Connie Morella on becoming a Republican ~
“Mac was running for office and he had very stiff competition. He was a Republican. I had to cross-over and become a Republican to vote for him in a primary. I did, and I thought, I think I’ll go back. Then, I looked at what was happening in our Country. I saw Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, Everett Dirksen. I saw all of these great men who brought both sides together who were Republicans. Who believed in fiscal responsibility, but also believed in liberal rights, rights for people. I stayed a Republican. I became the Moderate Republican, which then gradually became an endangered species, and now it is almost extinct.”
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is Our Town. We have such a delightful, delightful friend and one of the great women of my lifetime. In spite, my wife is right up there too. She’s made such an impact on Our Town. So many ways in a national local level. She served in, The United States Congress representing the 8th Congressional District, of Maryland, as a Republican. That will never happen again. She’s a mother to 9 children, a teacher, and an advocate for human rights, women’s health, and domestic violence issues. Did she stop after Congress? No way. She was just beginning, and she’s here today to tell us about what she’s been up to besides Ambassador of France. She’s had a wonderful, wonderful career after Congress, and that’s Connie Morella.
Connie Morella: Thank you very much Andy O. Your very lavish introduction reminded me of something attributed to May West if you can remember that name from the old, old … When she said, “Too much of a good thing, can be downright enjoyable.”
A Ockershausen: Oh my God. May West, come up and see me sometime. I remember all those sayings. I think Ken might be too young. Ken’s our technical director.
Ken Hunter: No, I remember May West. Oh yes.
Somerville, Massachusetts | Grammar School through High School
A Ockershausen: Connie, you have had such a remarkable impact on Our Town. In addition to your work in Congress, but it’s so many things. You are from Somerville, Massachusetts. It’s a long way from Washington, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe it was great. You went to school … You went to grammar school in Somerville?
Connie Morella: I did indeed, and high school.
A Ockershausen: Catholic school?
Connie Morella: No. Public school.
On Boston University
A Ockershausen: Wow. You went to BU, that’s not Catholic either.
Connie Morella: Yeah, right.
A Ockershausen: Is that a city school, or is that part of U Mass?
Connie Morella: No, no, that’s a private school.
A Ockershausen: Private school?
Connie Morella: Boston University.
A Ockershausen: It’s not connected with any religious order?
Connie Morella: You know, it’s like so many of these major universities, have some kind of a connection. Sometimes very remote. There is a remote connection with Methodists. Just like American University. It’s Methodist . . .
A Ockershausen: They’re actually common usually.
Connie Morella: Exactly. Boston University is in that …
A Ockershausen: A very, very independent school.
Connie Morella: Right.
A Ockershausen: You learned a lot, and learned to be very independent. How did you learn … Did you learn growing up to be a Republican, or did that evolve?
Connie Morella: No. In Somerville, Boston, Massachusetts, you’re not a republican. I grew up in a Democratic household. I was Democrat when we married and came to Washington DC, and then moved into Maryland. What happened? My epiphany came when Charles “Mac” Mathias, who was the Senator …
A Ockershausen: I knew Mac very well.
From a Democrat to Republican
Connie Morella: Yes. Mac was running for office and he had very stiff competition. He was a Republican. I had to cross-over and become a Republican to vote for him in a primary. I did, and I thought, I think I’ll go back. Then, I looked at what was happening in our Country. I saw Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, Everett Dirksen. I saw all of these great men who brought both sides together who were Republicans. Who believed in fiscal responsibility, but also believed in liberal rights, rights for people. I stayed a Republican. I became the Moderate Republican, which then gradually became an endangered species, and now it is almost extinct.
Politics is about people.
Politics is about people, and it’s getting to know the people that you represent. It’s interesting because, Charlie Cook, of the Cook Report, I introduced him recently, and I said, “Gee, I remember Charlie, that you once said that, I knew my district because I would go to the opening of an envelope.” He then added to that. He said, “Well, when my daughter was a blue ribbon school recipient, you were there and the only way you could avoid shaking your hand Connie is if you were in the Men’s Room.” That’s connection.
A Ockershausen: Connie, but you fought the good fight. Many elections you were reelected. You had a wonderful plurality at one time, I remember that. You got more votes than anybody that had ever been in that seat before. Was that Mac’s seat before he moved into Senate? Mathias?
Connie Morella: You had so much re-redistricting taking place. He had it for a very short time, and then eventually it went to Newton Steers. Remember that . . . ?
A Ockershausen: I remember that name.
Connie Morella: Yeah, exactly. That’s when it went from being the Moderate Republican to becoming more Democratic. Right.
A Ockershausen: The western part of the County, of the budget, was up towards … Oh God, it was way up in the Mountains up there. That always Republican. The lower part, Garrett County, was a Republican County.
Connie Morella: Exactly.
Mac Mathias came from, Fredrick. You see, Fredrick was part of that domain, but then that changed and Mac went over to the Senate and continued with that independent moderate Republican streak. Working together, working together. That’s what politics is about. Politics is about negotiating.
Maryland State Politics
A Ockershausen: Before you got in Congress, you were in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Connie Morella: I was.
A Ockershausen: Is that where you had the big margins, right? Representing Bethesda?
Connie Morella: I represented Bethesda, right.
A Ockershausen: In the House of Delegates?
Connie Morella: For eight years.
A Ockershausen: Maryland is a peculiar place now because it’s an overwhelming, a completely overwhelming Democratic state and the elected Republican Governor. That’s almost impossible.
Connie Morella: I know it. I think he’s doing a great job.
A Ockershausen: Not because he wasn’t a Democrat, people liked him.
Connie Morella: Yes. He’s been very good on the issues.
A Ockershausen: He’s done very good.
Connie Morella: He’s been very thoughtful. He doesn’t jump into the frey. He studies it, and then he comes out with a position, and it’s what people applaud.
A Ockershausen: He changed his mind on that fracking and I liked that very much. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but it shows that he is flexible.
Connie Morella: Right, exactly.
A Ockershausen: I think the public likes that.
Connie Morella: Yes, they do.
A Ockershausen: I knew his dad real well. Wasn’t he in the seat out there? Where was he from Congress?
Connie Morella: Prince Georges County. As a matter of fact, a matter of fact his father …
A Ockershausen: Were you up there together?
Connie Morella: No, no. I never served with him, but I knew him. He was very good in terms of, when you had the situation with Nixon. He showed that he was very gutsy in that regard, the father did. When he left Congress, he also ran for Governor, and didn’t make it. It must be a great feeling of success that his son has it. He also became the county executive in Prince Georges County.
A Ockershausen: By election!
Connie Morella: Right.
A Ockershausen: He was voted in.
Connie Morella: He served in the House, he served as County Executive.
A Ockershausen: He grew up in Northeast Washington, where I’m from. He went to Gonzaga.
Connie Morella: Yes.
A Ockershausen: I went to Eastern, but I knew him in high school a long, long time ago.
Connie Morella: Right.
A Ockershausen: A fine man.
Connie Morella: Fine man. I agree with you. I agree.
Connie Morella On Losing Congressional Seat
A Ockershausen: Connie, all the things that you’ve done in the Congress, and you didn’t get reelected, but it more or less jump started you with a new world, a new career.
Connie Morella: Oh yes, oh yes.
A Ockershausen: Maybe it’s been the best thing that’s happened to you.
Connie Morella: I agree. I’ve just been very lucky.
A Ockershausen: No, no. Luck follows hard work.
Connie Morella: Okay.
A Ockershausen: Luck follows B.
Connie Morella: As a matter of fact, the last campaign, where we had redistricting, and so Prince Georges County became part of the district that I represented. At the end of that campaign, I said to myself, “You know, you did everything you could. You raised all the money you needed. You had all the endorsements of newspapers, you had all the people. There was nothing else you could do.” There was a nice sense of knowing, whatever happens, that you did all you could.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Connie Morella: I have never looked back and said I should have done this or that. Then, at that time, you may recall, the Governor was Parris Glendening.
A Ockershausen: Spendening we called him.
Connie Morella: Really? As a matter of fact …
A Ockershausen: Parris was a good friend of Bud Doggetts. You knew that and Cherrie, of course…
Connie Morella: Oh yes, I used to see them at his parties. In fact, we even went to Israel early on together.
A Ockershausen: Is that right?
Connie Morella: I said to Parris at one point, I said, “Well, okay Parris, we just . . .took place.” I said, “That’s okay. I went from Parris Glendening to Paris, France, so who won that one?”
A Ockershausen: That’s not a lateral move incidentally. That’s a definitely uphill.
Connie Morella: I know. That was great.
A Ockershausen: We’re talking with Connie Morella, and we’re going to take a break here now. Connie’s got a lot more stories and I’m going to make her tell them. This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is, Our Town.
[GEICO Commercial] Daughter: Daddy, where do babies come from?
Daughter: Mommy went to the store.
Daddy: You see, there’s a mommy and a daddy, right?
Daddy: See, when they call GEICO, they could save a bunch of money on car insurance.
Daughter: Really? That makes them happy?
Daddy: Yes, that makes them very happy.
Daughter: That’s good.
Daddy: I’m glad we could have this talk, Sunshine.
GEICO Announcer: GEICO, because saving 15% percent or more on car insurance is always a great answer. [End GEICO Commercial]
Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is, Our Town. We’re talking with Connie Morella, a very dear friend and very important part of, Our Town’s history, and did so much for Our Town when she was in the Congress and still does in many ways. One of the names that popped up in your resume was Mark Shriver. Did Mark run against you for Congress? His name popped up. I like Mark, he’s a good guy.
On Mark Shriver | Chris Van Hollen | The Pope | Sargent Shriver
Connie Morella: I do too. Mark did serve in the State Legislature, and then he aspired to go to Congress, and he ran in the Democratic Primary and he lost the Primary. I never had a chance to run against him.
A Ockershausen: Who did you run against? Who beat him in that Primary? Not Van Hollen?
Connie Morella: Yes, Van Hollen. It was the last race. It was the last one in a previous election.
A Ockershausen: We know Chris through a third party.
Connie Morella: Exactly. Chris beat him in the Primary. It’s interesting because I just finished reading the book that Mark Shriver wrote called, “Pilgrimage.” It was given to me, and it was autographed to me by Mark. It has to do with his looking at the biography of the Pope.
A Ockershausen: Wow!
Connie Morella: How initially he thought, “Oh, I don’t know that I want to take this on.” He was asked to do it after he had written about his father, and he wrote it. I enjoyed reading the book, and I think it’s a tribute to Mark that he took that on and pursued it throughout.
A Ockershausen: It must be totally interesting. It has to be. To find out about the Pope.
Connie Morella: It is because, the Pope was such a fascinating person. Listen, get him on your program.
A Ockershausen: We have a friend that wrote him a letter wanted to serve him some Maryland crabs the next time he comes to Andrews Air Force Base.
Connie, speaking of the Shrivers, they were in your district also.
Connie Morella: I knew Sargent well. He would show up at the various events, educational events and all. He was such a fine man. You know, what you’re pointing out is, you can have some people as opponents and still be friends.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. Dear friends.
Connie Morella: Still be good friends. Yes.
A Ockershausen: Many times. Sarge used to spend time at a place called, “The Dancing Crab,” a restaurant, because they could get TV. Before cable was in, they would jip, I say the word jip, they get a signal from Channel 9, and send it downstairs, and I don’t know how they unscrambled it. He could watch football in this little restaurant. He said, “I might as well stay here, I don’t have one at home. We don’t have cable, yet.” He said, “Cables coming.” That was a long time ago.
He was sitting there one day with, Harry Byrd Jr. The Senator from Virginia. That’s what you were talking about. They must have been in two different worlds, but they both liked pro football, so they liked The Dancing Crab. That’s a little off color, but it’s a good one. Right?
Get to Know People | Show Respect to Others
Connie Morella: It also points out something. That what we need to do is, get to know people. First of all, show a little respect for them. Whether it’s somebody who is your carpenter, or whatever. Show respect for them. Get to know them. Listen to them. Listen to them, learn from them, and then you can lead. I think that’s the key for whatever the profession is that you’re in.
A Ockershausen: When seeing political figures, I guess because being here all my life, I grew up with them. I was never impressed or overwhelmed because there was a senator or congressman, or whatever it is. If I knew them as people, it was much more important to know them as people than know them as an official.
Connie Morella: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: I had friend, Charlie Thone, Congressman from Nebraska. Out of the world. He was introduced to me by a third party. We became very good friends. I met so many people through politics. They are all great people. Being in Washington was unique to meet these people and be part of our … They were part of our audience. As broadcasters, we thought members of congress were very important as listeners. When we did our news, we did it with news that … We had a guy named Joe McCaffrey, every night on WMAL, he reported what went on in Congress that day. That doesn’t exist anymore. People take it for granted. We never did, and McCaffrey was brilliant. Tip O’Neill would be a regular on his program. Just one of the good guys. I’m sure you knew Tip real well.
Connie Morella: Of course. Tip was from the district that my family were in.
A Ockershausen: Is that right?
Connie Morella: In Massachusetst. Then he was my constituent. I’d always remind him of that and say, “Now you’re my constituent here.” He lived in Montgomery County…
A Ockershausen: A unique man.
Tom Foley and Bob Michel
Connie Morella: He was a very fine man. You see, he and Reagan, and more recently, Tom Foley, and Bob Michel. When Tom Foley died, Tony and I went to the memorial service at the Capitol.
A Ockershausen: Was he Ambassador of Japan?
Connie Morella: Yes. He became after. Yes. The person … President Clinton was there, President Obama was there, Joe Biden was there. The person who got the standing ovation was Bob Michel. Now, why? Because Bob talked about the fact that, once a week they would meet in his office. The alternate week …
A Ockershausen: He was minority lead, or majority or whatever.
Connie Morella: That’s right. He was a Minority Leader, and Tom Foley was at that time, Speaker.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Connie Morella: The next week they would meet in Tom’s office. They would laugh, they would joke, they would argue, they would discuss, but they would come to some kind of agreement. It was a kind of congenial atmosphere that they established. He got applause because that represented the best in bipartisanship. What happened is, when Tom Foley left office, he didn’t leave voluntarily. He was, as Speaker was defeated. Isn’t that interesting? What he did when he gave his farewell speech in Congress, is he called Bob Michel up to preside as Speaker. Now that represented class and bipartisanship.
Just recently, Bob Michel died.
A Ockershausen: He did? I didn’t know. I’ve seen him around town through the years.
Connie Morella: Yeah. Tony and I went to the memorial. This was only maybe three weeks or so ago. I know. Too many! I know. It was interesting because in the program, they had a statement that was made by Bob Michel, who was singer. He talked about the fact that you can have the brass, you can have the percussion, you can have the different variations, but then they come together in harmony by coming together. Same kind of thing. I didn’t mean to spend so long on that.
A Ockershausen: No, I want that Connie, from your perspective. It’s so important.
Concept of Bipartisanship – Look at Issues, Deliberate and Come to Consensus
Connie Morella: It’s a concept of bipartisanship. That’s what legislating well is about. It’s to look at the issues, get to … You know, it’s to deliberate, and then come to some consensus.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely, and make a deal.
Connie Morella: Yeah, make a deal.
A Ockershausen: That’s what they did. Connie, but see, your perspective is so great on that because you lived through the biggest and the brightest years. I don’t know, almost everyone we’ve talked to says almost the same things you’re saying. Why can’t it get done? Why is it so stubborn, that these guys can’t get along? Like Tip said, “Come on in, we’ll have a drink.”
Connie Morella: Right.
A Ockershausen: I love it. This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town, and speaking with Connie Morella. I want to talk to about her day job after she left office, and we haven’t touched on that Connie, but we will. This is Our Town.
[Commercials] Attorney Mike Collins: Are you still promising yourself or your spouse to get your will updated and a good basic estate plan in place? Are you finally ready to make sure that you don’t leave a mess behind for your family to clean up? Give me just two hours and I’ll show you how. I’m Attorney Mike Collins, host of radio’s, Legally Speaking, show. Come to my seminar and I’ll teach you what you need to know about wills, trusts, taxes, probate, how to keep your money in your family. Register now at mikecollins.com and I’ll even waive the tuition. That’s mikecollins.com.
Tony Cibel: Hi, Tony Cibel here to tell you about Tony & Joes, and Nicks Riverside Grill, at Washington Harbor in Georgetown. Spectacular new restaurants. We’ve spent a lot of time rebuilding. You’ll love it. It’s really fantastic. For any information, you can go online to tonyandjoes.com. It will be a wonderful experience for the whole family. Call 202-944-4545 to make reservations. Everything is fabulous. You’ve got to come down and have some wonderful food. [End Commercials]
Announcer: You’re listening to, Our Town, with Andy Ockershausen. Brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is Our Town. We’re talking with Connie Morella, which I should say we’re listening to Connie Morella who’s fabulous, who has so much to say and so many stories about Washington and politics at Our Town, but one of the crowning achievement of her long career. We’ve both had it, Connie. It’s her appointment as Ambassador to France. That must have been a thrilling thing for you.
Ambassador to France – Multi-National Politics – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Connie Morella: It was indeed. I’ve always been interested in multi-national politics. I believe as John Dunn said, “No man or woman is an island, we’re all connected.” Truly we are. It was great. One of the things that was particularly I think appropriate to mention about my ambassadorship, it was actually to something called the OECD. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It’s a group of now 34 of the most developed nations, came about from the Marshall Plan.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Connie Morella: George Marshall when he spoke in 1947, at Harvard, he talked about a family of nations. That became a remarkable plan.
A Ockershausen: Right. He did.
Connie Morella: What’s interesting, these countries, and the concept of OECD is to level the playing field so our companies in the United States can work on an even keel with countries overseas. They work by consensus. That’s why I mentioned it. If you notice, like you have to make sure that you are going to go along with 34 countries. Therefore, when you are an Ambassador, you do not ad lib like I did when I was in Congress. I didn’t ad lib. I was out of the box. I was an independent. I had to vote my Country, my constituents, my conscious.
A Ockershausen: Your conscious.
Connie Morella: When you’re an Ambassador, you vote the way your country wants you to vote. Therefore, I would pull together whatever the disagreements were, and I would do a video every Monday with the State Department about the issues that were coming up, and I’d say, “Well, you know, Poland feels this way, France feels this way, Spain does. Let’s try to work this out together so that we accomplish what we want to accomplish knowing them.” That’s the way it worked. That’s what Congress should emulate. The idea of getting to know, listen, and then coming to some conclusion.
A Ockershausen: Spending time together to understand each others problem.
Connie Morella: In fact, we were recommended, I say we were recommended, kind of the protocol of OECD was, you get to know your colleague ambassadors by entertaining them. For instance, during the week, with their families.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Connie Morella: So you knew the families too. That is an element that I think again, Congress should do. Go on trips, have bilateral meetings, have families come together. I have a lot of, a list of mending that branch of government.
A Ockershausen: Keeping things going. I know the ladies of my life who visited you in France came back 10 feet taller than when they left. Catherine Meloy was one of them, I know. They said everything was just so great with you and when they were there in France. It must have been a great thing for you to have your own people come visit you like that.
Connie Morella: It was indeed. It was indeed. It was a great honor and a great privilege to represent our country there.
A Ockershausen: I know it. You had a wonderful place to live. Is that owned by the US?
Connie Morella: Yes it is.
A Ockershausen: Did they own it?
Connie Morella: They own it, they own it.
A Ockershausen: It’s a gorgeous building.
Connie Morella: It is indeed. It was great having them come.
A Ockershausen: That’s what Cathy said.
Then Connie, one of the things that became important to me was knowing Connie Morella is wanting to visit Normandy, which is something I heard about on radio. I lived through it, because we had a lot of guys from the 29th Division were in the Assault.
Connie Morella: Yes.
A Ockershausen: They were from Maryland, DC, and Virginia National Guard. Several of the young people in our neighborhood were involved. I listened to it on the radio. We had no idea what was going on in the public. This communication age has destroyed that. We know things before anybody else should know them. Just being part of that, and your name meant so much to many people that Connie Morella, you were on the committee. What is it, Battlefield Commission thing?
Presidential Appointment – American Battle Monuments Commission
Connie Morella: The American Battle Monuments Commission. Right.
A Ockershausen: Who appointed you to that?
Connie Morella: Actually, the President did. It was a presidential appointment. Actually, that started back at the end of World War One. Incidentally, we’re going to be commemorating the US going into World War One this year.
A Ockershausen: A hundred years ago.
Connie Morella: 100 years ago.
A Ockershausen: I don’t remember that, Connie.
Connie Morella: Andy.
A Ockershausen: My father was in it, but not me.
Connie Morella: Right. This commission was started at the end of World War One by Pershing, Blackjack Pershing. The question was, “What do you do with these warrior who are now deceased? Do you send them back to their families?” The idea came up, “Well, maybe we can bury them where they fought, and where they died.” The question was then given to the families who may make a decision. That started this Battle Monuments Commission. Actually Pershing stayed there until he died, and his successor was George Marshall.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Connie Morella: Then George Marshall comes into the picture again until he died.
A Ockershausen: Marshall was just a Colonel or something during World War One, and he was on a staff of Blackjack Pershing. I just read about that.
Connie Morella: Yeah, yeah.
A Ockershausen: I was at Army Navy Club, and there was funeral procession just two weeks ago of a young Marine who was killed on Tarawa in 1942, and they just found his remains, and they brought it back for a flue. All the Marine brass was there. It was a big thing to the Marine Corps to bring him home. It was so touching. I know it was all … There’s a big thing in the Pacific where they have burial grounds. Correct?
Connie Morella: Oh yes, oh yes.
A Ockershausen: Didn’t you travel the whole world with that?
Connie Morella: No, not really overseas … Well overseas obviously when you’re talking about Belgium, and the Netherlands, and France.
A Ockershausen: The great cemetery right above Normandy.
Connie Morella: Yes, yes.
A Ockershausen: Magnificent facility.
Connie Morella: Very fantastic, yeah. As Pershing said, “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” When you go, you mentioned Normandy. The visitors center they have in Normandy, as you’re leaving, there’s a room where they have portraits of some of the fallen. You look at them and you say, “That’s like the kid next door who delivered my newspapers. That’s like somebody who went to school with my daughter.” It’s a reminder.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. It’s a very personal period.
Connie Morella: A hard reminder of how sacred those grounds are and how people in the world need to see.
A Ockershausen: I’m glad our country has decided to do that and support it. I know it is an expense on the country but it’ll be there forever. That cemetery’s dedicated forever. The land that’s dedicated. It’s just so great, and Janice and I just enjoyed that trip so much. I thought about you all the way.
Connie Morella: The countries really help out too. They help out with the land.
A Ockershausen: The French do.
Connie Morella: Yeah. They’re very proud of having it there too.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: They love the Americans.
Connie Morella: Yeah. Exactly, exactly. For good reason.
A Ockershausen: They loved all those kids that fell there. You were talking about that. When I was at high school, at Eastern High School, the young man and I, he graduated in the end of January in 1945, and he was killed on Okinawa in April of that year. He had three months out of high school, he’s dead. That’s the way it was then, Connie.
Connie Morella: That’s absolutely right.
A Ockershausen: They were raking up everybody to send them overseas. In 1945.
Connie Morella: Last year I spoke at the American cemetery in The Netherlands. I point this out because, they have 8,301 burials, and they have 1,400 on the wall of the missing. Every one of them has been adopted by a Dutch family, and there is a waiting list. There is a waiting list.
A Ockershausen: Is that right?
Connie Morella: On Memorial Day, there was a reunion of the families that have adopted, and the people from the United States, the loved ones of those whose lives were taken from them, they came together. It was so beautiful.
A Ockershausen: It must have been so, so, so compelling. See, Connie, there’s so much more to you than Congress, which I know about. It is. You are the epitome of somebody that gets around. Even though you’re not collecting votes, everybody sees Connie Morella everywhere and that’s so great because you offer so much, and you’ve done so much. We’re so proud of you Connie.
Connie Morella: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
A Ockershausen: I wish I had lived in Maryland, but unfortunately I live in the city of Washington, I didn’t have a congressman.
DC Committee Chair
Connie Morella: Listen, I do want you to know that for several years, I chaired the DC Committee. I chaired it …
A Ockershausen: Were you the chair?
Connie Morella: Yes, I chaired it at the time when I had legislation in to give Eleanor Holmes Norton, the right to vote totally on the floor of the House. She could vote in committee, but not on the floor.
A Ockershausen: You know, i was on the board with Bud Doggett with the Washington Convention and Visitors Association.
Connie Morella: Right.
A Ockershausen: I was part of the Board of Trade. We were having a problem getting something built or something done in the city. There was a Senator from Vermont named, Patrick Leahy, was the chairman of the Senate Committee, the House, whatever, I mean, The Senate DC Committee, and said, “Is there anybody that … can we talk to him?” I said, “I don’t know, let’s find out.” I had a friend from NAB that owned a radio station in Montpelier, WJOY, Joy. I called him and said, “Do you have a relationship, do you know Pat Leahy?” He said, “I am his finance chairman.” I said, “Bonanza!” We went back to the hearing in two days. He said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you guys are here.” He said, “Austin Kenny was here,” and he said, “I’m so glad to see you Andy, I didn’t know were a friend of Frank Balch, what can we do? What can I do to help you.”
I mean, it was open sesame to know the right person that knew the right person.
Connie Morella: Connections. Exactly. Exactly. Knowing people helps.
A Ockershausen: It was all about, this man … This obscure station in Burlington. I never thought I’d ever get to see him again, but he became a dear friend. He’d pick up the phone and call and said, “Pat take care of this guy.” He’s a good guy.
Connie Morella: Fantastic. Great. Great.
A Ockershausen: Being in Washington made that happen for me. Connie, what are the things that you’re looking forward to doing now? You’ve done so much. We owe you, meaning we. America owes you. What do you got on your plate?
Connie Morella: Actually …
A Ockershausen: Travel? You got kids up the gazoo.
On Rewirement | Issue One, The Reformers | Campaign Finance Reform
Connie Morella: I travel often with various functions that I care very much about. I see retirement as rewirement. There have been some changes in the things I do but I’m doing things I like. I’m a political junkie still. I mean, I had a breakfast this morning with some of the moderate republicans talking about what they’re planning to do. They had others were there of course too.
A Ockershausen: Good for you. You’ve been through the mill. You could be a great voice for those people.
Connie Morella: Yeah. Actually, I’m involved with campaign financing reform. A group called, Issue One, The Reformers. We have 180 former members of Congress, and former governors. Both parties bipartisan who are trying to say there are things that people can do about this corrosive money in politics. We’ve come up with a framework, with possibilities.
A Ockershausen: Connie, that’s great. That’s interesting.
Connie Morella: For instance, disclosure, accountability, looking at what’s happening with various states in terms of their initiatives with regards to matching funds and limiting funds. Looking at the lobbying facet of it. The framework looks really very good. The FEC, Federal Election Commission. Citizens United is a terrible decision the supreme court made, which said, “Cooperation’s are like people, and they can give like that.” We’re not going to get rid of it right away. I mean, The Supreme Court isn’t going to change it right away.
A Ockershausen: It will take a while.
Connie Morella: Within it, it talks about disclosure and accountability and nothing has been done about it. What do we need to do? We need to get a different FEC, Federal Election Commission. Right now there are six members. There was bipartisan legislation that has been put in. Bipartisan if you can believe that in Congress. It would make it instead of six, make it five members. One of them would be an independent.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Connie Morella: Have term limits, and get them more involved in actually what they’re suppose to do. Run the elections in terms of, we want to know who’s giving all this money. We want to know where it’s coming from.
A Ockershausen: What are they getting for it too?
Connie Morella: Exactly. Then we can figure out …
A Ockershausen: Quid pro quo. Right?
Connie Morella: That’s absolutely right. That’s one other thing. I do some teaching.
A Ockershausen: You’re just so active. By being active, Connie, that will keep you energized. We quote this lady from Cleveland in her late 90’s now. She said, “My philosophy is, get up, get dressed, and get out.”
Connie Morella: Get out, yeah.
A Ockershausen: “I’ve lived almost to 100.” I say that to everybody. That’s what I’m going for is 100, and you’ll be there.
Connie Morella: You know, Andy, you talk about things and you’re very generous about things I’ve done. You are Mr. Washington. I remember the “Man of the year,” I used to tease you about that all the time. The board of trade, and what you’ve done for boys and girls clubs and all of the good charities.
A Ockershausen: We’re involved now with Don Bosco, the school out in Tacoma Park.
Connie Morella: That’s terrific.
A Ockershausen: Janice is on the board, and we support them. Connie …
Connie Morella: Heroes, I know wouldn’t think of …
A Ockershausen: Growing up here, and working for The Washington Star owned WMAL.
Connie Morella: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Our philosophy was, “Get involved in the community because when you give, it comes back in so many ways.”
Connie Morella: That’s true.
A Ockershausen: You’re a perfect example of that. That’s what we did. Not just me, but all our talent was involved. Janice was involved, all the people were. Wherever we were sitting in ten seats, they were involved, and they brought so much to our company. We knew what was going on because somebody was involved. I don’t know if that happens anymore Connie, I hope it does.
Connie Morella: I hope so too.
A Ockershausen: It’s been so delightful. I can’t tell you how much we enjoy you, Connie. I have for how many years. I don’t want to say that to Connie, 50 years.
Connie Morella: Now, be careful. Whatever you say will be incriminating.
A Ockershausen: Tony, will you give my best to Tony?
Connie Morella: I shall indeed.
A Ockershausen: We see you guys, you come as an entry to us. Like Janice and I do. Like Bud and Cherrie.
Connie Morella: Yes, yes.
A Ockershausen: You always do.
This has been Andy Ockershausen. This has been Our Town. We’ve been talking with Constance Morella, our dear favorite. I wish she was still in Congress. I could get something done. I don’t know what it would be, but you would help me. You’ve done everything Connie, a person can do. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you.
Connie Morella: Thank you, Andy. Thank you, Janice. It’s been really a great pleasure.
Announcer : You’ve been listening to, Our Town, Season 2 presented by GEICO, our hometown favorite, with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook, or visit our website at ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter, our technical director, and WMAL Radio in Washington DC for hosting our podcast. Thanks to GEICO, 15 minutes, can save you 15% or more on car insurance.