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Former Fla. Sen. Smathers dead at age 93

MIAMI, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- George Smathers, a former U.S. senator from South Florida, died this weekend at the age of 93.

The Miami Herald reported that Smathers, who gained national notoriety for a deceptive speech he never actually gave during the 1950 Democratic primary, died Saturday in his native Florida.

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During the infamous primary, Smathers was said to have made a speech in which he bashed incumbent Florida Sen. Claude Pepper and used tricky language to confuse potential voters, a move he vehemently denied.

"It's a kind of an insult to the people of Florida to think that you can tell them that kind of junky stuff and get away with it," he once said of the concept. "The people in Florida are not that dumb."

A confidante of President John F. Kennedy, Smathers also enjoyed three terms in the U.S. Senate and another two as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The newspaper said he is survived by his wife, Carolyn; two sons, Bruce and John; a sister, Virginia Myers, and three grandchildren.

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