PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The oldest member of the U.S. Senate made one thing clear: He’s not going anywhere yet.
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg spoke in his hometown of Paterson on Friday, one day after announcing he would not seek re-election next year.
At the start of his speech, someone in the crowd yelled “We love you Frank!” as others held signs declaring him a legend.
“I am not announcing a retirement,” Lautenberg said. “I am announcing today I will be continuing on my mission to do the right thing wherever I can.”
The 89-year-old said he’ll fight for gun control, against global warming and press to ensure working families are not left behind.
“I want to work with all of you to build a better Paterson, a better New Jersey and a better America for the children who are here today,” he said.
The speech was nostalgic as Lautenberg reminisced about growing up poor in the city.
“You can take the kid out of Paterson but you can’t take Paterson out of the kid,” he said.
He recounted how his father worked in a silk factory.
“One of the machines that he operated is in the museum here,” he said.
He credited the G.I. Bill with helping him go to college after World War II. Lautenberg got into politics after building a fortune as a founder of Automatic Data Processing, a payroll processor.
He was first elected to the Senate in 1982 and served five terms, retiring in 2000. Two years later, he was elected again and re-elected in 2008. Lautenberg is the last World War II veteran in the Senate.
He will be 90 when his term ends in 2015.
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