Goldwater Remembered As 'A Great Patriot'
ATLANTA (AllPolitics, May 29) -- Sen. Barry Goldwater may have been known as "Mr. Republican," but when he died Friday at 89, praise poured in for the elder statesman of the conservative movement from nearly every point along the political spectrum.
President Bill Clinton, speaking at a Rose Garden event on new federal anti-crime grants, remembered Goldwater as "truly an American original."
"I always came away every time I met him, from the first time back when I was a senior in college to the last time a couple of years ago, with the impression that he was a great patriot and a truly fine human being," Clinton said.
Goldwater's successor in the Senate, Republican John McCain, told CNN's Frank Sesno, "He was a person who really changed America. He'll be a chapter in American history; those of us who followed him will be footnotes.
"Barry Goldwater always did what he thought was right," McCain added. "He did not care about the political consequences; he was more interested in maintaining his principles than he was in maintaining collegiality or, frankly, even approval."
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) echoed McCain's respect for Goldwater. "Clearly, he understood what was happening in the country before many others did ... he played a very important and significant role in this country's history ..." Kennedy said.
A staunch advocate for a strong national defense, Goldwater was also remembered by the intelligence community. Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet issued a statement lamenting the loss of the former chairman of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
"With unwavering conviction, and iron independence, the senator called 'em as he saw 'em, and insisted that we in the intelligence community do the same," Tenet said. "He understood the needs of intelligence, but more than that, he understood the needs of the country."
But Goldwater will probably be best remembered for changing the face of the Republican party, not through victory but through defeat. His 1964 loss to President Lyndon Johnson may have been resounding, but his principles paved the way not only for the "Reagan revolution" but for many of today's Republican success stories.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan issued a statement saying she and her husband were "deeply saddened to say good-bye" to Goldwater.
She recounted the first meeting between Reagan and Goldwater, saying the two "first chatted about politics and their philosophies and about where they saw the country heading. Over the course of the evening they exchanged ideas, and I suppose it would be safe to say that 'the rest was history.'"
"Barry Goldwater will be remembered as a man who fought for freedom and liberty -- forthrightly and without compromise," said New York Gov. George Pataki. "He was the father of modern-day conservatism that committed itself to smaller government and to individual freedom and liberty. He was a great man who made a difference in my life ..."
Former Goldwater aide Victor Gold believes that although Goldwater's achievements could have been greater, his legacy will persist.
"Had he been elected, he would have done great credit to the country and great credit to himself," Gold said. He suggested Goldwater would have been known as a great president who paved the way for the "Reagan revolution."
Goldwater died at his home in suburban Paradise Valley, Ariz., of natural causes. He had been in declining health since 1996.