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I n June, Hillary flew to Little Rock for a visit. I took her home the long way, to show her a part of the state I loved. We drove west up the Arkansas River for seventy miles to Russellville, then south down Highway 7 through the Ouachita Mountains and National Forest, stopping from time to time to look at the beautiful vistas. We spent a couple of days in Hot Springs with Mother, Jeff, and Roger, then went back to Little Rock for a prep course on the Arkansas Bar exam, which proved helpful enough that both of us passed..cheap wedding dresses.
After the bar, Hillary went back to Massachusetts to start her job with the Childrens Defense Fund, and I went to Fayetteville to begin my new life as a law professor. I found the perfect place to live, a beautiful little house designed by the famous Arkansas architect Fay Jones, whose stunning Thorncrown Chapel in nearby Eureka Springs won international awards and accolades. The house was on more than eighty acres of land about eight miles east of Fayetteville, on Highway 16. The lands eastern border was the middle fork of the White River. A few dozen cattle grazed the pasture. The house, built in the mid-1950s, was essentially a one-room structure, long and thin, divided down the middle, with the bathroom dropped like a block in the center. Both the front and back walls were a series of sliding glass doors, which, along with skylights in the bedroom and bathroom, guaranteed lots of light. Running in front of the whole length of the living room was a screened-in porch, which jutted out from the house as the land sloped down to the road. The house proved to be a godsend of peace and quiet, especially after I started my first campaign. I loved to sit on the porch and near the fireplace, and to walk in the field by the river with the cattle..Cartier Love Bracelet Replica.
The house did have a couple of drawbacks. Mice visited every night. When I realized I couldnt get rid of them and they kept to themselves in the kitchen, I started leaving them bread crumbs. The outdoors was full of spiders, ticks, and other menaces. They didnt bother me much, but when a brown recluse spider bit Hillary, her leg swelled up enormously and took a long time to go back down. And the place was impossible to secure. We had a rash of burglaries across northwest Arkansas that summer. The culprit was hitting lots of rural houses up and down High-way 16. One evening when I came home, it looked as if someone had been there, but nothing was missing. Perhaps Id scared him off. On impulse, I sat down and wrote a letter to the burglar, in case he came back:.Hermes belts Replica.
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Things in my house were so much the same, I could not tell whether or not you actually entered the house yesterday. If not, here is what you will finda TV which cost $80 new one and a half years ago; a radio which cost $40 new three years ago; a tiny record player that cost $40 new three years ago; and a lot of keepsakes, little things, very few of which cost over $10. Almost all the clothes are over two or three years old. Hardly worth risking jail for..http://www.exhibitionplus.eu/.
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I taped the letter to the fireplace. Unfortunately, the ploy didnt work. The next day when I was at work, the guy came back and took the TV, the radio, the record player, and one thing I purposely left off the list: a beautifully engraved German military sword from World War I. I was heartsick about losing it because Daddy had given it to me, and because, just a year earlier, the only other valuable thing I owned, the Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone Mother and Daddy had given me in 1963, had been stolen out of my car in Washington. Eventually I replaced the sax with a 1935 Selmer cigar cutter model, but the sword proved irreplaceable..Replica Bvlgari Rings.
I spent the last weeks of a very hot August preparing my classes and running around the university track in the hottest hours of the day, getting my weight down to 185 pounds for the first (and last) time since I was thirteen. In September, I began to teach my first classes: Antitrust, which I had studied at Yale and enjoyed very much, and Agency and Partnership, dealing with the nature of contractual relationships and the legal responsibilities that arise out of them. I had sixteen students in Antitrust and fifty-six in A and P. Antitrust law is rooted in the idea that the government should prevent the formation of monopolies as well as other noncompetitive practices in order to preserve a functioning, fair free-market economy. Since I knew that not all the students had a good grounding in economics, I tried hard to make the material clear and the principles understandable. Agency and Partnership, by contrast, seemed straightforward enough. I was afraid the students would get bored and also miss the importance and occasional difficulty of determining the exact nature of the relationships between parties in a common enterprise, so I tried to think of interesting and illuminating examples to keep the classroom discussion going. For example, the Watergate hearings and the White House response to the ongoing revelations had raised a lot of questions about the perpetrators of the break-in. Were they agents of the President, and if not, for whom and on whose authority were they acting? In all the classes I taught, I tried to get a lot of students involved in the discussions and to make myself easily available to them in my office and around the law school..hermes bracelet replica.
I enjoyed writing exams, which I hoped would be interesting, challenging, and fair. In the accounts Ive read of my teaching years, my grading has been questioned, with the implication that I was too easy, either because I was too soft or too eager not to offend potential supporters when I ran for office. At Yale, the only grades were Honors, Pass, or Fail. It was usually pretty hard to get Honors and virtually impossible to fail. At many other law schools, especially those where the admissions standards were more lax, the grading tended to be tougher, with the expectation that 20 to 30 percent of a class should fail. I didnt agree with that. If a student got a bad grade, I always felt like a failure too, for not having engaged his or her interest or effort. Almost all the students were intellectually capable of learning enough to get a C. On the other hand, I thought a good grade should mean something. In my big classes, ranging from fifty to ninety students, I gave two or three As and about the same number of Ds. In one class of seventy-seven, I gave only one A, and only once did I flunk a student. Usually the students who were going to flunk would withdraw rather than risk an F. In two smaller classes, I gave more As because the students worked harder, learned more, and deserved them..hermes bracelet replica.
Although the University of Arkansas law schools first black students had entered twenty-five years earlier, it was not until the early seventies that a substantial number of them finally began to enter state law schools across the South. Many were not well prepared, especially those whose education had been confined to poor segregated schools. About twenty black students took my courses between 1973 and 1976, and I got to know the others. Almost all of them were working very hard. They wanted to succeed, and several of them lived under enormous emotional pressure because they were afraid they couldnt make it. Sometimes their fears were justified. Ill never forget reading one black students exam paper with a mixture of disbelief and anger. I knew he had studied like a demon and understood the material, but his exam didnt show it. The right answers were in there, but finding them required digging through piles of misspelled words, bad grammar, and poor sentence construction. An As worth of knowledge was hidden in the bushes of an F presenta-tion, flawed by things he hadnt learned going all the way back to elementary school. I gave him a B-, corrected the grammar and spelling, and decided to set up tutoring sessions to help transform the black students hard work and native intelligence into better results. I think they helped, both substantively and psychologically, though several of the students continued to struggle with their writing skills and with the emotional burden of having one foot through the door of opportunity and the other held back by the heavy weight of past segregation. When many of those students went on to distinguished careers as lawyers and judges, the clients they represented and the parties they judged probably had no idea how high a mountain they had had to climb to reach the bar or the bench. When the Supreme Court upheld the principle of affirmative action in 2003, I thought of my black students, of how hard they worked and all they had to overcome. They gave me all the evidence Id ever need to support the Courts ruling...
Besides my interaction with the students, the best thing about being a law professor was being part of a faculty filled with people I liked and admired. My best friends on the faculty were two people my age, Elizabeth Osenbaugh and Dick Atkinson. Elizabeth was a brilliant Iowa farm girl, a good Democrat, and a devoted teacher who became good friends with Hillary, too. Eventually, she went back to Iowa to work in the Attorney Generals office. When I was elected President, I persuaded her to come to the Justice Department, but after a few years she again went back home, largely because she thought it would be better for her young daughter, Betsy. Sadly, Elizabeth died of cancer in 1998, and her daughter went to live with Elizabeths brother. I have tried to keep in touch with Betsy over the years; her mother was one of the finest people Ive ever known. Dick Atkinson was a friend from law school who had grown dissatisfied with private practice in Atlanta. I suggested he consider teaching and urged him to come to Fayetteville for an interview. He did, and was offered and accepted a position on our faculty. The students loved Dick, and he loved teaching. In 2003, he would become Dean of the Arkansas Law School. Our most famous and fascinating professor was Robert Leflar, the most eminent legal scholar our state ever produced, a recognized authority in torts, conflicts of law, and appellate judging. In 1973, he was already past the mandatory retirement age of seventy and was teaching a full load for a dollar a year. He had been on the faculty since he was twenty-six. For several years before I knew him, Bob had commuted weekly between Fayetteville and New York, where he taught a course in appellate judging to federal and state judges at New York University Law School, a course that more than half the Supreme Court justices had taken. He was never late for class in either place...
Bob Leflar was a small, wiry man with huge, piercing eyes, and he was still as strong as an ox. He couldnt have weighed more than 150 pounds, but while working in his yard he carried around big chunks of flagstone that I could hardly lift. After every Razorback football homecoming game, Bob and his wife, Helen, hosted a party in their home. Sometimes guests would play touch football in the front yard. I remember one game in particular, when Bob and I and another young lawyer played against two big young guys and a nine-year-old boy. The game was tied and we all agreed that whoever scored next would win. Our side had the ball. I asked Bob if he really wanted to win. He said, I sure do. He was as competitive as Michael Jordan. So I told the third man on our team to center the ball, let the rusher come after me, and go block the tall man defending the backfield to the right. The nine-year-old was covering Bob, on the assumption that Id throw the ball to the taller, younger man, or that if Bob got the ball the kid would be able to touch him. I told Bob to block the kid to the right too, then run hard left, and Id throw the ball to him right before the rusher got to me. When the ball was snapped, Bob was so excited he knocked the boy to the ground and ran left. He was wide open when our teammate completed his blocking assignment. I lobbed the ball to Bob and he ran across the goal line, the happiest seventy-five-year-old man in America. Bob Leflar had a steel-trap mind, the heart of a lion, a tough will, and a childlike love of life. He was sort of a Democratic version of Strom Thurmond. If we had more like him, wed win more often. When Bob died at ninety-three, I thought he was still too young to go...
Law school policies were set by the faculty at regular meetings. On occasion I thought they ran too long and got too mired in details best left to the dean and other administrators, but I learned a lot about academic governance and politics in them. Generally, I deferred to my colleagues when there was a consensus because I felt they knew more than I did and had a longer-term commitment to the academic life. I did urge the faculty to undertake more pro bono activities and to relax the publish or perish imperative for professors in favor of greater emphasis on classroom teaching and spending more out-of-class time with students...
My own pro bono work included handling minor legal problems for students and a young assistant professor; tryingunsuccessfullyto persuade more doctors in Springdale, just north of Fayetteville, to accept poor patients on Medicaid; preparing a brief for the U.S. Supreme Court in an antitrust case at the request of Attorney General Jim Guy Tucker; and, in my first appearance as a lawyer in court, filing a brief to defend my friend State Representative Steve Smith in an election-law dispute in Madison County...
Huntsville, the county seat and Orval Faubuss hometown, had a little more than a thousand people. The Democrats held all the courthouse offices, from the judge and sheriff on down, but there were a lot of Republicans in the hills and hollows of north Arkansas, most of them descendants of people who had opposed secession in 1861. The Republicans had made a good showing in 1972, aided by the Nixon landslide, and they felt that if they could get enough absentee ballots thrown out, they might reverse the results of the local elections.
The case was tried in the old Madison County courthouse before Judge Bill Enfield, a Democrat who later became a friend and supporter of mine. The Democrats were represented by two real characters: Bill Murphy, a Fayetteville lawyer whose great passions were the American Legion, which he served as Arkansas commander, and the Democratic Party; and a local lawyer, W. Q. Hall, known as Q, a one-armed wit with a sense of humor as sharp as the hook affixed to his left arm. The people hauled in to testify about why they voted absentee offered a vivid picture of the fierce loyalties, rough politics, and economic pressures that shaped the lives of Arkansas hill people. One man had to defend voting absentee at the last minute, without having applied in advance, as the law required. He explained that he worked for the state Game and Fish Commission, and he went down to vote on the day before the election because he had just been ordered to take the states only bear trap over slow mountain roads to Stone County on election day. His vote was allowed. Another man was called back from his job in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to testify. He admitted that he had lived in Tulsa for more than ten years but still voted by absentee ballot in Madison County in every election, though he was no longer a legal resident there. When the Republican lawyer pressed him on it, he said with great emotion that Madison County was his home; that he had gone to Tulsa only because he couldnt make a living in the hills; that he didnt know or care anything about politics there; and that in another ten years or so, as soon as he could retire, he was coming home. I cant remember whether his vote was counted, but his attachment to his roots left a lasting impression on me.
Steve Smith testified about his role in gathering absentee ballots from residents in his fathers nursing home. The law seemed to allow people associated with nursing homes to help residents fill out their ballots, but required the ballots to be mailed by a family member or someone with specific written authorization to do so. Steve had picked up all the ballots and dropped them in the nearest mailbox. I presented the judge with what I thought was a very persuasive brief, arguing that it was nonsensical to say Steve couldnt mail them; no one had suggested that he had tampered with them, or that the residents didnt want him to mail them. For all we knew, not all the elderly residents even had family members who could perform the chore. Judge Enfield ruled against me and Steve, but upheld enough of the absentee votes for County Judge Charles Whorton, Sheriff Ralph Baker, and their crew to stay in office.
I had lost my part of the case but gained invaluable insight into the lives of Arkansas hill people. And I had made friends with some of the most effective politicians I would ever know. If a new person moved into Madison County, they would know within a week if he or she was a Democrat or a Republican. The Republicans had to come to the courthouse to register to vote. The county clerk went to the Democrats homes to register them. Two weeks before each election they called all the Democrats, asking for their votes. They were called again on election morning. If they hadnt voted by late afternoon, someone went to their homes and took them to the polls. On the day of my first general election, in 1974, I called Charles Whorton to see how we were doing. He said heavy rain had washed a bridge out in a remote part of the county and some of our folks couldnt get to the polls, but they were working hard and thought we would win by about 500 votes. I carried Madison County by 501 votes.
A couple of months after I moved to Fayetteville, I felt completely at home there. I loved teaching, going to Razorbacks football games, driving around in the mountains, and living in a university community of people who cared about the things I did. I made friends with Carl Whillock, a university vice president who had short gray hair and a very reserved manner. I first met him at lunch at Wyatts Cafeteria in the big shopping mall on a hill between Fayetteville and Springdale. Everyone at our table was criticizing President Nixon except Carl, who didnt say a word. I had no idea what he thought, so I asked him. Ill never forget his monotone reply: I agree with Harry Truman. He said Richard Nixon is the kind of man who would take wooden nickels off a dead mans eyes. In the old days, wooden nickels were the round wood objects morticians put on the eyes of corpses to keep them closed during the embalming process. Carl Whillock was a book you couldnt judge by its cover. Beneath his buttoned-down appearance was a tough mind and a brave heart.
I especially liked two women professors whose husbands were in the state legislature. Ann Henry taught at the Business School; her husband, Morriss, was an ophthalmologist and our state senator. Ann and Morriss became special friends to Hillary and me, and when we married, they hosted our wedding reception at their home. Diane Kincaid was a professor in the political science department, then married to State Representative Hugh Kincaid. Diane was beautiful, brilliant, and politically savvy. When Hillary moved to Fayetteville, Diane and Hillary became more than friends; they were soul mates, finding in each others company the kind of understanding, stimulation, support, and love that come along all too rarely in life.
Though Fayetteville, like all of northwest Arkansas, was growing fast, it still had a quaint little town square with an old post office in the middle, which was later converted into a restaurant and bar. Retail stores, offices, and banks lined the four sides of the square, and every Saturday morning it was filled with a farmers market offering fresh produce. My cousin Roy Clinton ran the Campbell-Bell Department Store on the northwest corner of the square. I traded with him and learned a lot about my new hometown. The courthouse was just a block off the square. The local lawyers who practiced there and had offices nearby included an impressive collection of wily older lawyers and bright young ones, many of whom would soon become strong supporters.
The local political hangout was Billie Schneiders Steakhouse on Highway 71, north of town. Billie was a hard-boiled, gravel-voiced, tough-talking woman whod seen it all but never lost her consuming, idealistic passion for politics. All the local politicos hung out at her place, including Don Tyson, the chicken magnate whose operation would become the largest agricultural company in the world, and Dons lawyer, Jim Blair, a six-foot-five-inch idiosyncratic genius who would become one of my closest friends. A few months after I moved to Fayetteville, Billie closed the steakhouse and opened a bar and disco in the basement of a hotel across the street from the courthouse. All the same folks hung out there, but she also developed a big following among university students, whom she mobilized to work for her candidates in elections. Billie was a big part of my life until the day we buried her.
I left my mountain lair for a few days over Thanksgiving to visit Hillary in Cambridge. She and I didnt resolve our situation, but she did agree to come visit me over the Christmas holidays. I loved her and wanted to be with her, but I understood her reservations. I was passionate and driven, and nothing in my background indicated I knew what a stable marriage was all about. She knew that being married to me would be a high-wire operation in more ways than one. Also, Arkansas must still have seemed an alien place for her to settle, though she no longer felt it was the other side of the moon. And as Ive said, I wasnt sure it was right for her. I still thought she should have her own political career. At that point in my life I thought that work was more important than having a personal life. I had met many of the ablest people of my generation, and I thought she was head and shoulders above them all in political potential. She had a big brain, a good heart, better organizational skills than I did, and political skills that were nearly as good as mine; Id just had more experience. I loved her enough both to want her and to want the best for her. It was a high-class dilemma.
When I got back to Arkansas, political talk had begun in earnest. Like Democrats everywhere, our people were stirred up by Senator Sam Ervins Watergate hearings and the continuation of the war. It appeared that we would have a chance to make some gains in the midterm congressional elections, especially after the price of oil shot up and gasoline began to be rationed. However, the local Democrats did not believe the prospects of unseating our congressman, John Paul Hammerschmidt, were very good. Hammerschmidt had a very conservative voting record and was a strong defender of President Nixon. But he also had a friendly, low-key manner, came home and traveled his district on most weekends, and had a fabulous casework operation, helping little towns get water and sewer grants and securing government benefits for constituents, often from programs he had voted to slash back in Washington. Hammerschmidt was in the lumber business, had good support from the small-business people in the district, and took care of the large timber, poultry, and trucking interests, which made up a significant portion of the economy.
I talked to several people that fall about whether they would be interested in running, including Hugh and Diane Kincaid, Morriss and Ann Henry, Steve Smith, and state representative Rudy Moore, who was Clark Whillocks brother-in-law. Everyone thought the race needed to be made, but no one wanted to make it; it seemed too unwinnable. Also, it seemed that Governor Bumpers, who was immensely popular, was likely to challenge Senator Fulbright in the Democratic primary. Fulbright was from Fayetteville, and most of my friends, though they liked Bumpers, felt obligated to help the senator in what was sure to be an all-uphill battle.
As it became clear that no one in our area who could run a strong race was willing to do it, I began to think about running myself. It seemed absurd on the face of it. I had been home only six months after nine years away. I was just three months into my new job. I had no contacts in most of the district. On the other hand, Fayetteville, with its students and liberal Democrats, was not a bad place to start. Hot Springs, where I grew up, was the biggest town in the south end of the district. And Yell County, where the Clintons were from, was part of it, too. All told, I had relatives in five of the districts twenty-one counties. I was young, single, and willing to work all hours of the day and night. And even if I didnt win, if I made a good showing I didnt think it would hurt me in any future campaigns I might undertake. Of course, if I got waxed, my long-hoped-for political career could be over before it began.
I had a lot to think about when Hillary came to visit me shortly after Christmas. We were talking it over in my house one morning in early January when the phone rang. It was John Doar, with whom Hillary and I had spent some time the previous spring when he came to Yale to judge our Casablanca Prize Trial. He told me that he had just agreed to become the chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committees inquiry into whether President Nixon should be impeached, and that Burke Marshall had recommended me to him. He wanted me to take a leave of absence from the law school, come to work, and help him recruit some other good young lawyers. I told him I was thinking about running for Congress, but Id consider the offer and call him back the next day. I had to think fast, and as would so often happen in the years ahead, I turned to Hillary for judgment and advice. By the time I called John back, I had made up my mind. I thanked him for the offer but declined, saying that I had decided to make the long-shot race for Congress instead, because there were lots of gifted young lawyers who would give anything to work for him on the impeachment inquiry but no one else to take on the fight in Arkansas. I could tell John thought I was making a foolish mistake, and by every rational standard I was. But, as Ive said before, a lot of your life is shaped by the opportunities you turn down as much as those you take up.
I suggested to John that he ought to sign up Hillary and our Yale classmates Mike Conway and Rufus Cormier. He laughed and said Burke Marshall had recommended them too. Eventually they all went to work for John and did an outstanding job. Doar wound up with an extraordinary array of talented young people, proving that, as I had expected, he didnt need me to have a great staff.
A couple of days before Hillary had to go back to Cambridge, I took her to Huntsville, about twenty-five miles east of my house, to see former governor Faubus. If I was going to run for Congress, Id have to pay a courtesy call on him sooner or later. Besides, much as I disapproved of what hed done at Little Rock, he was bright and had a brain full of Arkansas political lore, which I wanted to pick. Faubus lived in a beautiful big Fay Jones house his supporters had built for him when, after twelve years, he left the governors office with no money. He was then living with his second wife, Elizabeth, an attractive Massachusetts woman who still wore a 1960s beehive hairdo and who, before her marriage, had had a brief career as a political commentator in Little Rock. She was extremely conservative, and was in stark contrast in both looks and outlook to the governors first wife, Alta, who was a good hill-country populist and the editor of the local paper, the Madison County Record.
Hillary and I were ushered into the Faubus home and seated at a big round table in an all-glass alcove looking out on the Ozarks and the town below. For the next four or five hours, I asked questions and Orval talked, delivering a fascinating account of Arkansas history and politics: what life was like during the Depression and World War II, why he was still defending what he had done in Little Rock, and how he thought President Nixons problems might or might not affect the congressional race. I didnt say much; I would just ask a new question when Faubus finished answering the previous one. Hillary didnt say anything. Surprisingly, for more than four hours Elizabeth Faubus didnt either. She just kept us supplied with coffee and cookies.
Finally, when it was obvious the interview was winding down, Elizabeth Faubus stared hard at me and said, This is all very well, Mr. Clinton, but how do you feel about the international conspiracy to overthrow the United States? I stared right back and replied, Why, Im against it, Mrs. Faubus. Arent you? Not long afterward, the Faubuses moved to Houston, where Orval was distraught after Elizabeth was brutally murdered in their apartment. When I was inaugurated governor in 1979, I invited all the former governors to attend, including Faubus. It was a controversial move among my progressive supporters, who felt Id given the old rascal new life. The way it played out proved them right, a classic example of the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished. Still, Id do it all over again just to have the Red-menace exchange with Elizabeth Faubus.
After Hillary left, I went to see Dean Davis, told him I wanted to run for Congress, and promised to keep up with all my class work and to make time for the students. I was assigned to teach Criminal Procedure and Admiralty in the spring term and had already done quite a bit of the preparation work. To my surprise, Wylie gave me his blessing, probably because it was too late to get anyone else to teach the courses.
Arkansas Third District comprised twenty-one counties in the northwest quadrant of the state and was one of Americas most rural congressional districts. It included the big counties of Washington and Benton in the extreme northwest; seven northern counties in the Ozarks; eight counties in the Arkansas River valley below; and four in the Ouachita Mountains in the southwest. Thanks to Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and other poultry companies, and trucking companies like J. B. Hunt, Willis Shaw, and Harvey Jones, the towns in Benton and Washington counties were growing more prosperous, and more Republican. Eventually, the growth of evangelical Christian churches and the influx of retirees from the Midwest combined with the success of the big companies to make northwest Arkansas the most Republican and most conservative part of the state, with the exception of Fayetteville, where the university kept things in closer balance.
In 1974, Fort Smith, on the Oklahoma border, was both the districts biggest city, with a population of 72,286, and its most conservative. In the 1960s, the city fathers had turned down urban-renewal funds, which they believed were the first step to socialism, and when Watergate figure John Mitchell was indicted a few years later, his lawyers said Fort Smith was one of only three places in America where he could get a fair trial. What he would have gotten there was a heros welcome. East of Fort Smith down the Arkansas River, and in the mountains to the north, the counties tended to be populist, socially conservative, and pretty evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
The mountain counties, especially Madison, Newton, and Searcy, were still fairly isolated. A few new people moved in, but many families had been on the same land for more than a hundred years. They spoke in a unique way, using vivid expressions I had never heard before. My favorite was a description of someone you really dont like: I wouldnt piss in his ear if his brain was on fire. The rural counties in the southern part of the district tended to be more Democratic but still conservative, and the largest county, Garland, with Hot Springs as the county seat, usually voted Republican in presidential elections and had a lot of new Republican retirees from up north. The congressman was very popular there.
There were very few blacks, most of them concentrated in Fort Smith; Hot Springs, the districts second-largest city; and in the river valley towns of Russellville and Dardanelle in the southeast part of the district. Organized labor had a fairly strong presence in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, and Hot Springs, but not much elsewhere. Because of bad mountain roads and the predominance of old cars and pickups, the district had the highest gasoline usage per registered vehicle of any in the United States, a factor of no small importance given the rising price and shortage of gas. It also had the highest percentage of disabled veterans of any congressional district. Congressman Hammerschmidt was a World War II veteran who courted veterans heavily. In the previous election, the social and fiscal conservative forces had overwhelmed the hard-core Democrats and economic populists, as Nixon defeated McGovern 74 to 26 percent. Hammerschmidt got 77 percent. No wonder no one else wanted to make the race.
A few days after Hillary left, Carl Whillock took me on my first campaign trip, a swing across the districts northern counties. We stopped first in Carroll County. In Berryville, a town of about 1,300, I visited the store of Si Bigham, a prominent local Democrat, who had his four-year-old grandson with him. More than twenty years later, that little boy, Kris Engskov, would become my personal aide in the White House. I also met the local Methodist minister, Vic Nixon, and his wife, Freddie. They were liberal Democrats who opposed the Vietnam War, and they agreed to support me. They wound up doing far more. Freddie became my county coordinator, charmed the socks off the leaders in all the rural voting precincts, and later worked for me in the governors office, where she never stopped trying to convince me that the death penalty was wrong. When Hillary and I got married, Vic performed the ceremony.
We drove on east to Boone County and then drove to Mountain Home, county seat of the districts northeasternmost county, Baxter. Carl wanted me to meet Hugh Hackler, a businessman who told us right off the bat that he was committed to another candidate in the primary. Still, we started talking. When he found out I was from Hot Springs, he told me Gabe Crawford was a good friend of his. When I replied that Gabe had been Daddys best friend, Hugh got out of his commitment to the other guy and supported me. I also met Vada Sheid, who owned a furniture store and was the county treasurer. She noticed a loose button on my shirt and sewed it on while we visited. She became a supporter that day, too. She never sewed another button for me, but after I became governor and she went to the state Senate, her votes often bailed me out in other ways.
After we left Mountain Home, we drove south to Searcy County. We stopped in St. Joe, which had about 150 people, to see the county Democratic chairman, Will Goggins. Will was over eighty, but still sharp as a tack, physically strong, and passionate about his politics. When he said hed be for me, I knew it meant a lot of votes, as youll see. In the county seat of Marshall, I met George Daniel, who ran the local hardware store. Georges younger brother, James, was a student at the law school who gave me one of my first thousand-dollar contributions; his older brother, Charles, was the countys doctor. I got a lot of laughs out of Georges homespun humor and learned one searing lesson. A Vietnam veteran whod been away from the county for several years came into his store one day and bought a pistol. He said he wanted to do some target practice. A day later he killed six people. It turned out he had just walked away from Fort Roots, the federal mental-health facility for veterans in North Little Rock, where hed been for several years, apparently because of trauma from his war experiences. It took George Daniel a long time to get over that. And it was the best argument I ever encountered for the kind of background checks on gun buyers required by the Brady bill, which I finally signed into law in 1993, after nineteen more years of avoidable killings by known felons, stalkers, and people with mental disorders.
When Carl and I got back to Fayetteville, I was higher than a kite. I had always liked one-on-one retail politics when I was working for other candidates. Now I really loved going into the little towns, or stopping at country stores, cafs, and filling stations along the road. I was never very good at asking for money, but I liked going into peoples homes and businesses and asking for their votes. Besides, you could never tell when you would meet a colorful character, hear an interesting story, learn something worth knowing, or make a new friend.
That first day on the campaign trail would be followed by scores of others just like it. I would set out in the morning from Fayetteville, work as many towns and counties as I could until late at night, then head back home if I had to teach the next day or, if I didnt, stay with a hospitable Democrat so that I could go on to the next county in the morning.
The next Sunday I went back east to finish up the mountain counties. I almost didnt make it. I had forgotten to fill the tank of my 1970 American Motors Gremlin before the weekend. Because of the gasoline shortage, federal law required filling stations to be closed on Sunday. But I had to get back to the hills. In desperation, I called the president of our local natural-gas company, Charles Scharlau, and asked him if he would let me have a tank of gas from the pump in his equipment yard. He told me to go on down there and hed take care of it. To my astonishment he showed up and filled my gas tank himself. Charles Scharlau single-handedly kept my fledgling campaign going.
First I drove to Alpena to see the county Democratic chairman, Bo Forney, whom I had missed on my first stop there. I found his little house with no trouble. There was a pickup truck with a gun rack in the front yard, standard equipment for mountain men. Bo met me at the front door in jeans and a white T-shirt over his ample girth. He was watching TV and didnt say much as I made my pitch for his support. When I finished, he said that Hammerschmidt needed beating, and that although he would win his hometown of Harrison by a large margin, he thought we could do some good in the rural part of Boone County. Then he gave me the names of some people to see, told me Id get more votes if I got a haircut, said hed support me, and went back to his television. I wasnt sure what to make of Bo until I took a closer look at his pickup on my way back to the car. It had a bumper sticker that said Dont Blame Me. I Voted for McGovern. Later, when I asked Bo about the bumper sticker, he said he didnt care what the critics said about McGovern, the Democrats were for the common people and the Republicans werent, and thats all there was to it. When I was President and Bo was in ill health, our mutual friend and fellow yellow-dog Democrat Levi Phillips brought him to spend the night with us in the White House. Bo had a good time, but refused to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. He couldnt forgive him for the Republican Partys excesses during the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War, or for its devotion to the wealthy and powerful throughout the twentieth century. Now that Bo and Mr. Lincoln are both in heaven, I like to think theyve gotten together and resolved their differences.
After Alpena, I went to Flippin, a town of about a thousand in Marion County, which had more miles of unpaved roads than any other in our state. I went to see two young men I wanted to run my campaign there, Jim Red Milligan and Kearney Carlton. They put me between them in Reds pickup and took off down one of those dirt roads to Everton, a tiny place in the most remote part of the county, to see Leon Swofford, who owned the only store and whose support was worth a couple of hundred votes. About ten miles out of town, Red stopped the truck in the middle of nowhere. We were engulfed in dust. He took out a pack of Red Man chewing tobacco, put a wad in his mouth, then handed it to Kearney, who followed suit. Then Kearney handed it to me and said, We want to see what youre made of. If youre man enough to chew this tobacco, well be for you. If youre not, well kick you out and let you walk back to town. I thought about it and said, Open the damn door. They glared at me for about five seconds, then roared with laughter and took off down the road to Swoffords store. We got the votes there, and a lot more over the years. If they had measured me by my taste for Red Man, I might still be wandering the back roads of Marion County.
A few weeks later, Id be tested like that again. I was in Clarksville in the Arkansas River valley with my twenty-two-year-old county leader, Ron Taylor, who was from a prominent political family and politically wise well beyond his years. He took me out to the county fair to see the county sheriff, whose support Ron said we had to have to carry the county. We found him at the rodeo grounds, holding the reins of a horse. The rodeo was about to begin with a parade of horses marching around the arena. The sheriff handed me the reins and told me to join the parade and Id be introduced to the crowd. He promised that the horse was well behaved. I was wearing a dark suit and tie and wing-tipped shoes. I hadnt been on a horse since I was five, and then only to pose for a picture in a cowboy outfit. I had turned down the chewing tobacco, but I took the reins and mounted the horse. After a lifetime of watching cowboy movies, I thought, how hard could it be? When the opening ceremony started, I rode out into the arena just as if I knew what I was doing. About a quarter of the way around the arena, right after Id been introduced, the horse stopped and reared up on its hind legs. Miraculously, I didnt fall off. The crowd clapped. I think they believed Id done it on purpose. The sheriff knew better, but he supported me anyway.
I finished my round of the Ozarks in Newton County, one of the most beautiful places in America, home of the Buffalo River, which recently had been named the first river protected by Congress under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. I stopped first in Pruitt, a small settlement on the Buffalo, to see Hilary Jones. Though he lived in a modest home, he was a road builder and might have been the wealthiest man in the county. His familys Democratic heritage went all the way back to the Civil War and before, and he had the genealogical books to prove it. He was deeply rooted in his land along the river. His family had lost a lot of it in the Depression, and when he came home from World War II he worked for years to put it all back together again. The Buffalos designation as a protected river was his worst nightmare. Most landowners along the river were given life tenancies; they couldnt sell the land to anyone but the government in their lifetimes, and when they died only the government could buy it. Because Hilarys homestead was on the main highway, the government was going to take it by eminent domain in the near future and make it part of the headquarters operation. He and his wife, Margaret, had eight children. They wanted the kids to have their land. There was an old cemetery on it where people born in the 1700s were buried. Whenever anyone died destitute and alone in the county, Hilary paid for the burial in his cemetery. I supported protecting the river, but I thought the government should have let the old homesteaders keep their land under a scenic easement, which would have precluded any development or environmental degradation but allowed families to pass the land on from generation to generation. When I became President, my experience with the folks on the Buffalo gave me a better understanding than most Democrats of the resentments a lot of western ranchers had when environmental considerations clashed with what they saw as their prerogatives.
Hilary Jones finally lost his fight with the government. It took a lot out of him, but it never killed his passion for politics; he moved into a new house and carried on. He spent a memorable night with Hillary and me in the White House. He almost cried when Hillary took him into the map room to show him the war map FDR was using when he died in Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1945. He worshipped FDR. Unlike Bo Forney, he spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. When he visited us in the White House, I kidded him about sleeping in Lincolns bed, which Bo Forney had turned down. Hilary said at least he had slept on the side of the bed that was under Andrew Jacksons picture.
From the day I met him until the day I flew home from the White House to speak at his funeral, Hilary Jones was my man in Newton County. He embodied the wild, beautiful spirit of a special place I had loved since I first saw it at sixteen.
The county seat, Jasper, was a town of fewer than four hundred people. There were two cafs, one frequented by Republicans, the other by Democrats. The man I wanted to see, Walter Brasel, lived beneath the Democratic caf, which his wife ran. I got there on a Sunday morning and he was still in bed. As I sat in the little living room, he got up and began to put his pants on with the door from the living room to the bedroom open. He wasnt fully awake, slipped, and was rotund enough to literally roll over a couple of times until he was ten or fifteen feet out into the living room. I wanted his support, so I couldnt laugh. But he did. He said hed once been young, thin, and fast, the starting guard on the Coal Hill High School basketball team, which he had led to the state championship over Little Rock Central High in the 1930s; hed gained all his weight in the years when he was the county bootlegger, and never lost it. After a while, he said hed be for me, maybe just so he could go back to bed.
Next, I drove out into the country to see Bill Fowler, who had a farm in Boxley. Bill had served as the Arkansas representative in the Agricultural Soil and Conservation Service in the Johnson administration. As we stood on a hillside with a spectacular view of the mountains, he said he would support me, but he didnt think Hammerschmidt would have enough of Nixons crap on him to stink by election day. He then offered this assessment of the President: I hate to say this about a Republican, but Nixon could have been a wonderful President. Hes brilliant and hes got a sackful of guts. But hes just sorry, and he cant help it. I thought about what he said all the way back to Fayetteville.
During the early weeks of the campaign, besides the retail politics I tried to work through the mechanics. As Ive mentioned, Uncle Raymond and Gabe Crawford co-signed a note for $10,000 to get me started, and I began to raise money, at first mostly in the Fayetteville area, then across the district and eventually throughout the state. Several of my friends from Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale and the McGovern and Duffey campaigns sent small checks. My largest contributor was my friend Anne Bartley, Governor Winthrop Rockefellers stepdaughter, who later ran the Arkansas office in Washington, D.C., when I was governor. Eventually thousands of people gave, often one-, five-, or ten-dollar bills as we passed the bucket at rallies.
On February 25, I formally announced my candidacy with my family and a few friends at the Avanelle Motel, where Mother went for coffee most mornings before work.
Uncle Raymond gave me a little house in a good location for the Hot Springs headquarters. Mother, my Park Avenue neighbor Rose Crane, and Bobby Hargraves, a young lawyer whose sister I had worked with in Washington, set up a first-class operation. Rose later moved to Little Rock and joined my administration when I became governor, but Mother kept building the organization and put it to work in future campaigns. The main headquarters was in Fayetteville, where my banker friend George Shelton agreed to be campaign chairman and F. H. Martin, a young lawyer I played basketball with, signed on as treasurer. I rented an old house on College Avenue, which was kept open mostly by college students, and often on weekends by my cousin Roys fifteen-year-old daughter, Marie Clinton, alone. We painted big CLINTON FOR CONGRESS signs and put them on both sides of the house. Theyre still there, having been painted over many times as new enterprises moved in. Today theres one word over the old signs: TATTOO. Eventually, my childhood friend Patty Howe opened a headquarters in Fort Smith, and others cropped up around the district as we got closer to the election.
By the time I went to Little Rock to file on March 22, I had three opponents: State Senator Gene Rainwater, a crew-cut conservative Democrat from Greenwood, just south of Fort Smith; David Stewart, a handsome young lawyer from Danville in Yell County; and Jim Scanlon, the tall, gregarious mayor of Greenland, a few miles south of Fayetteville. I was most worried about Stewart because he was attractive, articulate, and from the Clintons home county, which I had hoped would go for me.
The first big political event of the campaign was on April 6: the River Valley Rally in Russellville, a college town in the east end of the district. It was an obligatory event, and all the candidates for federal, state, and local office were there, including Senator Fulbright and Governor Bumpers. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia was the featured speaker. He gave an old-time fire-and-brimstone speech and entertained the crowd by playing the fiddle. Then the candidates speeches started, with the congressional candidates scheduled to speak last. By the time everyone else had taken three to five minutes, it was past ten oclock. I knew the crowd would be tired and bored by the time we got up, but I took a gamble and chose to speak last. I figured it was my only chance to make an impression.
I had worked hard on the speech and had hammered it down to two minutes. It was a passionate call for a stronger Congress that would represent ordinary people against the concentration of power in the Republican administration and its allied economic interests. Though I had written the speech out, I gave it from memory and poured my heart into it. Somehow it struck a responsive chord with the audience, who, though tired after a long evening, found the energy to rise to their feet and cheer. As the crowd walked out, my volunteers gave them copies of the speech. I was off to a good start.
When the event was over, Governor Bumpers came up to me. After complimenting me on the speech, he said he knew I had worked for Senator Fulbright and thought he shouldnt be trying to unseat him. Then he stunned me by saying, In twelve years or so, you may be facing the same decision regarding running against me. If you think its the right thing to do, go on and run, and remember I told you to do it. Dale Bumpers was one smart cookie. He could have made a handsome living as a psychologist.
The next seven weeks were a blur of rallies, sale barns, pie suppers, money-raising, and retail politics. I got a big financial and organizational boost when the AFL-CIO, at its meeting in Hot Springs, endorsed me. The Arkansas Education Association also endorsed me because of my support for federal aid to education.
I spent a lot of time in the counties where I was less well known and that were less well organized than the Ozark Mountain counties: Benton County in the extreme northwest, the counties bordering both sides of the Arkansas River, and the southwest counties in the Ouachita Mountains. In Yell County my campaign was run by my cousin Mike Cornwell, the local funeral-home operator. Since he had buried all the kinfolk there, he knew everyone, and he had an upbeat personality that kept him going in the uphill battle against his neighbor in Danville, David Stewart. There were an amazing number of people who took active roles in the campaign: idealistic young professional and business people, gifted local labor leaders, county and city officials, and die-hard Democrats, from high school students to seniors in their seventies and eighties.
By primary election day, we had outorganized and outworked the opposition. I got 44 percent of the vote, with Senator Rainwater barely edging out David Stewart for a spot in the runoff, 26 to 25 percent. Mayor Scanlon, who had no money but waged a game fight, got the rest.
I thought we would win handily in the June 11 runoff unless there was a very small turnout, in which case anything could happen. I didnt want my supporters to take the vote lightly and was alarmed when Will Goggins, the Democratic chairman of Searcy County, announced that all the voting there would be done in the courthouse on the square in Marshall. There was no way people living out in the country would drive thirty or forty miles over winding roads to vote in just one race. When I called and tried to talk him into opening more polling places, Will laughed and said, Now, Bill, calm down. If you cant beat Rainwater without a big turnout here, you dont have a chance against Hammerschmidt. I cant afford to open rural polling places when only two or three people will vote. Well need that money in November. Youll get whatever votes we cast.
On June 11, I won 69 to 31 percent, carrying the small turnout in Searcy County 177 to 10. After the November election, when I called Will to thank him for all his help, he said he wanted to put my mind at rest about something: I know you think I rigged that runoff vote for you, but I didnt. Actually, you won 177 to 9. I gave Rainwater another vote because I couldnt stand to see anyone not in double figures.
The primary campaign was exhilarating for me. I had thrown myself into one unfamiliar circumstance after another and learned an enormous amount about peoplethe impact of government on their lives, and how their views of politics are shaped by both their interests and their values. I had also kept up with my teaching schedule. It was hard, but I enjoyed it and believed I did it pretty well except for one inexcusable mistake. After I gave exams in the spring, I had to grade them while the campaign was in full swing. I took my Admiralty exams in the car with me, grading them as we rode or at night when the campaign work was over. Somehow in the travel, I lost five of them. I was mortified. I offered the students the option of retaking the exam or getting full credit without a specific grade. They all took the credit, but one of them was particularly upset about it, because she was a good student who probably would have made an A, and because she was a good Republican who had worked for Congressman Hammerschmidt. I dont think she ever forgave me for losing the exam or for running against her old boss. I sure thought about it when, more than twenty years later, that former student, federal judge Susan Webber Wright, became the presiding judge in the Paula Jones case. Susan Webber Wright was plenty smart, and maybe I should have just given her an A. At any rate, for the general election, I took leave without pay from the law school.
During the summer I kept up the hectic pace, with breaks for my brothers high school graduation, my tenth high school reunion, and a trip to Washington to see Hillary and meet some of her co-workers on the impeachment inquiry staff. Hillary and all her colleagues were working themselves to a frazzle under Johns stern demands to be thorough, fair, and absolutely closed-lipped. I was worried about how exhausted she wasshe was thinner than I had ever seen her, so thin her lovely but large head seemed to be too big for her body.
Over the weekend I took her away for some rest and relaxation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We had a great time together and I was beginning to think Hillary might actually join me in Arkansas when the inquiry was finished. Earlier in the year on a trip to Fayetteville, shed been invited by Dean Davis to interview for a position on the law faculty. She came back a few weeks later, impressed the committee, and was offered a job, so now she could both teach and practice law in Arkansas. The question was whether she would. At the moment I was more worried about how tired and skinny she was.
I went back home to the campaign and a far bigger health problem in my family. On July 4, I spoke at the Mount Nebo Chicken Fry for the first time since I represented Frank Holt there in 1966. Jeff, Mother, and Rose Crane drove up to hear me and help me work the crowd. I could tell Jeff wasnt feeling well and learned he hadnt been working much. He said it was too hard to stand all day. I suggested he come up to Fayetteville and spend a couple of weeks with me, where he could work the phones and give the headquarters some adult supervision. He took me up on the offer and seemed to enjoy it, but when Id come home from the road at night, I could see he was ill. One night I was shocked to see him kneeling by the bed and stretched across it. He said he couldnt breathe lying down anymore and was trying to find a way to sleep. When he could no longer work a full day at headquarters, he went home. Mother told me his problem had to be a result of his diabetes or the medicine he had been taking for it for years. At the VA hospital in Little Rock, he was diagnosed with cardiomegaly, an enlargement and deterioration of the heart muscle. Apparently there was no cure for it. Jeff went home and tried to enjoy what was left of his life. A few days later when I was in Hot Springs campaigning, I met him briefly for coffee. He was on his way to the dog races in West Memphis, dapper as always, decked out in white shirt, pants, and shoes. It was the last time I ever saw him.
On August 8, President Nixon, his presidency doomed by the tapes he had kept of his conversations with aides, announced his intention of resigning the following day. I thought the Presidents decision was good for our country but bad for my campaign. Just a couple of days before the announcement, Congressman Hammerschmidt had defended Nixon and criticized the Watergate investigation in a front-page interview in the Arkansas Gazette. My campaign had been gaining momentum, but with the albatross of Nixon lifted from Hammerschmidts shoulders, you could feel the air go out of it.
I got a second wind when Hillary called me a few days later to tell me she was coming to Arkansas. Her friend Sara Ehrman was driving her. Sara was more than twenty years older than Hillary and had seen in her the full promise of the new opportunities open to women. She thought Hillary was nuts to be coming to Arkansas after having done such good work and making so many friends in Washington, so she took her own good time getting Hillary to her destination, while trying to change her mind every few miles or so. When they finally got to Fayetteville it was Saturday night. I was at a rally in Bentonville, not far north, so they drove up to meet me. I tried to give a good speech, as much for Hillary and Sara as for the crowd. After I shook hands, we went back to Fayetteville and our future.
Two days later, Mother called to tell me Jeff had died in his sleep. He was only forty-eight years old. She was devastated, and so was Roger. Now she had lost three husbands and he had lost two fathers. I drove home and took care of the funeral arrangements. Jeff had wanted to be cremated, so we had to ship his body off to Texas because Arkansas didnt have a crematorium back then. When Jeffs ashes came back, in accordance with his instructions they were scattered over Lake Hamilton near his favorite fishing dock, while Mother and her friend Marge Mitchell watched.
I delivered the eulogy at his funeral. I tried to put into a few words the love he gave to Mother; the fathering guidance he gave to Roger; the friendship and wise counsel he gave to me; the kindness he showed to children and people down on their luck; the dignity with which he bore the pain of his past and his final illness. As Roger said so often in the days after he died, He tried so hard. Whatever he was before he came into our lives, during his six short years with us he was a very good man. We all missed him for a long time.
Before Jeff got sick, I knew next to nothing about diabetes. It subsequently killed my 1974 campaign chairman, George Shelton. It afflicts two children of my friend and former chief of staff Erskine Bowles, as well as millions of other Americans, with a disproportionate impact on our minority population. When I became President, I learned that diabetes and its complications account for a staggering 25 percent of all Medicaid costs. Thats a big reason why, as President, I supported stem cell research and a diabetes self-care program that the American Diabetes Association called the most important advance in diabetes care since the development of insulin. I did it for Erskines kids, for George Shelton, and for Jeff, who would have wanted more than anything to spare others his pain and premature end.
A few days after the funeral, Mother urged me, in her get up and go on way, to resume campaigning. Politics stops for death, but not for very long. So I went back to work, though I made sure to call and see Mother more often, especially after Roger left for Hendrix College in Conway in the fall. He was so concerned about her, he almost didnt go. Mother and I finally talked him into it.
As September arrived, I was still behind in the polls 59 to 23 percent after eight months of backbreaking work. Then I got lucky. On September 8, five days before the state Democratic convention in Hot Springs, President Ford granted Richard Nixon an unconditional pardon for all crimes he committed or may have committed while President. The country strongly disagreed. We were back in business.
At the state convention, all the attention was focused on my race. Governor Bumpers had defeated Senator Fulbright by a large margin in the primary, and there were no other serious contests on the ballot. I hated seeing Fulbright lose, but it was inevitable. The convention delegates were pumped up and we added fuel to the fire by packing the Hot Springs Convention Center with hometown friends and extra supporters from all over the district.
I gave a barn burner of a speech, articulating what I believed in a way that I hoped would unite the conservative and liberal populist elements in the district. I began by blasting President Fords pardon of former President Nixon. One of my better lines was: If President Ford wants to pardon anybody, he ought to pardon the administrations economic advisors.
Over the years, I changed my mind about the Nixon pardon. I came to see that the country needed to move on, and I believe President Ford did the right, though unpopular, thing, and I said so when we were together in 2000 to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the White House. But I havent changed my mind about Republican economic policies. I still believe FDR was right when he said, We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals. We now know that it is bad economics. That has even greater application today than it did in 1974.
We left Hot Springs on a roll. With seven weeks to go we had a chance, but a lot of work to do. Our headquarters operation was getting better and better. My best young volunteers were getting to be experienced pros.
They got some very good suggestions from the person the Democratic Party sent down to help us. His name was Jody Powell, and his boss, Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia, had assumed a leading role in helping Democrats win in 1974. A couple of years later, when Jimmy Carter ran for President, a lot of us remembered and were grateful. When Hillary came down, she helped, too, as did her father and her younger brother, Tony, who put up signs all over north Arkansas and told the Republican retirees from the Midwest that the Rodhams were Midwest Republicans but that I was all right.
Several of my law students proved to be dependable drivers. When I needed them during my congressional campaign, there were a couple of airplanes I could borrow to fly around in. One of my pilots, sixty-seven-year-old Jay Smith, wore a patch over one eye and wasnt instrument- rated, but he had been flying in the Ozarks for forty years. Often when we hit bad weather, he swooped down below the clouds to follow a river valley through the mountains, all the while telling me stories or bragging on Senator Fulbright for knowing Vietnam was a mistake before anyone else did.
Steve Smith did a brilliant job of research on issues and Hammerschmidts voting record. He came up with a series of ingenious pamphlets comparing my positions on issues to his votes on them, and we put out one a week for the last six weeks of the campaign. They got good coverage in the local papers, and Steve turned them into effective newspaper ads. For example, the Arkansas River valley from Clarksville to the Oklahoma border south of Fort Smith was full of coal miners who had worked for decades in the open pit mines that scarred the landscape until federal laws forced the land to be restored. Many of the miners had debilitating black-lung disease from all the years of breathing the coal dust and were entitled to benefits from the federal government. The congressmans casework operation helped them get the benefits, but when the Nixon administration wanted to cut back the program, he voted for the cutbacks. Folks in the river valley didnt know that until Steve Smith and I told them.
I also had a number of positive proposals, some of which I advocated for twenty years, including a fairer tax system, a national health-insurance program, public funding of presidential elections, a lean and more effective federal bureaucracy, more federal education funding and creation of a federal Department of Education (it was then still an office in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare), and incentives to promote energy conservation and solar power.
Thanks largely to financial support from the national labor unions, which my friend and regional AFL-CIO leader Dan Powell pushed hard for, we got enough money to do some television ads. Old Dan Powell was talking about me becoming President when I was still twenty-five points behind for Congress. All I did was stand in front of a camera and talk. It forced me to think in twenty-eight-second segments. After a while, I didnt need a stopwatch to tell me whether I was a second or two long or short. Production costs were low for the ads.
The TV ads may have been rudimentary, but our radio ads were great. One memorable ad, produced in Nashville, featured a country singer who sounded just like Arkansas-born Johnny Cash. It opened, If youre tired of eating beans and greens and forgotten what pork and beefsteak means, theres a man you ought to be listening to. It went on to slam the Nixon administration for financing huge grain sales to the Soviet Union, which drove up the price of food and animal feed, hurting poultry and cattle operations. The song said, Its time to push Earl Butz [Nixons agriculture secretary] away from the trough. In between verses came this refrain: Bill Clintons ready, hes fed up too. Hes a lot like me, hes a lot like you. Bill Clintons gonna get things done, and were gonna send him to Washington. I loved that spot. Don Tyson, whose costs of poultry production had soared with the grain sales and whose brother, Randal, was working hard for me, made sure I had enough money to run the song to death on rural radio.
As we moved closer to election day, the support got stronger and so did the opposition. I got the endorsement of the Arkansas Gazette, the states largest newspaper, plus several papers in the district. I began to campaign hard in Fort Smith, where there was strong support from the black community, especially after I joined the local chapter of the NAACP. I found good support all over heavily Republican Benton County. Across the river from Fort Smith, four or five people practically worked themselves to death trying to turn Crawford County for me. I got a great reception in Scott County, south of Fort Smith, at the annual fox and wolf hunters field trial. It was an all-night event out in the country, at which men who loved their dogs as much as their kids (and took just as good care of them) showed the dogs and then cut them loose to chase foxes and bay at the moon while the women kept mountains of food out on picnic tables all through the night. I was even getting some strong support from Harrison, the congressmans hometown, from a few brave souls who werent afraid to take on the small-town establishment.
One of the most exciting rallies of the election occurred one fall afternoon on the White River, not far from the infamous Whitewater property I later invested in but never saw. The Democrats in the area were all stirred up because the Nixon Justice Department was trying to send the Democratic sheriff of Searcy County, Billy Joe Holder, to jail for income tax evasion. Under our 1876 constitution, the salaries of the state and local officials have to be approved by a vote of the people; they had last been raised in 1910. County officials made just $5,000 a year. The governor made only $10,000, but at least he had a mansion, and his transportation and food costs were covered. A lot of the local officials were forced to use their expense accounts, which as I recall were about $7,000 a year, just to live. The Justice Department wanted Sheriff Holder to go to jail for not paying income tax on his personal expenditures from the account. I believe the Holder case was the smallest income taxevasion prosecution ever brought by the federal government, and the hill people were convinced it was politically motivated. If so, it backfired. After an hour and a half of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. It turned out they voted to acquit right away, then stayed in the jury room more than an hour longer just to make it look right. Billy Joe walked out of the courthouse and drove straight to our rally, where he was greeted like a hero home from war.
On the way back to Fayetteville, I stopped in Harrison, where the trial was held, to discuss it with Miss Ruth Wilson, a public accountant who did tax work for lots of hill people. I told Miss Ruth that I understood she had helped Holders lawyer, my friend F. H. Martin, with the jury selection. She said she had. I asked her half jokingly if she had packed it with Democrats. Ill never forget her reply: No, Bill, I didnt. Actually, there were a fair number of Republicans on that jury. You know, those young men who came down from Washington to prosecute the sheriff were smart fellows, and they looked real good in their expensive suits. But they just didnt know our folks. Its the strangest thing. Nine of those twelve jurors had been audited by the Internal Revenue Service in the last two years. I was glad Ruth Wilson and her boys were on my side. After she worked over those Washington lawyers, the Justice Department began to ask prospective jurors in tax cases about their own experiences with the IRS.
With about two weeks to go, the congressman finally got his campaign in gear. He had seen a poll that said if he didnt, my momentum might carry me to a narrow victory. His people pulled out all the stops. His business friends and the Republicans went to work. Someone began calling all the papers asking for the nonexistent photo of me demonstrating against President Nixon at the 1969 Arkansas-Texas game, giving birth to the infamous tree story I mentioned earlier. In Hot Springs, the chamber of commerce had a big dinner to thank him for all hed done. Several hundred people showed up, and it received extensive coverage in the local paper. Across the district, Republicans scared businesspeople by charging that I had so much support from unions, I would be a puppet for organized labor in Congress. In Fort Smith, six thousand postcards we sent to political supporters identified in our phone canvass were never delivered. Apparently my labor support didnt extend to the postal workers there. The cards were found a few days after the election in the trash outside the main post office. The state branch of the American Medical Association came out strongly for Hammerschmidt, hitting me for my efforts to get doctors in the Springdale area to treat poor people on Medicaid. Hammerschmidt even got federal revenue-sharing funds to pave the streets of Gilbert, a small town in Searcy County, a few days before the election. He carried it 3834, but it was the only township in the county he won.
I got an inkling of just how effective his work had been the weekend before the election when I went to a closing rally at the Hot Springs Convention Center. We didnt have as many people there as had attended his dinner a few days before. Our people had worked their hearts out, but they were tired.
Still, on election day, I thought we might win. As we gathered in my headquarters to watch the returns, we were nervous but hopeful. We led in the vote count until nearly midnight, because the largest and most Republican county, Sebastian, reported late. I carried twelve of the fifteen counties with fewer than eight thousand total votes, including every voting box along the Buffalo River in Newton and Searcy counties. But I lost five of the six biggest counties, suffering narrow defeats of fewer than five hundred votes each in Garland County, where I grew up, and Washington County, where I lived, losing Crawford County by eleven hundred votes and getting killed in Benton and Sebastian counties, where my combined losses were twice the total margin of victory. We each won one county by about two to one. He won Sebastian County, the biggest, and I won Perry County, the smallest. It seems ironic now, when rural Americans vote overwhelmingly Republican in national elections, that I began my political career with a profoundly rural base, born of intense personal contact and responsiveness to both their resentments and their real problems. I was on their side, and they knew it. The final total vote was 89,324 to 83,030, about 52 to 48 percent.
The Democrats had a good night nationally, picking up forty-nine House seats and four seats in the Senate, but we just couldnt overcome Hammerschmidts enormous popularity and his last-minute push. When the campaign began, his approval rating was 85 percent. I had whittled it down to 69 percent, while mine had gone from zero to 66 percent, very good but not good enough. Everybody said I made a good showing and had a bright future. That was nice to hear, but Id wanted to win. I was proud of our campaign and I felt that somehow I had let the steam go out of it in the last few days, and in so doing let down all the people who worked so hard for me and the changes we wanted to make. Maybe if Id had the money and the sense to run effective television ads on the congressmans voting record, it would have made a difference. Probably not. Nevertheless, in 1974, I saw firsthand, in thousands of encounters, that middle-class voters would support government activism to solve their problems, and those of the poor, but only if the effort was made with due care for their tax dollars, and if efforts to increase opportunity were coupled with an insistence on responsibility.
After I spent a few days traveling and calling around to thank people, I went into a funk. I spent most of the next six weeks at Hillarys house, a nice place near campus. Mostly I just lay on the floor, nursing my regrets and trying to figure out how I was going to pay off my campaign debt of over $40,000. My new salary of $16,450 was more than enough to live on and pay off my law school debts, but nowhere near enough to cover the debt from the campaign. Sometime in December, there was a big band dance at the university, which Hillary coaxed me into taking her to. After we danced a few hours, I began to feel better. Still, it would be a good while before I realized the congressman had done me a favor by beating me. If I had won and gone to Washington, Im sure I never would have been elected President. And I would have missed the eighteen great Arkansas years that lay ahead.