Barry Morris Goldwater, an Arizona legend whose life went from the Arizona Territory to the U.S. Senate and from architect of modern conservatism to outspoken elder statesman, died early Friday at his Paradise Valley home. He was 89.
Funeral arrangements are pending.Grandson of an immigrant merchant, Goldwater rose from a reform-minded Phoenix City Council member to the U.S. Senate in 1952 and to the national political stage in 1964, when he unsuccessfully sought the highest office in the land.
He lost a landslide presidential election to Lyndon B. Johnson after being painted as a warmonger but set the stage for a conservative revolution that catapulted Ronald Reagan into the White House 16 years later.
Yet Goldwater's outspokenness in the years before his death stirred conflicting sentiments and bitter recriminations among many Arizona Republicans.
After retiring from a 30-year Senate career in 1986, Goldwater appeared ready to settle into a quiet life at his hilltop home in Paradise Valley, a Phoenix suburb, lecturing at Arizona State University and supporting local Republican candidates.
His quiet retirement was short-lived.
In October 1987, he called on then-Gov. Evan Mecham to resign, sparking an uproar within the state GOP.
Through his statements about gays in the military and abortion, his support for President Clinton and his 1992 endorsement of Democrat Karan English for Congress, Goldwater kept his name in the news, while his political contemporaries faded into memory.
In August 1996, Goldwater horrified Republicans by suggesting he would choose Clinton over Republican Bob Dole but later said he was joking.
In the end, though, Goldwater likely will be remembered for a political career that spanned four decades and the terms of six presidents.
During that period, Goldwater served as a friend and colleague of Joseph McCarthy, developed a deep friendship with President John F. Kennedy and a lasting dislike for Presidents Johnson and Richard Nixon.
Goldwater also developed strong ties to two other Arizona political legends, Democrat Morris Udall and Republican John Rhodes.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said Goldwater "was one of the most colorful and influential politicians of this age. I first met him in 1962 when I was running my father's re-election campaign. I was struck by his high energy, his vitality.
"At that time (1962), conservatives were all doom and gloom. But Barry Goldwater believed, knew, that conservative ideals would triumph.
"He lost his own (presidential) race big. But he planted the seeds of the Reagan presidency. In a very real way, he rallied a whole generation of Americans to politics. And in that sense he may have had a larger impact than even JFK."
Goldwater served Arizona in the U.S. Senate from 1952 - when he upset veteran Democratic Senate majority leader Ernest McFarland - until his presidential campaign in 1964 and again from 1968 until his retirement at the end of the 1986 session.
In 1980, after he narrowly avoided an upset by Democrat Bill Schulz, Goldwater was asked by reporters if the close call would drive him to improve his voting record, Goldwater replied: "I won't break my back at it."
That was just one example of Goldwater's outspoken, and often salty, style. His political fortunes rose and fell with America's taste for conservatism, but, in or out of style, the man spoke his mind.
But he may be best remembered for his pronouncement during the ill-fated 1964 campaign, when as moderate and conservative Republicans were tearing the party apart during the convention, he said:
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
Years later, reflecting on his loss by 16 million votes to Johnson, Goldwater said: "I've often said if I didn't know the Goldwater of 1964 - and had to depend on the press - I'd have voted against the son-of-a-bitch myself."
Later, though, Goldwater's presidential bid was seen by many as a landmark in American politics.
As "Washington Post" columnist David Broder once observed, "There's now no question but that Barry Goldwater contributed to enormous political change in the country. He changed the way we look at the American political world."