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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Election of 1972 and split within the Republican Party

Reed discusses his role in the gubernatorial, senatorial, and presidential elections of 1972. As the state chairman of the Republican Party, Reed explains that he was in charge of funds for the CRP (Committee to Reelect the President). According to Reed, this eleciton in particular led to some divisions within the Republican Party, using disagreements regarding appointments to the Farmers Home Administration as an example. Reed explains here the nature of those factions, arguing that the split was ultimately inconsequential and primarily about personalities, rather than philosophy.

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 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. $1,000. 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 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. 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 challange… You know, hell, I didn't even plan to win again. But Rubel Phillips. We got a battle here whose 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 25 votes on the committee to elect a chairman and I got 25 out of 25. So Jack Bree who's I think a nut frankly, county chairman in Hinds county. And he keeps this thing running. 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 we had a shake down 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 its 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're [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?
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 29 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.