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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Young raises a glass to Ted Stevens: 'He loved his country'



For years, Congressman C.W. Bill Young hammered out some of the biggest issues of the day opposite the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Ted Stevens, who died Monday in a plane crash in Alaska.

His longtime friend recalled him with great fondness as news of the death was confirmed Tuesday. "He loved his country. He was constantly doing what he could to strengthen national security interests," Young said in an interview. "He was a charger, and a good friend."

And a skilled negotiator. Young said Stevens was tough but also resourceful. One night in the Clinton era, there was serious disagreement over education spending and things were getting tense. "Stevens said, 'bring out the Merlot.' "

"We finally broke the gridlock," Young, who does not drink himself, said with a laugh. Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc., referenced the scene in his book Raising Hell for Justice. "As the last items were being tied down, Stevens produced a satisfied smile and a bottle of Merlot, and we sealed the agreement with a toast."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:18am]


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