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Politicians, Colleagues Praise Russert as Institution in Journalism

NBC anchor Tim Russert's death Friday stunned and saddened his colleagues and the many politicians and other guests who had appeared on his long-running show "Meet the Press."

Condolences poured out of Washington for his family, as those who knew him praised him as an institution in political journalism.

President Bush: Laura and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Russert. Those of us who knew and worked with Tim, his many friends, and the millions of Americans who loyally followed his career on the air will all miss him. As the longest-serving host of the longest-running program in the history of television, he was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades. Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it. Most important, Tim was a proud son and father, and Laura and I offer our deepest sympathies to his wife Maureen, his son Luke, and the entire Russert family. We will keep them in our prayers.

NBC News President Steve Capus: This is a loss for the entire nation. Everyone at NBC News is in shock and absolutely devastated. He was our respected colleague, mentor, and dear friend. Words can not express our heartbreak. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maureen, Luke, Big Russ and all of Tim's family.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: I was greatly saddened to learn of Tim Russert's untimely death. Tim was a warm and gracious family man with a great zest for life and an unsurpassed passion for his work. His rise from working-class roots to become a well-respected leader in political journalism is an inspiration to many. Tim asked the tough questions the right way and was the best in the business at keeping his interview subjects honest. My thoughts are with his family.

Anchor Dan Rather: Tim's passing is a loss not only to his family and many friends, it is a loss to good journalism and to our country. Tim, first and foremost, was devout in his faith and deeply devoted to his family. He loved his country with a passion and became a classic example of the ideal American journalist. Tim had become an important part of our political process. He will be especially missed in this historic presidential election year. Tim Russert was a beacon of quality journalism. At a time when quality journalism is in increasingly short supply, Tim Russert was a leader for what is best in American journalism. He was tough but fair, pulled no punches, played no favorites. As an interviewer, he had few, if any, peers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Today, broadcast journalism lost one of its giants, who will be remembered along with names like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and David Brinkley ... Tim Russert embodied the very best in broadcast journalism and has been a fixture in millions of living rooms every Sunday morning on "Meet the Press," an institution that he shaped into one of the most influential news and opinion programs of our time. A stellar journalist, Tim also touched our hearts with his loving portrait of his father in the best-selling book, "Big Russ and Me."

House Minority Leader John Boehner: Tim Russert was so much more than the longest-serving moderator in history of NBC's "Meet the Press." He was a loyal and loving son. He was a devoted husband and father. He was one of the smartest, toughest television news journalists of all time. And he was an astute student of American politics. I can say from experience that joining Tim on "Meet the Press" was one of the greatest tests any public official could face. Regardless of party affiliation, he demanded that you be straight with him — and with the American people who were watching. Tim's white board analysis of the Electoral College has become a fixture on election nights, and frankly, it is difficult to imagine what that night will be like without him this year.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: I join the nation in mourning the loss of Tim Russert, an American icon in the world of political journalism. Having sat in the studio with him, I can only say that he was a gentleman when the "on air" light was lit as well as when it was not. I was fortunate enough to have seen him and shared a stage with him just recently, and his ability to communicate the issues and connect with a live audience was not only informative, but inspirational. His respect and love of the political process was only exceeded by the respect and love he had for his family.

Buffalo Bills Team: The Buffalo Bills organization is devastated in hearing the news of the passing of Tim Russert. Tim, as everyone knows, was a tremendous Bills fan. He was always so proud to let people know just how much he loved our team and was such a great ambassador for Buffalo. So many times he ended his "Meet The Press" show with his patented "Go Bills!" that it became part of our Game Day morning rituals. He was a true friend and we will miss him immensely. Our sincere sympathies go out to his family and our team carries a heavy heart tonight as we mourn the loss of this great man, Buffalo's native son and a Bills fan forever.

Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.: Kitty and I are greatly saddened by this tragic news. Tim is a giant of journalism and an institution in Washington. He was clearly a man who took great pride in his work and he understood the serious nature of journalism. He also played a great role off-camera helping young people by volunteering his time with the Boys and Girls Club and Americas Promise - Alliance for Youth. His insights will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.: This was a great guy, a great journalist and the truth is he made us all better. He was tough on "Meet the Press" but I never felt that he was out to knock down government or politicians. He was trying to make us all better and I think he really did that. We are going to miss him a lot.

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt: It's hard to quantify the influence that Tim Russert has had over political discourse in this country today. And it's even harder to express the toll that his death will have on journalism for years to come. His commitment to the unbiased truth transformed "Meet the Press" into the premiere political news program of our day.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy D-Mass.: Tim Russert was a gentleman and giant, not just in politics and journalism, but in life. And through that life, he gave us all a model worth emulating. With a reasoned voice, a sharp mind and a fair hand, Tim took the measure of every Washington official and all those that sought to be one. He was a great journalist and an even better friend. His passing is a tragic loss for us all, but especially for the family he loved so much. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tim's wife Maureen and his son Luke.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.: I was deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Tim Russert. Our country lost a great man today and an even greater journalist. Tim epitomized what every journalist should aspire to be and I respected his talents immensely. He was a true believer in the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and was never ever afraid to ask the tough probing questions. He told the truth, was thoughtful, did his homework and was never out to be a part of the gotcha journalism that has so permeated our culture in recent years. He had a love of country, his profession, and most of all his family. He will be sorely missed by not only this Senator, but also by all Americans who had a genuine respect for honesty and integrity in journalism and in all human beings. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones and the NBC family.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton D-N.Y. and former President William Jefferson Clinton: We were stunned and deeply saddened to hear of the passing today of Tim Russert. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen, his son Luke, his father who we all have come to know as Big Russ, his extended family and all of his many friends and colleagues at NBC who have suffered a tremendous loss. Always true to his proud Buffalo roots, Tim had a love of public service and a dedication to journalism that rightfully earned him the respect and admiration of not only his colleagues but also those of us who had the privilege to go toe to toe with him. In seeking answers to tough questions, he helped inform the American people and make our democracy stronger. We join his friends, fans and loved ones in mourning his loss and celebrating his remarkable contribution to our nation.