….Nancy was a remarkable and gracious woman, and the greatest organizational genius I've ever known.
I should say first-off, that I only knew her as a boss. It was a lot
different for me in that relationship as a staff member, than for you and Mark as children. She was tough but fair, supportive but never micro-managed her staff, smart as a whip, and suffered neither fools nor gamesmanship.
She was the best boss I ever had.
For me she was the embodiment of the word "integrity".
It's a word, and a concept, that you don't hear as much nowadays as
in the past.
What was her role in Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign?
She conceived and organized the telephone voter ID and get-out-the-vote
campaign. Looking back, the amazing thing was that such a
small group of six Republican party workers from a backwater state
in the Midwest could organize such a nation-wide
impact. From the starting line of June 1, 1972, six people
organized a nationwide telephone campaign
in the10 electorally key states, comprising 250 telephone centers, and 40,000 volunteers, who completed 14 million calls by Nov 7.
As the election turned out, all those calls didn't really
matter. Nixon won the largest electoral plurality in American
history (up to that point). Voter ID campaigns can swing a close
race by 1-2%, but Nixon beat McGovern in a blow-out, and didn't
really need our efforts to win. As far as I know, nobody ever did a bigger
nation-wide effort than that.
Society and technology have changed, so nobody will ever attempt
to organize a voter ID and get-out-the-vote campaign like it.
In 1972, Nancy could rely on an army of stay-at-home housewives to staff
phone banks. Today, those women's children--like you---all have
jobs, and not much time for polical volunteer work. The IBM mainframe computers we used are now museum pieces; today's political voter ID programs are based on the Internet, mobile devices, and social networking.
Nancy was the brains and energy behind it all; it was 100%
her conception, based on the lessons she'd learned through
the years of Republic Party organizing in Minnesota. To use
modern terms, she was a "political entrepreneur".
Nancy was the organization genius behind it all. She had a crystal clear idea of how every one of those 40,000 volunteers was supposed to fit in.
We were so busy that summer and fall that we didn't have any
time for the criminal foolishness other parts of the campaign cooked up.
Nancy told us just to focus on our big task ahead, but behind
closed doors she asked the top campaign managers lots of tough
questions. Sadly, they lied to her, just as they tried (for a while) to lie
to the American public.
I remember one afternoon President Nixon visited campaign headquarters,
and spent 5 minutes chatting with our department. Neither Richard
Nixon, nor I at age 18, was particularly good at small talk, but Nancy
smoothed everything over. She knew exactly the questions to ask to lead a
pleasant conversation. She was a model for poise, always.
I was glad when Nancy sold her company
and announced she was running for the Minnesota Senate, because I
guessed it would be a lot more rewarding to her personally, than political
consulting. And it turned out that way. She was a lot more motivated by service to others than in making a dollar….