Gary Hart Donna Rice
January 22, 2012 by staff
Gary Hart Donna Rice, Gary Hart (born Gary Warren Hartpence; November 28, 1936) is an American politician, lawyer, author, professor and commentator. He served as a Democratic Senator representing Colorado (1975-1987), and ran in the U.S. presidential elections in 1984 and again in 1988, when he was considered a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination until various news organizations reported that he was having an extramarital affair. Since retiring from the Senate, he has emerged as a consultant on national security, and continues to speak on a wide range of issues, including the environment and homeland security. In 2001, he earned a doctorate in politics from Oxford. In 2006, Hart accepted an endowed professorship at the University of Colorado at Denver. He also serves as Chairman for Council for a Livable World. He has written or co-authored numerous books and articles, including four novels, two under the pen name John Blackthorn.
Hart declined to run for re-election to the Senate, leaving office when his second term expired with the intent of running for president again. In January 1987, he was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 election.
Hart officially declared his candidacy on April 13, 1987. Rumors began circulating nearly immediately that Hart was having an extramarital affair. In an interview that appeared in the New York Times on May 3, 1987, Hart responded to the rumors by daring the press corps: “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.” The Miami Herald had been investigating Hart’s alleged womanizing for weeks before the “dare” appeared in the New York Times. Two reporters from the Miami Herald had staked out his residence and observed a young woman leaving Hart’s Washington, D.C., townhouse on the evening of May 2. The Herald published the story on May 3, the same day Hart’s dare appeared in print, and the scandal spread rapidly through the national media. Hart and his allies attacked the Herald for rushing the story into print, claiming that it had unfairly judged the situation without finding out the facts. Hart said that the reporters had not watched both entrances to his home and could not have seen when the young woman entered and left the building. The Miami Herald reporter had flown to Washington, D.C. on the same flight as the woman, identified as 29-year-old model Donna Rice. Hart was overwhelmed with questions regarding his views on marital infidelity. His wife, Lee, supported his position that the relationship with the young woman was innocent. A poll of voters in New Hampshire for the New Hampshire primary showed that Hart’s support had dropped in half, from 32% to 17%, placing him suddenly ten points behind Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis.
On May 5, the Herald received a further tip that Hart had spent a night in Bimini on a yacht called the Monkey Business with a woman who was not his wife. The Herald obtained a photograph of Hart sitting on a dock wearing a Monkey Business T-shirt, with Rice sitting on his lap. The photograph did not appear in print until it was published on the cover of the National Enquirer on June 2, 1987. On May 8, 1987, a week after the story broke, Hart dropped out of the race. At a press conference, he lashed out at the media, saying “I said that I bend, but I don’t break, and believe me, I’m not broken.” A Gallup Poll found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the U.S. respondents it surveyed thought the media treatment of Hart was “unfair.” A little over half (53 percent) responded that marital infidelity had little to do with a president’s ability to govern.
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