From .......... GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

15 .................. STARTING UP

As Carter questioned me, obviously briefed on my background, he struck me as superficially self-effacing but intensely shrewd. He did not disguise his intention to make honesty and competence the issues, to target on Nixon's scandals and Ford's bumbling, and he underlined his determination to run as a nonpolitician and Washington outsider. His questions about Democratic establishment figures were as penetrating as they were persevering. They reflected his early concern about the loyalty of Party Chairman Robert Strauss, and also a keen appreciation that Strauss's ambition and zest to be at the center of the action would in the end motivate him. In a colloquy about Cyrus Vance in which I said that Vance was not only brilliant but has

Carter asked,

Carter then turned to the problem of the family. He knew it was a perfect campaign issue for him, and I could sense his contentment in pursuing both good morality and good politics. He expressed his concern about the decline of the American family with the same sincere conviction he exhibited in discussing his concern about the [Roman] Catholic vote.

He urged me, in preparing the report on the family, to consult widely with [Roman] Catholics and look for an appropriate forum for a campaign speech.

Carter talked about the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson and my work in those years, but much of his immediate interest in me was prompted by the fact that I was a [Roman] Catholic. It was the first time in my life I had been singled out (either for favor or discrimination) for that reason, but I was so interested in the outside possibility of the HEW post that I never thought twice about it at the time.

While Carter discussed the anti-family aspects of federal policy, abortion, and the politics of the [Roman] Catholic vote, never once during that two-hour meeting did he mention-the Democratic Party. As I thought about that on my drive back to my summer home in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, I recalled the first time I had met him, at one of Boston Mayor Kevin White's small political dinners a couple of nights after the 1974 congressional elections. We were discussing the meaning of the election.

and brand-new congressman-elect from New Hampshire Norman D'Amours agreed. Carter turned to D'Amours.

Carter made the point quietly, but with such force that D'Amours said nothing for the rest of the evening.

16 .................... GOVERNING AMERICA

After the election, Mondale told me he was urging Carter to name me to a Cabinet post. preferably HEW. In mid-November, House Speaker [Roman Catholic] Tip O'Neill told me that Carter was actively considering me for a major post.

he said when we bumped into each other at Duke Zeibert's Washington restaurant.

The first time I saw Carter after the election was when he interviewed me on December 7 at the governor's red brick white collonaded mansion in Atlanta. Half of the hour-long interview was conducted with Hamilton Jordan and Charles Kirbo present; the last half was alone with the President-elect. By this time, Carter knew a great deal about me. During my meeting with Carter, he asked me two questions that I in turn asked almost everyone I interviewed for HEW:

I cited my experience with Secretary of Defense [Roman Catholic] Robert McNamara and President Johnson, and my book A Presidential Nation (Carter had read it), which had a large section on government management and organization. Carter listened noncommittally, then said,

He mentioned HEW, Defense, Housing and Urban development, and Justice. I had been one of those recommending Harold Brown for Secretary of Defense, and I said that I would not be interested in the Housing and Urban Development post. Carter asked if I had any questions.


GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report

From the White House and the Cabinet

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

Published by Simon and Schuster 1981

ISBN 0-671-25428-6