Political world reacts to divisive life and legacy of Henry Kissinger

Shortly after the announcement of Henry Kissinger’s death on Wednesday, reactions began pouring in from the political world that the former secretary of state helped shape during his career in Washington.

Current and former politicians — mostly Republicans — were among the first to weigh in on the divisive life and legacy of one of the country’s best-known diplomats.

“America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs with the passing of Henry Kissinger,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement.

The 43rd president, who said he “long admired” Kissinger, accompanied the statement with a photo of his oil painting of the former secretary of state.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Kissinger “a titan among America’s most consequential statesmen” on X. He lauded Kissinger’s approach to diplomacy, which he said “changed the course of history.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., called Kissinger’s contributions to U.S. foreign policy “immeasurable.”

“Kissinger was a statesman who devoted his life in service to the United States, and should be remembered for his efforts to ensure global peace and freedom abroad,” Johnson wrote on X.

Kissinger, who died Wednesday at 100, held top positions in the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. As national security adviser and secretary of state, he helped expand U.S. military involvement in Vietnam and in doing so was branded a war criminal by some of his critics.

The White House has not yet issued a statement on Kissinger’s death.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, said Kissinger’s death “leaves a void all around the world.”

“He was a brilliant voice for the indispensable role America must play in the world,” Christie tweeted, calling Kissinger “a good friend & mentor.”

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who recently dropped out of the GOP presidential race, said on X: “There are few public servants who had such a consequential impact on American foreign policy. While this is an incredible loss for our nation, his legacy will live on for generations to come.”

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, tweeted that the U.S. is fortunate “for his lifetime of diplomacy, wisdom, and love of freedom,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on X that he learned the news about his “good friend” with “great sadness.”

“Henry was in the arena of world politics for decades and served his nation well,” Graham tweeted. “He was a valuable advisor to numerous presidents of both parties and had an amazing intellect.”

Leaders far beyond the U.S. paid tribute after Kissinger’s death was announced.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Kissinger’s widow and called him “an outstanding diplomat, a wise and far-sighted statesman.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a post on X that Kissinger was “a great statesman, scholar, and friend.”

“His formidable intellect and diplomatic prowess shaped not only the course of American foreign policy but also had a profound impact on the global stage,” he said.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on X that Kissinger elevated diplomacy to “a form of art.”

Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, paid tribute to Kissinger and his commitment to transatlantic relations and noted that he “always remained close to his German homeland.”


Megan Lebowitz

Megan Lebowitz is a politics reporter for NBC News.

Zoë Richards

Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.

Daniel Arkin

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Alexander Smith

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Emma Barnett

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