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Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 4, 1998. Interview C-0336-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Governor Robert W. (Bob) Scott, although he grew up the son of Governor W. Kerr Scott, describes himself as something of an outsider—"a farmer . . . a graduate of N. C. State"—and insists that he never intended on a political career. When his name surfaced in a newspaper item speculating about a run for the governorship, however, his political career began. Scott ran for lieutenant governor and won the seat, and while he downplays his political acumen and ambitions, he soon thereafter began to position himself for a gubernatorial campaign. After four years as lieutenant governor, he took his understated political posture to the governor's office, becoming the first sitting lieutenant governor to take the state house, where he served from 1969 to 1973. In this rich interview, Scott describes his early life and how he backed into a political career; his modest approach to the lieutenant governorship and his relationship with state legislators; his successful campaign for the governorship, which he won by reaching out to a diverse constituency, from African Americans to white conservatives; and his goals for statewide leadership. As he discusses these topics, he reveals a layered political life and shows, or cultivates, an image as a laid-back person with big goals but limited political ambitions. Modest and self-effacing, Scott presents a detailed political portrait and provides a look into the workings of North Carolina's political processes in the 1960s and 1970s.
    Excerpts
  • Rural childhood holds more influence than father's political career
  • A loan as courtship ritual
  • Governor W. Kerr Scott's work habits
  • Learning honesty and hard work from his father
  • Using political influence to secure a watermelon
  • The beginning of Scott's political career
  • Joking that ego launched his political career
  • Reinventing the lieutenant governorship
  • A cordial relationship between two Democrats with different philosophies
  • As lieutenant governor, keeping quiet about legislative moves
  • Seeking to address various interests as lieutenant governor
  • Relying on a political ally to cultivate a political network
  • Seeking support from various constituencies
  • The challenge of keeping political promises
  • The environment, utilities disputes, and economic planning demand attention
  • Clever courtship of a wide voting coalition
  • Approaching politics as a vehicle for achieving goals, rather than party-building
  • Need for southern Democrats to obscure their connections to the national party
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  • 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.