Just Met Jim Lehrer & His Wife at Wagshals, Shook his Hand & We Chatted; He Was Heading Home to Watch Martha Raddatz & the Veep Debate

October 11, 2012


WASHINGTON, D.C. (exclusive) by Ivy Harper

Wagshals – the deli frequented by Washington’s high-powered politicos – was hopping tonight between 6 and 6:30 p.m. as every other D.C. lawyer, lobbyist, and politician stopped by to grab some grub before turning on the telly for the Biden-Ryan debate.

The energy level and palpable excitement is reminiscent of a Saturday Cornhusker home game where several hours before start time, the stores are filled with shoppers gathering food for the feast. Politics drives this town the way football drives Nebraska.

On foot, I passed the gas station (where regular is $5.26) that’s attached to the Spring Valley Shopping Center and I saw that Jim Lehrer was in the driver’s seat of the car at the pump I was walking by. His wife exited and since she was going in my direction, I introduced myself and we talked for about five minutes. I told her that I, for one, appreciated her husband not interrupting President Obama and Mitt Romney and letting them actually engage each other. Or not, as the case kinda was with the President. But still, I like it when the moderator doesn’t make it about themselves and how smart they are. Kate Lehrer – a novelist in her own right –  told me that she’d been hearing my precise sentiments from a lot of people.

She turned into the CVS; I headed into Wagshals and when I came out, standing there was Mr. Lehrer himself.

Now, as I’ve written before, Wagshals draws all sorts of luminaries from Chief Justice John Roberts to A.G. Eric Holder to a handful of Cabinet secretaries plus scores of Senators. The other day I saw Senator Rockefeller buying wine in the Fresh Greens store which is right behind Wagshalls.

Anyhow, since Mr. Lehrer was just standing there waiting for his wife, I introduced myself, told him I was a political blogger from Nebraska, and that I planned to “blog” about our encounter.

He smiled sweetly and told me that he was from Wichita. I then brought up the debate and told him that I appreciated the fact that he let the candidates go mano a mano. He thanked me and said and that he’d heard from a number of critics since the debate who had apologized to him. He said a number of media folks now have told him that the hoopla has been overblown.

With that opening, I asked him if he’d read Richard Just’s column in the Daily Beast and he said he hadn’t but that he would Google it.

His wife returned, jumped in the passenger seat, and he ended the conversation with: “We’re heading home to watch Martha Raddatz.”

I shook his hand a second time and added Jim Lehrer to the list of interesting folks I meet at my neighborhood deli.

My Veep debate prediction: a draw. I don’t think either man “will blow it.” Nor do I think either man will knock the other out, as they say.

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