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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sanford's missteps during his 1972 presidential candidacy

Sanford recalls his political errors during his ill-fated 1972 presidential bid. He discusses how he underestimated the power of his opponents and overestimated the support he would receive from his political allies. To his disfavor, state politics overruled federal elections.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140. 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

. . . There were three things that changed that picture, and we're talking about percentages that voted, not percentages of North Carolina, anyhow. And that's . . . if you'll look at the returns, a distinction in this case. First of all, I assumed that Scott would come immediately and support me. I figured he owed it to me. I figured that it made a lot of sense for me to do this under the circumstances, and I figured he'd have sense enough to see it. But . . . he may have had sense enough to see it, but he was too stubborn to change. And I don't know that I quarrel with him. As he said to me, "But you didn't tell me you were going to run." Well, obviously I didn't, because I didn't know I was going to run. But it was the kind of thing that I should have been able to expect him to rally on me. He didn't. Well, that tremendously damaged my credibility. Here I was, the News & Observer editorialized, simply trying to spoil a sure thing, that Muskie had it sewed up, that we had gained harmony in the party, and I was just a spoil-sport. Well, that destroyed my credibility in a great many places. "What is he after?" even my friends were saying. Now, the other thing that I didn't count on, people had been associated with me and I felt they were and still are very loyal to me, that I thought would just spring forth to this campaign in a joyous way, were all tied up with . . . Skipper had supported me, Hunt had supported me, Taylor had supported me, Sowers had supported me, Margaret Harper had supported me . . . who else is running for governor? Hawkins had supported me. In any event, . . . there was Wilbur Hobby, but that . Everybody was already deeply involved in a statewide campaign, in a way that, even if they wanted to, they could hardly help me. Add Shirley Chisholm to that, and take away probably 15% of the vote that I would have gotten . . . She got about eight, but I would've, I think, under the proper circumstances, would have gotten 15% of the total vote that would've been the black vote. I just misjudged on all three of those things, and I don't really think it proved as much as on the surface it seemed to prove. Though, obviously, it proved Wallace had a tremendous appeal. To the same extent it proved that I didn't have much of an appeal, or at least didn't put it together. I don't think you can interpret the whole trend, though, with that election in mind.