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Interview with Ben Blackburn, October 29, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:07 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I’m Bob Short and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics sponsored by the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Bob Short opens up the interview by introducing Congressman Ben Blackburn

00:00:52 - Early life / Military career

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Partial Transcript: Well, before we get into your political career let’s talk about Ben Blackburn.

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about his early life in Atlanta and his education at the University of North Carolina. He later talks about his Naval career.

Keywords: Atlanta; Emory; Korea; Midway; Navy; Pickrick restaurant; Treasure Island; US Navy; University of North Carolina

00:07:38 - Law school / Assistant Attorney General

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Partial Transcript: So, after the service it was back to school?

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about going to law school after the end of his military service. He also talks about working for the State Attorney General's office. He worked for the revenue service, and he talks about his private practice.

Keywords: Assistant Attorney General; Attorney General; Emory University; assistant; automobile accidents; corporate lawyer; law school; revenue service; state attorney general; trial lawyer

00:09:33 - Interest in politics / First campaign

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Partial Transcript: At what point did you get interested in public service?

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about how he developed an interest in politics, and he shares some of his political philosophy. He later recalls his first campaign for Congress. Blackburn explains how there was less stress in being the challenger in an election.

Keywords: 1964; Barry Goldwater; Democratic party; Republican party; Tip O'Neill; career; incumbent; political science; politics; race

00:14:20 - 1966 Gubernatorial election/ Rise of Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk for a minute about 1966.

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn recalls the details of the 1966 Gubernatorial election between Republican Bo Callaway and Democrat Lester Maddox. Blackburn also talks about the rise of the Republican Party in Georgia.

Keywords: Bo Callaway; Callaway Gardens; David Gambrell; Lester Maddox; Sam Nunn; governor; majority; plurality; republican party; success

00:18:50 - US Congress

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Partial Transcript: So, in 1967 you’re off to Washington, a freshman Congressman.

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about going to the US Congress. He remarks how the Republicans and Democrats hardly got along. Blackburn admits how he did not have a problem working with democrats.

Keywords: Andrew Young; Congress; Georgia Democrats; Jack Flint; John Davis; committees; democrats; disagreements; republicans; warring camps

00:24:46 - Committee work

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Partial Transcript: So, you’re on the Banking Committee and some other valuable committees.

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about his work on the Banking Committee. He mentions the founding of the Heritage Foundation and several other political think tanks.

Keywords: 1974; American Enterprise Institute; Banking Committee; Heritage Foundation; regulations; steering committee; stock

00:30:51 - Republicans in Georgia / Relationship with leadership

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Partial Transcript: Moving to 1968.

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about the Democrats who switched to become Republicans. He talks about being the only Georgia Republican in Congress. Blackburn later discusses his relationship with the leadership with the Democratic party.

Keywords: Democratic Party; Fletcher Thompson; Georgia Republican; Republican Party; Tip O'Neill; converts; democratic leadership; party leadership

00:36:48 - Watergate

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk a minute about Watergate.

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about the Watergate Scandal. He shares his thoughts and opinions about it. And he also talks about the politics around the situation.

Keywords: Gerald Ford; Jimmy Carter; Richard Nixon; Spiro Agnew; Watergate; Watergate Scandal; caucus; impeached; plumbers; press

00:44:56 - Post-Congress career

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Partial Transcript: What is your fondest memory of being a Congressman?

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn discusses his career after Congress. He was involved in the Heritage Foundation and the Southeast Legal Foundation.

Keywords: EPA; congressman; organization; southeast legal foundation; steering committee

00:48:54 - Ronald Reagan / Jimmy Carter

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Partial Transcript: You’ve been deeply involved over the past years in Republican Party affairs. In fact, you were on the Reagan transition team.

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about his involvement in Republican Party Affairs and Ronald Reagan's Transition team. Blackburn speculates how history will remember Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

Keywords: Jimmy Carter; Ronald Reagan; Ronald Reagan's transition team; affairs; history; republican party; transition team

00:53:20 - Run for Governor / Closing reflections

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever think of running for another office after you left the Congress?

Segment Synopsis: Blackburn talks about his race for Governor which he calls "one of the best kept secrets in Georgia." He also names some Georgia Republicans who contributed to the rise of the party. Blackburn closes the interview by offering his reflections on his political career.

Keywords: Bob Bell; Jim Tysinger; Joe Frank Harris; Washington DC; campaign; governor; reflections; secret