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Senators Honor Wellstone in Emotional Remembrance

October 29, 2002|Nick Anderson | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- His gleaming mahogany desk draped in black felt, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) was eulogized Monday by former colleagues as an uncommon advocate for the common man.

The brief Senate session, three days after the plane crash in Minnesota that killed Wellstone, his wife, daughter and five others, revealed the grief and shock of lawmakers at the sudden death of one of their own. "For me, the loss of Paul Wellstone cuts very deep," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), her eyes reddened and her voice halting.

Boxer was one of Wellstone's closest Senate allies, serving with him on the Foreign Relations Committee and sharing his consistently liberal voting record.

She recalled Wellstone, who was 58 and seeking reelection to a third term, as "kind, compassionate, self-deprecating, a passionate voice for those without a voice, enthusiastic, a bundle of energy."

The somber 40-minute remembrance, held while most senators were away from Washington, was a prelude to Wellstone memorials today in Minnesota and in coming days at the Capitol.

Others praising Wellstone in short, emotional speeches were Democratic Sens. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Mark Dayton of Minnesota. "It wasn't about polls; it wasn't about pundits," Dayton said. "It was about conviction."

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