Lloyd Bentsen Dies

Lloyd Bentsen
Lloyd Bentsen, who served Texas in Congress for nearly 30 years, ran for Vice President, and served as President Bill Clinton's first Treasury Secretary, has died at his Houston home at the age of 85. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Lloyd Bentsen spent most of his adult life in politics. He was born in south Texas, and after flying bombers in World War II, he was elected to three terms in the US House starting in 1948, and three terms in the U-S Senate starting in 1970, when he defeated future President George H.W. Bush. After his unsuccessful run for Vice President with Michael Dukakis in 1988, he left the Senate in 1993 to serve as Treasury Secretary in the first Clinton administration. Austin Political Consultant Neal Spelce says Bentsen was a classic American success story.

"He was a patrician, elegant, sophisticated individual, with a personality to match, and a smooth way of operating, and yet he had his roots in the hard scrabble country of the Rio Grande valley."

Houston consultant Peter Roussel says Lloyd Bentsen typified a time when politicians respected each other despite their political differences.

"He was tough, but at the end of the day he was a fair politician, and that is the way the political game was played in those days. Tough but fair. Unfortunately, I think a lot of that is gone now and there's a mean-spiritedness that didn't exist during Bentsen's era."

Bentsen spent his final years in failing health after a debilitating stroke in 1995. Funeral arrangements are pending, and he'll be buried in Houston on a date to be announced. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.