Ford Hailed as a Leader, Public Servant

Gerald Ford is being remembered for his dedication, his personal integrity and his leadership. President Bush hailed his service to the country during a tumultuous time. Jimmy Carter called Ford "one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I have ever known."

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Today, the former president is being remembered for his dedication, his personal integrity and his leadership. Speaking this hour, President Bush hailed Gerald Ford's service to his country during a tumultuous time.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: President Ford was a great man who devoted the best years of his life in serving the United States. He's a true gentleman who reflected the best in America's character.

MONTAGNE: Mr. Bush said that the former president will have a special place in our nation's memory.

President BUSH: President Ford lived 93 years, and his life was a blessing to America. And now this fine man will be taken to his rest by a family that will love him always and by a nation that will be grateful to him forever.

MONTAGNE: President Bush speaking this morning.

Others who knew Gerald Ford offered two views of their own. Jimmy Carter was Ford's opponent in the 1976 election; Carter won that election and succeeded Gerald Ford as president. Today, Jimmy Carter called President Ford, quote, “one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I've ever known.” Carter went on to say he frequently rose above politics by emphasizing the need for bipartisanship and seeking common ground on issues critical to our nation.

Vice President Dick Cheney served as President Ford's chief of staff. He said he was deeply saddened by Ford's death and called him a dear friend and mentor. He said, quote, “President Ford led an honorable life that brought great credit to the United States of America. Gerald Ford embodied the best of values a great generation - decency, integrity and devotion to duty.”

Former first lady Nancy Reagan praised Ford for his service to the country. His accomplishments and devotion to our country are vast, she said. And even long after he left the presidency, he made it a point to speak out on issues important to us all.

And finally, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger offered these thoughts on Gerald Ford. He accepted the enormous responsibilities of the presidency during a dark hour in our history. No man could have been better suited to the task of healing our nation and restoring faith in our government.

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