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While Jeb Bush's testing of the waters on Dec. 16 has taken up most of the political news, I was more interested in U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's announcement of a similar interest in the presidency on the same day.

Graham, from Steven Colbert's home state of South Carolina, recently defeated six Republicans in the primary before being re-elected in November. I was pleasantly surprised because Graham's greatest sin, according to his six Republican opponents, was that he periodically actually worked with Democrats.

Graham was one of eight senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — who worked on legislation designed to "fix" the sorry mess our country finds itself in regarding immigration.

The bipartisan legislation easily passed in the Senate only to be shot down by the House of Representatives, seemingly lead by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

While I am not a supporter of Graham and much of what he stands for politically, I am a supporter of the man for the political courage he showed in pointing out the most significant problem facing our nation, both politically and morally.

In Graham's meeting with reporters on Dec. 16, he was quoted, "I never shied away from trying to solve problems, and working with the Democrats is not a sin if it advances the overall cause."

While maintaining that he usually agrees with the tea party faction of the Republican Party, he also stated, "The problem is that in our primary field, it's not about the times that you agree, it's about the 1 in 10 times that you disagree."

He emphasized, "The test for some is not, 'Do you agree with me on the issues.' It's, 'Do you hate who I hate.' And I'm not going to live my political life hating people."

Graham certainly cannot be considered a RINO (Republican in name only), but I suspect that if he does enter the Republican primary, both he and former Floridian Gov. Jeb Bush will face the wrath of the Republican far right for their reasonable positions on just a few issues.

I increasingly find the wrath and hatred of some of my longtime friends to be too much to bear in everyday conversations and even Facebook. I miss Gary Elliott and Bob De Pratu, two staunch Republicans who always had the ability to discuss politics without the anger — without hatred.

Amongst the living, there really isn't a much better person in the Flathead Valley and Montana than Bob Brown, a Republican. I don't think, politically, that these three had or have much political hatred between them for Republicans who weren't conservative enough for them or for Democrats.

I hope I am not hurting Bob Brown's elderly statesmanship standing within the Republican Party by noting that he has maintained and nurtured longstanding friendships with Democrats like former Montana Sen. Mike Halligan.

Montanans should be reminded that perhaps Montana's greatest politician and greatest statesman was Mike Mansfield, a Democrat. In the '60s, Mike Mansfield was the Senate majority leader — a post he held longer than any other Senate majority leader.

He was friends with, or friendly enough, with all the Republican minority leaders he served with. He ate breakfast almost every morning with his best friend in Washington, Republican Sen. George Aiken.

While Mike Mansfield was appointed Ambassador to Japan by President Carter, he was reappointed by President Reagan, over the objections of many Republicans. President Reagan was reported to say, "I like the old man." Ambassador Mansfield was only eight years older than President Reagan.

Ambassador Mansfield, just like when he was the Senate majority leader, served in both posts longer than anyone else. More importantly, he served both presidents Carter and Reagan with the same fidelity he showed throughout his life, the same fidelity he learned as young Marine in China as a very, very young man.

Soon, Montana will have both a Democrat and Republican senator. I encourage them to show Montana and the rest of the United States that the legacy of Mike Mansfield lives on. I also encourage them to take Graham's words of wisdom to heart as well.

Tom Muri is a 20-year veteran who retired from the Montana National Guard in 1996. In the Navy he served as an enlisted sailor during the Vietnam era, went to Montana State University and then law school, and then went back into the Navy as a JAG Officer. He writes from Whitefish.

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