Former U.S. Senator and one-time presidential candidate Paul Simon died Tuesday, a day after undergoing heart surgery at a hospital in his home state of Illinois. He was 75. In Washington, members of the U.S. Senate fondly remembered the former Democratic lawmaker, known for his honesty and integrity.
Mr. Simon's career in public office spanned four decades, including five terms in the House of Representatives beginning in 1974 and two terms in the Senate, before he retired in 1997.
Known for wearing bow ties, Mr. Simon had a strong reputation for honesty. It was a trait recalled by a number of Senators who came to the Senate floor to pay tribute to their late colleague.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist said "he was a wonderful man, a wonderful United States Senator, always thoughtful, always plain-spoken, and a man of impeccable integrity."
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle added "Paul Simon was a friend. Paul Simon was a giant on whom we depended for the guidance, the leadership and the courage this Senate has come to expect from people as capable as he was when he served. We will miss him dearly."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert called Mr. Simon 'a distinguished statesman' and 'a selfless public servant'.
In the area of foreign affairs, Mr. Simon was an outspoken advocate of U.S. involvement in peacekeeping efforts in Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He served as chairman of the African Affairs subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee. He played an important role in congressional passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, after his late-breaking decision to back the accord gave other Democrats the political cover they needed to support the measure.
On the domestic front, he worked to curb television violence, successfully pushing the industry to monitor the amount of violence on the screen.
In 1988, he made an unsuccessful attempt to get the Democratic Party's nomination for President.
He dropped out of college when he was 19 years old, but he went on to write more than a dozen books and own more than a dozen small weekly newspapers in rural Illinois.
After he retired from Congress, Mr. Simon lead the Public Policy Institute, a bipartisan research organization he founded at Southern Illinois University.