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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Harvey B. Gantt, January 6, 1986. Interview C-0008. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Explaining how white voters could support both him and Senator Jesse Helms

Gantt tries to explain how white North Carolinians could cast votes both for him and Senator Jesse Helms. He thinks that "the average citizen" respects honesty in any form.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Harvey B. Gantt, January 6, 1986. Interview C-0008. 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

LYNN HAESSLY:
I've read that many white voters who vote for Jesse Helms also vote for you.
HARVEY B. GANTT:
That's remarkable, isn't it?
LYNN HAESSLY:
I'd just like to know what your assessment of that is.
HARVEY B. GANTT:
Where did you read that? [laughter] Well, it is true, well at least we track that in our own political campaigns. I think people really do believe, or think they want people who will serve them in public office who will tell them like it is. They think Jesse Helms tells it like it is. Jesse Helms stands for a lot of things that in my opinion are anathema to what's good for North Carolina. But people find a believability in Jesse. He understands them. What I've noticed in Charlotte is that people believe me, they don't agree always with me. But when I say it they believe it, they don't believe I'm putting them on. And they don't believe that I say things simply for political effect, having no meaning or substance to it. And I suspect that there is a degree of comfort in the average citizen to know that even though I don't agree with the guy, I know he's honest. I hear them saying that about Jesse, too. He didn't like Martin Luther King and he didn't try to tell you he did. They like that. It gave them some comfort, they have to agree with him on that, some of them. But for them they are uncomfortable with the politician.