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She's Been To 16 Democratic Conventions. Now, She Gets To See A Dream Fulfilled


Roz Wyman says she has imagined her tombstone. She wants it to say that she was a great mother and that she helped get Hillary Clinton elected in 2016. Wyman is in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. It is her 16th convention. She's 85. She was the first woman to chair a convention for a major U.S. party. That was in 1984, the year Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice presidential candidate on a major U.S. ticket. And Roz Wyman joins us from Philadelphia. Welcome to the program.

ROZ WYMAN: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Last night, you took part in the nomination of Hillary Clinton. Why does Secretary Clinton deserve pride of place on your tombstone?

WYMAN: I got elected to city council at the age of 22, and I have spent all those years trying to get women elected. I chaired Senator Feinstein's campaign for U.S. Senate. And then when Nancy Pelosi, who is a dear, dear friend, became speaker of the House of Representatives, third in line for presidency, I must tell you, in the gallery, I teared. My tears just came without anything.

Why this election, though, means so much to me - I wouldn't just support just any woman. I would support a competent woman. I know Hillary...

SIEGEL: Let me run past you...

WYMAN: Sure.

SIEGEL: Let me run past you what Nancy Pelosi said the other day. "I don't think that any woman should be asked to vote for someone because she's a woman. When I was running for leadership, the last thing I would say to my whips was do not ever say to anybody it's time for us to have a woman in the leadership because that's the least important selling point." Do you think that for Mrs. Clinton, being a woman - potentially the first woman president - is the least important selling point for her this Year?

WYMAN: Well, I have never disagreed with Nancy (laughter) since I've known her. But I think if you put all the trappings, if you want to call them that, with her preparation for this job over the years, her care about health, her care about education for kids, and you put it all together - and I think it's very nice to say that I hope that she is not just the first woman. She hopes this opens the door for many women to look for this in the future.

SIEGEL: But as you know, Roz Wyman, this there was - well, year there was, for example, a Wall Street Journal-NBC poll earlier in the year which showed that millennials were breaking much more along generational lines than along gender lines. And Bernie Sanders was polling very well among youngish men. And 64 percent of Democratic women who were under 45 backed him - more than more than for Hillary Clinton. Can you sympathize at all with younger people who, you know, know of the U.S. Senate with 20 women in it, not two women in it, as there were back in 1984?

WYMAN: Well, I would hope younger women want to elect more women to the Senate. Again, it's tragic that a woman has to be better prepared than a man to do her job well. And millennials - I have lectured to millennials. When I ask them - have you ever heard of a backstreet abortion, and do you know what Roe means? - and they shake their head no. They don't know. Go look for who put those bills in. Go look who put some of these and fought on the floor.

SIEGEL: But do you think that those successes actually undermine the argument for Hillary Clinton because a generation has come up taking some of those things for granted?

WYMAN: Well, that's what I'm saying. They shouldn't take them for granted. They ought to be glad they've got them. They ought to want to add to them. That makes me angry. I have no patience for that.

SIEGEL: You worked on the campaign for Helen Gahagan Douglas against Richard Nixon.


SIEGEL: I mean...

WYMAN: Nineteen-fifty.

SIEGEL: Nineteen-fifty - it's a long time ago. In all this time...

WYMAN: I was in college.

SIEGEL: Well, if you were to try to sum up for somebody what the difference is being a woman in politics today and way back in 1950 when Helen Gahagan Douglas was running, what would you say, in brief?

WYMAN: Well, I - when I got to the city council of L.A., most of the men were old enough to be my father or my grandfather. And when I got pregnant, believe it or not, they said, well, we presume you're going to stay home. And I said, what's the matter with you guys? You have wives. You have sisters. And then I had to go to various meetings, and I was directed to a different door to walk in.

We broke down some of those. I think women should learn what has gone on before them and build upon it. Let the young ones go out and fight to see that Roe stays. Let them go on and fight to see that their tuition is lowered. Let them take on some of these fights.

SIEGEL: Well, there's only one other question I have to put to you. I wouldn't be able to face all of my relatives if I didn't. You were on the city council of Los Angeles - a very, very young member - in the 1950s. And I've read that you were instrumental in bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles.

WYMAN: Good. I'm glad you asked. All weekend, I said, won't anybody ask me about the Dodgers?

SIEGEL: Well, is there anything now you'd like to say to the people of Brooklyn, Roz Wyman?

WYMAN: Well, I am sorry I took them, but I decided as a young person that one of the things that was missing in my great city - I was born in L.A. - was a major league baseball team. My mother was a baseball fan. I was born during a World Series, and she left the delivery room to hear what was happening. She was a Cub fan in those days. And I have to tell you, when they stand up and sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before every game, I look around, and I feel very proud.

SIEGEL: Well, Roz Wyman of Los Angeles, attending your 16th Democratic convention, thanks for talking with us today.

WYMAN: You're very welcome, and thank you. And you've got a great station.


DANNY KAYE: (Singing) So I say D. I say D-O, D-O-D, D-O-D-G, D-O-D-G-E-R-S team, team, team, team. O - I say O-M, O-M-A.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.