Kerry Curtails Campaigning; Praises Reagan's Lack of Partisanship

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - Sen. John F. Kerry told reporters on Sunday that President Ronald Reagan was a leader who will be missed. Kerry praised the late president's lack of "partisanship," and told reporters that he would suspend "overtly political" campaigning this week out of respect for Reagan's passing.

Sen. Kerry canceled a trip to Denver, where he was supposed to make a Monday-morning speech: "We're going to suspend any sort of overtly political rallies, events like that," Kerry was quoted as saying.

In a statement reacting to Reagan's death on Saturday, Kerry called Reagan's love of country infectious: "Even when he was breaking Democrats hearts, he did so with a smile and in the spirit of honest and open debate. Despite the disagreements, he lived by that noble ideal that at 5 p.m. we weren't Democrats or Republicans, we were Americans and friends."

Kerry reminisced about the famous friendship between President Reagan and [former House Speaker] Tip O'Neill, a Massachusetts Democrat: The two men "fought hard and honorably on many issues," Kerry noted, then "sat down together to happily swap jokes and the stories of their lives.

"The differences were real, but because of the way President Reagan led, he taught us that there is a big difference between strong beliefs and bitter partisanship," Kerry said in the statement.

"Today in the face of new challenges, his example reminds us that we must move forward with optimism and resolve. He was our oldest president, but he made America young again."

Kerry also praised former First Lady Nancy Reagan for loving her husband with such devotion.

"She helped all of us better understand the cruel disease that took him away before it took his life, and what we must do to prevent and cure it."

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