Bumpers defended Clinton in president’s impeachment trial
Four years later, Bumpers challenged and defeated incumbent Sen. J. William Fulbright in a Democratic primary, leading to the “giant killer” nickname, and went on to win the U.S. Senate seat.
Bumpers’ signature moment on the national stage came in 1999, justweeks after leaving the Senate, when he defendedClinton— who had worked for Fulbright’s 1974 campaign against Bumpers— before the U.S. Senate during Clinton’s impeachment trial.
Clinton had been impeached by the House on charges of lying about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinskywhile testifying before a grand jury in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
Bumpers called the matter a sex scandal while delivering the closing argument as the Senate considered removing Clinton from office.
Clinton “suffered a terrible moral lapse, a marital infidelity. Not a breach of the public trust, not a crime against society,” Bumpers said. “H.L Mencken said one time, ‘When you hear somebody say, ‘This is not about the money,’ it’s about the money. ... Andwhen you hear somebody say, ‘This is not about sex,’ it’s about sex.”
Clinton was acquitted by the Senate.
Bumpers would later say that he didn’t want to give the closing statement, but Senate leaders and Clinton called to ask him to do so.
Astatement fromClinton and Hillary Clinton did not mention the impeachment, but praised Bumpers’ work as governor and senator.
Bumpers was an attorney for the Charleston School Board in 1954 when the board voted to integrate, just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that outlawed segregated schools.
“We did it because we thought it was the right thing to do,” Bumpers told The Associated Press in a 2007 interview.
Bumpers is survived by his wife, Betty, and by two sons and a daughter. Funeral services are pending.
Dale Bumpers, shown in March 2007, died Friday in Little Rock, Ark., at age 90. He was a former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator.