Obama Remembers Former House Speaker Tom Foley

The president leads tribute honoring the accomplishments of the Washington state republican.
8:11 | 10/29/13

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Transcript for Obama Remembers Former House Speaker Tom Foley
Together and. The full -- when. -- -- -- And -- friends. President Clinton. Vice president Mondale. Former speaker's. And those who proceeded me I am honored to join you today. To. Remember man -- -- The virtues of devotion. And respect. For the institution. That he let. For the colleagues that he served alongside. And most importantly for the citizens. That he had the honor to represent. Unlike so many -- -- I did not have. The privilege of knowing Tom personal. I admired him from -- But like millions of Americans. -- benefit from his legacy. Thanks to Tom -- children. Get a head start on success. In school. And life. More seniors receive better health. More families us. Breathe easier because they -- their country. Will be there for them in times of me. And all of them. All of us. Are indebted to that -- man from Spokane. I think. In listening to the wonderful memories that have been shared -- get a sense of this man and we recognize. His humility. He often attributed. Much of his success to good law and he may have had a point. Leader McConnell. Told the story about. His first race. There -- a couple of details we've got left out on the way to Olympia to file the paperwork for his first congressional campaign apparently Tom. Blew out -- -- So he and some friends hitchhiked to a service station to get it affects. And men as they approached -- outskirts of the city they ran out of gas. So they pushed the car up the hill. Coasting in the town just before the deadline. And Tom went on to win that race. By resounding 54 votes. So there's no question that there may have been. Some welcome the Irish. Operating -- in the top forward. As well us incredible stamina. What what led him to make history as the first speaker of the house from west of the Rockies was not law. It was -- hard work. As deep integrity. It's powerful intellect. And it -- Bob Michael so. Eloquently and movingly stated his ability to find common ground. -- his colleagues across the and it was his personal decency. That helped him bring stability and order to a congress. That demanded both. -- told us. Which brings me to a final point at a time when. Our political system can seem more polarized. And more divided than ever before. -- can be tempting. To see the possibility of by person. Progress is a thing of the past. Old school. -- -- The can be attempting to what are we still have room for leaders like -- whether they have -- The media. The way that districts are drawn. The pressures that. Those of us in elected office are under somehow preclude the possibility. That brand of leadership. Well. I believe we have to. Find our way back. Now more than ever. America needs public servants who are willing to place. Problem solving ahead of politics. As the letter that President Clinton held up in the case is the history of the crime bill -- We are sent here. To do what's right and sometimes doing what's right it's -- And suffered. And yet. That's the measure of leadership. It's important for us. Who feel a responsibility to fight for -- cause. To recognize that. Our cause is not advance if we can't also. Try to achieve -- much. The same way -- our founders saw. As vital part of our democracy. The very thing that makes our system. Of self government possible. That's what Tom Foley believes. That's what he embodied. That's. The legacy that. Shines brightly today. On the last day but he presided as speaker Tom described what it should feel like to serve the American people in this city. He spoke about coming to work in the morning and catching it. A glimpse of the capital. They said that it ought to give anyone. -- The sense not only of personal satisfaction. But very deep gratitude to our constituents. For the of letting us. Represent them. Tom never lost that sense of wonder. Notes that are singers I've read. Passage -- wrote. The first time. I visited Capitol Hill tumble -- speaker I was. Very young man who -- Doing community work. Remember seeing that capital and having that same sense of wonder. And I think now about Tom -- been here doing that work. And inspiring what. Might have ultimately led me -- the interest in public service as well. When we're standing outside. These magnificent buildings. We have that sense of wonder and that's that's a hope. And sometimes the longer here. The harder it is to hang on -- that. And yet. Tom Foley never lost. Never lost that sense of wonder never lost. The sense of gratitude. What a privilege. He felt it was. To -- And he never forgot -- came. On behalf of this nation and his state. And the citizens that he loved. And respected so much. And so as a country. We have to be grateful to. To Heather. People of the great state of Washington. Thank you so much for sure -- -- us. God -- -- God bless the United States America.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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