Partial Transcript: We'd like to know more about you and your family...
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins recalls growing up in Young Harris, Georgia, being surrounded by local politics from an early age, and attending Young Harris High School with future politician Zell Miller.
Keywords: Blairsville, Georgia; Young Harris, Georgia; Zell Miller; local politics
Partial Transcript: And then after Young Harris, the University of Georgia.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about attending law school at the University of Georgia and Emory. He recalls moving to Washington to work as as a lawyer for Phil Landrum, the passing of the controversial Griffin-Landrum labor reform bill, and Landrum's focus on education reform.
Keywords: Griffin-Landrum bill; Washington, D.C.; education reform; labor legislation; law school
Partial Transcript: Your friend, Zell Miller, has been a very successful politician and a good friend.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about negotiating personal and political ties when his friend Zell Miller ran against Landrum for Congress. He recalls deciding to enter politics and run for Congress when Landrum retired.
Keywords: Congress; Phil Landrum; Zell Miller
Partial Transcript: Well, having Congressman Landrum as a friend certainly must have helped you when you got to Washington.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about running for a seat on the Way and Means Committee, working on the trade subcommittee, and protecting the textile industry in his district. He discusses a bill he proposed to impose import quotas to protect local industry and the future of the textile and poultry industries.
Keywords: Ways and Means Committee; import quotas; industry; poultry; textile; trade legislation
Partial Transcript: There was a coalition of congressmen, mostly from the South, known as Blue Dogs.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about his views on being fiscally conservative, balancing the national deficit, and increasing the Defense budget.
Keywords: balanced budget; defense spending; fiscal conservatism; national deficit
Partial Transcript: As I recall, you served under three Speakers.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins discusses the congressman's relationship with the Speaker of the House, and describes the leadership and personality of three Speakers he served under. He recalls the Gingrich's opposition to Speaker Jim Wright, and Gingrich's use of televised media in gaining national recognition.
Keywords: Jim Wright; Newt Gingrich; Speaker of the House; Tip O'Neill; Tom Foley; media influence
Partial Transcript: Who were some of your colleagues from Georgia?
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins recalls some of his Georgia colleagues in the House of the Representatives. He describes serving on the Ethics Committee, and adjudicating several incidents of improper behavior by members of the House.
Keywords: Bo Ginn; Doug Barnard; Ethics Committee; House of Representatives; Koreagate; bribery; sexual misconduct
Partial Transcript: And the Iran-Contra Committee--later you mentioned Irangate...
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins describes being selected to the Iran-Contra Committee to investigate the participation of the President Ronald Reagan and other officials in the illegal selling of arms to Iran.
Keywords: Iran-Contra affair; Latin America; Ollie North; Ronald Reagan; impeachment
Partial Transcript: You failed to mention the fact that you went to Congress the year that Jimmy Carter was elected President.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins evaluates Jimmy Carter's working relationship with Congress, lack of political sponsorship, and inability to get legislation passed.
Keywords: Jimmy Carter; outsider vs insider; political support; sponsorship
Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about the first Gulf War.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins discusses his opposition of U.S involvement in the first Gulf War, the results of the war, and his views on the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Keywords: Afghanistan; Bush administration; Gulf War; Iraq War; Middle East; military
Partial Transcript: Are we overreacting to the threat of terrorism?
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins gives his evaluation of anti-terrorism legislation, foreign policy, and the effect of partisanship in Congress.
Keywords: CIA; foreign policy; interventionism; opposition forces; surveillance and intelligence; terrorism; wiretapping
Partial Transcript: Let's talk about some Georgia politics.
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins discusses the growth of the Republican Party at the state and national level, various reasons for the shift, social and racial issues being wedged in the Democratic Party, and campaign strategies that have attributed to the Republican Party's growing success. Jenkins also offers his views on party registration and term limits.
Keywords: Republican Party; campaign strategy; grass roots organizing; party registration; term limits
Partial Transcript: Ed, you've had a very successful career..
Segment Synopsis: Jenkins explains the reasoning behind his decision not to run for various positions during his career in Congress. He also discusses his decision to retire from politics.
Keywords: career advancement; politics; retirement
BOB SHORT: Im Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics,sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia. Our guest today is Ed Jenkins, who served Georgias Ninth District in the United States Congress for 16 years. Ed, were delighted to have you.
ED JENKINS: Im delighted to be with you, Bob.
SHORT: We want to share with you some of your experiences during those yearsyou served in the Congress from Georgias Ninth District, but before we do that, wed like to know more about you and your family and your early life in Young Harris, Georgia and in Blairsville.
JENKINS: Well, I was born in Young Harris, but my family moved to Blairsville00:01:00when I was just a baby, 7 miles away. But Ive always been, my family and as well as myself, theyve always been directly connected to Young Harris, because that was my fathers home. My grandmother had a boarding house on the campus of the Young Harris College. It later was sold to the college, but for many years she ran a boarding house where a lot of students have stayed. And my father, he had three brothers and three sisters, all grew up there and went to school at Young Harris, as did I later. But in Blairsville, first of all, my father was a barber, and he barbered in Young Harris, and then when he moved to 00:02:00Blairsville, he and Zell Millers uncle, B.H. Miller, owned a barbershop in Blairsville, and until he went to work for the TVA when I was a youngster, I grew up around that barbershop, so I met a lot of interesting Union County characters and politicians, and listened to them intensely, and really enjoyed my youth there. My mother came from the Choestoe section of Union County, and her father was a revenue officer in the 1920s, and so I also grew up hearing a lot of stories about making whiskey on the mountain slopes from him and my 00:03:00mother. She was Scotch Irish. My dad was Welsh, and really had moved to Young Harris when he was a child from western North Carolina from the Robbinsville area of North Carolina. His father had died rather early, and his grandfather, my great-grandfather, had moved down from Virginia into western North Carolina in the 1800s. There were six of us children. I have two brothers, three sisters, and all of us love to hunt and fish and play baseball and none of us were the athletes that my dad was. He was an outstanding... 00:04:00
SHORT: I remember your dad. He was a great baseball player.
JENKINS: He was a wonderful baseball player. He...
SHORT: And your uncle.
JENKINS: Tom and Archie and Will, all of those boys played baseball and huntedand fished in the mountains, and I really had a wonderful childhood, simply because we didnt have much money. Obviously a barber didnt make much money. But we had a very close-knit family.
SHORT: So you went to Union County High School and then to Young Harris college.
JENKINS: I did. When I finished high school, there were only eleven grades, soI finished when I was 16 and immediately went over to Young Harris College, where I finished there in 1951, with you, Bob, and Miller. 00:05:00
SHORT: Zell Miller.
JENKINS: An infamous class, I might say. And then I served, before I went tothe University of Georgia, I served three years in the Coast Guard in coast guard aviation, and enjoyed that as well, because I got to spend about a year and a half in Alaska in the Aleutian Islands during that tour. Got to fish, and didnt do much hunting because the hunting license cost too much for a 20-year-old, but I enjoyed my tour. That was during the Korean conflict.
SHORT: And then after Young Harris, the University of Georgia.
JENKINS: I enrolled at the University of Georgia, did one year there, pre-law,and then went into the law school, and I finished law school there in 1959. I 00:06:00had went to Emory one year at night because I had run out of money, so I got a job in Atlanta and went to Emory law school at night. At that time they had a night law school. And then I went back to Georgia to finish up, so I was sort of a part of the class of 58 and 59. And then immediately upon completing my law degree and getting admitted to the bar, Congressman Phil Landrum, who served Georgias Ninth District for 20-something years, 24 years I believe, was looking for someone, a young lawyer, to come to Washington to work in his office. And I agreed to do that, and really had a great experience there as a 00:07:00young staffer. Eisenhower was President, just going out of office when I arrived, and John Kennedy was elected President, and I was at that inauguration and really enjoyed my Washington experience. I was there for about 3 years. Some of the interesting people that were there at the time that I was there, Bobby Kennedy of course, was serving over on the McClellan committee. He was chief counsel for the Labor Committee over in the Senate, and Adam Clayton Powell was serving on the Education and Labor Committee, and he became chairman while I was 00:08:00there. That was a big controversy, because at first they didnt seat him, you know, and expelled him, I think, because he wasnt showing up, but the Supreme Court reinstated him. And Mr. Landrum at that time was the Number 3 person in seniority on the Education and Labor Committee. And he was one of the chief sponsors of the Labor Reform Bill of 1959, which was an extremely controversial piece of legislation.
SHORT: That was the Griffin-Landrum Bill.
JENKINS: Thats right.
SHORT: Or Landrum-Griffin Bill.
JENKINS: Depending on where--if you were in Michigan where Bob Griffin wasfrom, it was Griffin-Landrum. If you were in Georgia, it was Landrum-Griffin. But there were some interesting people on that committee, and very strong 00:09:00personalities. Jimmy Roosevelt was the son of FDR, was a ranking member of that committee from California, and he was supported very heavily by labor. Some of the people from the other side, the more conservative side, Graham Barden who was chairman of the committee from North Carolina, and he was a very conservative Democrat chairman, very bright fellow, and did a wonderful job on the committee. And of course, Johnson was in the Senate at the time, Lyndon Johnson, and Sam Rayburn was Speaker of the House. So, it was Rayburn, Johnson, 00:10:00Kennedy. You had a wide range of personalities in the Congress.
SHORT: Congressman Landrum, as I recall, was chairman of education, I believe,subcommittee, and on that same committee.
JENKINS: He was the third--it was a large committee. There was about 35 or40members, and he was Number 3 or 4 on Education and Labor Committee at that time. He never chaired the committee because he was elected later to the Ways and Means Committee, and he had to give up his Education and Labor Committee status.
SHORT: But I recall sometime in some research that Ive done that he authored00:11:00a bill that had provisions in it for these book mobiles out in rural America. I thought that was a great contribution.
JENKINS: Yes. He was a leading co-sponsor of that bill that provided for thebook mobiles to go through the rural areas. Dick Russell, Senator Russell was in the Senate at that time, and he worked with Senator Russell on the lunchroom program that Senator Russell was very interested in, and he had a lot of powerful people in the House because they were all Democrats and they stayed there for longs periods of time and built seniority. So, you had about 8 or 9 00:12:00very strong personalities in the House as well as in the Senate.
SHORT: Your friend, Zell Miller, has been a very successful politician and agood friend.
SHORT: And I once read in the Atlanta Journal that Zell Miller wrote in yourannual when you graduated from University of Georgia that you would be his best friend forever, unless you ran against him for United States Senate.
JENKINS: Yes he did. He wrote that in my yearbook, and thats the only reasonI never ran for the Senate.
SHORT: Well, you had an opportunity.
JENKINS: Yes, I did.
SHORT: Yes, you did.
JENKINS: No, I was kidding about that, but Zell Miller and I grew up togetherand I knew his mamma so well, and played baseball with him and againt him and when he was at the university, I was at the university at the same time, and his 00:13:00wife, Shirley, would sometimes cook spaghetti for us and we would talk politics. He and I were interested in the political realm since childhood, because we had been around the political figures, local political figures. And incidentally, of course, his father had been the campaign manager for Ed Rivers when Ed Rivers ran for governor. I think he might have been a losing campaign, I believe Zell indicated, this was before me, but Zell was influenced early on by the political. And when he was elected to the state senate, Landrum was very close 00:14:00to a fellow from Young Harris in Towns County that was his opponent, Kaiser Dean was his name, and I commenced to try to influence Phil Landrum over towards Zell Miller because I thought that he was an up and coming young political figure and would have a bright future, although he ran against Landrum for Congress, but he became a close associate of Landrum and supporter.
SHORT: How do you deal with that, Ed? Here you are with a popular incumbentCongressman, and having one of your best friends as an opponent?
JENKINS: That was one of the most difficult things that I had ever faced. But Ihave always been loyal, I think, to my people I work with, and when Zell 00:15:00unexpectedly entered the race, I guess in 1964, I called him, told him. I said, Now, Zell, I work for Landrum, and Im going to be for Landrum, and I want you to know that. And the same thing happened in 66, even though I had left Landrum and went in the U.S. Attorneys Office at the time as an assistant U.S. Attorney. But it was a rough time mentally and emotionally, because Miller was one of my best friends, and I could not turn my back on 00:16:00Landrum, whom I had--I ran his campaigns, in addition to working for him. So I stayed with Landrum, and I think Miller understood that.
SHORT: Well, with that background when Congressman Landrum decided to retire,you decided to run for his seat.
JENKINS: I had been a federal prosecutor for about three years and then I hadreturned to Jasper where Landrum lived and opened up a law office. And had practiced several years, and also at the same time, did a lot of work for Landrum, district work. And when he would have opposition, I would take off and run or help run his campaigns. So I knew a lot of people throughout the district, primarily because I had been active in his political campaigns and had 00:17:00done a lot of his legwork through the years. So, he called me in 76, 1976, and told me in about September of that year, August or September, and said, Ive decided that Im not going to run for sure. It had been speculated for some time that he would not. But if you want to get in it, I want you to know ahead of time. So I talked to my wife and didnt tell her how much money it would cost to run through those 18 counties at that time, and in 1976 in our district, it included all of Gwinnett County, all of Whitfield 00:18:00County on the west side. We went east to the South Carolina line, north to the North Carolina and Tennessee line, and so we really had everything in north Georgia in the Ninth District. Its a very sparsely populated area outside of Gwinnett and Cherokee and Hall, but I thought that the time that I could probably run a campaign for about $75,000. It ended up that it cost about $130,000, and most of that was money that I contributed, borrowed and donated to the committee. But there were eight of us in that campaign on the Democratic 00:19:00side, and one person on the Republican side. And it was a very spirited campaign. It went on for several months because I just left the law office and traveled the district for the next 7 or 8 months, and ended up with a runoff with Senator Al Minish from over in Commerce, Jackson County, and was successful in that. But it was a tough decision for me because I did have a good country law practice, and enjoyed it, but I did want to go to Congress because Id had a little taste of it with Phil.
SHORT: Well, having Congressman Landrum as a friend certainly must have helpedyou when you got to Washington.
JENKINS: It did, very much so. I knew some of the people in the House from00:20:00having been a staffer there a few years before, one of whom was Dan Rostenkowski from Chicago. He had been a young Congressman at the time, very active, and I knew him. He was a friend of Phils. And I decided to try to make a run for the Ways and Means Committee as a freshman, and the way that operates is, each party, Democrat and a Republican, they have a committee called a committee on committees that nominate people for committee slots, and its always extremely competitive and Ways and Means and the Appropriations Committees are the two committees that are exclusive committees. That is, if you serve on one, you 00:21:00cant serve on another committee. But I felt that the Ways and Means Committee was where I would have the greatest opportunity to influence national legislation, and I ran for it and through a couple of Phils friends, including Dan Rostenkowski who supported me as a freshman, he was on the committee, and a couple of people from the Texas state that were supportive of me, I was able to get the nomination from the Steering and Policy Committee for a vacancy on the committee. And then I was contested in the caucus, in the full caucus by a member who had been there about 6or 8 years, and by that time I 00:22:00had put together, though, a rather interesting coalition of chamber of commerce types, very conservatives, with some labor support, that felt that I would be independent. That came from Rostenkowski primarily, and I was able to prevail in a very close election.
SHORT: Well, that committee had some very serious responsibilities, writing taxlaw, overseeing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other types of federal programs. Seems that should be in a full-time job.
JENKINS: It really is. I served on the trade subcommittee of Ways and MeansCommittee, and when I indicated that its an exclusive committee that you 00:23:00cant serve on any other committee, there is one committee that, the budget committee, that is made up of one representative from ways and means from the Democratic side, one from the Republican side, and then the others are appointed by the Speaker, basically. But I also served on the budget committee for two terms while I was on the Ways and Means Committee. But my subcommittee appointment, while I had more than one through my 16 years, the one committee that I stayed on, the longest subcommittee, was trade, which I had wanted to serve on, primarily because my district, congressional district at that time, the primary industry was in the textile field. And I felt that I needed to protect domestic textile industry for a variety of counties from Jackson County, 00:24:00Barrow County, Hall County, up in the mountains in Rayburn County, and a lot of small shops in addition to Whitfield County, which was the carpet industry of the world, really. So I spent most of my time on Ways and Means Committee on the trade subcommittee, and later became chairman, for several years, of the textile caucus, which I didnt make many friends in the free trade area, but I looked after the textile industry.
SHORT: And sponsored legislation.
JENKINS: Many pieces of legislation dealing with the textile industry, somethat became law, but some that were vetoed and never became law.
SHORT: Well, lets talk about that. That legislation was in 1985 when you00:25:00introduced it, with opposition from your committee chairman, as I recall, and later you passed legislation that was vetoed by the President.
JENKINS: Thats right.
SHORT: What was your reaction to that?
JENKINS: Well, this was a long-fought battle. I was attempting in this piece oflegislation to establish some quotas from the cheap labor countries that were exporting to us a lot of textiles. And I knew that the textile industry could not survive if that prevailed. So, my piece of legislation would have slowed that down, and by establishing quotas. My subcommittee chairman, Sam Gibbons of 00:26:00Florida, was adamantl opposed, because he was a free trader, and did a good job in that field. Rostenkowski was opposed, as was the Speaker of the House. So, the only thing I had was a majority in the House, which I could override them and prevail, which I did. And was able to get it passed in the Senate, and it went to President Reagan, and he vetoed it as I knew that he would. And when it came back to the House, as the sponsor of the bill, I did something that was a 00:27:00little bit unusual. Instead of having an immediate override vote, which I knew that I could not win, because I couldnt get two-thirds of the House, I checked with a parliamentarian about a specific date for an override, and he said, Yes, you can do that. So, I asked for, and they didnt really realize, I dont think, on the Republican side, what was happening. I asked for an October date, if I remember correctly. At any rate, fairly close to the election in November. And we had an interesting override vote, but it couldnt get out of the Senate, which I knew. But it was a good piece of legislation, and to follow up on that, even though it probably went a bit too far than even I 00:28:00would have preferred in the ideal world, it would have postponed the demise of the textile industry, and as you know today, of course, we dont have a textile industry to amount to anything in the entire state, or in the country.
SHORT: You think we can ever bring it back?
JENKINS: Im somewhat doubtful. I think the primary objective today ought tobe to try to preserve some manufacturing, regardless of what it is in, because I think it is a mistake for a nation to lose its manufacturing base. We are fast (indiscernible) that, and a lot of it has to do with the value of the dollar, 00:29:00which is very low today. That impacts us adversely. And it helps us in exports, but it doesnt help us domestically a great deal with domestic industry. But Im doubtful that textile, and certainly the garment industry will not come back. The rest of the textile industry could survive, parts of it. Certainly carpet can.
SHORT: What about poultry, which is big in your district?
JENKINS: Poultry was and is a big thing in our district. We had several majorpoultry operations throughout the mountain counties, and a lot of that industry really helped the standard of living of the mountain people, because people could grow poultry, chickens, and at the same time, operate at home. And most of 00:30:00the husband and the wife, many times worked within the poultry industry, and that gave a lot of income to a world of people in mountains, and in addition to the processing plants that operated out of Hall, Habersham, several counties, but it was a wonderful area of employment, and it still is within the district now.
SHORT: There was a coalition of congressmen, mostly from the South, known asBlue Dogs. Were you a Blue Dog?
JENKINS: No, I was not a Blue Dog, although I probably voted with the Blue Doggroup a great deal. The Blue Dogs were and are an extremely conservative group of Democrats, which I was also a conservative Democrat. But honestly, there was 00:31:00some things that, while I was conservative on the budget, on spending, there were some things that I disagreed with them on. I mean, I didnt take an active part in that. But they are in existence today, and as a matter of fact, have increased their numbers in the House, and they do a good job in trying to bring moderation to spending bills, primarily.
SHORT: Let me read to you a quote that I just read the other day. Someone said,According to my records, Jenkins has not made a single speech in favor of increasing the federal deficit, raising taxes or adjourning the army. So it 00:32:00seems to me that you had a reputation of being a pay-as-you-go, lower taxes, strong defense member of the Congress.
JENKINS: No question. All of that is true. I am a great believer in a balancedbudget on the federal level, unless there is an unforeseen emergency such as a war that causes one to deficit spend. And even there, I agree, like Lyndon Johnson when he imposed the surtax during the Vietnam War, to pay for it. I think this nation today is on the precipice of a very, very difficult time financially. And it could weaken us severely, and I believe that when I served, 00:33:00I believe that it was important that we not overspend, so many times I would vote against a spending program that I may have believed in, simply because I thought it would cost too much money at the time. And being on the budget committee, I saw a lot of areas that I felt there could be a reduction in spending. As a matter of fact, when I was on the committee, Barber Conable, a Republican member from New York, who later became President of World Bank after he left the Ways and Means Committee, he was the ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee on the Republican side. He also felt much like I did on 00:34:00spending, and he and I sponsored a balanced--it was called Balance the Budget Committee Bill, and passed it in the House. It did not get out of the Senate, but while it would not have mandated a balanced budget every year, it would have provided that you could not increase spending more than the increase in the national increase monetary capacity, so that you would have probably on any year you have 3 or 4 percent more that you could spend than you did the previous year. It would have brought us into a balanced budget over a period of time, and 00:35:00I still believe today that we really have a problem right now with overspending. As far as the military is concerned, when I went there, there had been for the first 3 or 4years of my service, there had been a great decrease in military spending. I felt that it was important that we had to increase military preparedness, and therefore the military budget had to be increased, and I was a supporter of that.
SHORT: As I recall, you served under three Speakers.
JENKINS: Thats correct.
SHORT: Tip ONeill from Massachusetts.
SHORT: Jim Wright in Texas.
SHORT: And Tom Foley from Washington.
JENKINS: Washington, yes.
SHORT: Tell us a little about a congressmans relationship with the Speaker.00:36:00
JENKINS: Well, when I went there in 77, that was the first year that TipONeill commenced to serve as Speaker. He was elected during the same (indiscernible) during my freshman year, and you got to know a Speaker a little bit better when he was up for election, but he had not served before, because normally if theyve been in office a while, the freshman members dont get to associate too much with the Speaker. But I got to know Tip ONeill, once again, through Dan Rostenkowski more than anybody else, because I went on the Ways and Means Committee, and Tip did not support me for Ways and Means Committee, and he was the incoming Speaker. So, I had defeated him in going on 00:37:00the committee. But I liked Tip ONeill, even though he was a very liberal member. He was really a labor-oriented, from his district in Boston, was a very heavily labor-intensive district, and labor unions. He rarely went against what the labor unions wanted. But Tip was a Irish, good, jovial person, and could make friends with anyone, and he had a great relationship with the Republican minority leader at that time, Bob Michaels, from Illinois. And many times he would call me during his ten years as Speaker, I believe it was ten years, on 00:38:00major bills to see how I felt the South would go, and Id give him a read. Thats normally what the whip did, but sometimes he would call me. So I got to know him, because I supported some things that he was for, but I opposed a lot of things that he was for. I think there was a degree of respect on both sides. And he would sometimes eat out with--there were about five of us, six of us, that ate out on Tuesday nights, sometimes more than that, but the so-called Tuesday night crowd. And Tip would be a part of that, and I was the token Southerner, I guess, in that group. Which incidentally, a lot of that group have gone on to the Senate. One of them is Barbara Boxer and one is Chuck Schumer 00:39:00from New York, and Rosty and myself. Occasionally, not oo often, but occasionally Tip, and John Lewis occasionally would join that group when he came to the House. But I got along, and the average member, I think, from both sides liked Tip ONeill. When Jim Wright was elected after Tip had left, retired, this had been a very contentious election each time that Jim Wright--Jim was elected majority leader by one vote in 1977. And his opponent at that time had been Phillip Burton, Congressman Burton, from California, who was a more liberal 00:40:00member, and there were two other people also running that were eliminated before the ultimate runoff. But Jim Wright won by one vote, and from Texas, he had been chairman of the committee in the House, and had made a lot of friends from both sides of the aisle, but he had more support from the moderate to conservative group because the liberals had gone with Phil Burton. And when he became Speaker, he had some opposition from within the party, some people who were not too fond of him. Jim Wright was a very scrappy guy, and a lot of people didnt know it, but he had been a pretty good boxer in the Navy, I believe, military, 00:41:00and he didnt mind to mix it up with you, and he did occasionally with some people, that almost came to fisticuffs a time or two. But about the same time, Congressman Newt Gingrich had come to the House, and he put a different flavor on the Republican side, in my view. First of all, Newt Gingrich was very able, a very good Speaker and a sharp mind, but not one of my favorites at all, because I never felt that he would not stay where he said he would be. He was sort of an opportunist at times, in my view. But at any rate, he organized the House 00:42:00Republicans, and was moving Michael gradually out of office, as the minority leader. He did this in several ways. First of all, he was very conservative and he grouped the conservatives on the Republican side together, and they stuck together and they liked Gingrich, because he did have a lot of ideas. Hes a brilliant guy in so many ways. But the most important thing, I think, of his rise to power, in addition to his own abilities, was the practice of televising the House chamber. That happened under Tip ONeills--when he was Speaker, and Congressman Gingrich, in my view, saw the importance of this from a 00:43:00political standpoint, and at the end of a session, you always had the opportunity to have time on the House floor with CNN televising the House chamber. He would organize speeches by himself and others on any particular subject, and speak everyday. And he became nationally known from doing that, and it was a ingenious type of operation that they had, and they organized and they would have a certain group everyday to do this. And then he decided to go after 00:44:00Jim Wright, and everyday there would be an attack on Wright, Speaker for any personal defects or any failures or anything, and finally drove him out of office, because...
SHORT: And out of Congress.
JENKINS: And out of Congress. And so I would say that Jim Wrights servicewas more contentious and more controversial from within and outside the party. I liked Jim Wright myself, got along with him. I had differences with him too, but we had mutual respect, and hes still in Texas today. Incidentally, hes not in good health. Tom Foley was more of a peacemaker, and he was not a strong 00:45:00leader, he got along more with both sides. He had been chairman of the agriculture committee in the House, and a lot of Southerners liked him very much.
SHORT: Who were some of your colleagues from Georgia?
JENKINS: Bo Ginn from down in Savannah, who had also worked on the Hill at thesame time I had. He had worked for Talmadge, and before that he had worked for a House member, but I knew Bo from years ago. And he was on appropriations committee and did a fine job for the state, because he was important in getting projects through and funded, so I knew him real well. Dawson Mathis from down in Albany was a very good member. He also was on the agriculture committee, but he 00:46:00was close to Phil Burton, the liberal member from California, even though Dawson was extremely conservative, but they were good allies, and Dawson served as our Steering and Policy member that named members to various committees. Every zone had a member, and he was on the Steering and Policy Committee when I became a member of the Ways and Means Committee, and he was very important to me. Doug Barnard from Augusta served with me for many years. He was on Banking Committee, did a fine job there. Buddy Darden came after I had been there a couple of three years from Marietta, and he was on the Armed Services Committee and was a 00:47:00well-liked member of the House, did a fine job, I think, for his district and for the state. Jack Brinkley from Columbus was there for a couple of terms before he retired. He, incidentally, was a friend of mine from Young Harris College days. He had finished a couple years before me at Young Harris, and I knew him from there, and he was a very outstanding person. Morality of the highest degree. A very honest guy. I thought a lot of him. He still lives in Columbus now, I think, or in that area. Who have I left out? Jack Flynt was 00:48:00there when I first went there. Jack is now deceased, but he chaired the Ethics Committee at one time. Incidentally, I also served on the Ethics Committee. They say you have to serve a sentence on the Ethics Committee. I served two terms on the Ethics Committee. But Jack Flynt at one time was a chair of that committee, I think. He was also on Appropriations Committee.
SHORT: Speaking of Ethics Committee, several incidents occurred in Washingtonwhile you were in Congress. One was Koreagate. One was Irangate.
SHORT: And tell us about those.
JENKINS: Well, the Koreagate thing, I was not on the Ethics Committee at thattime, but that had to do with some alleged briberies of members of the House by 00:49:00a Korean supporter for Korea in the military field, and the undercover FBI sting operation offered money to several of these members from both sides of the aisle, and there were about three or four, if I remember correctly, maybe more, that were later indicted for bribery or attempted bribery, and were either expelled from the House and later tried in their districts. Some of them either pled guilty or were convicted. One of the areas when I was on the Ethics 00:50:00Committee that came up was the page scandal. There were, as you know, we had, at that time, we had a page dormitory more or less, where all of the pages lived, and they were normally 16, 17, 18, could be 19-year-old kids, that were pages. And there was very lax supervision of the pages there. They did have a couple of members that were--committees that had oversight responsibility, but it was not very good, and not very active, and a couple of these pages had had affairs 00:51:00with, or allegedly had affairs with a member of Congress, and that was brought up while I was on the committee. One of them had to do with a Republican member from the state of Illinois, and a 17 or 18-year-old page, both of whom admitted and was chastised by the House--not the girl, she had already left. One of the things that hindered that investigation, incidentally, it had happened several years before, and she was a housewife and mother and didnt want anything, obviously didnt want any publicity, but the member was charged and he lost 00:52:00his election that year because of that. Also, there was a gay member that had an affair and that person was likewise chastised by the House in the same manner that the Republican member had been with the female. That brought about great changes in the page system, which was really needed, and greater supervision and oversight, and thats good. The other thing that came up, I guess, during that time that I was on the committee was the so-called bank. It really wasnt a fraudulent thing. What happened was that the House has a bank and the Senate has a bank, and most members would have their salary check automatically deposited 00:53:00each month in that bank, and if you over drafted, there was not a great deal of care because they knew the check would be oming the next payday. So a lot of members that had financial difficulties made a practice of overdrawing their account, and the FBI was brought in once again to check every member and their accounts to see if they had ever over drafted. Fortunately, when the FBI came to me and said, You have never overdrawn, I said, Put it in writing. Give me a letter. Which they did. But that hurt a lot of members of Congress, and it really wasnt that much of a breach. It was a breach, but it wasnt as 00:54:00severe as it was publicized. And the Iran-Contra Committee--later you mentioned Irangate...
SHORT: Now, you were appointed to that, what, special committee by Jim Wright.
JENKINS: Thats right.
JENKINS: The Speaker made the appointments to investigative committees, and thesenators were appointed likewise by the leader in the Senate, but Jim Wright was Speaker when Iran-Contra conflict came up, and he appointed Peter Rodino, who had been active, of course, in the Watergate years before, he named him as chair. And then he named subcommittee, our committee, chairman to that committee 00:55:00from the Democratic side. And you had almost every standing committee chairman such as Jack Brooks, who was chairman of banking, I guess, at that time, Lee Hamilton, Democrat from Indiana, and a host of others. And he called me one day, the Speaker called me and said, I want you to serve on Iran-Contra. And I happened to be speaking in Georgia at the time when he reached me down in Marietta, and I said, Well, Mr.Speaker, I havent even thought about this, because Ive never asked for it. He said, I know you havent. Youre probably the only Democrat that hasnt asked. But he said, I 00:56:00want you because of your background as a trial lawyer, and he named me to that committee. Its a fascinating committee. There were a lot of things involved that were not right. Reagan had reached the point, in my view, there were some vacancies because of retiring people over in the National Security Council as well as Secretary of State. Schultz had come on as Secretary of State, and he didnt totally have a grasp of everything, because he didnt know everything that was going on. And to make a long story short, a young lieutenant colonel by the name of Ollie North was in the White House as a young 00:57:00staffer, more or less, and he saw that there was a vacuum out there, and he was very active in the Contra at that time, conflict, and the House had been curtailing expenditures in Central America, did not believe that it was proper. I had been on the opposite side and had been supportive of Reagan in the fight against the Contras, but the law was that you couldnt do it. And really there was a way to circumvent it, not legal, but nevertheless Ollie saw the opportunity that we could make some money, or they could make some money by selling some weapons to Iran through Israel. And they did that, and they would 00:58:00charge Iran more than what they really cost, what Israel was paying us for them, and they would take that extra money and use it and sending it to the Contras in Central America. All illegal. And Ollie was one of the real operatives in that, because he pretended, told everybody in the White House that the "old man", the President, was asking him to do these things. Theres just no truth to that, I dont think, at least we didnt find that Reagan had specifically told him. 00:59:00Regan later said that he was aware, if you recall, that some money was being spent there. But at any rate, the investigation went on for months. Dick Cheney, incidentally, was on the committee on the Republican side, so I had an interesting group, and from the Senate, George Mitchell. Give you a little interesting sidebar comment. We would select people that we would cross-examine. There was like 50 or 60 members, and I had selected, being the freshman, the only non-chairman on the committee, I selected last. Of course, from the Democrat side, so everyone already had the Secretary of the Defense and Secretary of State and Undersecretary of State, and Ollie and all of the others. 01:00:00But Ollie had a wonderful lawyer by the name of Sullivan, and he would have Ollie in his full uniform everyday, at attention, and he became a sympathetic hero to the American people because they watched it everyday, and the Congress, this committee, became scapegoats more or less, because we were attacking this wonderful guy. And George Mitchell was going to be the person to cross-examine from the Senate, and one of the older members, the chairman of one of the committees, was going to be the cross-examiner from our side. And on Thursday before Ollie was to report on Monday, the Democratic caucus met and said, We believe that Jenkins would do better to cross-examine Ollie North than the one 01:01:00who had selected him. And they told me this and wanted me to do it. I said, Well, fellows, first of all, I understand whats going on. Yall are running for cover, and I want you to know that first and foremost. I understand the process and you want me to be from the House side, but I said, I will do it even though I havent concentrated upon his particular area of what he did. I shall never forget. I rented a place at Jekyll Island that weekend, one of those houses, and I took all of these transcripts, these were volumes, and tried to go through before Monday, when I flew back to Washington. But George Mitchell and I then cross-examined Ollie. And I really enjoyed it, you 01:02:00know, and a lot was not discovered, I guess, during that cross-examination, although I did ask this series of questions of Ollie which really made Brendan Sullivan upset. I asked Ollie, I said, You know Ive supported the Contra aid, as you have. And he said, Oh I know that. They had done a good job of researching me. I said, But of course I believe that we ought to follow the law, and I said Now, the Speaker didnt know, Speaker of the House, my speaker, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee on the House side, didnt know anything about the supplying of money to the Contras or this program which you had. And he said, No. I said, Did the Senate Intelligence Committee know about it or anybody in the Senate? And he said, 01:03:00No, we kept that because we didnt want it to get out, obviously. And I said, What about Vice President Bush? Did he know about it? And he said, No. I said, Did the Secretary of State know about it? He said, No. I said, What about the President? Did the President know about it? And Ollie said, Well, I thought he did at the time, but I discovered since then that he probably did not know all the details. And I said, Well, are you telling this committee and the American people that not a single elected official of the United States of America knew what yall were doing? And he said, Well, I guess not. Words to that effect. But at any rate, the committee, as you know, made the recommendations. We did not seek--a 01:04:00lot of people from the staff level and also a lot of people that were anti-Reagan really wanted to go after the President in an impeachment process because of this, but the Democrats which controlled the committee at that time--we felt that that would be a mistake. We had just been through a Watergate in the early 70s, 71, 72, 73, through that Nixon impeachment, and very honestly, the committee on both the Democrat and the Republican side felt that the country couldnt withstand another impeachment process at that particular time, and I think that was correct. 01:05:00
SHORT: You failed to mention the fact that you went to Congress the year JimmyCarter was elected President.
JENKINS: Thats correct. And Jimmy Carter had a lot of difficulties with someof the staff. Good people, but in my view, some of them were probably not given the right position at the time, and he had a lot of difficulties with the Congress with his own party in the Congress. If you recall, of course, he had sort of run against the establishment, and that had alienated, I guess, some people. But he was never close to anybody on the House side, or even the Senate. 01:06:00He had a lot of legislation, obviously, thatcame before the Ways and Means Committee, some of it very good legislation, and I as a member from Georgia, attempted to help him with some of that, even though it was more liberal maybe in some areas than I wanted it to be, but he did see a lot of the problems, for instance, on the medical side. He had a hospital cost containment bill that was very controversial, but passed out of the committee by a very close vote, one vote, I think, which I supported him on, even though it had some provisions that I didnt like. It was killed in the House, full House. He had an energy bill that was geared primarily towards conservation and mandates as to surtaxes on 01:07:00large automobiles. That was in 1978, I believe. And he had a world of legislation dealing with trade and with taxes generally. I didnt support a lot of the tax measures because I really believed that the tax schedules were too high at the time. And as a matter of fact, if you recall, after he left office, I led the group that reduced capital gains taxes, and while I think there is certainly a argument for capital gains taxes being of some kind, I 01:08:00didnt, you know, there is a large number of people that dont believe there should be any tax on capital gains. I felt that the tax rate at the time was much too high, and should be reduced to attract more industry and more capital to this country. But Jimmy Carter had a tough time as President with legislation. He didnt have the right sponsorship, if you will, in the Senate or in the House with most of his legislation, and it was very difficult to get it passed. He was not close to Tip ONeill as Speaker. He was not close to many of the committee chairmen, and there was little effort made, in my view, to 01:09:00make allies out of them, rather than opponents. And he didnt have support from the South, strangely enough, that he needed in most of his legislative proposals.
SHORT: So its fair to assume that if you run for President as an outsider,when you get to Washington, you well maybe become an outsider.
JENKINS: I think so. You need to know how to deal with the legislative branch,and if you dont, you wont accomplish much.
SHORT: Lets talk for a minute about the first Gulf War. You were a member ofCongress when that war came about, and if Im correct, you voted against funding that war.
JENKINS: I did. I voted against the resolution to go to war, actually. It was01:10:00what was used to go to war. Ive never been totally convinced that that conflict with Iraq, it was a lot about oil, in my view. Now, there can be no question that it was also about human rights and the conflict there with the neighbors of Iraq. But I felt that since we had been supporting Iraq in its war against Iran, with some weapon systems and some money through the years, that to turn around and suddenly attack Iraq because it was threatening Kuwait was not 01:11:00justified as an all-out war. Ive been very cautious during my tenure as to looking after the United States of America, but to stay out of a lot of conflicts in the Middle East, and therefore I opposed it, as did Sam Nunn, incidentally. You know, over on the Senate side. On the House side, and Sam was chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate--hes like me, hes not absolutely 100percent certain that it was the right vote, but it was the right vote as far as I was concerned with me intellectually. Well, first of all, I didnt think that we would attack and then withdraw. I figured that we would 01:12:00go all out in Iraq, and which we did not, as you know. We just defeated them and turned them back. Think my thought process was correct as to the dangers of going into Iraq, as we have under this administration, and turmoil that it has created, and the money that we have spent and we still are not certain as to whether or not we were correct.
SHORT: So in that war, besides showing a awesome display of military power, weactually didnt accomplish much.
JENKINS: No, I dont think so. We saved Kuwait, and I guess the oil there,which we are somewhat dependent upon. So theres some positives and some 01:13:00negatives, but I have traveled some to Pakistan and to Afghanistan primarily with Charlie Wilson, who has become a little bit infamous in the last few years with the book and movie, but I have met a lot of the Taliban in Pakistan and Islamabad and in Afghanistan, and very honestly, I was never convinced that you could depend upon these people. It appeared to me that we were pouring a lot of money--thats the time that they were fighting the Soviet Union, and of course we wanted them to prevail against the Soviet Union, and Charlie in particular, 01:14:00Charlie Wilson, was responsible for them getting the Stinger missiles that helped defeat the Russian army. But there was more to it than that. These people were being funded with a lot of money from America, and you had to deal with these feudal lords out there, and in my view, it was like trying to buy votes, you know, in some election. You didnt know whether they would stay with you or not, so it just defeated it's purpose in trying to finance a war in that part of the world, when you didnt know the culture or the mindset of those people. 01:15:00And like Alexander the Great that came over into Afghanistan, he didnt stay long. He just passed on through. I think thats what we needed to do. I dont think we needed to stay long.
SHORT: Do you think it was a mistake for us to invade Afghanistan in recent times?
JENKINS: I think now there is more of a reason for concentrating inAfghanistan. It is truly a place that will be difficult, and I dont know that we ought to get too involved more than we are now, because. like Iraq, I dont know how easy it will be to get out of there. Soviets found that was very 01:16:00difficult, and you almost have to fight a war from a distance when you do these things. If youre going to do that, you need to finance one side or the other, whichever is your friends, so-called friends, and let them do most of the fighting.
SHORT: Had you been in Congress when the decision was made, would you havesupported the Bush invasion of Iraq?
JENKINS: No, I would not have. I would have voted against it. I would havevoted against it as I did in the first Gulf War.
SHORT: What do you make of our presence there?
JENKINS: I think it has brought us to a financial crisis. Not that in and ofitself, but together with spending, in addition to that war, and it has 01:17:00destroyed the value of the dollar. We are at a real crisis right now, in my view, as to whether or not we can live without real inflation that comes as a result of this overspending. Furthermore, we obviously did not do a good job in fighting the war, if we had toppled Saddam and then left at the appropriate times, turning it over to some of the local anti-Saddam people, we would have 01:18:00been better off. Or, in the alternative, if they would have really increased the number of troops, as some on both sides of the political aisle say that we should have in the beginning, we would have been better off. But to turn loose Saddams army, 400,000 troops and say you no longer have a job, turn them loose in the country with their arms, they obviously are going to belong to an insurgency group thats going to give us problems, as they have. But its looking better now, I think, since they did increase in the last year our presence there. I think it is looking much better than it has, but I wouldnt 01:19:00depend upon that long-term.
SHORT: Are we overreacting to the threat of terrorism?
JENKINS: Well, its hard to say. Obviously since the 9/11 catastrophe, it hasbecome something that we have to deal with, so from that perspective, I think we really have to know whats going on with people coming here. You have to have intelligence, and you have to spend a lot of money in that area. And I disagree with some in my party on recent legislation dealing with eavesdropping and so 01:20:00forth on foreign calls. I dont think that we ought to have to have as much intelligence to do that as you would in making a search of an American home or anything like that. You know, the argument goes that, in having bee a defense attorney as well as a prosecutor, I understand the use of our laws properly, and their argument always is, its better to let one guilty person go than it is to convict an innocent person. But when youre talking about a terrorist, in my view its not right to say its alright for one terrorist to get by, to 01:21:00get through, rather than to illegally search, if you will, a lot of calls from foreign countries or to foreign countries. I dont think you can go that far. I think if you let one terrorist through, thats one too many. That could be a real danger to the country, so I say have tough legislation authorizing telephone calls and so forth to foreign countries.
SHORT: Seems to me that all of these engagements that we find ourselves inaround the world point toward lack of stability in our foreign policy. Seems that Congress has a role and the President has a role, the administration has a role. How do you merge those two into a specific attitude toward our role in 01:22:00world affairs?
JENKINS: There has to be more respect, first of all, less partisanship, when itcomes to the committees that have jurisdiction. Years ago you did have that, I think, in foreign affairs, you know, in the Dick Russell days and of Senator George from Georgia, Im talking about specifically. They would sit down with whomever is the President on matters of foreign affairs. They would oppose him on other things domestic if they felt like it, but they would try to adopt a policy that would be in the best interest of the country and join together in doing that. We havent done that in some time. There has to be more respect for the presidency, and the Secretary of States job, as well as respect for 01:23:00the intelligence committees in the Senate and the House. Thats very difficult to do in todays political atmosphere but in--
SHORT: Partisan. Partisan atmosphere.
SHORT: I wanted to ask this question, if I may. How much support do you thinkthat we should provide to opposition forces in these places like El Salvador and Iraq and Iran?
JENKINS: I think its very dangerous. The entanglements that develop, becauseyoure not absolutely certain, nor is our CIA always, as to the support that these people have. There are occasions when that is needed, but as a general 01:24:00policy, I think we make a mistake in supporting every group that may be anti-government in their country. I think thats a dangerous route to go, and Id be very careful about doing that.
SHORT: Lets talk about some Georgia politics. The Republican Party has takenover now the Governors office and the state legislature for the first time in what, 100 years or more?
SHORT: What do you think is the reason for that?
JENKINS: Well, I think that there are three or four issues that occurred thatmade the Democratic party somewhat weak, that then came on down to the state 01:25:00level. First of all, weve always been in the South a conservative people. We have experienced defeat and had to sort of shuffle for ourselves as a region, and therefore, probably became a little bit introverted, if you will, since Civil War days. And being a conservative area with conservative ideas, not enough money to spend as other areas, other states, had, we had to be against a lot of spending proposals in our state. But also from a social standpoint, three 01:26:00or four issues I think that worked to the Republican advantage and to the disadvantage of the Democrats, the abortion issue, we have been basically pro-life throughout the South. Were primarily Protestant, conservative Protestant areas. I think the gay issue worked to the advantage of the Republican side and to the disadvantage of our culture, if you will. I think on the racial side, the affirmative action legislation and proposals did not set 01:27:00well with the conservative people. I think all of those worked to the disadvantage of the Democratic party. Human rights has always been more of a Democratic party issue than the Republican Party, since the Civil War. Prior to that it was the Republicans that were more supportive of certainly racial rights. But in recent times, I think that the abortion, the gay, the affirmative action did not bode well in any of the Southern states. And a lot of other issues too that came along, although the Republican Party did the better job 01:28:00than we did, in organizing at the grass roots level. And they really did a fine job in taking advantage of computers and computer lists and that type of thing much before the Democrats did.
SHORT: Many disenchanted Democrats feel that the state party is too urban andtoo controlled by minorities and labor unions. You agree with that?
JENKINS: I think that has played a role certainly in recent years. Once again,that somewhat plays into what I was talking about. If the base of the Democratic 01:29:00party in our state is the African American community, and while that is very important for us in state elections, it also has a downside in the rural areas in particular, because they say, Are you with the blacks or are you with... thats basically what you hear out in the country, and that has been very difficult for us to overcome. And I think that there ought to be a real effort made in the rural areas and the black communities, because really from an economic standpoint all of those people or most of those people, if you leave the social out for a minute and just look at it, economic basis, most of 01:30:00those people ought to be Democrats in my view, because in the Congress, heres what I would find, in the Ways and Means Committee, as well as on the House floor. If you had a fight on taxes, you would find that the Democrat Party members from all over the country were more for the people making $50,000 a year or less, whereas invariably, the Republican side in argument would be more for the investment side, which is the higher-income side. Now, there is (audio gap) on both sides and sometimes there are deviations from each of those, but generally you would find the Democratic side more for the $50,000 and below, 01:31:00where most of the country people in Georgia are. So from an economic standpoint, thats where we have fallen down. We havent promoted that as well as we should, and weve made mistakes on the social side, Democratic Party, and the racial side. But I think we really need to take the state party and infuse it with a lot of people out in rural areas.
SHORT: Many states require party registration. We dont do that in Georgia.Should we?
JENKINS: I have tossed that around for a long time in my mind. I have ahesitancy to do that, even though I voted in the Democratic primary and 01:32:00therefore I dont get to vote for my local Republican leaders except in November, and as generally in my county and generally not a Democrat running against the Republican. My local office chair commissioner, every office in my county is Republican except for one, but I tend to believe that, on a local level, you ought to have non-partisan county offices, and we used to do that in this county. We still do for one office. The probate judge always runs as, and always has. But we do that on the state level for superior court judges, and I think its just as important that you have a non-partisan sheriff, 01:33:00non-partisan county commissioner in these small countries. But party registration, Im hesitant to say that we ought to go to that.
SHORT: Some people support term limits on legislators, as well as members ofthe Congress. What do you think about that?
JENKINS: I have opposed term limits, primarily because I think especially inthe Congress, first of all, youd have to have a constitutional amendment, because the only thing you have to be is a resident of the state and age requirement, you can live in south Georgia and run for Congress, and up here in the mountains if you want to, as long as youre a resident of the state under the constitution. So I think while I can understand why you want to turn 01:34:00everybody out occasionally, most of the people I find that are for term limits are for term limits until it applies to them, and then they say, Well, I know I gave you a comitment to leave after six terms or seven terms, but Ive changed my mind now. I think its--people ought to hold those people responsible if they made a commitment to be for term limits, and then renege on it.
SHORT: Well, while were on that subject of party politics, I want to ask youthis question. What did you think of your friend, Senator Zell Millers decision to keynote the Republican National Convention in 2004?
JENKINS: I thought it was a mistake. Hes my friend and will be, but I01:35:00thought it was a mistake for him as a Democrat to keynote the National Republican Convention. That just goes against my grain. I am a Democrat until I decide to be otherwise. Ill fight within my party. I believe in the two-party system, even though sometimes I think the parliamentary system in Great Britain is better than ours, but being independent-minded as I am, I still believe that this nation is better served with the two parties, and Im not a third-party 01:36:00advocate, nor am I an advocate of taking part in the internal business of the opposite party.
SHORT: What was your toughest political campaign?
JENKINS: The first campaign in 77. I had seven opponents in the Democraticprimary, and while I ran first in that campaign, I had a runoff with Senator Minish from over in Jackson County, and I won that. And my second campaign was a rather difficult campaign because one of the people who, from Gwinnett County, who is chairman of the county commission down there, had run and lost. He was more or less projected to be the top guy in my first race. That was Ray Gunning. 01:37:00He felt that if he could get me one-on-one, he could prevail, because he came from a large, populated area and I had about 50,000 people here in my county. But I had all the mountain counties for me, and I had a pretty good base in Hall County and Whitfield County, so he did not. But that was a tough race. He ran a very good race.
SHORT: You know D.L. Crumley?
JENKINS: D.L. Crumley.
SHORT: I have to ask you that question, Ed.
JENKINS: A great friend of mine. Ill have to tell you this story, because Iwant people to know who D.L. Crumley, he no longer is alive. Hes dead now. In my first race, I did not know a single person in Whitfield County, Dalton area, 01:38:00which at that time, had about 60,000 people. And I spent a lot of time over there during that year of campaigning outside the restaurants and inside the restaurants and the various mills that I could get into, a lot of carpet mills. There was a fellow running form over there, Alton Bridges, who was a good candidate and worked in a bank, and I knew that he would prevail in Whitfield County, but I wanted to run at least second, and I wanted to make sure that I could do well if I was in the runoff. So, I handed out a lot of cards in a period of weeks and didnt seem to be making too much progress, and one day someone up the sidewalk was in a fast gait running toward me hollering, 01:39:00Jenkins, Jenkins, Jenkins, and I looked and I saw this fellow coming, and I suddenly recognized someone that I hadnt seen for 20 years, D.L. Crumley. I said, D.L. Hes a fellow I played baseball with in Union County. He played third base, I played second on the town team, baseball team, and sort of grew up together and he said, I have been looking for you. I have been wanting to get literature. I said, D.L., youve come to the right place. Ive got it in the trunk of my car. And he was a truck driver for Roadway Express, and he said, Look, I umpire baseball games, Ive got daughters playing basketball, I do some refereeing of basketball games, and I go into every carpet mill, picking up carpet or bringing supplies from Roadway 01:40:00Express. Well, I unloaded all this literature on him. Make a long story short, I did run second with eight of us running, primarily because of D.L. Crumley. And I carried Whitfield County after that, because their favorite candidate did not run--I mean, did not place. And about a week after the general election, I get this call, this was 1976, from a carpet industry owner in Whitfield County that I recognized by name, and I saw that he had contributed to my opponent, and he said that he wanted to come over to see me with three other carpet mill owners about the natural gas shortage in 1977. He said, Youre 01:41:00going to have a vote, and you can have some influence about getting us some priority to run our carpet mills. Otherwise, these people are going to be out of work. And I said, Well, come on over. They explained all this to me. Its very important your people up there have a job, and I said, I absolutely agree with that, and I said, I think I will be 100 percent for the proposal that you make to me. But I want to know what D.L. thinks about it. And they looked at each other, this was in my little law office before I had been sworn in, and finally one of them said, Now, D.L. who, Congressman? And I said, Well, D.L. Crumley. And he said, Well, what mill does he own up there? And I said, Well, D.L. doesnt own a mill. Hes a truck driver for Roadway Express, and hes my man in Whitfield 01:42:00County. And if youll check with him and if its alright with him, itll be fine with me. Well, D.L. called me about 11 oclock that night and he says, Theres some big shots up here wanting to know something about a gas bill. I said, D.L., just stick with me pal and youre going to be alright. Thats the D.L. Crumley story. He was a great friend.
SHORT: Thats a great story, and we need to hear more stories like that. Ed,youve had a very successful career, and I know youre proud of your service, and I know the people youve served are proud of you, but looking back, if you could have done anything differently, what would you have done?
JENKINS: I would have run for the Senate when Wyche Fowler was elected. Wyche01:43:00was a good friend of mine on, served on committee with me. And I felt that there was an opportunity for a Democrat to win, and I thought that I was postured and had been asked by many people to run. That is one decision that I made not to, that I sort of regret, even though I supported Wyche and I thought he did a good job.
SHORT: Why didnt you run?
JENKINS: Well, it had to do with a couple of things. First of all, I likedWyche and he is on my committee and we was good friends, and he had gotten out early, and then there was one vote that I made that I thought was a bad vote, 01:44:00even though it was in my district probably at the time. On the King birthday deal, I had voted to put the holiday not on his birthday, but on the Sunday, once again trying to save $600 million or whatever it was of businesses would not close and that youd have it on a Sunday. That was very distasteful to the African American community. I felt that that would become a real issue, which I had had the support of the African American community in my district, which is very small. But I thought that that could become an issue that would be hard to explain in terms that they would accept, and if Wyche was in it, I would lose 01:45:00that block of votes. So I would have been out in the rural areas trying to prevail, and I knew it would be a tough campaign. I think I could have won. I might should have made that decision.
SHORT: Why did you decide to retire?
JENKINS: I had reached the point that I knew--I had two children, wife here,that I had been away a long time, and it was time for me. I was 60 years old. I didnt see the opportunity of becoming chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. I had run for majority leader and lost in a very close election in 01:46:00the House. Dick Gephardt had defeated me, and I had been there a couple of years later, three years, four years after that, and Rostenkowski at that time, he had told me, he was a good ally of mine, he had told me that he was going to step down, and that I could become chair, if Id make the right moves, of the Ways and Means Committee. To do that, I would have to jump over three or four people, including Charlie Rangel, good friend of mine, Sam Gibbons from Florida, Pete Stark from California. I felt that I would have no problem in ultimately 01:47:00preailing. But that also would be somewhat divisive, but I had decided to do that if he was going to step down. And then about a few months later, he told me, he says, I have decided that Im not going to retire. Im going to run again. And when I looked at the terrain out there, it looked to me like if I could not become chair of the committee, that I was going to have to fight every two years with a growing Republican constituency which would ultimately prevail, which they did, and that Id be in the minority with no voice. So I decided I would go ahead and get out, and I was 60 years old and that was 01:48:00primarily the reason. Now a lot of people thought, you know, I had a lot of campaign money at the time, about $600,000 if I remember, and we were locked in to where you could keep that money if you wanted to, pay taxes on it and keep it. And a lot of the newspapers thought that what I was going to do is to keep the money, you know. And which I donated all of the money. I didnt keep a dime of it, kept it for a long time because I thought I might still run for the Senate, then I could use it, or in some statewide if I decided to. But ultimately I ended up giving it to some free healthcare clinics, to Young Harris 01:49:00College, to a lot of other...
SHORT: After your retirement, you were appointed by the governor to serve onthe Board of Regents in addition to all of your other activities, and the university system, and you did a great job, according to the person who appointed you, Zell Miller. But Ed, its been a great pleasure having you, and I appreciate your taking this time to be with us and provide this history that Im sure will be very useful years and years from now.
JENKINS: Well, its a pleasure to see you again, Bob. It always is, and thankyou for coming by.
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