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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The need to keep campaign promises

Scott explains that as governor, he had an obligation to keep the promises that he made in his campaign, an obligation that would no doubt be enforced by his public, but which found strength in his values.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

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?
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
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. 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.
JACK FLEER:
I have seen it.
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
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.
JACK FLEER:
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.
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
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.
JACK FLEER:
You just don't know which two thirds. [Laughter]
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
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.
JACK FLEER:
So you knew about your background and the expectations that the public had—
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
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.
JACK FLEER:
So, trust.
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
Yes.