Luminaries Remember Tim Russert

Notables from the news and political worlds are mourning the loss of Tim Russert, host of NBC News' "Meet the Press."

Russert died of an apparent heart attack today at age 58.

Here is what they are saying:

President George W. Bush

Written statement: "Laura and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Russert. Those of us who knew and worked with Tim, his many friends, and the millions of Americans who loyally followed his career on the air will all miss him.

"As the longest-serving host of the longest-running program in the history of television, he was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades. Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it.

"Most important, Tim was a proud son and father, and Laura and I offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, Maureen, his son Luke, and the entire Russert family. We will keep them in our prayers."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

To reporters: "We all, I think, have heard the news about Tim Russert. I've known Tim Russert since I first spoke at the [Democratic National] Convention in 2004. He's somebody who, over time, I came to consider not only a journalist but a friend.

"There wasn't a better interviewer in TV, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics, and he was also one of the finest men I knew -- somebody who cared about America, cared about the issues, cared about family.

"I am grief-stricken with the loss, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And I hope that even though Tim is irreplaceable, that the standard that he set in his professional life and his family life are standards that we all carry with us in our own lives."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Written statement: "I am very saddened by Tim Russert's sudden death. Cindy and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the Russert family as they cope with this shocking loss and remember the life and legacy of a loving father, husband and the preeminent political journalist of his generation. He was truly a great American who loved his family, his friends, his Buffalo Bills, and everything about politics and America. He was just a terrific guy. I was proud to call him a friend, and in the coming days, we will pay tribute to a life whose contributions to us all will long endure."

To reporters: "Tim Russert was at the top of his profession. He was a man of honesty and integrity. He was hard, but he was always fair. We will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And we know that Tim Russert leaves a legacy of integrity, of the highest level of journalism, and we'll miss him. We'll miss him a lot.

"Again, he was hard. He was fair. He was at the top of his profession. He loved his country. He loved the Buffalo Bills. And most of all, he loved his family."

Tom Brokaw, NBC News

NBC News special report: "It's my sad duty to report this afternoon that my friend and college, Tim Russert, the moderator of "Meet the Press" and NBC's Washington bureau chief, collapsed and died early this afternoon while at work in the NBC news bureau in Washington. Tim had just returned from a family trip to Italy with his wife, Maureen Orth, the writer, and his son, Luke. They were celebrating Luke's graduation from Boston College just this spring. Tim, of course, has been the host of "Meet the Press" longer than any other person in that long-running television broadcast. He has been a very familiar face on this network and throughout the world of political journalism as one of the premier political analysts and journalists of his time.

"Tim, 58 years old, grew up in Buffalo and he wrote a No. 1 best-selling "New York Times" book called "Big Russ and Me," about his childhood and especially about his relationship with his father, big Russ. That was followed by another No. 1 New York Times best-seller called "The Wisdom of our Fathers." That book was inspired by the many letters that he received from other children talking about their relationship with their fathers.

"This was one of the most important years in Tim's life for so many reasons. He loved this political campaign. He worked to the point of exhaustion so many weeks, not just on "Meet the Press" but on MSNBC, and with our colleague Brian Williams, of course, during the debates and on special coverage on NBC Nightly News.

"Tim was a true child of Buffalo and the blue-collar roots in which he was raised. For all of his success, he was always in touch with the ethos of that community. Just last week, he was back in Buffalo moving his father from his home to another facility. His father is now in his late 80s. Big Russ, it goes without saying, our heart goes out to him and all members of Tim's family. Tim loved his family, his faith, his country, politics. He loved the Buffalo Bills, the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals. He of course had season tickets to that team when they moved to Washington. ...

"To repeat, our beloved colleague, one of the premier journalists of our time, Tim Russert, died this afternoon after collapsing at work at the NBC News bureau in Washington, D.C. And I think I can invoke personal privilege to say that this news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice. He will be missed as he was loved, greatly.

Steve Capus, president, NBC News

Written statement: "This is a loss for the entire nation. Everyone at NBC News is in shock and absolutely devastated. He was our respected colleague, mentor, and dear friend. Words can not express our heartbreak. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maureen, Luke, Big Russ and all of Tim's family."

Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer, NBC Universal

Written statement: "We are heartbroken at the sudden passing of Tim Russert. We have lost a beloved member of our NBC Universal family and the news world has lost one of its finest. The enormity of this loss cannot be overstated. More than a journalist, Tim was a remarkable family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, their son, Luke, and Tim's entire extended family."

Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric (parent company of NBC News)

Written statement: "Everyone at GE and at NBC Universal is devastated by the loss of our colleague and friend Tim Russert. Tim was a giant in journalism and a face and a voice that America trusted. He earned that trust through hard work, love of his profession and, above all, through his enduring honesty and integrity. And most importantly, Tim was a wonderful human being who valued family and friends over all. We will miss him greatly. My sincerest sympathies go out to Tim's family and to the many people whose lives he touched."

David Westin, president, ABC News

Written statement: "Tim Russert was a great newsman who helped set the standard for political reporting and public affairs programming. His fine work made all of us better and benefited the Nation as a result. Tim was also a great friend to so many of us. But above all, Tim was a man devoted to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and everyone at NBC News at this devastating time."

George Stephanopoulos, host, ABC News' "This Week With George Stephanopoulos"

Written statement: "Tim loved everything about politics and journalism -- because he believed in it. Every day he brought Washington home to his viewers and made all of us better. My thoughts and prayers are with his family -- especially Maureen, Luke and his father Russ."

Bob Schieffer, host, CBS News' 'Face the Nation'

"Tim was the best of our profession. He asked the best questions and then he listened for the answer. We became very close friends over the years. He delighted in scooping me, and I felt the same way when I scooped him. When you slipped one past ol' Russert, you felt as though you had hit a home run off the best pitcher in the league. I just loved Tim and I will miss him more than I can say, and my heart goes out to his son, Luke, and his wife, Maureen."

Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Washington bureau

On-air report: "The shock waves cannot be fully expressed. Tim was our friend, our leader, our cheerleader, our teacher, my mentor. Tim came to this bureau in 1988, 20 years ago, as the bureau chief. Even before that, he, of course, was a vice president of NBC News and was in charge of the 'Today' program and a great contributor to shaping political coverage. He was a guide to all things political."

Charles Gibson, anchor, ABC News' 'World News Tonight'

Oral statement: "Everyone in this business feels great regret at his passing. He was a fine man."

Written statement: "Tim projected vitality -- always excited about the stories he covered and intrigued by the people he interviewed. That's what made him so good, and his passing so hard to absorb. His competitors -- just like his co-workers -- held Tim in the highest of regard."

Diane Sawyer, co-anchor, ABC News' 'Good Morning America'

Written statement: "No one could see Tim in a room and not smile.

"He brought so much joy and curiosity and sheer vitality to all our lives.

"As a journalist, he would set out like a great explorer. You couldn't wait to see what he discovered every day in the new world.

"He was a defining American newsman. Love of country, love of family poured through him -- onto the screen, into the work, into stories at dinner, into the little chuckle that reminded us -- aren't we lucky to be here in this big life."

Barbara Walters, ABC News

Written statement: "There is no one who knew Tim, and that includes millions of Americans who felt they knew him too, who isn't deeply shocked and saddened by his death. Tim was everyone's idea of what a journalist should be and he made us proud. He interviewed me just one month ago for his weekly television show and much of our conversation had to do with his love for his father, Russ, and his son, Luke. My heart goes out to his wife, Maureen, and to Luke and Russ."

Cokie Roberts, ABC News

Written statement: "Tim Russert was a great competitor and a good friend. I am obviously shocked and dismayed by this news and extend my thoughts and prayers to his son Luke -- he was so proud of you -- to his wife Maureen and to the rest of his family, especially his beloved father. Tim and I worked together on Catholic causes, and I will greatly miss him."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Written statement: "We were stunned and deeply saddened to hear of the passing today of Tim Russert. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, his son Luke, his father who we all have come to know as Big Russ, his extended family and all of his many friends and colleagues at NBC who have suffered a tremendous loss. Always true to his proud Buffalo roots, Tim had a love of public service and a dedication to journalism that rightfully earned him the respect and admiration of not only his colleagues but also those of us who had the privilege to go toe to toe with him. In seeking answers to tough questions, he helped inform the American people and make our democracy stronger. We join his friends, fans and loved ones in mourning his loss and celebrating his remarkable contribution to our nation."

Former Vice President Al Gore, D-Tenn.

Written statement: "The U.S. and the world have a lost a great journalist, interviewer and author. He was an original and will be greatly missed."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Written statement: "I was greatly saddened to learn of Tim Russert's untimely death. Tim was a warm and gracious family man with a great zest for life and an unsurpassed passion for his work. His rise from working-class roots to become a well-respected leader in political journalism is an inspiration to many. Tim asked the tough questions the right way and was the best in the business at keeping his interview subjects honest. My thoughts are with his family."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

Written statement: "It is hard to comprehend and even get your arms around the fact that Tim Russert has been taken from us so suddenly. Just about every American thought he was part of their family, sitting around the kitchen table on Sunday mornings, talking about the country and its politics. I first met Tim Russert when he was working for Pat Moynihan, and even then it was clear he had a great mind, a big heart, and a twinkle in his eye. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today.

"Western New York, in particular, will miss Tim Russert because he was in every way Mr. Buffalo. Even when he was interviewing presidents and heads of state, western New Yorkers knew that his blue collar, Buffalo sensibility guided him throughout."

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

Oral statement: "He always instinctively knew what was important and what to ask. It was tough being on 'Meet the Press.' I always enjoyed it."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

To reporters: "I join in these expressions of condolences to Tim Russert's family. This was a great guy, a great journalist and the truth is he made us all better. He was tough on 'Meet the Press,' but I never felt he was out to knock down government or politicians. He was trying to make us all better, and I think he really did that. We're going to miss him a lot."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

"[California first lady] Maria [Shriver] and I were deeply saddened to learn about the death of Tim Russert. Tim was an American icon in the world of political journalism who could relate to everybody. His insightful commentary and tough but fair interviews helped millions of Americans better understand our political system. It is hard to imagine a presidential election without Tim and his trademark graphics and questions on 'Meet the Press.' American politics and journalism will never be the same without him.

"But Tim was not only one of the top journalists of his generation; he was a close friend, a warm and generous person and a wonderful family man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Maureen, his son, Luke and his entire family."

CIA Director Mike Hayden

"Like so many Americans, I knew Tim Russert as a dedicated, thoughtful journalist. His passing is a loss for our country and for all who hold dear the principle of a press that is free, vibrant, and responsible. Tim embodied those qualities, which he combined with a powerful sense of decency and kindness. Having had the privilege of appearing on 'Meet the Press' this past March, I saw his gifts as a reporter and interviewer. Tim knew that the good, brisk exchange of ideas could make any issue -- including sensitive and complex intelligence issues -- accessible to the American public. He was a true patriot, devoted to the education of his fellow citizens. At this time of grief, my thoughts and prayers are with Tim's family and friends."

Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association and former executive producer of "Meet the Press"

To ABC News Radio: "He can be credited with revitalizing the Sunday interview format and making things that happened inside the Beltway terribly relevant and terribly important too all Americans."

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