Ballot Box

The Gaffes of Bob Graham

His most embarrassing quotes, in context.

Slate continues its short features on the 2004 presidential candidates. Previous series covered the candidates’ biographies, buzzwords, agendas, worldviews, best moments, worst moments, and flip-flops. This series assesses each candidate’s most embarrassing quotes, puts them in context, and explains how the candidate or his supporters defend the comments. Today’s subject is Bob Graham.

Quote: “12:50: Cissy thinks she’s going into labor
1:15: Cissy preparing to leave for Baptist Hospital
1:20-1:30: MLTH. Bedroom, bathroom. Dress in blue slacks
1:30-1:45: Rewind Ace Ventura
2:00: Adele ready to go. Drive to Baptist Hospital
2:15: Stop at [video store] to return Ace Ventura
6:00-7:05: Cissy in examining room, delivery room, watch ABC News. Cissy commences preparation for labor
7:05-8:40: Drive to Bennigan’s Restaurant with Adele. Listen to New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins (39-35)
7:20-8:25: Bennigan’s. Eat supper (ham and cheese sandwich). Return to hospital
9:05-9:10: Waiting room. Read NYT, mingle
11:00-12:45: Waiting room. Watch CNN, CBS News
12:44: It’s a boy!”

(Graham notebook entry from September 1994, as quoted in Time, July 17, 2000.)

Quote: “8:25 Awake at MLTH, dress in red golf shirt, khaki pants
8:50-9:15 kitchen—brew coffee—eat breakfast (Raisin Bran cereal) …
9:45-10 sign mail collect materials
Adele gives President Clinton Coke can …
10:45-10:55 Carriage cleaners—pick up Adele’s dry cleaning
Food Spot to buy Herald, NYT …
11:15-11:20: MLTH kitchen—give Adele dry cleaning—newspapers—
collect Coca Cola …
12:30-1:15: grill—eat lunch (cheeseburger)
1:15-1:20: walk, cart to 1st tee
1:20-6:10: play golf with President Clinton, Hugh Rodham, Aaron Podhurst
(1:22—4:47:07:69) Start of the round and duration, to hundredth of a second …
11:20-11:50 MLTH bedroom, bathroom
dress for sleep
watch XFL Chicago at LA
(Graham notebook entry from Feb. 10, 2001, as quoted in the New York Times, June 4, 2003.)

Charge: “You’ve kept 4,000 [notebooks] during your public career, with obviously logs of people you’ve met, to-do lists. … This has been called neurotic, obsessive, bizarre” (Tim Russert to Graham, Meet the Press, July 13, 2003).

Context: The notebook entries spotlighted by the press are the most bizarre ones. All the ordinary entries are ignored. As to how Graham acquired the habit, he said in April 2003, “My father was a dairy farmer. … He kept a notebook religiously as a means of recording sick cows and broken fences and being sure that they were followed up and corrected. For him it was a form of discipline. It is a form of discipline for me.”

Defense: Graham said in July 2003: “It’s mainly a list of [things] to do that day. It is a recording of the names of people that I meet, and what their concerns are, so that I can follow up. … It’s been a valuable part of my effort to be disciplined and to be responsive to the people by assuring that I have it written down, what they expect, and that I can check off that that request was responded to.” As to the odd minutiae, Graham said, “All those things are intended to help my ability to recall what the environment was in which something occurred, and that helps me remember the details.”