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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Howell Heflin, July 9, 1974. Interview A-0010. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Race as a powerful electoral issue in the South

Barry Goldwater took the South in the 1964 presidential election because of his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, Heflin believes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Howell Heflin, July 9, 1974. Interview A-0010. 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

JACK BASS:
I want to ask you a political question. If goes back to '64. Because we've heard some divergent opinions on this. When Goldwater swept the state, how big a factor, in your opinion, was the fact that he voted against the civil rights act that year?
HOWELL HEFLIN:
Goldwater? Oh, I think it was a sizable factor. I think that had a sizable influence on Alabama voters at that time. You know, you go back in your history. . . . Didn't Wallace withdraw? Was he running at that time and then he withdrew?
JACK BASS:
Withdrew after Goldwater got the nomination.
HOWELL HEFLIN:
He withdrew after he got the nomination. And who was running against Goldwater? Lyndon Johnson. Yeah. That was the race. . . push the button, the man pushes the button and atomic bombs go off. Vietnam and all. [And of course] Johnson got a lot of mileage nationally out of. . . that Goldwater's liable to do something erratic and put us all into a nuclear war. I don't know. It's hard for me now to all of a sudden think back ten years ago and give you that answer. But at the time I felt like that his withdrawal, Wallace's withdrawal, and Goldwater's position on civil rights at that time was a sizable factor in Goldwater's sweep of certain southern states. Mostly in the real deep South. Of course Goldwater also is a hard-nosed military man which may have been popular at that time. Basically the South is very patriotic. They like strong military, strong defense. Of course that's hard to divorce. . . separate your mind as you view Goldwater today and then how he was in '64. But I'd think about it a long time.