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Ann Richards and the 2008 primary

by: Glenn Smith

Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:33 AM CST

A mini-tempest is brewing about a video produced for Hillary Clinton asserting that the late Ann Richards would be campaigning for Clinton were she alive today.

I worked for Ann. I support Barack Obama. But I will not presume to intrude upon her children's lives and their disagreements about where their mother would have been in this race. And I would ask that those of us who still honor Ann simply stay out of it. In other words, I'm writing this hoping we don't translate our highly emotional opinions in this primary into an intrusion into Ann's family.

I don't know who she would be supporting. I do know Ann would be fiercely protecting her children (as politically experienced, tough and smart as they all are) at all costs. I want to honor that. Let's leave the issue with them.

Here's what the AP reports, in part:

The two sons of Ann Richards, the late former Texas governor, are objecting to an Internet video published by Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign that suggests their mother would have supported Clinton.

Clinton's campaign had permission from Richards' youngest daughter, Ellen, who said in a statement provided by the campaign that her mother was an "ardent feminist" who would be thrilled by her friend Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

"I believe that if my mom were alive today that she would be stumping across Texas and around the country supporting Hillary for president," her statement said.

Richards was governor from 1991-1995. She died in September 2006 at age 73. The two-minute video on Clinton's campaign Web site comes a week before the Texas primary and targets women voters in the state.

"So many women around Texas and America are saying, `Wish Ann was here, for us and for Hillary,'" a female voiceover says on the video.

"Today Ann would be asking all of us to make a statement. She would be traveling to every small town and big city in Texas, urging us all to take a stand, be counted, to make a difference, to make history," it says while a picture of Richards and Clinton appears on the screen. "This one's for Texas. This one's for our country. This one's for Ann."

But sons Dan and Clark Richards, partners at an Austin law firm, say nobody can know who the outspoken and opinionated former governor would have supported in the race between Clinton and Barack Obama.

"As her children, we never presumed to know her mind when alive and we are not prepared to make a claim as to who she would endorse or what she would do if she were still with us," they wrote in an e-mail last week. "We are not granting permission for her name to be used in advertisements on behalf of either candidate."

Let's allow the family to speak their minds, to differ politically, without presuming that whatever political beliefs we hold should be imposed upon them in this matter.

I know they have themselves willingly entered the political debate, and so they should be willing to publicly debate the matter. But I know how this kind of thing can become a public firestorm that burn the participants more than they've reckoned. Let's just not throw gasoline on them. Can we manage that?

I don't know what remaining neutral and quiet in this matter might mean for the future of the video. The family and their friends will figure that out. In the past, all of them have been kind to me. I'm just returning their kindness, hoping they can avoid the burns all of us have been inflicting on one another in the most interesting, heated and hard-fought primary since Ann's in 1990.


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I don't know if I can agree (3.00 / 1)
It's a nice statement, but this is already public, and the Clinton campaign opened this can of worms when they decided to blatantly use Ann's name like this.  While I don't want to see her family burned, I don't think that means we should just stay out of it and not criticize the Clinton campaign for publishing this video.

"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."- James A. Baldwin

I understand (0.00 / 0)
I am not going to weigh in one way or another, for the reasons stated. And I just hope any public debate over it can be moderately voiced. I respect those in the family who approve of the video, and I respect those who don't.

Not only am I admirer of the Richards clan, recent deaths in my own family are probably making me a bit sentimental and sensitive to the importance of family.

Still, to the degree those who disapprove -- and those who approve -- of this video can respect the children's differences, the more respectful the terms of the discussion, the better.

[ Parent ]
I respect the Children's differences (3.00 / 2)
I just don't think it's right to create a shield for them that lets Clinton hide behind it well.

"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."- James A. Baldwin

[ Parent ]
Agree wholeheartedly. (0.00 / 0)
It's a tough issue, but it's Clinton's tough issue now.

"There's nothing new except for the history that you don't know."

Justice Addict

[ Parent ]
Terrific post, Glenn (0.00 / 0)
... and very thoughtful. Tinged, as you said in a comment, with your own history of family and togetherness in loss.  

DeeceX: making Texas safe for democracy

What part of "no" doesn't the Clinton campaign understand (0.00 / 0)
Shame on the Clinton campaign.

"This one's for Ann" (0.00 / 0)
Unfair Park's Robert Wilonsky says he saw this at a Bill Clinton rally in Dallas:

I'd been talking to the woman [who had] been holding a Hillary sign. Been waving it around, very proud and happy to support Bill's missus. Then another Clinton campaign worker walked up to and said, "Excuse me, would you mind holding this sign instead?" She then handed the woman the handmade sign that reads, "This one's for Ann!"

"Ann?" said the woman.

"Ann Richards," said the dark-haired Clintonista, shielded by dark, large sunglasses.

"Oh, sure," said the woman, smiling but not totally into it.


"I should have told her I get paid by the hour," said the woman to her friends. She asked others around her, "Anyone else got any signs they want me to hold? 'Eat at Joe's'? I only charge five dollars."

Ann Richards WOULD WANT HILLARY (0.00 / 0)
This is in good taste and this message is important. Anne Richard's daughter said that her mother would campaign for Hillary with a passion and she approved this ad. Also, Ann campaigned for Bill Clinton for President. Bill and Hillary knew Ann for 30 years and they were close friends. Ann was a feminist and there is no question that she would approve of a woman in the White House. George Bush beat Ann for Gov. in the end. We know how Hillary and Bill feel about George Bush. Ann was an amazingly strong woman, and there is NO DOUBT that she would have campaigned for Hillary. Ann's daughter said it was OK, and that is good enough!

Um, no (0.00 / 0)
So Ann Richard's daughter approved, will two of her other children didn't!  1 out of 3 accepting it is not acceptable.

The fact is, even if Ann most likely would have endorsed Hillary, it is not a certainty and she DIDN'T.  It is VERY inappropriate to trumpet the supposed endorsements of someone who is not alive to have endorsed you.  Even if all of her children had approved of it, (which they haven't).

Also this: "Ann was a feminist and there is no question that she would approve of a woman in the White House" is more pointless identity politics.  Just because you are a feminist and would "approve" of a woman in the White House does NOT mean that that you would have supported a woman candidate for President as a knee-jerk reaction just because she is a woman.  I have more faith in Ann Richard's to believe that she would have been that shallow.

"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."- James A. Baldwin

[ Parent ]
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