospitalized for seven months or whether personal losses occurred , the way you did what a lot of senators do but you did it constantly. another expression my dad had, you'd do me a favor and i appreciate it but you do my son or daughter a favor and i've never, ever forget it. you embraced my son. you helped him get elected. you embraced my son hunter and he reached out to my daughter. not a lot of highfalutin rhetoric, just their, just bare. it kind of reminds me what i like most about this place, whether it was the last vote, that teddy kennedy cast.
everybody knew he was dying. everybody, democrat and republican came to make sure he could break the tie, everybody including his political opponents stood and cheered and cheered and cheered and cheered and cried. i will never forget the day hubert humphrey walked on the floor. it was clear he didn't have many days left. his hair was gone and they walked down the well to vote and your dad was there, man in barry goldwater walked up to him and embraced him. you hug each other and they cried. not letting go. i think you were there, john. i remember the absolute silence
in the chamber. two men who could not have been further apart. they loved each other. one of the things i learned from some of my senior colleagues if you were 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 our actions if you are here long enough and you have to represent decency and reflect on her. and the capacity of the american people who we are privileged to serve its the only way we could
satisfy them. my guess is harry you believe and i believe that this is the greatest profession. it's the honor of my life to serve as united states senator. i never have a high honor and group which you have had to lead in the senate both the majority and minority. but you have served at the behest of people of your state who trusted you consecutively to represent them. i can't think of any greater honor and you have done it so well, harry. the may close with the quote from john adams. one of my favorite quotes by the senate. john adams said and i quote the senate is the colossus of the constitution. no republic he said can ever be for any duration without a
senate and a senate deeply and strongly rooted, strong enough bear up against all popular storms and passions, that's the place i am the proudest of. because of men and women like you, harry still fill that role. there is another quote substrata goes like this. an institution like the senate, an institution is little more than the lenten shadow of a man or a woman. the reason why is a colossus, still. it's because of men like you, harry. i love you, pal. i know that in bear suits you, but i do.
life is what movies should be made of and are made of. what a story. i have great affection for joe biden for how he is treated me always phonecalls returned. his chief of staff is the best. so, joe thank you for being who you are to me and to everybody else. [applause] i gave a long speech this morning so everybody just relax, this is a going to be long. [laughter] as most of you know i don't talk long. i talk too much but not long. as i look around the room, i
have such warmth for so many different reasons. my wife, my children, my grandchildren down in the front row. beautiful human beings inside and out. 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 senators i served with now and senators i have served with. i feel so bad about john glenn. he was such a hero. i can remember the first conference i attended.
john glenn said i am going out on the aircraft carrier kennedy friday or saturday, anybody want to go with me? not a single person raised their hand except for me. like i said this morning i don't go to a lot of stuff, when super bowl, one world series, that was enough. never been to a good rational white house ball. i went to one state dinner and spent two years in argentina. i went to one congressional picnic and that's because of key he wanted to show off and they are married now with four beautiful children.
but i went out on the aircraft carrier. once was enough for me. [laughter] that was rough. i was there with john glenn and one more story about john glenn. he called me when i was not going to run again. he said i am so mad it you that you are not running and i said john i hurt myself but i'm not going to be able to do that. he said, i'm still mad. he was so good to me but as i look over here i'm not going to go through the roll call but gee whiz what memories. ben nelson. i have said this before and i'll say it again. ben nelson gave up his career, his career for something he believed in. i called him once in a while just to remind him that if there is anything that brings a tier two my it's been nelson and the
sacrifice he made for the country. and he was right, it was the end of his career so then, the nation owes you a lot. people in nebraska ouo lot. [applause] and you heard about the nevada bill. stand up. [applause] i will tell you we are the reason you and i and a few others why earmarks should come back. [laughter] [applause] because when we worked together barbara mikulski, when we worked
together we did with the constitution said we should do. we had congressionally directed spending. there were earmarks. why should we as members of congress give authority to the white house? that is what has happened and it brought congress to a standstill. bring back earmarks. [applause] [applause] and one of the great year markers of all time is right down there with their red tie. [applause] ..
the and i say this without any reservation there isn't a single senator i didn't like. it was hard to get here. you have to admire them for that alone. i will say it again, i was a trial lawyer and went to over 100 jury trials. i would be so upset with my opponent, how could he talk this way? he's wrong on defense and on the law.
we walked out, we are friends. i know you don't like this story but we worked together and we are at our best to enunciate our cause. i don't like what he does a lot of times and he doesn't like what i do most of the time. [laughter] that's okay. we understand what our jobs are. now, nancy, thank you so much. i know someone mentioned that i killed the 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 landrieu took over the spouses operation, they had a --
what is it called [inaudible] fashion show. [laughter] she of course if i do so so stay myself [inaudible] i catch her in her pajamas sometimes. [laughter] but anyway, -- [laughter] anyway. paul pelosi, this hand some man, would you be part of our fashion show. of course, he walked down with everybody else and got the biggest applause of anybody. [laughter] so nancy and paul are good friends and i'm going to miss you so very much. hillary clinton, there is no way
that guy in the brief time i have today can pay tribute to hillary clinton as a person, leader, role model, and friend. a loyal person. one of the finest public servants in the history of our great country. she is a skilled statesman, or should i say how do you put a statesman woman. [laughter] and of course a dignified legislator and wonderful diplomat. so thank you, hillary. [applause] but i do have to say i mentioned
her loyalty. my son basically took that year and a half off work to work on the campaign eight years ago. she's never forgotten it. when she comes to town, he's part of the entourage that goes to dinner so thank you for being who you are. i mentioned my staff and one person i didn't mention that i should because he devoted such a loyal service to me and was so good to me and landon and the staff, a lot of my staff is here today hired by david, said david thank you very much. [applause] now, did rahm emanuel show up? very c.?
-- where is he? did your finger ever grow back? [laughter] rahm emanuel, in case no one knows them it was a private jo joke. i guess i shouldn't joke about that. [laughter] he's done okay with missing part of the finger. [laughter] i know you have some real obligations as mayor to this beautiful city. i want everyone to know he was president obama . first chief of staff and he took no prisoners. we worked so hard. that was during the first obama conference. you remember that. we worked hard together, and i
was always a nice guy. he wasn't. [laughter] as part of the language, we all know his language. he tried to convert me to a lot of those words, i didn't fall for it. thank you very much. because that congress that we worked with with the vice president, 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 we will never remember. lindsey graham was so impressed with what we di he did but he sd numerous times here you read data -- harry reid ate our lunch. thank you so much for being here with me. chuck schumer, he's my friend,
he's going to be my successor and i appreciate the friendship use show me. for taking the positions he didn't want to take he had the democratic campaign committee twice while thank you very much. i'm not going to tell everybody how smart you are because we already know that. okay, i will tell them. [laughter] everybody here knows that you are taking the lsap. we hate to hear that. i bet. [laughter] perfect score, sat, perfect
score. what a great guy. we came together, came to the senate together and he was on my leadership team. i so admire dick durbin for the person he is, the sensitive man. he legislates as much 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. the council has always been private. it's been sage and correct, not
a lot of words. and i'm very happy to know that senator schumer is going to have them as part of his leadership team and something that he will never regret. i talked this morning about the majority leader's. while one of them is here, and as responsible as anyone for allowing me to be. tom daschle, thanks for being here. [applause] shortly after i was elected, i went to him to complain about something. i thought he had given one of the senators too much and he said stop that. you are going to make it what you want is to be. [laughter] thanks for trusting me.
you gave me the privilege 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 he show up? okay. my speech is getting too long anyway. [laughter] i can't thank everyone who is here today but please, know how much you've been 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 boys and my girl and my 19 grandchildren and i've indicated this morning we learned from them they were
first raising children raising them into the coffin the big kids and little kid kids then ke made it six or seven years and have more and have fun with them just like we did the big kids. i told everyone this morning that my desire in life has been 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. she was a sophomore in high school when i was a junior. we have been inseparable. it was hard but she knew what he
wanted to accomplish together in life. she helped me always. always has been my rock, and above all, i love her, and my friend. so, this room is filled with leaders of the senate and house, vice president, secretary of state, majority leader of the senate, you all know what the leadership entails. the leaders understand the highs and the lows.
we had a lot of issues that bute made it through them. i feel gratified that someone can be a leader for our country. so now, let me introduce the person that's painted my picture this young man worked for me. gavin can still remember he was there drawing pictures i went up to him and said what are you drawing and talked to him a little bit. he worked for me. he was 22-years-old and had been
with the year and a half and he got sick. he had a tumor on his chest the size of a tennis ball. we were not sure he was going to make it, his parents were not sure and he certainly wasn't. when they were feeling this young man into the operating room for this characterizing event in his life, he says to himself -- nobody's there to listen to -- he said if i make it out of this, i'm not going to work at some office. but i'm going to do is draw pictures and paint. that's what i've done all my life. i'm going to try to do that. and his good appearance, when he got out of the hospital and was well, he spent years in their home protecting his craft. gavin is a great painter.
many of you have seen in my office, he has paintings all over america. she's a portrait painter, landscape painter and above all, he's my friend. [applause] thank you so much for choosing me to paint your portrait. this means so much to me on a personal and professional level and i will always be proud of it. senator reid told a story i don't know if he remembered that when i was a kid my dad worked for the appropriations committee. one day i went with him to work and i was in the corner of the room like this and it seems there were hundreds of people. i'm drawing in my sketchbook and
when the hearing finished up and everybody filed off, a nice gentle man in a suit came over to me and said hello son, what do you have there? he made a really big job out of the drawing i was doing and when he walked off my dad said you know who that was come about with senator reid. fast forward ten or 12 years i was getting out of college and people told me how difficult it is that the plan was to go to law school and paint on the weekend and i actually got a job working for senator reid on his staff, and it was a great experience. i would say i was the lowliest of lowly but one of the highlights of my time on the hill is that i used to meet with senator reid once a week for five minutes to go over somethinsomething, and we devela nice relationship. i was the lowest man on the totem pole and he was always sweet to me and we got along really well. i would go over to his office come over to the capitol and as i was there i was in all of the great paintings in the hallways.
i've always loved portraits in history and psychology and politics. i thought it was a great challenge as an artist. those paintings were a constant reminder that i simply didn't have the courage to pursue the only goal that i ever had. after about a year and a half i made my decision, i went to my parents house and sat them down and a curious thing happened. as senator reid told you i got very sick. the doctors told me if that would have happened at any point in my life but it happened exactly when i made that decision. i spent about six months in and out of the hospital and they eventually took a tumor out of my lungs and i've been fine ever since. there were some moments i wasn't sure if i was going to make it, and that's when i realized life is short. i only have one goal and it's the goal i've had my whole life. i have to throw everything i have at it. that was 15 years ago. and i considered that by far the most fortunate thing that's ever
happened to me in my life. so now at this point i have seen some portraits a lot of you probably know and recognize. i was deleted in my career when senator reid asked me to paint a portrait and then he hung it up in the capital next to a portrait of mark twain. but the fact that the matter is, the portrait artists out there that are older and further along than i am tha but have painted y president in europe and we won this rac race into senator reid could easily have chosen one of them and as 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 watch in baseball while i paint, i didn't. i will be proud of this the rest of my life. thank you so much. [applause] 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. how embarrassed ar argue that we all showed up? i know of nothing you would rather do less than here us all go on about you but i also know you are a good sport. i'i've seen it over and over again. one of my favorite memories is on a congressional trip. he kept begging me to go and there was a group of ten of us and it is very ecumenical. we spent easter sunday at an evangelical church.
he was there with the spirit of looking out for someone else and his generosity. on the trip were frank and bonnie wattenberg. they spent the whole time -- passover before you eat -- they prolonged it by arguing with each other about how to conduct it. 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 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 in, just does the bes to does th whatever situation he is in. so i will try to add a few words to what has already been said. 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 but i willt you in on a seat for it. there's another woman hthere isa 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, they marched up to the tv and started kissing claire over and over again. [laughter] i had to go up and fight off the tv. [laughter] i got to know him when he came to the senate in 1999. here was this man, soft-spoken mormon from searchlight nevada a town miles from nowhere and here i was a kid out of brooklyn. 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 would look at my shoes every so often and pulled me aside in the corner and slipped $20 dnc get a shoeshine already. he was blunt even about his bluntness and remarked about the political flareup. but i said it and i amend it and i'm not apologizing for it. it's just the truth. [applause] 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. hard childhood 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 she learned lesson but he had such a big heart he also went a differenlearned adifferent lessn 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 was being rough on them 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 then harry reid. much has been made of his career and it's true he is tenacious and relentless but what these descriptions often miss is that the important thing is not that you fight that was and who you fight for. he thought for people and to protect seniors had the privatization. he thought to get 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 ohalfhour on at until one day about seven or eight months later i got a call from the head of the monument she said thanks for the 15 million-dolla15 million-dollar u put in the appropriations bill. i didn't even know it was there. he thought 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 same lines.
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 know, the higher you go, the more fiercely the winds blow. you can easily lose your way and get blown off course and beat him down. what keeps people going is there sense of right and wrong. no one has a better internal gyroscope then harry reid. while he carried the scars of the battle and hard-won victories and setbacks, he was
always guided and that's why having talked to him i know he has very few regrets. watching him working by his side taught me how to be a senator and a leader. he taught me that we are a family and how we all look out for each other is back. he taught me to stay true to myself and despite the obvious differences, from the remarkable places, he goes by the same credo that i do. 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. athe same thing could be said about harry and searchlight
nevada. much attention is paid to the important collection of attributes that we call character. he broke 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 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. and my life, he's one of the men of great character that i've ever met.
powerful but with uncommon humility, honest and loyal, unsparingly funny, a fighter with a great big heart. one of the unique name 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. 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. it will be quite some time until we see another like harry reid. until then, this portrait will have to do. thank you. [applause]