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Houston oilman Robert Adam Mosbacher, considered among the greatest fund-raisers in the history of the Republican Party and a longtime friend of George H.W. Bush, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer at 82.

Mosbacher's daughter Dee, a lesbian, is a psychiatrist, filmmaker, and activist. Her 1994 short documentary Straight From the Heart, nominated for an Academy Award, featured parents discussing their gay and lesbian children and was a response to antigay statements by Republicans.

Robert Mosbacher, who served as U.S. secretary of Commerce from 1989 to 1992 and was influential in creating the North American Free Trade Agreement, had "walk a delicate line between the personal and political," The Washington Post noted. He made headlines when, in 1992, while working on the Bush-Quayle election campaign, he met with gay activists to discuss discrimination, AIDS, and homophobic campaign rhetoric. He agreed to the meeting in support of his daughter, but he received much criticism for it from the far right.

"Having the highest-ranking member of your re-election campaign meet with the homosexual lobby is a direct contradiction to your attempts to portray your administration as pro-family," Reverend Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote at the time.

His opposition to the meeting was echoed by several other right-wingers, including a pre-speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The Bush campaign told conservatives the meeting was "a personal decision" for Mosbacher. Dee Mosbacher had been critical of her father and George H.W. Bush for allowing homophobic statements such as those made by various speakers at the 1992 Republican National Convention, although she believed neither Robert Mosbacher nor Bush truly supported the far right's antigay agenda.

Robert Mosbacher was also a close friend of now-Houston mayor Annise Parker, who worked for his company Mosbacher Energy for 18 years and pushed for his inclusion in the Houston Hall of Fame while she was a city council member.

"When I stepped into the City Controller's office, managing about 75 people -- the first time I'd had to manage a staff that large -- I very much channeled Bob Mosbacher," she told the Houston Chronicle. "I was sort of a cog in the wheel there, a number cruncher, but he had a profound influence on me. He made it clear he knew something about me personally. He felt it important to make that connection to people. It was good for business and it made the office run more smoothly. I also learned you never fall in love with a deal. The numbers always have to make sense. That is a value I absorbed there and have tried to take into government."

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