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Tags: alice stewart | cnn | huckabee | death

Remembering the Magic of Alice Stewart

By    |   Sunday, 19 May 2024 07:13 AM EDT

Last Sunday evening, May 11, I was talking to my friend Alice Stewart — best known as a CNN commentator but also known as press secretary to Mike Huckabee when he was governor of Arkansas and as 2008 presidential candidate when he scored an impressive win in the Iowa caucuses.

Alice knew Arkansas politics like the back of her hand, and I asked her if she could put me in touch with another former governor and presidential hopeful Asa Hutchinson. As a former federal prosecutor, I felt, Hutchinson could give me an honest assessment of the Justice Department’s recent announcement that it would retry former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R.-Neb. on charges of campaign finance violation — his conviction having been thrown out on appeal because a higher court ruled the prosecution had the wrong venue.

“I just texted you the governor’s contact information,” Alice e-mailed me in minutes, “He said he’s happy for you to reach out.”

As always, Alice added “I hope you’re doing great” and “Hope we can get together soon,” a reference to our fairly regular lunches in which we alternated who was hosting. It was her turn next.

But it was not to be. On the following Saturday, May 18, I was stunned to learn Alice Stewart was found dead in the backyard of her home at age 58. Police said there was no evidence of foul play but there was also no sign of what took her life at a relatively young age.

Like most of Alice’s wide circle of friends, my thoughts dwelled not on how she died but how she lived. And it was a wonderful life. She held a unique niche in that she had friends on the left and right and few — if any — enemies. Alice could deliver an opinion on any subject from abortion to Zambia and never upset any of her fellow “talking heads” on CNN — most of whom, to no surprise, were on the left.

And she did it all with a glow that never shut down and a 1,000-watt smile.

Once during our last lunch, the name came up of Jake Tapper, famed round-table host on the eponymous CNN program "The Lead" and someone with whom Alice had frequently but good-naturedly jousted. Rather than talk about Jake’s alleged left-wing slant, Alice said immediately “Jake is an excellent writer. Did you know that?” Not only did I know that, I replied, I had read and given his first novel "The Hellfire Club" as a birthday gift to a friend, who loved it. Jake had since written a second novel, which Alice and I agreed to read.

No harsh words were exchanged about Tapper or his inarguably liberal slant. Alice had taken the lead on the conversation, and, as usual at our lunches, it was quite nice.

There was a magic about Alice Stewart — the magic of liking and being liked, of disagreeing without being disagreeable and always doing so with a touch of professionalism.

When we were in London last year for a conference on ranked choice voting, Alice suddenly learned she had to go on CNN to spar on the presidential election. She asked me to grab a pot of flowers from the lobby (she asked for permission from the desk, of course) and place them on a table in her room, from which she would make a zoom call to the network in the U.S.

“It always creates a warmer atmosphere when you have flowers,” she said, as she motioned just where to set down the pot (which was heavier than I thought).

Alice Stewart was a natural for the camera. A graduate of the University of Georgia, she became a TV anchor out of college. This took her to Arkansas, where she went to work for Gov. Huckabee. Along with Huckabee’s presidential campaign in ’08, Alice held the top communications job in the presidential bids of former Sen. Rick Santorum, R.-Pa. in 2012 and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in ’16 — and “Mike, Rick, and Ted all won the Iowa caucuses, thanks to me!” she once joked.

Her good nature was on display in a new podcast with liberal pundit Maria Cardona, entitled (appropriately) "Hot Mics From Left To Right." On the day after the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, the British Embassy hosted a large group of reporters for a garden party. Sure enough, a large crowd gather at the party to hear Alice and Maria.

We won’t have any more lunches in which, like William Buckley and Alastair Cooke, we alternated the check (and Alice always remembered whose turn it was). But that smiling face, that inimitable Southern-style humor, and good nature about people and politics lives on in my memory and those, I am certain, of many others.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Last Sunday evening, May 11, I was talking to my friend Alice Stewart - best known as a CNN commentator but also known as press secretary to Mike Huckabee when he was governor of Arkansas and as 2008 presidential candidate when he scored an impressive win in the Iowa...
alice stewart, cnn, huckabee, death
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2024-13-19
Sunday, 19 May 2024 07:13 AM
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