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Howard Baker Jr.

Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker received the 2006 Dole Leadership Prize for his leadership in the Senate, as White House Chief of Staff, and as Ambassador.

Senator Baker began his long and distinguished career in public service in 1943 when he joined the United States Navy. After earning his law degree in 1949, he practiced law and ran his father’s successful campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1950. After narrowly losing in a 1964 special election, Baker himself ran for Senate in 1966 and won. He became Tennessee’s first popularly-elected Republican Senator.

A natural leader, Baker was a successful Senator. His accomplishments include:

  • Serving as Senate Minority Leader from 1977 to 1981,
  • Serving as Senate Majority Leader from 1981 to 1985, and
  • Serving as Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, also known as the Senate Watergate Committee, where he gained notoriety for asking the question: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”
  • He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1984

He served in the Senate until 1985 when he decided to not seek a fourth term. In 1987, Baker served as White House Chief of Staff to President Reagan. Following the 1988 election, Baker returned to Tennessee to work in various law firms. In 2001, George W. Bush appointed Baker U.S. Ambassador to Japan, a position he held until 2005.

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