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Rep. Cynthia McKinney on the Loss of Senator Paul Wellstone

October 25, 2002

"All of America has lost an important progressive leader today."

"I am terribly saddened by the reports that Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, their daughter Marsha, staff members and their pilots were killed in a plane crash today.

"Senator Wellstone was a dedicated and devoted public servant. As the only U.S. Senator who was a member of the Progressive Caucus, I came to know Paul well. He was a fearless progressive champion, and was someone who was not afraid to base his beliefs and his politics upon his conscience. Upon this tragedy, I am reminded of the comments that Paul had on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1999:

'We keep faith today with our fallen hero when we honor that for which he fought. We honor him today when we speak of freedom, when we speak of justice, and when we speak of love. We venerate him today when we fight violence, when we fight war, and when we fight intolerance.'

"I believe that, today, many have similar feelings about the loss of Paul Wellstone.

"From Paul's days in college, he knew that the path to success led through challenges. He was a champion college wrestler, a doctor of Political Science, a college professor, and a community organizer.

"Paul always fought for the best interests of not only his constituents, but also the greatest well-being of all Americans, and for the equality and human rights that all people deserve. His efforts helped make health care more affordable, permitted working families to take time off to care for sick and ailing family members, helped raise the minimum wage, protected seniors pension plans, and he and his wife were strong leaders in the effort to prevent the international trafficking of women and children. Paul also was an important voice for our nation's veterans, increasing programs and resources devoted to homeless veterans, and leading the charge for providing compensation to 'atomic veterans.'

"Paul was also a passionate advocate for our environment. He voted to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, supported farm conservation programs, and was a strong supporter of preservation efforts at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

"Though Paul was engaged in a tight race for reelection, he stood firm to his beliefs and did not sacrifice them for political advantage. He stood firm to the Administration and voted against the Iraqi Use of Force Authorization, just as he did on many other important foreign policy issues, such as Plan Colombia and increased defense spending.

"Paul Wellstone will be sorely missed by me and my colleagues. He was a voice of reason and prudence in the Senate, and I believe that the Senate will suffer in his absence. I share my deepest condolences for Paul and Sheila's family, for the families of the other victims, and for the people of the State of Minnesota.

"All of America has lost an important progressive leader today."


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