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Interview with Chuck Clay, November 17, 2009

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:56 - Henry and Alexander Stephens Clay

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Partial Transcript: So with your permission let’s start talking about the Clay family.

Segment Synopsis: Clay talks about his family history in Georgia, dating back to William Clay settling in Cobb County before the Civil War. He then remembers his great-grandfather, Alexander Stephens Clay, and his achievements, including being President of the Georgia Senate and a Senator to the U.S. Congress.

Keywords: Henry Clay; Herbert Clay; Kentucky; Leo Frank lynching; Lex Clay; Marietta, Georgia; Milledgeville, Georgia; Progressive Movement; Sherman's March to the Sea; Spanish-American War; University of Georgia Law School; annexation of Hawaii; women's suffrage

00:07:00 - General Lucius Clay

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Partial Transcript: But the youngest- my Grandfather, Lucius Clay-went to West Point.

Segment Synopsis: Clay discusses the military merits of his grandfather, Lucius Clay, Senior. Clay primarily focuses on his grandfather's role in managing supplies during World War II, as well as acting as military governor and ambassador in West Germany during the Cold War.

Keywords: Berlin Airlift; Civilian Conservation Corps; Continental Can; Eisenhower presidential campaign; Interstate highway system; Jimmy Burns; Red River Dam; Rickenbacker Field

00:15:08 - Clay's father and childhood

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Partial Transcript: My father and uncle, on the other hand, both graduated from West Point in 1942.

Segment Synopsis: Clay recalls his father's service in Army Air Corps during World War II, and later in the Air Force. Clay then relates his experiences growing up on various military bases around America and how that shaped his character.

Keywords: Belgium; England; France; Frank Clay; Lucius Clay, Junior; NORAD; Pacific Air Forces; Tampa, Florida; bomber pilot

00:19:23 - Legal career

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Partial Transcript: And you chose law?

Segment Synopsis: Clay explains why he chose a career in law instead of in the military like his father and grandfather. Clay then details his time working at the Solicitor General's Office in Marietta, Georgia.

Keywords: District Attorney's Office; Herb Rivers; Phi Beta Kappa; Socratic method; Tom Charron; University of Georgia School of Law; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; West Point; mathematics

00:23:33 - Entry into politics

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Partial Transcript: I left the D.A. office for a year or so.

Segment Synopsis: Clay describes how he first got interested in politics and what convinced him to join the Republican Party over the Democratic Party. Clay then elaborates on what he did in his first elected position as Cobb County Commissioner.

Keywords: "good ol' boy" system; Babe Atkins; Babe Barr; Bill Atkins; Bob Dole; Carl Harrison; GOPAC; Johnny Gresham; Johnny Isakson; Republican National Committee; Warren Herron

00:27:58 - Georgia Senate career

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Partial Transcript: Went down to the Senate- was lucky enough to get elected in '88.

Segment Synopsis: Clay reminisces about his service in the Georgia Senate, mentioning his thoughts on the ten Senate Republicans he joined.Clay then emphasizes that he had to compromise on issues, both with his fellow Republicans and with Democrats.

Keywords: Culver Kidd; Frank Albert; Jim Tysinger; Joe Burton; Joe Frank Harris; Paul Coverdell; Roy Barnes; Sallie Newbill; Skin Edge; Ted Land; Tom Murphy; Zell Miller; minority leader

00:32:05 - Growth of the Republican Party in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you this question.

Segment Synopsis: Clay gives his thoughts on how Democrats managed to keep control in Georgia until the end of the 21st century, despite Lyndon Johnson's belief otherwise. Clay then details the expansion of Republicans in Georgia during the 1980s and 1990s, which he ascribes to strong candidates like Guy Milner and strong party organization.

Keywords: Bo Callaway; Lester Maddox; Paul Coverdell; Roy Barnes; Zell Miller; conservative; liberal

00:40:03 - Minority leader in the Senate

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back, if you will, to your service in the Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Clay tells of his duties as the minority leader in the Georgia Senate, including brokering deals with Democrats at some points, but also stalling their legislation at others. He then notes the role of leadership in the Republican Party, such as that of the party chairman and the governor.

Keywords: Alec Poitevant; Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party; Charlie Tanksley; Clay Land; David Duke; David Ralston