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David Broder: One of a Kind
Comments () | Published June 9, 2011

GETTING IT RIGHT

Peter Hart, Democratic pollster: In 1973, I was working for a progressive organization in Wisconsin and I did a poll. I went out and delivered the results, and people gave me great hosannas for my delivery. David Broder was out there as the luncheon speaker. He took my poll from a conservative point of view and ripped it apart. I said to him afterward, “David, that was a great speech.” He said, “Yeah, I ripped you apart.” I said, “Yeah, but I learned a lot.” Essentially, he was saying be smart enough to look at all of this from several different points of view.

Ginny Terzano, Democratic strategist and former Microsoft executive: I asked David if he would sit down with Bill Gates to talk about high-skilled immigration. It was an issue David was interested in, and it’s controversial. David wrote a column on the subject and got a whirlwind of letters and comments. He circled back with me about the facts and figures. He meticulously went through the facts in his column versus the complaints he was getting. He respected the public’s opinion enough that when critics questioned his facts, he took the time to make sure his reporting was accurate.

H.D. Palmer, former staffer for the late senator James McClure of Idaho: Dave struck up a decades-running conversation with Ruthie Johnson, who ran McClure’s district office in Coeur d’Alene and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. McClure’s staff used to have a running wager about how many minutes it would be into a conversation with Ruthie before she would tell you about the last time she talked to Broder. If you bet long, you lost. She had this high-pitched, creaky voice and would say, “Did I tell you that I talked to Dave Broder the other day?”

On the day Reagan won the presidential nomination in July 1980, Dave wrote a column called “It’s Ruth’s Day, Too,” —she was one of the foot soldiers who helped Ronald Reagan to get where he was at the time. Ruthie kept a framed copy of that column in her office, and she treated it like the Shroud of Turin. Ruthie was part of that far-flung network of folks Dave talked to regularly to keep his finger on the pulse of what was going on in just about every state.

Jim Leach, former Iowa congressman: No one ever thought he had a slant, though he clearly had convictions.

Jack Germond: I never knew what his politics were.

Stephen Hess: I think he was about where moderate Republicans used to be.

Peter Hart: David was so measured. Ann is so unmeasured. She’s a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, through and through a liberal. She always had her heart on her sleeve. David played all his cards close to his vest.

George Broder: For my brothers and me, while we were aware of who our father was, it was our mom who was actually the stronger imprinter of small-“d” democracy and activism and public service. Our earliest memories are of standing on Election Day handing out campaign literature or going down to the campaign headquarters and stuffing envelopes for a candidate. She served two four-year terms on the school board in Arlington County.

Dana Milbank: He would introduce Ann as “my first wife,” which I thought was terrific because they’d been married, what, 50 or 60 years.

Next: The Dean

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Posted at 10:33 AM/ET, 06/09/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles