The Post asked politicians to recall their interactions with David S. Broder ahead of his memorial service today. The service, which begins at noon at the National Press Club, will be broadcast on washingtonpost.com and CSPAN.
Republican senator from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
David Broder was so proper that he did not want to appear to be influenced even by the gift of a plaid shirt. In February 1995, I announced a run for president wearing the red and black plaid shirt that I had worn when walking across Tennessee in my campaigns for governor. Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote that my shirt was not fit for a possum. Other reporters were critical. So I sent a plaid shirt to each of the major political columnists. The only one who replied was Broder, who thanked me and carefully noted that he had given the shirt to charity.
David showed up when other reporters did not. In 1986, I hosted an event at the Tennessee governor’s residence for a Southern Republican Leadership Conference. This was not a private event, but no reporters bothered to attend except Broder, who had somehow found out about it and traveled to Nashville to find out what was going on.
Former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania
I would see David Broder in person every year at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Convention or the National Governors Association conference. He would call and say, “Let’s get together, catch up and shoot the breeze totally off the record.”
One hour later, I would have invariably disclosed something and, unbelievably, agreed to let him use it. Just as invariably my disclosure would get me in trouble. For example, at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, David cajoled me into saying that Candidate Obama reminded me of Adlai Stevenson. Though I meant it as a compliment, the Obama campaign, given that Adlai got trounced twice, went ballistic.
Ah, David. Always getting me in trouble, but I will miss him dearly.
Republican senator from Ohio
In the mid-1990s, David Broder made the trek to Cincinnati to follow me around my district as a new member of the Republican House majority. Happily, I had a full schedule that day, with plenty of constituent contact, including an economic policy speech to a business group. David came to everything, dutifully talking to voters and taking, as he always did, copious notes. I had felt pretty good about the speech, partly because I was trying to impress Broder, the “dean of the Washington press corps.” In the car afterward, I turned to David and asked, “So what’d you think about the speech?” He was expressionless as he gently chided me, “Congressman, I am a reporter, not a political consultant. I don’t have an opinion.” Really refreshing, a reporter through and through.
Fast-forward to five months ago, when I was on the campaign trail again. Broder called to say he wanted to catch up. I was on the run all over northern Ohio. No problem, he said: I will meet you at the end of the day.