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Senator Madness: Bentsen vs. Gramm

Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas)

Lloyd Bentsen (1921-2006) is best known for being the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential running mate in 1988, and for uttering this line at Dan Quayle during the VP debate: “I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” But before that, Bentsen served in the Senate for 22 years (from 1971-1993), and he was chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Bentsen also was Clinton’s Treasury secretary from 1993-1994.

Phil Gramm (R-Texas)

Phil Gramm (1942-present) perhaps best embodies how southern Democrats transformed into southern Republicans. Gramm, a former economics professor at Texas A&M, began his political career as a Democratic congressman, but he later switched parties. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1985 to 2002, chairing the Senate Banking Committee and co-authoring the deficit-reduction Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act.