Featured Article

Reporters and Lawmakers React to Dodd's Retirement
Article Audio

2:54 minutes (1.4 MB)
Download this Article
Share this Content

Dodd's retirement announcement earlier today seems to have everyone talking. WNPR's Ray Hardman has reaction from people who have a long history with the five-term Senator.

"He's been a mentor of mine, and a dear friend."
That's First District Congressman John Larson, speaking earlier today at the Ragin'Cagin' restaurant in Downtown Hartford:

"People who don't understand Washington, who don't understand what it takes to get legislation done have no idea what this man has done.  You know why?  Because he never goes around patting himself on the back, he just rolls up his sleeves and gets the job done, and has done it effectively, efficiently over all these years."

Larson says his relationship with the Senator goes back to Dodd's first term in 1980, where Larson served as Dodd's First District Coordinator:

"There're so many people in government today because of Chris Dodd."

"Well, I have to say when I was an intern in his Congressional office for a summer when i was in college, my very first day, they had me opening mail."

Connecticut Senate President Donald Williams
was one of those politicians who got their start with Chris Dodd.

"And he said, 'You're new here. Come with me.' and he sat me down, and we had a great conversation for 20 minutes or 30 minutes, he was asking me what I was studying, what I wanted to do, he really took that personal interest."

Williams says Dodd is a throwback type of politician that is in short supply in Washington these days:

"Chris Dodd was able to rise to the level of a committee chairman, he was able to rise to a level of having built up personal relationships with folks on both sides of the aisle, again, I think that's where some of that old-school experience, person-to-person communication and relationship building helped him become a really effective senator."

"You'd be hard-pressed to find a Republican here with a bad word to say about Chris Dodd."

Reporter David Lightman covered Washington and Chris Dodd for the Hartford Courant for over two decades. He now covers the Capitol for McClatchy newspapers. He says the Capitol press corps was shocked when they came to work this morning:

"You know, in talking to people over the last few months, people I respect would say he's in trouble, and I would scoff and say he may be in trouble, but he's Chris Dodd, he's a master campaigner, he can pull it out of a hat!"

And it's for that reason that Lightman believes his motivation to retire was more personal than political:

"This summer alone, his very close friend Ted Kennedy dies, his sister Martha dies, he goes and has an operation for prostate cancer, he comes in here, and I'm calling from the Senate now, he comes in here and every day he sits next to Bob Byrd, right?  Who is barely alive, and you wonder if that weighs on him.  Plus, I mean he's now helped steer the health care bill through, that's gonna be over in a few weeks, the financial regulation stuff, that's gonna be done this year.  You know? Sort of a good, up-beat way to leave."

For WNPR, I'm Ray Hardman.