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Baker's famous question has been dusted off for potential White House scandals big and small ever since.

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He said Watergate became "the greatest disillusionment" of his political career.

Baker considered his years as Senate majority leader, 1981 to 1985, the high point Giuseppe Zanotti Flat Shoes of his career. He called it "the second best job in town, only second to the presidency."

By the time Nixon resigned in 1974, Baker was a household name with a reputation for fairness and smarts that stuck throughout a long political career.

up in the White House as Reagan's chief of staff.

´╗┐who queried Nixon on Watergate

Baker recalled marshaling all his reasons for refusing the offer, but he couldn't turn down Reagan. "I guess I am a pushover for presidents," he said.

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"I have seen it up close and personal and I am convinced that I could do that job," he said. "But that boat never came to dock."

"I believed that it was a political ploy of the Democrats, that it would come to nothing," Baker told The Associated Press in 1992. "But a few weeks into that, it began to dawn on me that there was more to it than I thought, and more to it than I liked."

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In 1996, Baker married Kansas Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum. It was the first time two people who had served in the Senate married.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who once worked as an assistant to Baker, called him "Tennessee's favorite son" and "an indispensable friend."

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Baker, later became Senate majority leader, chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan and one of the GOP's elder statesmen died Thursday at his Tennessee home of complications from a stroke suffered days earlier, according to an email distributed at the law firm where Baker was senior counsel. He was 88.

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When chosen as vice chairman and therefore leading Republican of the Senate special committee, he was a Nixon ally who thought the allegations couldn't possibly be true. Democrats feared he would serve as the White House's "mole" in the investigation of the break in at Democratic headquarters and other crimes perpetrated in service to Nixon's re election.

The Reagan White House weathered Iran Contra. But Baker lost his last chance at the presidency.

leader in decades.

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Baker emerged as an unlikely star of the Watergate hearings in the summer of 1973.

Baker's intense but restrained style of interrogating former White House aides played well on camera. A youthful looking, side burned 47 year old, his brainy charm inspired a raft of love notes sent to his Senate office; a women's magazine proclaimed him "studly." He was mentioned frequently as presidential material.

Howard Henry Baker Jr. had a fine political pedigree his father was a congressman from Huntsville, Tenn., and his father in law a prominent senator from Illinois. Over the years, his name would be knocked about for big Washington jobs including vice presidential candidate, Supreme Court justice and CIA director. But his focus remained on the Senate and, at times, the White House.

Repeated over and again in the senator's mild Tennessee drawl, those words guided Americans through the tangle of Watergate characters and charges playing daily on TV to focus squarely on Richard Nixon and his role in the cover up.

In 18 years as a moderate Republican senator, he was known for plain speaking and plain dealing. He had a talent for brokering compromise, leading some to dub him "the Great Conciliator."

Baker was minority leader when the Reagan landslide swept Republicans into control of the chamber in 1980 Reagan, and he became the first Republican majority Giuseppe Zanotti Fur Boots

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"Senator Baker truly earned his nickname: the Great Conciliator. I know he will be remembered with fondness by members of both political parties," Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on the Senate floor Thursday, announcing Baker's death to the chamber.

"He built our state's two party political system and inspired three generations to try to build a better state and country," Alexander said in a news release Thursday.

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During much of the 1980s and '90s, Baker grappled with the illness of his wife, Joy, daughter of Everett Dirksen, a former GOP Senate leader. She died in 1993 after an 11 year battle with cancer. The couple had two children.

Putting aside his own reservations about Reagan's economic proposals, Baker played a key role in passage of legislation synonymous with the "Reagan Revolution" major tax and spending cuts combined with a military buildup.

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Reagan needed him to put things in order after ousting chief of staff Donald Regan amid scandal over the Zanotti Heels

He made a fleeting bid for that best job in 1980, and left the Senate with an eye to another presidential run in 1988. Instead, he ended Jimmy Choo Gold Shoes Ebay

administration's secret moves to trade arms for hostages in Iran and divert the profits to Nicaraguan rebels another of history's what did the president know moments.

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