Ex-Arkansas governor, US senator Dale Bumpers dies at age 90

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Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., during the Interior Subcommittee markup. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Dale Bumpers, a former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator who drew national attention for his defense of Bill Clinton during the president’s impeachment trial, has died.

His son, Brent Bumpers, says the former lawmaker, who was 90, died Friday night in Little Rock.

Bumpers was a little-known lawyer from Charleston when he defeated former Gov. Orval Faubus for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1970, then defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller in the general election. Four years later he defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in the Democratic primary and won the seat. He won the nickname “giant killer” for taking down incumbents.

Bumpers delivered an impassioned defense of Clinton in 1999.

He was known in the Senate for his oratorical skills, as well as his opposition to amendments to the U.S. Constitution. His son, Brent Bumpers, said he believes his father would want to be remembered as both a champion of the underdog and a defender of the Constitution.