Thomas Daschle of South Dakota earned a B.A. from South Dakota State University in 1969 and afterwards served for three years as an intelligence officer with the U.S. Air Force Strategic Command. After serving for five years as an aide to Senator James Abourezk, Daschle ran a successful campaign for the House of Representatives in 1978 and served for eight years. In 1986 he won election to the U.S. Senate, where he focused on policy related to agriculture, American Indians, and healthcare. Elected party leader by a thin margin in 1994, two years later he was the unanimous choice to continue as leader. Senator Robert Byrd, a former Democratic leader himself, commented that Daschle “has steel in his spine, despite his reasonable and modest demeanor.” Daschle negotiated the power-sharing agreement that governed the evenly divided Senate in 2001 and helmed the party during the tumultuous days of the September 11 and anthrax attacks of 2001.