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Biden, Clinton praise Lautenberg's work ethic, values in upbeat eulogies

Vice President Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday eulogized the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) with affectionate and, at times, humorous recollections of the longtime lawmaker. 

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The eulogies, which were among a set of speeches by lawmakers and family members for Lautenberg at a New York synagogue, came two days after Lautenberg, 89, died of viral pneumonia. 

Biden, Clinton, Jill Biden, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and New Jersey Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell, Frank Pallone Jr., and Rush Holt were all at the funeral. The Senate was closed for the day to allow members to attend the funeral.

Clinton recounted her time as a New York senator serving alongside Lautenberg and sitting with her Democratic colleague during Senate votes. 

"But you'd sit with Frank, and you just couldn't help but have a smile on your face at least one time in the conversation," Clinton said. "And as Frank would say though, it's not where you sit that counts, it's where you stand. And there was never any doubt where he stood."

Clinton cited Lautenberg's work on guns, transportation and prohibiting smoking on airplanes. Clinton also said Lautenberg was "a steadfast champion of women's rights and opportunities."

"But I have to tell you, I was talking with some of my friends who are still serving so incredibly well in the Senate today. We did consider him kind of an honorary member of the women's senators club," Clinton said. 

"Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the Senate, has a phrase for those of our male colleagues who really go the extra mile for women. She calls them our Galahads. Frank was one of them. But he would have been the first to say he was doing it for his daughters and for his granddaughters."

Biden began his eulogy by recounting how Lautenberg once asked him whether he should run again. 

"And even then, Frank was slowing a little bit, and he knew it," Biden said. "But I said, Frank look, I think you'll win again if you run again. I think even [New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R)] will vote for you," Biden said, which won more laughs from the audience. 

Biden's speech was also sober at times. 

"Frank once said there's no end to what can be accomplished if you work like the devil and, my God, did he work like the devil," Biden said. 

Like Clinton, Biden also highlighted Lautenberg's legislative accomplishments. 

"He's the reason why domestic abusers are prohibited from owning a gun," Biden continued. 

"Saving so many more lives, as Dick Durbin [D-Ill.] knows. I proudly wrote the Violence Against Women Act, and Frank thought even then that we should have that prohibition in it. And he didn't rest until he got it done."

Most of all, Biden concluded, Lautenberg was a man of "convictions." 

"But most of all, Frank had the courage of his convictions, and he acted on those convictions," Biden said. "He spoke with principle and purpose. This was a self-made man."