WASHINGTON -- As news of the death of Margaret Thatcher came in Monday, tributes flowed from conservative leaders across the Capitol, showing the lasting influence the "Iron Lady" on the personal careers of many American lawmakers.
“Lady Thatcher was a towering figure and a hero of mine,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania who once ran the conservative group Club for Growth.
“Utterly fearless, she never once went wobbly,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, a first-term Republican from Texas and a tea party favorite. “Rejecting the failures of socialism, she won the argument for liberty, and her name is synonymous with the policies that restored peace, prosperity, growth, and stability at a time when it seemed like the United Kingdom had none.”
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called the former British prime minister “an iconic symbol of the transformative power of conservative ideas.” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called her the "greatest peacetime prime minister in British history.”
Democrats, even those who did not always agree with her policies, celebrated her achievements. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, praised the Thatcher as Britain's first female -- and longest-serving -- prime minister.
“She possessed a singular resilience that commanded the respect of her colleagues, the attention of a nation and the awe of women and men across the world,” Pelosi said. “She led her country with poise, grace and an unmistakable iron will that will forever stand as a true testament to her unwavering commitment to public service.”
As conservatives in Washington celebrated her legacy, they also sought to continue it.
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“In my view, the best way to pay homage to Margaret Thatcher is to follow on the path she laid out -- trust in the people and stand up to evil when you find it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
"The great evil of our day is radical Islam, and the world would be served well if today's political leaders show the same determination to defeat radical Islam [that] Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II displayed to standing up to communism,” he said.
"Both ideologies, communism and radical Islam, intend to enslave the human spirit. With the passing of Margaret Thatcher, let us all recommit ourselves to standing up to radical Islam, the great evil of our time," he said.
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband worked closely with Thatcher, praised the late British leader as "a true champion of freedom and democracy."
"It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history," Reagan said in a statement.
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"Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end communism. As prime minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to 'rock the boat,'" she said.
Ronald Reagan's vice president, and eventual President George H.W. Bush in a statement applauded Thatcher as "one of the 20th Century’s fiercest advocates of freedom and free markets — a leader of rare character who carried high the banner of her convictions, and whose principles in the end helped shape a better, freer world.”
And former President Bill Clinton, along with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea, also expressed their condolences.
"Like so many others, I respected the conviction and self-determination she displayed throughout her remarkable life as she broke barriers, defied expectations, and led her country," he said in a statement.