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Title: Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, September 18, 1986. Interview C-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Scott, Robert W. (Bob), interviewee
Interview conducted by Campbell, Karl E.
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 132 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
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2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-02-12, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, September 18, 1986. Interview C-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0036)
Author: Karl E. Campbell
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, September 18, 1986. Interview C-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0036)
Author: Robert W. (Bob) Scott
Description: 192 Mb
Description: 47 p.
Note: Interview conducted on September 18, 1986, by Karl E. Campbell; recorded in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Jovita Flynn.
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, September 18, 1986.
Interview C-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Scott, Robert W. (Bob), interviewee

Interview Participants

    ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT, interviewee
    KARL E. CAMPBELL, interviewer


Page 1
This is Karl Campbell. Today is September 18, 1986. I am interviewing ex-governor Bob Scott from North Carolina. Mr. Scott is presently the president of the community college system in North Carolina. The interview is taking place in Mr. Scott's office in the Education Building in Raleigh.
You grew up on a farm. Can you tell me some of your earliest recollections of being out on the farm?
Well, I suppose having been in politics I should say that I grew up in a log cabin on a farm, but really I didn't. A portion of my Dad's home was an old log cabin and still is there—the original part that was there when he and my mother were married and came to live there. As a matter of fact, before they married he and some neighbors added on to the house, and it's substantially as it is today. We had a comfortable home. I suppose one would consider middle-income, recognizing that I was born in 1929, and the early years were, of course, the Depression years.
My father, in addition to farming, had a federal job. He worked for a short period of time before my birth with the North Carolina Agricultural Extention Service as a county agricultural agent. Then he worked during the depression years—after he served a short period of time as a Master of the North Carolina State Grange, which is a farm organization—he worked for what was then known as the Farm Debt Adjustment Administration. He traveled throughout the southeast helping the farmers in the depression years to arrange financing so that they would not lose

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their farms because of the depression. So he was gone a great deal.
My mother literally ran the farm. She kept the books and looked after the day to day operations. We had a commercial dairy farm. My earliest recollections were, of course, being on the farm, always around animals. At that time we had what was known as a general farm although the dairy cows and the production of milk was our main occupation. We had chickens and horses and sheep, goats, all these kinds of things. It was only in the 1940's that we, as other dairy farms did, began to specialize and got rid of all the other animals except the dairy cows. But it was, I guess, a typical rural setting, and I had somewhat a typical farm boy's life. I played with the children of those who were employed at the farm and enjoyed the openness of a farm.
I was the youngest of three children in the family. My brother, who was nine years older than I, had the responsibility of helping my Dad and others in the farming operations but particularly the milking of cows. Being considerably younger, my work was to help my mother in the garden, the vegetable garden and flower garden, and around the house. My sister, of course, did that as well. It was interesting to me that in later years I never liked to work in a vegetable garden as an adult, and not in the flowers either, although I enjoy the products of both, and my brother never liked to be around dairy cattle. After he became grown and moved away from home, he said he would never come back and milk another cow, and I didn't like to work in the garden. I

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guess what we had to do as children created an impression in us that we didn't want to do that in our adult life, and neither of us did.
I don't recall too much about life prior to entering elementary school, the first grade, except to say, I do remember playing around home. I remember the typical things that we had there, such as the old crank wall telephone. We did have electricity that was there shortly before I was born. I always remember having electricity although we did not have many appliances. I remember very well when we got our first refrigerator. That was a big thing because we could make ice-cream without having to crank it in the freezer. Of course, I remember very well, very vividly, the day we got our first tractor and a plow to go with it. This was a wonderful thing. I always felt that I was fortunate to be born and spend my early youth during the period of time that I did because I was able to see and participate and be a part of the pre-mechnical age of agriculture. That is to say, the use of horses and mules, a lot of hand labor. Those things are still vivid in my mind because I too participated in that. Yet, I was there to see the first mechanized efforts in production agriculture and of course the rapid advancements in technology in later years.
I entered the first grade at a local school which was about one and one half miles from home. Like the other neighbors we walked to school. I was closer than some so it wasn't a great burden except when the weather was bad. But we all walked. The year after that, in my second grade, that school was closed down

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and a number of the neighborhoods were consolidated into a single rural high school. That was the first round of consolidations back in about 1937-38. Consequently, the old community school that I attended in the first grade was in bad repair. They knew they were not going to use it the following year because the decision had already been made to consolidate. So they didn't bother to repair it. I recall vividly that in bad rain storms the water would literally pour in on the roof. I remember very well the teacher had all of us sit on top of the desk so that our feet would not get wet because of the rain coming in through the roof. That school had the outdoor toilets and all the things that went with the early days of school. There were seven grades housed in two rooms, and we had two teachers for the seven grades.
Then the second year and all the way through were spent at the rural high school, elementary and high school. I was in the first class or group that had twelve grades. Prior to my class there were eleven grades required. So in essence we got to be seniors for two years. My wife, whom I've been married to for thirty-five years, was a student in that school. We've known each other since third grade when she moved into an adjoining community. She came from a textile community. I was from a farming community. There was still some little feeling between those communities as a result of that consolidation. The boys from the farming community—it wasn't always a good thing to be seen after dark down in the little neighboring textile town. But

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anyway we eventually became married although we didn't go steady until after high school.
I suppose it might be coincidental—well, it is coincidental—that my mother and dad also went to the same school, or the same school that I went to in the first grade, which was the old community school. They had been childhood sweethearts when they married. They only lived down the road from each other about three miles. So maybe that's something that's passed along from one generation to another.
The rivalry between the school kids, was that based more on the cultural style or old school rivalry?
Not so much school rivalry, more, I think, cultural style. The children from the textile community viewed those of us from the rural community next door—incidentally there were about five or six communities that were consolidated into this one school—but the textile community viewed those of us in rural communities as being the landed gentry even though we didn't have any more actual money in our pockets. Because we had land and always had vegetable gardens and, you know, we could survive, as it were—again, thinking about the depression years and so forth.
There was some athletic rivalry. It seemed that the guys from the textile community were always the best ball players, the best athletes. We never had time to practice, we said, baseball or basketball—we didn't have football then in our school—because we had to go home when we left school and do chores on the farm and work. We couldn't stay after school to play ball. I never played on a baseball team for that very reason. I could

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play basketball because that was played at night. The consolidated high school was three miles from my home, and it was quite common after chores to walk that three miles to school to practice basketball and then walk home afterwards. At the games, usually you could have a ride because a lot of times parents would go watch the game. Our nearest neighbor was a mile away, though, so it was, for whatever, you usually had to walk. But anyway there wasn't anything that unusual about that, others did it too. Eventually I got me a bicycle. That helped a little bit when it was working, and when it wasn't being borrowed my someone else.
Like your older brother?
Yeah, that's right. But my parents were, my father was away a great deal. Then in 1937 he ran for and was elected Commissioner of Agriculture and worked in Raleigh but lived at home. He drove back and forth.
You were in high school then?
Not in '37. I was still in elementary school. He served as Commissioner of Agriculture for eleven and a half years, almost twelve years, when he resigned to run for governor. His office was here in Raleigh, of course. He commuted back and forth every day. I remember very well his leaving home a little before 7:00 a.m. in the car. That was before the four lane highways, of course. He drove highway 54 from Alamance County near Graham through Chapel Hill to Raleigh to the office and then back home in the evenings, getting home usually after 6:00 unless he had a meeting at night that he had to go to. He traveled a

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lot. He would meet with the farm employees, the "hands" as we called them, every morning before he left to go to Raleigh and outline the work that he wanted them to do.
I remember him being away a lot, and as a result of that, over a period of years, I was much closer to my mother in a sense because she was always there. My father and I never established a strong father-son relationship. I respected him, and there wasn't any problem between us at all—delighted to have him around but he wasn't around much. So there wasn't that close bond that sometimes exists between a father and son. That is to say he never took me fishing. He didn't fish to begin with. Occasionally I would go with him when he would go hunting with his friends, but I didn't really care for hunting that much. I guess one could say we never had a lot of father-son talk. I missed that. I wasn't aware of it at the time but as an adult, and particularly after his death in 1958, I realized how much I did miss that father-son relationship.
He and my mother both were rather strict about, particularly about being on time and doing things on time. We were of course like most rural families closely identified with our church. We were Presbyterian and belonged to the Hawfield Presbyterian Church which is an old historical church established in 1755. Both my mother and father's families had been there for years, generations. And so we had a dairy farm, of course, and the cows had to be milked on Sunday morning. After their milking, we had to wash all the utensils and then come to the house and take a bath and get ready to go to Sunday School and church. Well, we

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would rush around and get this done of course. But he could change clothes faster than any man I ever knew. He would be out there in the car ready to go and when it was time to go he would blow his horn, and if you didn't come, too bad. He would leave but you better be at church when it was time to start, which meant then that we had to jog to church or ride a bicycle to get there. But we had better be there, or we would have to answer to him. So he was very prompt.
I realize I may be talking more about him than I am about myself but some of these things had a bearing on me. He was in his later life as governor and United States Senator—the staff used to, it was a standing joke that he would be so early for meetings that it would be sometimes embarrassing. For instance, if he was to attend a picnic luncheon or a program in the evening at 7:00, well he would inevitably be there before the host would. He would arrive before they would. So the staff would tell him that instead of the program beginning at 7:00 it began at 7:30 so he wouldn't get there so early.
I asked him about this once. He said, "Well, it's a habit and I can't break it. When I grew up roads were not good. Automobiles were unrelible. One simply started a journey allowing for a break down, a flat tire, or getting stuck in the mud on a rural dirt road. So you gave yourself plenty of time and you began early." They always did that. "Nowadays the roads are good; cars are good. I get there in just a few minutes but I still make myself start early so I won't be late." He was always very punctual, and I picked that up. I have little patience

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today for those who are late for appointments. I'm embarrassed whenever I'm late myself and most profuse in my apologies because of that feeling.
Would you say you're a lot like your father then? Did you pick up a lot of these characteristics?
I don't think so. I admire my father very much, and I wish I had more of his characteristics. He and his generation, and I speak particularly of his brothers and sisters four of whom are still living, there were eleven in the family. I don't know, there was something about them that I think was lost on my generation.
They had a great sense of humor, and I think I have some sense of humor. But theirs was a genuine unpretentious humor that was spontaneous. The humor was such that it just seemed so natural. They didn't have to think of something funny to say. I don't mean necessarily that it was funny in the sense that it drew a hardy laugh. But they could see humor in life in so many ways. As a for instance, my uncle made the statement a couple of years ago following a stroke that he had had. I'd known that he had gone to the Duke Medical Center, no, excuse me, to UNC Medical School for a brain scan as a result of the stroke. I asked him how he got along. He said, "Fine, they gave me the brain scan but they didn't find anything." Well, it's that kind of humor that was so prevalent among them.
I'm not sure that I have all that many characteristics—they were blunt. They said what they thought not necessarily in an argumentative or confrontational manner. It was just openness and

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honesty. You always knew what their position was. They identified with people so strongly and so well. He had so many friends out over the state. Sure, he had his political battles, there wasn't any question about that, but people respected him for his frankness and openness.
Was there a lot of politics going on there at the farm? I would guess there was as much politics as farming going on.
Well, yeah, there was. I once heard my father say that he had been taught that a man could never go to heaven, expect to go the heaven, if he was not a Presbyterian, a Democrat, and owned a Jersey cow, and he had all three. I kept a Jersey cow around there a long time just to be sure. His father, my grandfather, was in politics. He was in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate, on the State Board of Agriculture. So politics has sort of always been in our family. Even his father before him was, my great-grandfather, was involved in what they called the Kirk-Holden War up in Alamance and Caswell counties as a older person.
What was that about?
Well, the Kirk-Holden War was an event that occurred in North Carolina during the administration of Governor W.W. Holden who was govenor following the War of Northern Aggression, or some people call it the Civil War. The Ku Klux Klan was very active at that time. Governor Holden was in office largely at the behest of the federal government. There was considerable resistance to his policies, even to the extent that there was what the governor considered an insurrection up in Caswell

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County. So he sent Colonel Kirk as head of the military to arrest the leaders of this rebellion or uprising and put them in jail and take them to Caswell County. When they came through Alamance County, they picked up my great-grandfather among others and took them to Caswell County for trial. My great-grandfather had had a bad leg. He had fallen on a horse and broke his leg, and the wound had not healed. They were making him walk from Graham to Caswell County, to Yanceyville, for trial, and someone finally prevailed for him, to put him in the wagon. But anyhow, he has involved.
What I'm saying is that we've been mixed up in government politics for generations. Incidentally, my mother's family came to that community, in fact the area where we lived, part of the farm where we lived, in the mid-1700's. My father's people came a few years later so they've been around there for a long time, my family.
One thing that I feel that ought to be made a part of the record is that, in spite of what a lot of people, I think, assume, I did not learn politics at my father's knee. One would assume that, of course. But I wasn't around my Dad that much. As I indicated, he was gone a lot. I graduated from high school in 1947 and entered Duke University. He ran for governor in 1948. I was a student at college, and I wasn't able to be involved that much. I was struggling to hang on there. I didn't have a whole lot of time to be doing anything else. Then when he was elected, I continued to live in the dormitories. I did not live at the mansion expect one summer. In fact, like most

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college students I really didn't care to be around my parents that much. I would have preferred to be in the dorm. So other than a few trips that he would take me on, just, I guess, in order to be around his son some, I wasn't with him that much.
After I graduated from college, from North Carolina State University, I had a B. S. in animal industry, I went back to the farm and managing the farm operation which had grown considerably during that period of time, expanded a lot. Stayed there two years, and then went into the service, and then came back again to the farm. Well, my father was active in politics, the office of governor and the United States Senate, and he expected me to run the farm and leave politics alone. He said one in the family is enough. So he died in 1958, April 17, 1958, of a heart attack while he was home from Washington at Easter recess.
I was, as I say, running the farming operation at that time which had expanded to a large commercial dairy herd. We had about three hundred and fifty head all together. We were milking about 200 cows, actually milking that many—total number about 350 head. We were farming about 1,800 acres. We'd added a commerical egg production enterprise to that so it was a rather extensive operation. I was very happy doing that, and in the meantime I had gotten married. We had our first children. My Dad was in Washington. My mother and he would come home as much as they could on the weekends. I kept in touch with him. Our conversations, my conversations with him during that period of time, were strictly with the farm business and not anything else.

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When I ran for public office, for lieutenant governor in 1964, I did not have a large degree or any tutoring.


Go right ahead.
So when I ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1964 it was not with any great background or tutoring on the part of my father, even though he had been dead since 1958. As I say I was expected to look after the farming operation and the family business, and I was busy with my family. He was handling his political career. So I was not in on, I was not priviledged to conversations that he had with other political leaders or office holders either here or nationally. I don't ever recall going in his office building in the United States Senate, maybe but a couple of times. I was overseas in the army when he was sworn in so I missed that.
Did you help at all with that campaign?
No, I was in the service at that time. I do recall I was home one weekend for—oh, I was getting ready to go overseas. That's what it was. I had finished my basic training. I was in the counter intelligence corps, and I had gone to intelligence school up at Fort Hollibird, Maryland and was being assigned overseas. So I had some leave time before I shipped out. Well, his campaign manager and staff—let's see now, this is when he ran for the United States Senate. Terry Sanford was his campaign manager by the way. They decided it would be a good thing that they make a film—this was before they used television a great deal—that they would use a film of the candidate's, Kerr Scott's, son going off to war. This was during the Korean conflict. So the campaign people staged a departure at the

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Greensboro airport. They had an Eastern Airlines plane, one of the regular flights, come in. They worked it out for me to go out. You know, to kiss my mother and father goodbye in my uniform and my army barracks bag in my hand walking out across the tarmac to the plane, and here's the pretty Eastern Airlines hostess there. I walk up the steps on the plane and turn and wave goodbye and then off to the wars. Actually I didn't leave until about two weeks later but that was politics. So I guess that was my contribution to his campaign.
That's where you learned your strategies, huh?
That's right.
Well, did you grow up wanting to be a farmer or did you already have an inkling that you would like to be a politician?
No, I've often said, this is true, that if someone had told me a year or eighteen months before I ran for lieutenant governor that I would be involved in and seeking public office, I would have laughed out loud. No, I really did consider myself as having a career in agriculture and looking after the farming operation. I was happy doing that and enjoyed it. Back in those days, you could make a little money farming if you watched your pennies closely enough. I was always, I guess, an extrovert and active in organizations. I, too, worked with the North Carolina State Grange, which was a farm organization, and served as the field man for them for a while in addition to farming. Then served two years full-time as their chief executive officer. They call it the Master of the Grange, president of the Farm Bureau Federation, but anyway the full-time chief executive which

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my father had served in around 1930, '31. But you know that was not a big thing.
I was active in the church. Helped start a Jaycee chapter in the little town of Haw River—that is Junior Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees. I was, you know, I guess, as a young person who's got a little extra energy would do—be involved, in other words. But in terms of state wide activity, no. So it's rather interesting how I got involved in politics. I think it's interesting anyway. Maybe for those who are interested in knowing, it might be a little surprising.
One of the traditions that grew up around my Dad during his later years was in September, early September, on the opening day of the dove hunting season, he always invited a number of his friends from over the state to come to the farm and shoot doves on the opening day of the season. This was a semi-political gathering. They would spend the day hunting doves and then gather in the evening for ham biscuits and sandwiches and so forth and so on and talk politics and have fellowship. Usually he invited, being the politician that he was, some of the political writers from the major daily newspapers in the state, the Charlotte Observer, the Greensboro paper, the Raleigh News and Observer, the wire services, and so on. After my Dad died in 1958, my uncle, his younger brother, Ralph, continued this at his place which was an adjoining farm and part of the old original home place of my grandfather. They kept it up for a number of years.

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In 1963, yes, 1963, I suppose it was, yeah, in the fall of 1963, we again had one of these dove hunts. The race for governor was beginning to take shape. The candidates being most talked about were Dan K. Moore, I. Beverly Lake, and L. Richardson Preyor. There was the inevitable talk at the dove hunt of which of those candidates would the Kerr Scott supporters back. There was some conversation that they weren't all that happy with any of them. Incidentally, I wasn't privy to all this talk. Being one of the hosts I was busy running around trying to clean up and keep them fed and so forth. I learned about this later. Some of the conversation was, well, if they weren't satisfied with those candidates, who then could they get behind. Somebody said, "Well, what about Kerr's young son, Bob." That was about as far as the conversation went. Well, Woodrow Price who was then political reporter for the Raleigh News and Observer, and Jay Jenkins, who has the political reporter for the Charlotte Observer, and Noel Yancey who was the Associated Press writer, reporter, among others, were there at that dove hunt. They were regulars at the dove hunt. They always came. They picked up a lot of political gossip. So there was a little two paragraph blip in the News and Observer I know of and maybe one of the other papers that reported the fact that there was some speculation that the branch head boys—and this was the term used for my Dad's supporters, and that's a story in itself—said that they weren't all that happy with either Dan Moore, Richardson Preyor, or Beverly Lake and so some speculation about Kerr Scott's son, Bob, might run. Well, you know I saw that in the

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paper and I just assumed that was a sweeping mandate for me to run.
I jumped in the car and started traveling over the state. "What do you think?" I was getting some interest, more curiosity than support. A lot of people would say, well, that's fine but I was either too young, or they were committed to one of the other candidates, or they thought that maybe I ought to run for some other office. Well, I was about half way through with all of this traveling around when the assasination of John F. Kennedy occurred in November, I believe, of that year, or maybe December, I've forgotten exactly. Anyway that stopped all talk of politics cold. Everybody was just sickened by what had happened. Didn't want to discuss politics and even if you engaged somebody in a conversation about it, it inevitably turned to the assasination of President Kennedy and what a tragedy it was and so on. So I wasn't finding out anything. I just knew that I just as well forget it for a while. Then Christmas vacation came along, and nobody talks politics much during Christmas time. By the time I got out on the road again in January it was too late. The other candidates had pretty well gotten their ducks in a row, and it was too late for me to get into it because the primary was in May of that year, in 1948.
What about the branch head boys at that point, I guess Sanford and wasn't it Bennett, wasn't the other …
Bert Bennett.
Those guys already committed or were they up in the air?

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They were committed to Richardson Preyor, and all of those things, and I realized I couldn't get the money necessary to run a creditable race. I met with my handful of supporters and advisors, as it were, in the old Carolina Hotel in Raleigh. We talked about it. The late Ben Rooney was one of those who was most influential in advising me. Ben was from Rocky Mount. He was the administrative assistant for my Dad when he was governor and then went to Washington with him. Worked in Terry Sanford's administration, and later when I became governor, he was my administrative assistant—shrewd political mind who had a keen sense of judgment about timing. We all agreed that it was not the time for me to run for governor. I wouldn't win but there was a great deal of support out there for me. A lot of that was carry over from my Dad's time and largely his friends.
I called a press conference at the Carolina Hotel. It was the shortest press conference I ever had. I read a one paragraph statement saying that after canvassing the state, I would not be a candidate for governor. But I wanted to say to those who had expressed an interest in my candidancy, support for me for office, say to them simply, "Keep the faith," and walked out of the room, much to the chagrin of the reporters who kept yelling questions at me and so on. I just walked down the hall where Ben Roney and Roy Wilder and Betsy Hinton and others were waiting. So we sat around and talked about, "Okay, what now." We realized there was that latent support there.
So we talked over a number of possibilities. One, we'd run for Commissioner of Agriculture. My father had held that office.

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Incidentally, his father had run for that office but got defeated for it. The legend has it that my grandfather told my father that he wanted my father to run for the Commissioner of Agriculture someday and win that office because the son of the man who beat my grandfather later became Commissioner of Agriculture, and my Dad ran against him and beat him.
Who was that, do you remember?
Graham. Not Jim Graham, not this Graham, but another Graham, Mr. Will Graham.
So anyway, going back to my situation, we talked about running for Commisioner of Agriculture. I ruled that out because it didn't appeal to me. The office of Commissioner of Agriculture had changed to that of being mostly a regulatory agency. It just didn't appeal to me. I wasn't interested in running for congress. That didn't appeal to me. I wasn't interested in going to Washington. Never have been interested in going to Washington.
So by the process of elimination, I said, "Well, what about lieutenant governor?" Well, Ben Rooney, my mentor, said, "Ah, hell, who cares about lieutenant governor? That position is a dead end. You run for lieutenant governor, and that's just a place where the former legislators are put out to pasture." But anyway, we broke up and went home, and we agreed we would meet a week later again at the Carolina Hotel. This was, as I recall in January of 1948—excuse me, I'm mixing it up with my Dad's time—1964. We met again down there at the Carolina Hotel. Ben said, "You know, I've been thinking about what you said, about the office of lieutenant governor. That might be a sleeper." At

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that time John Jordan of Raleigh, who's an attorney and lobbies for the bankers association, was an announced candidate; and the former speaker of the house, Cliffon Blue of Aberdeen, was an announced candidate. Those two were running already. They were both good friends of mine. I liked them both. We sat there in the room, my associates and I, and talked about it and finally decided, "Let's go for it." That maybe we could take that because we knew there was support out there. Nobody paid any attention to the lieutenant governor's race anyway. So hurriedly we got together and called a press conference and announced I was going to run for lieutenant governor, and that's how I got started. I've enjoyed my life in politics. I won all but the last race I was in. I enjoyed it. It was a fast paced eight years as lieutenant governor and governor. I'd like to think we got some things done. That's how I got into it.
Well, I've got to ask why you jumped so quickly. There must have been a little interest there when suddenly the chance for govenor came up.
Well, I guess ego has got a lot to do with it. Anyone who tells you that anybody who runs for public office and doesn't have a lot of ego is crazy. You got to have it to run. I guess that had a lot to do with it. Again, I've always had an interest in what goes on. But again I knew that as long as my father was living and active in politics, and my uncle was in the state legislature at that time, I just didn't think there would be much opportunity for me, really. I wouldn't have, or at least

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I don't think I would have considered it, if there hadn't been that speculation about my running.
It's interesting too how the Democratic party worked in kind of choosing candidates. It sounds the way you're describing it as though there were, like, not organizations, but groupings…
It's sort of a consensus type thing among the people of like ideology and like philosophy and so forth.
People coming and just sharing ideas around, like out at the dove hunt? I imagine that when you decided to go for lieutenant governor one of the first things you had to do was to get back in touch with Sanford and your father's old group to get them behind you? Was there another group?
Yeah, sort of piggybacked on it because you know they were interested in the governor's race. As long as I wasn't a threat to them in the governor's race, and why not? Because after all, I was sort of one of them. Here's a new generation coming along, and I fitted in. I came from that wing of the party. So, yeah, why not? But they weren't going to break their neck for me. They had their own race to run but they didn't have any objection to me sort of piggybacking on. Yes, that was a big help.
But another was, and I think this is where I caught a lot of people by surprise, they didn't know—during my years shortly after I finished college, and I was working with the farm organizations, the Grange—I had traveled all over the state in just inumerable rural communities. So I had that base to operate

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from. I had been in little community meetings on rural development issues, rural economy, rural growth, and farm family issues in just about every community in Sampson County, for instance. Heaven only knows how many suppers I've eaten in community buildings and Baptist churches and those kinds of things, you know. I knew a lot of these people, together with the base that my Dad had. See, a lot of his people were still living although they were beginning to get some age on them. But a lot of them were still around. I had those two bases from which to operate, and the name was still there. Fortunately for me, my father went out of office with a good reputation—known as the good roads governor, paved a lot of roads. Somebody said he literally paved my way to the governor's office, and in some ways I guess he did.
When I finished high school, another thing that's interesting, it's always interesting to me how little things quite often make a turning point in your life and you don't realize it until later that that one little thing changed your whole direction. You've probably had that experience maybe yourself. I went to Duke University my freshman and sophmore years with the idea of studying medicine. I was going to be a country doctor. I had an uncle, my Dad's older brother, who was a physician in the northern part of the county. Had a rural practice. There were a couple of nurses in the family and so on. I think my mother had ambitions for me to be a doctor. Even went down to the testing center at Duke, aptitude test and all like

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that. Anyway I enrolled as a freshman at Duke with the idea of studying medicine.
Well, I came from a little rural high school. Had twenty-nine in the graduating class. There were twenty girls and nine boys. I liked those odds. We had no chemistry at all in high school. We had one course in physics that was taught by the principal who couldn't be there half the time because of his other duties. So I was not prepared for university level—particularly a place like Duke. I was thrown into that kind of situation, and my two roommates were boys from Charleston, West Virginia high school. One was valedictorian and one was salutatorian of that huge class. So I was lost, man. Even though I was only about twenty-five miles from home I might as well have been five thousand miles away. I was flunking chemistry. I was flunking physics. Just barely passing trigonometry. Trying desperately to hang on. Fortunately in high school I had good teachers in English and in history, social studies, and foreign language, you might say the basic liberal arts. We just didn't have the sciences. It was a small school. We didn't have those labs, things like that. I wasn't prepared for the sciences. And you know, okay, my second year there—and remember this was following World War II and a huge influx of students from the G. I. Bill. They had something over a thousand applicants to the Duke med school. They only took seventy-five. I saw the hand writing on the wall. If you're not skilled in chemistry and physics—I said, "Man, I'll never make it. I don't care how much pull I might have." I had an uncle who was one of

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the vice-presidents over there and so on. There was nothing he could do for me.
About this time too I began to realize that my older brother was not interested in farming. My sister was married, and she and her husband had moved to Ohio where he was a research engineer for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. There was no one there at home. I realized here's a good opportunity for me if I want to go back home. So I transferred at the end of my sophomore year to N.C. State and got a degree in animal industry. My father never tried to persuade me one way or the other although I think he was secretly glad that I did. He seemed to be very happy when I went back and took over the operation. As a parent myself now, I understand. He and my mother had literally put their life's blood into that farm and to see one of the children show some interest in it, I'm sure was very pleasing to them. But I suppose if I had been doing well in chemistry and physics I might have been a physician today, maybe rather than where I am.
The other thing, a little turning point in my career, is that after my period of service in the military—when I was discharged in 1957, I think that's right—I came back home and started farming. I had a short career. I was a draftee. I didn't take ROTC or anything. All I wanted to do was pull my two years and get out although I had an interesting career. I came back, and I came for an interview in Raleigh for a job with the SBI, the State Bureau of Investigation, because I'd liked that intelligence work.


Then from my two years in the military I—even though I came back to the farm and was working there—I guess I was somewhat restless. I came to Raleigh to be interviewed by the director of the State Bureau of Investigation for a position as an SBI agent. I had the credentials being a college graduate and having experience in intelligence work in the military. But one of the requirements at that time, and probably still is, that they would not assign an agent in the area in which he grew up and lived, and understandingly so. So I thought about that a little bit and finally decided that I did not want to move. So may be if it had not been for that one little requirement, I might be working for Bob Morgan today.
Well, you became governor. A lot of that's on the public record as to what you accomplished and what the fights were, but I'm wondering personally what did you enjoy about being governor?
Well, there were a number of highlights, of course. I'm sometimes asked that do I think is the most significant accomplishment of my administration. I find that very, very difficult to deal with. Remember that during this period of time from 1969 through '72 was a time of great civil unrest in our state. There was the civil rights issue. There was the Vietnam War issue. There was a great deal of marching in the streets and so on. It was a turbulent time, a time of confrontation, unrest, tensions. I spent a great deal of time dealing with those things. I think the great story of North Carolina during the

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period of the early 1960's on through 1971 and '2 is what did not happen in North Carolina during Governor Sanford's administration, Governor Moore's, mine, and perhaps a little bit of Holshouser's before things began to settle down. Sure, we had some racial tensions. We had some burnings. We had to call out the national guard a few times and those were bad enough. But on reflection, nothing really bad, of a holocaust type thing that some other states incurred. We worked hard with varying degrees of success to try to keep those incidents, to avoid them if at all possible, and to keep them at a minimum, considering the destruction of property and life.
We had teams of people working in the public schools. Those people are still here today up in the Department of Public Instruction, Dudley Flood and Gene Crosby, Jim, oh gosh, I can't think of his last name, and Robert Ed Strother, who just retired June 30 in this department. Two blacks and two whites and they would go into the schools of the state when racial situations occurred, and those guys could diffuse an issue about as good as any I've seen. It's true we didn't win them all as evidenced by having to send the national guard into A&T State University to storm the building, which was Scott Hall by the way. We had to call out the highway patrol on the UNC campus. That was the cafeteria strike. It didn't relate to civil rights. That was a wage issue, an administrative issue. Of course, the Wilmington Ten situation. Up in Oxford, we had to call the guard out up there. But, by and large, I think we came out very well given the climate of the times, the tensions that existed. That was

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the climate in which I operated. I wish it could have been more positive, and we could have directed more of our time and energies to doing those things that we really ought to have been doing.
I guess the greatest satisfactions I got were in the little things. Two stand out in my mind even today, one in the extreme eastern part of the state and one in the extreme west. In the eastern part of the state on the little island of Ocracoke, which is in Hyde County or Dare—oh my, I don't want that on the record, I've got to look it up—but anyway they did not have the population there to support a strong public school. In fact the few students they had of high school age had to, they got on a ferry and rode over to Hatteras to attend the school there. The elementary school students on the island had a one room school, if you will. Well, they finally got together enough money to build a nice new school, open classroom concept, but they didn't have any equipment. The county didn't have any money to buy any equipment. It took everything they had to build the school plus some monies they got donated. I was talking to Dr. Craig Phillips, the superintendent of public instruction, about it. He and I worked very closely together during those years. We finally decided that all these vendors that sell this equipment to the state of North Carolina—my gosh, they made plenty of money off the state—they ought to be able to give some equipment. So we approached the vendors and said, "Look, if you want to get some publicity and do a good thing, why don't you give audio-visual equipment, supplies and materials. Let's equip

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this school like it ought to be done." And they did. There for a long time they had one of the best equipped little schools in the state of North Carolina. They had good teachers there for just a handful of students from grades one through eight or nine. So that was one thing. I felt very good about that.
Two was up in the mountains, Avery or Mitchell counties or one of those counties up here. They had an old community up there that originally had a mica mine, and it was a little mining community. The mine had long since closed down. The company had originally built a little water system there for the people in town. Well, when the company, the mine closed down and the company moved out years ago, the water system deteriorated, and those folks up there didn't have any water supply. They were piping water from a spring, and it wasn't reliable. It wasn't sufficient and so forth. They were literally having to walk to get water from a long way. For some reason, they were not able to get any federal funds for some reason to help. Some lady up there wrote me a letter about their condition, and I called up to a friend up there to sort of verify that's what it was. They said, "Yes, that's true. They do have a very difficult problem." They were way up in a remote area of the mountains. I put a staff person on that full-time. I said with all the federal programs we've got—and that was during the period of time when there were plenty of federal programs—I said "to be sure somewhere, somehow we can arrange to get them some money." Well, it make a long story, short, they did. I think they formed a little water coop and got some farmer's home funds or something

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like that, and got them a little water system up there. I still, occasionally, get letters from those people thanking me and reminding me. It's because somebody would take some time and listen to their problems.Well, those are a couple of things that stand out. Sure, the record shows the bigger things we did, and I won't get into that.
Another little thing that we did, I had a guy on my staff who was really the fellow who handled my relations with the news media, C.T. West. He was an old Associated Press reporter. C.T. had a fascination with the military and particularly the Coast Guard or Navy. I think he was an old Navy man himself. He worked it out to where the service men of North Carolina got a Christmas card from the governor every Christmas. We set up a ham radio system whereby we could broadcast greetings to North Carolina service men overseas. Made arrangements for some of these service men to talk to their families at home through the ham radio network. That was a very heart warming thing.
We began to do some things for senior citizens. That was sort of the beginning of the senior citizens movement. We got a staff person over in the Department of Human Resources that worked full-time with the senior citizens program. Of course, nowadays that's nothing, but back then it was, you know, sort of starting off like that. Those are some of the things.
I guess as far as political things and satisfaction there were two things. One was the consolidation of the university system. That was really a battle royal, blood all over the floor. But we won that in a close one. The other was the

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beginning of the public school kindergarten system. I'm very proud of that. We had talked about it for years. We needed public school kindergartens but it was one of those things that was expensive. We didn't have enough money to do it. I, and Craig Phillips worked closely with me on this, we decided that we couldn't take it off all in one bite. Number one, the schools of education had not trained qualified public school kindergarten teachers. We did decide to try some pilot projects first. So we set one up in each educational district in the state. There were eight public school kindergartens. We got the bugs worked out, and that's when I went to the legislature and asked for a tax on cigarettes and a tax on soft drinks, which again was a "blood all over the floor" deal. The money was used, the ninety million dollars that we raised, was used to start those public school kindergartens. It took, well, I guess you had to be stupid to do that in reflection. But I'm proud of the fact that I felt strong enough about it to take it on and to do it.
That is the last addition to the general fund revenues that we've had in North Carolina except I think maybe they have an extra half-cent sales tax. Most of the sales tax that's been added on has gone to local governments. I think maybe they kept an extra half-cent for the state at some point in time. That was in addition to the tax we already had. Those were the last two new taxes we've ever had in this state. Ever since then governors have been running on the platform no new taxes, and that's why education and human services and other things are suffering in this state because governors get themselves locked

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in by promising no new taxes. You can't ride that particular horse forever. You've got to have some money from somewhere if you're going to meet the needs of the people. But that's another story.
That's a big story there. There's a lot of questions I'd like to ask you, but one of the things I'd like your views on, it's a big question, the Democratic party has seen a growth in competition with the Republican party. It's really changed, and you've pretty much been involved in the middle of that and seen that happen. I guess the first time was back there with Skipper Bowles and Holshouser. To your guess, what was happening there that has allowed the Republician party to pick up strength in that period?
I'm not sure that I know all of the factors. I have some opinions, observations, I guess, more than anything else. First of all I think if you go back for the period of time, maybe to the '60's, early '60's, you'll find a gradual increase in Republician voting strength in the state. That is to say the margin of victory by the Democratic nominees was not as great as it had been in previous times. The gap was narrowing. Now it accelerated during that period of time. I suspect that Skipper Bowles would have won if two things had not occurred. Number one, if Nixon had not been so popular at that time. The Republicians in this state, as they were doing across the country, were on a roll. They came in on Nixon's coattail. I don't want to say that totally but that did have an impact.

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Another reason that Holshouser won was because the Democratic primary was so divisive that year. Pat Taylor and Skipper squared off, and my supporters generally were supporting Pat Taylor. Skipper's advisers had some rather strong things to say about my administration. He was running against me more than against the Republicans. That's the way my folks perceived it. After the primary there was an effort to get the two factions together but it didn't work because the Skipper Bowles faction felt so strongly that they wanted to be totally in charge. They were not willing to bring Pat Taylor's faction into the fold. As a result of that, together with the fact that the Skipper Bowles' folks had had so much to say about my administration, there was a definite coolness. There was not—our folks frankly just did not get out there and work for Skipper Bowles. They didn't vote against him, and they didn't work against him. They just didn't get out there and hustle for him. That together with the tide of Richard Nixon's effort to bring Holshouser in, I think brought him into being.
Another factor during that time was the economic growth in the state. There were a considerable number of people moving in with new industries from other regions of the country. The north and the midwest, particularly, were coming in here. That was a small factor. I think too, the Republicans had been doing a credible job in developing their own state wide leadership. They hadn't done very much at the local level. So those were some of the factors.

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I remember very well being at a meeting of the state Jaycees in Greensboro or High Point just a few days before the general election. Jim Holshouser was the speaker, no, I beg your pardon, I was the speaker, Jim Holshouser came by to politick. This was on like a Thursday or Friday before the election the following Tuesday. As luck would have it Holshouser and I had a few moments there by ourselves where nobody was standing around, I said, "Jim, how do you feel about the election?" He said, "Well, I think I might win." I said, "Well, I think you will too." He says, "Why do you think so?" No, I asked Holshouser why he thought he would win. He said, "Well, we had a poll done in the state a few weeks ago which showed us within striking distance, and we know the momentum is with us. We did a telephone poll this week that showed us neck and neck. We've got the momentum on our side." That answer coincided with what I had picked up from our own people. I had privately predicted to some folks that he would win. They had brought Richard Nixon into North Carolina just a few days before the election. Nixon was very popular at that time. The timing was beautiful. I think that those are some of the things that brought that about.
Since then, of course, Jim Hunt came back. Jim was very well organized. Holshouser was not successful, in my judgment, in really building the Republican party at the grass roots level. That, together with the fact that they did not have a Richard Nixon then, they weren't able to carry that sweep along. I think then one of the reasons that Jim Martin came along and was successful, partly because again the popularity of Ronald Reagan,

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and the fact that Jim Hunt, by virtue of having been in office for eight years, had built up a lot of political liabilities in his own party. There was not a willingness on the part of Governor Hunt or his supporters to open up the party to include others.1 I just heard that everywhere I went. Consequently, there was a feeling, well, you know, the heck with it. If they want to run it then let them sink or swim with it. Those combination of factors, I think, lead to that, together again with the change in the whole climate here in the south. The Democratic national ticket was viewed as being too liberal. The Republican party seemed to be viewed as more nearly representating the views of the average person in North Carolina and had a certain amount of attractiveness to them. I suspect that's true today with many of the young people.
Does it seem to you that the Democractic leadership changed or are things still being done the way they were back when you first entered politics in the '60's?
Oh, no, things are being done differently. Let me first say that I don't follow the interworkings of the party all that closely. I never have been a strong—well, I've been a strong Democrat, I'll always be a Democrat—a loyal Democrat but

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I've never been a strong party person. I've always said there's two types of politics. One is your party politics, be it Democrat or Republican, in which you get in and you're really concerned about who's going to be precinct chairman or who's going to be your county chairman, your district representative, all like that. You fight that internal party politics. And then we've got your other political game that's played outside of the party structure somewhat, as a candidate. In other words, when I ran for governor I don't guess I'd ever read a Democratic party platform in my life, you know. You don't really care. Under our two party system you've got the mechanism to run on so you identify yourself with one party, and I'm not saying that it is not important. It is important because that it the mechanism by which you get elected. But there's the internal politics and then the external politics. I was always playing the external politics. That is to say I was as a candidate for public office as opposed to being a candidate for a party post. I didn't really care who was, you know …2 My agenda was going to be my agenda, and I was running on that and philosophically it happened to be fairly close to the party platform. I didn't agree with everything they had but I didn't talk about the party platform when I would run. I don't think they do today. That's why the party itself has never been—there's no discipline in the party. In other words, if you were a strong party official in your county, you had a responsibility for all the nominees for

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the party and helping them to get elected. I would be running for governor. Okay, if I got elected and you wanted something from, a favor from the governor's office, I would listen to you but I would check with whoever my campaign chairman was in the county, and that individual would have more say so about whether I granted that. In other words, it's not like they were in New York state and some other states, where the party discipline was strong.
It's always been that way in North Carolina?
It's always been that way in this state, yeah.
More personal kind of politics?
Exactly. That's a good way to put it. So I didn't really, within reason, didn't care too much about what the party did.
Let me go off on a tangent a minute, and we'll come back to this if you want to. I always thought it was a very interesting thing, and I don't know what the odds are against it occurring or not. When my father ran for governor in 1948, the candidate for lieutenant governor—and both were elected—the candidate for lieutenant governor was H.P. Taylor, Sr. from Wadesboro. When I ran for governor in 1968, twenty years later, the candidate for lieutenant governor was H.P. Taylor, Jr. from Wadesboro. We were both elected independently and separate from each other. Two fathers and sons elected to the same office twenty years later.
That's really an irony.
It is an irony. I don't know that anybody has ever picked up on that particular—I'm sure some historian would sometime.

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It's interesting.
Of course, I was one of two or maybe three father-son governors in the state. But I don't know there's ever been another instance either here or in any other state where the father of the governor and the father of the lieutenant governor were the same father-son combination.
It's an amazing coincidence. That really is. Well, one question that any historian would have to ask you would be about your run against Hunt and your decision to do that in 1980. It's kind of a surprising decision because the odds were so much against you when you threw your hat in the ring.
Yeah, that's right. Again, I still ask myself why, sometimes. Okay, I think this is an excellent example of where someone who's kind of sort of lost touch. I went to Washington in the Carter administration to serve as the federal chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission which was a large economic development regional commission, the largest in the country. I didn't like it in Washington, quite frankly. My family was down here, and I was staying up there and commuting home on the weekend. Came home every weekend for two years, except two. I liked the work. I didn't like all the frustrations of the federal bureaucracy. I though it was bad enough in North Carolina but it's nothing compared to what it is up there. But anyway, I left after two years and came back to North Carolina. I was interested in coming back to the state, and I've always had an interest in education. So when the position for the state president for the Department of Community Colleges came open, the

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first time when Governor Hunt was in office, I applied for it and unfortunately for everybody concerned, it got picked up in the media and became an issue. The people on the governor's staff did not want me to come back. I'm not sure that the governor himself really objected to it much. But the governor's political advisors, and I'm especially thinking of…
Bennett or…
Well, he was one. Oh, gosh, he was budget officer. Anyway, the governor's budget officer, John A. Williams, those folks sort of viewed me as a threat still. They, of course, knew that Governor Hunt was going to run for a second term.


They knew that Governor Hunt was going to run for the second term, and they were afraid that I would come back here and use this position, if I got it, as a platform to run for governor. Well, I didn't have any intention of doing that. I really was interested in this work and wanted to devote my time to it. It got to be almost a political fight. The governor got in the position where it was me and him, and obviously he had to win, and he had the resources and the power to win.
Key members of the legislature wanted me in this slot, and others did, and I had the votes on the board, the Board of Community Colleges, at one time to get the position. The Board of Education it was then, the State Board of Education. But there were some phone calls made the night before the vote was taken—from the governor's office, I found out later although they denied it strongly—that told them that they wanted them to change the vote. I know where those phone calls came from. Came from John A. Williams. Anyway I didn't get it. Well, that probably subconsciously entered into it.
Frankly, the governor was not truthful with me on a couple of occasions, more than a couple of occasions, but nothing real big. But I just found out that he was not truthful, and this bothered me a little bit. A couple of other people who had reason, they were in a position to know, had expressed similar views. They had found the governor to be less than honest with them. That bothered me. I had known Jim Hunt since a baby. Also, I was interested in, had a genuine interest in, testing

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this business of a second term—first time it had ever occurred in this state you know—and whether or not the power of the incumbency, if you would. Well, I found out how powerful it is. Of course, Jim Hunt, whom I consider a friend, really do, in fact, we met in here today on a matter he was interested in… I wanted to test whether or not the people would buy this business automatically of electing him to a second term. Naturally there were those out there who had supported me before and who [went] all the distance and all the people who had—quote been wronged end of quote—by the governor, you know. They wanted me to run. Well, I'm afraid I didn't do the adequate sampling and polling that I should have. People won't tell you, you know, particularly if you have held an office and so forth. They won't really tell you what it is, the true situation. So I went into it with not having the clear picture. Of course, I got roundly beat. I was not able to raise the money. That was one of the major factors because again the governor and his folks were able to tie up the sources of money that I might have been able to get. So he beat me fair and square. Wasn't anything about that that…
So you entered in thinking you had a good chance to win it?
A fair, even chance, not a good chance.
You know politics has changed a lot too. It begin to change about the first time I served as governor, or the only time I served as governor. But back then, that was about the last of the campaigning in the old style, where you went out and shook all

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the hands you could, attended rallies, and so forth. We didn't hire consultants. We didn't hire advisors. Yes, you had some television, and we thought we spent a lot of money on it. We only had one poll, I think. Somebody told me that was the thing to do so I had a poll run, and it just verified what I instinctively knew. We didn't even know what kind of questions to ask in the poll. It wasn't so sophisticated, no computers. You didn't sit down and have a voter analysis, precinct, a targeted precinct, those sophisticated techniques you have today. You campaigned on guts, instinct. Somebody would come running up to you and say, so and so said thus and such and so forth, and you gave a reply right then, you know, instinctively. I don't think it's near as much fun today as it was. Maybe it's because I'm older. We had a lot of enthusiasm. A lot of young people involved. I don't see that today.
You go into a candidate's office today, it's computerized. It's impersonal. You've got printouts that you're analyzing. You've got marketing specialists. You've got polling specialists. You've got all these consultants and the candidate is over there like a box of washing powder that's being marketed. The candidate spends most of his time with select groups of people who can provide money because you've got to have it. There's not much of this business of sort of barnstorming. Oh yeah, they'll do a little bit of that just for the show of it.
But it began to change along about that period of time. In Holshouser's time they had a little more polling and that kind of thing. Of course, Jim Hunt was a master at organization, and Joe

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Grimsley. They were sharp minds. They really put together a good tight organization, well run. Joe, particularly, who is president of one of our colleges now, Joe Grimsley, he and I reminisce right much. They had keen insight on targeting precincts and what areas they needed to give attention to and that kind of thing. Well, all these things began to change.
Well, you know, if I got back into politics today I'd be totally lost. I don't understand the rules of the game, how it's done. I keep an interest in it. I don't know, being governor I don't think is all that, maybe, as much today because the legislature continues to erode the powers of the governor. Yes, it's got a lot of prestige and pomp and ceremony and a lot of perks and all like that. But if I were a young person today wanting to go into politics, I would look around over the state and find me a county that would be relatively safe politically—as far as the political party is concerned, it's not likely to change too much—establish residence there, and then I'd run for the legislature. Being elected, I'd try to get on the good side of the leadership of the legislature and maybe get appointed, sooner or later, as chairman of one of the powerful committees, I wouldn't give a damn who's governor. I would maybe some day get to be Speaker of the House or President-Pro tem of the Senate. I wouldn't care who was governor. Well, Liston Ramsey is an excellent example, you know. If you don't aspire to the perks of the governorship and so forth, man, you've got far more power than the governor will ever know.

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If I were a young person and didn't care to run for public office, but wanted to be involved in it, I would go to law school and get me a law degree, and I'd get me a job on the staff of the legislature. I would be one of those who would be writing the legislation that these legislators talk about and so forth. I would be the one who would be drafting the language and putting in the fine print. I've seen it happen many times. The staff of the legislature, just like the staff of the Congress now, are the most powerful people in the state of North Carolina with the exception of the super sub-committee of the legislature. That is the speaker, the chairmen of the appropriations committees, and the senate president pro tem, and their chairman. As one who lobbies the legislature for education, the community colleges in particular, my job is easier in many respects because I don't worry about 175, or 170 legislators. I worry about eight or ten and the staff of the legislature. I lobby them constantly. The rest of them I just, I'm courteous to.
These eight or ten are the committee.
Yeah, it's what we call the super sub-committee. Basically it's the speaker of the house, the chairman of the house appropriations committee, and the chairman of the house budget committee, and to some extent the chairman of the house higher education committee and their counterparts in the senate. I stay on the good side with the lieutenant governor but he's not a member of the legislature. I'm more interested in his committee chairman.

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Well, the question that you've got to ask any politican, in closing, especially in the age of Ronald Regan and Terry Sanford, is your political career over?
In the sense of being a candidate for public office, yes.
Giving that up, huh.
Yes, I don't have the drive for it. I don't have the fire in the gut. You've got to want to win. You've got to want it bad otherwise it will kill you physically and emotionally to undergo the strain of a campaign. Again, I don't think it's as much fun. It doesn't appeal to me like it once did. I'm certainly willing to, and I think properly so, move aside, and I have been moved aside by the people of the state because I didn't win the last time. But I hold no bitterness against that at all and considering my total political career, it's been quite successful.
Another factor is that in this role I'm very happy in what I'm doing. It gives me a lot of personal satisfaction. I do enjoy coming to work very much. It gives me an opportunity to be involved in a state wide endeavor, in this case the cause of education. I like this particular position because we are not a regulatory agency. We're not sitting here telling people what they can't do but rather we're trying to devise ways to help people. It's a very positive work that I'm in.
Secondly, I do have an opportunity to travel all over the state. In fact I'm leaving here now to go to Halifax County to meet with a group of businessmen and the college people there at

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Halifax Community College and getting them to support our program for adult literacy to help reading and writing problems there. I have the opportunity to travel all over the state and do travel all over the state. I get to see many of my friends that I've known over the years. In fact, get them involved in these things. I'm a member of the governor's cabinet and so I sit at the cabinet meetings and interact with the heads of the other agencies of state government and the governor. I have occasional trips or involvement at the national level on educational issues.
My children are grown. We've got grandchildren. They're all in good health and good spirits. My wife is also now back at work, working in the Department of Public Instruction. We're both here in the same building. She travels too. Often, we laugh and say we compare each other's schedules, and if we find that we're going to be in the same area of the state, we arrange to meet secretly in a motel somewhere. We say we've got to stop meeting like this out of town, or people will talk. We still maintain our farm. I got out of the active farming business. Like a lot of others I was about to go broke in farming. I sold my dairy herd—this was after three generations of doing this—and rented my farm out. Now I have a couple of sons-in-law who have indicated that they might crank it up again. I don't encourage them to do it although it would make me very happy if they did. I just hate to see them go broke too. If they can supplement it in some other way, fine.
Life has been good to me, and I enjoy life. I enjoy my work immensely. You know personal satisfaction means an awful lot.

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Like everyone else I want to write a book but I can't make myself sit still long enough to write it. My book will not be, if I do write it, will not be heavy handed material or a biography or anything like that. I want to write a book on the gubernatorial humor and have little vignettes of amusing incidents and comments by governors past. I draw on many on the experiences of my father, Terry Sanford, the governors I knew, and my own experiences, particularly with the characters that we meet in the course of our work. One of the richest sources of material I found for this are the state troopers that drive for the governor. They hear it all. Of course, they're very discrete about it, and they would do nothing to embarrass their governors that they've worked for or breach their confidentiality. But they know some humorous things. I'm putting all these stories in a little jacket of material in order that one day I can sit down and maybe write that. I think it will be fun. Whether I'll be able to get it published or not, I really don't care.
I'll look forward to reading it. Thanks a lot for your time. I really enjoyed it.
Thank you. I enjoyed being with you, and I guess I'm going to have to head down the country.
1. The major factor in Governor Jim Hunt's failure to defeat Senator Jesse Helms in 1984 was his unwillingness to bring other leaders of the Democratic Party into his circle of leadership. He refused to share power. He refused to help his long-time friend and ally, Eddie Knox, and Knox later left the panty and opposed Hunt. Hunt never included me or my key folks. He was totally self-centered. Many democrats didn't like the way Jim Hunt refused to include others. That, together with the popularity of President Regan, who was running for re-election, made the difference in the Hunt-Helms race.
2. Here I meant that it didn't really matter to me who was precinct chairman or county chairman.