George Smathers, U.S. senator from Florida, Jan. 20

George Smathers, U.S. senator from Florida, Jan. 20 U.S. Sen. George A. Smathers, a dashing South Florida politician who forged friendships with presidents, waged war against communism, resisted civil rights legislation and was an early voice cautioning of Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba, died at his home in Indian Creek Village, an island community outside Miami, on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2007. He was 93. Smathers served two terms in the U.S. House and three in the Senate and was a Marine pilot during World War II. His 1950 campaign against Claude Pepper was legendary. Included were remarks that Smathers said he never said: "Do you know that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Sen. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy ... and vacillated on the House floor." Smathers was among the earliest and loudest voices cautioning of Fidel Castro's communist leanings, urging a hard-line approach to Cuba and a total embargo. He opposed Thurgood Marshall's nomination to the Supreme Court, called the Brown vs. Board of Education decision a "clear abuse of judicial power," and offered to pay the Martin Luther King Jr. 's jail bail if he'd leave the state. Smathers left office in 1969 and opened his own lobbying firm in Washington. Shown here in 1957 are the Democratic majority leader Lyndon Johnson, of Texas, right, as he talks with senators, from left, John F. Kennedy, D-Mass.; Smathers; Hubert H. Humphrey, D-Minn.; and William Proxmire, D-Wis.
AP, file
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