Speeches

Below is a listing of speeches I have given, listed by date. Speeches are also available by topic on the Key Priorities page.

Mr. President, I wish to pay tribute to a beloved Utahn who was taken years before his time—Nathan Graham. Nate was not only a celebrated member of the tightly-knit community of Utahns here in Washington, but also a well-respected, former staffer of the United States Senate. Tragically, at the young age of 37, Nate was struck by a random infection and passed away unexpectedly while on a business trip to China last week. Although he is no longer with us, the great love he shared with others remains in our hearts.  

Born in Layton, Utah, Nate graduated from Northridge High School before studying political science at Weber State University and moving to Washington, D.C. From 2003 to 2009, he served as a legislative assistant for my friend and former colleague, Senator Robert F. Bennett. Nate was Senator Bennett's key staffer on the Transatlantic Policy Network—a group that includes U.S. and European elected officials, as well as business, policy, and academic leaders in Europe and the U.S.

As a military legislative assistant, Nate also worked closely with combat leaders at Utah's military installations, including Hill Air Force Base, the Dugway Proving Ground, and the Utah Test and Training Range. In this capacity, he also advanced Senator Bennett’s priorities on the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The Senator’s agenda included increasing funding for microfinance programs, strengthening the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and working to acquire the F-35 aircraft at Hill Air Force Base. As Senator Bennett’s trusted adviser, he accompanied the Senator to Europe several times for TPN business and meetings.  He also traveled to Egypt, Taiwan, and China in support of Senator Bennett's work on foreign policy. 

Nate’s trademark humility endeared him to all. He never thought himself above anyone else, and he was always helpful and kind to everyone—regardless of status or position. Nate even had a special reputation as a mentor to Senator Bennett’s junior staff. He looked out for young staffers just starting their careers and actively searched out new experiences for their professional development. Following his time in the Senate, Nate entered the private sector, accepting a position with Procter & Gamble as their Senior Manager for Global Government Relations and Public Policy. 

Although Nate never worked for me directly, he was a gifted public servant whose contributions were highly regarded across the entire Utah delegation. Speaking to Nate’s character, Senator Bennett—who is going through his own personal battle with cancer right now—sent me the following note over the weekend:

“Nate Graham was a valued and much-loved member of my staff who was on track for great success in life, both professionally and with his beautiful family. This is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will miss him terribly.”

While Nate was working for Senator Bennett, he met and fell in love with his sweetheart and eternal companion, Melanie Mickelson. I know Bob was delighted whenever he could be a matchmaker for some of his staffers.

In addition to Melanie, Nate is survived by their four sons: Rowan, James, Lincoln, and Griffin—who was born just 2 months ago. Nate was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having served an LDS mission in Honduras and Belize. Just six weeks before he passed, he was released as the bishop of a local congregation in Arlington, Virginia, where he built a reputation for fostering a community of love and friendship.

A tidal wave of support has washed over the Graham family in the wake of Nate’s passing. In just a few days, friends and neighbors have already raised nearly $100,000 in a crowdfunding effort to support the family.

Mr. President, I would like to close with the words of Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte, from his hymn, “Abide With Me,” which he wrote on his death bed in 1847. This song is well-beloved across the LDS community. It offers comfort and peace amid the sadness of loss:

“I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.”          

We know that Nate now abides in a holier place. His family is in our thoughts just as they are in our prayers. May God comfort them, and may He comfort all of us as we mourn the loss of an exceptional friend, father, and husband.