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Colleagues remember Ford as selfless, honorable

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(CNN) -- Reactions to the death of Gerald Ford:

President George W. Bush:
"President Ford was a great American who gave many years of dedicated service to our country. On August 9, 1974, after a long career in the House of Representatives and service as vice president, he assumed the presidency in an hour of national turmoil and division. With his quiet integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency.

"The American people will always admire Gerald Ford's devotion to duty, his personal character, and the honorable conduct of his administration. We mourn the loss of such a leader, and our 38th president will always have a special place in our nation's memory. On behalf of all Americans, Laura and I offer our deepest sympathies to Betty Ford and all of President Ford's family. Our thoughts and prayers will be with them in the hours and days ahead." (Watch President Bush remember Ford in a statement from Crawford Video)

Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as Ford's White House chief of staff:
"President Ford led an honorable life that brought great credit to the United States of America. Throughout his career, as a naval officer, congressman, vice president and president, Gerald Ford embodied the best values of a great generation: decency, integrity, and devotion to duty. Thirty-two years ago, he assumed the nation's highest office during the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. In that troubled era, America needed strength, wisdom, and good judgment, and those qualities came to us in the person of Gerald R. Ford. When he left office, he had restored public trust in the presidency and the nation once again looked to the future with confidence and faith."

Former President Jimmy Carter:
"Rosalynn and I join the nation in mourning the loss of President Gerald Ford. President Ford is one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I have ever known.

A man of highest integrity, his life-long dedication to helping others touched the lives of countless people. An outstanding statesman, he wisely chose the path of healing during a deeply divisive time in our nation's history. He frequently rose above politics by emphasizing the need for bipartisanship and seeking common ground on issues critical to our nation. I will always cherish the personal friendship we shared. Rosalynn and I extend our heartfelt sympathy to Betty and the entire Ford family during this time of grief."

Former President George H.W. Bush:
"Jerry Ford was, simply put, one of the most decent and capable men I ever met. During our time in Congress together, so many years ago, he epitomized leadership to me. Then as president, he led this nation so ably through the turbulent waters of Watergate and was both a vigilant and effective Cold Warrior. Most of all, I will remember him as a devoted family man and a man of honor -- who never stopped serving this country he loved so deeply. Jerry Ford was the kind of human being who made you proud to call him your friend, and we will miss him very much."

Former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton:
"Gerald Ford brought Americans together during a difficult chapter in our history with strength, integrity, and humility. All Americans should be grateful for his life of service; he served our nation well. To his great credit, he was the same hard-working, down-to-earth person the day he left the White House as he was when he first entered Congress almost 30 years earlier."

Former first lady Nancy Reagan:
"Ronnie and I always considered him a dear friend and close political ally."

"His accomplishments and devotion to our country are vast, and even long after he left the presidency he made it a point to speak out on issues important to us all. I know that his early support of stem cell research has been important in getting the U.S. Congress to debate the potential lifesaving cures and treatments that may result."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California:
"In a time of national crisis, America turned to Gerald Ford. He accepted the enormous responsibilities of the presidency during a dark hour in our history, fully knowing the daunting challenge he faced. No man could have been better suited to the task of healing our nation and restoring faith in our government.

"President Ford's leadership was marked by his selflessness. He made the most difficult of choices based entirely on what he believed to be in the best interest of his country and its people, the mark of history's greatest leaders."

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona:
"A man of great moral character and patriotism, he led our country during a time of great distress and saw us safely through our troubles with grace and courage. In one of the most generous and selfless acts by a political leader in modern times, he sacrificed his own ambitions to help move our country beyond the divisions and disillusionment caused by Watergate and a lost war, and restore our trust in our governing institutions.

"In war and peace, he served America faithfully and well, and will be remembered as the good man to whom this nation turned in a difficult hour, and who did not let us down."

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, R-Michigan:
"He will be remembered for leading with integrity and character. He brought West Michigan values with him to Washington and maintained them throughout his rise from congressman, to Republican leader of the House of Representatives, to vice president and president of the United States of America."

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska: "The death of Gerald Ford is a sad moment for all Nebraskans and all Americans. History will remember President Ford for holding our nation together during a time of trauma and division. He earned the trust and the confidence of the American people through the force of his will and his common decency."

Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan:
"Gerald Ford and I came from different sides of the aisle, but we forged a wonderful friendship as we served Michigan together in the House of Representatives. When his nation called on him to serve this country in the most difficult of times, he rose up and held the country together. It will certainly be his legacy."

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky:
"Gerald Ford was a man of modesty, decency, and national healing. Although he never aspired to America's highest office, once there he renewed our faith in our nation's system of government. He also earned our affection and respect."

The Rev. Billy Graham:
"President Ford was one of the closest friends I have had in the political world, and I have the greatest admiration for him and his wife, Betty.

"I remember in his inaugural speech he said, 'You have not elected me as your president by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your president with your prayers.' God certainly answered those prayers. President Ford was the great healer, and brought us together. We owe a great debt to him for how he put principle over politics at a crucial time in the life of our nation."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson:
"The thing that I remember the most, of course, after meeting with him several times, was his signing of the extension of the Voting Rights Act. So he was a decent man who left a great track record of good service to our country."

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"The American people will always admire Gerald Ford's devotion to duty," said President Bush.



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