Utah leaders react to death of Harry Reid

Former Sen. Orrin G. Hatch called Reid the “embodiment of the American Dream.”

(Brendan Smialowski | Bloomberg News) Former Sen. Orrin Hatch speaks at a news conference on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as Schip, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007. Listening at left is Harry Reid, former majority leader of the U.S. Senate, who died Tuesday. In a tweet, Hatch called Reid, 82, the “embodiment of the American Dream.”

Elected leaders in Utah and across the country expressed their condolences late Tuesday after the death of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid, 82, died Tuesday after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer, according to The Associated Press.

During his tenure, he became the highest-ranking elected Latter-day Saint ever to serve in the U.S. He also was Nevada’s longest-serving member of Congress.

Gov. Spencer Cox announced Wednesday that flags at state facilities throughout Utah will be flown at half-staff on the day of Reid’s interment, in honor of his life and legacy.

In a tweet late Tuesday, former Sen. Orrin G. Hatch called Reid the “embodiment of the American Dream.”

“He worked his way up from a hardscrabble youth to become the Senate Majority Leader,” Hatch wrote. “I’m grateful to have known Harry and to have called him a friend.”

Sen. Mike Lee on Tuesday said Reid had been his family’s Latter-day Saint home teacher — and was the father of one of Lee’s close friends — before the two ever worked together in the Senate.

“Senator Harry Reid was a kind, caring friend. He will be missed. Sharon and I are praying for Landra and their family,” Lee tweeted, referring to Reid’s wife, Landra Reid.

Current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Reid was “tough-as-nails strong but caring and compassionate, and always went out of his way quietly to help people who needed help.”

“He’s gone but he will walk by the sides of many of us in the Senate every single day,” Schumer said in a statement.

On Tuesday night, former President Barack Obama shared that he had recently written Reid a letter at Landra Reid’s request, due to Harry Reid’s declining health.

In the letter, Obama wrote that he wouldn’t have been president without Reid’s support. He credited Reid’s skill and determination and called him a great leader in the Senate.

”Most of all, you’ve been a good friend,” Obama wrote. “As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other — a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team. ... The world is better cause of what you’ve done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight.”

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lauded Reid as a “devoted and capable public servant who was dedicated to his family, his faith and his country.”

“We are grateful for his tireless service in each of these facets of a life well-lived,” the church said in a news release. “We pray that Senator Reid’s loved ones will be blessed and sustained at this tender time of parting and in the years ahead.”

Reid appeared on The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Mormon Land” podcast earlier this year after the Capitol siege in one of his final extended interviews. Listen here.