As a video producer at Syracuse University, I’ve had the fortune of meeting some famous people. These figures include actor Dennis Quaid, Shaquille O’Neal and author Joyce Carol Oates.
However, of all the public figures I have met, no one has captured my attention like former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
First off, I must give full disclosure. I am no Reagan Republican; in fact I am not even a registered voter. And what captivated me most about Dick Armey was not his party affiliation or political beliefs, but his warm and easygoing personality. One could imagine sitting at a sports bar with him and splitting a pitcher of draft beer and an order of chicken wings while watching college football.
Armey came to our university studio on a Wednesday night in October of 2009 for a satellite uplink with CNBC. He was in the central New York area to endorse Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the 23rd Congressional District race, which was later won by Democrat Bill Owens.
First off, Armey’s physical presence impressed me. He appeared tall and broad with a swarthy complexion, and he wore a dark pinstriped suit with a mint green shirt and a striped tie. He also had on black cowboy boots and a white hat, and the contrast between his dark clothes and boots and the cream-colored hat made me think he was a middle-of-the-road cowboy, undecided if he should lean toward being a sheriff or an outlaw.
Armey seemed to take an interest in me as a person, and we bantered about country music while I helped to “mic” him, attach his IFB and get his audio level.
Armey had to sit through three segments before his slot came up on CNBC. When the time finally came for him to appear on The Kudlow Report, he exhibited energy and his voice boomed in the small studio as he discussed supply-side economics and the value of the dollar.
Then after the interview, after his brief time on air ended, he took off his mic and IFB, stood up, grabbed his hat and started walking out of the studio with his press secretary. But he paused on his way out, almost as if he forgot something, and made a point to say to me, “Thanks partner.” His body was at an angle as he exited the studio, but he extended his hand back and quickly shook my hand.
I powered down the camera and turned off the studio lights. I then locked up the office and headed home, relieved that I hadn’t screwed up anything on the air. I also thought getting a chance to meet Dick Armey almost made up for having to work overtime.
This piece appears on SmithMag.net