Charlie Rangel Reacts to Frank Lautenberg’s Death

Frank Lautenberg. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Frank Lautenberg. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Congressman Charlie Rangel reacted to the death of New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg Monday, expressing deep sadness at the loss of a long-time friend and the oldest member of the senate, whom he said America “loved so much.”

“Oh shit,” he said when told about the news of Mr. Lautenberg’s death at 89 by a reporter at a press event outside of Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem. “Oh God.”

Mr. Rangel described Mr. Lautenberg as a legend who embodied the spirits of bipartisanship and camaraderie that seem to have disappeared from Capitol Hill.

“Well, he’s a dinosaur, or was. Very seldom does a party reach out to someone that’s retired to save the party, as he did,” he said.

As he got older and after 9/11, Mr. Rangel said he switched from the air shuttle to Amtrak for trips to and from Washington, D.C.,  giving him “a chance to sit and talk with him a lot more than I did earlier.”

“He was so full of life, even when his body wasn’t responding. He loved this country so much and he loved Jersey more, if that was possible,” he said.

He said that Mr. Lautenberg didn’t reach out to the press as frequently as other politicians, “But for those who’ve had the real pleasure working with him, he made it possible for Republicans and Democrats to work together for a common cause for our country. And, unfortunately, we have lost most of that camaraderie in the last decade.”

“My deepest sympathy to his constituents, to America and to his family, who loved him so much,” he said.

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