Legendary pollster Pat Caddell passed away on Saturday at the far too young age of 68. Many pollsters of my generation looked up to Pat when they were getting started. We all followed trails that he blazed.
I had the honor of knowing Pat, working with him, and trying to hold my own in countless spirited conversations with him. He was brilliant, blunt, insightful, and passionate. Intense is another word that comes to mind.
We once did a press conference together where a reporter asked about taxes. The premise of the question was flawed and Pat lit into him with a tour de force presentation drawing upon history, data, and Pat’s personal experience. It was so brutal that I actually felt bad for the reporter. There was no follow up question.
But there was another side of Pat. I remember him being very kind/supportive to my wife and I during a difficult season in our family life. I also remember how, in the middle of a heated phone conversation, he seemed to melt when his grandchildren came into the room.
Perhaps what I liked best about Pat is how he was constantly irritated by anyone who was comfortable with the status quo. He was irritated because he knew that America could be so much better.