Roger and Me: New Jersey and the Stone Zone

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I met Roger Stone in 1981.  On my second day on the job as press secretary for the Tom Kean for Governor campaign, Stone blew into the headquarters in Union, a wispy, brash 28-year-old possessed of a self-confidence easily mistaken for insufferable cockiness.

While most of the staff dressed in polyester or chino slacks from The Gap and button-down dress shirts from Macy’s, Stone was attired in a custom-made pinstripe suit from Savile Row.

He wore it not because it was a sign of the success he’d already achieved as a partner in a political consulting and lobbying firm, but because he was…..well, because he was ROGER STONE!

He’d drop into the headquarters two or three times each week during the four-month long campaign, calmly dispensing wisdom and insight that he said — if followed to the letter — would result in a Kean victory.

He was soft-spoken, polite, courteous and gracious toward others in the campaign, but the teeth of the shark that lay beneath the custom-tailored double-breasted outfit revealed themselves when the conversation turned to the opposition.

To Stone, campaigns were not about a clash of ideas or a competition over which candidate was better equipped to lead a government and serve the citizenry.

They were war and the rules of engagement weren’t to be found in high school civics books.

Stone didn’t merely inch tentatively up to the edge; he set up camp there.  He didn’t operate in the shadows; the brighter the light, the better he