Jodie began the campaign from her house, using her own phone and fax machine. It was not her first time out: She had worked on Jerry's campaigns since 1973 and ran his office for a year when he was governor. She invited me to fund-raising parties and meetings for volunteers, which looked like Birkenstock Nation--women in flowing dresses and men with ponytails. I kept my distance.
Jodie was unfailingly positive. Jerry had switched his goal, in August of '91, from the Senate to the presidency, and hit the road. While the press dismissed or ignored him, she said, when he spoke to groups of people, they responded strongly. "Whatever happens, we win, because we're touching people with our message."
Then Brown began to win--in Maine and Colorado--until the Democratic field was down to two and Brown beat Clinton in Connecticut in March. I remember waking up after his victory feeling awed by what they had accomplished. In the face of ridicule and dismissal, of general agreement that Brown had no chance, they had, as one volunteer put it, "played an impossible game with the intention of winning."
Some great wind was blowing, Jerry had caught it and I kicked myself for not having seen it. I had been offered a window seat on a presidential campaign and had not taken it. I telephoned Jodie and asked if it was too late to come to the party.
APRIL 4. THREE DAYS BEFORE THE NEW YORK PRIMARY. SWARMS OF JERRY'S friends, family and advisers have flown in: Tom Quinn, a media consultant; Kathleen Brown, Jerry's sister and California's treasurer; Patrick Caddell, a pollster who worked for Jimmy Carter; Richard Goodwin, who wrote speeches for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. All agree that New York is "make or break." Goodwin says, "If he gets New York, he gets the nomination. If he loses, he can still go on, but . . . ." He shakes his head.
An afternoon rally draws 10,000 people to the Upper West Side. Jerry is in peak form, plunging into the crowd with no Secret Service agents, no escorts except Jacques and a couple of staff members.
Jerry gives the crowd his speech about "We the People--taking back our country" and lashes out at Clinton as a "bobbing, weaving target that has no moral compass."
When he leaves the stage, the press flies at him like a swarm of bees. Jerry will speak into any microphone. His staff can't control him, so he zigzags down the street, taking the swarm with him, while his friends shout in vain, "Governor! This way!"
The Brown campaign is run largely by volunteers, which leads to chaos and disorganization that are legendary. Schedules are improvised at the last minute. Vans get lost. The candidate gets lost. Supporters are stood up, which makes them quit in a rage. Some of the top staff members have refused to vote before, let alone work in politics. When people call Jodie to complain that "these are amateurs," she responds: "Right. That's what Jerry wants."
In New York, Don Lesser, an attorney from San Francisco, has been flown in to take charge of the schedule. Late on Saturday, he is still conferring with staff about Sunday. "I think we should do the debate with Clinton in the morning. It's our last chance to get in a killer blow."
Joyce Hamer, a black volunteer from New York, says, "We gotta go to church. We \o7 got \f7 to." A volunteer from Georgia agrees. "Sunday is always reserved for black churches."
Hamer starts calling preachers in Harlem, but Lesser is considering whether Jerry should skip church to rest and prepare for the debate. "We've got him running all over the state Sunday. He's gonna die. He's gonna look like s- - - on TV."
Don McDonough, a pollster, says, "There's two days to go! Give him some makeup."
Lesser has another idea. "Feel free to crap on this, but I'd like to see Jerry teach a high school class. Talk to children about what 'We the People' means to them and their future. I think it could be magical."
People start proposing schools and dates, but one of Jerry's advisers from California interrupts, "Let's wait on that. I'm concerned about this event tonight--with the rabbi."
Jerry is set to observe the Sabbath with Meyer Fund, a Hasidic rabbi who has a small \o7 shul\f7 in Brooklyn. The adviser wants it taken off the schedule, because of tension in the Jewish community over Brown's naming Jesse Jackson as his running mate. "It looks like pandering now, and it opens us up to hecklers. Wouldn't he be better off going to Little Italy? It's safe."
Lesser shakes his head no. "Jerry's willing to go to areas that aren't safe."
Two hours later, in Brooklyn, Jerry is wearing a yarmulke, standing in Meyer Fund's wood-paneled dining room, humming and clapping as the rabbi plays a Hasidic melody on guitar. Relatives and followers fill the house, which glows with the unnatural brightness of TV lights.