Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Thurmond and Goldwater as influences in the Republican Party

Reed compares the leadership of Strom Thurmond and Barry Goldwater within the Republican Party, focusing particularly on their influence of Republican delegates at the 1968 national convention. According to Reed, Goldwater had more sway, but he also argues that the example of Thurmond in terms of changing party stance was demonstrative of broader trends in Southern politics.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0113. 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

JACK BASS:
What was the comparative role of Sen. Thurmond and Sen. Goldwater at the '68 convention in so far 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, suppose to. Goldwater was the man that got most of these people really gungho 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 Sen. 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 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 $10 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:
[An affirmative answer]
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.