Senator Carper’s Statement on the Death of President Gerald Ford

WILMINGTON, DE – “Yesterday, the United States lost a true leader and a real gentleman. President Gerald Ford united our country during one of our darkest times and worked toward healing this nation after Watergate and the Vietnam War. He made the tough decisions – but the right decisions – during some very difficult days. Although President Ford had stepped down as President six years before I was first elected to the Congress in 1982, I had the honor of being with President and Mrs. Ford on several occasions. The last time was when Mrs. Ford was being honored with a Commonwealth Award here in the First State in 1998. She sat with a number of us at the head table. He sat close by in the audience at another table with – among others – my wife Martha. He truly beamed as Betty was being honored for her personal courage and leadership that evening and seemed to relish the role of dutiful and supportive spouse. Martha and I were both struck by how down-to-earth he was and by his sense of humility and humanity. The dedication of the Fords to each other was hard to miss, and I left that night inspired both by Mrs. Ford’s efforts to help people overcome addiction, as well as by a husband and wife’s commitment to each other. In life, President Ford was a statesman when we truly needed one. He never aspired to be President while rising to leadership roles in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he told Martha over dinner that night that the leadership role he really aspired to for many years was Speaker of the House. However, once he became President, he frequently sought to put country before party, sometimes at his own political peril. As President, and as House Minority Leader, he governed from the middle. He was fair, just, and considerate of others, qualities that we would all do well to embrace on our own. We could use more leaders like Gerald Ford in both of our political parties today. Hopefully, on January 4 when a new Congress convenes, they will begin to emerge.”