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Tributes to Sen. Paul Wellstone

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush led the nation in paying tribute to Sen. Paul Wellstone who died in a plane crash Friday with his wife, daughter, three staff members and two pilots.

President George W. Bush:

"Our prayers and heartfelt sympathy goes to their sons, loved ones, their friends and the people of Minnesota. Paul Wellstone was a man of deep convictions, a plain-spoken fellow who did his best for his state and for his country, may the good Lord bless those who grieve."

Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, majority leader of the Senate:

"Paul Wellstone was the soul of the Senate. He was one of the most noble and courageous men I have ever known. He was a gallant and passionate fighter, especially for the less fortunate. I am grateful to have known Paul and Sheila as dear and close friends. Their deaths are a shattering loss to Minnesota, to the nation and to all who knew and loved them. The tragic deaths of their daughter Marcia, as well as three of Paul's loyal staffers, and their pilots compounds this unbearable loss. The heartfelt condolences of the entire United States Senate go out to the Wellstone family and the families of all who were lost with him. The nation has lost a fearless public servant and tireless advocate for justice."

Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota

"Today, the state of Minnesota has suffered a deep and penetrating loss. ... His dedication to his state and nation was profound. His energy, his passion and his love of people were overwhelming."

Former President Bill Clinton

"The people of Minnesota, America and the world have lost a friend and a champion of working families, the poor, the disenfranchised and the disabled. Paul's public life was a profile in courage. He spoke, stood and voted on his principles, even at the risk of his political career. Ultimately, he gave his life in public service, in the midst of working hard to earn another term. Just this week, he said, 'I am blessed to be a senator from Minnesota.' America was blessed to have a senator like Paul Wellstone."

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D- Massachusetts:

"Paul Wellstone had a passion for the good things for people. And he expressed it brilliantly on the floor of the United States Senate and here in Minnesota. He was a man of enormous ability but most of all, he was a caring person. He was really a special person, a very unique man."

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona:

"Paul Wellstone and I were close friends. We did not agree on a number of issues. He passionately fought for the things he believed in. It's a tragedy for the family, for Minnesota and for the nation and all of us grieve for him."

Secretary of State Colin Powell

"In Paul Wellstone, our nation has lost a thoughtful and tireless legislator, a selfless public servant, and a passionate advocate for justice, human rights and peace in this world. ... Always, always for Paul, what came first were duty to country and a heartfelt commitment to the well-being of ordinary men, women and children worldwide. Paul Wellstone was a stand-up guy. He used the power of his office for good. His memory will forever be a blessing to all of us who knew him. And his work will continue to be a blessing to countless thousands of people across the globe who never met him, but whose lives will be forever bettered by his work."

Former Vice President Al Gore

"Sen. Paul Wellstone was in many ways an ideal public servant. He was the Mr. Smith who went to Washington, a down-to-earth public servant filled with enthusiasm for people and a love of life, someone who stood up vocally and passionately every day for a core set of principles and values. He loved his job because it was the best way he could serve the people of his state and his country. To cite one example among many, Paul was by far the biggest and most energetic champion of quality mental health coverage for all Americans who need it. We worked with him closely on this issue and on behalf of the mental health community his passing leaves us with an irreplaceable loss. "

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California:

"I am devastated by the death of my dear friend and colleague Paul Wellstone. His passion and commitment for those without a voice will be forever recognized in Senate history. I will miss his powerful voice and his friendship. I will never forget his contribution to the people of this country."

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale:

"Paul Wellstone was one of the most valiant public servants I have ever known. He had a very good mind, but he also had an honest mind. And he served what he believed in, no matter what the challenge. He also had a great heart and he fought all of those years right up until this morning to help change this country and protect the decent spirit of our nation. And he had something else, he had his wife, Sheila, and together they made one of the most impressive public couples in America. They had a wonderful family and together, they helped this state and all of us so much. I think if Paul were here, he'd want us to think about one thing and that is to carry on the fight that he led with such brilliance and courage over all of these years. And Paul and Sheila, we intend to do that."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R- Iowa

"Sen. Wellstone was a good friend, and I am deeply saddened today. Paul Wellstone loved politics and never shied away from a fight for what he believed. I admired that quality greatly. We didn't always agree on issues, but we always walked away from the debate as friends. We enjoyed and respected each other. I'll miss him. This is a great loss."

Sen. Jeanne Carnahan, D- Missouri

"Sen. Wellstone was a champion for the working men and women of our country. He always spoke from his heart and stayed true to his beliefs. A proud and passionate voice for working people has been silenced today. I will miss him greatly."

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