In an interview published earlier this week, Gov. Jan Brewer talked about how much she has been hurt by those who have called her a Nazi for signing Arizona’s new immigration law.
“The Nazi comments…they are awful,” she told the Arizona Republic. “Knowing that my father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany, that I lost him when I was 11 because of that…and then to have them call me Hitler’s daughter. It hurts.”
Invoking her father’s death was a powerful defense against the harshest criticism of her career. But there was just one problem: Brewer’s father did not die during World War II.
Wilford Drinkwine succumbed to lung disease in suburban California a decade after the war ended. His death was the result of working at a Nevada munitions factory as a civilian supervisor during the war.
The Arizona Guardian picked up on the discrepancy in a story that has gone nationally this morning.
It’s unclear whether the gaffe was a slip up or an exaggeration. But Brewer has told the story of her father’s death correctly in numerous interviews and speeches over the years.
In 2008, the Republic included this bit about her father’s death in a profile of her:
…her father was a civilian supervisor at one of the Navy’s largest munitions depots, at Hawthorne, Nev. She spent her first 10 years on the inland Navy base between Reno and Las Vegas.
“There wasn’t a night we didn’t go to sleep singing, God Bless the Soldiers,” recalls Brewer.
Constant exposure to Navy munitions and their wicked soup of chemicals took its toll on the health of Brewer’s father, Perry Drinkwine. The family eventually was forced to move to Tujunga, Calif., where, she recalls, the dry desert air met the ocean breeze. Her dad survived there about a year.
And here’s what she said in a speech last month to the Graham County Republican Women’s Club:
Wilford Drinkwine, believed his country needed him during World War II.
He moved his young son and his wife, Edna, halfway across America for a job in the Nevada desert, working at the country’s largest Navy munitions depot.
I was born a couple of years later.
But, years of breathing poisonous fumes around harsh chemicals, finally took his life.
Wilford Drinkwine was my father. I was 11 years old.
But while the governor’s latest telling of her father’s story implies he died in a WWII battle rather than in 1955, her spokesman told the Guardian that wasn’t the intent.
“She wasn’t embellishing the story at all,” spokesman Paul Senseman said. “You’re reading something into this that isn’t there.”
Brewer is in Washington, D.C. this week and is expected to meet with President Barack Obama on Thursday.