President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and lawmakers are mourning the death of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Robert Strauss.
“Bob was one of the greatest leaders the Democratic Party ever had, yet presidents of both parties relied on his advice, his instincts, and his passion for public service — not to mention his well-honed sense of humor,” Obama said.
Strauss served as DNC chairman from 1972-1977, during which time he was credited with reinvigorating a party that had become divided and debt-ridden. He ascended to party leadership on the heels of the late Sen. George McGovern’s (D-S.D.) loss in the presidential election.
"Strauss later went on to serve Presidents from both parties with distinction domestically and abroad. He was a proud Texan and legendary Democrat who always put his country ahead of all else,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
During his career, Strauss advised both Republican and Democratic presidents, including Lyndon Johnson (D), Jimmy Carter (D) and George H.W. Bush (R).
During the 1970s, Strauss served as U.S. special trade representative, an adviser to Carter on inflation and a U.S. envoy to the Middle East. He also served as chairman for Carter’s presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980.
In 1991, Bush appointed Strauss to serve as ambassador to what was then the Soviet Union. He stayed on through 1992, after the USSR broke up. He worked to mend the relationship between the U.S. and Russia, working with then-President Boris Yeltsin.
“As President Carter’s trade representative, he helped open new markets for American exports,” Obama said. “As President Bush’s last Ambassador to the Soviet Union and first Ambassador to the Russian Federation, he stood up for our interests and values at a moment of immense change. Bob was truly one of a kind, and our thoughts are with his children, his family, and his friends too numerous to count.”
Strauss was also regarded in Washington as an influential attorney and lobbyist. He was a founding partner of law and lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Strauss had also served as chairman of the U.S. Russia Business Council.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Strauss died of natural causes.
— This report was updated at 7:30 a.m.