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Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Robert W. (Bob) Scott was elected governor of North Carolina in 1969, serving until 1973. Although he was the son of former governor W. Kerr Scott, he had never seriously considered a political career until he found himself in the lieutenant governor's office. In this interview, however, as well as the other interview in this series, Scott reveals a political acuity and a thoughtfulness about his office that certainly did not spring from disinterest. The focus of this interview is Scott's term as governor. He considers the relatively constrained powers of North Carolina's chief executive—Scott did not have veto power during his administration—and how that power affects the relationship between the executive and legislative branches. He traces the root of his ethics back to his upbringing and describes the challenges and temptations of holding political office, or having the power of the state within reach. He ponders the role of the governor as administrator, and how that administrator must interact with the many people around him or her, from loyal aides to political rivals. Along the way, Scott reveals himself as a nonideological, nonpartisan governor who was not interested in building the Democratic Party organization past the point where it would win him elections and had little passion for the game of politics. This is a dense interview, thick with opinions and recollections, and will be useful to researchers and students interested in the operation of state government in North Carolina as well as Scott himself. Researchers and students interested in further material should look to the first interview in this series, C-0036-1.
    Excerpts
  • Feeling the weight of responsibility as he swears the oath of office
  • The need to keep campaign promises
  • Measuring the public mood despite the limitations of holding office
  • A political maneuver to secure money for public kindergarten
  • Managing the media
  • Reorganizing executive branch and creating free kindergarten were legislative priorities
  • Governor Scott seeks to maintain a good relationship with the legislature
  • A university restructuring becomes entangled in politics
  • The North Carolina legislature gathered power in the early 1970s
  • A governor needs to be a good manager surrounded by good people
  • Defending the patronage system
  • Scott's upbringing shapes his values
  • Assessing the temptations of political power
  • The burden of high expectations for politicians
  • A lack of interest in party machinery
  • Scott is not a party loyalist
  • Reflecting on his failed effort to retake the governorship in 1980
  • The weakness of the office of the governor in North Carolina
  • Opposition to an elected judiciary
  • Pride and regret in reflecting on gubernatorial term
  • Pride and regret in reflecting on gubernatorial term
  • Weighing the personal impacts of holding the office of governor
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • 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.