WASHINGTON, DC - After an illustrious career and 28 honorary doctorate degrees to date, you might think it’s time to sit back and relax. But Helen Thomas, former United Press International (UPI) White House correspondent, is still out speaking her mind, this time as keynote speaker of the CMD Group’s North American Construction Forecast here.

Thomas spoke first of our two long-running presidential candidates. Of George W. Bush, she said, “He’s says he’s a compassionate conservative. You can’t prove it by me.” Of Al Gore, she noted, “He did not invent the Internet.”

She quickly added, “Whoever wins, I hope he doesn’t jog.”

Ticking off some of the highlights of her career, Thomas remarked, “I got invited to the dedication of a horseshoe pit.” Did she ever stay in the White House? “No, I never slept in the Lincoln bedroom. I didn’t have the $250,000.”

Commenting on Hillary Clinton during the campaign season, Thomas said that “Unlike Gore, she’s not afraid to be seen with the president.”

One time, when she was trying to get in to cover Jimmy Carter, a burly bouncer stopped her. She assured him, “I was no lady. I was a reporter.”


British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (known as the Iron Lady) quickly became familiar with Thomas during her tenure. Once when meeting President Bush, she spotted Thomas among the press pool. Thatcher ducked her head and said, “Oh no, it’s that woman again.”

Of the press, Thomas stated, “Our job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

She noted that someone once said, “History is one damn thing after another.” Thomas declared, “I’ve felt privileged to have a ringside seat to instant history.”

When someone asked President Clinton why the press follows him when he jogs, he said that they’re just hoping to see me drop dead. “That’s true,” Thomas confirmed.

Sidebar: Obituary

Jack Rich, founder and president of Duralast Products Corporation, passed away October 10, 2000, in New Orleans, LA.

Rich graduated from Tulane University and served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1957, he founded Duralast Products, a filter and air booster company.

He is survived by his wife, Rose; son, Jack Jr.; daughter, Nancy; and five grandchildren.

Publication date: 12/18/2000