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Former Sen. Richard Lugar Of Indiana Dies At 87

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This morning, we are remembering a former senator with a reputation for working across the aisle. Richard Lugar has died. He was Indiana's longest-serving senator, representing that state for 36 years.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In 2016, the Republican presidential primary was bruising. The GOP establishment seemed to be fighting to keep its popularity. Richard Lugar was already out of office at the time, and here on MORNING EDITION, he reflected on what the Republican establishment meant to him - in the most basic sense, building a majority coalition to win elections.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

RICHARD LUGAR: A majority includes people who have Democratic and Republican affiliations. And maybe it also means conventional, in the sense that Republicans always seem to stand for free enterprise, for a strong American foreign policy. These are people that are conventionally a part of that crowd.

MARTIN: Richard Lugar is perhaps best known for pushing to curb the threat of nuclear weapons. His partner in that project was Sam Nunn, a Democratic senator from Georgia. Their legislation, the 1991 Nunn-Lugar Act, led to the deactivation of more than 7,600 nuclear warheads. That's according to The Lugar Center.

GREENE: In a statement yesterday, Nunn said, our nation has lost an extraordinary statesman who made the world a safer and better place. I have lost a wonderful friend and trusted partner.

NPR's All Things Considered spoke to Dan Diller, Lugar's legislative director for a decade, about the former senator's legacy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

DAN DILLER: He was a very successful politician, but the rare one who managed to come to work every day not thinking about politics. He really believed that the United States could be governed with civility and with compassion, and he worked very hard to build consensus.

GREENE: Lugar's consensus-building came with a political cost. As the Republican Party swung to the right during the Obama years, he came up for reelection in 2012, and he lost his primary to a Tea Party challenger.

MARTIN: Dan Diller says Lugar trusted in the good hearts of American voters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

DILLER: He really believed that the American people had unlimited capacity to do good in the world and to make this a great place. And he never lost that confidence.

MARTIN: Senator Richard Lugar died yesterday at the age of 87. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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