What friends, foes say about Hastert

 
 
Published: 2/21/2008 3:15 PM | Updated: 2/22/2008 12:12 AM

"Denny kind of came along at the right time. We were kind of groping in the Republican party for leadership. I don't know how it happened but Denny was chosen. And it turned out to be the best thing that could've been done. He was the right guy for the right place at the right time."

-- Former Republican Sen. Bob Dole

"I remember the day that Denny agreed to become Speaker. We had been through a tumultuous time in the mid '90s. And what the team was looking for was a coach."

-- U.S. Rep. John Boehner, former House Republican leader, Ohio

"As Speaker, Denny worked with both Republicans and Democrats to take care of the people's business. Thanks to his outstanding leadership, we cut taxes for all Americans who pay income tax, we improved education, we opened up new markets abroad for America's goods and services and we made prescription drugs more affordable for our nation's seniors."

-- President Bush

"You'd think a Democratic president serving with a Republican Speaker would have a difficult time working together. But for us that wasn't true. During my presidency we were able to cross party lines repeatedly to get things accomplished for the American people. We worked to increase capital in inner cities and rural areas, to raise the minimum wage, to support the efforts of our troops in Kosovo."

-- Bill Clinton

"He loves people. He loves taking time and talking to people. … He understood instinctively that politics is about engaging with people, not just the public, not just the voters but with your colleagues. It's really a people business."

-- Scott Palmer, Hastert's chief of staff, 1986-2007

"He really is the coach. He really draws very deeply on that part of his life which I think is a terrific skill to have in politics. Politics really is the ultimate team sport. It's an adult team sport.

-- U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican

"Even if you disagreed with him, or even if a segment of the House disagreed with him, you felt that on balance he was going to be somewhere in the middle of an argument."

-- U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a Chicago Democrat

"Denny never, ever forgot who sent him to Congress. … He might have been the night before in a meeting with the president of the United States and the next morning he would have been at a coffee shop somewhere in his district."

-- State Rep. Tom Cross, House GOP leader, Oswego

"I think there's not a lot he has to brag about in his legacy, frankly. … He presided over one of the most corrupt Congresses in America. His leadership marked an increase in the pay to play system. He's always been the quiet guy on the side. He never took responsibility for his failures."

-- Melanie Sloan, executive director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

"It seems odd that given the fact that he brought so much money to Kane County through the farmland protection program that he championed the Prairie Parkway that will destroy thousands of acres of farmland."

-- Jan Strasma, Maple Park, chairman of Citizens Against the Sprawlway, a Prairie Parkway opposition group