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Title: Oral History Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Reed, Clarke, interviewee
Interview conducted by Bass, Jack DeVries, Walter
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 176 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
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The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-11-15, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0113)
Author: Jack Bass and Walter DeVries
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0113)
Author: Clarke Reed
Description: 175 Mb
Description: 46 p.
Note: Interview conducted on April 2, 1974, by Jack Bass and Walter DeVries; recorded in Greenville, Mississippi.
Note: Transcribed by Linda Killen.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series A. Southern Politics, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974.
Interview A-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Reed, Clarke, interviewee


Interview Participants

    CLARKE REED, interviewee
    JACK BASS, interviewer
    WALTER DEVRIES, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
Portions of this tape are inaudible due to the poor technical quality of the tape.
JACK BASS:
How did you get active in the Republican Party?
CLARKE REED:
I was born Democrat. Family Democrat. I was not active in civic clubs, that sort of thing. Went to church. That's about all. Outside of making a buck.
The state of the nation didn't look very good to me. I was receptive maybe to some activity. I voted Republican. My first vote was for Eisenhower in 1952. But I thought the real good guys were the southern Democrats. But then people come to me, my predecessor [unclear], he'd say you need to get active. I'd say, "Well, I'm not a community leader. Let's go and see a friend of Bank." And all these leaders. These guys running Red Cross drives and all. And I began to see maybe they were fakes. A little strong word, maybe. You know, I'd say this needs to be done. But I could see by and large that type of political leaders were pretty much followers. They go where the wind goes. At least on political and philosophical issues as a rule. And so I'd wind up taking on Republican chairman, county chairman, that sort of thing. And just devolved more into it.
JACK BASS:
What period was this?
CLARKE REED:
I did a little bit, very little bit, in the first Nixon campaign in '60. County chairman not long after that and got pretty active I'd say '63 in the governor's race and appreciably more so when became state finance chairman in '65 and then state chairman in '66.
JACK BASS:
You had been chairman for how long?

Page 2
CLARKE REED:
I think ten years. A long time.
JACK BASS:
So you and he are really the only two chairmen of the Republican Party has had in Mississippi in the modern era? What was the Republican Party in those days, early '60s?
CLARKE REED:
Well, by the time I got up here it had devolved into something. [Earlier chairman's name] started. He went through the competition . . . wasn't until '56 that you had the party recognized [unclear]. Part of that time Perry Howard, black lawyer in Washington, voted the delegation. Then they seated . . . the '56 convention as I recall, understand it—before my time—both units, you know, with the understanding that the evolving group in the state, the viable party to be, would be recognized de facto and then be fully credited at the next convention.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What major changes occurred in that time until this time in the party?
CLARKE REED:
Well, you make all the mistakes you can make. Like, you know, in '64. The thinking . . . I wasn't part of it, but I don't feel I'd have any different position . . . was that it was all [something about having to prove to people that there is a party, in other words, that there is a difference.] That the Republican candidate is the conservative party. [Something about being part of the Goldwater movement]—if you want to call it that. The effective control of the party by the conservatives, which I think is now in question. So . . . they had the absurd notion we don't want to run anybody on the ticket and we want to be sure to carry the state for Goldwater. One congressman ran and [unclear] was elected. With the type vote we had we could have elected five. But . . . at the time I remember Reston was writing about filing deadline time that Rockefeller had a chance, about as much chance of losing the nomination as he did of going broke. That was the smart thing in the United States, see.

Page 3
So it was obvious that [unclear] had the convention sewn up before the delegates left their front porch. It was evident. So, people didn't run, not knowing, well, how things were going. [So we'd of done good, contrary . . . ] Alabama did. And they did very well on the strength of it. That was one thing we did wrong. Then there was the governor's race. Then, of course, going through the race and problems and all.
JACK BASS:
That was what year and who was the candidate?
CLARKE REED:
'63. Rubel Phillips. I worked for him. I opposed his candidacy on the basis of his . . . I didn't feel his philosophy was . . . I opposed it in the very small group that made the decision. [Really, I was kind of annoyed at them.] I thought this guy was a Democrat and the last one in the field at the time [unclear]. But he did well and he was a good candidate.
JACK BASS:
Wasn't he sort of a former Truman Democrat?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah, and Rockefeller Republican or whatever. You know, I don't think . . . at the time I thought it would be a mistake. However, he did a good job.
JACK BASS:
Didn't he get about thirty-eight, thirty-nine percent of the vote?
CLARKE REED:
Right. Close to forty.
WALTER DEVRIES:
He got the same percentage that Gil Carmichael got. The state hasn't voted for a Democratic nominee for president since the '50s. Had enormous pluralities for Goldwater, for Nixon.
CLARKE REED:
Right.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Yet it's apparent . . . you look at Phillips' race in '63. Thirty-eight percent of the vote. Carmichael the same thing. There's really no growth in the Republican vote statewide. At least it doesn't appear that way for statewide office. To what do you attribute that? Didn't you think back in '64 with that victory that it was the beginning of kind of a new era for

Page 4
Republicans?
CLARKE REED:
We did. The leadership the time did. I wasn't that active at that level. Came on the central committee in '64 at that convention. Anyway . . . eighty-seven percent . . . by the way, the vote like it was, it was no campaign run in the state. So in effect this was a very bad thing. Like inheriting free money or something. We looked like . . . we were a paper tiger. That vote was just there. They did nothing. We optioned . . . spent no money in the state, ran no campaign [unclear]. You know, because it wasn't necessary. So we looked like we'd done something and we hadn't done anything. The next year nothing happened. We had no fundraising, no activities, no anything.
WALTER DEVRIES:
So '64 was strictly a personality contest.
CLARKE REED:
All the way.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Nothing really happened
CLARKE REED:
That's right. See, first off, our statewide races are not in the same year, for one thing. So it really . . . if anything, it hurt us.
WALTER DEVRIES:
[Something about Prentice Walker's] and he won it.
CLARKE REED:
That's right. He won. So there was nothing else going on . . .
WALTER DEVRIES:
So you think you made a mistake by not fielding . . .
CLARKE REED:
Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, I think names on the ballot would have probably won that race, with that type of vote and that type of feeling. So that was bad. We made . . . you know, this last go-around, we went through the motions in the presidential campaign, which we didn't even do in '64. Although it was almost as certain this time. Or it was as certain but the percentage was almost as high. But we wanted to try to get some advantage out of it, some advantage, a little of the action. But in '64 we just stood . . . I remember seeing it written up in some national magazine. How the organization in Mississippi . . . wasn't

Page 5
so. Wasn't there. In the second governor's race, which was a loser, Phillips did not want to run. We urged him to run. Very bad situation. John Bell had just been kicked out. John Bell Williams. Of his chairmanship of the state commerce commission. Because of having supported Goldwater. So that made him a hero to all Mississippians. He was conservative, Goldwater supporter and all. So, we didn't have much . . . still, he got about thirty, I guess.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Do the people in this state see national politics completely different than state politics?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah. That's the problem. That's the goal.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, does it also mean they don't see the parties as two distinctive units but rather as a personality thing?
CLARKE REED:
Well, it's always been . . . politics has always been personality. One party system. You have personality [unclear]. I mean they can serve up the Bilbos, the Barnetts. They come in . . . a governor comes in, an unknown, and you leave highly unpopular. Anyway, that's what we're going against, you might say. So we're to the point . . . I don't take a poll of party identification . . . in the beginning it would probably have been ninety percent Democrat and eight percent independent and two or three Republican.
WALTER DEVRIES:
— Republican Party in Mississippi see itself as basically kind of a philosophical thing. Ideological rather than—
CLARKE REED:
Right, right.
WALTER DEVRIES:
—haven't been able to do anything with it.
CLARKE REED:
Right. Once you've done that, you're here. You're the dominant party. I accept this philosophically. Changes in a republic or especially changes under your old system will come slow. If they don't come slow, they'll be volatile, like a banana republic. I accept this difficult problem with party identification, especially also in an era

Page 6
where parties and politcs per se was down. Every Mississippian thinks he's independent, votes for the man, doesn't care much what party he's in. But there's an increasing number of people that will identify with the Republican Party. The polls show it. It looms higher in presidential elections or maybe in a strong election where we've got something going or in certain pockets of the state. This county, Jones County, the coast, and areas where . . . that is the goal and the opposition is the personality politics. We're trying to sell the two-party system concept. The idea of philosophically different parties to people.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Has it been tough to sell?
CLARKE REED:
Well, no tougher than I anticipated. Although sometimes I get more optimistic—say after the Goldwater race. But I mean in hindsight that was foolish optimism. And going to the race thing, that was the overwhelming, overshadowing issue of all. It's hard to perpetuate reasons through that climate. Now that's no longer there and I think some reason . . . our salesmanship should be more effective.
WALTER DEVRIES:
But do you see the state continuing to vote Republican at the presidential level and Democratic at the state level?
CLARKE REED:
Definitely Republican at the presidential level. And we hope—more than that, I believe—we'll make increasing gains in the state.
JACK BASS:
In 1968, of course, the state voted overwhelmingly for George Wallace. I think Nixon ran even behind Humphrey. Third.
CLARKE REED:
Got the lowest vote in the nation, yeah.
JACK BASS:
Does that suggest Mississippians tend to vote for the more racially conservative candidate?
CLARKE REED:
Well, at the time of that race the race issue still was red hot, probably hotter than it had been even before. Nixon was an unknown. He was

Page 7
the fellow that was vice president way back and had been a defeated candidate for governor. He was an unknown quantity. Our polls showed, prior to the '68 election—[something about running Muskie before McGovern]—Muskie ran twenty with Wallace and Nixon up around thirty with Nixon ahead. I believe he would have carried the state in a three-way race last time. I think the Wallace vote was independent, as a way station into the Republican Party, at least in the national picture.
JACK BASS:
What do you think will happen in '76 if Wallace actively campaigns for the national Democratic ticket, regardless of who is on it?
CLARKE REED:
I think [unclear] would carry, without any work. I think we'll carry easily, let me put it that way.
JACK BASS:
You think the Republicans will carry.
CLARKE REED:
Yes. Any particular nominee I foresee coming out of the party or any nominee I foresee coming out of the Democratic Party.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Do you intend to field more candidates in '75 for the legislation and statewide office?
CLARKE REED:
The plan . . . leadership . . . is always to field more. You know, to get them. We haven't been as selective as we might be. We've had some good ones and we've had some bad ones. We've had some very good ones be beaten. We've a long way from the point where being a Republican is . . . I just hope we arrive at the point where it's equal. [I think in some areas it's a help on the local level.]
WALTER DEVRIES:
Is that attitude changing, about Republicans? Somebody told us that ten years ago if you were a Republican—I forget what the term was—but that was about as low as you could get in terms of social status and prestige.
CLARKE REED:
Yeah, well, you have to go back a little farther than that. But that's right. [unclear]. There were so few they were oddities. But

Page 8
that part's right. But the beginning in the South of the Republican movement might have been—if it was anything, it was just the opposite. It was very peculiar being a country club crowd. It was the young guys. Someone wrote a book I thought covered it pretty well in one chapter about how it was kind of the thing to do. It was kind of a kick, you know, to get active in Republican politics. Because they'd never been involved in politics prior to that. Most of those people were young idealists or young businessmen. Across deep South, particularly Mississippi and Alabama.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Is it getting easier to recruit candidates?
CLARKE REED:
Oh yeah.
JACK BASS:
How many candidates did the Republicans field for mayor last year?
CLARKE REED:
Gosh, I've got the exact figures down. We kept good records. It was a pretty good campaign. And we elected half of them. I think if we'd run twice as many we'd have elected half of those, too.
JACK BASS:
I'd like to check with you later and get those precise figures. Gil said around a hundred and elected half.
CLARKE REED:
I think we had in the range of two hundred total municipal officials, and elected about half.
JACK BASS:
Do you plan to challenge almost every legislative seat in '75?
CLARKE REED:
[Something about hindsight and thinking that they should have not worked so hard on the governor's race in '67 and concentrated on the state legislature.] But we had some good people get wiped out in the last race [unclear]. So in hindsight, we might have been better off starting at the bottom, so to speak.
JACK BASS:
How many legislators?
CLARKE REED:
Four.
JACK BASS:
How many legislators were there at the peak? Republican.

Page 9
CLARKE REED:
I've forgotten. Maybe like seven or eight.
WALTER DEVRIES:
To what do you attribute that? Four out of 162 or something. And yet you can get thirty-eight percent of the vote for a candidate for governor or for a candidate for the United States Senate.
CLARKE REED:
A candidate for the state [unclear] looks at it, and say, "Why should I take the hard road when everybody else is running as a Democrat." So you have to have a zealot or whatnot to make that move. Or in an area where we've grown in strength, like say Jones County, maybe it's an advantage to [unclear] as a Republicon.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Did reapportionment help you at all?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah.
WALTER DEVRIES:
How?
CLARKE REED:
Well, it gave some bigger counties incentive. You know, where you can concentrate your work, more strength.
WALTER DEVRIES:
If the court rules and it sets up single member districts in Hinds County and other places, will that help you?
CLARKE REED:
Sure. Because, see, take Hinds County. Very expensive. You can concentrate in target areas instead of running . . . rural state, that's a big job running a statewide, Hinds countywide. [unclear]
JACK BASS:
I think you told me that roughly eighty percent of your finances comes from ten-dollar-a-month contributors. Is that the silver elephant thing? [Answer unclear]. How many of those people are there in Mississippi?
CLARKE REED:
About eight hundred.

Page 10
[The tape has started picking up some kind of radio transmission which makes it impossible to understand everything being said. Transcription will be sketchy until transmission stops.]
JACK BASS:
So that pretty much pays for the state operation, office.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What is the state operation?
CLARKE REED:
Well, it goes up and down. Executive director. Printer, mailroom supervisor. Bookkeeper [unclear]. [Off and on we've had a field program with field director and field man in three districts where we have races. Hope to get that up where there'll be a man per district.]
WALTER DEVRIES:
Only for [unclear]?
CLARKE REED:
Oh yes, strictly organizational.
WALTER DEVRIES:
About six or seven people?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah, it goes from a low of six and expands greatly in a campaign.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Is yours one of the largest of the eleven southern states?
CLARKE REED:
I would think so. Not sure. Course Texas would be a lot bigger. Yeah, it's one of the largest.
JACK BASS:
In '72 you had challenges in three congressional districts, with the pretty much assurance that Nixon was going to win big. Why did you not challenge all five? After the 1964 experience.
CLARKE REED:
Let's get the context of this whole thing. It's not just what we at the top set out to do. Which is the impression that is made and it's somewhat true. We've challenged in the past and done very poorly against Whitten. And Montgomery votes all the way with us anyway. To, see, to be a conservative Democrat in the South is a tough job. Because that fits both worlds. People are traditional Democrats. [unclear] Walker, you know, saw a burning bush and ran for the Senate a year

Page 11
after he was in Congress. And he votes with Republicans and he meets with the Republican caucus and does an excellent job doing his homework. I was hoping he'd switch parties. If things had broken right, without the Watergate problem and other things going on, I think he might have, maybe. I don't know. Whitten is chairman of the Appropriation Committee and people think well of him. Great deal of seniority down there. That district is tough, too. I hope to replace him. But I think the strategy to try to beat this guy here and keep our two men in and replace another or switch him and replace Whitten.
JACK BASS:
If the Democrats resolve their conflict between the Loyalists and the Regulars—and the results of that, of course, are going to have to be compromise on both sides, presumably—in a merger between the Loyalist Democratic Party and the Regular Democratic Party, in Mississippi, in your opinion, is going to have what effect, politically?
CLARKE REED:
Realignment.
JACK BASS:
You think it's going to result in realignment?
CLARKE REED:
I don't think it will be instant realignment, but it will be more and more move in that direction.
[interruption]
The answer to those questions, we done arrived. I'm through. Or, you know, I feel I've done my job. But it's just slow in coming. And you know, that's true all across the South. I'm very disappointed in local level and you have to have that.
WALTER DEVRIES:
But the way to do it is to get the candidates on local levels is recruit them.
CLARKE REED:
Right. Yeah, that's right.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Do the same thing at the state level.
CLARKE REED:
Candidate recruitment is the number one problem in the South.

Page 12
I guess the number one problem everywhere. It's the problem.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, it's always a much greater problem for the party that's not established. That doesn't have any tradition.
CLARKE REED:
Right, right. Yeah, you don't have the opportunists . . . is.
JACK BASS:
How do you define your own political philosophy?
CLARKE REED:
I am a conservative.
JACK BASS:
Okay, nationally, what political figure would you say you associate most with philosophically?
CLARKE REED:
Barry Goldwater. Put Nixon in that category. Maybe a lot of my people don't. Reagan. I identify very well with the National Review crowd. Bill Buckley's a friend. Course as a politician I compromise more than they do. I pretty much agree with Buckley ninety percent of the time.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What would it mean on specific issues in Mississippi? Let's start with race.
CLARKE REED:
I never could put race in the conservative context. Moral . . .
WALTER DEVRIES:
Economic conservatism—
CLARKE REED:
Right. The main thing . . . identify with people of like background. A southerner I think is a conservative. More in a sense of tradition and philosophy than economics or race. Economics does apply. More important, tradition. Your values. Being rural, you're more in tune with real life, nature, trials and tribulations of living. Being poor helps. Or living in a poor area. Church oriented. Family oriented. Traditional.
WALTER DEVRIES:
You mean in a social sense you're more of a traditional [unclear] . . . a [unclear]?
CLARKE REED:
That's right.

Page 13
WALTER DEVRIES:
—a fundamentalist in that sense. What about economically?
CLARKE REED:
Conservative in that, well, I'm in business. Economics is somewhat of a hobby. Now I'm not in the [unclear] league. I couldn't carry on a highly [unclear] conversation with [unclear] Friedman or somebody.
WALTER DEVRIES:
I bet you could. Have you ever tried it?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah. [Laughter] In other words, I think business is interesting. Somebody said the business of America is business. I agree with that. I think it's the system. I've started businesses and I've had a good time at it. And I like the freedom and the opportunity of this country. I think it's . . . system's taken a lot of battering but I'm proud of it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
How do you describe yourself in racial relations?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, I guess in terms of what you're probably thinking of, I'd say liberal. Enlightened self-interest, I think, is one premise of conservatism. Try to put everything on that basis. You all heard last night, my daughter was [something about private schools]. But anyway then all various sides of the civil rights question, [unclear] me just point out self-interest. Or, what do you plan to do? I mean we're here today. Blacks vote, they're citizens.
Where do you go from here? Put it on that basis. Enlightened self-interest. Enlightened self-interest says you should see to it . . . go an extra mile. If they get more political participation, better education, make more money, pay more taxes, we'll all be better off.
JACK BASS:
Would you like to run for political office? Would you be willing to run? We find many Republican officeholders from the South in major offices are people out looking for candidates, trying to recruit candidates, and finally someone says, "Why don't you run?" and they end up running.

Page 14
CLARKE REED:
I am ashamed of the fact that I haven't or that I say I won't. I've tried to . . . I'm like the Cincinnatus thing. I like citizen-soldier. That's my concept of this whole thing. Unfortunately, that's the way it's set up. You can't be a part-time congressman anymore. Or even hardly a part-time state legislator. Two things. If you take the partisan role I have, if you become Mr. Republican in a sense, then you appear to the voter as captive of the party. It's not so, but you appear that way. I would not advise anybody in the deep South to be an active, outspoken chairman as I've been and as a practical matter to be an office seeker. That's oversimplified and probably overstated. But still . . . and I feel as a patriot I probably should have. But I rationalize that on the basis that I'm 45. And for going to Congress in Mississippi that's almost middle aged. We had a little light fight in the last convention. I considered for a few days running in this district and still come under light criticism from my friends for not having done so. [Something about thinking the chairmanship more important than running and] beat the hell out of the minority kook opposition I had to keep it on the track. Carmichael race coming up. The position it was in. The things I saw coming up. Anyway, I divined that's where I belonged the last time.
WALTER DEVRIES:
You say you think you got the Republican Party started off to a good start and from that point of view your role, your job might be finished.
CLARKE REED:
No, I haven't. In fact I think I'll have to quit before I get it . . . no, I meant if I got it, if we were there, if we'd arrived at a point where we had a strong basis in the state legislature and maybe a few more plums around, then I'd feel we were there and I'd feel my job was done. We haven't got it. [Something about the job is transitory.] And I'm here longer than I thought I would be. But I don't want to quit. may have to. I may grow old in the job.

Page 15
WALTER DEVRIES:
When you started this thing your delegation was being voted in Washington by a black voter. Since then you've seen the role of this party in the national Republican politics increase in strength, indeed to the point where many say it's way out of proportion to what it ought to be. Do you have any comments on that?
CLARKE REED:
Well, there's a vacuum in the national party and eventually, if you—and it's incredible to me, like I can move in down there last—our opposition was organized to say that we were out of proportion. We were not organized, regardless of what they say. I told you people last night, we plan a few days ahead. I don't care what the administration says or what anybody that says it, the administration, says. I wound up being the only person running. Or I mean it at least seemed so. I did it, anyway. So maybe out of proportion just because the vacuum's there. If a chairman from a state that at that time had nobody elected to office can do these sort of things, I guess maybe it speaks bad for the party organization. Not so much of my great infinite wisdom or strength or ability.
WALTER DEVRIES:
If you look at the other Republican state parties in the South, how do yours to them, in terms of organization, influence. Are you the strongest in the national committee for the national convention?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, I think it would be somewhat pretentious to say that. These things are fleeting.
WALTER DEVRIES:
I'm sitting here trying to think of the name of another Republican chairman.
CLARKE REED:
Well, I've been around longer for one thing so I know more about it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Right. But in terms of the South versus the rest of the

Page 16
nation, are the Republican chairmen in the South stronger than the other [unclear] of the country?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah, I think so. We're . . . by and large there are less lawyers. I have nothing against lawyers. I mean as a generalization. Certain exceptions all over the country. Yeah, I think the South has got more viable leadership. There is a high turnover. We bring people on, keep them up to date on what's going on. Like, I think it's next week or the week after, the executive directors are meeting here from the South. I'll host them one time probably and glad to have them. But I'm not sure the other states [unclear] have executive directors. I don't really know.
JACK BASS:
What was the comparative role of Senator Thurmond and Senator Goldwater at the '68 convention insofar as influence over southern delegates in determining whether or not they went for Nixon or Reagan?
CLARKE REED:
Goldwater probably had ten times as much influence. It could have gone either way with neither of their influence, but you know we deal in personalities. That's life, supposed to. Goldwater was the man that got most of these people really gung ho in the Republican Party. You know, four years later, you see, from the time they'd been supporting him very strongly in the South. Our polls show that Senator Thurmond wasn't very well known in Mississippi, even though he'd been running for president here some years before and carried the state. A thoroughly honest man, you know, and I like him very much. He took the delegates from the South, [unclear] a Goldwater sweep.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Let's pursue that. How do Republicans perceive a guy like

Page 17
Thurmond, after being in the Democratic Party, who switchs to the Republican Party? Is he instantly accepted or trusted?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah. I'd say, right. Oh, maybe a few don't. See, I wrongly thought that—as everybody will still tell you, or maybe they won't tell you that I'm basically Republican. [They put up with me, maybe send ten dollars to the next committee or state legislature.] So I assume once people saw the difference there would be an instant change. And some of them did say well, we're going to all change at once. In effect, going to keep the one-party system but move to where they have a national home. But I don't anticipate that ever happening. I thought it would, way back. That was what I envisioned. Once everybody is being honest, philosophical politicians they'll see where they belong after Thurmond and all those people changed. But it hasn't worked out that way.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Nobody saw it as a possible personal exploitation?
CLARKE REED:
I don't think so. I think it was probably easier for him to stay where he was.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Are you going to deliberately try to encourage large number of disenchanted Democrats to move into the Republican Party?
CLARKE REED:
Yes.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Based on what? Ideology?
CLARKE REED:
Right. Come on where you belong, where you're welcome. They don't throw you out of the convention.
JACK BASS:
Once this Democratic squabble is resolved here, between the Regulars and the Loyalists, how many members of the legislature do you expect will shift over to the Republican Party?
CLARKE REED:
I'm afraid it's not going to be that dramatic. Waller had pre-filed a bill—somebody had pre-filed it for him—to, in order to try to make this thing get back together. They had a bill that called for primary,

Page 18
direct election of delegates, central committees and all, with twenty-five percent left to fill the quota system the Democrats still have and I certainly hope they still continue to have in '76. But we opposed this effectively. The idea not to keep them together, but we didn't want to see our process torn up where you had people, delegation, people voting—not the concept I feel under which we should operate. And I think the system we have with the county precincts state conventions was better. And the argument I made to them down there—these people didn't know. Only two or three of them had ever been to conventions that hadn't been thrown out until way back, maybe. They didn't know the process. So I said you're trying to resolve a political question with law. Can't be done. Let me speak to you from the experience of the Republican Party. Let me tell you how to do this. I posed as a non-biased expert in the process. I said you'll be accepted when they're ready for you. A political question. When they need you, when they want you, you'll be received. You're not going to be seated just because you change these laws around. And they understood that. Just like the Republican Party. I mean, they still recognize Perry Howard in Washington because the convention is still a free thing. They bought that and we beat it. Beat it handily.
JACK BASS:
What's your reaction to the idea of registration by party in Mississippi?
CLARKE REED:
I'm opposed to it. But I've had many active Republicans who are in favor of it.
JACK BASS:
Why are you opposed to it?
CLARKE REED:
It offends my concept of a laissez-faire conservative in matters economic and political. I think a person should—I have some ambivalent ideas about it—but to state my opposition position about it, I think a person should be allowed to express the franchise when and where, you know, he wants to except on the same day. Most people in the state, also, identify

Page 19
themselves as independent. I like for them to have an easy choice rather than to make it a hard choice all the way alternative. And also I guess maybe [unclear] be in the minority party, they'd be reluctant to say, "Do I want to go over there and vote—that will keep me from voting in the primary where I'm going to vote for my alderman or where we have most of the action in the state." But I believe that I'd be opposed to it even if we were the dominant party.
JACK BASS:
What's your reaction to this open primary—
CLARKE REED:
I think it's a nightmare. It's an effort to perpetuate the one-party system. No party identification, no nothing. I mean you'd just be mugwumps. No name, no nothing. You just run. Well, as I said last night, I think it's a disadvantage not to have a primary. As we grow, we'll have more primaries. So I think the system of elimination, you get more exposure and the voters get more shot at the people, know who they are and then develop a party system where you have a general understanding of what the philosophy is. We're not up to that point yet, but in the meantime you go through a series of elections rather than a mass run and two runoff. I think it would be horrible.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Isn't there a way to get around that? Just look at the second primary and let the winner take all in the first one within each party. As they do in the states that are really competitive in terms of the two-party. They don't have a runoff.
CLARKE REED:
Yeah, well, I can't think right off of any objections to that. No. But that's not what's passed. It passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature.
WALTER DEVRIES:
It's been set aside, has it?

Page 20
CLARKE REED:
It's a pretty technical thing. Tom told me, Eastland told him that he killed it. Told those judges . . . really something unbelievable. They talk about Pontius Pilate like ruling by Mitchell and how they had been kicked around. That sort of thing. Since the attorney general refused to rule on it. Under law, if he doesn't act that means the same as approve. As I understand the Justice Department, they was arguing on both sides and the attorney general said we'll do nothing.
WALTER DEVRIES:
So if Saxbe doesn't do anything then it stands.
CLARKE REED:
Now there's been a ruling—I've forgotten the exact nature of it—
JACK BASS:
Am I correct that the Fifth Circuit said, in effect, the Justice Department had to rule. The Justice Department had taken the position that if they didn't rule that that was approving it by acquiescence. Fifth Circuit said no, that their interpretation of the law was the Justice Department had to rule specifically yes or no. And that the thing is still in the Justice Department at this time?
CLARKE REED:
It's been sent back to the Justice Department. I don't think that's right. I think it was a three judge panel that made this ridiculous ruling down here, not the Fifth Circuit. There's been a case since then—at that time they had a limited period, like sixty days or something, to act on it. Since that time there's some court—I'm not a lawyer—that extends the time. And it permitted the attorney general to resubmit it to Justice because of some other court's ruling. Court somewhere. I talked to people in Justice about it. So rather than pass it again, as they planned to do, they knocked it out under this new ruling that came from some other court that said Justice Department does have longer than the period they have. So it's going back for reapproval or disapproval. My guess is it will be appealed and probably be a year or two before it's in

Page 21
effect. [Something about supreme court.]
JACK BASS:
But Mitchell said that Eastland is the one who blocked—
CLARKE REED:
That's what he told me. Then, right after we left these congressmen, I think Mr. [unclear] Eastland had a change of heart.
WALTER DEVRIES:
I was going to say, why would he have set out to do that?
CLARKE REED:
I asked Mitchell, and he said hell . . . one had passed before and Paul Johnson pocket vetoed it. Paul pretty much did what Eastland says a lot. So . . . I don't know this, but I think that veto is not a good thing. But since we did so well last time, we discern an instant change of opinion on the thing and the senator's for it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, if he's for it doesn't that suggest that it's going to come out the way he wants it?
CLARKE REED:
I would think so. He seems to have quite a bit of influence over there.
JACK BASS:
But then it's expected that it will ultimately go to the Supreme Court? By whoever doesn't win.
CLARKE REED:
Right. I asked them about it. I mean we put up a position, what we thought about it.
Of course really I'm [unclear] about the Voting Rights Act. If it weren't for the Voting Rights Act, it wouldn't be in the Department of Justice. And Mitchell had the idea the Voting Rights Act should be nationwide. But Congress said, "Oh no, you know, there are no votes stolen in Chicago. And if we have nationwide enforcement of this sort of thing then it will dilute the enforcement in the South. So it's still southern.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Do you want to see it extended?
CLARKE REED:
Tell you, it's been a pretty good thing down here. It sure solved a lot of arguments. I mean, when the kooks start hollering, "They're stealing the election," well, it's nice to have those registrars say, "No, it

Page 22
wasn't." We probably have the more honest elections in the country.
WALTER DEVRIES:
So you want to see it extended?
CLARKE REED:
I'd like to see it extended or taken out of the South. Philosophically, I have a hard time saying extended, but I can't help think it would be a good thing.
WALTER DEVRIES:
If it were not extended, what do you think it would mean? It would mean that the black registration would decrease and black participation would decrease?
CLARKE REED:
I can't cite no statistics or anything, but I'm confident it would in no way.
WALTER DEVRIES:
You think those changes are permanent?
CLARKE REED:
Absolutely.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Along that line, what if the anti-busing passed the House and essentially just kind of freed up the school situation?
CLARKE REED:
Well, as I understand it, Walter, they've got a separate rule for the South. They say you bus to segregate and now you've got to bus to integrate. I think whatever goes in still won't take the rural South off the hook. Now it may affect Jackson, Mississippi. But that's the only place in the state it would affect.
WALTER DEVRIES:
So it wouldn't really change much?
CLARKE REED:
It would change some, but see, neighborhoods in the South are pretty much—I mean, like this town is kind of all over. There would be more near black and white schools, but it would be a long way from complete. It would be a long way from going back.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Are you for that provision that provision that passed the Congress?
CLARKE REED:
Frankly, I'm very [unclear] about it. I just don't like this

Page 23
constitutional amendment business every five minutes. I'm opposed to amending the constitution except on major things and I don't think busing is one that should be in the constitution.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What about the ERA?
CLARKE REED:
I'm opposed to it. Got no big hang up on it. Don't like the quota system. I think you're right. If women, where they're doing the same job and not getting the same pay, then I'd like to see some [unclear]. But where do you stop with this sort of thing? Is she not a supervisor because she's a woman? Well, she may not be a good supervisor. I mean, being a woman may be a problem. I think that's good deal [unclear]. But I think women have been getting a raw deal when I know we ourself have hired women, paid them less for the same job. My present secretary is a blackmailer. Pay her more than most men in town get. Blackmail. She threatened to quit. That's all it took.
JACK BASS:
We've been told that the Republican Party in Mississippi, sort of individually and selectively recruits blacks to join the Republican party.
CLARKE REED:
Well—
JACK BASS:
My real question—
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
CLARKE REED:
I would like to see conventions every two years. Have a lot more vital party structure. But that's not likely to be passed because the mood of most politicians is to diminish party roles. I would like to strengthen and add to your conventions by the way. But in '68 convention, local county chairman said we need to get some blacks on the county committee. I agreed with him. Where are you going to get them? We haven't had any blacks participate. Well, we'll get so and so. I was opposed to a black

Page 24
exhibit. During the next few years, though, in the course of campaigns, some blacks on the basis of candidates—no candidate of any party is going to ignore the black vote in this state. Maybe in the fifth district or somewhere, but I mean overall you're certainly not going to do it. So they did evolve some black participation. So, without any quota system or anything else they elected a black chairman in this county and they were elected on the basis of merit, or, you know, participation. Maybe went an extra mile for them, maybe an extra half mile I should say, to get their participation. So my idea is to build with the black community you build with the legitimate leadership. Not the—the leadership, in my opinion, so called black leadership in the nation and the South has not been legitimate leadership. It's been the screamers or people who are in the civil rights business. I see involving black leadership same as white. Businessmen, attorneys, churchmen are traditional, of course, leaders. But I mean the same type leadership involved in the white community evolving in the black community. There is our target. They will be considered the same reason I am. They're southerners. They're family and church oriented, as I am. They're rural. And you're not going to get that—skipping a minute—the poverty white or black level. I mean the ones that are down that lower strata. They're not likely to be with you anyway. I don't mean to write them off. But by working with the legitimate black leadership, they can in turn maybe involve some of the lower economic strata of blacks through that system. So to evolve as the blacks develop that leadership—which they're doing. Legitimate leadership is being developed rapidly in the state now. Those are our targets.
JACK BASS:
By Republicans.
CLARKE REED:
No, I mean they're developing . . . there are two black lawyers here in this town. There were no black lawyers period. Ole Miss law

Page 25
school graduates. Legitimate leaders in their own right in the black community and some in the white community. They are our targets for active role in the Republican Party. And then they, of course, will have influence on blacks that we probably couldn't touch directly.
JACK BASS:
This is a hypothetical question. If you were to run for governor, what would be your program for the state of Mississippi as candidate of the Republican Party?
CLARKE REED:
Well, give you an indirect answer. The governorship in this state, due to populist reform, is probably one of the weaker in the country. One term. The cabinet, if you want to call it that, is elected. Within a year they're jockeying for position. The legislature has the power. You've got very little power. It's just the power of persuasion. I'd like, oh, just the usual things. Clean up the supervisors of the system. I'd like to see single member districts. Anything you can do for economic development, of course. Tax equalization. Two terms for governor for the one that followed me, you know. A new constitution to give the governor more power.
JACK BASS:
What type of industrial development?
CLARKE REED:
Well, of course, everybody's for that. Capital begets capital. An absentee industry is better than none, without providing a job. The idea of local entrepreneurship, which is, of course, tougher to get all the time. But local energy that creates its own capital. And you've got additional capital investor, [something about the land being so poor that they stopped farming long enough to get into business]. Have home-owned industry with money they can do other things in the community which, in this poor state, we haven't had.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Can't talk about Mississippi politics without talking about Jim Eastland.

Page 26
CLARKE REED:
That's right.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Everybody that he has supported for governor since '55 has won. What's the basis of his power?
CLARKE REED:
Well, he's been there a long time, he's pretty tough. But I want to say this, too. I think it's a misnomer. This last race Sullivan ran a miserable campaign. Waller ran a good one. And Eastland, by his own admission, didn't get on that until after he saw how it was going pretty well. He didn't think Waller would [unclear] and he told me that. Of course, he'll tell you that, and the next moment he'll say, "Oh, I didn't have anything to do with it," wanting you to say, of course, he did. And he did, at that. But I think the main thing he did, at the last minute he called, pushed a few buttons, got some money for Waller. I don't think he delivered the vote. I think his power is overrated. Now, he's got it. And he doesn't mind using it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
But doesn't he have Republican support in this state? He certainly has it in the administration.
CLARKE REED:
Oh yeah. Yeah, he's got some. Right. He votes, most the time, just exactly like I like for him to vote. So, you know.
WALTER DEVRIES:
How about patronage? Does he control it for the state?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, we have a running battle pretty much. He controls everything in Justice. You know, like for most states, the party handles things like U.S. attorneys and marshals and all.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Outside the judiciary, does it go through you
CLARKE REED:
He just kind of ignores it outside of that. No, he doesn't go through me for anything.
WALTER DEVRIES:
No, I mean does the administration go through you?

Page 27
CLARKE REED:
Right, right.
WALTER DEVRIES:
It's just assumed that the bench and so on is his.
CLARKE REED:
Right. Here's one way. In [unclear] second term he held up two hundred federal judge appointments. Eisenhower offered him half of them. Said no, he waited until Kennedy got in and appointed them. So, when you're that mean, you can get what you want, I guess. At least in that field.
JACK BASS:
I want to discuss the Carmichael race a little bit. If Meredith had not entered that primary, would there have been any Republican opposition?
CLARKE REED:
Frankly, probably not.
JACK BASS:
After Carmichael got in—
WALTER DEVRIES:
Can you explain to us why, why you feel that way?
CLARKE REED:
Well, we knew we couldn't beat them. He'd been voting with the administration. We didn't have a philosophical argument. Eastland takes a very dim view of the Republican Party. He doesn't like it. The administration's fine. But the Republican Party in this state is not.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Why was it that Meredith propelled you to get—
CLARKE REED:
Okay. In all candor, Meredith returned here from New York. He'd been [unclear] as a slum lord as I recall. Do you recall, do you remember this? Anyway, he hadn't been in Mississippi in years. Came in with no Republican credentials. I mean I never met him. Don't know any Republicans ever met him. Filed as a Republican. I said, "Well, this thing is a fake. This guy's a [unclear]." You know, he's not accepted even among the blacks as a legitimate leader. We didn't know what we had [unclear] at the time. Wallace wasn't shot at that time and we weren't sure the Democrats would nominate a kook like they did. We didn't know we had that easy a road to go. I could see Meredith embarrassing

Page 28
Nixon, hurting our congressional candidates. Because, being a typical civil rights activist [unclear] the past years, I can see him picketing the White House, and he'd have all the news on it. You know, he'd be national news figure, I could see that cutting off Nixon's coattails. I'm more concerned about the effect on our candidates. As I said openly, they said, "Do you accept him?" I said, "Well, he hasn't labored in the vineyard. He has no party credentials whatsoever." Contrary to what you may have [unclear] no attempt made in any way to keep him out. I said, "Hell, we need to beat him but if we get into it we just can't beat him for the sake of beating him." You know, that would be only one step different than trying to flimflam him on the run. So we talked to two or three people about running and Gil had been an active [unclear], active for years. Wanted to run. Said I want to run for governor. I said, "Hell, this may be the shot to go." I said, "Now, don't count on administration support. Not going to get it." With Kleindienst coming down here for Eastland and that sort of thing. Agonizing parts of it. But I knew by that time how they functioned up there. We're not going to get anything out of them. But he ran and said, "I'm going all the way." I said, "Let's go." And that was the base.
JACK BASS:
What was your role in the campaign? You said you knew you weren't going to get the White House support. How active were you in working for Carmichael?
CLARKE REED:
I was active . . . you know, as state chairman I have a lot of bouncing balls. But I guess I gave him more money, personally. One thousand dollars. I did more for him than anybody else. But still, we had three congressional races, the Senate race, and the presidential race. I was trying to keep

Page 29
them all together. Then we went out of our way to keep control of CRP because I didn't want them to screw us up. I mean we made a big effort to run it ourselves. Which [unclear] people in the party [unclear]. They said, "What the hell you doing?" I said, "It's better to run this thing than let somebody else run off with it." So we just took it to keep it under wraps, you might say.
JACK BASS:
Didn't you say you kept more money in Mississippi, higher percentage of the CRP money in Mississippi than any other—
CLARKE REED:
Right. Of course I don't want to say it quite that blanket. We did it quite legally. I mean, any money where people said I want this to go to Nixon, well, it went to Nixon. But we had a joint dinner, you know, publicly stated, where half of it went to us. As I understand it, when people check with us, we're the only people that had that in a state.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Were you the only state party that controlled the CRP operation?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah, I think so. Some of them had it work pretty well along together. Florida chairman and myself I think were the only ones that were both chairmen of the CRP—
WALTER DEVRIES:
How come you could get away with it? Didn't they resist those efforts?
CLARKE REED:
Right. But I just kind of hung in there. Gave and took a little to make it work out.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Did that effort on your part split the party in this state?
CLARKE REED:
A lot of people didn't fully understand it. [unclear] it was absolutely necessary.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Are there two factions in the Republican Party?
CLARKE REED:
There's a Mickey Mouse faction that . . . I had challenged . . .

Page 30
You know, hell, I didn't even plan to win again. But Rubel Phillips. We got a battle here, who's going to be head of Farmers Home. There's a guy that's a crook. Anyway, he decided I had to go because I wouldn't approve his appointee to Farmers Home. Well, that right alone is suspicion enough. We beat him so horribly. I mean, they carried one or two counties. There are twenty-five votes on the committee to elect a chairman and I got twenty-five out of twenty-five. So Jack Bree, who is I think a nut frankly, county chairman in Hinds County. And he keeps this thing running. [unclear] calling us crooks, saying we're on the take. Just totally fabricated stuff. Very horrible to go through. I mean, that's one thing about politics [unclear] we had a shakedown system supposedly going, selling housing permits, you know, passing credibility in today's world. I called a hearing to hear everybody out. Nobody came forth with any evidence. I mean this . . . nothing. But they keep this stuff going. But it's such a minute—but now they're going to throw him out. He was beaten for county chairman. He had the club, they're going to throw him out of that. So I guess—sure, there are factions, but I'd say probably less than any party that I know about. There may be some that are more harmonious.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What is the nature of the split, even though it's a small minority? Why?
CLARKE REED:
Personalities.
WALTER DEVRIES:
It's not a moderate-conservative, or it's not an ideological thing?

Page 31
CLARKE REED:
They might say that. Supposedly we're more interested in Washington than the party. They are raising hell. They're always interested in patronage. All their interest is in Washington. That's been a distracting, sad part of this job. Sad's not the right word. But you can do better party work with the administration out than you can in. Because when you're in, especially with no congressmen, hell, half our staff work will be people calling wanting something. Maybe just one guy every two years but if that fellow will work and give you money you have to respond. So we almost had a congressional office here. Which is a horrible waste of time and something you have to do. I mean it's demoralizing. Demoralizing's not the right—but you're away from your mission. Then the school thing. We're right in the middle of it. Pat Gray and Bob Mardian operated right out of—we desegged the last twenty-nine districts in the state. Politically, it should be done and done right and done well. That was constructive, even though it was away from what I consider the party mission. It had to be done. But somebody worrying about somebody in jail or getting out of the army or where the post office is located is a hell of a loser.
JACK BASS:
How did Eastland react to the seizing of patronage through you rather than through him? Didn't it go through him in the Eisenhower administration?
CLARKE REED:
I think so. He doesn't seem to care. There's been not that much of it and I think he realized better than I did it's more of a problem than it is a plus.
JACK BASS:
How about on Farmers Home? We've heard one version that you had to almost really fight hard to wrestle control from him on Farmers Home.
CLARKE REED:
Well, yeah. In a sense, there would be some truth in that. Fred

Page 32
LaRue, who is now pretty well-known, and always worked closely with Eastland. Mitchell and Eastland go-between. Well, Rubel was close to Fred. They wanted this guy Rixon who had been a bureaucrat in there. I had said, "Well, okay, fine." Okay with me, you know. I had no problem with him. Then tells me that his name's on a letter where they went down, borrowed some fifteen million dollars. "Well," I said, "This ain't going to go, you know." And his name comes out publicly. I don't know where in the hell it is, SEC has it and they're looking into it. This won't at all. Eastland tried to help Rubel and that's one reason ran against him. By the way, carried his county, this past for governor. So Barber came in, who they charged with nepotism because his brother, who didn't want the job but kept it, is our executive director. Big deal. Anyway, our [unclear] and had just jillion dollar loans but at very low percent, friend of Eastland's. One percent, some ridiculous thing, one percent loan for a bunch of houses. Barber resisted and so Patterson went all over the place saying that we're politicizing. Had an investigation. All over the news. Investigating me. In the process, it hasn't come out yet, but they found Rixon, the guy who wanted it, had really been in all kind of deals.
The irony of it. That's never come out. Been all over the country how I was shaking down everything. But that's the unpleasant part of this business. We got an honest man in and found out we didn't realize what a dishonest man we got out. And that is politically nonproductive.
JACK BASS:
Do you think you made a mistake in going into the housing business in retrospect?
CLARKE REED:
No, I feel very strongly about that. If you can't be in business and be in politics too, we're in a sad, sad state. I've found, too, in

Page 33
the process, you know, we've lost money because of this. Our appraisals are lower than other people's because they don't want to look bad. I've found a lot of prices you pay for it. We farm in Arkansas. There's a large feed grain allotment over there available just for the asking. I applied for it. Committee said, "Because of who you are, we don't think you should take but half of it." If I'd been a Democrat, could have had it all. So, if you can't be in business, you know, and do business with the government—I've done business with the government ever since I've been in business—then I think we're in pretty bad shape.
JACK BASS:
Did you make any effort to get the White House to support Carmichael?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah, but I knew in the beginning it wouldn't.
JACK BASS:
But did it look like later that you had a better chance than it did in the beginning?
CLARKE REED:
Well, but we'd given up on anything late in the game. I'd tried to do things about different things, but it didn't work.
JACK BASS:
You say you knew from the beginning it wasn't coming. Is that simply because of their indebtedness to Eastland? Wasn't there some connection there, though? Didn't the Mitchell firm handle the bonds?
CLARKE REED:
I'd sort of like to say there was, but I don't think there was. I don't think there was any effect on that.
JACK BASS:
Do you think that was an error on the White House in terms of

Page 34
party building in the South?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, sure.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Who made the decision? Do you think the president did?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, one of those things you never know. [Even if he didn't make the specific decisions, Reed thinks the president has to be held responsible for it.]
JACK BASS:
If the White House had given full support to Carmichael and to Blount also in Alabama, as they did to Helms and Scott in North Carolina and Virginia, do you think it would have made the difference?
CLARKE REED:
No.
JACK BASS:
Do you think it would have made a substantial difference?
CLARKE REED:
I would sure liked to have seen him come. And they did do . . . I think they did pretty well by Blount.
JACK BASS:
Let's stick to Carmichael then.
CLARKE REED:
Okay. I don't think . . . this sort of thing, you don't know. I can't bet a quarter either way, but I think the scenario worked out he probably got a high vote because of it. Again, I don't like it. I wouldn't want to go through it again. It's not my kind of politics or the scenario I would choose. In other words, I say it's questionable it would have been anymore. I don't know. I just don't know.
WALTER DEVRIES:
In the last twenty-five years of Republican politics, Nixon has been the party man. More so than Eisenhower, even Goldwater.
CLARKE REED:
Right.
WALTER DEVRIES:
And yet when you're looking at what happened in '72, he did very little in the South. How do you handle that?
CLARKE REED:
Right. Well, I don't like it. I mean, I can accept the fact that he's the first guy in a hundred and fifty some years that never had control of Congress if he hadn't lived with these people and take their side. Which I don't

Page 35
necessarily agree with. In 1970 they bombed out in trying to take the Senate. I think their thinking was . . . if they were thinking, the more I win, the more this will follow. Now, of course, that's pretty extremely strained. They didn't have to do with the money even if they were following that policy.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, would you say that the Committee to Reelect's activities in '72 set the Republican Party back in the South?
CLARKE REED:
I don't think so. I don't know.
JACK BASS:
How about in Mississippi?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, well, we did so darn well. We might have done better with more help. I don't know.
JACK BASS:
I mean in the congressional races, you had the full support of the national party structure. You had Agnew down endorsing the candidates, they had the rest of the Nixon family. In the Senate race you had just the opposite. Carmichael being snubbed. Kleindienst and Butz going down to in effect make it very clear and obvious that the White House is supporting Eastland.
CLARKE REED:
Yeah. I want to [unclear] on that. He praised everybody and on the side he had a fundraising for us. Go ahead. I want to defend him.
JACK BASS:
My question is, do you really feel that Carmichael did as well as he could have done under any circumstances?
CLARKE REED:
Well, there's no question . . . I guess on balance I would have to say he would have done better. But I just don't want to swear he would have done better, you know, in my own mind. [unclear] the other way, very much, much so. [unclear] balance the ball.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Are you going to let that happen in the future?
CLARKE REED:
Well, what do you do about it?

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WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, one thing you do like you did in 1972, you can get some kind of commitments out of the candidate.
CLARKE REED:
Man, you don't know the commitments I had at the convention, when we went in '68. But they didn't come through.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, isn't that kind of anti-party, too? Isn't it generally understood in the party if you get these kind of commitments you carry through?
CLARKE REED:
Well, yes, but some people don't.
JACK BASS:
What kind of commitments in '68? Commitments in what area?
CLARKE REED:
Well, that we'd have all patronage, all say so, and . . . there was carte blanche. I put a pretty mean stick to them. Including justice patronage.
JACK BASS:
And then you had to fight like hell to get Farmers Home and that was about the major part of it?
CLARKE REED:
Well, we had other Mickey Mouse stuff. You know, little things around. Different committees and that sort of thing. Boards, commissions. That was a battle. Lot of personalities. Fred LaRue was working . . . you know, he was the White House, what do you want to call him, was working very hard on the other side of that thing. And hell, all I was trying to do was get an honest man in. In the process, if I had let Rixon through, we'd have a crooked Farmers Home but the personal—
WALTER DEVRIES:
The failure of Mitchell to keep these promises, does this fit in with Jerry Ford's charge that that crowd that ran that operation really didn't understand party politics? Do you agree with Ford's assessment?
CLARKE REED:
Sure.
JACK BASS:
How did Elliot Richardson come down here a few weeks ago?

Page 37
CLARKE REED:
He had a, he accepted a lecture invitation to come to Ole Miss. Man needs to make a buck to keep his operation going. He's on circuit. And I had a call from [unclear] on the coast said that Whitlock, a friend of his, would like to have him down there for breakfast and what do you think about it? I said, well, I didn't see anything wrong with it. Hell no, go on. But don't show up with twenty people. If you do it, have a respectable crowd. And they did. I was talking to Dick, said he had that night free, and if somebody asked him to come, which I saw as a losing deal, why don't you come here instead.
JACK BASS:
And so he came and then what?
CLARKE REED:
I had the committee in here, district people. A rather small deal. And he talked to everybody. About it. Had a meeting with the press. He met with the press on his own in Oxford. Had him meet here and he met them on the coast.
WALTER DEVRIES:
It seems to me in the future it's going to be easier for you to invite a liberal Republican candidates down. By liberal, you know—
CLARKE REED:
Yes, right.
WALTER DEVRIES:
You won't have the kind of pressures against that sort of thing you had, say, in the '60s. That's just an impression of mine. Is that correct?
CLARKE REED:
Sure. For several reasons. First off, like, for example, Rockefeller will probably be here next year as an active Republican . . . wants him to come to a Chamber of Commerce dinner and I've talked to him about it. But, you know, they want a little more action if they come, which I sure understand, and try to work it out. So we'll probably have a party thing for them at the same time.
WALTER DEVRIES:
That means that the problems of the South get exposure to

Page 38
more Republicans and different kinds of Republicans than they have in the past.
CLARKE REED:
Yeah. [unclear]. Also I guess it comes from the supreme confidence that convention and somebody that we can live with will be nominated. We don't have to worry—you know, everybody was worried it was going to be stolen quote unquote in '64. And Goldwater's forces [unclear] security plans.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Does that suggest to you that the South is changing in terms of the Republican Party or the rest of the country is changing?
CLARKE REED:
The country's changing. The only change down here is the race thing. Otherwise, the country's changing our way.
WALTER DEVRIES:
But the removal of that race thing is making it possible for more contact or more interchange and a better understanding?
CLARKE REED:
Right, right. Of course I have never bought the idea of Richardson being any kind of super liberal anyway. And Rockefeller has changed. So, I think the country's come more like the South. Hope it is, for the good of the country.
JACK BASS:
Do you view Richardson, at the moment, as being an active unofficial inactive presidential aspirer?
CLARKE REED:
Sure. I can't take Percy seriously. You know, if he wanted to come, it would be all right by me. I'd be glad to see him. But frankly, I wouldn't want to crank up some effort, you know. If somebody wants to do something, okay. Like Richardson. I think it's good for these people to be out. The more exposure, the more interchange, dialogue, the better to bring the country together.
WALTER DEVRIES:
One of the general complaints we've heard, particularly from Democrats, is that none of the national candidates really want to come South. They don't think it's necessary to do so.

Page 39
CLARKE REED:
Right after Baker was elected and I never had met Baker before. I knew most Tennessee people. Invited him down for dinner. Wrote and never did get a goddamn answer out of him. Excuse me, never did get an answer. At that time it was not proper to come to Mississippi. I jumped [unclear] maybe I chewed him out about it. At least the courtesy of a reply. Like you say, back then it was not the place to come. Percy came down to speak to a black gathering and didn't even bother to check in years ago. Made his points and went back to Illinois [unclear]. But nobody would come. Now, of course, everybody wants to come. Which I think's good.
JACK BASS:
What accounts for that change?
CLARKE REED:
Well, we're more respectable. We're not the racist society we once were. There's no stigma. In fact, it's a plus I guess, you know, to be here. I think it's good. Good for the country, good for the state, good for the South. It's all around good.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Could you have foreseen this change ten years ago?
CLARKE REED:
It was a hope.
JACK BASS:
Was the fact that you had a Republican administration in 1970 any factor at all in the way massive desegregation was accepted? Because Nixon did not go in with any overwhelming popularity in Mississippi in 1968.
CLARKE REED:
Well . . . we were in an impasse. Our polls would show that people didn't like the position we were in [on race] of being one against the country. You know, this sort of thing. They wanted a way out. But, you know, people still had to have their pride and what not. Regardless of motives, they saw education suffering and, you know, education is next to God in the average middle class person anyway, lower middle class. That's their hope, educate a child to get ahead. They may be extreme racists, but still they saw that as a threat to the kids' education.

Page 40
But anyway, they fought it, fought it, fought it. And when Nixon was elected I, in my own mind, the courts, the judges being politicians, being human, were afraid . . . they thought there was a conservative revolution coming on which I hope so not just a way station victory. Other side to it has all the power, in my opinion. So I think they quickly, "All right, you're going to deseg now." [unclear] "No, do it this fall, zap."
Well, that's the way to take a dose of medicine. Get it done. So, we sent around here work it out under a friendly hand. The courts removed the issue from guidelines, but in the past guidelines had been written by secretary of HEW or some of his—that was it, those were the laws. They were removed. When the president wrote and signed the guidelines, which gave us time, you know, or tried to work things out, keep neighborhoods cool and all that. Courts threw that out and said, "No, you're going to do it zap, now." It got done, it worked. You know, the schools are still in existence. And it was done with a friendly hand rather than with a stick. So it made a hell of a difference.
And Nixon, he's the first president that hasn't been hated down here in twenty some years, I guess. So that in itself is a big change. More deseg happened under him than anybody and of course prior to that some other changes had helped bring that about. Like public accommodations bill. I would vote against then and today, but it's probably the best thing that's happened down here in that it got people out of the impasse if they owned the Holiday Inn or grill and served a black guy, the whites would be very unhappy. It was a constant affrontage to blacks. He couldn't get a room or coffee where he wanted and that sort of thing. Now he doesn't have the affrontery and when blacks do go in and get served nobody turns their heads. So that one thing, I think, removed . . . it was more significant than anything I can think of.

Page 41
JACK BASS:
Why would you vote against it?
CLARKE REED:
Well, rightly or wrongly, I think if a fellow owns a place he's got a right to restrict it to male patrons over forty if he wants to. I think it was a bad law but excellent sociology. They did us a favor, not knowing they were going to do it, by passing that.
JACK BASS:
Do you believe the Nixon administration would have moved as they did on desegregation if the courts had not made the decision they made in the Alexandria case?
CLARKE REED:
Well, the die was so cast . . . wait, okay. Well, you know, who knows. It was going to go on. He stated it, just a fact of life. I think [unclear] have had some neighborhood schools . . . in other words, we wouldn't be as segregated as the North, but we'd probably be more segregated than we are now. I mean by segregated there wouldn't be . . . classrooms in Mississippi by and large are salt and pepper. We'd probably still be more integrated than the rest of the country, but not as integrated as we are.
JACK BASS:
There are a lot of people who would challenge that and say they're really not, that the schools in Mississippi are basically integrated within the walls of the schools and segregated within classrooms to a large extent because of pupil placement based on testing, so forth.
CLARKE REED:
Before you all leave you may want to talk to my business partner. He's head of the school board here, I guess it's the second biggest in the state. And it's as integrated as any you can get. I mean it's almost quotaed. There may be some like that, but I think by and large . . . I think we can certainly say it's the most integrated state in the country. Schools, classrooms. Again, I'm not an expert on the subject, but I've had a lot of people [unclear].
WALTER DEVRIES:
How could that be accomplished so peacefully?
CLARKE REED:
Well, the people wanted a way out, they were trying to fight

Page 42
the thing, they were trying to accept that it was inevitable, and a lot of people decided maybe we're better off because of it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Nobody would have predicted that ten years ago.
CLARKE REED:
No. I kind of hoped it, as I said.
JACK BASS:
In terms of looking for statewide candidates in 1975, to what extent do you think Republicans in Mississippi will be looking for disenchanted Democrats?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, all the way. I mean I think if we have to grow on our own we'll be at this thing fifty years.
JACK BASS:
You see that as a fertile source for candidate recruitment?
CLARKE REED:
Sure.
JACK BASS:
Do you see that Southwide, Republican Southwide?
CLARKE REED:
Yes.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Anything we haven't covered last night and today?
CLARKE REED:
I can't think of one. Well . . . I guess I shouldn't be, but I'm a southerner before anything else probably in my way of thinking, emotions. And I see an incumbent responsibility on an area less screwed up than the rest of the country to give of what we have, try to help them.
JACK BASS:
You became chairman what year?
CLARKE REED:
'66.
JACK BASS:
'66. It's now '74. As a result of your experiences—and you've had a lot of national experience and because of your role in the state party and the fact that you have a national Republican administration, have even been exposed to the ivy walls of Harvard—as a result of your total experiences in the party, what changes have taken place within you?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, I guess its understand—I mentioned it to Walter last night—I'm very poor about . . . won't say I'm a functional illiterate, not that bad off, but as a gung ho active businessman I never take time to record things.

Page 43
I wish I'd so done. But at least I've got it all up here. The effect of it, not the details. [unclear] can't recall. If you don't write something down, you don't have it. But at least I've got an understanding of what it's all about and I'll know, whatever that's worth, as I go back to real life, I'll know what went on. There'll be no mystery about it. To get downright personal about the thing . . . nobody wanted this job at the time and you've got to take it on until we find somebody. If you can't get somebody will you take it? But I knew I would have a problem of conscience if I didn't. You know, it would have weighted heavily on me in the future if I hadn't done it. So, more or less, I had to do it. I'm not sorry. It's been expensive, but so what?
WALTER DEVRIES:
No regrets?
CLARKE REED:
None. The only thing I regret is, like you say is, one thing I did not anticipate. And it came so late in the game. I assumed and I still like to assume . . . the most shattering thing to me is that I would assume . . . I like to say business is a great thing. I mean, you know, you build a reputation, you do a world of business, you can do millions of dollars worth on your word. And most people I find are honest or they're in trouble pretty early. And I assume—family background all that—if you've done right then you never have any problem. So I wasn't prepared to be called a crook. And I find in the McCarthyism that's involved here, the conservatives—or at least I don't have any Joe Welches around. And that's been disturbing, that that would come out. And I don't know. That would probably have been enough excuse for me at the time to have not gone into it had I known this would come out of it. There would have been enough excuse for me to say I'm not going to do it. It's hard to believe, but you know. [unclear] about the nature of the thing. The open irony is that the people that make the accusations are actively involved

Page 44
themselves. Not just politically, but I mean in crooked activity. I assume will go to jail. I don't know. But that's never been in the press.
Front page of the Washington Post [unclear] I've been in business and I started business with government operation. Financing grain stores. Made a hell of a business out of it. We're the biggest in the South. We dominate that business down here. When the Republican administration went in, they gutted it. And I don't believe . . . I didn't spend a year trying to get them to change it. I didn't succeed. But I tried. I did what I was being accused of doing, but it didn't work. And this damn housing business. We sold that business. It's virtually identical to what we were doing. We're in it on a very small basis and I don't think we'll make any money. Because inflation's gone so much faster than [unclear]. And hell, we're wide open. Anybody can look at any books. Anybody can see anything. And yet it comes out, one side of the story. One just wild story is that the party is on the take, too. And somehow we made something out of it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Anybody in the party come to your defense on that?
CLARKE REED:
Oh yeah, we had a hearing. I just called the committee together and said, "Look, anybody that knows anything about this, would they please come forward." Well, they were saying until the day before that they had a check [unclear] but nobody had it. Oh yeah, people in the party know what this is all about. But the guy that reads it in New York City or Washington, he doesn't know. You don't know. All you can do is take my word for it if you choose. You don't know it. There's no Joe Welch for us.
[interruption]
We have a cause, you might say.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Yeah, minority party always has a cause until it becomes the

Page 45
governing party and becomes more pragmatic. So you say the difference is basically because of an ideology?
CLARKE REED:
[unclear]
JACK BASS:
Would you say the Republican Party tends to be more ideological in the South than elsewhere in the country?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah. I'd use the word philosophical, but anyway . . .
JACK BASS:
What's going to be the effect of Watergate in Republican Party development in the South?
CLARKE REED:
Oh, it's hurt, but hurt less than in other areas.
JACK BASS:
Hurt in what ways? Has it hurt in candidate recruitment?
CLARKE REED:
Yeah. [unclear]. Because candidate is going to think about everything, of course. He's going to fine-tune in on problems more than the voter or the guys talking him into running. So it has that effect on that, yeah.
JACK BASS:
And it's also hurt this realignment process, or has it?
CLARKE REED:
Well, you know, we all look for excuses. I don't think it's been that big . . . it's hurt, of course, but I still am going to say us less than the rest of the country. It hasn't helped, I'm sure. It's hurt, but to a less degree.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Is there more cynicism about politicians among southerners? Let's take this state.
CLARKE REED:
Oh, I don't know. Well, even this state, I don't know. I don't really know. I just don't know that much about the rest of the country.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Is there more volatility when you look at candidates? Say the Democratic primaries for governor.
CLARKE REED:
I don't think so, but I don't know. I haven't really cased the country enough to know. No, I think there's probably not as much interest here. We have a lower vote turnout.

Page 46
WALTER DEVRIES:
But it tends to be more personality oriented.
CLARKE REED:
Oh, sure. Yeah, that's very definitely so. That part, right. Because we haven't established a party system.
[interruption]
—in areas like Jones County and some areas close to Jackson, sometimes here. It comes and goes.
END OF INTERVIEW