but you know, he never pointed anything out that wasn't true. he never said this is a true and this is untrue. he just says a whole things not true and he didn't read the book. so i don't know where you go with that. so the reality is it is a very true story. he meant to have sex on the macs because he wanted to be like having sex on the moon. ..
>> good evening. my name is phil belanger. bill ballenger. i'm editor of politics and a charter member i believe of the michigan political history society. this august group assembled here this evening, which has been the repository for so many great speakers over the past few years. tonight we are really lucky. we have a native daughter of michigan, worn and brought up in my hometown, flint michigan, home of the flintstones. [laughter] she was born in the old women's hospital, like former lieutenant governor jim brinkley and like me. women's hospital doesn't exist anymore but sara went to school part of her youth at bentley school and then unfortunately
her father, who worked for gm, was transferred several times and places to rochester new york and to the bloomfield hills area but sara's older sister sue fitzgerald is a graduate of flint central high school. there is a big michigan connection there in the big thing about our speaker tonight, our author is that sara fitzgerald was the first female editor-in-chief of the michigan daily. that was really something. so she was a pioneer in journalism for women as an undergraduate in college and it kind of fits right into what i think she sensed when she first saw elly peterson and if i'm not mistaken i think it was on tv in 1964 during the republican national convention and sara was just a 13-year-old schoolgirl,
bloomfield hills. and she was awed to see a prominent woman on the national political scene, a woman from michigan, a republican, elly peterson because in those days you didn't see that very often. in fact you never saw that. alley peterson was first in just about everything she did for the republican party and for women in politics in michigan. sara fitzgerald was kind of there at the very beginning when elly peterson was just hitting her stride and sara fitzgerald went on to a very illustrious career in journalism herself at "the washington post" and a number of other newspapers. she took on the assignment of writing a book i think is very very important. and that is a biography of elly peterson, who was somebody who came out of nowhere in the
mid-50s, a secretary in an office in eaton county adjacent to lansing and onward and upward over the next 10 or 12 years became a national republican female figure. sara fitzgerald has re-created all of this in her book. she has a great job and we are so honored and happy to have her with us this evening to talk about it. i know you have got a lot of questions. i will just give one little quote of elly's that ap will steal sara's thunder little bit although it is so well-known i'm not going to be giving anything away. the introduction that elly peterson always had to put up with, and i heard it with my own ears back in the 60s by governor george romney at that time, was elly peterson looks like a woman, things like a man and works like a dog. and elly peterson had to listen to that over and over and over
again. now, can you imagine george's son mitt running for president today introducing a woman that way? i don't think so. tenney mary -- thank you very much. sara fitzgerald. [applause] >> thank you for the night's introduction. is a great privilege and pleasure for me to be with you here tonight. first i want to thank linda clary for help in setting up this event and i want to commend the michigan's political history society for your commitment to preserving this part of the history of our state. in the course of writing my book i was able to make use of several of the videotaped oral histories and the lansing collection including of course the interview that he'll ballenger did of elly peterson in 1995. these are indeed a gift not only to historians but to future generations of michiganders. it is gratifying for me to be speaking at night but also a little bit daunting. it is stomping because i'm talking about a woman who was by
all accounts i received a very good public speaker. her close friend and political protége described elly peterson's speeches this way. she dealt in reality but had it way of making an audience laugh along the way. in the end she really came back on point and slammed an audience. she wasn't the delicate thai. i think this made her likeness followed by powerful instruction all the more powerful. everyone who knew peterson called her elly, that is if they did not call her mother. the headline writers at michigan newspapers in the mid-1960s said al he did this and elly did that and their readers knew exactly who they were talking about. while i am sure that many of you knew her as elly, and i don't think for a minute that she would mind if i called her that, i'm not going to use that committed to familiar form tonight because i think elly peterson deserves to be taken very seriously. now you would never say that
peterson was guilty of taking herself too seriously. she was introduced as a speaker so many times during her career that by the end of the jihad developed a set speech built largely on anecdotes about the ways in which she had been introduced. at one women's club luncheon the president turned to her and asked, elly t. want to speak now or let them enjoy their lunch and a little longer? at a meeting of the young republicans club the membership chairman christina peterson's speech with a rousing speech that included and if we get more members we can get better speakers. at a rotary club a district chairman summed up by saying why there is no madmen in this audience who is in family or with her. in kansas and mc wound up by saying and they give you the biggest woman in the republican party, elly peterson. in recent weeks, i wondered whether fits christie has ever heard that one. a favorite introduction was provided by her good friend
wendell howe the republican leader from ann arbor. he said, there goes one of the finest women that ever walked the streets. the audience laughed and hobbes apologize but peterson was quick to reply that it was the nicest thing said about me. she actually incorporated the quote into the subtitle of the memoirs she later wrote and published. but there were other times when it is probably more challenging for peterson to keep smiling as she sat on the dais. she recalled one occasion when she delivered a speech at a men's club and she and her sister were the only women present. the emcee turned to her and said, and now mrs. peterson we hope you will not give us your broad speeches that only covers two points, but instead launch into your girdle speech as that covers everything. bill described the quotes of george romney used to introduce will rot -- alley.
romney thought he was being kind, but for years it was like waving a red flag in my face and i always answered as politely as i could. i think like men think they think. a tyrant deducing elly peterson as a speaker tonight i would focus on her many firsts. she was the first woman to run for u.s. senate from michigan. that was back in 1964 when there were only two women senators. both of them had entered congressman they were pointed to fill the seats of their late husbands. she was the first woman to chair a state republican party in 1965. people around the country thought she was in fact the first woman to chair in a state party. this was at a time when the chairman of the republican national committee would not permit a female vice chair to fill in if the male party chair could not attend the meetings. it was at a time when the finance committee of the republican party held its
meetings at male only clubs. in 1976 peterson was recruited to be cochair of the era america, the coalition of dozens of national organizations that work to ratify the equal rights amendment and that same year she served as deputy chairman of the president ford committee which according to my research was at that time the highest professional job that a woman had ever held in a major presidential campaign. in recent months, i've often been asked what led me to write this book by think the answer speaks to the importance that heroes and heroines can still play in our lives. as bill mentioned i grew up in michigan, the child of parents who consider themselves to be moderate republicans. a elly peterson first came to my attention when i was watching television coverage of the 1964 republican national convention. that year peterson was about to step down from her first stand as assistant chairman of the republican national committee. she was running for the u.s. senate and she was about to
become the first woman to address the republican national convention in prime-time. on this particular afternoon she was being interviewed by network television and i was struck late in remember it to this day because it was so unusual to see a woman on the national political scene back then and i was very proud she came for my home state. i continue to follow peterson's career from afar particularly during the early 1970s when i attended the university of michigan and she began to take a leadership role in the women's movement. as they would have it late in her life, peterson moved into the retirement community in north carolina for my parents lived. i had the great pleasure of finally meeting her in person. a decade after that i reach a point in my life when i was looking for new projects to be intellectually challenging and personally satisfying. i decided trying to capture the life of this relatively unknown political pioneer might be the answer.
and if i needed another nudge it came from the words of david roeder, the dean of washington's political journalists with whom i had worked at "the washington post." early in my research i came across a column that david wrote in december 1970 when elly peterson a step down as assistant chairman of the republican national committee. he said of her, it is i think accurate to say that her ability would have earned her the national chairmanship were it not for the unwritten sex barrier both parties have arrested around that job. certainly her organizational talent made her viewed as respected and heard advice sought after among her colleagues in the party as anyone in the past decade. broder continued the role of a woman in politics is an inherently difficult one, especially if her forte is organization. one basic problem all talented women face is the tendency of the parties to show them off to some preservative tea party
irrelevancy called women's activities. i should note that is a different political context for the term tea party than the one we have today. broder went on, mrs. peterson fiercely resisted stereotyping and by sheer energy and capability won her rights to operate as a full range of her talents. her colleagues back in michigan also clearly agreed. in 2003, when members of the michigan political history society were asked to vote on the person who had the best chair and state political party over the past 50 years her name came out on top. allie peterson was a member of the greatest generation, a generation of women who knew that the way to get ahead in a professional world so dominated by men was to work very very hard, be very very good at what you did into a large extent keep your mouth shut unneeded dignities you are forced to endure along the way. allie peterson didn't set out to
build a career in politics. she said it would made much better story if she could've said her family debated politics from the dinner table but she said it would also be a big fat lie. she readily permitted shia drifted into the republican party because her friends were republican and they put on the best parties. she noted of those days in the 1930s, we wouldn't have known an issue if we met when face-to-face. she attended a secretarial school in chicago and discovered she loved everything about being a secretary. she loves people, she loved to sell, she loved to organize an office. she was successful she later reflected because she understood the organization and that was really my basic skill. she once told a rider, good secretary should learn the business as no other position can. during world war ii peterson joined the american red cross unserved with an army field hospital in england france and later germany.
looking back she felt those experiences were the source of her strong sense of patriotism but they had not really have much impact on her political career. those experiences undoubtedly shaped her in more subtle ways. she was able to observe first-hand how to lead men and women into battle and keep them motivated when they were weary and discouraged. perhaps it is no surprise she often referred to her campaign workers as the troops and if you had to slog your way through the mud there was no big deal to crisscross michigan's upper peninsula and in the dead of winter as she did so many times. after her wartime service and marrying, divorcing andrea marrying her husband, peterson wound up living in michigan. in her mid-1930s he had given up trying to have children but capped active with the job and volunteer work. 19571 of her best friends persuaded her to drive to
lansing and interview for a job as secretary to the new chairman of the michigan republican party, lawrence lindenberg. she was hired on the spot. petersons recollections of their office were characteristically sentiment. it was indescribably filthy. the filing had accumulated for months on top of files, desks tables the floor and everything was covered with dust and mixed up with old newspapers and other junk. when barry said he needed me, he was not getting. he needed me and 14 other potential women to clean up the place and get it in some kind of working order. so peterson pitched in to straighten things out. overnight she became quote, receptionist, secretary typist mail clerk janitor cook's helper to all and mimeograph operator. she cleaned up that office and then she looked around for the next thing that needed fixing up. it was the michigan republican party. ribena for first-year she was on the road nearly full-time.
in those days she recalled people organized every precinct and i found that more fascinating than anything i had ever done in my life. from those days came the subtitle of my book, "mother" of the moderates. peterson was 43 when she went to work as a secretary for the michigan republican party and linda was seven years younger. the time there is a popular comedy show called the aldrich family which began each week with a teenager henry aldrich responding to his mother's nagging by saying, coming mother. linda recalled how he began responding to peterson that way and the name stuck. in the course of my research i talked to many men and women and including some in this audience who worked for peterson and described how she took a mother like interest in their lives, give them valuable it vies but also said high standards for them. laid in her life she said there were 15 to 20 people who began their letters to her by writing,
dear mother. her political children included christine todd wittman, the former governor of new jersey and administrator of the environmental protection agency and many others. in recent weeks it occurred to me that my books might sell a few more copies or receive more media attention if i use the kind of words found in the titles of other recent political books, words like revolt and rogue and troublemaker or even something a bit more cynical like how to talk to a moderate if you must. or hats i should've used a provocative, a tongue-in-cheek subtitle that peter -- peterson used in her own self-published memoir, confessions of a woman who walk the streets. titles like that might openly sell a few more books but i don't believe they would he in keeping with the spirit and philosophy of a woman like elly peterson. that is not to sail a peterson couldn't couldn't fight harder even through a figure to bomb the she felt the cause was
worthy. but i believe her political sites were conducted on a higher plane than where political battles are brought today. is clearly different time in our political history. in the 1970s it was a time when peterson did hold a high-ranking job in gerald ford's presidential campaign and liz carpenter could work actively for his opponent jimmy carter and they could still happily share carpenter's home in northwest washington during the final months of the 1976 campaign. peterson ran a hard-fought campaign against democratic senator phil hart in 1964 but still the two of them retained great respect and affection for each other. hart attended the parties to celebrate peterson's retirement from the rnc in 1970 and told a reporter that is a democrat he hopes quote elias council to continue to go unheeded. as hart was dying of cancer six years later the two of them still exchanged affectionate notes.
so mother, the name of so many protéges and political -- use when they addressed or seemed appropriate for the subtitle of my book. and i think the subtitle, mother of the moderates, captures the role peterson played not only in michigan but in the ranks of the national republican party in the 1960s and 70s. much has been written over the past few years about the particular challenges women can face when they seek high public office. research has shown that women more than their male counterparts need to be asked or encouraged to become candidates. that was certainly the case back in 1964. governor george romney and his aides were concerned the governor would not be able to win re-election with senator barry goldwater at the top of the republican ticket so they recruited peterson to run against bill hart knowing she would do what she could to keep the party unified that year. despite her -- peterson ran a credible campaign however the
press coverage of her campaign was also relegated to the women's -- and laden with images that would make us cringe today. for instance, a "detroit free press" editorial that was headlined millinery in state to raise said peterson was quote a straight from the shoulder political pro-who will be as hard to deal with as a wife who wants a new dress. [laughter] another reporter wrote quote, the rustle of political petticoats will set the scene and another story said that peterson had an endorsement from a former president eisenhower quote tucked firmly in her handbag. peterson recalled at the time such comments didn't bother her much because there wasn't much he could do about them, but later in life as her feminism or church or recognize the denigrating stereotypes in which they were based. i believe one reason might peterson is not better known
articulately outside the state of michigan is that there were so few women journalists covering politics at the time. is easy to forget it was not until 1971, the year after peterson retired from the republican national committee, that women were first admitted into the membership of the national press club and allowed to come down from the balconies to cover luncheons. i once asked peterson if she could identify her moment, it term coined by a magazine in its early days to describe that episode in a woman's life by many feminists -- peterson knew exactly when her moment occurred. romney managed to win in 1964 but it was not a good election for the rest of their public and ticket at a time when no woman had chaired a state republican party. a month later at the state party convention, she was waiting to go out on stage to accept her
new position when max fischer the industrialist who served as head of the party finance committee pulled her aside. he congratulated your honor new job and then said, but of course we can't pay you what you pay her predecessor. you are a woman. he then told her she would be paid $15,000 which was $6000 less than elliott received. peterson's response typified the kind of person she was. she later knowledge that she had thought about crying but on the other side of the -- the convention delegates were growing restless and she knew her party needed her so she went straight to the podium and delivered what reporters described as quote an emotional speech for party unity. then she announced that she was donating $6000 of her own salary to help retire the parties dead and she expect all the delegates to make contributions as well.
nobody really she was not going to get the money in the first place, not the reporters covering the event, not even her male deputy. her stoicism and diplomacy were such that it was many years before she began to identify fischer publicly by name. still the episode infuriated her. how dare they think i'm supposed to save the party she told an interview later in life. they lost everything in 1964. they're the ones you thought i could do it but i'm not worth the money because i'm a woman? i think that releases the first time i began to observe things at that time. it bugs me then and it bugs me to this day when they put women down like that. i'm sure that experience helped to drive her right into the early leadership of the national women's political caucus and 11 years later into a leadership of the fight for the equal rights of women. peterson came to realize that she herself had experienced sex discrimination in a very profound way.
early in her political career produce and they deserve to women are happy to perform the mundane detail-oriented political chores that she feldman were unwilling to do. but by 1972, the year after the founding of the national women's political caucus teeters and felt women's attitudes were changing. in an article she wrote for the magazine at the american association of political consultants she said, we are through with stuffing envelopes ringing doorbells baking cakes labels, through with all the work in mail will dare not touch. through with a gopher chores and politics. this will and has become quite a shock to many candidates and their managers. for too long women have been doing 80% of the good work in politics and getting little in thanks besides a form letter, wilted wilted corsage in a condescending thank god for the ladies from a victorious candidate who speaks from the platform while we are in the
pits. finally women are having the courage to climb up there where they belong demanding not only a new seating chart but also to be a part of it. in feminist circles there was a well-known quote the goes well behaved women seldom make history. i think for most of her life, elly peterson was exceedingly well behaved at least in her public pronouncements. that is what was expected of women of her generation. her personal papers reflect that is the women began to make headlines in the late 1960s and early 1970s she was turned off by the tactics of the more militant members, but when she got to know the women on a more personal level she developed a greater understanding of people and appreciated the experiences they shared as women. as peterson aged and was approaching her 70s three things happen. first her political party turn to the right. from her days in the michigan republican party she argued the only way her party could win was
to seek to include as many voters as possible including blacks and women but now she felt the party's strategy was writing off the those segments of the population. she was -- and by 1980 the republican party abandon the equal rights amendment. i have found today many persons are surprised throughout most of the 20 century the republican party has supported the era more strongly than the democrats had because the democrats were concerned about the amendments potential in workplace protection laws. secondly peterson's own career and her involvement with the women's movement led her to identify more strongly with women's issues and with the issues that were increasingly defined in her party. finally she was old enough that she no longer had to worry about whether she was burning any bridges behind her. there were no political leadership jobs in her future so she could feel free to speak her
mind. all of these factors culminated in her decision in 1982 to lead a group of moderate republican women to publicly endorse democrat james blanchard when he ran against richard headley the conservative republican for governor of michigan. later on she described it as quote a protest, a statement, a scream to be heard and to be considered. peterson's decision drew the kind of press coverage that she hoped it would and generated some angry letters from some reporters of the republican party but she did not retreat. she told the "detroit free press" i gave my 15 years of my life, 24 hours a day to build a broad-based republican party and to find now that we are reversing all that i guess you have to say i'm a michigander and a woman before i am a republican. over the time i've been working on my book, former massachusetts governor mitt romney has emerged as one of the front-runners if
not the front-runner for the republican presidential nomination for 2012. much of peterson's political story of course is the story of george and leonore her parents. one of the things i found most poignant inner life is how she and the romney struggle to preserve their long friendship and their political views in the late 1970s over the women's movement in the mormon church as they fought over issues such as ratification of the era. many commentators have written about george romney's own failed residential campaign when they have explored mitt romney's background but a seen a mention of the fact that his mother also -- running against bill hard for the u.s. senate seat for michigan six years after elly peterson did. having had two parents who ran for statewide office that i believe candidate mitt romney and his brother scott may share only with the carnahan said missouri. george romney first came on the
political scene after elly peterson had gone to work for the michigan republican party. she recalled that she first met him during the michigan constitutional -- peterson got to know leonore romney when the two of them began making appearances at in small towns around the state speaking in support of the constitutional revision. when george romney ran for governor peterson was assigned the job of managing leonore romney's appearances. she wrote in an memoirs that she did not accept the assignment quote with a great deal of joy and she thought her on credentials rated than another position shepherding the wife of the candidate. a candidate. elly peterson lived in my mother's maxima the cans anything nice don't say anything and so by her standards those statements were expressions of true annoyance. she developed a great deal of respect and a close friendship with leonore particularly after mrs. romney wild wowed the press
conference that she pretty much forced peterson to set up for her at the start of the campaign. peterson traveled all over the state with mrs. romney in that 62 campaign and mitt then a teenager sometimes accompanied them. local women peterson recalled handle all the details of her trips raising money by selling everything that was available. michie recalled was a bit of foresight i think quote was in seventh heaven doing the selling. in her memoir peterson describes the george romney strong religious convictions could be a source of amusement for the rest of his family. she recalled near traverse city they consulted maps to that seemed to suggest there was a road that looked as if it won over water. michie said kept asserting that road had to be there because it was in fact on this map. finally his mother said in exasperation, you know good and well the road will not go overwater unless there is a
bridge. that's right, dad isn't here. george romney of course went on to get elected as governor and as i noted later recruited peterson and 64 as state party chair in 1965. peterson did not buy your own account play a major role in romney's campaign for the 1968 republican presidential nomination. as far as i can tell she did not complain about this and of course it was good to have denied ability when things did not in the end go very well but i think she couldn't help but be disappointed that she did not play a more prominent role considering how she had been recruited to be state party chair three years before and considering the role she played in engineering republican statewide victories in 1966. victories i might add that demonstrated to the national pundits that george romney could in fact help elect other republicans. back in the day when i was still an important consideration.
but elly peterson didn't believe in elbowing her way into powerful positions. she waited until she was asked. back in presidential campaigns were still limited to the guys. it be another nine years before a woman was installed in a job as high-ranking as a deputy campaign chairman of a presidential campaign and that would turn out to be peterson herself. peterson did have a front row seat on the fallout that accompany george romney statement that he had been brainwashed in vietnam by the u.s. military and diplomats there. although mitt romney was in europe for most of his father's presidential campaign one can appreciate how his father's experience probably help shape the way he responds to questions in this presidential campaign. is a former journalist i found it interesting to reflect on how george romney's appearance played out on the national stage that in the days before it 24 hour cable news shows and the world wide web in twitter. i wondered whether the ongoing scrutiny of a single political
guest was more intense back then and appear to be what seems to be our culture now in which every 24 hour news cycle seems to produce a new one for a different candidate. back in 1967 romney's gap continued to resonate for months. i will share it with you now. at a the time the gridiron club in washington's print journalists held its fall dinner in late 1967 approximately the same place we are in the current election cycle three of the six of of the clubs republicans club's republicans get were directed at george romney. i was barely knew my singing to hear there was one of them said to the 1930s tin, did you ever see a dream walking? did you ever see a brainwashing? well i did. with a plunger in the dust sloshing, well i do. did you ever get your foot caught in your mouth just like
me and gulping hard, find you choked on your knee? the final verse went, did the white house light stop beckoning bright while fading out of your view? the thoughts that have wandered in the brain that gets laundered, they could make a pretty tough on you. romney continued to read his polls and surprised his closest supporters including peterson by pulling out of the race just before the primary in new hampshire. as leonore romney's 1970 campaign it was a painful time for peterson while she thought leonore romney had many gifts she felt mrs. romney's campaign was doomed from the start and tried to convince her not to run. she felt mrs. romney is running only because male politicians including her husband wanted her to make the race and that would become abundantly clear is the as the campaign went on. i think she did not want her friend to feel is degraded she
had during her sacrificial lamb campaign six years before. once leonore romney was committed peterson tried to be supportive, taking time off from her job in washington to campaign for her. on election night peterson phoned, she sent yellow roses and wrote another note later on. leonore was responding with gratitude. it helps know there to know there are others who give their all because some things mean so terribly much. the political highs and lows of peterson and shared with the romney's made their political separation a decade later all the more painful. the romney's have become local opponents of equal rights amendment and argued ratification of the amendment would lead to marriages and the further dissolution of the american family. peterson's frustration was palpable as she tempered and letters with first lady helen milligan another feminist friend on how she should respond to them. finally in early 1980 peterson's frustration boiled over.
she wrote the former governor that quote i am in this battle because of the many inequities i have endured in my political career. she recalled how she been recruited to run for the senate and it had to beg for the financial support she had been promised. she recalled how she had been told she was the only one who could solve michigan republicans party problems and then quote when i was too far down the road to back out she was told she wasn't worth the money paid to other state chairman, because i am a woman. there so many women every day she wrote in politics and business who face the same inequities. and then a typical elly peterson fashion she wished romney and his family best wishes for the new year. romney replied he was sorry about her experience. quote if it was my fault please forgive. years later peterson recalled that when she returned to michigan as she grew older she would always go have lunch with the romney's but it was never
quite the same she recalled because we couldn't talk about the people -- he will rights amendment or choice so instead she said they talked about the people they have known. i think their experiences unfortunately are familiar for many of us today. sadly our politics have become so polarized and emotional that it becomes very challenging to maintain relationships with persons with whom we disagree. how many of us have learned we should avoid talking about politics with certain of our friends and family members. i spent three days interviewing elly peterson when she was 92 and we talked a lot about politics and watch several hours of cable news and television shows together. so when i'm asked what she would think about the state of our politics today i feel pretty confident when i answer. i know she was very concerned about how campaigns had come to be dominated by money and a large sums now required to be raised to be able to mount a
campaign. she would be very concerned about the increased polarization of our politics and our inability to forge bipartisan solutions. i thought it was noteworthy the former first lady betty ford had asked cokie roberts to speak at her memorial service and wanted her to recall the days when members of congress from opposing parties could still be close friends. elly peterson was certainly part of that world as well. finally peterson was a strong believer in increasing the participation of women in politics and government. over her lifetime she watched as the a number the number one and serving in congress went steadily upward but the trendline has leveled out and as the state legislative level has headed back downward. were peterson this would have would have been a major disappointment. peterson expressed her perspective well in a speech i found in her personal papers that i believe was the last formal speech she ever made. she delivered her remarks about 20 years ago to the men's club
of the retirement community where she lived with my parents. she began by saying that she considered herself to be an independent and was not there to espouse the views of any particular party or candidate. she concluded by saying, politics has changed but not all for the better. today it is too much about money, the raising of it, the spending of it and worst of all there prevails the tone of insensitivity incivility and mean-spiritedness. i believe the surest way to political oblivion for a party is through its tolerance, intolerance to women, and tolerance of minority, and tolerance of people who deviate from one narrowly defined point of view. there is strength for us as a party as a community and as a nation and in our tolerance and fairness to others lies the path to the rational human being we all aspire to be. may we all find our way
gracefully and passionately. thank you. [applause] i think we have time for a few questions. bill? >> back in the 60s, bill milligan was a political figure and became lieutenant governor, and elly peterson politically was almost the creation of george romney at a high level after she ran for the senate. he was one who has served to become the chairman and she became the chairman. how did her relationship with the milligan's developed because they became quite close as you know, and yet ironically her relationship with romney was really the main republican figure that atrophied and weathered away with the problems you describe.
>> bill's question was to talk a little bit about her relationship with the milligan's and how that evolves and contrasted with the romney's. one thing that impacted her political relationship with bill milligan was the fact that she moved to washington with romney or was going to move with romney in 1969. he you talk to her about her job at the housing and development department when she ended up going back to the national republican committee. i think for bill milligan's first years as governor she was in washington and then of course after 1970 retired for a more formal political role. at the same time helen milligan's feminism was -- so they became very close and the battle over the bow rights amendment. when elly and -- stepped step down as the co-chairs they
recruited helen milligan and sharon rockefeller to take their places so she continued to have a close relationship. i think she had a great deal of respect for bill milligan as a politician out of the same moderate republican mold that she was out of. any other questions or comments that people want to share from your own experience? go ahead again, bill. >> i gather you weren't right there when she was going through those -- but i remember her as a young person. i thought you cast her so well how it felt to see a little article in the women's section about her and what she was doing.
>> you are right in that comment was about if you were a woman in her 60s or so or else or women as well that she caught your attention and like i said the headlines referred to elly and they knew who she was talking about. both in terms of her first years in a campaign which was groundbreaking in michigan and impact nationally at the time and is well and she became the state republican chairman. one of the things that interested me when i went through her papers was the api would do a profile of her and it would run in papers all of the country because it was so unusual. it was also right around that time in the early 70s that newspapers were starting to transition their women's, traditional women's sections to
a more featured section. the pose for instance used to call their section 4 and about women and keep the style section so that transition was happening in journalism at the same time. but i think, one of things that was interesting to read the letters from women who really got excited about her campaign and working in it. elly would comment both to me and and/or memoirs that one of the things that was challenging for her, she knew she was never going to win but she had to maintain a positive view that she could. one reason she thought she had two was so many people were excited about her campaign and working very hard in it. >> i noticed in one of the reviews of your book that keith boleyn who is one of her early field operators when she was republican state chairman said about her and you have addressed this eloquently in your talk.
she didn't leave the republican party. party. the republican party left her. how accurate do you really think that is? in a way i know you talk later about the republican circuit term but i remember talking to elly peterson in the late 60s and she was already concerned that the nixon administration was too far to the right into conservative. today richard nixon probably isn't acceptable about to moderate republicanism. so i mean, how much did she actually change your views or do you think she was absolutely pretty much rock solid, the same philosophical outlook and ideology from the time of larry lindenberg in the late 50s all the way up until the end? >> i think she evolves and clearly in the 1960s she was
concerned about elements in the republican party both in michigan and on the national level. one of the reasons why she was concerned about the possibility of phyllis schlafly would become the president of the national republican of women. the man she championed were in their romney, rockefeller bill scranton that kind of mode and they think as she said nixon ended up a candidate and she was still a gung ho republican and you got behind your guy and she worked hard for him. but i think during the years that, the first two years of his presidency, she was a think very frustrated because on the one hand as the chairman of the rnc and trying to get women in top jobs in the administration trying to be a liaison with the state party leader she found the nixon white house was sort of running their own game and that rested her because i think she felt, we can all work together
to build the republican party and it wasn't working the way she envisioned it. i think too she came out of michigan where she had started the detroit action center and she had this vision of trying to take that concept nationwide and this was still a point in our history where the republicans could conceivably attract the african-american vote more than they do today and she thought this would be one strategy towards making up it more of a big party. so i think it was gradual and they think probably as her feminism matured, that gave her perhaps it issues that she could more definitively hang her hat on and if possible if that hadn't happened she would have become more politically inactive as she got older. i do find is i've gone around there a lot of people who come up to me and say, i was the kind of republicans and i don't feel the parties that way these days.
one of the things she said too and i think this was in about 1970, which was a tough election and a number of people that she liked a lot got defeated that year. she felt that one of the big differences between moderates and people on the right was that moderates in between elections tended to go back to their regular lives. they didn't have the same kind of passion that she thought that the right-wingers did and this made the difference in how the party of fault because the moderates would move on to other things and didn't seem to have the same kind of passion. she also felt that the moderates could get passionate about a particular candidate be it from me or rockefeller that had less sort of support for an ongoing ideology compared to the right wing.
>> sara, did ms. peterson never share with you what she thought? earlier in your conversation, family and friends that we don't often, or we don't engage in conversations any more. we kind of avoid politics like religion and those types of subjects. did she share with you why she thought the data changed over time, why people and friends and family could not discuss it in a civil manner? >> well i think, and the question was about whether elly peterson has shared with me her views about wide the increase in polarization had occurred. i think it has been fueled by the media culture we live in now and also i think one of the contributing factors is frankly the last couple of rounds of redistricting in which
particularly in congress and the state legislature, political districts are being drawn so that candidates can be assured of election and republicans will put republicans in their district and democrats will put democrats in theirs and they say this is how we are going to divide the world. what it means in the politicians in those situations because they are playing to their base that makes them take more extreme positions than they would if you know they had been electorate that was better balanced or not chosen in that way. i think it is unfortunate that again the way our media culture has developed in the past few years that the good news is you have more voices and the bad news is you have more forces and the way people feel they can get to be heard is sometime unfortunately by being more strident. because we have more media outlets now it also means we
follow the media outlets that we tend to agree with. we have less of a, the big media, an and experience that we did i think back in the 50s and 60s or 70s when i was growing up. so i think all of these things contribute. when elly and i talked about it i think she was concerned and of course we were watching cable news there and you could see the extremes and that particular medium has provoked and that is contributed her go but i think what it does is it increases the emotionalism of politics more so than rational discussion and that makes it more difficult. >> i am curious to elly peterson have a relationship with martha griffith and their support of the equal rights amendment? did they work together? >> the question was elly peterson's friendship with martha griffith and chris when
she started off in politics and she writes about this, when she went to work for the republican party the michigan democratic party seem to be on the offensive with all these people like phil hart and her husband and stabler, so she viewed her obviously is a very talented competitor. but they became close later in their lives. group has succeeded in getting the era discharged from the house judiciary committee during the time when elly peterson was assistant chairman of the republican national committee. when elly was in washington at the time of the worst time that women were appointed as generals by president nixon, so she hosted a reception to mark this occasion because she viewed it as a victory for women rather than a victory for republicans. she invited her counterparts on the national committee over to share this reception.
i bring this up only because the day this event happened was the day, guess it was the day that passed the house and they were very surprised at how fast it passed congress which caught everybody by surprise. certainly they had all these states passing it and falling into line. was just the last two states that gave them fits. now of course griffith was blanchard's running mate when she came out so she would have had interaction with her at that time. >> sara is this your first book? >> this is my first nonfiction book. i've written a couple of novels and if you asked me which is harder, novel or a nonfiction book, i would say a nonfiction book because you can't make it up. [laughter] first i'm going to take a little break that i will say this. i like to think of my experience as a novelist helped me in writing this book has you will
learn a lot along the way in terms of telling a story and pacing and trying in trying to understand the characters and i hope in doing this book. >> bill belanger talk a little bit about your start at the michigan daily. would you just kind of give us a little overview of your career and what led you to "the washington post" xp briefly. the question was about how my career had evolves. i started off at the michigan journalism major and began working on the daily my second semester in college and had a bunch of different jobs there. bill ended up as editor-in-chief. i was very fortunate in that i had two summer internships during my college years. i was lucky enough, one of them was a dow jones newspaper fund copy editing and i spent that summer on the journal which was a night newspaper and that jobs
and lead to a reporting internship the next summer on the "miami herald." it was a great summer to work on the "miami herald" because it was 1972 in both of the national political conventions were in miami. there was a great front row seat on politics but the best as i can determine it was not a convention to elly peterson actually attended so that was an interesting twist. after college i finish my career at the st. petersburg times and followed my future husband to washington and work for four years on the "national journal" magazine and 15 years at the post as an editor and for five years as a new media developer there back in the early days of on line services and left the post in the mid-1990s and have done a few other things in between. i said to somebody i decided to pursue this project when i found a consulting firm that i had found and sold my share to a pardon or and i decided that i
was too young to be retired at that age. so this was a good project. thank you. [applause] thank you very much. >> for more information visit the publisher's web site, press.umich.edu and search elly peterson. >> next jack neely, local author of knoxville tennessee takes booktv on a tour of the literary history of knoxville. >> mickey giovanni is one of the best-known literary voices to come out of the black power movement in the 1960s. she still a well-known poet and well-known for her free verse. she was born in knoxville and threw up right here on mulvaney street. this was the sight of site of her grandmother's house where
she spent much of her youth. what she remembers very fondly in an essay which is much anthologized called 400 mulvaney street her grandmother's address. mulvaney street is now what is known as the hall of fame drive, by the women's basketball hall of fame on the eastside of downtown. this area was once a fairly prosperous middle-class predominately lack suburban area, but it is now since urban renewal in the 1950s and 60s it has been completely redeveloped for apartments, a rec center and auditorium and other things. but nikki giovanni's essay talks a little bit about her shock about coming here in the middle of the time of of the demolitions involved in her renewal which he raced her grandmother's old home. she talked about the rose garden and seeing the rose is still
growing in the yard but the house had been torn down. >> booktv has over 100,000 twitter followers. be a part of the excitement. follow booktv on twitter to get publishing new scheduling updates author information and talk directly with others during her live programming. twitter.com/booktv. >> next jack neely, local author of knoxville tennessee this obscure city takes booktv on a tour of the literary history of knoxville. >> cormac mccarthy is one of america's best-known writers of course famous for no country for old men a book that has been made into a major motion picture but his first four books were all set in east tennessee in the knoxville area mostly. the most knoxville centric of all of his books is called sultry about