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Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Terry Sanford, a Democratic politician who served as a state senator, governor, and U.S. senator in North Carolina and held the presidency at Duke University, reflects on his political career in this interview. He focuses on his goals for his upcoming Senate career, describing the positive campaign strategy that secured him a seat in the United States Senate in 1986. His emphasis on positivity complements his emphasis on unity, a trait he sought to restore to the Democratic Party with his incursions into national politics, including as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 1972 and 1976. Sanford leaves unsaid what precisely Democratic politicians could do to restore unity, however—a thorny question complicated by the fact that the Democrats' disarray in Sanford's North Carolina was likely due to the party's support for civil rights for African Americans. His focus on unity was complemented by what he describes as a positive television ad push that emphasized his record, and his determination not to court certain voting blocs for fear of antagonizing them. This interview offers an interesting look at the way a moderate southern Democrat gained political influence, and won over southern voters, in the increasingly conservative 1970s and 1980s.
  • Failure to collect the Nixon papers at Duke University
  • Explaining Durham's shortcomings
  • Deciding to run for president in 1972
  • Sanford aims to reunite the Democratic Party in the early 1970s
  • A Democratic loss convinces Sanford to run a positive campaign
  • A Democratic loss convinces Sanford to run a positive campaign
  • A positive campaign strategy wins Sanford a primary
  • Sanford tries to avoid overtly courting African American voters
  • Sanford's strategy to woo religious voters
  • Campaign establishes a strong foundation before seeking votes through ads
  • Various reasons for an unlikely Democratic Senate win
  • Accepting an appointment to a vacated seat may be a political mistake
  • A positive campaign appeals to a variety of voters
  • Legislative priorities for the upcoming Senate session
  • The effort to pass the Speaker Ban
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • North Carolina--Politics and government
  • Governors--North Carolina
  • Duke University. President
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.