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Though I missed being governor and the excitement of politics, I enjoyed the more normal pace of my life, coming home at a reasonable hour, being with Hillary as we watched Chelsea grow into her life, going out to dinner with friends, and getting to know our neighbors, especially the older couple who lived directly across the street, Sarge and Louise Lozano. They adored Chelsea and were always there to help out..bvlgari rings replica.
I resolved to stay away from public speaking for several months, with one exception. In February, I drove to Brinkley, about an hour east of Little Rock on the interstate, to speak at the Lions Club banquet. The area had voted for me in 1980, and my strongest supporters there all urged me to come. They said it would lift my spirits to be with folks who were still supporters, and it did. After the dinner, I went to a reception at the home of my county leaders, Don and Betty Fuller, where I was gratified and a little surprised to meet people who actually wanted me to be governor again. Back in Little Rock, most people were still trying to get on good terms with the new governor. One man whom Id appointed to a position in state government and who wanted to stay on under Governor White actually crossed the street in downtown Little Rock one day when he saw me walking toward him. He was afraid to be seen shaking hands with me in broad daylight..cartier love bracelet replica.
While I was grateful for the kindness of my friends in Brinkley, I didnt go out speaking again in Arkansas for several months. Frank White was beginning to make mistakes and lose some legislative battles, and I didnt want to get in his way. He kept his campaign pledge to pass bills changing the name of the Economic Development Department back to the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission and abolishing the Department of Energy. But when he tried to abolish the rural health clinics Hillary and I had established, large numbers of people who depended on them showed up to protest. His bill was defeated, and he had to be content with stopping the building of more clinics that would have served others who really needed them..bvlgari rings replica.
When the governor introduced a bill to roll back the car-tag increase, the director of the Highway Department, Henry Gray, the highway commissioners, and the road builders put up strong resistance. They were building and repairing roads and making money. A lot of legislators listened to them, because their constituents liked the roadwork even if they had resisted paying for it. In the end, White got a modest rollback in the fees, but most of the money stayed in the program..cartier love bracelet replica.
The governors biggest legislative problem arose, ironically, out of a bill he passed. The so-called creation science bill required that every Arkansas school that taught the theory of evolution had to spend an equal amount of time teaching a theory of creation consistent with the Bible: that humans did not evolve out of other species around one hundred thousand years ago, but instead were created by God as a separate species a few thousand years ago..cartier love bracelet replica.
For much of the twentieth century, fundamentalists had opposed evolution as being inconsistent with a literal reading of the biblical account of human creation, and in the early 1900s, several states, including Arkansas, outlawed the teaching of evolution. Even after the Supreme Court struck down such bans, most science texts didnt discuss evolution until the 1960s. By the late sixties, a new generation of fundamentalists were at it again, this time arguing that there was scientific evidence to support the Bibles creation story, and evidence that cast doubt on the theory of evolution. Eventually, they came up with the idea of requiring that schools that taught evolution had to give comparable attention to creation science..hermes bracelet replica.
Because of intense lobbying efforts by fundamentalist groups like FLAG (Family, Life, America under God) and the governors support, Arkansas was the first state to legally embrace the creation science notion. The bill passed without much difficulty: we didnt have many scientists in the legislature, and many politicians were afraid to offend the conservative Christian groups, who were riding high after electing a President and a governor. After Governor White signed the bill, there was a storm of protest from educators who didnt want to be forced to teach religion as science, from religious leaders who wanted to preserve the constitutional separation of church and state, and from ordinary citizens who didnt want Arkansas to become the laughingstock of the nation..bvlgari rings replica.
Frank White became an object of ridicule for the opponents of the creation science law. George Fisher, the Arkansas Gazette cartoonist who drew me on a tricycle, began presenting the governor with a half-peeled banana in his hand, implying that he hadnt fully evolved and was perhaps the proverbial missing link between humans and chimpanzees. When he started feeling the heat, Governor White protested that he hadnt read the bill before he signed it, digging himself into a deeper hole. Eventually, the creation science bill was declared unconstitutional by Judge Bill Overton, who did a masterly job at the trial and wrote a clear, compelling opinion saying the bill required the teaching of religion, not science, and therefore breached the Constitutions wall between church and state. Attorney General Steve Clark declined to appeal the decision..Christian Louboutin Replica.
Frank White had problems that went beyond the legislative session. His worst move was sending prospective appointees for the Public Service Commission to be interviewed by the Arkansas Power and Light Company, which had been seeking substantial increases in utility rates for the last few years. When the story came out, the press pounded the governor over it. Peoples electric rates were going up far more steeply than the car tags had. Now they had a governor who wanted to give APL prior approval of the people who would decide whether or not the company got to raise its rates even higher..bvlgari rings replica.
Then there were the verbal gaffes. When the governor announced a trade mission to Taiwan and Japan, he told the press how glad he was to be going to the Middle East. The incident gave George Fisher the inspiration for one of his funniest cartoons: the governor and his party getting off an airplane in the middle of a desert, complete with palm trees, pyramids, robed Arabs, and a camel. With banana in hand, he looks around and says, Splendid! Whistle us up a rickshaw!.bvlgari rings replica.
While all this was going on, I made a few political trips out of state. Before I lost, I had been invited by Governor John Evans to speak at the Idaho Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. After I got beat he asked me to come on anyway...
I went to Des Moines, Iowa, for the first time, to speak to a Democratic Party workshop for state and local officials. My friend Sandy Berger asked me to come to Washington to have lunch with Pamela Harriman, wife of the famous Democratic statesman Averell Harriman, who had been FDRs envoy to Churchill and Stalin, governor of New York, and our negotiator at the Paris peace talks with North Vietnam. Harriman met Pamela during World War II when she was married to Churchills son and living at 10 Downing Street. They married thirty years later, after his first wife died. Pamela was in her early sixties and still a beautiful woman. She wanted me to join the board of Democrats for the 80s, a new political action committee she had formed to raise money and promote ideas to help Democrats come back into power. After the lunch, I accompanied Pam to her first television interview. She was nervous and wanted my advice. I told her to relax and speak in the same conversational tone shed used during our lunch. I joined her board and over the next few years spent a number of great evenings at the Harrimans Georgetown house, with its political memorabilia and impressionist art treasures. When I became President, I named Pamela Harriman ambassador to France, where she had gone to live after World War II and the breakup of her first marriage. She was wildly popular and immensely effective with the French, and very happy there until she died, on the job, in 1997...
By the spring, the governor looked vulnerable in the next election and I began to think of a rematch. One day, I drove from Little Rock to Hot Springs to see Mother. About halfway there, I pulled into the parking lot of the gas station and store at Lonsdale. The man who owned it was active in local politics, and I wanted to see what he thought about my chances. He was friendly but noncommittal. As I walked back to my car, I ran into an elderly man in overalls. He said, Arent you Bill Clinton? When I said I was and shook his hand, he couldnt wait to tell me he had voted against me. Im one of those who helped beat you. I cost you eleven votesme, my wife, my two boys and their wives, and five of my friends. We just leveled you. I asked him why and got the predictable reply: I had to. You raised my car tags. I pointed to a spot on the highway not far from where we were standing and said, Remember that ice storm we had when I took office? That piece of road over there buckled and cars were stuck in the ditch. I had to get the National Guard to pull them out. There were pictures of it in all the papers. Those roads had to be fixed. He replied, I dont care. I still didnt want to pay it. For some reason, after all hed said, I blurted out, Let me ask you something. If I ran for governor again, would you consider voting for me? He smiled and said, Sure I would. Were even now. I went right to the pay phone, called Hillary, told her the story, and said I thought we could win...
I spent most of the rest of 1981 traveling and calling around the state. The Democrats wanted to beat Frank White, and most of my old supporters said theyd be with me if I ran. Two men with a deep love for our state and a passion for politics took a particular interest in helping me. Maurice Smith owned a 12,000-acre farm and the bank in his little hometown of Birdeye. He was about sixty years old, short and thin, with a craggy face and a deep, gravelly voice he used sparingly but to great effect. Maurice was smart as a whip and good as gold. He had been active in Arkansas politics a long timeand was a genuine progressive Democrat, a virtue his whole family shared. He didnt have a racist or an elitist bone in his body, and he had supported both my highway program and my education program. He wanted me to run again, and he was prepared to take the lead role in raising the funds necessary to win and in getting support from well-respected people who hadnt been involved before. His biggest coup was George Kell, who had made the Hall of Fame playing baseball for the Detroit Tigers and was still the radio announcer for the Tiger games. Throughout his stellar baseball career, Kell had kept his home in Swifton, the small northeast Arkansas town where he grew up. He was a legend there and had lots of admirers all over the state. After we got acquainted, he agreed to serve as the campaign treasurer...
Maurices support gave my campaign instant credibility, which was important because no Arkansas governor had ever been elected, defeated, and elected again, though others had tried. But he gave me much more. He became my friend, confidant, and advisor. I trusted him completely. He was somewhere between a second father and an older brother to me. For the rest of my time in Arkansas, he was involved in all my campaigns and the work of the governors office. Because Maurice loved the give-and-take of politics, he was especially effective in pushing my programs in the legislature. He knew when to fight and when to deal. He kept me out of a lot of the trouble Id had in the first term. By the time I became President, Maurice was in ill health. We spent one happy evening on the third floor of the White House reminiscing about our times together.
I never met a single person who didnt like and respect Maurice Smith. A few weeks before he died, Hillary was back in Arkansas and went to the hospital to see him. When she returned to the White House, she looked at me and said, I just love that man. In the last week of his life, we talked twice on the telephone. He told me he didnt think hed get out of the hospital this time and just wanted me to know Im proud of everything we did together and I love you. It was the only time he ever said that.
When Maurice died in late 1998, I went home to speak at his funeral, something I had to do too much of as President. On the way down to Arkansas, I thought of all he had done for me. He was finance chairman of all my campaigns, master of ceremonies at every inauguration, my chief of staff, a member of the university board of trustees, director of the Highway Department, chief lobbyist for legislation for the disabledthe favorite cause of his wife, Jane. But most of all, I thought of the day after I lost the 1980 election, when Hillary, Chelsea, and I were standing on the lawn of the Governors Mansion. As I slumped under the weight of my defeat, a small man put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said in that wonderful raspy voice, Thats all right. Well be back. I still miss Maurice Smith.
The other man in that category was L. W. Bill Clark, a man I barely knew before he sought me out in 1981 to discuss what Id have to do to regain the governors office. Bill was a strongly built man who loved a good political fight and had a keen understanding of human nature. He was from Fordyce in southeast Arkansas and owned a mill that shaped white oak lumber into staves for the casks that hold sherry and whiskey. He sold a lot of them in Spain. He also owned a couple of Burger King restaurants. One day in the early spring, he invited me to go to the races with him at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. I had been out of office only a couple of months, and Bill was surprised that so few people came up to our box to say hello. Instead of discouraging him, the cool treatment I got fired his competitive instincts. He decided he was going to get me back to the governors office come hell or high water. I went to his Hot Springs lake house several times in 1981 to talk politics and meet friends he was trying to recruit to help us. At those small dinners and parties, I met several people who agreed to take leading roles in the campaign in south Arkansas. Some of them had never supported me before, but Bill Clark brought them over. I owe Bill Clark a lot for all he did for me over the next eleven years, to help me win elections and pass my legislative program. But mostly I owe him for believing in me at a time when I wasnt always able to believe in myself.
While I was out on the hustings, Betsey Wright was working hard to get the mechanics in place. In the last several months of 1981, she, Hillary, and I talked to Dick Morris about how to launch my campaign, flying to New York at Dicks suggestion to meet with Tony Schwartz, a famous expert in political media, who rarely left his Manhattan apartment. I found Schwartz and his ideas about how to influence both the thoughts and feelings of voters fascinating. It was clear that if I wanted to win in 1982, just two years after being thrown out of office, I had to walk a fine line with Arkansans. I couldnt tell the voters theyd made a mistake in defeating me. On the other hand, if I wore the hair shirt too much, I would have a hard time convincing voters to give me another chance to serve. It was a problem we all thought hard about, as Betsey and I labored over the lists and devised strategies for the primary and general elections.
Meanwhile, as 1981 drew to a close, I took two very different trips that prepared me for the battle ahead. At the invitation of Governor Bob Graham, I went to Florida to address the state Democratic convention, which met in the Miami area every two years in December. I gave an impassioned plea for the Democrats to fight back in the face of Republican attack ads. I said it was all well and good to let them strike the first blow, but if they hit us hard below the belt, we should take a meat ax and cut their hands off. It was a bit melodramatic, but the right wing had taken over the Republican Party and changed the rules of political combat, while their hero, President Reagan, smiled and appeared to stay above it all. The Republicans thought they could win election wars indefinitely with their verbal assault weapons. Perhaps they could, but I for one was determined never to practice unilateral disarmament again.
The other trip I took was a pilgrimage with Hillary to the Holy Land, led by the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, W. O. Vaught. In 1980, at Hillarys urging, I had joined Immanuel and begun to sing in the choir. I hadnt been a regular churchgoer since I left home for Georgetown in 1964, and Id stopped singing in the church choir a few years before then. Hillary knew that I missed going to church, and that I admired W. O. Vaught because he had forsaken the hellfire-and-brimstone preaching of his early ministry in favor of carefully teaching the Bible to his congregation. He believed that the Bible was the inerrant word of God but that few people understood its true meaning. He immersed himself in the study of the earliest available versions of the scriptures, and would give a series of sermons on one book of the Bible or an important scriptural subject before going on to something else. I looked forward to my Sundays in the choir loft of the church, looking at the back of Dr. Vaughts bald head and following along in my Bible, as he taught us through the Old and New Testaments.
Dr. Vaught had been going to the Holy Land since 1938, ten years before the state of Israel came into being. Hillarys parents came down from Park Ridge to stay with Chelsea so that we could join the group he led in December 1981. We spent much of our time in Jerusalem, retracing the steps Jesus walked and meeting local Christians. We saw the spot where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and the small cave where Christ is believed to have been buried and from which He arose. We also went to the Western Wall, holy to Jews, and to the Muslim holy sites, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the point from which Muslims believe Mohammed rose to heaven and his rendezvous with Allah. We went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; to the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on water; to Jericho, possibly the worlds oldest city; and to Masada, where a band of Jewish warriors, the Maccabees, withstood a long, furious Roman assault until they were finally overcome and entered the pantheon of martyrs. Atop Masada, as we looked down on the valley below, Dr. Vaught reminded us that historys greatest armies, including those of Alexander the Great and Napoleon, had marched through it, and that the book of Revelation says that at the end of time, the valley will flow with blood.
That trip left a lasting mark on me. I returned home with a deeper appreciation of my own faith, a profound admiration for Israel, and for the first time, some understanding of Palestinian aspirations and grievances. It was the beginning of an obsession to see all the children of Abraham reconciled on the holy ground in which our three faiths came to life.
Not long after I got home, Mother got married to Dick Kelley, a food broker she had known for years and had been seeing for a while. She had been single for more than seven years, and I was happy for her. Dick was a big, attractive guy who loved the races as much as she did. He also loved to travel and did a lot of it. He would take Mother all over the world. Thanks to Dick, she went to Las Vegas often but also got to Africa before I did. The Reverend John Miles married them in a sweet ceremony at Marge and Bill Mitchells place on Lake Hamilton, which ended with Roger singing Billy Joels Just the Way You Are. I would come to love Dick Kelley and grow ever more grateful for the happiness he brought Mother, and me. He would become one of my favorite golf companions. Well into his eighties, when he played his handicap and I played mine, he beat me more than half the time.
In January 1982, golf was the last thing on my mind; it was time to start the campaign. Betsey had taken to Arkansas like a duck to water and had done a great job putting together an organization of my old supporters and new people who were disenchanted with Governor White. Our first big decision was how to begin. Dick Morris suggested that before I made a formal announcement I should go on television to acknowledge the mistakes that led to my defeat and ask for another chance. It was a risky idea, but the whole idea of running just two years after I had lost was risky. If I lost again, there would be no more comebacks, at least not for a long time.
We cut the ad in New York at Tony Schwartzs studio. I thought the only way it would work was if it contained both an honest acknowledgment of my past mistakes and the promise of the kind of positive leadership that had attracted popular support the first time I ran. The ad aired without prior notice on February 8. My face filled the screen as I told the voters that since my defeat I had traveled the state talking with thousands of Arkansans; that they had told me Id done some good things but made big mistakes, including raising the car-tag fees; and that our roads needed the money but I was wrong to raise it in a way that hurt so many people. I then said that when I was growing up, my daddy never had to whip me twice for the same thing; that the state needed leadership in education and economic development, areas in which I had done a good job; and that if theyd give me another chance, Id be a governor who had learned from defeat that you cant lead without listening.
The ad generated a lot of conversation and seemed at least to have opened the minds of enough voters to give me a chance. On February 27, Chelseas birthday, I made my official announcement. Hillary gave me a picture of the three of us at the event, with the inscription Chelseas second birthday, Bills second chance.
I promised to focus on the three issues I thought were most important to the states future: improving education, bringing in more jobs, and holding down utility rates. These were also the issues on which Governor White was most vulnerable. He had cut the car-tag fees $16 million, while his Public Service Commission had approved $227 million in rate increases for Arkansas Power and Light, hurting both consumers and businesses. The down economy had cost us a lot of jobs, and state revenue was too meager to allow anything to be done for education.
The message was well received, but the big news on that day was Hillarys declaration that she was taking my name. From now on, she would be known as Hillary Rodham Clinton. We had been discussing it for weeks. Hillary had been convinced to do it by the large number of our friends who said that, though the issue never showed up as a negative in our polls, it bothered a lot of people. Even Vernon Jordan had mentioned it to her when he came to Little Rock to visit us a few months earlier. Over the years Vernon had become a close friend of ours. He was one of the nations foremost civil rights leaders, and he was a person on whom his friends could always rely. He was a southerner and older than we were by enough years to understand why the name issue mattered. Ironically, the only person outside our inner circle to mention it to me was a young progressive lawyer from Pine Bluff who was a big supporter of mine. He asked me if Hillarys keeping her maiden name bothered me. I told him that it didnt, and that I had never thought about it until someone brought it up. He stared at me in disbelief and said, Come on, I know you. Youre a real man. Its got to bother you! I was amazed. It was neither the first nor the last time that something other people cared about didnt mean a thing to me.
I made it clear to Hillary that the decision was hers alone and that I didnt think the election would turn on her name. Not long after we started seeing each other, she had told me that keeping her maiden name was a decision she had made as a young girl, long before it became a symbol of womens equality. She was proud of her family heritage and wanted to hang on to it. Since I wanted to hang on to her, that was fine by me. Actually, it was one of the many things I liked about her.
In the end, Hillary decided, with her typical practicality, that keeping her maiden name wasnt worth offending the people who cared about it. When she told me, my only advice was to tell the public the truth about why she was doing it. My TV ad carried a genuine apology for real mistakes. This wasnt the same thing, and I thought wed both look phony if we presented her new name as a change of heart. In her statement, she was very matter-of-fact about it, essentially telling the voters shed done it for them.
We opened the primary campaign leading in the polls but facing formidable opposition. At the outset, the strongest candidate was Jim Guy Tucker, who had lost the Senate race four years earlier to David Pryor. Since then he had made a good deal of money in cable television. He appealed to the same progressive base I did, and the scars of his defeat had had two more years than mine to heal. I had a better organization in the rural counties than he did, but more rural voters were still mad at me. They had a third alternative in Joe Purcell, a decent, low-key man who had been attorney general and lieutenant governor and done a good job with both positions. Unlike Jim Guy and me, he had never made anybody mad. Joe had wanted to be governor for a long time, and though he was no longer in the best of health, he thought he could win by portraying himself as everybodys friend and less ambitious than his younger competitors. Two other candidates also filed: state senator Kim Hendren, a conservative from northwest Arkansas, and my old nemesis, Monroe Schwarzlose. Running for governor was keeping him alive.
My campaign would have collapsed in the first month if I hadnt learned the lessons of 1980 about the impact of negative television ads. Right off the bat, Jim Guy Tucker put up an ad criticizing me for commuting the sentences of first-degree murderers in my first term. He highlighted the case of a man who got out and killed a friend just a few weeks after his release. Since the voters hadnt been aware of that issue, my apology ad didnt immunize me from it, and I dropped behind Tucker in the polls.
The Board of Pardons and Paroles had recommended the commutations in question for two reasons. First, the board and the people running the prison system felt it would be much harder to maintain order and minimize violence if the lifers knew they could never get out no matter how well they behaved. Second, a lot of the older inmates had extensive health problems that cost the state a lot of money. If they were released, their health costs would be covered by the Medicaid program, which was funded mostly by the federal government.
The case featured in the ad was truly bizarre. The man whom I made eligible for parole was seventy-two years old and had served more than sixteen years for murder. In all that time, he had been a model prisoner with only one disciplinary mark against him. He was suffering from arteriosclerosis, and the prison doctors said he had about a year to live and probably would be completely incapacitated within six months, costing the prison budget a small fortune. He also had a sister in southeast Arkansas who was willing to take him in. About six weeks after he was paroled, he was drinking beer with a friend in the other mans pickup truck, with a gun rack in the back. They got into a fight and he grabbed the gun, shot the man dead, and took his Social Security check. Between the time of his arrest and his trial for that offense, the judge released the helpless-looking old man into his sisters custody. A few days after that, he got on the back of a motorcycle driven by a thirty-year-old man and rode north, all the way up to Pottsville, a little town near Russellville, where they tried to rob the local bank by driving the motorcycle right through the front door. The old boy was sick all right, but not in the way the prison doctors thought.
Not long afterward, I was in Pine Bluff in the county clerks office. I shook hands with a woman who told me the man whod been killed in his pickup was her uncle. She was kind enough to say, I dont hold you responsible. Theres no way in the wide world you could have known hed do that. Most voters werent as forgiving. I promised not to commute the sentences of any more first-degree murderers and said Id require greater participation by victims in the decisions of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
And I hit back at Tucker, following my own admonition to take the first hit, then counterpunch as hard as I could. With the help of David Watkins, a local advertising executive who was also from Hope, I ran an ad criticizing Jim Guys voting record in Congress. It was poor because he had started running for the Senate not long after he began his term in the House of Representatives, so he wasnt there to vote much. One of the attendance ads featured two people sitting around a kitchen table, talking about how they wouldnt get paid if they showed up for work only half the time. We traded blows like that for the rest of the campaign. Meanwhile, Joe Purcell traveled around the state in a van, shaking hands and staying out of the TV-ad war.
Besides the air war, we waged a vigorous ground campaign. Betsey Wright ran it to perfection. She drove people hard, and lost her temper from time to time, but everybody knew she was brilliant, committed, and the hardest-working person in our campaign. We were so much on the same wavelength that she often knew what I was thinking, and vice versa, before we ever said a word. It saved a lot of time.
I started the campaign by traveling around the state with Hillary and Chelsea in a car driven by my friend and campaign chairman, Jimmy Red Jones, who had been state auditor for more than twenty years and who still had a good following among small-town leaders. Our strategy was to win Pulaski and the other big counties, carry the south Arkansas counties where I had a leg up, hold a large majority of the black vote, and turn the eleven counties in northeast Arkansas, which had all switched their support from me to Frank White in 1980. I went after those eleven counties with the same zeal Id brought to winning the rural counties of the Third District in 1974. I made sure I campaigned in every little town in the region, often spending the night with new supporters. This strategy also got votes in the larger cities, where people were impressed when the pictures of me shaking hands in places candidates never visited appeared in their newspapers.
Betsey and I also signed up three young black leaders who proved invaluble. Rodney Slater left Attorney General Steve Clarks staff to help. Even back then, he was a powerful speaker, drawing on his deep knowledge of the scriptures to fashion powerful arguments for our cause. I had known Carol Willis when he was a student at the law school in Fayetteville. He was a great old-fashioned politician who knew all the players in the rural areas like the back of his hand. Bob Nash, who was working on economic development for the Rockefeller Foundation, helped on nights and weekends.
Rodney Slater, Carol Willis, and Bob Nash stayed with me for the next nineteen years. They worked for me the whole time I was governor. When I was President, Rodney served as federal highway administrator and secretary of transportation. Carol kept our fences mended with black America at the Democratic National Committee. Bob started as under secretary of agriculture, then came to the White House as director of personnel and appointments. I dont know what I would have done without them.
Perhaps the defining moment of the primary campaign came at a meeting of about eighty black leaders from the Delta who came to hear from Jim Guy Tucker and me so that they could decide which one of us to support. Tucker had already won the endorsement of the Arkansas Education Association by promising teachers a big pay raise without a tax increase. I had countered with the endorsement of several teachers and administrators who knew the states bad economy wouldnt permit Tuckers promise to be kept and who remembered what I had done for education in my first term. I could still win with a split among educators, but not with a split among blacks in the Delta. I had to have nearly all of them.
The meeting was held in Jack Crumblys barbeque place in Forrest City, about ninety miles east of Little Rock. Jim Guy had come and gone by the time I got there, leaving a good impression. It was late and I was tired, but I made the best case I could, emphasizing the black appointments Id made and my efforts to help long-ignored rural black communities get money for water and sewer systems.
After I finished, a young black lawyer from Lakeview, Jimmy Wilson, got up to speak. He was Tuckers main supporter in the Delta. Jimmy said I was a good man and had been a good governor, but that no Arkansas governor who had lost for reelection had ever been elected again. He said Frank White was terrible for blacks and had to be defeated. He reminded them that Jim Guy had a good civil rights record in Congress and had hired several young black people to work for him. He said Jim Guy would be as good for blacks as I would, and he could win. I like Governor Clinton, he said, but hes a loser. And we cant afford to lose. It was a persuasive argument, all the more so because he had the guts to do it with me sitting there. I could feel the crowd slipping away.
After a few seconds of silence, a man stood up in the back and said hed like to be heard. John Lee Wilson was the mayor of Haynes, a small town of about 150 people. He was a heavy man of medium height, dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, which bulged with the bulk of his huge arms, neck, and gut. I didnt know him very well and had no idea what he would say, but Ill never forget his words.
Lawyer Wilson made a good speech, he began, and he may be right. The governor may be a loser. All I know is, when Bill Clinton became governor, the crap was running open in the streets of my town, and my babies was sick because we didnt have no sewer system. Nobody paid any attention to us. When he left office, we had a sewer system and my babies wasnt sick anymore. He did that for a lot of us. Let me ask you something. If we dont stick with folks who stick with us, who will ever respect us again? He may be a loser, but if he loses, Im going down with him. And so should you. As the old saying goes, it was all over but the shouting, one of those rare moments when one mans words actually changed minds, and hearts.
Unfortunately, John Lee Wilson died before I was elected President. Near the end of my second term, I made a nostalgic trip back to east Arkansas to speak at Earle High School. The school principal was Jack Crumbly, the host of that fateful meeting almost two decades earlier. In my remarks, I told the story of John Lee Wilsons speech for the first time in public. It was televised across east Arkansas. One person who watched it, sitting in her little house in Haynes, was John Lee Wilsons widow. She wrote me a very moving letter saying how proud John would have been to have the President praising him. Of course I praised him. If it hadnt been for John Lee, I might be writing wills and divorce settlements instead of this book.
As we got close to election day, my support went up and down among voters who couldnt decide whether to give me another chance. I was worried about it until I met a man in a caf one afternoon in Newark, in northeast Arkansas. When I asked for his vote, he said, I voted against you last time, but Im going to vote for you this time. Although I knew the answer, I still asked him why he voted against me. Because you raised my car tags. When I asked him why he was voting for me, he said, Because you raised my car tags. I told him I needed every vote I could get, and I didnt want to make him mad, but it didnt make any sense for him to vote for me for the same reason hed voted against me before. He smiled and said, Oh, it makes all the sense in the world. You may be a lot of things, Bill, but you aint dumb. Youre the very least likely one to ever raise those car tags again, so Im for you. I added his impeccable logic to my stump speech for the rest of the campaign.
On May 25, I won the primary election with 42 percent of the vote. Under the counterassault of my ads and the strength of our organization, Jim Guy Tucker fell to 23 percent. Joe Purcell had parlayed his issue- and controversy-free campaign into 29 percent of the vote and a spot in the runoff, two weeks away. It was a dangerous situation. Tucker and I had driven each others negative ratings up with the attack ads, and Purcell appealed to the Democrats who hadnt gotten over the car-tag increase. There was a good chance he could win just by being the un-Clinton. I tried for ten days to smoke him out, but he was shrewd enough to stay in his van and shake a few hands. On the Thursday night before the election, I did a poll that said the race was dead even. That meant Id probably lose, since the undecided vote usually broke against the incumbent, which I effectively was. I had just put up an ad highlighting our differences on whether the Public Service Commission, which sets electric rates, should be elected rather than appointed, a change I favored and Joe opposed. I hoped it would make a difference, but I wasnt sure.
The very next day, I was handed the election in the guise of a crippling body blow. Frank White badly wanted Purcell to win the runoff. The governors negative ratings were even higher than mine, and I had the issues and an organized campaign on my side. By contrast, White felt certain that Joe Purcells poor health would become a decisive factor in the general election campaign, guaranteeing White a second term. On Friday night, when it was too late for me to counter on television, Frank White began running a TV ad attacking me for raising the car-tag fee and telling people not to forget it. He got the time to run it heavily all weekend by persuading his business supporters to pull their commercials so that he could put the attack ad up. I saw the ad and knew it would turn a close race. I couldnt get a response to it on television until Monday, and by then it would be too late. This was an unfair advantage that was later disallowed by a federal regulation requiring stations to place ads that respond to last-minute attacks over the weekend, but that was no help to me.
Betsey and I called David Watkins and asked him to open his studio so that I could cut a radio ad. We worked on the script and met David about an hour before midnight. By that time Betsey had lined up some young volunteers to drive the ad to radio stations all over the state in time for them to be run early Saturday morning. In my radio response, I asked people if theyd seen Whites ad attacking me and asked them to think about why he was interfering with a Democratic primary. There was only one answer: he wanted to run against Joe Purcell, not me, because I would beat him and Joe couldnt. I knew most Democratic primary voters intensely opposed the governor and would hate the thought of being manipulated by him. David Watkins worked all night long making enough copies of our ad to saturate the state. The kids started driving them to the radio stations at about four in the morning, along with checks from the campaign to purchase a heavy buy. The radio spot was so effective that by Saturday night, Whites own television ad was working for me. On Monday we put our response up on television too, but we had already won the battle by then. The next day, June 8, I won the runoff 54 to 46 percent. It was a near-run thing. I had won most of the big counties and those with a substantial number of black voters, but was still struggling in the rural Democratic counties where the car-tag issue wouldnt die. It would take another two years to repair the damage completely.
The fall campaign against Frank White was rough but fun. This time the economy was hurting him, not me, and he had a record I could run against. I hit him on his utility ties and lost jobs, and ran positive ads on my issues. He had a great attack ad featuring a man trying to scrape the spots off a leopard; it said that, just like a leopard, I couldnt change my spots. Dick Morris did a devastating ad taking White to task for letting utilities have big rate increases while cutting back from four to three the number of monthly prescriptions the elderly could get under Medicaid. The tagline was: Frank WhiteSoft on utilities. Tough on the elderly. Our funniest radio ad came in response to a barrage of false charges. Our announcer asked if it wouldnt be nice to have a guard dog that would bark every time a politician said something that wasnt true. Then a dog barked, Woof, woof! The announcer repeated each charge, and the dog barked again just before he answered it. There were, as I recall, four woof, woofs in all. By the time it had run a few days, workers were good-naturedly barking Woof, woof! at me when I shook hands at plant gates during shift changes. White further solidified the black vote by saying blacks would vote for a duck if it ran as a Democrat. Shortly after that, Bishop L. T. Walker of the Church of God in Christ told his people they had to get Old Hoghead out of office.
There comes a time in every campaign when you know in your bones whether youre going to win or lose. In 1982, it happened to me in Melbourne, the county seat of Izard County in north Arkansas. I had lost the county in 1980 over the car tags despite the fact that the local legislator, John Miller, had voted to raise them. John was one of the most senior members of the legislature and probably knew more about all aspects of state government than anyone else in Arkansas. He was working hard for me and arranged for me to tour the local McDonnell Douglas plant, which made component parts for airplanes.
Even though the workers belonged to the United Auto Workers union, I was nervous, because most of them had voted against me just two years before. I was met at the front door by Una Sitton, a good Democrat who worked in the front office. Una shook my hand and said, Bill, I think youre going to enjoy this. When I opened the door to the plant, I was almost knocked over by the loud sound of Willie Nelson singing one of my favorite songs, Steve Goodmans City of New Orleans. I walked in to the opening line of the chorus: Good morning, America, how are you? Dont you know me, Im your native son. The workers cheered. All of them but one were wearing my campaign buttons. I made my way down each aisle, shaking hands to the music and fighting back the tears. I knew the election was over. My people were bringing their native son home.
Near the end of almost all my campaigns, I turned up at the morning shift at the Campbells Soup factory in Fayetteville, where the workers prepared turkeys and chickens for soups. At 5 a.m., it was the earliest shift change in Arkansas. In 1982, it was cold and rainy when I began shaking hands in the dark. One man joked that he had intended to vote for me, but was having second thoughts about voting for someone with no better sense than to campaign in the dark in a cold rain.
I learned a lot on those dark mornings. Ill never forget seeing one man drop his wife off. When the door to their pickup opened, there were three young children sitting between them. The man told me they had to get the kids up at a quarter to four every morning. After he took his wife to work, he dropped the kids off with a babysitter who took them to school, because he had to be at work by seven.
Its easy for a politician in this mass-media culture to reduce electioneering to fund-raisers, rallies, advertisements, and a debate or two. All that may be enough for the voters to make an intelligent decision, but the candidates miss out on a lot, including the struggles of people who have their hands full just getting through the day and doing the best they can for their kids. I had made up my mind that if those folks gave me another chance, Id never forget them.
On November 2, they gave me that chance. I won 55 percent of the vote, carrying fifty-six of the seventy-five counties, losing eighteen counties in Republican western Arkansas and one in south Arkansas. Most of the white rural counties came back, though the margins in several were close. The margin wasnt close in the largest county, Pulaski. I swept the eleven counties in northeast Arkansas where we had worked especially hard. And the black vote was staggering.
One black leader I particularly liked, Emily Bowens, was mayor of the small community of Mitchellville in southeast Arkansas. I had helped her in my first term, and she repaid the debt in full: I won Mitchellville 1968 in the primary runoff with Purcell. When I called her to thank her for getting me 96 percent of the vote, she apologized for the eight votes we lost. Governor, Ill find those eight people and straighten them out by November, she promised. On November 2, I carried Mitchellville 2560. Emily had turned the eight and registered fifty-two more.
After the election, I heard from people all over the country. Ted Kennedy and Walter Mondale called just as they had in 1980. And I received some wonderful letters. One came from an unlikely source: General James Drummond, who had commanded the troops during the Cuban crisis at Fort Chaffee two years earlier. He said he was glad I won, because while it may have seemed that we marched to different drums at Fort Chaffee . . . I appreciated and admired your leadership, your principles, and your willingness to stand up and be counted for the people of Arkansas. I admired Drummond too, and his letter meant more to me than he could have known.
The Democrats did well all over the country and especially in the South, winning a majority of the thirty-six governorships, picking up seats in the House of Representatives, up for grabs largely because of Americas troubled economy. Among the new governors were two old ones besides me: George Wallace of Alabama, who had apologized to black voters for his racist past from his wheelchair; and Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, who, like me, had been defeated after his first term and had just defeated the man who beat him.
My supporters were ecstatic. After a long, history-making campaign, they had every right to their raucous celebration. By contrast, I was feeling strangely subdued. I was happy but didnt feel like gloating over my victory. I didnt blame Frank White for beating me last time or for wanting to be governor again. Losing had been my fault. What I mostly felt on election night, and for days afterward, was a deep, quiet gratitude that the people of the state I loved so much were willing to give me another chance. I was determined to vindicate their judgment.