While I don't find the following as inspiring as the his opening comments, I felt compelled to post the following for the record since I posted his opening comments before the campaign finance debate began in the Senate.
April 2, 2001
“Mr. President, in a few moments the Senate will vote on final passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, and I respectfully ask all senators for their support. I want to speak very briefly, mainly to express my appreciation to my colleagues, on all sides of this issue, for the quality of our debate.
“I want to thank first two men who were as good as their word: the Majority Leader for his commitment to an open debate, and for keeping the amendment process both fair and expeditious; and the Democratic Leader for so effectively safeguarding his party’s support for genuine campaign finance reform.
“I want also to show my respect for the skill, grit and honesty of the formidable senior Senator from Kentucky, and his able staff. There are few things more daunting in politics than the determined opposition of Senator McConnell, and I hope to avoid the experience more often in the future.
“I want to thank Senator Dodd, the Democratic manager of the bill, and his staff. His leadership was as critical to our success as his unfailing good humor was to our morale.
“The majority and minority whips, Senators Nickles and Reid, worked hard to ensure a fair and complete debate, and to encourage both sides to reach for good faith compromises whenever it was possible.
“Words cannot express how grateful I am to the co-sponsors of our legislation. But for the willingness of Senators Thompson and Feinstein to find common ground on the issue of increasing hard money limits I fear our efforts would have proved as futile as they have in the past. I cannot exaggerate how big a boost Senator Thad Cochran’s support was to our cause and how important his wise and courteous guidance was to our success. Senators Snowe, Jeffords, Collins, Specter, Schumer, Edwards, Kerry and all the sponsors of McCain-Feingold worked tirelessly and effectively to reach this moment, and more than compensated for my own deficiencies as an advocate.
“I am also much indebted to and inspired by the community of activists for campaign finance reform. The faith, energy and never-say-die spirit they have shown in a fight they have waged for so many years are the best attributes of patriots. Although we have a few more miles to travel, they have given good service to our country, and my admiration for them is only surpassed by my gratitude.
“And I owe a special word of thanks to the many thousands of Americans who lent their voice to our cause this year, many who supported my campaign last year, and many who did not, but who believe that reforming the way we finance federal election campaigns is a necessary first step to reforming the practices and institutions of our great democracy.
“Let me also thank my staff for their extraordinary support, particularly Mark Buse, who has worked by my side on this issue for many years, and whose industry and creativity never fail to impress me.
“Of course, Mr. President, were I limited to thanking just one individual it would be Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, a man of great courage and conviction. His partnership in this effort is one of the greatest privileges I have ever had in public life. He is, in every respect, the better half of McCain-Feingold. And I want him to know, Mr. President, that I will never forget it. I might add also that he is as well served by his staff, as I am by mine.
“Lastly, I wish to thank every one of my colleagues, those who supported our bill and those who did not, particularly my friend, Senator Hagel, for the good faith and fair-mindedness that all have brought to this debate. I believe the events of the last two weeks have been a great credit to this body, and that is tribute to every senator.
“Indeed, Mr. President, as we approach what I believe will be a successful outcome for the proponents of this legislation, I can say I have never been prouder to be a member of the United States Senate. Because of my failings, I might not always show it, but I consider myself blessed to serve here, in the company of so many capable leaders of our fair country.
“I asked at the start of this debate for my colleagues to take a risk for America. In a few moments, I believe we will do just that. I will go to my grave deeply grateful for the honor of being a part of it.
“Thank you, Mr. President.”