DAYBREAK DAILY: Former Va. Gov. Wilder and Mandela had special bond

ABC7 WEATHER: Rainy with highs in the upper 50s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Comprehensive coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

MANDELA AND WILDER: Of a bond, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first elected African-American governor, had a special kinship with Nelson Mandela, who triumphed over a prison ordeal to serve as South Africa’s first black president. During his term as Virginia’s governor from 1990 to 1994, Wilder worked against apartheid by calling on state agencies to divest in companies with direct links to South Africa.

“Wilder, the grandson of slaves, also took a 1992 trade mission that culminated in a weeklong trip to South Africa, where he decried the nation’s racially inspired violence. “What his life meant to me and what his personage meant was perseverance,” Wilder said of Mandela on Thursday. In a telephone interview, Wilder noted that Mandela never conveyed personal bitterness but radiated “a positiveness,” always speaking about the future.”

REFLECTION: From South Africa, per the (Johannesburg/Cape Town) Mail & Guardian, “The words "Nelson Mandela is dead" feel strange in the mouth today, almost impossible to say, given the unique way he was both martyred and canonised during his lifetime. He embodies a paradox: on the one hand we love him for his humanity; on the other, he already passed long ago from the world of the flesh. He is a peak of moral authority, rising above the soulless wasteland of the 20th century; he is a universal symbol for goodness and wisdom, for the ability to change, and the power of reconciliation. In person, he was not notably affectionate, but his image beams a very particular sensation: you just look at him and you feel held, hugged.

“Mandela epitomised those instincts we most associate with childhood: trust, goodness, optimism; an ability to vanquish the night's demons with the knowledge that the sun will rise in the morning. But he also made us feel good, and warm, and safe, because he found a way to play an ideal father, beyond the confines of his biological family or even his national one. He was the father we would all have wanted if we could have designed one. He was wise with age, benignly powerful, comfortingly irascible, stern when we needed containing, breathtakingly courageous, affirming when we needed praise – and, of course, possessed of the two childlike qualities that make for the best of fathers: an exhilarating playfulness and a bottomless capacity to forgive.”

S.A. MEDIA REACTION: A rundown, per (South Africa) News24, “Peace icon Nelson Mandela's wrinkled face beamed out from South African newspaper front pages on Friday, as the Rainbow Nation's media strained to mark the momentousness of his death. Many headlines wished the 95-year-old, who died late Thursday, "Hamba kahle Madiba", or "Go Well Madiba" in his native isiXhosa language, using Mandela's clan name as a form of respect.

Afrikaans-language Die Burger simply said "Hy is weg" - "He is gone", the Sowetan "Goodbye Tata" or "Goodbye granddad". Most newspapers published their headlines in black, as a sign of mourning. "The World Weeps", said the national daily The Star fastening on to the global upwelling of tribute that greeted his death.”

MANDELA AND OBAMA: per the New York Times, “Without Nelson Mandela, there might never have been a President Obama. That is the strong impression conveyed from Mr. Obama, whose political and personal bonds to Mr. Mandela, the former South African president, transcended their single face-to-face meeting, which took place at a hotel here in 2005.

“It was the fight for racial justice in South Africa by Mr. Mandela that first inspired a young Barack Obama to public service, the American president recalled on Thursday evening after hearing that Mr. Mandela, the 95-year-old world icon, had died. Mr. Obama delivered his first public speech, in 1979, at an anti-apartheid rally. Mr. Obama’s first moment on the public stage was the start of a life and political career imbued with the kind of hope that Mr. Mandela personified. “The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears,” Mr. Obama said on Thursday.”

MEANWHILE: Bi-partisan mourning, per The Hill, “Lawmakers across the political spectrum mourned the loss of Nelson Mandela on Thursday and paid tribute to his life and legacy. Statements from leaders and backbenchers alike eulogized the South Africa giant, focusing on his global standing as a symbol of justice and freedom. “In a way, Mandela was both the 'George Washington' and 'Abraham Lincoln' of his country,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “We're so fortunate to have lived in his time.”

“His Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), called Mandela “one of the great statesmen of our time and a global symbol of reconciliation. . .Madiba’s’ patience through imprisonment and insistence on unity over vengeance in the delicate period in which he served stand as a permanent reminder to the world of the value of perseverance and the positive influence one good man or woman can have over the course of human affairs,” McConnell said. “The world mourns this great leader. May his passing lead to a deeper commitment to reconciliation around the world.” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called him an “unrelenting voice for democracy” who “showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Enrollment surge or no enrollment surge, the next Obamacare challenge is a big one: How will the White House make sure all those people with canceled policies get new coverage by Jan. 1? At the rate the signups are going — even with the speedier, newly functioning Obamacare website — the administration has a vast distance to travel before the estimated 4 to 5 million people with canceled policies get new health coverage.

“In fact, health care experts say, it’s not out of the question that the Obama administration could face the worst-case scenario on Jan. 1: the number of uninsured Americans actually goes up. That’s a long shot, and there are plenty of reasons why it might not happen, since there are other ways those people could replace their health coverage, like signing up directly with insurers. Not all of the policies will expire in December. And even if the ranks of the uninsured did increase, it could be such a brief event that no one would ever be able to confirm it.”

MARYLAND GAMING: Cha-ching, per the Baltimore Sun, “Revenue surged at Maryland's casinos in November as they collectively pulled in $66.8 million, largely on the strength of a more than 50 percent increase year-over-year at Maryland Live Casino, the state said Thursday. The Hanover complex's gain was by far the largest in the state, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. Maryland Live did $53 million in business last month, up about 56 percent over the year. It has 4,328 slot machines and 174 table games.”

WANTING MAYOR: Mr. Gray’s difficult task, per the Washington Post, “Just about 24 hours after declaring his reelection bid, Mayor Vincent C. Gray traveled to a community meeting in the District’s poorest ward, ready to recite a list of accomplishments to a room filled with neighborhood leaders and residents. The mayor greeted his newly hired, sleep-deprived campaign manager, now working without a salary because Gray has raised no money. A few feet away, Gray’s deputy chief of staff, Sheila Bunn, worked on her own time, collecting signatures for a petition the mayor needs to fill with 2,000 names to qualify for the ballot.

“. . . As a mayor seeking reelection, Gray has an array of advantages over his opponents, not the least of which is command of the city’s political stage, which assures him that microphones and cameras will follow his every move. Yet, because of a federal investigation into Gray’s successful 2010 campaign — a probe that has cast a shadow over his nearly three years as mayor — he is returning to the stump devoid of an incumbent’s usual muscular political machine.”

MEET THE NEW BOSS: Of Hokie Nation; stay tuned, per the Roanoke Times, “Virginia Tech's next president is scheduled to be announced after a board of visitors meeting set for 1 p.m. Friday in Blacksburg. The board will meet at the Holtzman Alumni Center at the Inn at Virginia Tech to take up the appointment of a successor to President Charles Steger. A public vote is required to approve an employment contract for the new president.

“A news conference will be held at the conclusion of that meeting in the Inn's Latham Ballroom, the university's press office announced Thursday. All details of the national search - which began in June - have been kept tightly controlled as a 22-member university committee, members of the board and a professional search firm recruited and vetted an undisclosed number of candidates. The search for Tech's 16th president began in June, shortly after Steger announced that he would step down when a replacement is named.”

PLAYING FAVORITES: Or something like that, per the Virginian-Pilot, “U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, long opposed to government support of gay marriage, was thrust into the middle of a debate over sexual orientation and politics this week. Politico reported that Forbes privately was lobbying fellow House Republicans not to use their campaign war chest to support gay GOP congressional candidates. His lobbying focused on the National Republican Congressional Committee - the NRCC - which is supported in part by large cash contributions from the campaign coffers of Forbes and other House members.

“However, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he believes the party should give financial and other assistance to gay Republican candidates. Two gay Republicans in California and Massachusetts are competing for congressional seats in the 2014 elections and are expected to seek NRCC support. When asked by The Pilot about the Politico report, Forbes released a statement Thursday indicating his objection to gay marriage and his concern that no one should be compelled to financially support those who disagree on the issue.”

HELP WANTED: However. . ., per City Paper, “Mayoral hopeful Reta Lewis has amassed an impressive campaign treasury for someone new to District politics. Still, she'll need to make every dollar count to make up for her lack of name recognition. What to do? Well, how about paying her workers below the minimum wage? In an ad posted on lefty career listserv JobsThatAreLEFT, Lewis' campaign offers $8 an hour for canvassers. If that seems awfully stingy to you, there's a good reason—that's $0.25 below the District's current minimum wage, $8.25.”

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Flying into Reagan National Airport can be nerve wracking - or at least that's what The Weather Channel thinks. Reagan is listed as having one of the world's scariest runways due to several no-fly zones over our nation's capital, which require pilots to make very sharp turns to line up with the runway. Check out other scary runways.”

NEWSTALK: 10 a.m., NewsChannel 8.

--Skip Wood