The first I ever heard of Phyllis Schlafly was in 1964 when she published A Choice Not an Echo. She was a housewife from Alton, Illinois, forty years old, and I was a budding columnist -the late Roland Evans and I had just started our column in 1963. In 1964, I was a 33-year-old syndicated columnist. I read the book and I thought it was one of the best-written, most interesting, fascinating pieces of political advocacy that I had ever read in my life. And I wouldn't say I disagreed with everything in it, but damn near everything. Now, I am in the process of writing my memoirs and I came across a copy of the book in the process and I sat down and read it all the way through... I couldn't stop. And you know, forty years later, I agree with almost everything in it.
I tell people that I have had a long journey to the right and I say I get a little more Conservative everyday. And they say, well there's no more room on the right for you to go. (Pointing at Phyllis): Well, yes there is! I agree with Phyllis on almost everything now, but not everything. I'm working at it. And I hope I'll get there. She had been very important in guiding me to the right, which has been incremental and not sudden. She's also been important in guiding somebody to the right who she may have met but she doesn't really know, and that's my wife. My wife, Geraldine, would die if she knew I was going to mention her name... she is one of the most private people I've ever met. When I met this Texas girl, she had never met a Republican until she was a grown woman. When I first met her in 1960, she was one of Sen. Lyndon Johnson's secretaries, a registered Democrat, and when I married her in 1962, she was vice president of Johnson 's secretary. She has, in the course of time, changed her registration from Democrat to Republican. She has spent the last many years as a behind-the-scenes , fervent, pro-life activist. And she has been guided, although Phyllis didn't know it, by Phyllis Schlafly, all those years.
So, I thank Phyllis, and I also thank God for what has been a wonderful journey over these forty years. Because I say, it's been a great life for me, covering politics, making politicians uncomfortable, saying whatever I want to say, writing whatever I want to write... what a great country and what a great privilege that has been for me.
One of my favorite things over the years has been covering Republican platform hearings... and watching Phyllis Schlafly in action at these hearings. It is awesome! Here is a person who holds no public office, usually not a party position, doesn't want a big lobbying firm, doesn't represent a big corporation or a special interest group, and she instills awe, fear, respect, and she has influence. I really do believe, that as Faith said, that the Republican party, remaining a pro-life party, being in favor, would not have been possible all these years if it had not been for the work at these platform hearings and sessions of Phyllis Schlafly. Because, Presidential candidates, and even incumbent presidents - we won 't name names - wanted to bail out on that issue, on many occasions, I can guarantee you... the last hearing - the last session of the platform committee at the Jacob Javits building in New York... she was really awesome. People in the White House pulled for most of the members of the platform committee - even governors and wives... some little aid at the White House would say something and they would just collapse. But Phyllis has principles. And she, I believe, has not only influenced the draft of the platform, but she influenced how the changes were made. Did she win everything? Absolutely not. But she, believe me, was the only force from the outside that had any influence... because all the platform committee members - all they wanted to do was get along with the White House.
I would suppose everybody in this room, or nearly everybody, is for George W. Bush's re-election ... I would certainly hope so. But I believe it is part of the Conservative movement and part of being an American that you don't salam when the people in power say you have to do something and Phyllis Schlafly has led the way on that.
Bob Novak Columnist, Television Personality, Author