Lee Pays Tribute to Sen. Bennett on Senate Floor [UPH Wire]

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

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*Lee Pays Tribute to Sen. Bennett on Senate Floor*

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) delivered remarks in honor of
Sen. Robert Foster Bennett on the Senate floor. Video of the remarks can be
viewed here ,
and text as prepared for delivery is available below.

*Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to a man who was truly a giant
in my home state of Utah and in this institution, a friend to everyone he
met, and someone whose life of service to the people of Utah we celebrate
at the same time that we mourn his passing: Senator Robert F. Bennett. *

*Senator Bennett loved the political arena. Though his heart was always
with his family in Utah, he spent many years working on Capitol Hill in
both the Senate and the House, and later as a Congressional Liaison for the
Department of Transportation. He also spent many years in business, where
his management abilities and his keen mind helped build a successful
corporation and earn him awards such as Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of
the Year.” *

*But Senator Bennett’s true passion was for sound public policy. He cared
little for who wrote the policy – and even less for who got the credit – so
long as wise policies were enacted. This was apparent to me after a
memorable conversation I had with him in 2010, just a few days before our
state’s nominating convention, at which we were candidates.*

*I was in the lobby of a local radio station, waiting to go on air and
watching the national news on a large television screen. I don’t remember
the exact issue being reported, but I will never forget what happened as I
watched that news broadcast. Senator Bennett walked in the lobby, and
seeing me, simply strolled over to stand next to me. *

*To be honest, I was anticipating the type of stereotypically awkward
interaction that often occurs between candidates near the end of a heated
political contest. Instead, with his characteristic charm and affability,
he quickly put me at ease by nodding towards the screen and saying, “you
know, there’s a pretty good chance that you will be the person who has to
deal with this issue.” *

*Having gracefully defused the situation, he proceeded to share some words
of wisdom and personal insights, imparting to me the lessons he had learned
from his own experience with that matter. It was clear to me that he had
not only thought long and hard about it, but that he was ultimately less
concerned with who addressed the issue, and more concerned with ensuring
that it was done thoughtfully and wisely. *

*In Senator Bennett’s view, there was no such thing as a political opponent
– only potential allies. *

*Though Senator Bennett was a serious statesman, he was also one who did
not take himself too seriously. This is one of the reasons people
everywhere were drawn to him. *

*Many Utahns will remember his flair for self-deprecating humor emblazoned
on his campaign billboards in 2004. Summarizing Senator Bennett’s most
distinctive qualities, one billboard read: “Bold. Brilliant. Beanpole.”
In a slight variation on the theme, another read: “Big Heart. Big Ideas.
Big Ears.” And, perhaps everyone’s favorite declared: “Better looking than
Abraham Lincoln” – adding parenthetically, “just barely.” In the political
arena, where inflated egos loom large, Bob Bennett was a breath of fresh
air. *

*Senator Bennett’s command of public policy was legendary. He could speak
extemporaneously and at length on everything from the federal budget, to
Utah’s changing demographics, to business trends – and never with any
notes. He was a master storyteller who had the uncanny ability to
entertain and challenge his audience at the same time – the result of a
lifetime of learning and profound thinking. He always maintained an open
mind, never unwilling to rethink policy issues in light of new
information. These qualities are but a few of the reasons that he was a
trusted by colleagues on both sides of the aisle. *

*Though much has been written about his public and political
accomplishments, there was a side to him that does not receive the
attention it deserves. A day in the life of a U.S. Senator is often
stressful and invariably unpredictable. Under such circumstances the
likelihood of error is high, and as one of his staffers once told me,
“there were plenty of times that scheduling mistakes were made, and anger
at us certainly would have been justified.” But these same staffers also
said that in 18 years in the United States Senate, they never saw Bob
Bennett get angry, or even so much as raise his voice, at his staff
members. *

*He was always kind, patient, and understanding with them, and they were
committed and loyal to him in return. I’m convinced that one of the reasons
so many members of the Senate trusted Bob completely was because they saw
how his own staff trusted him, and how he returned that trust. *

*Senator Bennett was a man of the utmost integrity, and was the same calm,
deliberate, and thoughtful person whether speaking in public or speaking to
close confidants. At 6’6”, he towered over most people, but that didn’t
prevent him from meeting people where they were, treating everyone with
dignity and respect, and exhibiting true understanding and compassion. *

*Whether he was talking with ranchers in Iron County, consoling a grieving
parent visiting him in his Salt Lake office, or debating the Chairman of
the Federal Reserve during a Banking Committee hearing, Bob Bennett treated
everyone the same – with kindness and concern.*

*He often quoted President Reagan’s famous aphorism that “there is no limit
to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the
credit.” But Senator Bennett didn’t just recite these words, he lived
them. *

*On more than one occasion, he worked for months on end to craft a
legislative solution to a difficult issue, only to discover at the last
moment that the price of its passage would be to give all the credit to
someone else. Because his objective was – first and foremost – to make
sure that the right thing was done, this was a price that he was always
willing to pay. *

*Since the election in 2010, I have been asked countless times about my
relationship with Senator Bennett. My answer invariably reminds me of the
great privilege it is to serve the state of Utah in his seat: our
conversations were always meaningful and focused on innovative approaches
to dealing with difficult policy issues. A consummate statesman, he always
made clear to me that good policy is always good politics in the end. *

*Senator Bennett’s achievements were numerous, and he will be remembered
for his tremendous impact on the state of Utah. However, I am certain that
if he were to make a list of his greatest achievements, it would likely say
nothing about his business or political endeavors. Rather, it would focus
entirely on family—his dear wife Joyce, the six children that they raised
together, and their 20 grandchildren. *

*Mr. President, Senator Bennett truly was, in every way, a giant. He was a
man of integrity; a man whose word was truly his bond; a man who left both
the state of Utah and his country better than he found them. He was a man
who had a firm and unwavering commitment to his Faith in God, and was true
to that Faith until the end. It is my hope and prayer that Senator
Bennett’s wife Joyce, his children, and his grandchildren are comforted at
this difficult time, knowing that our state and country are forever
grateful for their husband, father, and grandfather’s exemplary life of

*Communications Director*
Conn Carroll

*Press Secretary*
Emily Long


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