Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin gave what he said was one of his “last speeches as your United States Senator” Friday night in Des Moines.

Harkin’s retiring from the U.S. Senate this year, after a career in Congress that began with his election to the House of Representatives in 1975 and to the US Senate ten years later.

There were about 500 Democrats from Iowa-including present and former Harkin staff members-on hand as the senator was given the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame award.

In accepting the award, Harkin talked of his idols in Democratic party history, including President Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey.  And he took one last shot at the Tea Party, equating them with the Ku Klux Klan and "neanderthals."

Harkin says he’s still going to be involved in campaigning for Iowa candidates. And he urged the crowd to support the current election slate, which includes former members of his staff:  Jack Hatch, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, was once Harkin’s Iowa director, and Brad Anderson also worked for the senator in recent years.

The award ceremony at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines was a fundraiser for the party, with attendees paying $50 a ticket to attend.

Here's the senator's speech: