Richard Lugar, Who Led Arms-Control Pacts in Senate, Dies at 87

April 29, 2019by Stephen Miller
U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana in the East Room at the White House on Nov. 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Lugar died Sunday, April 28, 2019. He was 87. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

NEW YORK — Richard Lugar, a six-term Republican senator from Indiana whose foreign-affairs and farm-policy dealings with Democrats represented a bygone era of bipartisanship, has died. He was 87.

The Lugar Center, a Washington-based think tank founded by the senator, said Lugar died peacefully on Sunday. The cause of death was complications from CIDP (chronic inflammatory demylinating polyneuropathy), a neurological disorder.

Lugar led Senate confirmation of treaties with the Soviet Union limiting nuclear weapons during the 1980s. After the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, he and Democratic Senator Sam Nunn led the legislative effort to demolish weapons of mass destruction in the successor states.

Serving in the Senate from 1977 to 2013, Lugar was twice chairman of its Foreign Relations Committee and often traveled abroad on diplomatic and fact-finding missions.

“Our nation and our world are safer because of this statesman,” President Barack Obama said in awarding Lugar the Medal of Freedom in 2013. “And in a time of unrelenting partisanship, Dick Lugar’s decency, his commitment to bipartisan problem-solving, stand as a model of what public service ought to be.”

ANTI-TARIFF SENATOR

On domestic policy, Lugar was the rare senator from a farm state who opposed agricultural subsidies, and from a manufacturing state who was against trade tariffs. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee in 1996, he was father of the so-called Freedom to Farm law that eliminated many government subsidies and regulations dating from the 1930s.

Wedding his agriculture and foreign-policy concerns, Lugar was an early supporter of federal research on ethanol, a gasoline substitute produced from corn, a major crop in Indiana.

“Farmers are presented with the opportunity to produce a cash crop by collecting their agricultural wastes,” Lugar said in a 2005 speech.

Originally elected as a conservative, Lugar developed a reputation as a moderate Republican with no qualms about working with Democrats on legislation. In 2007, he and then-Senator Obama cooperated on the Lugar-Obama proliferation and threat reduction initiative, aimed at preventing terrorists from getting weapons such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

Lugar lost his bid for a seventh Senate term in 2012 when a challenger with strong Tea Party support defeated him in the Republican primary election.

EAGLE SCOUT

Richard Green Lugar was born on April 4, 1932, in Indianapolis, according to his Congressional profile. His parents, Marvin Lugar and the former Bertha Green, farmed more than 600 acres outside of Indianapolis.

Young Dick Lugar became an Eagle Scout and sold war bonds door-to-door, according to the 2012 biography “Richard G. Lugar: Statesman of the Senate” by John Shaw. He graduated first in his high-school class but lost when he ran for senior class president.

In 1954, Lugar earned a bachelor’s degree from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He won a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Pembroke College at the University of Oxford in England.

From 1957 to 1960, Lugar served in the U.S. Navy, where he became an intelligence briefer to Admiral Arleigh Burke, then chief of naval operations.

AMERICAN POWER

“Burke was a mentor for me on how America as a world power makes a difference,” Lugar told his biographer.

Back in Indianapolis, Lugar managed the family farm and helped run a food-machinery business. He served on the school board and, in 1968, he was elected to the first of two terms as mayor. His major accomplishment was merging Indianapolis with its wealthier suburbs, expanding the population by 50 percent and the area by a factor of four. He claimed the enlarged city would be better able to address challenges and fund operations, according to his biography.

Lugar was widely touted as President Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor, and Indianapolis received millions in federal block grants under the administration’s “New Federalism” program. He campaigned around the country for Nixon and delivered a keynote address at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. After losing his first run for the U.S. Senate in 1974, Lugar encouraged speculation that he might run for president in 1976, according to contemporary news accounts.

Instead, he ran for the Senate again and won that year.

PRESIDENTIAL BID

In 1996, Lugar sought the 1996 Republican nomination for president, sporting the slogan “Nuclear security and fiscal sanity.” He struggled in early primaries and withdrew in March.

His 36 years in the Senate ended after Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party conservative, beat him in the 2012 Republican primary. In defeat, Lugar issued a statement excoriating the hard-right governing philosophy as “reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party,” according to a New York Times article.

In retirement, he opened the Lugar Center, focused on global food issues and weapons of mass destruction.

Lugar was married to the former Charlene Smeltzer. They had four sons, Mark, Robert, John and David.

———

©2019 Bloomberg News

Visit Bloomberg News at www.bloomberg.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

In The News

Health

Voting

In Memory

Walter Mondale, Carter's Vice President, Dies at 93
In Memory
Walter Mondale, Carter's Vice President, Dies at 93

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, a liberal icon who lost one of the most lopsided presidential elections after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won, died Monday. He was 93. The death of the former senator, ambassador and... Read More

Vernon Jordan, Activist, Former Clinton Adviser, Has Died
In Memory
Vernon Jordan, Activist, Former Clinton Adviser, Has Died

ATLANTA (AP) — Vernon Jordan, who rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer, has died, according to a statement from his daughter. He was 85.  Jordan's daughter, Vickee... Read More

National Native American Veterans Memorial to Open Near Capitol Hill Nov. 11
Veterans
National Native American Veterans Memorial to Open Near Capitol Hill Nov. 11
October 16, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Right now, it's just a hub of activity behind a construction area awning at the foot of Capitol Hill, but come Nov. 11 the site, on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian, will be transformed into the National Native American... Read More

Few in Number, Black Residents in Appalachia Push for Justice
In The States
Few in Number, Black Residents in Appalachia Push for Justice

Just as soon as the grand jury decision came down in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, several people in southeastern Kentucky began organizing a candlelight vigil in her memory. Taylor was killed in March by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, who executed a midnight no-knock... Read More

John Lewis to Lie in State in the U.S. Capitol
Congress
John Lewis to Lie in State in the U.S. Capitol
July 24, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Rep. John Lewis will lie in state at the Capitol next week, with the public viewing extended over two days and moved outdoors to allow for social distancing and public health precautions due to COVID-19. After an invitation-only arrival ceremony in the Capitol rotunda... Read More

Ross Perot, Self-Made Billionaire, Patriot and Philanthropist, Dies at 89
In Memory
Ross Perot, Self-Made Billionaire, Patriot and Philanthropist, Dies at 89

DALLAS — Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, renowned patriot and two-time independent candidate for U.S. president, has died after a five-month battle with leukemia. He was 89. The pioneer of the computer services industry, who founded Electronic Data Systems Corp. in 1962 and Perot Systems Corp. 26... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top