From the NewsHour Archives: Storied Journalist Richard Ben Cramer
On Aug. 14, 1996, David Gergen spoke with Richard Ben Cramer as part of his Dialogue series for The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.
"What It Takes: The Way To The White House." It's been called "the book that defined modern campaign reporting," and it is Richard Ben Cramer's legacy. The author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist died Monday evening. He was 62.
From baseball stars to Irish revolutionaries to American politicians, Cramer excelled at the finely drawn profile. He won the Pulitzer Prize for the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1979, covering the Middle East.
But it's his 1992 book that will be remembered best, at least by those in this newsroom. "What it Takes: The Way to the White House" took an exhaustive, frank look at the 1988 presidential campaign and six of the men who ran.
Cramer spoke with the NewsHour more than 15 years ago at the 1996 Republican convention about then presidential hopeful Bob Dole, describing a defining and emotional moment in the GOP nominee's life 50 years earlier on a battlefield in Italy.
When you think of this kid who had always not only strived so hard, had a plan for himself, not only that but he had always measured himself by his physical talent, you know, how he could run, how he could jump, how much he could lift? By the time he was shipped home from Europe, he was in a full body cast, couldn't move anything, couldn't raise himself to eat, couldn't go to the bathroom, couldn't do anything for himself. And he was -- he was basically sent home to die. I mean, all along they thought he would die. But they just hadn't reckoned on his will. I mean, his will was alive. And he first got a little bit of movement in his left arm, and then little by little, but it then took work, he got the rest of his body back, except for the right arm, which was literally shot away.