With the passing of Gerald Ford, our nation has lost a strong leader and true patriot, who stepped into the presidency during a national crisis and earned the respect and affection of millions of Americans.

Gerald Ford was a kind hearted man who embodied the qualities that our citizens expect in a Commander in Chief: strength, resolve, honesty and a deep appreciation for our constitutional democracy. I personally worked with President Ford on several issues over the years, and always found him to be pleasant, gracious and thoughtful.

President Ford's elevation to the presidency from the U.S. House - and the manner in which he helped bind our nation's wounds - will never be forgotten. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Betty, his children and all his family and loved ones.