Lee Atwater (1981): To answer that question, Saul, you have to analyze the nature of Southern politics since the 1940s. I think Southern politics begins with V.O. Key. What he did was analyze the Democratic party, because you didn't have a Republican party. He came up with the idea that the parties were very factionalized. He came up with three different types of factions, of state parties, all within the Democratic framework. It was all personality—that type of thing.
Race was not really an issue.
Race didn't become an issue in the South, again, until 1954.
Race could become an issue. But for that someone had to be soft on the issue, but no one was. So everyone was operating within the framework of a segregated society. So race never became an issue.
Obviously, from 1954 to 1966, in that period, race was the issue.
Earl Black wrote a book called Southern Governors and Civil Rights—there hadn't been a comprehensive book written—that analyzes that period pretty good. What he came up with was “the segregation candidate”. The candidate who best handled the segregation issue between '54 and '66 basically was the winner. Importantly, the race question was the top, was the issue in all Southern races. This continued up to '70.
Once you had the Voting Rights Act in '64 and '65, by '66 Blacks were participating enough in the system. whereby ’70 was the first year in which race was still the dominate issue, but the candidates of the moderates were consistently winning primaries—because by '70 you had a large group of Black voters. '70 is a good year for you. That is when you got Jimmy Carter, you got Dale Bumpers, you had Reuben Askew, you had Bill Brock, you had John West, you know. Across the board that was a new breed of Southern politician.
To some extent this was because they were image guys. The media was being used. More importantly, that was the first year statistically that the Blacks were participating enough to where a moderate would get to the head of the party.
Alexander Lamis: That was the also year that Carter ran against Sanders, losing the race.
Lee Atwater: In 1966 Carter ran against Sanders. Carter, by the way, was an interesting phenomena. Most people don't know this but you can get acetate [pictures]. Carter ran a race against Sanders. No wait a minute, let me think of the Carter thing. Carter ran first against West or Matthews.
Alexander Lamis: Sanders was 1970.
Lee Atwater: Yeah, Sanders you're right, that's when he did the baseball pictures and all that, but that was a big, that was not a word of racism, so he was doing that in the Democratic Party, positioned himself to come back in the general election as the moderate against Harold Suit. But by the way, just as a point of reference. What Carter did was go out in '66 and run as the moderate candidate against Lester and lost, and then used the Lester Maddox formula, same formula Maddox used.
Alexander Lamis: That was also true of George Wallace.
Lee Atwater: Oh sure, when he first ran. But his thing was, I am against the nigras.
The point I'm making is: race was the dominate issue in Southern politics, all through the 50s and 60s. In the 70s, it began diminishing because of two things.
The competitive two parties. In the 60s you had the Goldwater phenomenon and you had Nixon and so forth, but basically the 70s was when you had a crystallized two party thing beginning.
The crucial thing in 1980 is, number one, that the two dominant issues of Southern politics which had been race and party—meaning you had to be a Democrat to win, and they had pretty well sewn it up. And the main issues became the economy and national defense.
Now that's interesting in that those are the issues basically that Goldwater, in other words the South in 1964 was considered reactionary, Neanderthalic, and so forth, because we weren't mainstream on not only on the race thing but on the economic issues and national defense and all. We were considered ultra-conservative and everything.
What happens is a guy like Reagan who campaigns in 1980 on a 1964 Goldwater platform, minus the boo-boos and obviously the Voting Rights Act, TBA, and all that bullshit. But when you look at the economics and national defense, what had happened is that the South went from being behind the times to being the mainstream.
In other words, so what you had was two things happening that totally washed away the Southern strategy, the Harry Dent-type southern strategy. That whole strategy was based—although it was a more sophisticated than a Bilbo or a George Wallace—it was nevertheless based on coded racism. The whole thing. Bussing. We want a supreme court judge that wouldn't [inaudible] rights. Anything you'd look at could be traced back to the race issue and the old Southern strategy.
And it was not done in a blatantly discriminatory way.
But the Reagans did not have to do a Southern strategy for two reasons.
Number one, race was not a dominant issue.
And number two, the mainstream issues in this campaign had been “Southern issues” since way back in the 60s. So Reagan goes out and campaigns on the economics and on national defense, the whole campaign was devoid of any kind of racism, any kind of reference.
And I'll tell you another thing you all need to think about, that's even surprised me. It's the lack of interest, really, a lack of knowledge right now in the South among white voters on this Voting Rights Act. I brought all these Republican state chairmen up here to just kind of soothe them down and say, 'look before we have this meeting, look we may not do exactly what you all like.' And what I found out about it is all of them were very pacifists and 'we'll pretty well go along with whatever you want.' And I looked at polls in the last four to five months, and there's just no interest or no intensity on that thing among white voters.
Now, back in 1969, me bringing up now Harry Dent, rather than me bringing up those gentlemen who are going to do very big important things in the South and come up here with some kind of manifesto. That would have been a big major news story. Ongoing and all that shit.
Alexander Lamis: I'm just wondering about not the residual evidence of that. there’s no race, but there is bussing as an issue.
Lee Atwater: What issue?
Alexander Lamis: Bussing. And they were a bit of an issue.
Lee Atwater: Okay, let's talk about what an issue is, Saul. When I talk about an issue… Say I'm a pollster, I ask an open-ended question, 'what's the biggest issue facing you today?' You poll 600 people and then you put on a continuum. 45 to 55% will say economics, 12% will say national defense, bussing will not even register on the top 10. On an aggregate, bussing hadn't been in the top 10 of open-ended issue questions on any poll I've seen since 1972. And now it's gone. No no no, excuse me Saul, not out of line. It's gone. It's been on the top 10, but it hadn't been top 10 in 1978 to 1980, bussing hadn't even a top 10 issue.
So sure, everything's an issue, but what I'm saying...
Alexander Lamis: I'm just wondering how much residual there is, that color racism and the anti-government, anti-Washington states rights, return to states rights, de-federalize... how much there is in the old day, residual of the old days and the antipathy towards welfare programs, poverty programs, which all provide Blacks.
And other political social economic problems which do give power to Black folks, or poor folks or identify the bigger problem. Again, it's much bigger than southern, but the Legal Services Corporation—they give problems to the municipalities of Mississippi when they want a gerrymander there, and I'm just wondering...
Lee Atwater: Sure, but I think this, and don't get me wrong: You go out there in the white country clubs, and they're still going to sit down and say, 'shit I'm tired of them getting everything’, and all that. But the bottom line is, I gotta look here. The bottom line is it's a mainstream thing now, and it's not grounded in racism as much as it kind of the “Network” movie syndrome: "I'm mad as hell and I can't take it.”
Now, statistically, the poor people who are receiving all these things are Blacks. Now some of the Southern stuff might still be racism, but there's such a wide spread right now I think it's almost evolving into a class struggle-type issue, rather than a racism issue.
Alexander Lamis: When you say widespread, you mean ...
Lee Atwater: I can go to a country club, you know, I live on a country club.
Alexander Lamis: Okay.
Lee Atwater: But what I'm saying is you sit in a country club anywhere, and they'll still say, 'I'm tired of these fuckers ....'
Alexander Lamis: Anywhere in the country, I understand yeah.
Lee Atwater: And if were a Black, it wouldn't make any difference.
There's always going to be a ... I'll say this, my generation, you're my generation, we're the first generation of Southerners that's not been racist. Totally. In other words, my parents and even people five or ten years older than me were touched with things they were believing. But what I'm saying is that has been sublimated by a bunch of other issues. But more importantly, just people in the South are just like any people in the history of the world. Once something becomes a reality, people adapt to it. We fall, we kick, we struggle with all of these problems, first in '54 when Voting Rights deposition, but by the ‘70s it was a reality. And you just adapt to reality and move on. So I'm not saying that it was done that way because it we thought it was great and we finally understood anything. We continued far and on. So when they say the election... So what I'm saying, back to that Southern strategy.
So the Southern strategy now, basically, and here's another thing, so we haven't talked about this. It's who controls elections in the South. State-wide elections in the South are controlled by, I'm going to use the term George Wallace voters. Because statistically Blacks went for John F. Kennedy en masse, they went for Johnson en masse, they went for Humphrey en masse, they went for Carter en masse, and McGovern en masse.
I'll say the country club lines went for the Republican every time.
So, the blue collar voter in 1964 goes for Goldwater, he carries big percentage—remember the other two votes stay the same. 1968 the blue collar voter goes for George Wallace and carries the same voters on. 1972 he goes for Nixon. 1976 he goes for Carter, and we're leading up to my own strategy in the Deep South in 1980. The whole focus group in the South is that blue collar voter. Now that's important when we talk about the race relations thing, because he's also the guy that's most threatened by the Blacks and he's also prone to be “a racist”.
Until 1980, and a little bit until 76, the race issue was how you approach that man. Plus, the most conservative guy on fiscal matters always tends to have their vote, and the toughest son of a bitch in national defense and foreign policy are always going to have their vote.
So what happened is Jimmy Carter in 76 was able... plus these people’s regional pride is always biggest in the lower intellects and lower income groups. So on the basis of regional pride, present issues… Being a born-again Christian, which smacks of conservatism, he gets that group en masse in 76, and carries them all the same.
Once he got there, and this is an important point, it was his to lose. It wasn't ours to win, it was Carter's to lose. All Carter had to do was run in place. Well he didn't do that. He took that to Iran. He went out. He didn't stay on the issue. And we had to go back in and try to make them understand, and I thought we could really lay in and hamstring and bring him back.
But what he did is default his own home turf. And not only anything to do with racism, or the race question, but on economics and national defense it was his to lose. So the fact of the matter is, the South is Reagan's to lose now. And if Reagan goes and denounces his own economic policy or doesn't balance the budget or, you know, he could lose the South. But if not, he's going to win the South.
Alexander Lamis: But he's not going to lose the South if he goes along with what the Blacks want from him.
Lee Atwater: That should be a first of his. Now in 1968, the whole Southern strategy that Harry had put together, the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. And now they don't have to do that.All you gotta do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues his campaigned on since 1964. And that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cutting taxes, you know that old cluster of being tough with national defense. And it's going to be very hard for Reagan to lose.
Alexander Lamis: Whether he, I'm not saying that he does this consciously, but the fact is that he does get the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by doing away, by cutting down on food stamps.
Lee Atwater: Here's how I would approach that issue as a statistician or a political scientist. Or as a psychologist, which I'm not, is how abstract you handle the race thing. Now once you start out, and now you don't quote me on this, you start out in 1954 by saying 'nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger,' that hurts you, backfires, so you say stuff like ‘forced bussing, states rights’ and all that stuff, and you're getting so abstract. Now you're talking about cutting taxes and all these things. What you’re talking about are totally economic things, and the byproduct often is Blacks get hurt worse than whites.
And subconsciously maybe that is part of it, I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract and that coded, that we're doing away with the racial problem one way or the other.
Do you follow me?
Because obviously sitting around saying, 'we want to cut taxes, we want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the bussing thing, and a hell of lot more abstract than, 'nigger, nigger.'
So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.
Alexander Lamis: One of the biographies of Huey Long. He went to a Catholic hospital which had been a target of the racists down there. White folks working on the Blacks. White nurses working on Black patients. It was also, he had promised to Blacks more jobs, upgraded jobs, and he was running for election. So he went to the hospital and just raised hell. All the white people working on Blacks. Why didn't they get some more Blacks so there would be more work for Blacks. So he satisfied both constituents. Brought blacks more jobs, and...
Lee Atwater: Yeah. And you know, Huey Long, he was so similar to those guys, you can always find some choices when you're consistent. And he did use the race issue, and used it to turn it around. But I mean, I'm talking about when you look at the bottom of these things.
Alexander Lamis: What happens…
Lee Atwater: I don't have to tell you. I don't share that shit, because I'm not a [inaudible 00:18:59]. That base is [inaudible 00:18:57].
Alexander Lamis: Okay.
Lee Atwater: [inaudible 00:19:04] How about you? Never did get the barn. He just bought a house up there, with Texas money.
Alexander Lamis: That was a good introducyion. I would take you back to 1970 and you can sort of jump from 70 to 80 and what happened.
Lee Atwater: Let me make something sure something we were adding on before. Hey Saul.
Alexander Lamis: It's all the way back to 1970, we jump from 70 to 80 and ignite the race issue. It's not that stable and racist. Now you see race is what... not a major incentive.
Lee Atwater: It's separate.
Alexander Lamis: Yeah, it's separate. With the election of the moderate democrat you were talking about, it just faded away. It didn't stay there.
Lee Atwater: I think what happened is, all these different factors are independent factors, but they can work together also. So you had two things happen in the 70s. You had a situation where, starting in '66 and all through to the '80s in the moderate, or most liberSaul, there's an invisible line of where you can have, of where you become a liberal in the sand. When you become a liberSaul, or if you're in trouble, even an independent, but if you are a good moderate you stake out a victory within that [inaudible 00:20:54].
Now you take the situation in 72, 74 and then right on through the 70s where racism is not only a non-issue but it is a dangerous and self-destructive issue and they don't in fact [inaudible 00:21:14].
But white liberals in most places were just as destructive, so what you had was kind of a moderation that went quite far.
Then you had a development that started in the 60s with the hardening up and the firming development of a 25 to 35% Republican party, Republican-based party. You had the advent of the Republican primaries in the South, mostly.
There might have been two or three primaries in the 60s, but in the 70s you had a new feature called the Republican primaries. And we had our first ones after around 1971. Basically the Conservative primaries were extremely Conservative, extremely right wing. Now race never became an issue as such. It's basically who was the most conservative. And when I say conservative, I mean conservative, Alan. Race was never discussed within the framework of a Republican primary.
Then you went to a general election, and what you had was a Republican-Conservative against a Moderate Democrat. The Republican-Conservative got generally, that's where he ...
First of all, the issues with the board, I mean talk about racism. What you had winning these, I mean in the general election, the candidate that could best ... The way the Republicans won was getting the Wallace vote. Getting the Blue collar vote. Getting the white vote. Any racism that was used ...
Alexander Lamis: Like Brock's race in 70 when he won the senate seat, and even the one in Virginia ...
Lee Atwater: That's right, any racism was used ... Bussing ...
Alexander Lamis: They continued that. Bernie in Florida.
Lee Atwater: Well, I didn't follow that race at all.
Alexander Lamis: But just to tie in with this, you talked about the white blue collar voter being a sort of pivotal vote you were talking about presidential elections. What I'm more interested in is the gubernatorial and US senator race.
Lee Atwater: Aye, gubernatorial.
Alexander Lamis: And in those, wouldn't you say that in most states the Democrat candidate's been able in that period from about 72 to 78 to pull those voters, keep those voters, and that's why the Republican Party ...
Lee Atwater: That is right. Now let me give you an example of someone who I'm very close to, that happened here. Mr. Strom Thurmond. Basically Republicans, and I think Aiden could be horseshit here but I mean that's irrelevant. Republicans still don't get elected state-wide in the South. And the reason is, this Republican party has not been able to put together a coalition of enough blue collar people, George Wallace-style voters and country club people.
Alexander Lamis: Did you say '80 was the ...
Lee Atwater: '80 was the first year that Republicans did that and on another level other than just presidential. In other words, Richard Nixon in '72 with fifth migration of this receptive line with 72% of the vote, Republican pressured in against 31. And you had that across the whole state. Otherwise you had to totally separate presidential politics from the rest of politics, but '80 he wins across the South, the candidate that best dealt with the economic issues got 71% of George Wallace-style voter. The whole key is getting 70% of that vote, which is very tough to do. Those people are the 'my pappy was a Democrat, and his pappy was a Democrat' kind of people. So in order to get them you have to have some very sexy appealing type of verbiage in the campaign and the right kind of issues to get them. Strom Thurmond managed to do that better than anyone. He is always ... Strom Thurmond got 82% of the white voters in 1978. He literally got all of the Wallace voters and all of the blue collar type voters. The average Republican candidate is not been able to penetrate the blue collar voters.
Alexander Lamis: Strom is an exception.
Lee Atwater: Yeah, that's right. And he has been a Democrat. I'll put it this way, I've managed 27 Republican campaigns in the South and I have never used the word Republican, and never put Republican sentiment on any campaign that we want to win.
You don't win in the South, and I think this is still the case, by advertising that you are wealthy. What you have to do is put your candidate up, the best candidate, and have the best issues and put together a coalition of basically 30% Republican and basically the white man asks you've gotta base it 30% Republican, 40% Democrat, 45% Democrat, and the rest Independent. So you literally have to get out there and put all the Independents together and all the Republicans together.
There has not really been a meaningful Republican party in the south in the '70s, to the extent of other than Virginia. Which the way I analyze the parties, you know Virginia is a statistical artifact. And it's not a Southern state as such demographically, when you look at the Deep South. The Deep South is one thing and the rest of the South is another.
Alexander Lamis: Well, how do you see the race in the '80s at this level, sub-Presidential level? Of course I can see your argument about Reagan's use of the issue or not use of it, but could he have national constituency levels. But how does the Republican party come to grips with it?
Lee Atwater: Well, I believe ...
Alexander Lamis: I mean I think Carol Campbell's an interesting …
Lee Atwater: Well, I assume you know that he got clouded last routine.
Alexander Lamis: Oh is that right? I interviewed him a couple of years ago.
Lee Atwater: Yeah, well Campbell and I are back to back in this.
Alexander Lamis: Oh, I'll have to take a look at this. He's a very interesting politician and in this interview he was very candid about the black vote. He talked about that race in South Carolina in '78 for the Governor and the use of the appeal of the Republican candidate to, I guess the black vote and how it backfired on him because it was a delicate thing, he said. He went out and ran radio ads saying, 'black people why vote for the Democrats? What have they given you, the one party system, segregation and so forth.' Well, he over-did it, and I just thought that was interesting.
Lee Atwater: Campbell first got it, I mean I managed everything but his. So we're kind of two guys who grew up together on this stuff. Well, I think in my judgment Karl Marx used to write on entitlement. Race and religion will always be there. The real issue is ultimately the economic issue. I'm not sophisticated enough to be an economic determinant or anything like that, but race will be within the framework of culture, and I feel like there's almost going to be a class struggle like that and blacks are going to be statistically be on one side of it. And I think of, for instance, the Republican party and I tell these Republican candidates, they're going to have a hard time getting masses of black voters just by pointing at blacks who are in the air force, secretaries or something like that. They're going to either have to change that entire issue or keep the same issues, forget racism, let the chips fall where they may, and you're still going to have a black-white split just because of the economics involved.
Let me tell you something I did, I did a study for graduate work of Strom which I'd backed in '78. We got about 80% of the black vote in the traditional black precincts. Then I went back and selected 300 blacks, and I've gotta take their information and put it in a statement. So I went and selected 300 blacks that were 98, 96% black. $30,000 a year club people, meaning black lawyers, black doctors, black people making $30,000 which in '78 and '79 was like making $60,000, Strom got 38% of them. So now what affirmative action and all this is going to do in the long run is create a legitimate black middle class and upper middle class. That voter, in my judgment will be more likely to vote with his economic interest than he will anything else. And that is the voter that I think of just through a very slow, but very steady process of we'll go with it.
Because I'm finding that now. The blacks that me in a few things have been doctors, lawyers and people like that, and they're very interested in getting wealth. And they're getting nothing out of the bread bowl. They get nothing. So I think that is basically what's going to happen and I think that race as such is going to dissolve as an issue, but you are going to have the race question in the sense of on one side, you're going to have a guy who's a millionaire and he's got something kind-of like the guy who's making $10,000 a year. You know, he's busting his ass and putting into the system. He's paying taxes, and somebody else is not doing anything and taking out of the system. Those two guys, the George Wallace voter and the millionaire have something in common.
And I'll tell you something else, statistically as the number of non-producers in the system move toward 50%, that makes the system more and more polarized to where the Wallace guy and the traditional Republican closer and closer together as they become threatened. As the taxes go up an inflation goes up we're causing mild production growth in the south to head south.
Alexander Lamis: But this, moving away from the race issue, just in generSaul, from what you've said I don't get the feeling that you have tremendous optimism for the Republican party in the near future below the presidential level so, is that right? From what you're saying?
Lee Atwater: No no, let me tell you. I think that we use tremendous opportunity only because the senate level do motoriSaul, and number 1 stay alive. In other words, I believe in kind of a formSaul, you know presidential where, the senate, the governor, then congressionSaul, then the state houses. I think that you have a situation because this fractioned party that you have, like I said it's fractioned, and the best candidate that best approaches and best identifies what the economic issues in national defense will win.
Every campaign I was involved in, and I'll just name a few of them. I had Jean Johnston against Richard Maguire, I had Tommy Harpin against Bob Ratnell, I had John Aperri meets John Jenner Red. Had Florence Pence against Tom Turnipsea, and all those campaigns were popular ...
Alexander Lamis: This is a consulting organization ...
Lee Atwater: Yes, that I was president of, as well as doing southern, Deep South and away. And in all of those campaigns, plus I was peripherally involved because one of my partners would follow all these things, and in every one of those races the reason we won was that we best identified the economic issue, best identified the national defense. But our stuff would put the Democrat on the heat.
Now in a situation where the Democrat best identified the most credibility with the economic issues and all he wanted was no trouble in South Carolina. Which Strom walked over this other guy, he was able to petition himself as being conservative on the budget committee, this that and the other thing, which made for no problem. We were able to print Richard St. Clair is a big spender, part of the problem-type guy, inflationary type guy. Same with Bud Ravenue. Placed our guy as the Conservative and then set him up. I think we're now down to blood coming to real issues. I mean economics and national defense and I think in any given situation that if the Republican can best stake out those issues he wins. State-wide or on congressional basis. And that never has been the case. '80 is, I think the watermark year in that sense.
Alexander Lamis: You mention that a fractured party identification situation. These white, blue collar Southerners. If they, when asked by survey what party they vote for, they invariably say Democratic party.
Lee Atwater: Or Independent.
Alexander Lamis: Rarely Republican. But then if they consistently vote Republican, or be lured to vote, at some point you almost want to call them out.
Lee Atwater: Well sure. They will call themselves Independents an awful long time.
Alexander Lamis: Why?
Lee Atwater: Well because, in always ... They're still voting for the Democrat that lives down the street and some of the other camps. I mean, they are Independents because they're voting for a Republican for the president, voting for US senate, voting congressman, but there's 15 other opposites on the battle and everyone of those guys looking forward to Democrat.
Alexander Lamis: When is that going to change.
Lee Atwater: Now, on the local level ... Okay first of all, I've did a paper on Congress, and I'm sure you've seen the same vote. A US Senator has a 61% of getting re-elected, a congressman has a 96.4% chance of getting reelected. Is that because of the homogeneity of the district, the whole bit. So therefore those simple statistics I can look back at 1980 and say, I didn't think it, but sure it was possible for pick up all those statistically for us, a 40% chance. That's pretty good numbers, it's not great. But it's very tough to fight the statistics that have nothing to do with the Department of Education, nothing to do with anything else.
Basically the power of incumbency. And a congressional list. Now when you get down even on a smaller level, these little state houses and state senates and you've got all these incumbents mobbing the House of Representatives. So that came on, and we got some revolutionary [inaudible 00:37:17]. We now control the congressional delegation. Four voted congressmen, a voted US Senator. 20 Republicans in the house, 125 Democrats. Those 125 Democrats are going to run for re-election. There's no way to entice them to switch parties because you can't go out and tell a guy, 'if you switch we'll give you all this good stuff,' because they're still a majority party and as long as those guys are running for re-election.
So the only way you basically win is in new seats. You see what I mean?
Alexander Lamis: Yeah.
Lee Atwater: So you slowly creep up on new seats. There's actually three parties in the south. There's a state-wide party system, there's congressional district party system and there's a local party system. And they're three extra images. There's some similarities, some changes. But there's actually three party systems, which generates a whole set of circumstances unique to here.
Alexander Lamis: Are the Southerners looking to the Reagan Administration for assistance in boosting re-alignment at the local level, and can it?
Lee Atwater: Well, candidly this is going to be very tough. I think the whole nature of politics because of the party system, because of the media system and so forth, creates a situation in which one individual or one institution presidency and the individual is going to have a hard time effecting behavior in situations unrelated to his own situation. Reagan has a good chance of affecting behavior with the institutions he needs to talk about. Police full tax program, police for fulfilling that.
But any politician in America has a tough time anymore of affecting behavior in other races. Now I have not done a paper, but I've read studies and I firmly as a practitioner can tell you that from the 70s, starting in the '70s there's a very big definite trend line on enforcements and decreasing effect. And in South Carolina seen as an example, I support Reagan, I was his key campaign regulator. Jim Edwards and Strom Thurmund everybody came out for Khan. Now in 1955 or something that there's no question, there wouldn't even be a racism clause at all.
But Thurmond's got more credibility than any other political figure probably in the country within his own state. He was not able to keep us from just walking all over general common. If it had been Strom Thurmond versus Ronald Reagan, Thurmond would have killed him. But what I'm saying, in generSaul, the president can't go at it even like he could in the '60s, but he couldn't do it in the '60s. In other words, it never happened. What they wanted to happen in the '60 never happened. Fellas, we can do a lot of things to help, we can go out and bring candy and sit here and help the community. Hopefully the bloc land, you know a whole bunch of things to help, but I did not see one person of one institution drastically being able to re-alter at some point.
Alexander Lamis: But if any one person is doing it, you've got the job.
Lee Atwater: That's right. What I'm doing is I'm saying, I've got the job but I'm trying to be reasonable about it. Let me see this thing, this might be something that you could use…. But it basically addresses this same thing of pre-synchronization.
Alexander Lamis: But what about that race in Mississippi yesterday?
Lee Atwater: Well it's a good example of what I'm talking about. If we had... There ain't no question that Reagan is popular as shit down there, because I saw three polls on the thing, he's up in the 70s. And if endorsements were all they were cracked up to be, I mean the guy would've walked all over this board. That's just one of many many issues, and the more important issues are right down in there.
Alexander Lamis: The heavy Black vote of course, wanted more, so the Republican had a majority of white supporters.
Lee Atwater: Oh sure, I mean…