Dec. 14, 2009
Lee Eaton, the former Chairman of Family Research Councils Board of Directors, has passed away. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the Eaton family. I have a special place in my heart for this outstanding Christian gentleman.
In 1995, I attended a conference here in Washington at the Willard Hotel. One of the conference speakers was then-Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas. Sen. Gramm was a most knowledgeable economist. In 1981, he had co-sponsored the famous Gramm-Latta bill when he was a Democrat in the House of Representatives. Gramm-Latta was Ronald Reagans Number One economic priority. That bill passed with strong bi-partisan support. Thats something weve rarely seen recently. And it became the basis for Americas booming prosperity for nearly thirty years.
When Phil Gramm was booted out of the House Democratic caucus for helping President Reagan win his greatest domestic victory, he did a most extraordinary thing. He resigned his seat, switched parties, and ran for election to Congress as a Republican. He won overwhelmingly.
Later, as U.S. Senator, Phil Gramm always voted pro-life. And we deeply appreciated it. But Lee Eaton wanted more. He wanted a man who was going to run for President to be not just a quiet supporter of life. He wanted Sen. Gramm to have the confidence to move peoples hearts on this most troubling of questions.
Sen. Gramms prepared remarks to the conference were received with strong applause. He was clearly scoring points with this conservative audience.
Then, Lee Eaton stood up. In his most courtly manner, he thanked the senator for his consistent pro-life voting record. But Lee asked Phil Gramm why he never spoke out in behalf of the unborn.
Sen. Gramm answered: Im runnin for President, not for first preacher. The audience was stunned. There were audible groans from the people who only moments before had cheered the brave Texan.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that was the worst answer from a Presidential candidate ever, until, of course, one later said the question of the humanity of the unborn is above my pay grade.
Sen. Gramms campaign for President of the United States never caught fire. He was quickly in and quickly out.
I have never forgotten that wonderful moment. Lee Eaton stood tall and spoke for all of us in that room. He gave courage to many of us who on occasion felt beaten down. I thank God for his heart, his honor, and his fearlessness.