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Title: Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Scott, Robert W. (Bob), interviewee
Interview conducted by Fleer, Jack
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
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Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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Languages used in the text: English
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2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-02-18, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0336-2)
Author: Jack Fleer
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0336-2)
Author: Robert W. (Bob) Scott
Description: 389 Mb
Description: 89 p.
Note: Interview conducted on February 11, 1998, by Jack Fleer; recorded in Haw River, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998.
Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Scott, Robert W. (Bob), interviewee

Interview Participants

    ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT, interviewee
    JACK FLEER, interviewer


Page 1
An interview with Robert W. Scott of North Carolina, for Wake Forest University and the Southern Oral History Program at Chapel Hill, as part of a series of interviews with North Carolina's living former governors. This is the second part of the interview. It was conducted on February 11, 1998, at the home of Governor Scott, in Haw River, North Carolina. The interviewer is Dr. Jack D. Fleer, Department of Politics, Wake Forest University. Tape number 2-11-98-RWS. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
Governor, when we completed the interview last week, we had gotten you elected to the position, and it might be an appropriate time to ask you: why did you want to be governor of North Carolina?
To use a well-worn phrase, that's a good question, and I'm not so sure that I knew why, or that there was any clearly-defined reason or motivation to seek the office of governor. It probably was more a combination of factors, one being the

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political background that I had, the environment in which I was raised, although I repeat again there was no planned career path in government and politics that I developed to pursue. But no doubt that factor of having had a political background, on the part of my father and other members of the family, influenced my getting into politics.
Secondly, as far as the office of governor was concerned, having served as lieutenant governor, or—at the time the decision was made to run for governor, I was lieutenant governor—it's sort of like getting a promotion in a company, I suppose. You know, you've done this job, and you think you've done it reasonably well, and there's an opening at the next tier, and so you apply for it. It was a logical progression, although no one in North Carolina had ever moved from the office of lieutenant governor directly to the office of governor. In fact, I didn't know better at the time, and I don't think it would have made any difference, but I thought—obviously, having been lieutenant governor, I could see and understand more clearly the role of the governor and the ability of the governor to make things happen and to provide leadership. I guess subconsciously I felt that I did have something to offer, I'm not sure what—leadership, commitment to do a good job. And I think it was just a blend of those things.
I did not have, initially, an agenda; that evolved during the latter part of my term as lieutenant governor and as I began to more and more get into the role of a potential candidate for governor. When I say that, I'm talking about in my public

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appearances, statements, speeches that I made. I think there was a certain assumption on the part of friends and supporters throughout the state that, because my father had been governor and served for a long time as commissioner of agriculture before that, that that's what I would do, almost as if it was a given that I would run for governor. I say this with the benefit of hindsight.
One of the newspapers at the time that you were elected and inaugurated commented that you may well have been the best prepared person for the governorship in the history of the state. But I wonder, as you were taking the oath, what thoughts went through your mind about the tremendous responsibility which you were about to assume?
It's interesting you should ask that question, because even before you framed the question, the thought was going through my mind at that very moment. And I have said publicly several times, not in speeches but in talking with other people, that I did have strange feeling come over me as the chief justice Hunt Parker administered the oath of office. Yes, there was the excitement of the moment, and I knew that following my taking the oath, I had to step to the podium and deliver the talk that I had prepared. But there was a feeling, very difficult to describe, and I can only use rather generic words, but a feeling of weight. Not burden in the sense of a painful burden, but like, "OK, you asked for it, you got it, and now what are you going to do with it?" You can't just walk off the court and say, "I won the ball game." And I realized that there was an awesome responsibility.

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And perhaps that thought came to me too as the words—the oath was being administered by the chief justice, and those words: "upholding the laws and the constitution", not only of the state but federal. And the importance of that sunk home to me. It also occurred to me later, I'm sure, that day, or very soon, I thought, "Well, I've taken the oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and of North Carolina. One of these days I might get around to reading it!" I had never read the constitution.
Of the state.
Of the state, and only parts of the federal one, whatever the occasion might have been that caused me to want to read that. And I read it, and not only that, I got real interested in it, and I went back—this was some weeks later—I went back and got copies of the previous constitutions that had been written and adopted. It was interesting to read some of those earlier constitutions, and the amendments attached to them. One being that at one time you could not hold public office if you were a minister, if you were a preacher. I always thought that was interesting. Such things as that.
Did you have, obviously despite your service in the lieutenant governorship and therefore a close look at the way government operated, did you have any second thoughts at that time?
About why I did it?
About anything like that.

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No, no. One of the advantages of youth, and as a governor I guess I was considered young, is that you don't really think there's anything that you can't handle. I've said, tongue in cheek, a number of times, people would ask me: "Well, if the constitution had permitted you to, would you have run again?" And I said, "Well, I probably would, but you know, I always would have some reservations about anybody who, having once served as governor, didn't have better judgment than to run again. I would wonder about whether they were competent. One should know better." But that's not really the truth.
And incidentally, as a little side note, if one is elected governor and does have an opportunity to serve a consecutive term, subject to the voters, would you run for a second term? Well, assuming that you hadn't really created terrible political mistakes, so that there was objects to build on, yes, you'd probably run again, because of two reasons. First of all, there's always unfinished work that you want to continue to do, and this is particularly true in your first term, you learn how to handle the levers of power and learn the job, then, by the time you get your program underway, you want to see it through, and there's always something new coming up and you'd like to fine-tune what you've already done, perhaps.
But there's another reason that is perhaps equally compelling, and this is a purely political reason. All those people out there who got you into office, many of whom you have tried to place in government, in key posts, they want you to run again, because they, too, want to retain their positions. It may

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be for economic reasons, it may be for political reasons, it may be for just a pure sense of power and authority, wanting to be in a cabinet post or whatever. And then, there's just your friends out there—if they think you've done a good job, they want you to run again. So there would be pressure. I never experienced, that of course.
Right. It wasn't possible in your particular case. Having been inaugurated, taken the oath of office, I suppose that one of the things you must have felt was that, here you were, the tribune of the people, in a sense, elected to the highest position in the state—in the executive branch anyway, some would say generally—the most visible position in the state at that time and today. And you become in a sense a public leader, and people are depending on you. How did you feel, during that time and during your period as governor, that you could know what the people of North Carolina wanted you to do with that responsibility and that power that you had? How could you come to know what the people of the state wanted you to do?
Well, one way that you know that is you assume that, having been elected, they agreed with what you proposed in your campaign, things that you wanted to accomplish if they would elect you governor. You would talk about roads and education and all the things that governors talk about, whatever the items of interest are at that time. So you assume that that's what they want you to do, and so you get on with it. You incorporate these into your first budget, your first message to the General Assembly.

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In addition to that, one's values come into place here, I think. These people who supported you have faith in you. They do not want you to disappoint. They don't want to have to explain to their neighbors and others, you know, come back later and apologize for having helped put you into office. I felt that very strongly, and I think I mentioned this in my previous interview, that the last few paragraphs of my inaugural address, I focused on the fact that I wanted to conduct myself and to fulfill the responsibilities of office in a way that would merit this confidence and support of my family, my friends, my church, my community.
And all that comes back to values. People expect you to provide leadership, they want you to be a leader, they want you to act like their perception of what a governor should be. Now, that varies from person to person, of course. They don't want you to do anything that's going to embarrass them for having known you, as I said. They don't want you to do anything that'll bring a bad light on the state, like going off and, say, gambling or something like that, even though it's in another state and you're on vacation, you still represent the state. There's no getting away from it. In your public life and your private life, they want you to be somebody they're confident in. [unclear] .
So all of those things came into being. And if you will look in the book, you may have, it's a photo journal called The Governor.
I have seen it.

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That letter I wrote to my son. That goes back to your earlier question, what feelings came into to mind. I don't know why I did that. That really was true—the first act I did, after the inaugural ceremonies, I recall very well that I was in the office alone, and I guess staff was getting set up—they knew perhaps I wanted to be alone for a minute and think. I recall sitting there, in the chair, and I indulged myself for a short period of time by reflecting on my father having sat there, not in that particular chair, but in that office. Well, truth of the matter is, they had changed the office, changed rooms. As I recall, my father had the corner office, which when I came in was the outer office, that's where the immediate staff sat out there. I was back near the center of the building.
But anyway, nevertheless, the feeling came there, and that's why I thought about my son, and I just pulled out a piece of paper from the desk drawer that had already been prepared and was already filled with stationery and all that kind of stuff, and penned that note, while it was on my mind. And that of course was a personal thing, very personal. And later on when Mr. Roberts and his wife did the book, they wanted that in there.
Well, that's a wonderful piece, because it does indicate some of your early thoughts and some of your thinking about what you would do.
I guess I've always had a sense of history that my mother instilled in me, and gosh, I keep everything in the way of paper and letters and all like that, when two thirds of it probably ought to be trashed.

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You just don't know which two thirds. [Laughter]
That's exactly right. And you know, what's of interest to me may or may not be of interest to a professional historian. On the other hand, they may be very much interested in something that I might consider irrelevant.
So you knew about your background and the expectations that the public had—
I might inject right there that another factor that entered into this, I think, was just what you just alluded to, that many people out across the state knew of my father and knew of his record, and for the most part had a positive viewpoint of that, and I felt a need to live up to that. Not necessarily to exceed or even to equal, but to be an activist, to show that I could get things done, and always I felt very strongly that a person ought to be as good as their word, and if you say you're going to do something, at least you have an obligation to try and get it done.
So, trust.
Now, as you were governor for those four years, how could you be reassured—or were you reassured, and how was it that you were reassured, that you were in fact doing what the people of the state wanted you to do?
Well, a lot of that comes into political instinct. You just have a feel for it. I tried not to become too insulated. That's the thing that any governor has to constantly battle. I kept having to feel the need to push staff away, so

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that I could have direct access to people. Oh yeah, it's true, people would come in for appointments and so forth, but I was aware that a great deal of screening went on. Because the governor can't see everybody that wants to be seen. And so there's a great deal of screening going on, priorities—how important is your job? And this became even more important during my term because of the times in which I served, the tension in our society, the civil unrest, marching in the streets and all that, so the security was much tighter. You know, you just—I did, at least, sort of yearn for the opportunity to go down the street, they said Greg Cherry did, or Clyde Hoey, I forget which one it was, go down the street to the drugstore and sit out on the counter and get a Coca-Cola, you know. I suppose that must have been Hoey, I don't believe Cherry ever ordered a Coca-Cola. But you just wanted to walk down the street and go buy a shirt in the department store without having a fuss made about it, you know.
And of course, one gives up that opportunity when one seeks public office and becomes a public figure. I understand that, but it doesn't take away the yearning to be anonymous in a crowd. And you can never do that, even on, quote, vacation, endquote, because at that time you still had security. Not like the President of the United States, of course, but still. Everybody, somebody has to know where you're—I guess the most remote I ever came, I went to Utah when I was governor, at the invitation of the governor of Utah, to speak out there at a political function. Well, that was my reason for going; they paid me to come, they

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paid the expenses because it was political. I spoke to their state Democratic committee. But then he and I took off, he was a great hunter, and we went up into the Clearwater Mountains to hunt and go to a camp up there that he and some friends had.
And I asked him, I said, "Governor, how can you do this, come up here, just you and I and two of your friends"—who were sort of guides for us, and we had horses and we rode, hunting for elk and moose—and he said, "Oh, they know where we are, and they can get ahold of us. There was a forest ranger camp about five miles away, they could have a copter in there, and we could be at the capital in forty-five minutes if we had to."
But you had a sense of freedom, at least.
I had a sense of freedom, at least, and he says, "Your people can get ahold of you too, if they had to." So, you know, you never really—you have that responsibility, you take that oath. So that sense of responsibility is always with you.
So what do you do? You're separated from the people, to a certain extent, by the office and by the security that you have, and yet it's very important for you to know what the people are thinking and how they're feeling about what you're doing.
Extremely important. And back then we didn't do polling like we do now. When I ran for governor, I think we did maybe two polls. When I ran for lieutenant governor, I piggy-backed on somebody else's poll and didn't even know what questions to ask. So, once in office, we didn't worry about polls. We would read those perhaps done by Newsweek, something

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like that, but they weren't done very frequently even then. Polling wasn't nearly as sophisticated then as it is now.
So how did we do this? It was done in two or three ways. Obviously, by reading the media, newspapers primarily, and to some extent watching television. Secondly, feedback from your political supporters. They'll say, "Governor, folks are saying you're going too far out on this environmental issue." So you'll get feedback from your political sources, and you do stay in touch with them.
Thirdly, you make speeches around, and you speak to the North Carolina Educator's Association, or some other group, and you get reactions, try to spend a little time mingling with the group, either before or after, shaking hands, pressing the flesh as they call it, and again, your political instincts come in. You can tell, if you are astute at that sort of thing, whether your agenda is flying or not. So those were something.
And then you always—a good governor—a successful governor, let's put it that way—a successful governor will always have at least one person, maybe two, on his staff, who will tell it like it is. And they're not there to please you, necessarily. I always said—you gotta have one SOB on the staff. And that person will tell you the bad news.
You name that SOB? You choose that person? They don't become it?
Oh, yes. It was Ben Rooney, in my case, and I think under Jim Holshouser, at least from an outsider's viewpoint, I think his was Gene Anderson. Everybody thinks Phil Kirk for Jim

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Martin. They are willing to be the bearer of the bad news and give a pure, honest assessment. Sure, you trust all of your staff, but there's got to be one who will say to you, "Governor, you simply cannot do that, you must not do that."
You've mentioned several ways in which you tried to keep your finger on the pulse, and I want to talk about each of those in a little bit more detail. One of the ways that you mentioned was meeting with and talking with association members, like the North Carolina Association of Educators. You did on average about 125 of those kinds of public appearances a year, during the four years that you were—
I wondered what I was doing all that time! [Laughter]
During the four years that you were in that office. Would you say that that was, by and large, a useful way for you to maintain some kind of contact with the public? What did you gain from those particular—
I felt it was a useful mechanism, and I would suggest it still is. Now, one has to be careful and realize that this is a special interest group, and they're rather narrow, but keep in mind, too—I'm talking about talking to more people than just the leadership of the organization. Because they have a vested interest, they have an agenda too. Always realize that somebody's got the agenda, generally speaking.
But if you can mingle with the rank and file, and if somebody's got something on their mind, it may be about something else that you as governor and your administration are doing or advocating or opposing, and they just don't think that's right.

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For instance, this is hypothetical, a teacher, while agreeing that you're wonderful because you're going to advocate a substantial pay increase for teachers, they may be terribly upset about your position on another issue. Welfare reform, or it may be, we weren't concerned with it back then, but abortion rights, whatever it might be. And the rank and file, you'll pick that up if your political antenna is finely tuned, you'll pick that up, and somebody or some of your staff will who are there, also.
Now, I tried to have my staff mingle, too, where it was appropriate. You have large groups of people, you can't get out and spend the time walking around the mall so much anymore, and standing at the factory gate, like you did during the campaign, but this is—those association meetings, professional organizations, other larger groups, are ways that you can stay in touch with large groups of people, in a way.
And secondly, along that line, I made an endeavor, and I'm not so certain how successful I was in doing it, to get out of Raleigh. And it was a known fact, clearly apparent to me, the further you got away from Raleigh, the more the public appreciated you. I loved to go to functions in communities in the mountains or down on the coast, because they don't get to see the governor out there. This was, again, before there was all that much television. They had television, but they weren't following you around like they do these days.
So I organized a tour—this was during the latter part of my administration—I think it started down in Gates County, took the state limousine, and just went from county to county, Gates on

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down to Perquimans, Pasquotank, Currituck, down the Outer Banks and so forth, stopping at these little towns, and it was set up, they knew we were coming. And there would be little groups of people to meet there, and it was kind of a public relations thing. While I was standing around talking to the adults, the driver was instructed to take the kids that wanted a ride in the limousine. We soon learned we had to strip that limousine of every movable part, or else it's be stripped anyway—like cigarette lighters, and all that, we had to take out all that stuff.
A little remembrance.
And we'd give them a little certificate, to show that the kids had ridden in the number one car, or something like that. But I found that you don't necessarily hear specifics, although there's always a few people in the crowd who are going to tell you really what they think, and they got something that's really burning on their mind. But you sense whether there's a mood of disappointment or resentment—for one thing, you wouldn't get them there to see you. But if they're feeling that things are going fairly well, generally the mood of the people is fairly happy.
One of the specific things that you, in a sense, went to the people on, was the tobacco and soft drink tax. You did a sort of whirlwind helicopter tour, some kind of airplane tour, of the state. Can you talk a little bit about the responses that you recall receiving from the people in that particular experience?

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As I recall, the response was, I guess, somewhat as you would expect. The response was cool among the growers of tobacco who depended upon it for a living. And this is one case where the organizations, the farm organizations, if you were working through them, you were really going to catch a lot of heat. Not long after I advocated that tax, I spoke to the state Farm Bureau convention, and you could cut the air with a knife when I walked into that building and walked down the aisle to go up to make my talk. There was hostility, almost open hostility. And yet you move into Charlotte and that area where I knew of no resistance to give a talk, there's nothing wrong with this, this is a good way to raise revenue.
And I tried to convince the farm groups at that time that the thing that they had got to be concerned about was not paying a little tax on their product. They had best be concerned about the health issue. Because it was already being talked about, a little bit, in the medical profession. And I said, "That's where your problem's going to come." But they weren't willing to accept that. And they felt betrayed by me, because I had an agricultural background. Although I did not grow tobacco, we did not grow tobacco here, still, I should have known better. They really felt betrayed about that.
So they had a reason to be hostile to me about that, and incidentally, one of the things I want to put in the book I want to write, after you write yours, is: Not many times that a decision is cut and dry. But this is one that was cut and dry, and it was made in the phone booth on the side of the road in

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eastern North Carolina. And I've often thought, I wish I could remember where that was. But I was going down to the eastern part of the state to attend some meeting, make a talk. The legislature was in session. I proposed the five-cents tax on cigarettes.
Well, of course the tobacco industry was very much opposed to that. The people in opposition, the leaders of the legislature who were in opposition to this tobacco tax, shrewdly devised a scheme whereby they reduced the amount of the cigarette tax, tobacco tax, and added a soft drink tax to it. Which would give me the same amount of revenue. But their strategy was that the revenue coming from the soft drinks would kill the proposal. Number one, because that would bring the soft drink industry also into opposition to it. And secondly, my campaign manager was Jimmy Johnson, who was head of the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the state and in the Southeast, that was in Charlotte. And he had been my campaign manager. He was a former state senator.
And that strategy very nearly worked. We lobbied the legislature, I had my people there working on it, and it went to a committee. The phone—I was making this trip down east, and the word came in on the highway patrol radio to call the office. Back then we didn't have mobile phones. So we pull over to the side of the road at a country service station, and there was a pay booth out there. And I got in. It was hot in that booth. And it was Ben Hunt, and I believe, let's see, Tom White, who was my legislative liaison in the second go-around, second

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legislature. Anyway, they said, "We reached a stalemate, we don't have the votes to block it." We were trying to keep it separate, keep it at five cents on tobacco, cigarettes, rather than reducing that and bringing the soft drink people into it. "And we're either going to have to accept the compromise, that is the soft drinks and the tobacco, or we're going to lose it."
And I got to thinking about it. My purpose was to get a hundred million dollars, or close to it, for the purpose of starting the public school kindergartens, and I remember thinking about it for maybe half a minute, and I said, "Well, we'll take it." Because the legislative leadership thought that I would turn it down. They said, "He'll never accept that." But then I said, "Let's go for it." And so that's how that decision was made. I would've thought the archives of history ought to put up a historical marker down there, at that public booth by the side of the road, wherever it is.
Another way that you said you kept in touch with the people was through the media, and I wanted you to comment, if you would, on the question of how adequate and fair you felt the media's coverage of your administration was.
I did not have a close working relationship with the media, and at that time, I thought they were being a little unfair. In retrospect, they were not, I don't think. They were doing their job. Sure, they editorial biases were there. But like so many office-holders, I think I got along pretty well with the reporters and so on, but the editorial piece of it, I didn't. I didn't take the time to lobby the editorial staffs, if you

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will. Bill Friday was one of the best I ever knew about that. He would stay in touch constantly with the editorial people of the state, particularly the major dailies, and they could call him, and he would respond, and so forth. I don't know whether I just didn't see the value of that—I wasn't all that antagonistic to them, but I just didn't see the value of that, or I just didn't take the time to do it. Probably both; I know I didn't take the time to do it. Consequently, whenever the unfavorable editorials came along, [unclear] , and particularly if they stayed on a little while, I became a little defensive about it.
And one of, I guess, my barbs, when I spoke, I think, to the Associated Press Council of some editor's group—I think it was down in Wilmington—and I made the statement that, "I read newspapers every day, I read the two morning dailies, I read an afternoon daily, and I read my local county weekly." And so I said, "I generally read pretty thoroughly. I always read the comics, because I think there's great philosophy in some of them. And I always read the news accounts and so on. I don't pay too much attention to the women's section or the classified ads. But in any event, the last thing I read are the editorials, at night, so I can go to bed with nothing on my mind."
[Laughter] Did they chuckle?
Well, not really. These were editors. And I think a lot of the—I would have to go back and review them, but again, with all the tension going on, I had the responsibility, I felt, to try to keep the lid on and preserve law and order, and I had

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to call out the guard sometimes, and I used the highway patrol—I didn't want to, but I felt like I needed to. And a lot of times the editors thought I was being too rough. I had a little too much law and order.
On the relationship with the press, what was your general policy as far as access that you would give the media to you? Would you hold news conferences periodically, would you—
Yes, we tried to hold news conferences either once a month or twice a month—I'd have to go back and look at the schedules. And the way I would do that, if a news conference was scheduled, say, at ten o'clock in the morning, at nine o'clock we would have a briefing, me and my staff, and they would sit around and fire questions at me. The idea being, they knew what was likely to be asked. Particularly my two guys that worked that, C. T. West—he's dead now—and David Murray, who's still living in Raleigh. But they mingle with the press and they knew what was on their minds and they knew what was happening in the legislature and out across the state, and they would take the newsmen's perspective and fire questions at me. So that when the actual news conferences began, I was fairly well briefed. It was pretty rare that a question came—

Page 21


—a question that would come out of left field, that I had not been prepared for, that came out of the blue somewhere. As a matter of fact, David Murray sort of kept a running total of that, and he told me, shortly after the end of my term, that 97 percent of the questions that were asked in my news conferences, we had talked about. Which I thought was pretty good.
Also, most news conferences in those days, the governor read off-he had a statement he wanted to make, an announcement he wanted to make, anything like that. I also learned—well, I knew this—that when a question is asked, the longer you talk, the less likely they're going to have a follow-up question. So I'd filibuster. But the news media—the print media, the television media, and the radio—we got on pretty good. One difference now, I think, today, is the turnover of the reporters is much greater than it was then. Some of those fellows had been around capitol hill a long time. They knew where the skeletons were. And they had developed other sources of information. So when they asked you a question, they probably already knew the answer.
A good reporter does, huh? The other side of the media is your use of them to try to get your message out, in a sense, to the public. Did you feel that you had adequate access to the media in order to tell your story, to promote your policies?
Yes, I felt I had adequate access. In fact, I probably didn't utilize it as well or as effectively as I could have or should have. Someone who practiced a few more skills

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than that could do a better job. I was not very adept at that. But yes, I never felt that I was being denied coverage or access. If I were making a talk in Salisbury, of course the news media knew that I was going to be there, and we would have advance copies, where appropriate, to hand out to them.
And sometimes I would arrange to have a news conference before or after, particularly if I was promoting something. When I was trying to build up the support to restructure the university system, and all, the tobacco tax, and flying around over the state—these were kind of hurried tours, and it very apparent to everyone what I was trying to do. But the media was—it was a matter of public interest, and they were generally covering it.
I want to move on to talking about your relationship with the legislature and your role as an executive leader, but before I do that, and in order to do that, I wanted to get you, if you would, to identify maybe five of what you thought were the most important issues that you dealt with during your administration. I assume the tobacco tax was one of them, and probably the restructuring of the higher education system in the state. But what would you say were, say, four or five of the most important issues that you dealt with?
Those two that you mentioned, of course, and another was the reorganization of the executive branch of government, where we went from, essentially, the commission form of government to a cabinet form of government. Not much attention is given to that, it didn't seriously impact programs, as such;

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it affected people. It affected the structure of government, and the built-in reporting systems were put in place. So that was another one.
I think we would have to say that, of course, education is outrageously important, and the public school kindergarten—although in my administration, we didn't really get going on it, we had to get that revenue first. And when we found out that I wanted to put it in place—and I said, you know, I did my—this is again where I probably didn't do enough research ahead of time. I was focused on getting the public school kindergarten program going. Well, I found out we weren't ready. The schools of education in the state hadn't turned out kindergarten school teachers. They didn't have them trained. The second thing was that kindergartens require, like any schools, more than just a room; they require different equipment, for little kids. And a different environment, if you will. And so there had to be—and we weren't all that skilled at, not only being ready, but knowing how to get ready. So what we did was put up, I think, five pilot projects, one in each school district around the state. And that's as far as we got with that administration. And in the meantime, the schools of education at the universities were starting cranking out the kindergarten teachers.
So I think even though—that was an issue that we dealt with which I thought was very important. Another was the environmental laws. By today's standards, I don't guess, it probably looks like pablum. But it was sort of breaking new ground, back at that time. Oh, golly, I don't know. Again, I

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think I mentioned this in my earlier interview with you, or your interview with me, that I was a generous—and it's hard to say, but focused on one or two, three things. I tried to pay attention to all layers of government.
Well, let's use those to talk about your relationship with the legislature and your management of the executive branch of government. Generally speaking, how would you describe your attitude towards the legislature? You had been, in a sense, a part of the legislature as the lieutenant governor, though you had said last week that you didn't think of yourself as a member and they made that clear to you. But did you think of the legislature as an equal to the governor, as superior or inferior to the governor? How would you describe your attitude towards—
I think I viewed it as an equal. Being lieutenant governor, I understood the process clearly, and the inner workings of that process, and which buttons needed to be pushed to accomplish your goals and get moving legislation along. Where the power lay in the legislature. So that was immense help to me in understanding it. And having been lieutenant governor and understanding that line between executive and legislative branch, and respecting that line, I always viewed them as an equal.
As a matter of fact, I always thought the legislature was the most equal of the three branches of government in North Carolina. I've said that many times. We were taught in the old Civics class, social studies I believe they call it now, that each branch of government is equal, checks and balances. But in

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North Carolina, because the governor has no veto power, the legislature is by far the most equal.
Now, on perhaps the other side of that coin, where I viewed the legislature as an equal, and I knew that they could run roughshod over a governor if they chose to do so. During that period of time, there was a camaraderie, if you will—same political parties in power in the executive and the legislative branch. And the governor was expected to provide the leadership. The power did not reside in the president pro tem and the speaker of the house. Well, it was there, but they did not exercise it as they do today. Yes, there were differences of opinion, sometimes strong differences, on individual issues. But overriding that was also the willingness to cooperate, and they would never entertain any thought of bogging the process down, to where you would adjourn, for instance, without a desk, or anything of that sort, as I mentioned above. And there wasn't those differences between the house and the senate of the legislature. They worked together. And I dealt with the legislature as the legislature, not so much as the governor's office with the house and the governor's office with the senate. It was almost just the one entity.
When you dealt with the legislature, did you deal primarily through the leadership, or did you try to establish a more personal relationship with individual members, or how did you go about doing that?
Well, one tried to establish a personal relationship, particularly with some, but you always respected the leadership.

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They wouldn't be the leaders if—And they did have a power to control legislation, to impede it or to help it. I guess you would say we paid additional attention to them. But a legislator, for instance, if I needed to get a legislator's vote, when we were trying to get votes, a legislator's always got something that they want done. They may want their wife's third cousin twice removed appointed to the North Carolina Holly Tree and Arboretum Commission. They wanted something like that, maybe still do. Well, you know that, because the legislator's made that known to you, or through some of your people. And so all the legislators, they ask for an appointment to come talk to you about it. He wants to get a road paved in his county, or he wants to get somebody named, some political friend, named to the Paroles Board.
So that individual comes to talk to the governor about it, make their case. And the governor listens, and he says, "Well, you know, I appreciate that, and I will take it under consideration. By the way, I sure would like to have your help on such and such a bill." And so it's, in some ways, and I know this sounds distasteful to the purists, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, and if there's nothing wrong ethically with it or if you don't have any strong feelings about it and they don't have any strong feelings, you know, you'd reach an accommodation. And that's the way our government works. Compromise is the name of the game. You don't get everything you want all the time, nor do they, but you seek accommodation.

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And yes, we invite the wives over to the mansion for coffee or tea, or if there's someone you really—I had a legislator came to me, his wife's parents were coming down from New England, and wanted to do something special for them and so forth. So we invited the legislator and his wife and her parents to have lunch. It took a little time and effort, you know, but you try to maintain the friendships, then call on them sometime.
Could you take one of those issues that you thought were important and give me some insight into how you went about developing a policy and securing support for the policy in the legislature? Say, the tobacco tax, or the university restructuring? I know those are two very big and somewhat contentious issues that you dealt with.
I don't know. I think the policy was determined before it ever went to the legislature. That is to say, I didn't talk to legislative leadership and say, "I'm thinking about doing this", for the most part, I didn't. I guess that was not true, though, with the restructuring of the university system, because I knew that would take legislative action and a constitutional amendment. So I think we talked—it wasn't so much about whether to do it or not, as how best to do it.
Now, is this the restructuring of the university, or the restructuring of the executive branch of government?
The restructuring of the university. I don't think that would ever have happened, I don't think I would ever have been able to get that accomplished, except that these friends at the university who opposed that—at the University of Chapel

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Hill, who opposed that—they didn't think it could be done. They in their wildest dreams didn't think it could happen. And so they didn't get stirred up about it until they saw it was about to happen, and it was—I wouldn't say it was too late, but it certainly was helpful to me, because they didn't engage in the battle earlier on, to a great extent. Now, I'm not really sure how to answer that question.
Well, for example, on the university restructuring, there were a number of different options that were considered, and you had, if I recall correctly, a sort of study commission headed by Lindsay Warren, who came forth with a proposal. I assume the selection of that study commission was an important part of the process of trying to, not only develop a proposal, but develop support for the proposal. Is that fair?
Well, yes. I was hoping, of course, to find a way to bring sort of a consensus on what this new structure needed to look like, and trying to get—through my public appearances and speeches, I talked about the need to do it. And then of course, getting the public's attention, and in effect saying, "Well, yeah, it looks like there ought to be a better way of doing what we're doing now." And then the legislators picked that up from the public, and they want to respond to that on the part of the public, so they're interested enough to talk about it, willing to talk about it, and the question is, how?
And my original thought was that, in the perfect world, and on that issue, I would have patterned it pretty much after the University of Georgia's Board of Regents, which was a small

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compact group. Well, as the political process began, it was quickly apparent that that wasn't going to work, because we had too many vested interests out there, at the second-tier institutions, like athletics at Pembroke and others, that they wanted to be sure they were represented on any kind of governing board. Well, to get the vote of the minority party, you had to guarantee—back in those days, there was a lot of guaranteeing seats, Republicans, minorities, women, that kind of thing. And I was trying to get the state Board of Higher Education and the university people, the greater university people, to find some common ground. Lindsay Warren was a highly respected individual in the General Assembly, a man that I always thought would have made a great governor, and he was in the state Senate.
And so, you know, one of the ways you do things, if you don't know what to do, is appoint a study commission. That's why that came. And we tried to put people on there that had the respect of the various interest groups concerned, the universities held them in high respect and the members of the legislature held them in high respect. And they had Senator Kirby of Wilson, also, he was chair of the Senate higher education committee at the time. He was a proponent of doing something to restructure the university system. He also had a lot of respect among the legislators, as well as outside.
So I was hoping that whatever this group came up with, if it was something I could live with, then it would be a package to be considered. In that sense, yeah, I knew that I couldn't just make a frontal assault on the legislature. Although it got down

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to that, at the end. At the end, in the final days of that, the educational merits of the issue were just long gone, it was purely political, who's going to win.
As I recall, some of these discussions occurred in the regular session of the legislature, but then you and the legislators agreed to wait for a special session later in the summer, or early fall, probably October. Was that because you didn't have the support at the time, or was it just too much for the legislature to deal with in the regular—?
Some of both. It was a lot to deal with. But part of it was a delaying tactic. The opponents did not want to have a special session, they simply wanted to put it off till the next regular session. And I would have been out of office, and I knew that nothing would happen [unclear] , nothing would happen if they delayed it until I went out of office. So when we didn't have the votes to deal with it then, the legislature, we all knew it was going to be an emotional issue, long-drawn-out, and they didn't want to take it on right then. And this was a compromise worked out with the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house, that we would call a special session.
Now, in between times, of course, I kept lobbying for it, and when we did have the special session, we had meetings of key legislators over at the mansion, you know. There was one late-night thing that went on until after midnight. Bill Friday was there, and [unclear] . And I couldn't get the lieutenant governor, Pat Taylor—he was caught between a rock and a hard place. He was a graduate of Chapel Hill law school, really had a tremendous

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number of friends putting awful pressure on him to not go forward with this. And I never could get him to make up his mind or to agree to go with it until right at the last, and he finally did, but I understood his position. He was trying to—because he was thinking about running for governor. And he did run for governor. So it was an issue that there was no way I could help.
What would you say, of the various issues that you did deal with, were the most difficult issues in terms of getting support from the legislature?
The tobacco tax and the soft drink tax, that's the most difficult one. Well, I don't know, I guess one could say the restructuring of the university system. They were both emotional, strong feelings on both sides. And I had to expend a lot of political capital to get those through. We almost—and I say ‘we’ and ‘they’, my position on those was to [unclear] . Both of those issues.
And what kept that from happening?
Well, just persistent hard work and pulling out all the stops that you have. The saying is today, when you have a senator or a house member that you need to convince to switch their vote, or what they say is going to be their vote, or to persuade to come with us rather than going to the other side, you find out what it is they want—of course they're going to have some things they want—you find out who they'd listen to. Then you call your political folks back home, or the governor himself does the calling, to get legislators' close associates and friends, or a business person in that community, and say, "Can

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you help me with Representative So-and-So? We're having some difficulty persuading him to come to our side on this issue." Well, that business person may have something they want or something done. So you think about maybe in the first two years you have done a favor for somebody, and you get that person in to go talk to that senator and so forth.
Were there any cases, in your relationship with the legislature, where if you had had the veto power, you would have used it?
Yes, I would have vetoed the retirement plans for legislators that they installed for themselves. Not that I disagreed with the retirement plan for the legislators; it was the kind of plan that they had which I felt was far more beneficial to them than the state retirement plan the state teachers and state employees. In other words, it was a better plan. And I didn't think they ought to do that, ought to have a plan for so much, so I would have vetoed that.
And this was still back in the days when there was a part-time legislature. I just wasn't quite sure that that was, that they needed a retirement fund. Because once you get into that, you know, there's some other duties that you want to give the legislature, you've invested in their time.
Is there any possibility that you could not become involved in that because that was seen as a legislative issue and you were not a member of the legislature? Was it sort of a forbidden area for you to try to influence?

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I didn't try to stop it, but I would have vetoed it on that basis. Another thing I probably would have vetoed was a relatively small thing in retrospect, but at the time it irritated me. We had reorganized the executive branch of government and created a cabinet, and I had, as one of the cabinet positions was the department of local government affairs. And the idea was, we would take from the other agencies of government and put all the dealings with local government in that agency in that one agency, a sort of one-stop shopping for local officials and so forth.
Well, that stayed in effect for two years, and then Representative Robert Jernigan of Ahoskie moved to abolish that, for reasons that I don't know to this day. For some reason, he couldn't get the service out of it that he wanted to, and so he had that department abolished, after it was set up for two years. I probably would have vetoed that. That's the only two I can think of right now. There may have been a few others. But I respect the will of the legislature, and it would have to be something that I felt was important before I would do that.
As an executive official, as the chief executive official of the state, did you conclude your relationship with the legislature believing that the legislature was too powerful?
No, I wouldn't say that I felt they were too powerful, although I was beginning to get a sense—and the legislature was moving that way—that they were exercising more and more power than they had historically. They were acting more and more like the Congress of the United States, and distancing themselves from

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the executive branch. They were developing their own staff, physical research, and the legislative committee, the legislative structure in their staffing down there, was one of the fastest areas of state government growth, the legislative staff. They were putting more and more of their own research capabilities into place, the legislative research commission, and the physical staff. They didn't take the word of the executive branch anymore with respect to budgets and all that.
So I could sense that they were moving that direction, and it was inevitable. The legislative sessions were getting longer and longer, they were more prone to come back for certain things, and I just felt like they were moving in that direction. I didn't particularly like it, but I also accepted it.
Did you have any thought, during your service as governor, to try to improve the power of the governor with either the veto power or the right of succession?
Well, I thought about it, but I realized it was not doable, so I didn't extend any capital on that. In fact, I was surprised when Governor Hunt got it done, because I just felt like the legislature's not going to give up that much power to the governor. But I'm glad that the legislature would, except the state itself is changing, people coming in from other states, you know, and we were coming more and more out of isolation, if you will. I've often said, tongue in cheek, that one of the biggest mistakes in the whole scheme of government in the United States was when they started having the National Legislative Conference. The legislators would go, and they'd find out what

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other states are doing, and come back and want to do it here, and pick up an idea or two. I say we should never have let them get together.
But on the governorship, they would have found that they were the exception. I mean on the veto, excuse me.
That's right. When I addressed the legislature at the end of my term, we had a budget surplus, and I recommended that we give a small tax reduction, and something else, I've forgotten, but the legislative leadership at that time said, No, sir. But I was going to be out of office, I wasn't going to be there to defend it. You see, the outgoing governor proposes the budget, and I had that in there. I wasn't in office to defend that concept, so wasn't any point in getting exercised about it.
Let's turn to your leadership of the executive branch of government. What do you think makes it possible for a governor to be effective as a leader?
A governor has to pull people around and have the ability to be an administrator. And I'm thinking now primarily of cabinet posts. And he also has to have a staff that he has confidence in and that can produce. It's true that the governor, or the president of a country, the people that get him or her elected to the office are not necessarily the ones that help to have as his close aides. Now, I don't know of any that do not do that, and I understand why—you know these people, you know their strengths and weaknesses, you're comfortable with them, they know you, they know your agenda, and you know they're loyal. And so you stay with them, whether they have the skills or not. You

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assume that whoever was your PR person during the campaign is going to be a good PR person in the governor's office.
And for the most part I think that's true, but not necessarily true. And your campaign manager may or may not wind up on your staff. The point is, you got to have people around you that you don't have to be looking over your shoulder about, see whether or not they're really following you. You also have to have people around you who are not going to further their own personal agenda by virtue of the fact that they're on the governor's staff. You don't want people who are going to be going around getting things done and says, "The governor says he wants this done," when the governor doesn't know a thing about it. That's where you need a good chief of staff, a good strong chief of staff. They don't like to call them that, but that's what they are. In my case, it was Ben Rooney; I didn't have to worry about him at all, and he made damn sure that that staff didn't get out of bounds in any way.
In terms of the leadership of the administration, again, we generally appointed, I did, people that I knew—they may or may not have been active in the administration. But when I first went in, of course, we didn't have the cabinet form of government. We just had a huge number of boards and commissions. That was one of the reasons that we did need to seek the reorganization of the executive branch of government, is that I was appointing people that I'd never heard of to boards and commissions I didn't know existed. And thus there was no accountability. Some of those boards and commissions didn't want

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the governor to know that they existed. They weren't doing anything particular, but they were out there.
And on more than one occasion, staff people would say, "Governor, you got to make some appointments to the whatever board"—this is not a good example, but the Board of Cosmetic Arts, which controls the beauticians' licenses. And I would look at that, and I would say, "What is this?", they'd say, "Well, that's the Board of Cosmetic Arts, we've got three appointments to make off of that, and here's who's being suggested." And you know, you take ability, or you say, "Well, this lady lived in my community, I believe I'm going to do something for her, and I believe I'll put her on there, instead of this one." And there was no accountability. I couldn't be standing taking the Board of Cosmetic Arts, or whatever it might be, or the Parole Board, or the Board of Probation. So there were a huge number of lines, if you put in on a chart—and you've seen those charts—going to the other points.
So the idea, really, with putting in the cabinet form of government, was the accountability issue. The idea wasn't going to save any money, although we sort of promoted that idea, but actually what you're doing is putting in another layer of government. But, on the other hand, the governor could look that cabinet officer in the eye and hold that cabinet officer responsible. Which in turn, on down the line, would hold the board of whoever's running the probation commission accountable. So it was more of a hierarchical form of government. And it worked much better for me, and I think it works much better today

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than—because government had grown so much. At one time, it was fine like it was.
And then of course the governor has—and this is another thing about the expectations of people out there, they think the governor is the Ayatolla of everything, but he's of course not responsible for the Department of Agriculture or Labor or the Auditor, all of those, even though many people out across the state think he can run that too. So the governor has to be sensitive to the role or responsibility, obligations of these elected Council of State members. I'll never forget, I ran afoul one time—I think maybe I told you this—when I was preparing my State of the State message to give to the legislature, and one of the things I wanted to do was to advocate an increase in the minimum wage law. Well, I had not thought about that, that was the Department of Labor. Frank Crane was the Commissioner of Labor at that time. And when I went to the legislature with my State of the State message, and advocated increased minimum wage, he just nearly went ballistic, and he said, "That's the only thing that I have that I can run on as an issue, and you've taken it away from me." All I could do was apologize.
By and large, did you have much influence over what happens in those departments that are headed by people who are popularly elected?
No. Very little. At least, I didn't try to exercise any. I know that the commissioner of agriculture, Jim Graham, got real upset with my predecessor in office, Governor Dan Moore, because Governor Moore appointed, brought on his staff, Wayne

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Carpening, from Winston-Salem, as his agricultural advisor. Well, the commissioner of agriculture said, "I ought to be his agricultural advisor!" And it was a kind of a turf thing, and I don't know, maybe Governor Moore just wanted Wayne in his administration and give him that title, which sometimes is done. I doubt they really had much thought of responsibilities. So no, I didn't try to do that. Again, I was sensitive to the constitutional responsibilities.
In formulating the budget, which you as governor had the responsibility for doing, would you pretty much accept the requests that came from those departments?
Yes, I didn't sit down with a red pencil and look at that much. As a part of that, you know, it was kind of a thing: "I'll put you in my budget, but if you want if you got to get over there and work for it yourself, you know. It's fine with me if you get it."
So you wouldn't expend any political capital on that either.
No, no. Unless—sometimes you know, if it was something that was extremely important to them and the citizens of the state would come to me and ask for my active support, I can't tell you case right now but it might have been new equipment—

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You said selection of personnel was an important part of being an effective chief executive, and I wanted you to talk, if you would, a little bit about how you went about identifying people to serve in your administration, what criteria you used to make those choices, and why you think that's such an important part of being an effective legislator.
I think now it's more important than I thought then. I guess I knew that, but I realize now how very important it is. And I'm afraid I must confess that I didn't have any particular criteria or checklist. We didn't bother to investigate the backgrounds of people back in those days. They may have had skeletons in their closets. I think, first of all, that I feel that they're capable of doing the job for which they were being considered; secondly, were they people that I felt would be loyal to my agenda, my program. Usually, they were people that I knew—may not have known personally or socially, but I knew them. And third, were they politically correct? Fourth, fifth, whatever that was. Back then it was pretty rare to appoint someone from the other political party. It was a combination of those things.
In my own particular office operation, I had a person, whose name was Wiley Earp, who was on my staff, served as my driver during the campaign, and he wound up being the person who was in charge of appointments to boards and commissions. Now, he didn't make the decisions, but he had this big thick book of every post in the government that had to be filled by the governor. And he would also have all these requests from political friends,

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supporters, and others who wanted a job or wanted an appointment. And his job was to say, "This position needs to be filled, here are the people"—the list he would make up—"the people who are being recommended," and then usually this individual, wiley Earp, and Ben Rooney would get together with me and say, "These are the ones we'd recommend," or "This is the person we recommend". And we'd talk about it, and I'd either go along, or I'd say, "No, I believe I want to put somebody else in there." That was roughly the process we went through.
But sometimes during that entry period—as a matter of fact I did this, after the general election in November, I took a few days' break. I took my campaign staff—Wiley Earp, Ben Rooney, and I think Weldon Denny maybe, I'm not sure whether Weldon was in on that or not. Anyway, we went down to Morehead City, and there's a [unclear] creek, you know—I guess it's in Wilmington. But anyway, there's a nice motel, that's off the beaten path, in Morehead City, a very small motel but a good one. They didn't have a restaurant there, we had to go somewhere else. But we holed up back there for three days, and we put the skeleton of our administration together. Talked about office staff, who was going to do what, and deciding who was going to be the secretaries in the immediate office, and who would be out. These were campaign people, mostly. And we talked about the key appointments, such as who would be asked to be the legislative liaison for the governor's office. Highway commission appointees were important, and usually those that come up right away, like those that serve at the pleasure of the governor. Those others

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who serve a term, it might be June 30th before that opportunity, so we didn't worry too much about that. But basically, we thought about how we were going to function, we began to think about it. We had a speechwriter there, and some things that I wanted to say for the inaugural address. Those kinds of things. And it was getting off to ourselves and knowing when we got back, we'd be deluged with phone calls, all of that, people wanting to get next to the seat of power.
When you identified people to be in major positions, like, say, secretary of the department of administration, which was in existence at that time, are major positions of a policy and substantive nature on your personal staff, did you have much difficulty getting people to serve in positions in the executive branch of government?
No, not really. Now, again, we didn't have all those cabinet posts, and what I did on the policy load, I got a lot of people doing policy, working, and I went out to NC State University to some of the people out there to do some work on environmental legislation I was interested in, and sort of worked that. Now, people who wind up on the highway commission, even as it is today, they were generally strong political supporters out there, these were people who generally had charge of several counties in my political campaign and raised money.
As you know, as we speak, Governor Hunt is dealing with the very issue that you just mentioned, in terms of the composition of what's now called the board of transportation, and there are questions raised about how those people are selected

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and what might influence them in making those decisions. Was that a concern during your administration that you had to deal with?
No, it was not. That was the way they did business then, if you will. Now, what you always hope for is that the people you put in these positions, even though they may have been active in your campaign, raised money or got votes for you or whatever, that when they get in, they're going to be people of personal integrity and will not use the position they have for their personal benefit. I don't see anything wrong at all with having the people who enabled you to get in office, to be elected, from being rewarded, in a sense, for their efforts—the patronage system, I think, there's nothing wrong with that. It's where the individuals come in, and sometimes there's no way you can know this, but once they get there, then they don't see the difference between doing something that, yes, it does benefit the public, alright, but it also benefits them. And they say, "Well, yeah, but if it benefits others too…" It's the perception, you know. And sometimes they fail to see that, and get you in trouble. You just hope that that doesn't happen. I had it happen to me a couple of times, on the highway commission. In one instance, a man who's very well-thought of today, and was then, a great benefactor of Western Carolina University, he ran the rock quarry, and he sold the state some gravel for a road, and it was documented and proven that it was far cheaper for the state to buy from him was because was close to the, his gravel pit was near the place it was being done. And if they had gotten

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it from somebody else, it would have cost them considerably more. But that didn't matter. And so I asked him to resign, or he volunteered to resign. It was the perception. He did benefit from it personally. And there was one other down at Greenville. And I did have to ask him to resign.
So, I'm getting philosophical here, what boggles me about all this concern and the media attention on the department of transportation today in 1998—if the governor can't in some way reward those, and I'm not talking about monetarily, but recognize those who labored hard to get him elected governor, then what reason is there to try to get somebody? You don't work that hard just because you like somebody, as a general rule. And you say, "Well, maybe you ought to have some other process by which you appoint these people." If the governor can't set up his administration like he wants to, with people he has confidence will follow his policies and so on, this is to me a very, very difficult thing to govern. What you're apt to do is hope, try as best you can and hope that you get people in there who will have a high sense of ethics. Now, admittedly, our society and our culture's changing, and I don't know, maybe the old way doesn't work any more. I don't know.
Near the end of your term, you did have the cabinet positions in place, and you did have the opportunity to appoint a full cabinet before you left the office. Did you ever run into situations where you wanted to have particular people in positions in the cabinet, but either because of salary or because

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of the public nature of the position and the giving up of their private lives, they were unwilling to serve?
I don't think I knew of any one case of that. One reason, when we went to the cabinet form, I only had a couple of years, and a number of them were willing to take it on for that period of time, as probably an interesting challenge to them. And also, by that time, I was able to go to people that weren't all that active in my campaign, because I'd already had two years, a lot of these people were already in place. An example would be when you created the department of cultural resources, what is today the department of government resources, I got the late Sam Ragan. Sam was not—he was a friend, and a supporter, but he was not a political person in that sense, but somebody that was respected, and it was a good appointment. The department of administration, let's see, I got Fritz Mills to head that up. He was a former legislator, and I don't recall that he did anything—he was a supporter of mine, in the legislature [unclear] , but he wasn't all that great out in the political world campaigning for me. So I didn't have anybody really to turn that down, that I'm aware of.
So whether it was personal staff in the governor's office, so to speak, or major executives in the departments, you did not really experience any problems in recruiting key personnel in your administration.
No. There were a few, you know, whether for business reasons or personal reasons, didn't want to come to Raleigh. Just preferred not to be a part of it. I'm not sure that that

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issue ever came directly to me because staff usually found that out.
One other person in the executive branch of government I want you to talk about. We talked a little bit about this position the last time, but it's different, I suppose, whenever you're the governor. How would you describe your relationship with the lieutenant governor, Pat Taylor? While you were governor?
It was very cordial, and not particularly close, but cordial and friendly and cooperative.
Did you use him as, in a sense, a lieutenant of yours in the legislature, or maybe in the senate?
No, although I tried to get his support, obviously, on the bills going through, and generally he did. And I had two relationships with two good speakers of the house. But the lieutenant governor's office, I remember asking him to do something one time. I said, "Pat, I got to find something for you to do." And he said, "Governor, I'm doing more than I want to do now!" But I wasn't—nor did he seek to have a higher visibility, I think. Back then it was understood that when the session was over, you go back home to your profession. And he did that. Of course, at some point in time he, like I did, decided he wanted to run for governor, I guess. But yes, we had a cordial relationship. There was only one time that he was really in a rock and hard place, on the issue of restructuring the university system. And Pat always gave me a fair hearing, as it were. The tobacco tax and all those issues—he, like anybody

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in that position, if it was an unpopular thing he wouldn't necessarily come out and openly oppose it or anything, he'd try to help me behind the scenes with his committee appointments and all that.
So you didn't find either any major role for him in administration, nor any resistance from him to your program, through his position.
No, I don't recall that at all.
One last thing on the executive leadership that I wanted to talk with you about—we've touched on this some. This is the question of ethics, in every administration. I would assume that most governors come to the position with some idea of what kind of ethics they want to distinguish their term and the behavior of the people that serve during their administration. What I'm interested in is whether you came to office with some kind of an ethical code, and how realistic that proved to be.
Well, I think I did, and I don't think it was such a conscious code; it was just build in, as a part of the value system I had, again, going back to my youth here in the rural community, with the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant upbringing. The work ethic was strong. I expected a person to be as good as their word, and those things that were instilled into me by my parents, mostly by example, some by instruction, by my church and by my community and my teachers. So, yeah, I had that. You know, I didn't weigh every decision. I'm sure those values were in play, but I wasn't conscious of them.

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I had an interesting experience one time in the governor's office. This was in the early days, when I was beginning to make appointments. And by the way, back then, I think it's still true to some extent today, the governor takes office early in January, and of course his immediate focus is getting ready for the inauguration, the inaugural address, and then when the legislature convenes, the State of the State message to the legislature. And the staff, what they were working on was this appointments business. So a lot of people are coming, saying, "I would like to be appointed this," or somebody would be coming on their behalf. And I had this man who was an active supporter of mine, contributed, I don't know, not a huge amount of money, but—, and was a respected businessperson. And came to me, and—in fact, during the campaign, he was very interested in the highway commission. He had a master plan for highway development in North Carolina, it was a concept he had, as somewhat like—what is it they call it today? The highway plan is the five-year plan or the ten-year plan that they have today. Well, he had one in his mind, and his idea was major corridors here and there [unclear] . And he had talked to me about that during the campaign, trying to get me to incorporate the idea into my speeches.
After I was elected, he came to talk to me, and I was never so shocked in all my life, that this individual offered me five thousand dollars, cash, if I would appoint him to the highway commission. Now, I'm convinced to this day that he did not do this for personal gain. He lived in the city, and as far as I knew most of his money was in stocks and bonds. But he was

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really hung up on this plan he had, and he thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. And what he wanted to do was be in a position to implement that plan. He made that offer to me in the governor's office. And I could hardly even respond to the man, I was so surprised and shocked. And I told him that, well, he didn't have to offer me, I was either going to do it or not do it, and I had not made up my mind on who the members of my highway commission were going to be, and I appreciated his interest and understood he was interested in highways in the state and so forth. But when he did that, I knew I did not want him. He sealed his fate right then and there.
Now, I'm not saying that to make me look good and all that, but those kinds of things—I abhor anybody who uses a position of power and influence, or who will try to buy that power and influence, for their own good. I fuss at somebody, they can make a wrong judgement about a lot of things, but if they misuse the powers of their office, I don't have much use for them. Also, when a person tells me something, I expect them to try as best they can to fulfill that, even though they may not actually be able to for reasons they can't control. Good faith. And loyalty, I put a lot of stock in loyalty.
Going back to your previous question about my appointees, of course, every governor goes through the business of getting a lame duck, at some point in time, and of course in my case that came in my fourth year. And I could sense the pulling away, even by my cabinet people that I had appointed. It got so bad that, I think it was in November or December before my term of office

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ended, that I called them all together, over in the auditorium of the state library, and closed the doors, and laid the law down to them, if you will, and said that I was going to be governor until my successor took the oath of office, they'd better understand that, and since they served at my pleasure, I didn't care if it was two days before I went out of office, I would replace them. That was in some ways a threat. But I wanted to remind them of that. Loyalty, to me, is very, very important. There have been some who have, in some ways, criticized my administration a little bit, friends who said, "You were loyal to a fault. You were loyal to your people." Well, you do something for me, I'll be loyal to you. I don't mean to sound sanctimonious about all that. That's part of my feeling. And it goes back to this thing about the values and ethics.
Hard work—I was instilled with the work ethic, and I brought that to my office. My wife, honestly, in [pause] —no, I guess this was when I was head of the community colleges, later on. She got the staff, unknown to me, together and told them to make room for me to have some rest, some [unclear] , stop running me… They said, "But he's the one—!"
"He's running us", huh?
So the work ethic was strong, and integrity and honesty.
Based on your experience, as governor, with ethical considerations, what do you think are the greatest obstacles or temptations that people in public office have to face, to good ethical behavior?

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Well, there's always, if not overt, the implied opportunities for figures for money, buying influence, buy— [unclear] you could buy a decision, but most people, at least at that time, were not that rash about it. So I think that's the temptation.
Obviously, in today's time, it might have been Bill Clinton's problem. The questions of moral values. And I told my class at NC State the other night, I teach a class on leadership and theories of leadership. But one of the things I said that's always around people of power and influence, you've got these groupies out there, that just like to be right next to the throne, to be able to touch the garment, to be the smiling face over the shoulder when the picture's taken or the camera's on. And men—if it's a woman office holder, I'm sure it's the same thing—men, the girls, the women let them know their favors are available. And they want to bask in the glory, you know, to be part of it. There's something about that aura of authority and power that attracts them. So one has to be aware of that, and I think a lot of how you deal with that is how you were brought up. In Bill Clinton's case, I don't know, I just know that there's a possibility, there's always that possibility, and I'm sure much more so in his situation.
Did it concern you that you might wake up on any day of your administration and something—not necessarily the type of situation that Mr. Clinton is involved in, but some kind of ethical or moral concern, problem would emerge?
No, I didn't, you know, worry about that too much. What I did worry about—well, you couldn't let it worry you, you

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had to go on and work, but I was afraid that I'd wake up some morning and read something in the paper about one of my staff people.
Yeah, that's what I was meaning, that it was occurring in your administration.
Yeah. Because I'm in Ashford, speaking at the opening session of the Farm Bureau Federation or some organization, and I'm going from there on down to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet with the Coastal Plains Regional Commission, and it might be three days before I get back to the office. Somebody's back there, running the shop. And that's why you need that good strong chief of staff, because you're out waving the flag and doing the public stuff, and you just hope to God somebody's back there minding the shop and doing it well. And you hope that, in the day-to-day operations of things, that some staff member is not misusing the state car, driving it home for personal reasons.
But you did not face that. Even though it was a possibility.
No, [unclear] . We had a couple of close calls. I think I told you in an earlier interview that one of my staff persons was having long parties and so forth, and he realized that he'd had too much to drink, so he called a patrol car to take him home. Well, that was better than driving and hurting somebody, sure. But because this individual worked in the governor's office, [unclear] . And should have. But my chief of staff said, "Don't you ever do that again. You just get you a taxi, and I'll pay for it if

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you don't have money." He realized the public's perception of what that might cause.
You mentioned, at the beginning of today's interview, that one of the things that impressed you was the chief justice saying that you would uphold the law of the nation and the state and the constitution. And we've talked about appointments, we've talked about legislative responsibilities, we've talked about ethical considerations in your administration. Do we expect too much of one person, the governor of the state?
Boy, I don't know. I've never had a question put to me like that. Expectations are pretty high, but that's partly the fault of the process, the candidate raises the expectations. "If you elect me, I'll do these things!" And so we may—I think we do expect the officeholder, the governor, the president in particular, and yes, the lieutenant governor, because the lieutenant governor [unclear] —we expect more because we don't understand the process, we don't understand the restrictions, the limitations on their power, on the office of governor. The governor may, indeed, really want to do that, but finds out that, for whatever reason, it simply can't be done. So it was not done. There comes then the disappointment on those who expected him to do thus-and-so, and consequently it builds cynicism. And I think that's part of the reason why there is a lot of cynicism in the government today.
I had a fellow, just this past week, I happened to run into him and he told me he retired from state government here locally; he worked as a heavy equipment operator for the state highway

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commission. He was thirty years in it, and retired January the 31st. And he asked me, "Do you ever see Governor Hunt any more?" And I said, "Well, not really, except at meetings, where, you know, we speak, and he goes on, and I'm in the audience, and he's up on stage giving a talk. I don't really see him." He said, "Well, when you see him next time, you tell him that he doesn't have but three more years to give us a chance to vote on the lottery." You know, I don't know that Governor Hunt's ever said he'd give us a chance to vote on the lottery, but if he did, that's for the legislature to decide, not him! And, you see, his expectation was, because somehow he had it in his mind that the governor was going to let us vote to see if the state would put on a lottery. And, oh, heavens, I ran into that a lot of times, the expectations of people. And I think elected officials, because we are in a democracy, and the powers are dispersed, and so the governor being the most visible, that the people expect more of that officeholder, the person in that office, and then when he can't wave a magic wand to cause things to happen, then they become disappointed and cynicism is apt to rise to the fore.
Are people willing to accept a governor's explanation of his inability to do things?
Well, I don't know. People want you to be honest, frank, above-board, and yet they don't. If you are, you'll never get elected. I was asked this question not long after I finished my term as governor. I was making a talk locally to a group, and we had a question and answer period afterwards, and near the end of that question-and-answer period, someone asked me, "If you

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were running for"—remember, this is right after I completed my term in office, not long after—"If you were running for office again, would you be this frank, and honest, and open with us?" And I said, "Well, I'm not sure that I would. I would not be dishonest with you, but I'm not sure I'd be quite as open and frank. Because one of the questions you asked me earlier was, how important, in the scheme of state government, is the office of secretary of state? And I told you, Not very. I said, It's a constitutional office, it's been there since the constitution was adopted, people think about it: well, you have a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer. But in this case, the secretary of state opens the general assembly and keeps certain records"—of course, it's become a little more powerful, with the merchant code they put in there, but even so. But I said, "I wouldn't have said that if you'd asked me in a public forum, because I don't want to offend the secretary of state, or his friends, or his supporters that elected him. I'll make them mad at me because I said the office didn't amount to anything. So I'm not playing as honest and open with you. I'm not going to say that it's not, that it's unimportant, you see." So I'm not sure I could get elected again, because it's the only power they have.
And besides, and let's assume I had maybe fifteen million dollars to run a campaign, which precludes my ever running again anyway, I tend to be frank and a little bit abrupt. I don't have the finesse that some do. You would think after all these years of giving speeches, I would've made the effort to improve that.

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I tend more to say what I think now than—. I think, without sounding egotistical—or being egotistical; it might sound egotistical—I think I'd make a better governor now, because I have a better sense of priority, of what's important. A lot of stuff now would roll off my back that used to perhaps get me bent out of shape a little bit when I was governor. Partly that comes from maturity, of course.
And experience?
And experience. But I wouldn't like it in particular, but I wouldn't get bent out of shape if I got unfavorable editorials about something. And I realize that this is an opinion of a group of people sitting around a table deciding what the editorial policy was going to be by five votes, you know.
It's not everybody out there.
But if I didn't have to go through the throes of a campaign, I think I might like to try it for another four years. I think about that for about fifteen seconds.
Even though you know the expectations are very great.
Yeah. But one of the reasons I think I wouldn't get elected is because I would tell folks, "There's no way I can do that." Well, they'll go on with somebody who says they can. I remember very well Terry Sanford—I use this in Chapel Hill, sometimes, with students—I'll never forget, when Terry Sanford was campaigning for governor in 1960, he was way up in the western part of the state, Cherokee County or some place up there, and he made a statement, he was strong on rural roads, he wanted to continue Kerr Scott's program, and there were still a

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lot of rural roads that hadn't been paved. And he, according to the news cast, made a statement in a speech up there, that he wanted to pave all the school bus routes in the state. But man, there wasn't that much money in the state treasury, if you took it all. Maybe he didn't realize how much money he was talking about, or he thought he was way up there in the mountains and nobody would hear it, but some reporter picked it up and it made the wire services. "Sanford is going to pave all the school bus routes in the state." And I thought at the time, good heavens! What did that man say? Well, you know, there was no retraction of it anywhere.
Got caught up in the spirit of the campaign.
Yeah, and when he gets elected and we don't get the school bus route paved through this community, well, you know, it was just a political promise. So all that breeds some skepticism and cynicism.
You know, that's one of the reasons, Dr. Fleer, that I enjoy my little bit of teaching. I've come to know what you as a professional have known for many years: there's an immense satisfaction in being able to pass along, to future leaders and potential future leaders, whatever experience and knowledge you have had, hoping that it will enhance their ability to lead. I'd always heard about this, I heard about it from my mother, who was a teacher, my wife who was a teacher, but I never experienced that until I got into a classroom. I understand now.
I think this is a good time to end.

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Governor, every governor in the United States referred to as a titular head of a political party, because of a number of authorities and powers that governors have. How important was this particular role to you in your service as governor?
In my public role, it was important. In my personal role, it wasn't, in my personal thinking. I realized and respected, and still do, that the party is the mechanism in our democracy by which one acquires public office, and I'm a strong believer in the two-party system, so long as the Democratic party is in the majority. No, really, it is good to have a two-party system, and now that I'm not active in the political life, I can say that I think North Carolina is better, probably, by having a two-party system. However, one must remember that when the Democratic party was in power for so many years, the first part of this century, they had a two-party system, it was just fought out within the Democratic party, that is, the liberals and the conservatives within the party.
But I never paid much attention to party politics, entirely. I didn't really care who was going to be the chairman of the party in a given county, didn't really care who was chairman of the state party, although as governor, clearly I did exert great influence on who that person would be. It just wasn't that important to me in the scheme of things. Others felt it was terribly important.
My feeling is that there are two ways in which one can participate in the political process. One way is through the

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party mechanism, by being active in precinct work, the county convention, the district and the state conventions, campaigning for the office of the state Democratic executive committee, or to be the chairman of the county party, whatever. And get deeply involved in writing the party platform, passing resolutions at the county convention. I never did really care for that, it didn't bother me. I don't think I've ever read a party platform. The other way one participates is by being a candidate for a public office, whether it's the county commissioner, or sheriff, or legislature, or state office. That was the route that I chose. It wasn't a conscious decision; I just never had— probably wouldn't have been interested in doing it otherwise.
So I did what I felt obligated to do, as governor, for the party, that is to say, attend fundraisers, to make the appointments to the office of the national committee, get my person in as the party chair. And those were interesting exercises, but in the scheme of things I really didn't think it was that important. The reason I didn't think the party platform was all that important, because a person who campaigns for the office of governor, he has his agenda; that agenda becomes the governor's platform. It is conceivable that the state party platform which would be adopted would be at odds with the governor's platform. And so to prevent that embarrassment, you want to be certain that you allies are in control of the party apparatus. And therein lies one of the main reasons that I was as active as I was in party activities. I really didn't care that much about what went on at the national level, party-wise; I

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just hoped that there would be somebody nominated for president that we could live with politically.
Did you ever use, or attempt to use, the resources of the party to help in the identification and election of legislators for the state general assembly? Was that a part of what you did?
No, I never did get involved in that. I didn't worry about that. I say I didn't worry about it; I was interested in who was going to get elected to the legislature, but party resources—are you speaking here of the parties in politics, Democrats or Republicans?
That's right.
No, only in the sense that I would attend and support party fundraisers, and you know, political rallies and do all that. But in retrospect, I suspect that was as much for myself as it was for the party as a whole.
Those rallies were for yourself. So that trying to develop a following that would be sympathetic to your political interest and your political agenda in the legislature was not something that you—
That wasn't really a factor. And along that line, when I completed my term as governor and left office, I made no effort to keep a political organization. I really thought I was through with that, I didn't see an opportunity and didn't particularly want to go to Washington as a senator or a house member. I went up there for two years in party administration, but I didn't really like that. So I didn't attempt to keep an

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organization going, nor work all that hard in the party, although again I felt an obligation to participate in functions of the party. For several years I would go to the state conventions of the Jefferson-Jackson dinners and Vance-Aycock dinners. But it wasn't too long before I didn't even bother to do that. I don't go anymore.
Do you think that if you had been eligible to run for reelection, that party would have been a more important thing for you?
Yeah, oh, yeah. And I appreciate the fact that the Democratic party gave me the opportunity to serve. It was the mechanism, it was the apparatus by which I could reach that point. And if I had had an opportunity to run again, I expect I would have been a little more diligent in trying to strengthen the party than I was. Interesting enough, there was a call on my voice-mail now by the newly designated party chairman Barbara [unclear] wanting me to talk about the party and what I think needs to be done, and I'm sure she's doing this for a number of people, including former party officials and so on. And that's good. But I never did really worry about that too much. It just wasn't that high on my priorities of things to do.
Your term as governor was succeeded by the first Republican elected as governor in the twentieth century in North Carolina, and some would argue, at least in part, that that was due to some division within the Democratic party. Do you believe that, if you had given the role of the party greater attention,

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you might have been able to either prevent those divisions or somehow heal those wounds more?
Maybe, but I really doubt it. Certainly not to the extent that it would have prevented the election of a Republican, the first one in this century, following my administration. That change was coming. We might have been able to delay it for four years, but the demographics, the data shows that this was just a continuation of a trend toward a two-party system that had begun, I don't know, soon after World War II. Perhaps during the years of Harry Truman, back in those times. So it was going to happen. National politics affected that considerably at that time, which precipitated—probably gave the edge that Holshouser needed to be elected governor.
An interesting event, footnote, was that just a few weeks before the general election, in 1972, Holshouser was running against Skipper Bowles. I was speaking at the Jaycee state convention in Winston-Salem. And Jim Holshouser was there to campaign. He was not on the program, but he was moving around the crowd, and following the program, he came up and spoke to me. I was down on the floor, I was getting ready to head back home. But oddly for some reason, for about five minutes, we were there alone, even though there were lots of other people in the room. And I said, "Jim, how do you feel about it?" And he said, "You know, I just might win." And I said, "Well, I think you might be right." And he looked somewhat startled, because at that time the trend was running in his favor, the tide was moving and was gaining momentum. And the question was, would it move fast

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enough in the short few days he had left to give him the margin of victory. Of course, nobody could tell. But I had had a report from my staff person Ben Roney, who kept up with that sort of thing, and he had just finished a telephone survey among our people around of the state: "What do you think? How's it look?" And he had just told me, just before I went to that meeting, "It looks like Holshouser is going to win." So that was the reason I was able to say, "I think you might be right." And I don't know whether Jim Holshouser remembers that conversation, but I clearly do, and I can take you to the part where we were standing there, in the middle of the floor, in front of the podium, talking about that. And it was interesting to see that tide coming.
Well, going back to your question, the party has been good to me and my family, and I believe in loyalty, and because it has afforded my father and me and others in my family an opportunity, the means by which we could participate in government, the political process, and make a contribution through elective office, I'll be a Democrat. I may not think philosophically—if I had not done that, if family had not been involved, I expect I would've been one of those folks who'd split my ballot.
You're identified with, some would argue, a sort of progressive element in the Democratic party, and some would argue that that has become the dominant element in the Democratic party. With your experience as lieutenant governor and governor, did you give thought to running for public office beyond 1972?

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Not really. Most governors—sometimes the governors, during their term of office and in the course of some of the national Democratic conventions and/or other national matters, there's a little bit of speculation that they might be a candidate for president or a running mate, more likely, for someone. There were two or three speculations like that about me, but I never took those seriously, and I didn't give it any serious thought because it just didn't seem to be in the cards. And I didn't have the organizational skills, and I guess I just didn't have the ego or the drive to want to do that. To be honest about it, and I really wasn't aware of this until some few months after I left the governor's office, but I had pretty much burned out. And I don't think I would have been emotionally ready to take on another campaign right away.
Now, you did in fact decide to run in 1980 for governor, against the incumbent governor, Jim Hunt. Could you talk a little bit about that decision and that experience, in terms of its impact upon the well-being of the Democratic party in the state?
I'll take the last part of that first. I don't know what impact, if any, it had upon the Democratic party; I suspect very little. In retrospect, politically, it was a dumb mistake. There was really no reason any rational person would, unless [unclear] —there's no reason that any person—politically that had experience would try that. Two things I think had occurred. First of all, I had been out of politics a little bit, and I'd gone to Washington and worked in the Carter administration for

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two years as party chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. And I didn't realize how much the state was changing demographically, the influx of people coming in from other states who were not Southern Democrats, and we often said that a Northern Republican and a Southern Democrat were about the same thing. But I didn't realize how much it was changing. It was brought home to me during the campaign, when I was on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. And—how many years had it been since I'd left the governor's office?
Eight years.
Eight years. And nobody knew who I was! And I began to realize then that there were an awful lot of people who, if they hadn't moved into the state, they'd become of voting age, that eight years was a lot—that's a sizeable chunk of the electorate. Now, another reason, though, that I wanted to run, or one of the reasons that I wanted to run, was not a valid reason to run for anything. I really kind of wanted to test the power of the incumbency. And I found out very quickly. But it was not only the incumbency; Jim Hunt just had far better organizational skills, he had a tight organization, well under control, and I was never very much of a control person. All the people that I had had supporting me had gone on to other things; a good number of them were Jim Hunt people. And it caused them considerable heartburn that I would come back and try to run again. And I hadn't really thought it through, I guess. So I started—it was a dumb thing to do. Halfway through the

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campaign, I realized that I had made a mistake. But you're in it; you have to swim as much as you can, as hard as you can.
Now, that particular decision, of course, was taken in the context of a very important change in the office of the governorship, that is the right of a governor to seek reelection. Of course, you didn't have that option whenever you were in the position. And in addition to that, since you've left the office, the office of governor has been given the veto power, very recently. As you think about your own administration and the four years that you have served, do you think of any differences it would have made if yoiu had been given either of those authorities as governor? Are those important changes in the office of the governor?
They are. They're fundamental. You know, one can only speculate what one would do, if they had the opportunity to run again and if they had the veto power. I think the opportunity to run again would have impacted perhaps some of the decisions in my first term as governor. Everything I said and everything I did would have been predicated on how it's going to play in the next election. Not everything, but most major things. I perhaps would not have been quite as bold and daring; I may not have ventured asking for a tobacco tax, because there was a block of voters I probably got, by and large, in the first go-round, because of my agricultural background and because of my dad. But I sure as heck wouldn't have gotten them in the next go-round. So I would have been thinking about the next election. That's a negative to giving two terms. The other side of that

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coin is that you strive mightily to do good in your first term so you'll earn the voters' support for the next election. So I don't know whether one offsets the other or not.
Perhaps Ben Moore intended to strengthen the party, particularly if they had been aware of the rising tide of the Republican party, [unclear] the possibility of me being elected. As far as the veto part is concerned, it wouldn't have made as much difference then as it probably would now, particularly because you had a legislature of the same party. Now, that is, with the two-party system in the state, I think it's well the governor does have the veto power.
The two-party system we talked about a moment ago is fine, and I'm all for that, provided it doesn't lead to gridlock, and one can't predict that, really. If it's so close that there's gridlock—and we saw it happen in Congress, we haven't seen it in the state, but obviously the smoothness and the rapidity with which legislation is acted is adversely effected by that having one house Democratic and one house Republican. It would be far better to the entire legislature one party.
Of course, those two things, the veto and the right of succession, were absent when you were governor. Were there other powers or authorities that you would have hoped for as governor, that would have helped you be a more effective governor?
I think the governor can do a better job being an administrator if the appointments that he or she makes would be at the pleasure of the governor rather than for a specified term. You appoint a person for a specified term, of course, they're

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there, and there's not much you can do about it. It's very awkward and cumbersome, time-consuming process to remove—have to be removed for cause. The governor can't just say, "Listen, I thought you were going to do a better job than you're doing, and you're not, so I'm going to ask you to step down." You can't do that on most appointments.
I don't think it's—the big change that I see from that time till now, of course, is the fact that the legislature has involved itself more and more in the affairs of the executive branch, one of which is to say that they, the legislators, are going to be represented on most these boards that are appointed, commissions that are appointed. In fact, they almost dominate some of them. Well, that's the executive branch's role, as I see it, unless it's the committee set up by the administration itself. But they want their presence made on all those boards. And I'm not an attorney, but I think that that becomes a constitutional issue. It did become—
It did, in the 1980s, the separation of powers issue.
Right. And I think that's still there, I think the legislature's skating real close to the edge when they insist on getting on these executive branch boards. The veto power probably will come more and more into use as we get used to it.
I don't think it's been used yet. That is, in the sense that anything has been vetoed.
I don't think so either. And Governor Hunt—well, let's see. Last full session, he was in—he'd already been elected at that time.

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That's right. He's just had the one year, 1997, in which he has had the right to veto.
One of the things about the power of the governor—many people think of it as great, maybe very great, and yet, as governor, did you feel that you were a powerful person?
Only in the sense of satisfying my ego. [Laughter] In a practical way, no, I never felt that, and I don't think the governor of North Carolina has ever been a very powerful governor. One could point to certain governors who accomplished a number of things. But that was by the power of persuasion and by political skills, not by the power given to them by authority. The governor's power in relation to that of the legislative branch has, I think, historically been weak in this state. And even with the veto power now, it's still weak, because it's not a strong veto. It's limited. Very much.
And then, again, with the legislature imposing itself on activities of the executive branch more and more by virtue of naming their members as boards and commissions. An example is the state board of community colleges. Well, the law was amended to provide that two members of that board come from the senate and two members come from the house. And they don't control the board, but they're on there. Or they are, you know, requiring more and more that gubernatorial appointments be confirmed by the senate. Those kinds of things—what I'm saying is, the legislature has increased its own powers through law, not the constitution but through law, in relation to the powers of the governor. Which makes the governor, even though they gave him

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the veto power, relatively speaking, he's still a weak—the office is rather weak in its power and authority.
The legislature has gotten more and more into executive branch affairs through the budget process, and by the, what do they call it, the footnotes to the budget, where they'll say, "X million dollars hereby appropriated for thus-and-so", and then they got—it's not the footnotes, what do they call it. Anyway, they're right down there in the fine print, "and it shall be thus-and-so", and they dictate how that money's going to be spent, right on down the line. Which is legal, it's their right to do it, but the governor asks for X number of dollars for state parks, OK? The legislature appropriates X number of dollars for state parks, and the proviso is that of this amount of money, so many hundred thousand dollars will go to this particular state park, which happens to be in the home county of the chairman of the appropriations committee. Those ought to be executive decisions, but in fact they are legislative decisions.
So, getting back to your original question, I think the governor of North Carolina's powers still, relative to the legislature, are weak.
How much influence did you have within the executive branch—not talking about the legislature, but within the executive branch—to shape what you wanted to happen, during your term?
I think there the governor's influence is much greater. Even though we had the long bout with the elected Council of State members, those—at least at that time, and still

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is, they are a number from the same party. And so there is a cooperative spirit, it is not partisan. And it's not a problem for the governor if, you know, you use normal communication skills and being cooperative on matters, it's not difficult for the governor to exert influence.
Would it be better, in your judgment, in hindsight, for those positions not to be elected?
Yes. I've long thought that we ought to have a short ballot. And I think that we ought to have an independently elected state auditor, an independently elected state treasurer, secretary of state—well, you know, every organization's got to have a secretary, so I think tradition, there's something traditional about that, we like to think of our secretary of state. But the commissioner of insurance, of agriculture, of labor, so on—many of those others could very well be appointed offices.
Attorney-general ought to be separate, it ought to be independent. Let's see, what are there, nine?
Nine, including the lieutenant governor.
Well, I don't know that lieutenant governor needs to be elected, really, if you run as a ticket, as a team, because the lieutenant governor doesn't have any powers anymore.
And furthermore, I think that—I wish that they would do something about the election of the judicial branch. I just think that's an anachronism from years gone by.
You think they should be appointed?

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Some means—and I'm not certain just how. I think the Chief Justice's plan, the report of the Exum committee, Jim Exum, the former chief justice, I think it was pretty sound, as best as I understand it. Some modification of the Missouri Plan, as they call it. I'd like to see that happen. There's bound to be—you're never going to get politics out of it, as long as you're dealing with people. The question is, whose politics? So I think the justice system would be better served in that way. In particular now that the rules have been relaxed, and I deplored seeing partisan politics coming into judiciary debate, and that the bench is going to be elected on the emotional issues like whether they favor or oppose abortion and those kinds of things. But it's difficult for anyone to go to the people and say, "We're not going to let you vote on that."
That's a powerful argument.
It's a powerful argument, and it plays well out across the state.
A few questions to end with, on looking back on your service as governor. When you became governor, I assume you had a notion, if not a formally written statement, about what you wanted to accomplish. Were you able to accomplish what you wanted to?
[pause] Heh! I'm trying to think back, what it was, why I ran. [Laughter] Let's put it this way. I'm satisfied, I'm pleased with what we were able to do. I wish we could have done more. I think we could have done more, provided we had had the opportunity and the time to do so.

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As I stated earlier, in one of the earlier interviews, that the times in which we lived required us to give so much time and attention and effort to the matters of civil unrest, caused by students being upset about the Vietnam War, about civil rights, the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and President Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy and all that. The marching in the streets, the fires, the calling out of the National Guard, all of those things that consumed so much of our attention. And one can only speculate what we might have been able to do, had we been able to devote those energies and that time to more positive things. I've heard said, many times, that the great story of North Carolina will never be told, because it didn't happen. I refer, of course, to—we didn't have the larger tragedies that some other states experienced with respect to civil rights issues, activism. We had our problems, we didn't get by without them, but we were able to prevent a lot of things from happening that were just on the verge of exploding.
So I guess in that sense I feel very good about it, but the history books will never show it. So I think we could have done more, and I'm not sure where that would have been. And yet we were able to do some things.
Well, when we think about a couple of things we've mentioned earlier, specifically, say, for example, the tobacco tax. Has that met the purpose and the goals that you thought it would, whenever you proposed it and worked hard to get it to pass?

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Yes, it did. We were able to get the money, and we did in fact lay the groundwork for the public school kindergarten system by getting these demonstration units going, and starting the training for public school kindergarten teachers, and all those things. It didn't show up much until it began to show up in the Holshouser administration more. But we were able to get it started.
And I feel that the School of Veterinary Medicine, at NC State, was decided in my office, and I think people know that. When I approved the program for a department of veterinary science at NC State, which was the forerunner of the veterinary medical school. And we knew that that was the way we were going to go about it. Some years later, when the school was established and the ribbon-cutting was going on, and dignitaries were there, I got a hurry-up phone call from somebody, and the powers that be over there were chagrined, because the new dean they'd brought in didn't remember my role in it, and somebody had told them, said, "Well, why isn't Governor Scott here? It started there, in his office." The young lady was just apologetic all up one side and down the other. But anyway.
What about the restructuring of the higher education system?
The restructuring of the higher education system, yes, that, and we got a school of medicine at East Carolina University—I don't think it started in my administration, but— it may have, I just don't remember. But anyway, there were things. Yeah, we got some things done, and we did bring a little

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but of order out of the executive branch of government, through restructuring.
And the little things that give me personal satisfaction to this day. I don't know whether you ever read the book The Longview. There's a summary, admittedly put together by one of our staff, of our administration. I'll give you a copy of it— and it's basically a synopsis of what we did in various departments, environmental law, roads, things like that. And there's a chapter on little things. And I'll give you a quick example. And to this day, every time I go to Ocracoke, I take pride, I go by and see that little school there. Well, I didn't build the school. Hyde County, of course, is an economically poor county—rich in many ways, but economically poor. And they don't have enough students out on Ocracoke to have a valid school. So they finally got up some money to build, somehow or another, through grants and all that, to build a nice modern schoolhouse, grades one through twelve, I think—at that time it might have been one through seven, because they could take them by ferry to Hatteras. Anyway, nice new modern house, but it didn't have any equipment. They spent all the money they had to build the building, together with the federal grants. And they pleaded with me to try to help them and Craig Phillips, who was Secretary of Public Instruction at that time, told me about the situation, and said, "You know, they've got this nice modern school there, they've got some good teachers…"

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…and I said, "Can't we find some money somewhere to buy some equipment, some visual aids, projectors, audiovisual stuff?" And he said, "I've got my people looking, we just don't have any." And I said, "I tell you what we'll do." I said, "All these people, these companies, have these big contracts with schools. They're making a pile of money off the state. What we're going to do, we're going to call them in here and say, ‘Now, you can afford to give a projector or two to this school, and you can afford to provide some blackboards, we called them then, chalkboards.’ And on down the line. And say, ‘If you don't, you better be careful about where you think you're going to get your next contract. And if you do, it doesn't mean you're going to get the next contract, but you're going to get a lot of good publicity out of it.’ " And that's why, at that time, that became of the best-equipped schools in North Carolina. Well, that gave me immense satisfaction.
Another was getting a water system for a little community way up in the mountains, who had the mica mines up there, close down. And with it, the water system. So the only way they could get water was walking up to the springs

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in the mountains and bringing the water down. They didn't qualify for a federal program, any particular program. But we patched together—I put one person full-time on that, and we patched together enough federal programs to get them a water system up there. For ten, fifteen years after I left the governor's office I would get a letter every year, on the anniversary date of the opening of that water system, thanking me for what we did. Well, most other parts of the state didn't know and didn't care about all that, but it gave me a big satisfaction, because to me, that exemplified what government can do for people.
And I have a very strong feeling that that's the purpose of government: to help those who, for whatever reason, cannot find the resources to help themselves. People in this state, they will help themselves if they can, but when they can't, seems to me the government has a responsibility to step in. And all those in this day and time who talk about getting government off their backs, less government, that means they've already got theirs and they don't give a damn about whether the others are going to get theirs or not.
I know in the community college system, we had fifty-eight community colleges. Fifty of them had small business centers; we couldn't get enough money for a small business

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center at each of these colleges. Now, those—at first, everybody got behind it, "We want this," and they supported it in the legislature, all the colleges. And finally, fifty of them got theirs, and the rest of them, they said, "Well, we got ours," and they wouldn't support it anymore. People get their road paved, then, fine, and they don't care what the hell for a road bond issue—they got theirs. That's human nature. So what you have to do is be on constant lookout, trying to protect the interests of those who don't have a voice and—yeah, you're going to help the others too, but you don't have to give them as much attention, cause they're going to get theirs.
Did you have any major disappointments in your administration, things you wanted to get done that you didn't get done?
Yes, I'm sure I did, but I can't think of what it is right now. There's a section in there on disappointments along the way. Well, I was disappointed we didn't get the university system set up like we wanted to, but, you know, I lost some battles and won the war. So I can't really complain too much about that, and I think it was a much better way to get it set up.
And, ah… [pause] With the tobacco tax issue, I had to compromise on that, although it gave me a good talking

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point—when they decided to bring in the soft drink folks on it, I used the slogan going around—and I had raised the tax on gasoline—that people who didn't have anything more to do than drive around drinking and smoking could afford to pay a little tax. [Laughter]
Did that bring you support?
I don't know whether it did or not.
In your judgment, what was the most difficult decision or task you had to perform as governor?
Decision… Well, if not the most, one of the most difficult at the moment was the decision whether or not to order the National Guard to go in at A&T State University and get those folks out of that top floor of that dormitory. That was a very tense situation. I was on the phone all night, open line to people on the scene, the National Guard folks. And it was just so ripe for violence, for somebody to be killed. That was a tough one.
And I guess—I didn't have to face the death penalties, and I've always been very thankful for that. And I'll be honest with you to this day I don't know what I would have done. I think I would have focused on the basis of each case; I wouldn't have been arbitrarily opposed to anybody being executed or, you know, an eye for an eye philosophy. I think it would have been on a case-by-case basis. I

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didn't have to make that decision, and I'm very, very thankful for that.
In the take-over or the occupation of the A&T dormitory, why was that decision so difficult?
Difficult from the standpoint of, ‘Am I making the right decision to use military force?’ And if somebody did get killed or hurt. I was very fortunate in that respect that it did not happen. You know, it's much like a law enforcement officer, I guess, judging how long you're going to talk, and try diplomacy, much like perhaps the President's going through right now. How much longer are you going to talk and try to work it out as opposed to just taking action? That was a difficult one.
And of course there were a bunch of decisions about how much you wanted to put in there for pay raises and those kinds of things, although those don't stick with me. I guess, just normal decisions that any chief executive would have to make.
What is the most satisfying decision you made as governor, today?
[pause] As governor? The most satisfying was the decision to run for governor since I won. [Laughter] No, think that from my standpoint, it was probably the restructuring of the university system. Now, I'm not sure

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how much of that is satisfying from a political sense of, I won the battle, and the ego—probably that as much as anything else. There is satisfaction in that because of the leadership that I think that we gave to seeing the need and meeting it. My satisfaction, again, came from lots of little things, a couple of which I mentioned to you, and there were others. So that is more the personal satisfaction. And the satisfaction, I guess, that for the most part, in spite of some editorial adversity and opponents and occasionally public outcries, we came through it virtually unscathed, in the sense of scandal, the absence of scandal, those kinds of things. Which, when one thinks about it, having had that experience, is almost a miracle.
It's an accomplishment.
And that's largely the luck of the draw. I don't know—sort of like going through a pledge week at the university, I guess: you survive, somehow, and manage to make it.
Let me ask you one final question. It's a very personal question. You had five children and a wife when you were in the governor's office. What was the impact of being governor on your family life, while you were governor?
Well—I should have my wife talk with you about

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this. But—our children were very young, and living in the governor's mansion—this was an artificial world for them, although they didn't realize it. They were in a position to be pampered-have their every wish looked after, there were plenty of staff and servants, there were not chores for them to do. And they turned out well in spite of that, I'm not sure why. But I know our youngest daughter, at that time, who was kindergarten age, attended kindergarten [unclear] , and my wife happened to walk in on her one day when she was on the telephone in the house, calling downstairs to the kitchen and ordering a sandwich, a chicken sandwich. Well, that didn't happen again, to our knowledge. And she was a young child, she didn't know that wasn't a thing she was supposed to do, because she'd seen me pick up the phone and ask them to bring up some orange juice or whatever thing like that.
And it was difficult on them, because they had to go to school—this was in the days of busing and they went to different schools, and the older ones, who went to junior high [unclear] —junior high or middle school, I forget which—the chauffeur would drive them to school, but they hated that. In fact, he would go in civilian clothes; they'd made him park a block from the school so they'd get out and walk. And they didn't want—they would hear other students at the

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school talking about their parents, because those students had heard their parents talking about it in their homes, "The governor did this," and they would hear on the radio and television and all that. And so I know they heard the negatives. I didn't know it, my wife didn't know it, until really after we'd left the governor's office. Then my son, who walked to school right up the street—the school's no longer [unclear] —which was only about two blocks from the mansion, he was assigned there. But he was like the preacher's kid, he had to fight his way home every day. And he didn't want to go. They had to because of the tension of the time and the security—they had to sign out if they wanted to go spend the night at a friend's, and they would [unclear] , you know, checking to see who this was, a friend of theirs. We had to try to impress on them that we had to know where they would be at all times.
We got the wall around the mansion, you know, during my administration. It was authorized during the administration of Governor Moore, but they didn't want to tear up the yard during the inauguration, so the wall was constructed, the gates and wall were constructed, during my administration. Well, the kids, they were always wanting to slip out and go up the street to the Dunkin Donuts place. Somehow they would find a way to get either under that gate or over the

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wall, somehow, they would slip out at night and go. All this is to say that they had a very comfortable life, and they survived and turned out to be good kids anyway.
My wife and I, we both cherish our privacy, and to this day [unclear] today because we cherish our privacy. We've attended all the teas and receptions that we care to attend. I was asked to be—it was very interesting. When I left the governor's office, Elon College was searching for a president—I think I told you this.
No, you didn't.
Elon College was at that time searching for a president, or getting ready to. That year I was chairman of the board of Elon College Trustees. And they asked me, would I be interested, since I was going to be right here. And I brought up the subject with my wife, and she said, "If I have to stand in one more line or attend one more tea, I think I'll throw my ring out." [unclear] To this day, we enjoy company, and conversations like this are a delight, we relish it. But large crowds, standing up, making meaningless cocktail talk, we avoid it if we possibly can. And it's nice to be able to go into a department store now to buy a shirt or just shopping, the person waiting on me is less than forty years old, they won't recognize me.
Had you taken any special efforts to prepare your

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children for this sort of public role?
No. We tried to prepare them for the return to a private role, during the time we were living in the governor's mansion. We were only one hour's drive away from my home here at the farm, and we would come up here, and the children wanted to know why often we came up here every Sunday, and sometimes for a Saturday, we could have some [unclear] . We didn't stay indoors for the entire weekend. And even if Jessie Rae or I had responsibilities, usually it was me, we would try to send the children up here. Because I told them, "These are your neighbors and your friends. These, where we're living now, your friends here, are going to be gone in four years. These are the people that are going to be coming to our funerals, and they will be here to help when the political friends are all gone. So I tried to help them to understand and realize who their real friends were, and that they ought to know [unclear] .
Just rarely [unclear] —we had been back here, oh, two months, and the minister of our church approached my wife initially about being on some kind of committee in the church or doing something. And she told him, she said, ("I happened to be standing there, I wanted to go through the floor) she said, "So, [unclear] , if I got an invitation right now to sit on the right hand at the Last Supper, if I

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got an engraved invitation to attend the Last Supper right now, I would decline with regret." [Laughter]
"If I got an engraved invitation to attend the Last Supper, I would decline with regret." So we were both tired, and we wanted to come back here and be by ourselves. And we always, when we came up here on the weekends, the tension was such—everybody was security-conscious, and the law enforcement people didn't want to just bring us up here and let us have a weekend free. For a while, they had a state trooper parked out there in the driveway all night, the poor guy sitting there in his patrol car—if he slept, I don't know or how he was relieved. Finally I said, "This is ridiculous. If somebody wants to shoot me, they're going to shoot me. But if in doubt, it's not all of you that's going to get shot, it's going to be us or them that gets shot." And so they finally put a highway patrol radio in my bedroom, so that I could call the highway patrol very easily, and they kept troopers—they might not have been sitting out there in the yard, but there wasn't any period of time when there wasn't one here. Well, the first time that things sort of entangled us…
I know you've said you had weekends here on the farm, so to speak. Were you conscious of setting aside time

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to be with your family and your children?
We tried, we really tried. The children were small. And my wife was very sensitive about it. She always uses this illustration. She was standing downstairs, greeting a group that was—we were having a reception, and the word came from the school that one of our children had broken her arm on the playground. And you know, the instincts of a mother. She wanted to go right then, but she stood there and finished her duties, and then went as quick as she could.
But those things, we felt strongly that we had things to make up to them. Maybe more so than necessary. But it's interesting to note, you know, that out of our five children there's only one that's remotely interested in politics.
I was going to ask that question. So there is one.
One of the twins, daughter Meg, who's an administrative law judge now. She ran for the legislature in this county, in this district, three or four years ago, and narrowly lost. They changed the district lines, and that's what did her in. And she's still messing around. She almost ran for court of appeals this time but decided to wait.
Well, I wish her success.

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Thank you.
And I'm sure I speak for lots of people when I thank you for what you have contributed to this state. I certainly thank you for the time that you've permitted me to be with you for this interview.
You're welcome. I thank you, and I think oral history is tremendously important as I indicated. I am the type with an appreciation of history. You know, that's what the historians do, make the decisions on the merits of my administration, and I am perfectly satisfied. I am well aware that there are things that could have been done better, and other things that could have been done that weren't. There were some mistakes made, but on balance I feel satisfied with my contribution. And grateful that I had that opportunity. I'm sincere about that. Again, I feel more and more [unclear] as time goes on. And if one of the children decides they want to pursue a political life, then God bless them. I don't encourage it, but it wouldn't be true to say we're trying to have a dynasty or something. We've had a hundred years, that's enough.
That's a pretty good contribution. Thank you, Governor.

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