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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jack Hawke, June 7, 1990. Interview C-0087. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Rouse's outstanding job as chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party

Hawke describes Frank Rouse as the best chairman of the North Carolina Republican party in recent years. Hawke explains how Rouse gave total commitment to the Republican Party, ultimately to the detriment of his business career. Ultimately, his dedication and his innovative use of television for campaign purposes was instrumental in organizing the party in North Carolina during the early 1970s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jack Hawke, June 7, 1990. Interview C-0087. 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

JONATHAN HOUGHTON:
Some of the stories you were talking about, some of the precinct building techniques, he used television cameras and canvasing.
JACK HAWKE:
No, I'm sorry, that was Frank Rouse.
JONATHAN HOUGHTON:
Oh, that was Frank Rouse?
JACK HAWKE:
That was Frank Rouse in the early '70s. Frank was probably our first really full-time state chairman. He just took a leave of absence from his business, and Frank's motto was total commitment, and he gave it total commitment to the extent that he ended up with his business going bankrupt and having some real personal, even eventually personally declared bankruptcy. But he was a total commitment to the party when he was chairman. He started the first real staff at a state headquarters. He put in a T.V. room where he had a camera, and he'd bring candidates in and let them practice and train and do films for them. In those days, you could get away with having your own camera and doing a news statement and sending it to the T.V. stations and they'd use it. Today, you can't get away with that. That ended in the early '70s. In the '60s we used to do that too. So that way you could say what you wanted to and send it to the news department and it would get on the air unedited the way you wanted to say. Frank did things like that. He probably started our first state newspaper that went statewide. He was very strong in organization. Frank's weakness as chairman was that he had foot and mouth disease, and he often said things that got him into a lot of trouble. In the middle of his term as chairman there was our first real primary for governor with Holshouser and Gardner, and it was in the run-off, I guess, Frank stepped down as chairman to endorse Gardner, and then, of course, Holshouser won and determined that he was going to get rid of Frank Rouse. So we had one of the most bitter conventions I can remember that year when Tom Bennett ran against Frank Rouse. But Frank was an innovator. He was probably the best state chairman that I've seen that we've had in all these years, and I didn't know Bill Cobb. So if you exclude Bill Cobb, Frank was, at least in my opinion, probably the best we've had in the last twenty-five years.