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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reflecting on some of the tough times in his governorship

Holshouser reflects on some of the difficult times of his governorship, including a deteriorating relationship with the media, the embarrassment of the head of the highway patrol getting a speeding ticket, his own health problems, and Gerald Ford's primary loss to Ronald Reagan.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. 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

JACK FLEER:
What were the most difficult times you had personally as governor?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
We went through a stage, it seemed like to me about the last six months, where it seemed like the media got much move inclined to not give you the benefit of the doubt, that they assumed you were guilty until proven innocent kind of thing and decisions got questioned.
JACK FLEER:
Got questionable?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Got questioned. I mean the head of the highway patrol got stopped by one of his own folks for speeding coming back from Asheville. Some thought I should fire him but I didn't. And that kind of thing just made it hard. I found early on, this is getting a little on the side of it when I told the media I wasn't going to answer any questions starting with if because we cross the bridges, as they came. That cut off about three-fourths of questions that they normally ask. One said to me later we use to sit up nights drinking beer just trying to think how you could reword these questions trying to get the answers without saying if. But most of the times you don't have to cross those bridges, you don't try to guess what is going to happen here and say if this happens I will do this and if this happens I will do that. That was particular true in trying to deal where the legislature is concerned. You couldn't use that vehicle to say that if the legislature will do this then I'd be willing to give on this. That is better said in private anyway.
JACK FLEER:
In negotiations with the legislature publicly. Any other difficult times?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Well the last six months looking back I know my hemoglobin was dropping because of the kidney disease and I was more tired than I realized physically. I had that accident right after I left office and they came in and took a quick blood run and saw the hemoglobin and thought that I had some internal bleeding going on and got scared to death. At the same time looking back I don't think the schedule slowed down a bit because I have been very much involved in trying to help Jerry Ford. Of course once the election is over, you start trying to focus on what you are going to do with yourself and also trying to make sure that the people in administration got help if they needed it in terms of locating out of the government. Because I told them that Bob Scott had asked all of his cabinet people to resign as a courtesy to me before he went in. I felt like that was a good thing and we ought to do the same thing. So everybody in the governor's office, except the girls who had been there forever running the machines and stuff, were pretty well set by the time the administration was over. Almost all but a few exceptions. The cabinet people were all ready to get home. But I think the time of losing the primary, Ford losing to Reagan in the primary, that didn't have anything to do with North Carolina state government. It hurt a good bit but I thought we were going to win kosher.
JACK FLEER:
So it was a personal and political disappointment.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Yes and I had put out and pulled out all the stops in trying to help. That was really disappointing.