Between the Lines Q&A

A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release March 18, 2010

Home | Broadcast-Quality MP3s | Archives | Search BTL Archives
About | Broadcast Schedule | | Squeaky Wheel Productions

Doris "Granny D" Haddock,
Passionate Campaign Finance Reform Activist,

 RealAudio  MP3

Interview with Granny D,
campaign finance reform activist,
conducted by Melinda Tuhus


Doris Haddock, known as Granny D, died March 9 at the age of 100. She is best known for her yearlong cross-country walk a decade ago, undertaken at the age of 90 to promote campaign finance reform. Haddock was politically active most of her life. After finishing her trek, she continued working on this cause, speaking all over the country as states debated passing their own campaign finance laws.

She took time off from that work in 2004 to run as the Democratic candidate in her native New Hampshire against Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, garnering 35 percent of the vote. She used her candidacy to speak out against Bush administration policies, including the war in Iraq. Three days before her 100th birthday, the Supreme Court released its decision allowing corporations to invest directly in political campaigns, and she issued the following statement:

"The Supreme Court, representing a radical fringe that does not share the despair of the grand majority of Americans, has today made things considerably worse by undoing the modest reforms I walked for and went to jail for and that tens of thousands of other Americans fought very hard to see enacted. The Supreme Court now opens the floodgates to usher in a new tsunami of corporate money into politics."

Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus had the joy of meeting Granny D at the Grassroots Radio Conference in the summer of 2002, where she conducted the following interview.

DORIS "GRANNY D" HADDOCK: I was a little old lady, 89, living in a little village of 1,400, a member of the planning board, a deacon in the church, voted, paid my taxes, so I thought that I was a good citizen. But when I called Common Cause, the office that had put this notice in the paper, and asked, "What in the world is going on?" They said, "Well don't you understand about the corruption that we have in this country today?" and I said, "What corruption?" I said, "Isn't this an unusual thing?" They said "No, not really, but it was caught, so don't worry about it." I said, "Well I am going to worry about it." They told me the buzz word was campaign finance reform. So I began cutting clippings out of various papers and making a scrapbook. And in a year's time I had two great big scrapbooks just full of campaign finance reform that I had always ignored as much as other people do, because it didn't mean anything to me.

BETWEEN THE LINES: So you walked across the country, you met people all over, you spoke at many rallies, I read your book. It seems like you created quite a stir. You skied into near Washington at the end when it snowed and you couldn't walk, and you've certainly been an inspiration. That was over two years ago when you finished in February of 2000, you finished your walk across the country. So how do you think your walk had an effect, if any, on the campaign finance reform bill that we finally got this past year, the McCain-Feingold bill?

DORIS "GRANNY D" HADDOCK: Well, I helped it get passed, I mean, I was told that I put a face -- this is what (Sen. John) McCain says -- "She had put a face on the bill. She made people aware of what was going on, and when it came time, people rallied and kept that phone ringing at the end, so that people would know in the Senate and the House that they wanted that bill passed."

BETWEEN THE LINES: Do you think that the Campaign Finance Reform Bill- the McCain-Feingold bill and the companion Shays-Meehan bill in the House, now that they're signed into law, that it will make a difference? Do you think that it's strong enough to make a difference?

DORIS "GRANNY D" HADDOCK: I don't think that it's a very strong bill. I think that in order to pass it, they changed the amount of money -- they doubled -- before you could give $1,000, now you can give $2,000, and that was an awful slap in the face.

But if they were going to pass it -- politics is compromise. But I think that was too big a compromise, but it seemed like that was the best they could do. Now, now, the FEC -- do you know what the FEC is? The FEC is a Federal Election Commission, and they get the bill after it has been signed by the president, and they're supposed to "clarify the language" so that anybody reading it would understand what it means. But that isn't what they're doing. They're tearing it apart, and so when they get through with it, it's not going to be even as good a bill as it was if they're allowed to get away with what they're doing.

BETWEEN THE LINES: So what are you doing? I understand you've been doing some campaign finance reform work walking in some individual states in favor of changes in the state laws?

DORIS "GRANNY D" HADDOCK: Yes. Now we have four states that have public funding. And we have two states that have used it in one election, and think that it is wonderful, it's better than sliced bread, both in Maine and in Arizona. But Massachusetts is having difficulty getting it into play, and Vermont is going to have it this next election. My feeling is that there's been a great many good things that we in this country -- that started in the states. There are 40 of 50 states working on this, working for public funding. And if you get a critical mass, if enough states are able to get this started, then it will spread to federal. I think that's the only answer. People that are in the House and in the Senate today have been elected under the present system. And they know no other.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Just to kind of summarize what you learned from that experience, walking cross country, meeting people all along the way, talking about campaign finance reform...

DORIS "GRANNY D" HADDOCK: It is never too late to get in shape. It is never too late to go and look for a new adventure. If you have a dream there's no reason why you can't go ahead and fulfill that dream.

That was an interview conducted in 2002 with Doris "Granny D" Haddock, who died March 9 at the age of 100. Melinda Tuhus produced an award-winning documentary about Granny D's 2004 Senate candidacy and her philosophy of life. Granny D's courage, passion and friendship will be missed by many.

Related links: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Melinda Tuhus is a producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 45 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending March 26, 2010. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Melanie Muller and Anna Manzo.

To donate to Between The Lines, please send your check made payable to "The Global Center" and mail to:
Squeaky Wheel Productions
P.O. Box 110176
Trumbull, CT 06611

To get details on subscribing to the radio program or to publish this column in print or online media, contact us at (203) 268-8446.

Home | Broadcast-Quality MP3s | Archives | Search BTL Archives
About | Broadcast Schedule | | Squeaky Wheel Productions

(c) Copyright 2010 Squeaky Wheel Productions. All rights reserved.