tv Lawmakers Pay Tribute to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid CSPAN December 8, 2016 4:00pm-5:31pm EST
live now to the russell senate office building on capitol hill for a portrait unveiling and tribute to senate minority leader harry reid, as he marks the end of a 30-year career from senator from nevada. 12 years as leader of the senate. hillary clinton and vice president joe biden expected to be here, along with congressional leaders. the event should be getting under way shortly. live coverage on c-span3.
it. i know landrop and the rest of the reid family won't miss this either. it's great to see all of you here you will hear some contributortributes to harry's service either. one of the things i toll was about their first date. he promised her a movie. she wound up push-starting his car. landra didn't storm off or complain. she reassured harry and said with a warm smile. harry says that smile changed him he said it stuck with him through the deck the aids. and is so has landra. they have been by each other's sides through the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs,
political scares, health scares. they have seen it all. but we haven't. we still haven't seen harry two dimensions. i'm sure you're all curious to see what lies behind that curtain. is it harry is sitting in his office? is he high-fiving bryce harper? we will find out as soon as the vice president finishes his remarks. actually, you may be here a while. in any case, let me welcome everyone. congratulations, harry. now on to the show. [ applause ].
>> good afternoon, everyone. thank you for your hospitality. for your kind words about our special guest. the presence of such honored guests has a towering leadership of harry reid. as president joe biden, president of the senate, the best 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, outstanding leader in his own right will build on senator harry reid's legacy. when i first learned of the ceremony, i thought there would be only one musical accompaniment of hair reed's life, fanfare for a manulife. harry reid doesn't like listening to other people compliment him or sing his praises. many of us 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 want to say nice things about him. harry? when i learned of his shall we
say departure was imminent. r i said, harry, we have to have a beautiful dinner in your honor and inviting all of your friends all of the country. he said forget that i would rather spend the money feeding the poor or giving it to the university. and that's how he is. [ applause ]. it is a miracle we got him to sit while we alltel him how wonderful he is. in case you're attempted to walk out from all of this praise, we have asked the sergeant at arms to bar the doors. it has been my privilege to work side by side with harry reid for more than a decade. to observe harry is to observe a master at work. the commitment to his values. but respect also for his
colleagues. harry had many occasion to evaluate the leadership of our colleagues as we entered one fray or another. in all of my years, again, more than 10 working with harry as leaders, he always spoke in the most glowing, respectful and understanding way about all of his and the 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 -- 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 respect that he has on both sides of the aisle, both sides of the cabinet. and we know up and down pennsylvania avenue. today we unveiled a portrait one of the best the senate has known. so to his family i think everyone in this room >> kasey: we have heard about you. we know the love that he has had
for you and we hope that you always know how respected your grandfather, your father and landra, the joy is of his life, your husband. thank you for sharing harry reid with the country. we are all in your debt. [ applause ]. [ applause ]. >> 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 capitol i hoped to 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 this celebration. as we celebrate a great leader and a great senator and, yes, a great american i want to pause for a moment and mark the passing of one of our great americans as well. senator john glenn the, a friend to many of us, a genuine american hero, passed away today. 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 american's life. it is fitting 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 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. i want to thank landra and the entire reid the family for sharing harry with us all these years. 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 have we are hanging harry's portrait. but the for mitt fitting picture will be the one next to the word fighter. on behalf of the working families and all americans. harry welcomed me as a new senator more than 15 years ago. and of the years he became both a trusted colleague as well as a friend. one of my favorite memories, 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 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 the little house where he was born, there was an embroidered pillowcase with a quote from franklin roosevelt that embodied harry's life and career. we can, we must, we will. i've walked the neighborhoods, sat in union halls, met workers in casino kitchens. and everywhere i went, nevadans told me how much it went to them to have harry reid as their corner man. our country runs just as deep. throughout his career, he's
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 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's health plans because harry reid fought for it. and that's not all. millions of seniors rely on is social security today because harry led the fight to stop it from being privatized. he fought to pass skofcomprehen immigration reform. if it had not been signed into
law, millions would be living in fear of being torn apart and we would benefit from the millions of workers coming out of the shadow thes. as a senator i learned a lot about how actually to get things done this place. he's not a man of many words. but when he uses them he he always tells it as he sees it. he's never afraid to speak out, even when it's not easy or popular. harry has fought for the simple and powerful idea that, yes, we are all created equal. he understood a all our leaders and all of our citizens alike have a responsibility to defend the rights of every single american. after the constitutional convention it's well-known benjamin franklin was asked what form of government the new nation would have. a republic, he he replied, if you can keep it. well, that's still on our charge.
and it is 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 thread in particular that should concern all americans. democrats, republicans, and independents alike, especially those who seven in our congress. the epidemic of fake news and propaganda, it's now clear that so-called fake news can have real world consequences. it's 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. and silicon valley is starting
to grapple with the challenge and threat of fake news. it's 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 those of you who remain. counting on you to defend this institution that all three of on us love so much and the democratic values it embodies. counting on you to carry forward harry reid's legacy to the stand with working families and fight the good fight for a better, stronge stronger, fairer america. harry, my friend, that you can
for your service and leadership. i can't help but think of the 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. you carry the reminders of every glove you faced. but even more, we carry the reminders of 6th fight you 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, my friend.
[ applause ]. >> my name is joe bide especially, and i work for harry reid i have to knit years to come, every time the i hear a dial tone, i'll think of harry. he doesn't do that to you girls, does he? he staysts on the line longer, right in please, talk to me more, honey. he tells you that, right? what a beautiful family. what an incredible family. and i also want to point out, nancy, that his gracefulness, more abundance in san francisco than it is in brooklyn you said that nice thing about the senate. you had, yeah, it could have been aaron burr.
i don't get it. you know what i mean? one big plan and everything changes. mitch, i know your reputation is now in tatters having said nice things about me and being here today. the great traditions in this body. the great traditions in the united states senate. the way in which we all are democrat and republican would use this place as ultimately sort of a healing at the end of the day. some of the biggest in the 44 years i've been here. some of the most monumental i
can tell you occurred right here in this room. the most controversial supreme court hearings in history. the whole watergate era. but every single time, every single time the nation seems so divided. there are a few democrats or a few republicans who crossed over and embraced one another. howard baker. bill collin in the house. i can go down the list. so it seems appropriate to mention -- 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 with a spouse or significant other has a right to run for office of the united states senate without it being a joint agreement. because there's no way, no matter what we say, no matter what we do, that you can avoid being caught in the cross fire, 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 is. 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 has affected the women in your state. it has affected the women of
this country. you are preserving national landmarks like the ford's theater. it matters. 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 people not only here but around the world. and you deserve our undying gratitude. [ applause ].
>> it's been tough raising this money. holy god. the first time i went to campaign for him, 32 years old, i think. he said i had to go out and shoot the mad dog. i thought holy god, what am i doing here. so as they say in the south, you done good, girl. the whole family, what a remarkable family. and i 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 saying it a thousand times. and he said it to my sister as well. you've got to be a man of your word. without your word, you're not a man. you've got to be a man of your
word. without your word, you're not a man. a biden that phrase was 'em emblazoned the. you have been a man of your word. whatever you say, whatever you say, you do. in the tradition of the word after whom this room is named, teddy kennedy, chris dodd, you know, it's was a common trait. today, not just in politics, but there is this notion that i gave you my word. i told you i'd do it. but things have changed for me. how many times have you guys heard that?
things have changed. what i told you that, my situation was. never, never the case with you. no matter how much has changed is 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, be i served with a lot of great majority and minority leader. mansfield, bird, mitchell, tom daschle. and, be you know, i don't think any them had their hand in a tougher job at a tougher time. 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 a depression. that's not hyperbole. that's a simple fact. a financial meltdown that affected the entire world. and you made a commitment to the a president that when you thought he was right you would support him. and you kept your word. forcing your colleagues through cajoling them, probably trying to intimidate them occasionally, to cast some of the most unpopular votes anyone in the 36 years i served here, would have to cast. passing t.a.r.p. bailing out the very people the world thought caused the crisis.
it's like delivering a snake in the mail to every american. it was that popular. i don't think there was much more of a popular vote to cast. including all the serious social issues that were so controversial. you ended up passing the recovery act by just a couple votes. a hard, hard, hard case to make to our colleagues. we're drowning, yet we're going to go out and spend almost a trillion dollars to try to revive the economy. at a time when there was anger but also confusion, you shepherded through the passage of dodd/frank. in my view stabilized the economy and wall street.
and you were able to get new start passed at a time when tensions between the 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 weren't going to ask them for the tough vote. you were going to do everything in your power to help them. and you did. through your pac, through your contacts, through your personal engagement. i'm sure it's similar to you on your side, mitch. the very election that i can think of a half dozen senators in the last eight years rested on harry's organizational
intervention. he knew harry. he didn't ask without giving. and, you know, your background, i'm not going to repeat because it's something that you 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. i grew up in scranton and stage mont. you always knew one person in your crowd who if you were is jumped by two or three guys, you knew he would jump in even though if he was going to be
beat as well. i'm dead serious. totally ernest. the only difference is you knew how to box. the way you embraced me and my family, whether when i was hospitalized for seven months or permanent losses occurred, the way you did what a lot of senators do, but you did it con standpointly. you do me a favor, i appreciate it. do my son or daughter a favor, i never, ever forget it. you embraced my beau, my son. you helped him get elected. you embraced my son hunter. you reached out to my daughter. not a lot of high faluting
rhetoric. it 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. they came to make sure he could break a tie. even. including his political opponent stood and cheered and cheered and cheered and cried. i'll never for get the day that humphrey walked on the floor. it was clear he didn't have many days left. he was guantanamo. his hair was gone. he walked down is and your dad the was there, man.
barry gold water up to me and embraced me. we hugged each other and they cried. and i let him go. i think you were there, john. i remember the dead thely silence in the chamber. two men who could not have been further apart.in the chamber. two men who could not have been further apart. they loved each other.the chamb. two men who could not have been further apart. they loved each other. one of the things i learned from my senior colleagues, if you're here long enough listen, you learn the other man's perspective. you learn that no one's perspective is the only perspective. each of us understands that our
actions, if you're here long enough, have to represent decency and reflect honor. the american people are privileged to serve. my guess is, harry that you believe and i believe this is the greatest profession. it's the honor of my life to seven as united states senator. i never had the high honor and privilege you had of leading both the majority and the minority. but you served at the behest of the people at your state who trusted you consecutively to represent them. i can't think of any greater honor. is 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, he said, can ever been for any duration without a senate. and the senate deeply and strongly rooted, strong enough to bear up against all popular storms and passions. that's the place. because with all our ups and downs, because of men and women like you, harry, it still fills that role. there's another quote, harry that goes like this. an institution like the senate, an institution is a little more than the lengthened shadow of a
the prime minister. but he's going to go late, real late. so, joe, thank you very much. i had 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 joe biden for how he has treated me always. phone calls returned like that. his chief of staff steve 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. and so everybody just relax. this suspect going to be a long one.
as most of you know, i don't talk long. i probably 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 with i have
served with i feel so bad about john glenn. he was such a hero. i can remember the attended, jo said i'm going out on the aircraft carrier kennedy friday or saturday, when it was, anybody want to go with me. not a person raised their hand except me. as i said this morning, i don't go to a lot of stuff. one super bowl. one world series. that was enough. never been to a congressional white house ball. went to one state dinner, that's because of rory, spent twoargen. i went to one picnic, because of
key, wanted to show off for lee, and did a good job, because we're married now with four children. but i went out on the aircraft carrier. once was enough for me. boy, that was rough. but it was -- i was there with john glenn. one more story about john glenn. he called me when i decided i wasn't going to run again. he said i'm so damn mad at you that you're not running again. i said john, i hurt myself and i'm not going to be able to do that. he said i'm still mad. he was such -- so good to me. as i look over here, i'm not going to go through the roll call, but what memories. ben nelson. ben, i've said this before. i'll say it again. ben nelson gave up his career
for something he believed in. i call him once in a while just to remind him, because if anything brings a tear to my eye, it is ben nelson and the sacrifice he made for the country. and he was right, it was the end of his career. so ben, the nation owes you a lot. the people of nebraska owe you a lot. [ applause ] and you've heard about the bill, he is here that did it. there he is. ben, stand up. [ applause ] but i'll tell you. we are the reason, you and i and a few others, earmark should
come back. [ applause ] because when we work together, barba barbara mccullski, we did what the constitution said we should do. we had congressionally directed spending. they were earmarks. why should we as members of congress give that authority to the white house. that's what has happened. it is brought the congress to a standstill. bring back the earmarks. [ applause ] and one of the great earmarkers of all time is right down there. with the red tie. so bennett, thank you very much. you have been -- you're friend.
i have so many fond memories of you. we did a lot of stuff together. pete diminishi, we got things done. paul sar bichlt ines. i'm not going to -- 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 that. i served with 281. and i say this without any reservation. there is not a single senator that i didn't like. it was hard to get here. you had to add admire them for getting here. i had over 100 jury trials, and you know, i had -- i would be so
up set at my lawyer opponent. how could he talk to this way. he is wrong. he is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law. when the case was over, that day of court was over, we walked out and we're friends. everyone, i know you don't like this story, but mitch mcconnell and i are friends. we work together. we are -- we do our best to enunciate our cause and i don't like what he does a lot of times, he doesn't like what i do most of the time, but that's okay. we understand what our jobs are. now, nancy, thank you so much. i know that someone mentioned that i killed private station of social security, but we did it together. i have found her to be so thoughtful, so kind, and so
considerate and we love her and paul. when landrate took over the spouse's operation, they had, what is it called, show off your clothes, what's that called? fashion show. and she, of course, i do say so myself, she looks pretty good most of the time. and only time she doesn't is when i catch her in her pajamas sometimes. but anyway. anyway, paul pelosi, this handsome man, would you be part of our fashion show. of course, he walked down the -- just with everybody else.
he got the biggest applause of anybody. so nancy and paul are good sports. they're good people. i'm going to miss so very much, nancy. hillary clinton, there is no way that i in the brief time i have here today can adequately pay tribute to hillary clinton as a person, as a leader, as a 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 a skilled -- how do you put statesman woman, whatever. and of course, dignified led
legislator, and a wonderful diplomat. thank you, hillary, 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 on her campaign eight years ago. she has never forgotten that. when she comes to town or bill comes to town, rory is part of the enteroage. i mentioned my staff, and the one person i didn't mention, because he devoted such loyal service to me, so good to me and to landra and to a lot of my staff here today, were hired by david krone. so david, thank you so much for all you've done. [ applause ]
now, did rahm emanuel show up? where is he? mayor, has your finger ever grown back? rahm emanuel, in case you don't know, a little private joke, he was cutting meat and whacked off his finger, and i guess i shouldn't joke about that, but he has done okay with missing part of a finger. rahm, i know you have some real obligations as mayor, that huge, very beautiful 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 remember that, joe? and we delivered big time. we worked hard together. and i was always a nice guy. he was not. oh, he could be so tough. and as far as the language, we all know rahm's language. he tried to convert me to a lot of those words, but i didn't fall for it. rahm, thank you very much. because that congress that we worked with the president, the vice-president, our congress, was the most productive in the history of the country. more so than the first roosevelt administration. and i'll never forget, we did a lame duck. that was a lame duck we'll remember. because lindsey graham was so impressed with what we did, he said numerous times, harry reid ate our lunch, and of course,
you were behind a lot of that, rahm. thank you for being here. that means so 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. i appreciate the friendship that he has shown me. the sacrifices that he has made for the country, for democrats, and for taking positions that he didn't want to take. had the democratic campaign committee twice, well, chuck, thank you very much. i'm not going to tell everybody how smart you are, because we already know that. okay, i'll tell them. everybody here, those of you have taken the lsat, oh, you
hate to hear that, huh? i bet. perfect score. sat, perfect score. and he has a perfect score with me. dick durbin, what a great guy. we came together. we came to the senate together. he, schumer and murray, my leadership team, we have done it here together. i so admire dick durbin for the person he is. the sensitive man. he legislates, very few people legislate as much with their heart as he does. he legislates with that heart. he has a heart as big as his chest. dick, thank you very much for being the friend you've been to me. [ applause ] patty murray has been in
pensable to me. her counsel has always been private. always been sage. and it has been direct. not a lot of words. i appreciate it very much. i'm very happy to know that senator schumer will have them as part of his leadership team, and that's something you'll never regret. i talked this morning about majority leaders. well, one of them is here that is responsible as anyone for allowing me to a leader. tom daschle. tom, thanks for being here. [ applause ] shortly after i was elected the assistant leader, the whip, i went to him to complain to him about something. i thought he had given one of the senators too much. he said stop that.
he said the whip's job, you're going to make it what you want it to be. and i did, didn't i? so thank you a lot, tom. thanks for trusting me. you gave me the privileges of the floor. i was there on the senate when it opened. thank you so much. john boehner was going to come. did john show up? well, good. speech is getting too long anyway. you know, i can't thank everyone who is here today. but please know how much you've 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 boys and my girl and my 19 grandchildren. five children, landra and i have had. we learned from them. we were raising them, an then we call them the big kids and little kids, and then waited six, seven years, and had three more. 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 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. landra 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 in accepterase.
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 above all, my lover and my friend. 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 glamourous, and a lot of the time, leaders understand the highs and lows. as i said this morning, it is
joy, and then 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 terror and the frustration passes quickly. and chuck, that's what you have to realize. we've had a lot of issues, and we're not going to go through them, but we've made it through them. so i feel gratified that someone with my background could be a leader for our country. so now i'm 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. i went up to him and said what are you drawing and talked to him a little bit. well, he worked for me. he was 22 years old, and 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 the size of a tennis ball, and we weren't sure he was going to make it. his parents weren't sure, and he certainly wasn't sure. while they're wheeling this young man into the operating room, where this stunning liter risi -- terrorizing event was happening, he said if i make it out of this, i'm not going to work in some office. what i'm going to do is draw pictures. and paint. that's how i've done all my life. i'm going to try do that. he has good parents. 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 is a great painter. he painted a portrait of my wife, many of you have seen it in my office. he has paintings all over america. he is a portrait painter, landscape painter. and above all, he is my friend. gavin. [ applause ] >> thank so much. senator and mrs. reid, thank you so much for choosing me to paint your portrait. this means such a great deal to me on both professional and personal level and i'll always be proud of this. senator reid told a story, i didn't know you remembered. but when i was a kid, my dad
worked for the appropriations committee and one day i went to work, and i was sitting in a room like this, i was drawing in my sketchbook. when it finished up and everybody filed out, a nice gentleman in a suit and sort of took a knee and said, hey, son, what do you have there. did you do those drawings. he made a big deal of the drawings i was doing. when he walked off, my dad came up to me and said do you know who that was. that was senator reid. fast forward 10 or 12 years, i was getting out of college and i decided not to pursue art full-time. enough people told me how difficult it is. 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. it was a great experience. i should say that i was the lowliest. one of my highlights is i used to meet with senator reid for five minutes to go over something, and we developed a really nice relationship. he was the lowest man on the totem pole and he was always
sweet to me and we got along really well. i went to his whip office and i would go to the capitol. as i was going over, i was in awe of all the great paintings. i've always loved portraits, history and psychology and politics, thought it was just a great challenge to give yourself as an artist, but those paintings were a constant reminder i simply didn't have the courage to pursue the only goal i had. about a year and a half, i made my decision, and went to my parents house. the senator told you, i got sick. i asked the doctors and they told me that could have happened at any point in my life. it happened exactly when i made that decision. and i spent about six months in and out of the hospital, and they eventually took a tumor out of my lung and i've been fine ever since. there were moments where i wasn't sure i was going to make it, and that's when i realized, life is short. i only have one goal.
the goal i've had my whole life. i have to throw everything i have at it. and that was 15 or 16 years ago. i consider that by far the most fortunate thing that's ever happened in my life. so you no at this point, i've painted portraits that a lot of you probably know and recognize. i was elated earlier in my career when senator reid asked me to paint a portrait of mrs. reid and hung up next to a portrait of mark twa every titan of industry, and senator reid could have chosen any of them to paint his portrait. as far as i can tell, the reason he didn't is that underneath it all, underneath the great statesman, the brilliant strategist, the heart scrabble kid from search light who boxed his way through college, the man who fought his entire life for
people who aren't strong enough to fight for themselves, underneath that is a sweet, sweet person, who when given the opportunity to walk on by or stop and help someone up, has spent his entire life stopping and helping people up. senator, i can't tell you how much i enjoyed working with you on this. if you want to spend sundays next summer watching baseball while i paint, i'm in. i'll be proud of this for the rest of my life. mrs. reid, senator reid, thank you so much. [ applause ] well, good afternoon, everybody. it has been an amazing afternoon. harry, you're going to be a hard act to follow this afternoon and even harder act to follow as leader. i want to thank the vice-president and secretary
clinton, majority leader mcconnell, leader pelosi, all the great family, so wonderful and beautiful and cute. i see how excited you are. landra, as he says, are you his rock. his strong, quiet, always there rock. migra my great colleagues, past, present. it is just amazing. now, harry, how embarrassed are you that we all showed up? i know you would rather -- i know of nothing you would rather do less than sit and hear us all go on about you. but i also know you're good sport. i've seen that over and over again. one of my favorite memories is on our congressional ship, the only trip i've ever gone on, and it was to china. there were a group of ten of us.
and it occurred in the spring break. it was very ecumincal, and we spent a day in china, but it was also passover and there were a few jewish members, harry, with his spirit of looking out for someone else and generosity, we had it in mccow. frank and bonnie lautenberg, they were to conduct the sader, it is pretty long, and harry, sorry, frank and bonnie prolonged it by arguing with each other about how to conduct the sader. frank, you don't do it this way. it's this way. it went on and on and on. i saw harry. he was seated next to iris and
me. he was squirming. i know him well. steam was coming out his ears. he wanted to get on with it and get back home. it was getting late. inpatient as harry was, the sader always wins. so it did. but god bless his heart. harry sat there for a whole hour, very polite. never said a word. that's who he is. he has always been a good sport. he takes what comes. doesn't complain. doesn't whine. just does the best, with whichever situation he is in. so, harry, while you are in a sporty mood, i'll 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 at times be passionate. i'm going to let some of you know this story, but i'll let many of you in on a secret. other than landra, there is another woman he gave a big fat
wet sloppy kiss on the lips to in this room. yep. harry and i were sitting there, election night of 2006, it was all hanging in the balance. whether we would get the majority. and when the tv from missouri came on and clare mccaskill came on, he came on and he started kissing clare over and over again. i had to go up and wipe off the tv. noy, now, i got to know harry when he came to the senate in 1999. here was this man, soft-spoken, morman, from search light, nevada, here i was, a brash jewish kid out of brooklyn. a match made in heaven. i quickly learned that soft-spoken didn't mean that he would keep his opinions to
himself. or sand down the rough edges. we've all heard him on the floor. he has never been cagey with the reporters. harry would look at my shoes every so often when i would walk in the room, and pull me aside in the corner, slip $20 to me and say get a shoe shine already. he was blunt, even about his bluntness. he once remarked about some political flair-up. could i have couched my words more carefully. maybe. but i said it, and i meant it. i'm not apologizing for it. it is just the truth. that is vintage harry. [ applause ] now if you've heard about harry's 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 with harry, it is not exactly the way you would expect. hard scrabble childhoods like his, especially when they produce this person of such prominence, tend to instill in a person that methodology of rugged individualism, picking yourself up by your bootstraps, going at it alone. harry learned that lesson, but he had such a big heart, he always learned a much different lesson. and that is that 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 was being rough on their mother. as a young lawyer, he would take cases that no one else wanted. defending folks he knew were guilty. but he also knew they were treated unfairly by the system in some way. he abhorred that no matter who inflicted.
ultimately, the lesson harry carried with him throughout his life that was -- that was that no one goes it alone. it was part of his responsibility to stick up for those caught in, quote, the tenticles of circumstance, as l.b.j. put it. a freshman from new york under his wing he took. i'm telling you, there is no one, no one, no one no one better to have in your corner than harry reid. much has been made of his boxing career, and it is true. he is a tenacious fighter, but with these descriptions often miss is that the important thing is not that you fight. the important thing is what and who you fight for. harry fought for people. he fought to protect seniors from the privatization of social
security and medicare. he fought to get the aca over the finish line. providing health care to 22 million americans, who never had health care before. just like his family. he fought for the environment. he was one of the most illustri records, and preserving historical landmarks, a passion he had. i remember when he visited hyde park in new york, and he talked to me for about a half hour, on and on. that was it, until one day about seven, eight months later, i got a call from the head of the hyde park monument. he said thanks for the $15 million earmark you put in the appropriations bill. i didn't even know it was there. harry m. reid. he fought for the things he cared about. though he didn't always prevail,
he always kept fighting. and honestly, in the true tradition of harry, i had the exact same lines from the boxer that nancy pelosi read. i think i'll read -- that hillary read. but i'll read them again, because they're so -- a boxer by his trade, he carries the repinederepin reminders that laid him down, but the fighter still remains. harry is the third longest senate serve -- 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. get blown off course, beaten down. you' your fighting spirit can flail. what keeps people going, their sense of right and wrong. no one has a better internal
gyroscope than harry reid. so while harry carries the scarce of tough legislative battles, hard won victories, set backs, harry reid, the fighter, has always remained. he walls 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 taught me that our senate caucus is a family. he taught me how we all look out for each other's back. he taught me to stay true to myself. despite the obvious differences, we're both from these remarkably defining places, and harry reid goes by the same credo i do. i'm from brooklyn.
sometimes it helps me. sometimes it hurts me. but i would be a lot less of an individual if i tried not to be from brooklyn. the same exact thing could be said about harry. and search light, nevada. in fact, writing about his hometown, harry said that, quote, much attention is paid in public life to the importance of the collection of attributes that we call character. he wrote some what less attention is devoted to consideration of where character is born. character and values come from places you wouldn't necessarily think to look. because some of the men and women of greatest character that i will ever meet in my life came from this place of hard rocks and inhospitalable soil. he was talking about his friends and family. 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 is one of the men of greatest character that i have ever met. powerful. but one common humility. honest and loyal. unsparingly funny. scrappy fighter. with this great, big heart. a titan of the senate. he is one of the most unique men that any of us, 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. harry, i would not be the senator, nor the man i am today without you. i can only say thank you from the bottom of my heart, and i'll miss you. so, folks, it will be quite some
time until we see another like harry mason reid, until then, his portrait will have to do. thank you. [ applause ] >> and folks, please remain in your seats. after the portrait is unveiled until vice-president biden and secretary clinton depart the room, following their photo with senator reid at his leader portrait. thank you.