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.
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”.