As Lawmaker, Sen. Lautenberg Really Changed Lives - FOX 35 News Orlando

As Lawmaker, Sen. Lautenberg Really Changed Lives

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PHILADELPHIA -

Frank Lautenberg was a big success long before he entered the U.S. Senate.

The Patterson native became a multi-millionaire by founding the payroll service company ADP back in 1952.

But it was as a lawmaker that Lautenberg really changed lives.

It was Frank Lautenberg who led the fight to raise the national drinking age from 18 to 21.

It was Lautenberg who fought big tobacco leading to a ban on lighting up aboard U.S. passenger flights.

"I helped start the smoke-free revolution in this country."

It was Lautenberg who worked to fund mass transit projects like Amtrak and rejected efforts to cut funding for airline security.

"The primary mission is to protect the public."

Most recently, it was Lautenberg who demanded tighter gun control measures in the wake of mass shootings.

"There are too many bullets, too many deaths, too many funerals. But not enough people are saying, 'Stop it!'" he argued.

Frank Lautenberg was an upset winner in his first U.S. Senate race back in 1982. He would go on to win four more terms.

Perhaps the most intriguing race was his last.

In 2008, the octogenarian incumbent faced a surprise challenge in the Democratic primary from South Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews.

It was a nasty fight, but Lautenberg came out on top in that primary and in the general election that November.

According to Lautenberg, "I'm going to do everything that I have the support for to make America a better place for every citizen in our country!"

On the Senate floor, colleagues turned Lautenberg's desk into a shrine.

The unabashed liberal fought frequently and bitterly with New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

But Christie was, on this day, among the first to publicly eulogize the senator.

"I give him praise on a life well-lived. I think we'd all sign up, today, for a life like Frank Lautenberg had, of 89 years of fighting ... and fighting hard," Christie said.

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