Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole (Kan.) and Howard Baker (Tenn.) were honored Wednesday night in a funny and at times touching event thrown by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“Did you know that (with the exception of Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine), who wasn’t there) we had EVERY LIVING SENATE MAJORITY AND MINORITY LEADER in the room last night??” BPC spokesman Todd DeLorenzo exclaimed via email.
Baker and Dole were lauded by such notables as Vice President Joseph Biden, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
During Biden’s tribute, he recalled something his father said: “Never back another man into a corner where the only way out is over you.” Both Baker and Dole had the ability to work with their colleagues, not back them into a corner, Biden said. Both men excelled in creating — and maintaining — important relationships across the aisle.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also paid tribute to their predecessors.
In their speeches, Reid and McConnell said that, all appearances to the contrary, they actually big heart each other and get along famously.
It wasn’t just the stage that was dripping with public officials. They were everywhere — including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sitting front and center. Nearly every sitting Senator passed through, and there were more Representatives than you could shake a stick at.
We also spied former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) getting his picture taken and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) shook our hand on his way out the door. We will obviously never wash it.
President Bill Clinton couldn’t be there in person, so he sent a video message. Former first lady Nancy Reagan sent a note with her regards.
Fun fact: Of all the Senators who spoke last night, it was generally decided that one — Kansas’ Pat Roberts — was and continues to be the funniest of them all.
Sir, let’s bring more of that funny to the Senate floor, please.
Here are more photos from the event: