Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

By 1972, political ideology overruled race in national and state elections

The issue of the 1972 elections was one of political ideology rather than race. Sanford contends that Helms won the elections because of his effective use of conservatism, which was favorable to North Carolina voters. This is a recurrent theme throughout the interview.

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

TERRY SANFORD:
There was no racial issue in the primary. The nearest thing was the little bit of waffling statement that Skipper made on bussing, which was all right, and the more forthright statement that Taylor made. That was the nearest thing that you could find in there, and I take it that that was so mild that it's just not very influential one way or the other. But that's the only thing I saw. And then, again, neither one of those was a dishonorable position . . . just . . . it was . . . an indication that it wasn't in the campaign. Helms did not run on the race issue. He did not win on it, and to the best I could tell, he wasn't particularly involved in it. I think he won because he got by with saying, "I'm a mere conservative" when the truth of the matter (Interruption in tape.) . . . by with saying "I'm a mere conservative" when the truth of the matter, he's a damn wild conservative. And Galifianakis let him get by. I couldn't see the race issue in that. Nixon made it, of course, but that's an entirely different southern strategy. Nixon did not win on the race issue in this state. He won on a great many other things. I take it, had he . . . I take it he lost votes. But the truth of the matter is, nobody was going to beat Nixon, for reasons quite aside from the southern strategy or race or anything else.