Strong reaction from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin today to the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, a man Harkin calls his “best friend” in the Senate. Harkin was to attend a one o’clock news conference, but it was quickly cancelled. Harkin was enroute to the event by car when he learned by phone of Wellstone’s death in the plane crash, and Harkin never got out of the car when it arrived at the venue and was bent over in grief inside when the car pulled away shortly afterwards. Harkin spokeswoman Tricia Enright gulped back her own grief as she spoke with reporters about Wellstone. She says Harkin counts Paul Wellstone as one of his “dearest friends in the Senate.” Harkin issued a written statement at about 2:30 this afternoon, saying Wellstone was a “powerful voice” for the underprivileged who “spoke from his heart and listened to the quiet voices that too often go unheard in Washington.” Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack issued a statement, calling Wellstone a “passionate politician in a time when there isn’t enough passion.” Republican Greg Ganske, a Congressman who’s running against Harkin, issued a statement as well, saying he and Wellstone sometimes found themselves on the same plane as they commuted to Washington, and Ganske called Wellstone a “very kind man.”Harkin later broke down sobbing in front of microphones as he tried to talk about Wellstone during a news conference in Cumming. Harkin finally pulled himself together to say no one ever stood up for the underprivileged like Wellstone.
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