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Mary Breslauer Believes In Hillary Clinton

Mary Breslauer didn’t always want to be a politico. The New Jersey-born brainiac actually got her start in journalism, but eventually found herself working for the late Gerry Studds, a Congressman who found himself censured after having a consensual, legal sexual relationship with a congressional page.

Breslauer’s experience with Studds sent her on a collision course with American politics. Now a co-host for HRC’s The Agenda radio show, Breslauser’s spending her free time campaigning for Senator Hillary Clinton.

Below the journo-politico talks our editor through her evolution, discusses Studds and explains why Hillary should lead our country.

Andrew Belonsky: Hi, Mary! Are you having a nice day?

Mary Breslauer: Yeah. It’s been okay. It’s kind of a neutral day.

AB: Neutral?

MB: I meant to go to the gym. I didn’t get to the gym. I was like, “It’s 4:30. You’re talking to Andrew. You’re not going to the gym.” But there’s always another day!

AB: Let’s hope so. Alright, we’re going to dive right into this. How did you get into politics?

MB: Well, I started in journalism in college: I was editor of my college newspaper. Whenever you spend any time in journalism, I think it by nature turns you into a political person – or, at least, a political junkie. It certainly did for me! And then I made the switch from journalism to what some call “the dark side.”


MB: One of my first jobs was press secretary in Gerry Studds’ 1984 reelection campaign immediately [after] his censure. So, that really was just a wonderful baptism by fire into politics! The campaign was completely unprecedented. No one had ever cared about that little Massachusetts district. Then we were flooded not just with national media, but international media.

AB: Were you recruited into that campaign? How did you end up getting involved?

MB: It’s funny. I ended living on Martha’s Vineyard for ten years in my twenties. I was a reporter and managing editor of The Vineyard Gazette, which is the weekly newspaper for the island. Gerry was our congressman, so I got to know him quite well. When the ’84 election came up, just after the censure – I had wanted to make the switch. It was actually my girlfriend at the time who said, “You should call Studds, because this is going to be a big race and he needs help.” So, I called him and within 24 hours I was his press secretary.

AB: How do you go into that situation? How do handle you scandal of that nature? I understand he didn’t do anything illegal, but it must have been a challenge.
MB: The challenge of it really was that reporters – unless they were local reporters – didn’t understand the unique relationship Gerry had with his constituents. Gerry immediately went after the censure and had town meetings throughout the district. He was available to people. Nobody held town meetings until Gerry Studds did. He did it many years before the censure ever happened, so people in the district really had an incredible relationship with him. In the end, he won the primary challenge, which was quite tough, and won the general resoundingly. And he was reelected and never challenged until he retired. Many voters attitudes were as if he were a member of the family. You might say, “Gee, I wish that never happened, but you’re one of us.”

AB: Is that happened with the Clintons? Obviously Bill and Hillary have been plagued by scandal in the past…

MB: You know, I think the Clintons – a lot of people are turned off by the scandal allegations. But unless you were a true Clinton hater, I think people just said, “Enough is enough”.

AB: Do you think that Hillary’s enemies are going to come out of the wood work to stall her administration with accusations? Is that a worry for you?

MB: It’s not a worry for me at all. That was their flu vaccine. I don’t know what else people could do. There were these two biographies of Clinton – one about six months ago – and everyone thought were going to cause all this trouble for Hillary, but the books didn’t do anything to Hillary because most people know so much about the Clintons – or think they know so much about the Clintons. It’s not like getting Tina Brown’s book on Diana. People feel like there’s a lot they don’t know about Princess Diana. Does anybody really think there’s a lot they don’t know about Hillary Clinton? I really don’t think so.

AB: Let’s go back a little to when you “crossed over to the dark side,” as you said. You are now both a political and a media personality. I want to discuss the idea of objectivity in journalism. Obviously there’s the Associated Press, but more and more journalists, newspapers and news organizations are – not political operatives, but are becoming more emotionally involved in campaigns and particular issues. What does that say to you about the evolution of media since you started back on Martha’s Vineyard?

MB: I think that’s a real interesting question. What’s more interesting about that – from your original premise – is that there are so many more voices: the internet, YouTube, podcasts, in addition to a huge cable network on television – that certainly didn’t exist when I started in journalism. There are more media people out there with a point of view or with a political slant, but I feel also as consumers there are so many more ways for us to get informed. I feel that it’s harder for people to know where to go. You can Google something and be inundated by ten different views. Yes, it’s true, but I’m a little less worried about it because I feel like most people – more and more people – have incredible access to a wealth of information. You don’t need a library card anymore.

AB: Speaking of your political work – you volunteered for LGBT outreach for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. What attracted you to that campaign?

MB: Well, I knew John Kerry because he was my Senator – and I wanted to help him. That’s very often how people find themselves getting deeply involved in campaigns on that kind of level. They go into it already having a relationship and a knowledge base of the candidate and with John Kerry I clearly did. He asked me to help him and it was kind of no brainer.

AB: You are now part of Hillary Clinton’s gay steering committee. Why are you supporting Hillary? What is it about Hillary Clinton that entices you?

MB: It’s a great time in America to be a Democrat. We have an outstanding field of candidates that you could put a piece of paper between in terms of their approaches LGBT issues. I feel incredibly happy and proud of that as a Democrat. What separates Clinton for me are a couple of things: number one, I really feel like she’s been there with us in some of our tougher moments. It was really her strategy and her headcount and her messaging that led to the defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment in the Senate this last time. I very much want somebody who on day one is going to be able to go in there and say, “I want this to happen.”

AB: Okay.

MB: The other thing about the Clintons – and, believe me, no one remembers the Clinton years in terms of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA more than I do – but we were included. We have always been included. When you look at the LGBT community that they’ve assembled, it’s by far the biggests and most diverse in terms of membership of our community. There’s no question in my mind that Hillary Clinton will include our community – not just on our issues, but recognizes that there’s a wealth of talent and commitment in the community to help her administration solve an endless series of challenges and opportunities.

AB: So Bill Clinton’s presidency in some ways influences your support of Hillary?

MB: It does in the sense that the Clintons, going back to those days – as First Lady she marched in New York’s gay pride parade – they had a real intimate connection with this community. The policies that now we’re fighting to overturn, including Senator Clinton, happened in a very different political time. There were many, many members of our community who were part of that administration on all levels. And that’s important to me.

AB: Does the fact that she’s a woman play any role in your Clinton support?

MB: You know, it’s meaningful to me, Andrew, it really is. Of course it is. It’s really meaningful to me that we would have a – not just a woman candidate, but someone who could indeed become president in my lifetime. I’m really moved by that.