INDIANAPOLIS, IN (AP/WTVQ) – Former longtime U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a foreign policy expert, has died. He was 87.
Lugar was a Rhodes Scholar who was first elected to the Senate in 1976, after eight years as Indianapolis mayor.
He was a generally loyal conservative but lost his bid for a seventh Senate term in the 2012 GOP primary after attacks over his reputation for cooperation with Democrats and friendliness with President Barack Obama.
Lugar gained little traction with a 1996 run for president, but he focused on the threat of terrorism years ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, released the following statement on Sen. Lugar’s passing:
“I am deeply saddened by the death of my good friend and longtime colleague Senator Richard Lugar. Along with so many of my current and former Senate colleagues who were privileged to serve alongside him, I am mourning with and praying for Charlene and the entire Lugar family.
“In so many ways my friend Dick was the consummate U.S. Senator. He combined the principled commitments of a patriot with the political instincts of a savvy legislator. He was a wise counselor and leading voice within the Republican conference and an inexhaustible bipartisan collaborator who earned the admiration of everyone across the political spectrum. And even as he built mastery over key national and international issues, he was Indiana’s devoted son the whole way — which is why Hoosiers made him their longest-serving Senator in history.
“Sen. Lugar’s expert dedication to U.S. foreign policy and world affairs defined his career and helped shape the post-Cold War order. In particular, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program and his other work to monitor and decommission dangerous weapons of mass destruction as the Soviet Union fell apart is more than just one statesman’s legacy. It is an historic global achievement. Thousands of warheads, hundreds of missiles, and whole stockpiles of chemical weapons have been neutralized thanks in huge part to Dick Lugar.
“Sen. Lugar leaves behind a sea of admirers and a loving family. He leaves behind many colleagues — like me — whose careers owe much to his wisdom and generosity. And he leaves behind a world that is measurably much safer for his efforts. A remarkable legacy for a remarkable public servant.”