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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2006
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Riley orders flags at half staff

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley ordered flags lowered to half staff over state buildings in Alabama on Wednesday in memory of former President Ford, whom Republican leaders recalled for serving the country at a most difficult time.

Referring to the way Ford stepped into the presidency in 1974 after the resignation of Richard Nixon amid the Watergate scandal, Riley called the late president "a great man."

"He served the country at a crucial time in American history, and brought a sense of honor to the White House," Riley said.

Ford died Tuesday night at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 93.

"President Ford assumed the presidency during a difficult period in our country's history," said U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville. "His leadership helped restore integrity in our government."

Former Alabama Chief Justice Perry Hooper remembered Ford as a "great guy" and a "good friend."

Visited White House

Hooper was a member of the national Republican Executive Committee in the mid-1970s when Ford was president and visited him in the White House on several occasions.

"He was a first-class gentleman. He did the best job he could in some tough times," Hooper said.

Hooper said Ford's decision to pardon Nixon "probably hurt him" politically, but he said he felt Ford did the right thing. He said the Republican president never tried to interfere with the work of the GOP executive committee.

"He let us decide for ourselves," Hooper said.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh remembered Ford as "a great American." She said she worked with Ford several years ago when she was on the staff of the National Republican Committee.

'Graciousness'

"I will never forget the graciousness and humility he displayed to me while I was merely a young staffer at the time," Cavanaugh said.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said Ford helped restore confidence in government in the days after Watergate.

"Gerald Ford rose to the challenge as president and will be remembered for his modesty, integrity and bedrock decency," Sessions said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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