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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Democrats Also Hail Ford As Healer, Leader

News of the death of former president Gerald Ford is prompting leading Democrats as well as Republicans to hail the 38th American president for his integrity and healing in coming to office in the wake of the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

"Gerald Ford brought Americans together during a difficult chapter in our history with strength, integrity, and humility," says a joint statement issued by former president Bill Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. "All Americans should be grateful for his life of service; he served our nation well. To his great credit, he was the same hard-working, down-to-earth person the day he left the White House as he was when he first entered Congress almost 30 years earlier.

"We were honored to know President Ford. We are saddened by his death, and our prayers are with Betty and the entire Ford family," the Clintons add.

Ford was the first U.S. vice president to be chosen under the terms of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The vice president preceeding him, Spiro Agnew; and the president he succeeded, Nixon, both resigned.

Ford spent 25 years in Congress and from 1965 to 1973, Ford was House minority leader. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1913, Ford grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Jimmy Carter, the man who defeated Ford for election in 1976, joined in effusive praise for the one-time Michigan Republican.

"Rosalynn and I join the nation in mourning the loss of President Gerald Ford," Carter says. "President Ford is one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I have ever known. A man of highest integrity, his life-long dedication to helping others touched the lives of countless people.

"An outstanding statesman, he wisely chose the path of healing during a deeply divisive time in our nation's history. He frequently rose above politics by emphasizing the need for bipartisanship and seeking common ground on issues critical to our nation," Carter adds. "I will always cherish the personal friendship we shared. Rosalynn and I extend our heartfelt sympathy to Betty and the entire Ford family during this time of grief."

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also expressed his condolences and admiration for Ford.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of former President Gerald Ford. He was a devoted public servant who led our nation out of one of itsdarkest hours with grace and bipartisanship," says Reid. "His spirit and his contributions to our country will be missed, but they will never be forgotten. Landra and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Ford family, and we join a sorrowful nation in saying goodbye and thank you."

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered her praise, from the standpoint that both Ford and Pelosi have served in the post of House minority leader at different times.

"President Gerald Ford assumed office during one of the greatest times of challenge for our nation and provided Americans with the steady leadership and optimism that was his signature," Pelosi, of California, says.

"As a fellow House Minority Leader, I have great respect for the fairand reliable leadership President Ford displayed throughout his service inthe House. He was effective and respected on both sides of the aisle. He recognized that however much we may disagree on political questions, we serve all of the people of the nation in a great institution: the House of Representatives," Pelosi adds.

"It is with great sadness and respect that I extend deepest condolences to Mrs. Ford and all of the Ford family," she says. "I hope it is a comfort to them that so many people mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time."

Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) also praised Ford. "President Ford will be remembered as a man of integrity and resolve," Fattah says. "His courage and his wisdom brought healing to a nation in crisis. He was ahumble man and a true leader. Our prayers are with his family."

Ford died Tuesday at the age of 93 of unspecified causes.

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