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tv   Oral Histories Interview of Walter Mondale  CSPAN  April 20, 2021 5:47am-6:50am EDT

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>> mr. vice president you are unique, you served a considerable amount of time on the senate. you are willing to go back to the senate later on, and yet this senate i gather has changed significantly. during those 40 years or so. what was it like when you went there in the beginning and what
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is a sense of how it's changed walter: i think it has changed and i underline the word think because i know it has changed. but i know others might disagree with. i think when i came to the senate, i think 68, four years later, while it was partisan and we had our debates. there was a kind of underlying sense of civility. we were all members of this club , and we got to know each other and we would crack jokes. wherever we could, we would try to find ways of doing things together. they used to say the only way a majority to get done what he needs to do is with the minorities help. and we sort of went at it that way.
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i think now, although i hope it has changed, i think now the belligerence of partisanship, the idea that don't just defeat the person in an, defeat the person. it is a different mood. some of it looks mean. >> sometimes you just destroy the person. >> that is what i mean. it is like vengeance or something. it should not be that way, it does not help anybody in the public does not like it. i often wonder why continues? >> do you think one factor is when you first arrived in the senate, you had a significant number of southern conservative democrats in your party and there was a significant number of moderate-liberal eastern
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midwestern republicans and their party. each party was very diverse and they had to find some kind of consensus internally before they could operate externally? >> i think that is very good point. i think the moderate republicans in the moderate democrats almost had to work together, because the southerners in those days, although they were democrats. many of them came out of that old southern tradition, back in those days we had yet to pass the civil rights legislation. the party rules had not changed to prohibit segregated delegations. so at least on a great civil rights issues and a lot of other issues, you could not make any headway down there. so you had to cut across party lines. and of course at that point the republican party still had the lincoln tradition. of being solid on civil rights.
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some of that i think has diminished, but at the time it was fairly easy to put together, a coalition, enthusiastic goes coalitions. >> and yet i assume you established friendships with southern democrats. >> oh yes, absolutely. and on the agricultural things you would find ways to work together. i served on the committee for many years and we all worked with southerners. yes, we would find ways to work together and it did not seem to me, that there was bitterness even there. sometimes when the civil right issues got really hot, you would see the hackles rise, but mostly we would get along on a personal
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level quite well. >> more than one person with whom we have spoken, our member bob packwood, and i believe alan simpson said the same thing. they both said they were given advice that one of the first things they should do, was to cultivate -- was on the surface would seem counterintuitive. >> know that make sense to me. john is not can change, he was not going to change on the civil rights. but he was courtly judicial. i think he had been a judge, and in his demeanor he was always open and i think he would try to be accommodated to the extent he could. >> were staffs smaller in those days? >> yes. when i got there, they were just getting over the situation where
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the senior whales in the senate got all the staff, and the new senators that came in wouldn't get anything. i went on banking with john sparkman, and i went on with luis robertson, and i went on housing with sparkman. there tradition was they kept all the staff for themselves and as they went along later years they started giving freshmen a chance to pick one or two staff members. >> is it true freshmen were supposed to be seen and not heard? >> well, i am told that was true before i arrived. but the one thing good lyndon johnson did there, was he tried to empower freshman senators with strong committees, and he tried to encourage them to speak out as long as they didn't criticize him. so i think that tradition has broken up.
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>> obviously dole was talking about the majority versus the minority, working back from that they seem to be universal respect from him. >> absolutely. >> how? walter: well you try to keep 67 people happy, where you have internal jealousies and the kind of long-term stable and unchanging numbers. i think it took a remarkable, almost saintly person like mansfield who is trust in the south, north, to kind of hold it together. a lot of people could not have done that. >> was it for real? how much of that was lyndon johnson's personality? and how much were the
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instruments available to majority leader in those days? walter: well i think you have to give linden a lot of credit. he was the master of the senate. he knew the rules, and he was absolutely tireless. he would set an agenda and he would work that senate, and work that senate and he got things done that no one else could do. the senate had almost become comatose, before he took over. it was so wedded to its rigidity, that hardly anyone could put enough of it together to do business. linden came in as majority leader, and i think did remarkable things. we would not have had the civil rights laws, at least within the next 10-20 years without him. and we had to do that. >> was in fact the world's
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greatest liberty of body or was that oratory tradition beginning to fade. walter: i think it can be the world's greatest deliberative body, i don't think most parliamentary institutions cannot be because of their roles and numbers. but i do not think it is as much as it should be, right now. in a desperate way, we need these great issues to be fully and completely in front of the american people. and only the senate can do that. and so i have been around, where the senate has performed that function. it is the most unique institution, of parliamentary institutions in the world by far. almost every upper body in the parliamentary systems, in the house of counselors, and japan.
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they become somewhat atrophied with less jurisdiction, and without the same power as the lower house. only in america, in the united states senate, has the upper house become stronger over the history of the country. and that gives them that special stature. but i think it should be taken only with a sense of responsibility about what the senate has to do to stand up and debate these issues. >> presumably there has been a seachange in how the media covers the senate. clearly there is a theory -- a very serious profound national debate about the civil rights bills and voting rights acts. there is almost a sense of
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trivial it, it is him was as if we are locked not addressing this at all. i mean how much of that is the media? walter: i am not sure. i think the senate -- if the senate were really debating these questions, if we had a really serious debate about iraq for example. i would be very surprised if the press did not cover that very carefully. if there were real hearings, like the old mccarthy hearings, or the one about general macarthur, or the fulbright hearings in vietnam. where the church hearings on intelligence, great moments where the senate did what -- where did for the country would he could for itself. the press and cameras were there, so some of this begins with whether there is news or not. >> why do you think we are not having those, there certainly no shortage of issues that warrant those hearings.
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walter: i think there are two-three things that might work here. i think that we have never had a president, who was consistently and completely rejected the balance of power, the checks and balances as has this president. and through a whole range of strategies, they have blocked the production of documents, they have refused to testify, they have claimed executive privilege, they have a issued signing statements repudiating the saws -- the laws they just signed. and all across, there is a kind of breakdown in the process of the accountability. in the oversight, that the constitution i think intends.
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>> let me ask you, you have the senate and 64, and dole came in four years later, 68. nixon is in the white house, the first president -- to have both houses controlled by the opposition. and dole arrives, the newcomer is quickly dubbed the sheriff of the senate. tell me about that, how did he illustrate more than most the capacity of growth? but in order to demonstrate growth you have to go back to the beginning, what was bob dole like when he arrived in the senate? walter: some say politicians either grow or they swell. and bob grew. i was there when he arrived, and he had been in the house, and i think he brought a lot of the house idea, our team versus your team, into the senate chamber. i remember a painful afternoon,
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when he was on his feet regaling his senate colleagues for not voting as a unit on some political issue. and he was but rating them in front of the press about who did they think they are, are they republicans and so on. and i heard a lot out of negative comments about that, and i think he spent some time living that down. >> he was also chairman of the rnc at, at the same time. walter: but i could see him change, and he got over that stuff. i think partly because of experience with nixon, he probably found those years of the rnc, in the end, very
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dispiriting. and he found the senate a better place for his life and what he believed in, then some of the other politics that used to be so important to them. >> he also had a near-death experience and 74. walter: yes, we used to do a lot . humphrey and dole were very close. >> were they close from the beginning? walter: i think it took dole a couple years before he got his first approach. the house approach i might call it. and became what he really became, an excellent senator. but i think he began working with all of us, on farm issues. we are all from the farm block, we all had farmers, we all had rule issues, we all have things we could work on together.
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and the voters expected us to work on it together. each state has two senators in each of us are important. and then bob dole did more than that. he helped shape the -- shape the foodstamp part program. and then he went beyond the traditional farm state senator and added a conservative voice to the use of food to help real social problems in america. he really helped give it legitimacy and gave us the vote to pass it. >> it is ironic that one person would work very close we on that. walter: exactly. bob dole and humphrey used to go down to miami florida. sometimes they would get down there around christmas and have a good time, their families would be there. they were very good friends. but you see him on the campaign trail and listen to the
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speeches,. >> it was impossible to compartmentalize. walter: and that is what i remember about those days. politics ends at six locked, people would go off the floor and our member one time i was adhering. howard baker came in and i got mad at him, i said some sharp things to him he got mad at me, and we walked out of the room together and then he said i am trying to think of what i was mad about. in those days you tried to diminish those disputes and keep a personal connection. those part of the joy of the senate. >> in a nutshell, you try to narrow differences rather than explain them. walter: right, and there was such strength to be found in finding that human connection. so many ways in which you could solve problems.
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tom eagleton, once talked about the senate as this remarkable institution that kept the union together. as we moved to the west, and as we had to have the civil war, and as we started to get race behind us, as we started to deal with all of the industrialization. all of these different changes that had ruined so many other countries, somehow america kept it going. and the great instrument for compromise and reconciliation, was always in -- and continues to be the u.s. senate. i believe that the senators themselves have to believe that compromise can be, and must be an essential part of public service. >> where there people in particular on the others of the
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aisle who you found yourself working with? walter: oh yes i worked with bob dole a lot on the agricultural stuff. >> do thousand eye-opening experience for you? because i often thought, people emphasize understandably his war experiences. i often thought they tend to overlook the defining experience of growing up in the dustbowl during the depression with no money. and no prospects. walter: poor, he came from a small rural county. i'm sure he did not have much money, and all of them went through the horrors of the great collapse. land prices in the 30's and depression, it had farmers worse than everybody. >> i've also wondered i think there is a little bit that she was a little bit of a populist. walter: oh yes and that is what
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helped build him as a leader. you asked me a moment ago about these bold -- foodstamp and school lunches. if you asked me and 68 at bob would've done some thing like that i would have said i doubt it. but as he developed not only did it, but he was a leader. and he knew what he was doing. there were a lot of right-wingers who resented what he was doing, he was able to shape these issues in a way that really made a big difference. for every schoolchild. i think each harris the friendship with humphreys. , they were down there in florida together but they would work together on all these things, and i think they were on the agricultural committee together for 25 years. i was at humphreys funeral and bob dole was one of the first people to come in the rotunda. >> i think they talked an awful
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long time before humphrey died. why do you think it is so difficult for senators to move directly from the senate to the white house? and i wonder, i will break that down. for example in dole's case is there almost a senatorial lingo? you begin to talk in the shorthand, and it doesn't translate outside of the belfry? is that one factor? walter: i have a couple theories, senators by and large have not done well running for the presidency. the public is concerned about it. but i think part of it is, take bob dole, who had been around congress for a long time. he knew these issues, and he knew about appropriation, he knew about what was possible,
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and what was impossible, he had been around long enough to see many dreams turned into dust. and you get a certain kind of mature view about how politics work. i think that when you're going to run for president, it helps to be naive. you can do all that stuff, but then the sparkle in your eye once you find out later, it does not sparkle the same way. >> and when you have a potent sense of humor walter: yes [laughter] it is not really dawn in america [laughter] >> the other thing of course is i think, in the senate if you are there for a while you will learn everything.
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walter: so it is harder to run for president and say this is where you stand in a fresh way when you have had 17 votes on that issue. so candidates range of movement is reduced. and i think that the appeal or change is easier for an outsider than for someone, and insider will argue experience while the outsider says fresh start. and americans usually go for the fresh start. the governor where that's usually what that is can argue that he is been an executive. >> is it exaggerating the tendency of senators when they arrive to look at the mayor and say potential president. walter: bob dole, the dnc
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chairman, bob strauss said he had a secret list of 10 senators who are not interested in running for president. so it is a kind of infectious disease there. i think once a senator starts doing well, and people back home start feeling good about the person, that his friend start saying hey you should be president. this has happened several times. >> when did you begin to think about that? walter: i was in the sixth grade. [laughter] i don't know, 72 are some like that. >> he famously said the saying about the holiday inn.
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walter: yeah he said i want to spend the rest of my life and holiday inn's. and then and i was running for vice president i got confronted by that. and i said well they have all been redone. >> i'm curious in a way i wonder did i recommend you? traditionally presidents pick a running mate and then look over their shoulder to see if they have ambitions. but from the beginning that never seem to be an issue between you and the president. walter: no but i think that says something about carter, a lot of times vice president have trouble with their president because they are reminding them of mortality. and it is kind of a shakespearean relationship there. and he can raise doubts. but i don't think carter had any of those concerns at all. at least if he did i never sense them. so it allowed us to work without that difficulty.
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i think, i believe, not only do we break institutional ground, but no one had done what carter did before but i think we did prove that we can really work and help presidents. and should it occur, help educate a vice president to become a better president. you and bob dole were very friendly yes >> how did you get to be on the democratic ticket? walter: i think that carter, who is the nominee had the choice to choose whoever he wanted, looked at a range of candidates. he checked all of us out, i think that i fit what he needed. i could help him in the north, where he was having some troubles. and in the midwest.
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i had a lot of friends that i think would be stronger for the ticket. others that could have done the same thing, but i think that i could do it. i think he liked the sorts of things that i was doing in the senate. on the things that i was interested in. and in a strange wonderful way to me, i was a northern civil rights advocate. i got that from humphrey and i got it from my father. i thought that's what my faith told me to before, and i was involved in almost every civil rights fight over all those years. and suddenly for the first time in a long time, you have a southern candidate for president with a strong civil rights record. and i was really thrilled by what that could mean in terms of putting that issue that has so dogged our country behind us finally. and i think that was a big attraction in both directions. >> people forget, it is how
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amazing the actual calendar converts the south. 30 years ago he swept the south and ford took michigan, new jersey, connecticut, and california. walter: and we had a cliffhanger. we finally one at 3 a.m. with mississippi in 1976. >> i have always wanted to ask you, being around him it is a sensitive subject. when you were standing there in the middle of that debate and you heard him talk about democrat war did you think thank you god? for delivering me? walter: something like that, will we had meat we had had a meeting trying to anticipate woke come up in the debate.
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this is a trial one so we would be ready. and the last thing that was raised as we were closing, someone said i bet that bob dole will say that the democrat party causes world war ii. i said you are crazy, he says no he says that on the campaign trail i bet you will hear that tonight. and he did it. and you know it was devastating, the public just did not want that. and it was a bad day for beth bob dole. it came out and was very decisive. did you know instantly? walter: yes i knew he was going. politicians are not very complex. we all give our speeches and i was aware of this one, i just did not think he would use it. >> did you have a kind of reversal? walter: no we were not that sophisticated in those days, we just sat down with eight or 10
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people who had studied the issues and we discussed with the issues would be and what dole would be saying, and what i would say, we did not have this mock debate stuff that is now standard. >> what did your running mate talk to you that night after the debate? walter: oh yes he knew. and he knew the election was very close, the campaign was very close, and i think we opened up the lead around to-three points the next day. and the remarkable thing that's beard in his debate. in frankel's did not hear the question right and went over it again. and he jumped right in there and said again, so those two things
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really opened up issues that help us win. >> and the fascinating thing is, he knew he was so stubborn. but the thing was, if you listen to the rest of the questions he talks about poland, he talks about romania, he talks about u.s. love you. three countries that he has visited and been very well received. if you would've just put in that general context there would've been no trouble. walter: but he somehow with the language used wanted to believe that poland was free, but it was not yet free. and 3-4 days later he was corrected. but the damage had been done. >> we did -- we redid the museum and the polish exhibit and we take them through and said you are wrong, you are just ahead of your time. but it took him a while before
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he could laugh about it. walter: it must have been painful. >> how would you characterize in your view the defining issues in the 76 campaign? particularly the things that you are talking about. walter: i think the party had more to do with the outcome of that election then is the pundits have said. and i say that because the few times i have use the issue, the response of the audience always scared me. a kind of anger, they wanted some kind of closure on that that was different from the one they had. and there were suspicions about what went into it. i do not think there was anything to those suspicions, but i think that hung over the whole campaign. they always say, that every new president has an antidote for
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the last president. and i think carter got a lot of mileage on the feeling that he was honest and direct and would not do sort of this thing. and ford and dole were unable to erase that concern. so there were many other things the debate gaffes had a lot to do with it, but i think anybody who runs as a successor president, not one who has been elected is kind of half a president. is kind of a burden of proof, that ford had to carry because people had to put in there. they had and you put them in as vice president. so there was a little bit of that, i do nothing dole really proved to be adding much to the
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ford formula. he might have added a lot to others, but the way ford strengths and dole strengths tended to copy many other. the conversation i had with both of them for thought at the time, that they were so far down the poles that they didn't have the base. >> they didn't have the auger cultural midwest, kansas, nebraska. and so weather is a rationalization after the fact or fact of the time. i also think they thought it would be acceptable to reagan. walter: that is an important thing don't you think, that reagan challenged ford? and came very close to upending him. and ford was thinking very carefully about how he could restore that strength. i think that is why he set aside
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rockefeller, and then picked dole. because with rockefeller he would never get the reagan people back. so i think picking dole he may have calculated would have helped him restore support there. >> there is also some contention, because he was told very explicitly at that time, if you want to have a meeting with governor reagan after the nomination, ok. but under no circumstances are you to bring up the vice presidency. and of course years later reagan said all i would've said yes. walter: [laughter] >> [laughter] we all know, dole talked about ford staying in the rose garden but he went out in the briar patch. that is traditional in the role of the vice president for candidate. walter: i want to say one thing, and i'm not sure how solid i am in this, but i have this recollection.
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reagan never really went out and tried very hard to get ford elected. and if he had, i think it might have elected him. >> southern ohio and places reagan had influence. walter: yeah, yeah. >> one of the things that brought presidents ford and carter together years later was ronald reagan. they both run against him and i'm not sure they both particularly relish that experience. [laughter] walter: [laughter] walter: i think they maybe be were still thinking about that. >> the vice presidency does particularly carry the burden of being more partisan. we know about what dole is doing and 76, what kinds of things, where were you going, where were they sending you? walter: i had a map and it was
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all that you would expect. i started on the east coast and i went across the midwest. then i would get to about nebraska and jump over to the west coast. and make one or two trips to the south, then i would go back and forth. last week i almost lived in ohio, i was more than the county commissioner was the. -- was there. >> one day he was on the plane, looked at the map and said why don't we go there. walter: just like that, oh yes. last the last week is no longer strategic. >> it's funny there is a quality about dole that i think would surprise people to hear. because they think of him as sort of this driven
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single-minded person who wanted to be present. but there is also this impish sense of a ridiculousness. walter: he has a very healthy sense of the ridiculous. he is also a very serious substantial person who cares about his country. the wonderful stuff he has done on veterans world war ii, he has been involved in so many things in his post-public life. his leadership days as majority leader of the state and head of the u.s. senate go down is great years and that senate. and in his later years he was almost the opposite of the first year. he was able to hold the whole senate, he of the confidence of a lot of democrats. he would stand up to his president, or the president once
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in a while when he didn't agree with him. he was a man of the senate. i think this is all built him into this extraordinary american , that almost everybody asked respect. >> in this place you can keep a grudge. walter: nope. >> around this place only thing you have in the end is your word. walter: that's right. >> and it is no good people write you off. walter: that's right and he was that person. and that's what makes the senate clicks when it clicks. >> he told me an amazing story, it may have been the day after 76. certainly within 2-3 days. they get a call from humphreys. do you know about that? walter: no over that doesn't surprise me. >> he called them and said i let's have lunch or something.
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he said right now you're going to get a lot of criticism. you know what you did, and you know what you were when you came out of that convention. but it is just amazing, he did say he never forgot that. walter: that is a sign of what we are talking about dole and humphrey were very close. it is not just a sign of how dole was broadening and deepening as an american leader, he began to show in these ways. >> has he ever discussed the debates with you? no. walter: i seem once in a while, i see him less than a you still, but we always have a good time. we start talking about things, and we are good friends. we were good friends in that debate. that is what one of the funny
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things was, i knew he was going to bring that up. >> were you having a good night? walter: well i had had worse nights. >> but on the first one you do pretty well. walter: again he performed poorly the first night, and that is often the case. it is a sort of suicide. >> do you think we put too much emphasis on debates? walter: they are not really debates in a college, saw all early -- scholarly book. but they are the closest thing in american people had in a campaign to look at their choices for president. the most important job in the world. in a way they might learn something real and un-contrived.
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if they get their cameras right on them, they get questions, most of the answers are wrote and boring. but it seems that in most debates something happens. usually unanticipated, that gives you a glimpse of character or a glimpse of a weakness. or something else, or a strength. and the public catches it. i do not know whether it is true with all these primary debates, but in the final election where you have to-three debates. usually there are massive audiences and nothing moves america quiteagain.
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presume leave that debate was all about reagan demonstrating that he wasn't. walter: yeah it was a big national concern that he was ready. or was over right for the presidency. and he went in there and was assured, and carried his arm -- own. in the public went out of that debate feeling that he could be present. similarly when i debated with reagan, first night he really shook public confidence. the second night when he came on the stage the second night when people said to discuss tilly
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president? he exuded confidence, and the public was reassured. and i was thought that i was the end of the campaign. >> when you are vice president what kind of questions where you presiding over the senate? and by this time dole was always to about running in 1980. but even more parson, walter: he was always running like humphrey. >> i think our member at some point didn't resident carter pry to get his boat on the panama canal treaty? walter: did he vote no, yeah try to get everybody. i tried talking to him. and for so many years he did not feel he could seriously study it. we did get quite a few republican votes, because as you
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know ford and nixon, and kissinger had urged the adoption of that canal treaty for years. but i guess in that case he still did not come around. >> i think our member, in the course of the series president carter was saying that was the toughest. and frankly which he got no credit. walter: it was the most joyless victory i ever had in politics. when we finally got the votes, which nobody thought we could do, the polls show that something like 60% of the american people were opposed to it. we never did persuade americans that that was the right thing to do. even though now the panama canal has been a tremendous success. it is prosperous, and stable. all the things we cannot get done when he it as a colony. but right then maybe eight
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senators lost an election because they voted for. >> he has a new book coming out on this. saying it really is the birth of the modern conservative. walter: oh yeah, this is not about him but we have this wonderful true story we were trying to get them to vote for the treaty and he had campaigned against in california on the grounds that we stole it fair and square. so i heard a rumor because i want to see them, and i said senator we need you. you can really help us here. and he said well, president carter is shaky on forest policy -- foreign policy and he's not getting good advice. he said if we can set up some way that he would listen to me and i can come down and tell him something she needs, he said i
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would consider voting for this treaty. so i called the president and say in about 10 minutes here's what you're going to propose. i placed a call we got them through, and the president said yes i agree with you senator. i am sitting down here all alone working in this great big white house and everyone concerned want something. i never get to hear the kind of independent voice that you bring. so let's do that. and he said well maybe we ought to agree to do it every two weeks or so. encarta said no let's not do that let's do it more often. so he vote for the treaty >> and presumably the biweekly meetings did not continue? it belies the populous ocean of jimmy carter is not being
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politically agile. walter: his mind is very quick. >> it is interesting i will never forget when we dedicated the dull institute, i think the thing that dole most appreciated was president carter. it was fascinating, i will never forget the morning of the dedication. he was taking president carter around on a tour. and that day or the next day, he sent misses carter a dozen roses with a note. meeting the number that to they die? walter: i am sure of it. we all need this. i remember when clinton and bush one went down into this south pacific after that huge
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tsunami and traveled through there. we need more of this. the public wants it. >> why is it though? what is it about the political process that you have to be an elder statesman? walter: well, most of these people that we're talking about showed those symptoms while they were in public life. i don't think it works at migged night in your life. i think it is something that you earn over the years. and dole did that. >> do you think in some cases they would have liked to have done more but the political process makes it difficult? walter: i think the pressure is always on to cut this thing publicly when maybe personally you would like to -- >> i realize you were out of office at the time but you must have been following all
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of this. i wonder if -- people talked about well, the public begins to think that he had changed. i wonder if the change occurred long before 1981. partly for example, once he became chairman to have finance committee, for the first "time" in his career, he is responsible. you can put out press releases or try to pass laws. he had that responsibly. walter: you have got it. i think if you -- if you want to be a really good chairman on the finance committee, you have to get -- you have to understand those issues. very complex. there is a lot of professors in the best law schools that are not as good on these issues as a good chairman of the finance committee. he had a mind on him. so did bob dole. secondly, you get into the middle of these issues and you
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realize how complex it is. the tradeoffs. the effect on the economy. the fairness of the revenue burdens. all of those things come in on top of you and i think partly, you get a soubereded sense on available room for maneuver that changes the way you look at things a little bit. secondly, i think you're sobered about the complexity of it and you're less breezy than you have been about things before. >> what kind of chairman was russell wong? walter: brilliant. i knew the -- knew the senate, the laws, clever.
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i mean, he knew how to handle tax laws. he only called them up the day before christmas or something like that. he would never give you an extended period to work on his bill. funny man. so funny. >> did he talk about his dad? >> yeah. talked about his dad. talked about uncle earl mostly. he would say don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree. >> being chairman of the finance committee, what kind of preparation was that for -- walter: i was never chairman but i was on the finance committee until i went to the white house and i was involved in as a younger member of that committee. that's why i'm -- it had an i effect on me i think. >> what was it?
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walter: just when i ran for president, i think i had a much more sober view about what was possible. once you get in that committee and you get in the numbers and all the complexity of it and so on, you start thinking that way. it affects your -- it affects you in some way i think. i think it is responsible but i don't know in terms of national politics. >> it is curious dole's national crur came at the time when conservatism was moving in a different direction. walter: i wonder how much he believed in that religious right stuff. i think when that thing got red hot, almost all of their
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national leaders had to mouth it. i wonder how much he saw that as good politics, good for the country. the same thing about the reaganomics. the tax cuts. the more you cut taxes, it never worked. i don't think he ever believed that. in fact he told me once he didn't think it work. he had been on the finance committee. he knew how things worked. >> did you ever have a thing in your old party, in your career? >> walter: i had an understanding. when we talked first about running together, i said you know, i thereof senate. -- i love the senate. i don't have to do this. i think i can help you as much
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or more as a senator as i can as a vice president. but if you want this to go ahead, the one thing you have to let me do is keep my dignity. i cannot demean myself out there making arguments i don't believe in. so if we get in a situation where you're for something that i can't support, just allow me to shut up. i know as a candidate, i can't go out and attack the head of a ticket. we talked about how we would handle this. >> was that enforced at all by the example of hubert humphrey? walter: yes. if you read humphrey's awed biography, that chapter talks about how he got on this cheer leading which he didn't like at all and had written a
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letter to the president saying we have to be worried about where we're going. he said that really hurt him and people looked at him differently and he knew it. >> what -- how do you think bob dole should be remembered? walter: i think he should be remembered as a very fine american who served us in war and came up from an impoverished background and developed into one of the most impressive leaders in his time. and that he serves as a model of how grown men and women ought to work together when they get in power in america. and he was an example in his later years in the senate of what a senator should be. >> also i think like you, i
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think of jimmy carter, he never forgot whether he came from. walter: no. i like that about him. when you're with him alone, you never have the -- you're with a great man. that is very important to him. that experience he had in the military in italy. nearly took his life. i had a couple of friends who were up there with him at the time. one of them ran the -- for some years. they told me what they went through there. amazing stuff. >> do you think it defined him? walter: i don't think it defined him but i think it is sort of -- this is -- my guess, it was a central part of his life.
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it matured him. he was struggling between whether he would be angry about carrying this terrible burden or whether he would be a bigger person because he could handle it and move on. and that's what he did. so i think it had a lot -- >> there is a theory that he became sort of obsessed with demonstrating his independence. over time. that made him impossible to manage. walter: you mean when he was running? >> amenable to having handlers handle him. walter: he was a handler's nightmare, i'm sure. he was not a modern man iplabble public relations at all. i think he was bob dole from
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russell, kansas. >> in an odd way television worked against him. walter: he lost but i don't think the people lost respect for him. that's an important distinction i think. it is possible to lose both the election and self-respect. that's bad. but if you don't lose -- if you conducted yourself in a responsible way, if you tried to use that period to debate real issues and you treated the public with respect and done what account should do for them. -- candidates should do for them. that's not bad. >> this club of people who run. how, you know, how does that affect the rest of your life? have you ever compared notes
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about the process? walter: it is kind of subliminal when we are together. we both know. >> would you agree that campaigns have become less substantive or -- at the presidential level that they tend to be more driven by -- walter: i think it is somewhat up to the candidate. you have more opportunities for substance now than before because with the internet and with the modern ways of communication, you can get the record out, you can get the issues out. these debates, ahl although they are truncated and almost ludicrous at times, at least the public has a chance to see them performing. the thing that bothers me about politics is that it is
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becoming so incredibly, almost immorally expensive. when i was nominated in 1984, i raised about $45 million over two years. a lot of money. but then when i got nominated, i got a check for $45 million under the federal law and i never had to make at phone call. that was it. now these candidates. look at them. they have to raise $100 million before the first primary and they have to figure out about $200 million or $300 million and both the process of raising that money and the of twisted attacks are constantly raining down on everybody. i think it has cheapened the process. it has made the election of a
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president less dignified. i think you cannot throw all of that mud all that time without leaving residue of cynicism and anger. >> finally what happens in a current context where the campaign has been going on o -- on for a year. what does that do to the mandate? walter: and it is so tiresome. you can see it in the candidates' eyes. just look at them. they are already getting tired. i remember, i had been on the campaign trail i think for a year and i had a year to go and the prime minister of england called an election and 15 days later she was re-elect. -- e >> former vice president walter mondale has died. he first came to washington,
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d.c. as a u.s. senator from minnesota, serving from 1964-1976 when he became jimmy carter's running mate in that year's presidential election. he served one term as vice president before launching his own presidential campaign in 1984. he lost to ronald reagan. nearly a decade later, he would become u.s. ambassador to japan for president bill clinton, serving in that role from mondale was 93 years old. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. it's brought to you by these television companies and more including buckeye road then. ♪ -- buckeye broadband. ♪


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