|U.S. Junior Senator, Iowa|
| Assumed office (class 2) |
January 3, 1985
|Preceded by||Roger William Jepsen|
|Born||November 19, 1939|
Thomas Richard "Tom" Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa on November 19, 1939. He graduated from Iowa State University in 1962 with a degree in Government and Economics. After graduation, Tom joined the Navy where he served as a jet pilot on active duty from 1962 to 1967. In 1969, he joined Rep. Neil Smith's Congressional staff, and revealed to the world the infamous "tiger cages" inside a South Vietnamese prison camp at Con Son Island, which were later shown in Life magazine. In 1972, he returned to Iowa and worked with Polk County Legal Aid. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1974. In 1984, he was first elected to the U.S. Senate. Harkin made a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, and won Iowa. In 2004 he endorsed Howard Dean in the Democratic Party primary. Harkin is also known for the Harkin Steak Fry, an annual event designed to energize and excite Democrats about the upcoming election season.
He has been married to his wife, Ruth, since 1968 and they have two daughters: Amy, born in 1976, and Jenny, born in 1981. In spring of 2004, Amy was a participant on NBC's daytime reality series Starting Over, and also makes occasional travel-oriented appearances on Soapnet's talk show, Soap Talk.
Courageous Congressional Staffer
Numerous Republican Representatives and Senators have taken the day trip tour of Guantanamo Bay--a highly sanitized guided tour by the military--and returned to sing the praises of imprisonment that shames America by violating the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The contrast between their complicity and the courageous behavior of two Democratic Representaives and one Congressional Staffer during the Vietnam War couldn't be greater. After hearing reports about inhumane conditions in South Vietnamese political prisons, Democratic Representative “Gus” Hawkins from California and Democratic Representative William R. Anderson from Tennessee investigated Con Son Island in 1970. They were joined by Congressional staffer Tom Harkin, who would go on to play an important role in publicizing their grim discoveries. That their small delegation gained access to Con Son Island was a function of Congressional authority over appropriations; the South Vietnamese government was completely dependent on military and financial support voted by the Congress and that gave the three the political clout needed to compel inspection. Rather than allow themslves to be led around by the nose as are Republicans visiting Guantanamo today, Hawkins, Anderson and Harkin bulled their way past handlers and guards to discover the hidden nightmare of the "tiger cage" cells, stone pits covered by iron grates, each holding between three to five prisoners. Chained to filthy cell floors were miserable political prisoners who were regularly shrouded in clouds of dry lime thrown from a catwalk in what a form of “sanitary torture.” Food rations were poor. Prisoners were tortured to extract confessions. Malnutrition, dysentery, tuberculosis, and permanent paralysis of the limbs attributable to the continuous shackling were the common result of the mistreatment. Ordinary Americans learned about the nighmare in great part because Tom Harkin withstood withering criticism from hawks to publish his photographs and a brief account of the conditions. Source: "The Tiger Cages of Con Son." Life Magazine. July 17, 1970. Pp. 24-29.
- In 2002, when he was the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Harkin opposed the appointment of a fellow Iowan, Thomas C. Dorr, as Undersecretary for Rural Development, saying "Mr. Dorr lacks the judgment, outlook and temperament for this very important position.”, and “As the CEO of a corporation, Mr. Dorr, in filing false information with USDA, does not meet the standard set by President Bush when he signed a new law on corporate responsibility just last week."
In May 2006, introduced a resolution specifying that the US should neither maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq nor attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil, and that US Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq following the completion of Iraq’s constitution-making process—at the latest December 31, 2006.
- After Rush Limbaugh made his "phony soldiers" comment, Harkin said (about Limbaugh) "Maybe he was just high on his drugs again." (Source: ThinkProgress.org, Oct. 1, 2007)
- Agriculture (Ranking Democrat)
- Health, Education, and Labor
- Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Executive Branch
- Judicial Branch
- Legislative Branch
Counties: Adair, Adams, Allamakee, Appanoose, Audubon, Benton, Black Hawk, Boone, Bremer, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Butler, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Clarke, Clay, Clayton, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Davis, Decatur, Delaware, Des Moines, Dickinson, Dubuque, Emmet, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Fremont, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Henry, Howard, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Kossuth, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Lyon, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Mills, Mitchell, Monona, Monroe, Montgomery, Muscatine, O'Brien, Osceola, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Polk, Pottawattamie, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Sac, Scott, Shelby, Sioux, Story, Tama, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, Worth, Wright