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Biden remembers Byrd as mentor and 'dear friend'

Biden, speaking in Louisville, Ky., recalled that Byrd acted as a mentor when Biden joined the Senate and stood by him through times of personal tragedy.

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Biden said of Byrd: He was "one of my mentors — a guy who was there when I was a 29-year-old kid being sworn into the United States Senate shortly thereafter; a guy who stood in the rain, in a pouring rain, freezing rain outside a church as I buried my daughter and my wife before I got sworn in, Robert C. Byrd."

The vice president praised Byrd as someone who always fought for his home state, and as a close friend.

"We lost the dean of the United States Senate, but also the state of West Virginia lost its most fierce advocate and, as I said, I lost a dear friend," Biden said, according to a transcript provided by the White House.

Biden called Byrd "a tough, compassionate and outspoken leader and dedicated above all else to making life better for the people of the mountain state — his state, the state of West Virginia." 

"He never lost sight of home," Biden said. "He may have spent half a century in Washington. But there’s a guy — if anybody wondered — he never, never, never, never took his eye off his beloved mountain state. And we shall not — to paraphrase the poet — we shall not see his like again. And the Senate is a lesser place for his going."