After Senator Harkin’s announcement to retire at the end of his term in 2014, a stream of high profile politic figures have commented on his decision. President Obama led with the tributes to the long serving senator.
President Barack Obama
“By the time Senator Harkin finishes his fifth term, he will have represented the people of Iowa in the United States Congress for an incredible 40 years. He has served in the U.S. Senate longer than any Democrat in Iowa’s history. During his tenure, he has fought passionately to improve quality of life for Americans with disabilities and their families, to reform our education system and ensure that every American has access to affordable health care. Senator Harkin will be missed, and Michelle and I join Iowans in thanking him for his long-standing service and wish him and his wife, Ruth, all the best in the future.”
Senator Chuck Grassley
Fellow senator, Chuck Grassley has served alongside Harkin during Harkin’s entire senate career.
Grassley the republican says the two have rarely agreed on issues but have always gotten along for the good of the state.
Grassley told Channel 13 he found out about Harkin’s retirement in an email this morning and never saw it coming.
“Quite frankly I was very very surprised. I did not expect retirement, even though over the past 5 months his name was on a list of 5 or 6 other senators that were thinking about retiring. He’s been so active there was never any indication.”
On Twitter, he added, “I just had ph conversation w Senator Harkin about his announcement on not running 2014. I appreciate his calling thanked him for serving Ia.” Adding, “Thank you to Senator Tom Harkin for his service. I wish him well.”
Congressman Tom Latham
Harkin’s announcement has perked the interested in both parties for people looking to run for his seat two years from now.
“Congressman Latham respects Senator Harkin’s decision. He looks forward to continuing to working with him and the rest of the Iowa delegation for the best interests of the people of Iowa over the next two years.”
The statement didn’t address whether latham wants to run for the senate seat but he is likely to be one of the biggest names mentioned.
Secretary Of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Tom and Christie Vilsack’s names have also been mentioned as possible candidates.
Tom Vilsack, the former Governor and Current Secretary Of Agriculture said Harkin has been, and will continue to be, an advocate for physical and mental disabilities and called him a visionary for health care.
“During his career he has received extraordinary support from his wife, Ruth Harkin, an accomplished public servant of her own. Iowans know him as a fighter and have always been proud to call him their senator and now is not the time to reflect on anyone else but on the still evolving career and contribution of the senator.”
Congressman Bruce Braley
First District Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley has been waiting on Harkin’s plans as he plots a possible run at either Harkin’s seat or a run for governor.
Braley says Harkin leaves a legacy few will ever match, “I’m proud to call Tom Harkin a friend and a mentor. His tireless work ethic and unceasing concern for everyday Iowans will be missed in congress. Carolyn and I wish Tom and Ruth the best as they embark on their next challenge together.”
Congressman Dave Loebsack
“Senator Harkin’s tireless work has improved the well-being of Iowans for more than a generation. Senator Harkin has had a direct impact on the everyday lives of people all across the nation and the globe, not just in Iowa. From his advocacy to improving the lives of people with disabilities, to rewriting the way farmers conserve and protect their land to standing up for human rights, he has been a true leader and statesman. He has truly given a voice to those who are often not heard, rather than serving as a mouthpiece for the powerful and connected.
“His knowledge, compassion and fight cannot be replaced. He has long been my political hero and I have been honored to serve with him these past six years. Terry and I wish Tom and Ruth health, happiness and success in all their future endeavors.”
Congressman Steve King
“Senator Harkin’s retirement comes as a surprise. I congratulate him on a long and successful career in Congress. Iowans now have a real opportunity to elect a true Constitutional conservative to help lead us out of our crisis of debt and deficit.”