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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The rise of a neopopulist tradition

Pryor asserts the importance of outside-the-beltway politics to American voters, and predicts the success of populist-style politics and multiple, small donations to political campaigns. He thinks America is ready for a different type of candidate.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WALTER DE VRIES:
Do you think with your Congressional background you can do more of this as governor than some of the other people have in the past?
DAVID PRYOR:
Well, I would say that I'm more comfortable in working in that environment than someone else who may not have been there. But as far as me having a great deal more input there because I was a Congressman, other than just personal relationships with people that I know across the country or in Washington or whatever, I don't know. But I think, frankly, I think the people are. . . I think our people are going to look away from Washington for leadership. I think they'll look to guys like, well, now he's going to be a part of Washington. . . I think they'll look to guys like Bumpers for national leadership. I talked to Dale Bumpers for about an hour before he announced and I thought that what he should —he was just getting ready to go to a governors' conference [Discussion of which governors' conference.] In March. I said "You ought to go up there and ask for 30 minutes time. Get NBC, ABC, CBS up there. Say ‘my fellow governors, and ladies and gentlemen, I hereby announce my candidacy for president of the United States. And I'm not going to run from Washington or from the United States Senate or from a governor's office. I'm going to run from Charleston, Arkansas, over the Dairy Queen store, and I'm going to run it on $100 contributions and $10 contributions. I'm going on a lecture circuit to support my family for the next two years. And if this country's in the state where we have to go to the Senate or the Congress or governor's office to chose a man to lead this country, and we can't elect someone from grass roots America, then we're in bad shape.' " I think, knowing him, knowing his abilities to get on that tube and communicate, and knowing how totally hungry the Dan Rathers and Eric Severids and all those people in Washington are for something fresh, something new, and for a proven leader without scars, who had done a lot for the state, totally clean, articulate and young. I think he could have been elected president of the United States. I think he could have gotten the nomination at the Democratic convention this way. I was the only one who seemed to feel like this but I wish. . . I thought he could have done it. I think America is ready for that type of candidate.