POUNDING THE ROYAL
Stephen Hess: In 1968, I was at Harvard [as a Kennedy Fellow], and I went to New Hampshire to peek in on the primary. He was there. He’d been doing this in 1960, ’64. This was the third time. I said, “David, how can you keep doing this?” He said, “Well, I’ll only do it one more time.” Of course, it became his life calling.
George Broder, recalling the night of March 31, 1968: We were having Sunday dinner, and the TV’s on because Lyndon Johnson is giving an address that evening. My father realizes, “Oh, my gosh, he’s not going to run for reelection,” even before Johnson has said those famous words: “I shall not seek and I will not accept . . . .” He bolts for the door, and within a minute or two the phone rings. It was the paper calling to say, “Get down here.” My mom answers it and says, “He’s already on his way.”
Jules Witcover: He was one of the charter members of the group Jack Germond and I created called the PWDS, Political Writers for a Democratic Society—it was a play on SDS [Students for a Democratic Society]. We would meet at Germond’s house and invite politicians. The purpose was to see and hear these people with their hair down and to find out what made them tick.
Jack Germond, political reporter and columnist: We were writing campaign songs all the time. It was a big part of campaigns—on buses, in a bar, sitting around a press room waiting, we’d write songs about candidates and their foibles. We had a song about David to the tune of “Rock of Ages.” It went: “David Broder, write for me. Tell me what is victory. Though the voters make the choice, David’s is the only voice.” He would abide that with a small grin.
Stephen Hess: Ann always kidded that their marriage had been so good because he was away every other year.
Colette Rhoney, former Broder assistant and later Meet the Press producer: What’s ironic is he was one of the first newspaper reporters on TV, but he was as far as you can get from the celebrity journalist of today. He came in so prepared. He had a few typed pages of questions. He had done his reporting and his research, and he was there to play.
Mike Broder: The most obvious ways we interacted or got to see him working was going to the television studios. And then being in the house while he was hammering out columns and stories on his all-steel Royal typewriter. If you had the bedroom underneath his office, your ceiling was shaking when he was pounding on that thing. You could hear it—and you could feel it.
Matt Broder, third-eldest son, vice president for corporate communications, Pitney Bowes: I discovered a postcard some time ago that my father sent to me while he was on a reporting trip in 1964. I had just turned five. On the front was a photo of three basset-hound puppies. “Dear Matthew,” the postcard began, “Do you like these puppies? These puppies are sad. Do you know why they are sad? They are sad because they lost their oil-depletion allowance. Love, Dave.” This postcard explains why my father wrote eight books on politics but not a single one on parenting.
Next: Covering Presidents