No matter how many times you heard the one about the "dirty, dusty boys marching down the road" having freed a small town in Belgium from the clutch of the German Army in World War II; or the one about the B-17 crew member who would not leave the belly gunner who was stuck in his turret after the rest of the crew had bailed out, "Well, Sergeant, it looks like we're going to ride this down together" you didn't for a moment think you were hearing a reprise of an old speech.
It was like listening to a really great recording of a Beethoven symphony. You know how the second movement of the Fifth goes; that you can hum along with it, makes it all the more enjoyable.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich said this about listening to a VanderJagt speech:
"You weren't watching a great speaker on stage. You were feeling the speech - the great truths - in your heart."
I managed Guy VanderJagt into retirement, losing a primary in 1992. On election night a we won by 25 votes in a city we should have carried by a 2-1 ratio.
His chief of staff and I led Guy, his wife, Carol, and his daughter, Ginny, to a side room off the ballroom where the "victory" celebration was being held, and we told them the bad news: He was going to lose.
Guy thanked us for our hard work and asked me to set up an interview with a TV reporter who was doing live cut-ins from the site.
The running totals still had VanderJagt ahead and the reporter started the live shot by congratulating him on winning another victory. Guy looked into the camera and said that the numbers, in fact, indicated he was going to lose and, before the counting was even completed, endorsed his opponent, Pete Hoekstra.
No recounts. No rancor. No bitterness. Guy VanderJagt endorsed his opponent.
There are not enough Guy VanderJagts in the world. I'm very sorry we lost this one.
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