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Sen. Leahy shares advice for future Vermont politicians

Office of Sen. Patrick Leahy
Office of Sen. Patrick Leahy
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving U.S. senator from Vermont, is nearing the end of his eighth term in the chamber.

Sen. Patrick Leahy's memoir, "The Road Taken," recounts the major moments from his 48 years in the U.S. Senate, from his key vote to not reauthorize the Vietnam War, to hiding with fellow senators during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Host Mikaela Lefrak spoke with Sen. Leahy on Vermont Edition about the process of writing the book, which was published in August, and how he feels about his approaching retirement. He also shared his advice for the Vermont politicians who will serve in Congress after his retirement.

The following transcripts have been slightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Advice for Vermont's future politicians in Congress: "I would tell them, Don't worry about transitory political things, those change all the time. What can you say when you walk out of here? Aim for that. Because to do the things that need to be done — the things you've wanted to do — you're going to, many times, have to cast unpopular votes. You're, many times, going to have to really worked very hard to get people, both Republicans and Democrats, to come together on things. But it can be done."

On his health: "Oh I feel fine. The thing is, I'm third in line for the presidency. And so where most times if you feel bad about something, they might say, "Here, take two aspirins and go home." But with me, because I'm third in line to the presidency, they say, "Oh no, we're going to take you down, we're going to check you out."

On how he'll feel on his last day in office: "What I want is when Marcelle and I walk out of the Capitol at noon on January 3rd, we can be happy with what has happened. We can have the memories, and we can know that it made it worthwhile. Which is why I wrote The Road Taken — I wanted people to see what can be done. It's not always perfect. I didn't always win. But I feel I'm balanced. I've left something that's going to be worthwhile for other generations, no matter what their politics are."

Broadcast live on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Tedra worked on Vermont Edition as a producer and editor from 2022 to 2024.