AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) Former Sen. George Mitchell was honored at the State House Tuesday as his portrait was unveiled. He spoke with NEWS CENTER's Pat Callaghan about what it means to him.
PHOTOS: A portrait of Senator Mitchell will hang at the Hall of Flags
George Mitchell's political career appeared to be finished when he lost the race for governor in 1974. But now, at 80 years old, he is having his portrait hung in the State House Hall of Flags. He says it shows people can bounce back from failure.
"For quite a while after that (1974) election, I was convinced that I was not suited for electoral politics. So much was written in the press about it, that I wasn't a good candidate, that I came to believe it myself. But I was given another chance and it worked out pretty well. So here I am."
In 1980, Mitchell was appointed to finish the term of Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) who had been named U.S. Secretary of State. He later won landslide re-election campaigns in 1982 and 1988. After leaving the Senate in 1994, he went on to serve as a diplomat, notably presiding over multi-party peace talks in Northern Ireland.
Mitchell says he's come a long way for someone who felt he was always in the shadow of older brothers, such as basketball star and coach John "Swisher" Mitchell.
George Mitchell says "The high point of my life is the day after I was first elected to the Senate in November 1982, when after a lifetime of being inferior to my brother Johnny, I was known as Johnny Mitchell's kid brother, the one who isn't any good. The Portland Evening Express carried a front-page picture of me at the microphone the evening before, celebrating my victory, with my brother Johnny draped all over me. and the caption under the picture said 'Sen. George Mitchell celebrating his upset victory being cheered on by an unidentified supporter.' High point of my life!"
Kidding aside, Mitchell was asked what he hopes people think of when they see his portrait. "
He did his best for the people of Maine. When Joe Brennan told me that he was going to appoint me to the Senate, he said 'I will never ask you for anything other than you use your best judgment and your conscience to do what's best for the people of Maine and the nation.'"
The Mitchell portrait was paid for with private funds.