I had one brief meeting with James Brady, President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, who died yesterday. Although brief, all the aspects of his jovial, warm personality that are being reported in many of his obituaries today came out in the short encounter.
Brady’s hopes of becoming press secretary for the President of the United States initially were tied to another candidate. John Connally, the former Democratic governor of Texas, who was in the car with President John F. Kennedy that fateful day in Dallas, had since joined the Republican Party and was running for president in 1980. James Brady was his press secretary.
Traveling the country as an aide to Howard Jarvis on a speech and book tour, he and I arrived at a Chicago hotel. Coincidentally, a big political dinner was going on in the hotel’s ballroom that night with John Connally as the main speaker. The event had already started and we decided to check it out. In those less restrictive days, we had no trouble getting into the ballroom and standing against the wall toward the back of the room as the speechmaking was going on at the dais.
Brady spotted Jarvis and came over to say hello. He was smiling, friendly and gracious. He offered to try and arrange a meeting between Jarvis and Connally. While the invitation was accepted, because of conflicting schedules it never came off.
Brady was good at his job and after the Connally campaign ended and Reagan won the presidency the president-elect asked his former rival’s press secretary to join the administration. Of course, Brady was well known for his hand gun control campaign after he was severely wounded in the assassination attempt made against Ronald Reagan. More on Brady’s life and his crusade here.
R.I.P. James Brady.