Show Off Piece #1: Beyond Our Walls Feature, What toMauro holds for Hillary

Reflection:

I am extremely proud of this piece and it is definitely my favorite piece that I have ever written. First of all, it shows my impressive interview skills. Gary Mauro is a famous Texan democrat politician and he also happens to be a family friend. He was in charge of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Texas, and my dad suggested I request to interview him; given that she is might be the first female president and I go to an all girls school created by a famous female Texan politician, and Gary Mauro got his start in politics by working with Hillary Clinton and then Ann Richards. I had a focus for the piece but I also let the interviewee, and focus of the feature, take the interview where it naturally should go. I had a set of questions, but when there was something interesting he mentioned, I asked follow up questions about it. This allowed my piece to provide the readers with information and also with an engaging story to read. If I am using good quotes in my piece, people will be more inclined to read it and recommend it to other people. Naturally, the way a person is affected by a story lies mostly in the subject of the story not in the way the author writes it.

However, my writing in this story is particularly good in comparison to my other work as well. I remember I had a lot to do for school the day I wrote this story, but instead of working on schoolwork, I sat down in the Journalism Lab (J-Lab) and typed out the hour-long interview. I skipped lunch and advisory and pieced together the story bit by bit with every visual and auditory detail I could depict while still making the information relevant. At the time, I was reading “Story Craft” by Jack Hart so that book greatly guided my writing process. I decided to try a narrative lead and it turned out great. I rearranged the quotes and filler paragraphs about 20 times before I settled on the flow of my piece. Overall, I put a lot of effort into the piece and none at all- it seemed to flow directly from my heart. Of course, most of the credit for this piece goes to my interviewee, Gary Mauro, who provided me with amazing quotes.

Story:

Deep blue walls and light red oak shelves are filled meticulously with pictures and plaques awarding service and proud politicians. Garry Mauro sits relaxed at his desk filled with papers, comfortable in the stress of a political campaign.

Mauro is fluent in the language of politics: The “nitty gritty” of signing bills and gaining supporters, as well as the speeches he considers chores. Although, Mauro has learned to appreciate the importance of speeches because of their influence on the political stage.

The phone rang in Mauro’s two bedroom mobile home in June of 1972, and when he picked up the phone, Hillary Clinton (at the time Hillary Rodham) was on the other end. She was asking him to help the National Democratic Committee register students, Hispanics, and African Americans to vote in order to overcome the voter intimidation they were having in Texas.

“We spent a lot of time travelling and going door to door,” Mauro said. “I was totally impressed with her… How brilliant she was, and at the same time how comfortable she was.”

Comfortable, Mauro said, in cities that she had never been to, with high crime and poverty rates, going door to door and facing open sewers. Clinton was unfazed by this, with only her objective in mind.

Now, forty four years later, Mauro serves as the Chairman of Texas for Hillary. Within those forty four years, Mauro worked continuously throughout Texas politics; The highest position he held was alongside Ann Richards while she served as governor and he served as Texas Land Commissioner. Mauro held the position for longer than anyone else has, serving for sixteen years.

A shelf in Mauro's office holds a plaque commending his work as Texas Land Commissioner. Photo by Ally Wait.

Elected for Texas Land Commissioner at age thirty three, Mauro remarks, “I kind of grew up in the land office; [Ann Richards’] favorite line about me was, ‘I’ve been working with Garry so long… Well, when I first started working with him, I still had to cut his meat up for him.’ That’s just typical Ann.”Richards hated the “nitty gritty” of politics but loved the speeches, whereas Mauro and Clinton are the exact opposite. While Richards gave speeches that have gone down in history, Clinton has passed seventy-nine laws co-sponsored by republicans (a very difficult task to accomplish as a democrat). As Mauro says, politics are all about compromise.

“Ann always kept in mind her sense of history and theatrics,” Mauro said. “She loved big speech, and she love the idea that she could be a role model for girls (women)… and men. Men rethinking women’s roles in America. Also, getting women to rethink what they thought they could do in life.”

Despite Richards’ drastic effect on women in politics through her success on the national stage, Clinton still faces reluctance from voters as a woman running for president.

“I’ve lived my life thinking that women could do everything… It was the way I was raised,” Mauro said. “I have a hard time internalizing to this day, that [Americans] are going to hold her to a different standard than anybody else; and it’s because she’s a woman.”

According to Mauro, people talk more openly against women and people of color now than they did when Ann Richards was campaigning.

“There was a different tone of civility in politics then,” Mauro said. “Nobody would talk about discriminating against someone because of their religion, which is commonplace now in the republican party.”

Mauro dedicates office wall space to his fellow politicians. There were photos of him with the Clintons, and Ann Richards, action shots of them at rallies and conventions, and political cartoons from previous  elections. Photo by Ally Wait.

Voters arguing against a woman’s ability to hold office is not Clinton’s most troublesome matter; running against republican nominee Donald Trump has the center stage of her problems.“We knew that there was a possibility that Trump would get the nomination… But I don’t think anybody anticipated that he would win,” Mauro said. “We probably believed that Jeb Bush would be the nominee and we thought we were going to run a traditional campaign.”

Hillary’s campaign team expected hype and lies from the opposing republican nominee, but Trump has completely blown this expectation out of the water by going further down this path than anyone in memory; The New York Times found over twenty instances, just in one debate, of Trump’s statements to be “pants on fire” lies. The republican congress spent over twenty million dollars investigating Clinton about Benghazi emails and questioned her for eleven hours on national television, only to find no proof of wrongdoing.

“[Clinton’s] just a strong woman. To be trite when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” Mauro said with a chuckle. “I don’t mean to be trite, but I am a Texan. And she’s tough. She has real core values and she has been able to stand up. She really knows who she is.”

Mauro compares a quote from an old classic movie scene to the constant lies Trump has been telling in his campaign. In the scene, a man tumbles out of his car at a drive in movie theater holding his girlfriend, and looks up to see his wife standing above him. The man says, “Are you gonna believe your eyes or are you gonna believe me?”

Mauro wishes Richards was around for this campaign so that she could inject some humor into it, where Clinton is “just the facts, ma’am.” Clinton does have a great sense of humor with her close friends and family according to Mauro, but Richards was more public and political in her humor. He imagines what Richards would say to students at The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders now, if she were still here.

“‘Honey, you can do anything you wanna do, you just gotta decide to do it, and you can’t let any of these men get in your way… You gotta believe in yourself,’” Mauro imitates Ann’s accent, only slightly more Texan than his. “I can even hear her saying it… except she’d say it a lot better than I just did.”

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