Not Your Usual Congressman.

One of my friends—and I presume to believe we are good friends—is Hawaii’s former governor, Neil Abercrombie. He also served for 20 years as a Member of Congress.

In his early career, Neil was a member of the Hawaii Legislature and later the Honolulu City Council. His personal vehicle, a familiar sight on the streets of Honolulu, was a yellow Checker Cab. Why a taxi? ”Because,” Neil would  say, “it’s the symbol of service”.

Throughout Neil’s political career, my little advertising/marketing agency handled his various political campaigns. Since members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve two-year terms, Neil was a regular and an important client.

One summer day—it was probably 25 years ago— my office phone rang and it was Neil. He asked if he could come over to my office. Well, of course, I said, but I can come to your office. No, he said, I’ll come to you. 

Twenty minutes later, Neil arrived and we sat down in two comfortable chairs in one corner of my office and made  How’s-your-wife-Oh-she’s-fine chit-chat for a minute or so. Then Neil got up out of his chair and, to my astonishment, knelt on both knees in front of me.

He said the Democratic National Committee was uncomfortable that he was using an unknown ad agency (my little company) to create and place the media for his re-election campaign. They wanted an agency in Washington, DC to handle his media advertising. And they said they could not ask major contributors to donate to Neil’s campaign if he insisted on using my agency.

That’s why Neil was there and on his knees–to beg my forgiveness because he felt he needed the money the DNC could provide.

In retrospect, wasn’t that extraordinary! A sitting member of Congress, personally coming to explain a difficult decision he had to make and asking my forgiveness . . . from his knees! Is it any wonder that I love that guy!

* * *

Postscript: The mainland agency produced two TV spots for the Abercrombie Campaign that were terrible. Neil fired them and told the DNC that he was going back to my firm and if that meant they wouldn’t support him, so be it! He won re-election easily.