- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

Mike Mansfield, who rose untutored from the mines of Montana to become the longest-serving majority leader in Senate history, died yesterday. He was 98.
Mr. Mansfield had undergone surgery Sept. 7 to have a pacemaker implanted in his chest after complaining to friends of feeling weak. He died in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center at 7:35 a.m.
Mr. Mansfield served 34 years in Congress, including 15 as leader of the Senate's Democratic majority, from 1961 until his retirement from the Senate in 1976. Liberal, gentle, scholarly and expert in Asian affairs, he went on to become U.S. ambassador to Japan, serving two presidents.
At a time when the Senate echoed with strident voices and grew crowded with mounting egos, Mr. Mansfield's patience cultivated trust among both parties that allowed him to steer the Senate through the tumultuous years of civil rights demonstrations and Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and Richard Nixon's Watergate.
He was his most vocal in his early, fervent and unsuccessful opposition to the Vietnam War, which he called a "grotesque mistake."
Upon retirement, Mr. Mansfield said his greatest disappointment during his more than three decades in Congress was: "I was not able to stop or slow down the Vietnam War."
In March 1998, when Mr. Mansfield was chosen to inaugurate a lecture series for senators on the history of the Senate, Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, included him among "the Senate's giants who dealt, rightly or wrongly, wisely or otherwise, with some of the most momentous decisions our republic has ever faced."
In Tokyo, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a statement saying: "Former Ambassador Mansfield's contributions to the friendship between Japan and the United States were great."
Mr. Mansfield was elected to the House in 1943. He served five terms there before he was elected to the Senate in 1952.
In 1957, he was elected assistant Democratic leader under Mr. Johnson, the Texas Democrat who controlled the Senate in arm-twisting style. When Mr. Johnson became vice president, Mr. Mansfield became majority leader.

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