Sons Josh, Mike, Matt, and George gathered for a joint 80th-birthday party for their parents in June 2009. Photo courtesy of the Broder family
Lou Cannon, former Washington Post colleague: In ’80, after Reagan lost the Iowa caucuses, we’d both been in New Hampshire. We came back to the newsroom, and Bradlee says, “Hey, I’ve been reading you guys in New Hampshire and I am really confused. I have no idea who’s gonna win.” Broder says to him, “Well, Lou thinks that Reagan’s gonna win and I think Bush is gonna win, and I think Lou might be right.”
A little later, we were in the third row for the debate in Nashua, New Hampshire. And when Reagan did his “I’m paying for this microphone,” Broder just turned to me and said, “Ronald Reagan’s winning this nomination right now.”
Mike Broder on his father’s love of politicians: He admired anyone who was willing to put their name on a ballot and run for office, because that takes tremendous personal courage. But even if he admired someone, that didn’t keep him from calling them out when he thought the person was either doing the wrong thing or had crossed some line.
Lou Cannon: He was very, very close to George H.W. Bush.
George Broder: When Bush [as President Ford’s envoy to China] led the first group of Americans allowed to go into Tibet in decades, he invited my parents. There was a degree of mutual regard and respect.
Dan Balz: He did have a great deal of respect for the decency of H.W. Bush. But once Bush became a candidate for President and then Vice President, he would have put up some kind of wall out of professionalism. There was a particular episode of Meet the Press when Bush was starting to run for President—probably ’87. David was one of the questioners, and he said to Bush, “Many people wonder, given your background, whether you have compassion for ordinary people.” He asked him a series of very specific questions: Do you know how many people don’t have health insurance, for example? He said Barbara Bush never forgave him for that interview.
Broder was one of the few journalists who worked at the same time as both a reporter covering the news and a columnist writing analysis and opinion.
Maralee Schwartz: David, who rarely at that point came out with an opinion in his own voice, came out with a very strong opinion about his disapproval of Bill Clinton and [in columns] supported impeaching him. I had to tell him he had to stop covering the news. I just dreaded it. I walked into his office, and he was so reasonable about it: “Mm-hmm, yes, I understand.” Well, he understood for maybe four weeks.
Dan Balz: At a political staff meeting in late November or early December ’07, he said, “I think Obama’s gonna go all the way.” Others in the room were shocked to hear that because it wasn’t conventional wisdom at the time by any means. It made everybody sit up and rethink what they thought about the race.
Next: The Colleague