Reactions to the death of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd on Monday:
President Barack Obama:
"I was saddened to hear this morning that the people of West Virginia have lost a true champion, the United States Senate has lost a venerable institution, and America has lost a voice of principle and reason with the passing of Robert C. Byrd.
"Senator Byrd's story was uniquely American. He was born into wrenching poverty, but educated himself to become an authoritative scholar, respected leader, and unparalleled champion of our Constitution. He scaled the summit of power, but his mind never strayed from the people of his beloved West Virginia. He had the courage to stand firm in his principles, but also the courage to change over time.
"He was as much a part of the Senate as the marble busts that line its chamber and its corridors. His profound passion for that body and its role and responsibilities was as evident behind closed doors as it was in the stemwinders he peppered with history. He held the deepest respect of members of both parties, and he was generous with his time and advice, something I appreciated greatly as a young senator.
"We take solace in the fact that he is reunited with his wife of nearly 69 years, Erma; and our thoughts and prayers are with their daughters, their grandchildren and great grandchildren, and all the people of West Virginia who loved Robert C. Byrd."
Vice President Joe Biden:
"A guy who was there when I was a 29-year-old kid being sworn into the United States Senate shortly thereafter; a guy who stood in the rain, in a pouring rain, freezing rain outside a church as I buried my daughter and my wife before I got sworn in ... . We lost the dean of the United States Senate, but also the state of West Virginia lost its most fierce advocate and, as I said, I lost a dear friend.''
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton:
"Today our country has lost a true American original, my friend and mentor Robert Byrd.
"Senator Byrd was a man of surpassing eloquence and nobility. I will remember him most for a heartfelt comment he made to me in the dark days following 9/11, when my state of New York was reeling and we were scrambling to provide support and relief. "Think of me as the third senator from New York," he said. And he meant it. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Byrd, who chaired the Appropriations Committee, New Yorkers got the help they needed. I will never forget his devotion and his friendship in that critical time.
"It is almost impossible to imagine the United States Senate without Robert Byrd. He was not just its longest serving member, he was its heart and soul. From my first day in the Senate, I sought out his guidance, and he was always generous with his time and his wisdom. I admired his tireless advocacy for his constituents, his fierce defense of the Constitution and the traditions of the Senate, and his passion for government that improves the lives of the people it serves. And as Secretary of State, I continued to rely on his advice and counsel. I have been grateful for the support he has provided as a leader of the Appropriations Committee to our diplomats and development workers as they serve our country and advance our interests all over the world.
"Robert Byrd led by the power of his example, and he made all of us who had the honor of serving as his colleagues better public servants and better citizens. After more than five decades of service, he has left an indelible imprint on the Senate, on West Virginia, and on our nation. We will not see his like again.
"I am heartened to know that Senator Byrd is now reunited with his beloved Erma, the high-school sweetheart who became his wife of nearly 70 years and the love of his life. My thoughts and prayers are with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.:
"It has been my greatest privilege to serve with Robert C. Byrd in the United States Senate. I looked up to him, I fought next to him, and I am deeply saddened that he is gone," Senator Rockefeller said. "He leaves a void that simply can never be filled. But I am lifted by the knowledge of his deep and abiding faith in God, I have joy in the thought of him reunited with his dear Erma, and I am proud knowing that his moving life story and legacy of service and love for West Virginia will live on.
"Senator Byrd came from humble beginnings in the southern coalfields, was raised by hard-working West Virginians, and triumphantly rose to the heights of power in America. But he never forgot where he came from nor who he represented, and he never abused that power for his own gain. My lasting thoughts and innermost prayers are with his family, his staff, the people of West Virginia, and all those who loved him."
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.:
"Over the next several days, the pundits will try to sum up in limited words the life of Senator Byrd. They will fall far short. We will hear about structures that bear his name, about records he set, about votes he cast. And none of those measures will come close to capturing the enormity that was Robert C. Byrd. I do not know how to begin trying to calculate his immense influence on the People of this Nation and the People of West Virginia; perhaps because so much of what he gave us is beyond measure -- wisdom, reason, hope. We will not see the likes of a Robert C. Byrd pass our way again.
"He was a defender of the Constitution, a champion of the Senate. He was West Virginia's greatest ally, her faithful son, a source of tremendous pride, and our Big Daddy. He was a mentor, a teacher, a leader, a constant source of inspiration. And he was my friend. I will miss him always."
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.:
"The United States Senate has lost an icon, and the people of West Virginia a beloved son who was woven into the very fabric of our state.
"Senator Byrd's mastery of the Senate will be remembered for the ages, but those who knew him best realize his legacy will be one of love for the West Virginians he served for nearly 57 years. Whether he is remembered as the young man who played the fiddle or the elder statesman that carried a copy of the Constitution in the pocket next to his heart, Robert Byrd touched the lives of countless West Virginians. His service to West Virginia and dedication to our nation's democracy set an example to which generations can aspire.
"We pray for his family and take comfort in knowing he has gone home for the last time to join his beloved Erma in the presence of God."
Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va.:
"My wife, Barbara, and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Robert C. Byrd, our friend, my mentor, and West Virginia's great, great senator.
"Today marks the end of an era. There are few who remember a West Virginia without Robert C. Byrd, and there are none who expect to see his like again.
"It was my tremendous good fortune to know Senator Byrd all of my life and to work closely with him during my 28 years in Congress. But all of us were witness to his greatness, and all of us will feel his loss.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family -- today and always."
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin:
"Gayle and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and great senior Sen. Robert C. Byrd. Like all West Virginians, the news broke our hearts. Sen. Byrd was a fearless fighter for the constitution, his beloved state and its great people. He made a significant mark as a member of Congress in both our state's and nation's history. ... Our hearts and prayers go out to his daughters, friends and loved ones, his committed staff and to the people of West Virginia; we have suffered a terrible loss.
West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Rick Thompson:
"Senator Byrd's passing is an unspeakable loss, first and foremost to West Virginia, but also to Congress and the country as a whole. He is a giant in the United States Senate, for his unmatched dedication to public service, incredible Constitutional scholarship and above all, his reverence and respect for the democratic process. He is the most important public servant in West Virginia's history and our state's biggest advocate and protector.''
West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis: