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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sanford's strategy to woo religious voters

Sanford's approach to religious interest groups in the 1986 Senate race was to avoid antagonizing them and emphasizing his faith without emphasizing his stance on issues like abortion. Sanford describes himself as an active member of his church, and as a result takes religious people's political beliefs seriously.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. 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

Was there ever any concern, after the primary, of how to handle the neo-conservative religious groups, that are much more active in politics now.
Well, the best way to handle them was not to get involved with them, not to draw any issues sharply with them, not to condemn them but to play down the feeling that they had to get out and fight against me. I know about as far as I went to say—when Broyhill hired him a liaison to the Christian voter—was to say that I didn't need any liaison to the Christian voter, I was one of them. I had been a fairly active lay leader in the Methodist Church and so on. Furthermore, on the issues that moved them most violently, they never got to be issues partially because Broyhill himself confused the abortion issue as to where he stood. He finally said he stood with Jerry Falwell. Well, he had said many other things. He had voted differently so that it's hard for them to make that an issue. They tried to make prayer in the schools an issue. I fairly well muted that issue by talking about the Constitution and at the same time talking about the need for prayerful thought. At any rate, I didn't let either of those things become an issue, and they didn't try hard enough to make them become an issue anyhow.
Well, also whether they become issues or not, or whether there's a get out the vote effort based around those groups, that didn't materialize either.
Well, I think, again, the Hunt campaign stirred those people up. In the first place, while I think some of the people manipulating them are doing just that, I think most of these people are good, honest, conscientious, God-fearing people, and there's no reason for me to take issue with them. I obviously differ on some of the issues that they are standing for but I understand the motivations. I think they are genuine, honest motivations. It would be stupid for me to question their motives, and so I didn't.