- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

The Senate yesterday honored Sen. Strom Thurmond, who will become the first "centennial senator" on Dec. 5, his 100th birthday.

"A true product of the Old South, Senator Thurmond has emerged to become a leader of the New South," said Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, who joined the Senate four years after Mr. Thurmond.

"I think he is the living example of 'the best politics is no politics,'" said Democratic Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, who because of Mr. Thurmond's long tenure as the senior senator from South Carolina has become the longest-serving junior senator in history.

Mr. Thurmond, who has been ailing in recent years and is accompanied to the Senate floor for votes by an aide, sat in his seat in the chamber yesterday accepting congratulations from his colleagues during the advance celebration. Senators hope to have finished their business and be at home in December.

Mr. Thurmond has had a unique career. He was elected to the Senate in 1954 as a write-in candidate the only person ever to accomplish that. In 1996, he became the oldest senator in history; in 1997, the longest-serving; and in 1998, he became the second senator to cast 15,000 votes.

He has been a member of the Democratic Party leadership and the Republican Party leadership, and ran a third-party presidential candidacy that won the electoral votes of four states in 1948.

"There's not another American, living or dead, who can make that claim," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Mr. Byrd recalled Mr. Thurmond's "human touch" always calling to console after a family member had died or was in the hospital and other senators recalled Mr. Thurmond's praise for their wives.

Never one to disappoint on that account, Mr. Thurmond closed his speech by noting, "I love all of you, and especially your wives."

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