(CNN) – Political figures, including likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, reacted on Saturday to the death of Chuck Colson, the influential evangelical leader who served time in prison for his role as a Watergate-era "hatchet man" for President Richard Nixon.
"Chuck Colson embodied and made possible an immeasurable amount of good in the lives of the people, families and communities he served in bringing a message of faith and hope," Romney said in a statement. "Ann and I are praying for Patty, the Colson family and all the people he touched throughout the world who will miss him."
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One time Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said he was "deeply saddened" by the death.
"Chuck was a humble man who learned from his own frailty to care for the 'least of these,' especially prisoners. His work to bring Christianity to those who were in their darkest days changed the lives of many," Santorum said. "My thoughts and prayers are with Chuck's wife Patty, the entire Colson family and the community at Prison Fellowship Ministries during this very difficult time. Chuck was a patriot, who loved his country and loved serving his God, and we are all a little better off for having known him."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he was "touched by the life and service of this extraordinary man."
"For nearly four decades, Chuck Colson's life and example have been a constant and necessary reminder to those of us in and out of public office of the seductions of power and the rewards of service. His famous redemption story and tireless advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and the outcast have called all of us to a deeper reflection on our lives and priorities. He lives on as a modern model of redemption and a permanent rebuttal to the cynical claim that there are no second chances in life. Our thoughts are with the Colson family, and all who have been touched by the life and service of this extraordinary man."
Indiana Rep. Mike Pence recognized Colson's "moral clarity."
"He rose to the heights of political power and fell to the depths of disgrace, but in his fall, he found redemption in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Having been given a second chance, Chuck Colson devoted his life to carrying the Christian message of second chances to those in prison, and he saw countless lives changed by his compassion and example," Pence said. "I will always count it a privilege to have been able to call him my dear friend and mentor. His dedication to moral integrity, serving his fellow man and his steadfast faith have always and will always be an inspiration to me and my family."