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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 assesses his political leadership and decisions

This passage offers insight into Sanford's political self-image and hopes for the South. He also discusses the importance of political credibility as the key to statewide support.

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

You, I think, received some criticism for staying in the presidential race after the North Carolina primary. What was that decision based on?
Well, it was based partly on the fact that I did not want to be considered a regional candidate or a favorite son. That I had set out to prove that the southerner could establish credibility all over the nation, and that, having gone that far, I hoped not to let Wallace have all the marbles. That I ought to go on and attempt to prove at least to myself what I thought was true, and which I think I did prove to myself. Now, there was never any way to get a public count, because we never got to that point, but I think I proved to my satisfaction that I could campaign well in Idaho or Maine or Ohio or New Mexico. And that being a southerner didn't in any way serve as a handicap any longer. So I wanted to do that. Furthermore, I felt that the odds were still, at least, there. I didn't think from that point on that I had much of a chance, but I still concluded that if McGovern were knocked out of the race, or at least knocked down so that Humphrey came up, that the convention would take, then, neither Humphrey or McGovern, and that I was in as good a position to be in the middle as anyone else. Probably a better position. I was the only remaining candidate that had the support of the young people. And I was the only remaining candidate that could've had most of the McGovern supporters, and at the same time most of the Humphrey supporters. Humphrey . . . I don't know what Humphrey would have done, personally, but a great many of his people were friends of mine and I had worked in the '68 campaign, probably as effective as anybody in it. I felt I had a good deal of standing with them. Well, I couldn't see any reason for getting out at that point. We were talking about another two months of energy and effort. It seemed to me that I would have done an additional disservice to the South if I just quit. And that furthermore I would have just proved everything people . . . that I was trying to say to people, by just quitting after making a run in the state. I inadvertantly said in Washington that I thought I'd get out if I didn't win. I came back and looked at the polls and said, "I can't live by that because Wallace is going to beat me with Shirley Chishom, Scott and all the other forces. It . . . He's very llikely to come in ahead of me, and I'm not going to put myself in that position." So I came off of it immediately and said that I will run if I . . . would continue regardless of how North Carolina came out. I had to say that to establish any credibility here, that I wasn't just a stalking horse for Humphrey. So, having taken that position in the primary, it was essential that I go on with it just for future credibility.