Lloyd Millard Bentsen Jr. (born February 11, 1921) is an American politician. A four-term United States Senator from Texas as a Democrat, he was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 1988.
His family name should not be confused with that of another Western political figure, Ezra Taft Benson.
Bentsen was born in Mission, Texas. He graduated from University of Texas Law School in 1942 and served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945. He served in the Army Air Corps flying over 200 bombing missions over Europe.
He served in the United States House of Representatives from December 1948 to January 3, 1955. Bentsen was in private business until 1970 when he won an upset victory against Ralph Yarborough in the Democratic primary for the United States Senate. Bentsen went on to win the general election against George H. W. Bush. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1976, 1982 and 1988.
In 1988 Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis chose him to be his running mate in the 1988 presidential election. One elector in West Virginia cast a ballot for him rather than Dukakis in voting, giving him one electoral vote for President. He was responsible for one of the most memorable moments of the campaign, when during a televised debate with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Dan Quayle, he countered Quayle's seemingly innocent self-comparison to John F. Kennedy with the famous rebuttal, "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." Although the Dukakis-Bentsen ticket lost the election in a landslide, Bentsen's remark against Quayle arguably cast a political stigma on Quayle throughout his term as Vice President.
He retired from the Senate in January, 1993 in order to serve as the 69th Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1994. Clinton's selection of Bentsen for his cabinet was criticised as resulting in a loss of a Democratic Senate seat when Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison won the special election in Texas for Bentsen's vacated seat. As Secretary of the Treasury, Bentsen helped to shepherd Clinton's first budget through Congress.
Two hundred seventy miles of U.S. Highway 59, from I-35 to I-45 in Texas, is officially named the "Senator Lloyd Bentsen Highway".
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