Title: Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140.
Interviewer: DeVries, Walter
Interviewee: Sanford, Terry
Subjects: North Carolina--Race relations North Carolina--Politics and government Helms, Jesse Press and politics--North Carolina
Abstract: Former North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford assesses the progressivism of North Carolina politics, arguing that though North Carolinians as a whole are not solidly progressive, they do tend to embrace progressive ideas. Sanford points to Chapel Hill as the beacon of North Carolina politics, where progressivism dominated the political discourse. He also discusses the potency of race in political campaigns, highlighting the 1950 Frank Graham-Willis Smith Senate race and his 1960 gubernatorial campaign against I. Beverly Lake. Sanford contends that racially charged campaigns often determined the direction and fate of politicians' careers. His work with established Democratic Party organizations taught him important lessons on how to divert the public's attention from racial matters to other campaign issues.
Sanford explains that North Carolina did not support machine politics, although the state was dominated by the Democratic Party for nearly a century. Bert Bennett's integral role as political campaigner helped ensure Democratic rule over the state. However, as the Republican Party began to challenge the Democratic Party, North Carolina's one-party system was abandoned. Sanford asserts that the realignment of political parties was able to occur because unfavorable public memories about Republicans faded and internal fighting among Democrats increased. With his 1972 presidential bid, Sanford realized that Republican use of conservative political ideology and rhetoric heavily influenced the future of North Carolina politics. Sanford contends that southern distinctiveness no longer divides the nation, as ideology replaced race as important campaign issues in the 1970s. Sanford finishes the interview by emphasizing the importance of ethics and credibility in political campaigns. He discusses how the increased use of television ads changes campaign strategies and how they impact the ethics of politicians.