Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Walter D. Huddleston, February 18, 2002

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:14 - Becoming a public figure

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Partial Transcript: Well, it's February 18, 2002.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes adjusting to becoming a public figure. He talks about how valuable family support was to him during his time as a U.S. Senator.

Keywords: Family adjustments; Family changes; Family support; Jean Huddleston; Jean Pearce Huddleston; Public exposures; Public figures; Public visibility; Senators; U.S. Senators

Subjects: Families.; Legislators--United States.; Moving, Household.; Sons.; United States. Congress. Senate.; Wives.

00:03:22 - John Sherman Cooper and Marlow Cook

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Partial Transcript: We'll come back to some of the issues that, uh, uh, that you had to take care of and, and about your campaign after you got into the Senate, but, uh, first and foremost you had to start gearing up to, to get up to Washington and I assume that, uh--well, let me ask you this.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes the guidance the preceding Kentucky Senator, John Sherman Cooper, gave him at the start of Huddleston's career in U.S. Senate. He talks about his relationship with Senator Marlow Cook.

Keywords: Career advice; Career mentorship; Friendships; Guidance; Instincts; Mentorship; Political advice; Political relationships; Relationships; Senators; Staff; Staff recommendations; U.S. Senators

Subjects: Cook, Marlow W. (Marlow Webster), 1926-2016; Cooper, John Sherman, 1901-1991; Legislators--United States.; Mentoring.; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:06:32 - Huddleston's staff members in Washington

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Partial Transcript: Um, so tell me how you--how do you, uh, go about getting organized?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about pulling together an effective, representative staff as the first order of business in preparing for U.S. Senate. He talks about each staff member and their various responsibilities.

Keywords: Activists; Advisors; Aeronautics commissioners; Assistant press secretaries; Bob McQueen; Chiefs of staff; Doug Leslie; File clerks; Hiring staff; Jane Miller; Job experience; Kathy Roberts; Kathy Walters; Kentuckians; Lynn Wadlin; Military cases; Minority affairs; Personal assistants; Personal secretaries; Phil Swift; Political advisors; Political experience; Press secretaries; Public service committees; Raoul Cunningham; Receptionists; Research; Research assistants; Researchers; Rob Shipley; Secretaries; Staff members; Staff recruiters; Sue Lewis; Susan Warren; Tim Dungeon; Vanetta Cantrell

Subjects: Cooperation.; Employee selection.; Kentucky. General Assembly; Political consultants; Staff; United States. Congress. Senate

00:19:11 - Adjusting to the U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: One of the big things that I learned, uh, in recent years was, uh, that, uh--how hard it is when you--to get a good office.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses the beginning of his time in Washington. He talks about the different processes of assigning offices in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. He talks about job orientations, the introduction of automated technology in Washington, D.C., and working conditions for senators.

Keywords: Automated technologies; Automatic typing equipment; Dirksen Senate Office Building (Washington, D.C.); Hart Senate Office Building (Washington, D.C.); Job offices; Job orientations; Offices; Secretaries of the senate; Technological developments; Typing equipment; Work traditions; Working conditions

Subjects: Communication and careers; Legislators--United States; Office decoration; Technological innovations.; United States. Congress. Senate.; Washington (D.C.); Work environment--Congresses.; Work environment--United States; Work environment.

00:26:31 - Where senators lived in Washington, D.C.

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Partial Transcript: When you and Mrs. Huddleston, uh, went to Washington, did you make a decision to, to--I know you lived in the Hotel Washington for a time then.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about selling his house in Elizabethtown, Kentucky and buying a house in the suburbs near Washington, D.C. with his family. He talks about how they still managed to maintain residence in Elizabethtown. He talks about other senators living in townhouses and hotels in Washington, D.C.

Keywords: "The Hill"; Annual salaries; Condominiums; Condos; Homes; Hotel Washington (Washington, D.C.); Houses; Jean Huddleston; Job salaries; Martha Jean Pearce; Mayflower Hotel (Washington, D.C.); Motels; Presidential inaugurations; Senators; Suburban housing; Town homes; Town houses; U.S. Senators; Washington Hotel (Washington, D.C.)

Subjects: Elizabethtown (Ky.); Housing.; Legislators--United States.; Moving, Household.; Salaries; Suburbs; United States. Congress. Senate.; Washington (D.C.)

00:31:29 - Creating lines of communication with Kentucky while in Washington

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Partial Transcript: What about, uh, the all-important offices here in the state?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about establishing and staffing offices in Elizabethtown, Kentucky and Louisville, Kentucky to maintain contact with the state. Huddleston talks about having district representatives throughout Kentucky to keep up with public concerns.

Keywords: District representatives; Elizabethtown (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Political contacts; Political relationships; Staffing; State contacts; U.S. senators; United States senators

Subjects: Kentucky--Politics and government.; Legislators--United States.; Offices; Public opinion.; Public relations.; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:32:35 - Committee assignment in U.S. Senate / Freshman U.S. Senator class of 1972

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Partial Transcript: One of the--what I'm handing you here is a letter you wrote to Senator Proxmire and, um, it's in, what, December 6, '72?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes the committee placement process in the U.S. Senate. He talks about his own committee placements. He recalls other newly elected senators in 1972.

Keywords: "Government op"; Agriculture; Biden, Joseph R., Jr.; Committee chairs; Committee on Agriculture; Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Committee on Government Operations; Committee requests; Congressional committees; Domenici, Pete; Foreign policy; Freshman senators; Government operations; Johnston, J. Bennett (John Bennett), 1932-; Military; Nunn, Sam.; Public works; Senate committees; Small farmers

Subjects: Legislators--United States.; Talmadge, Herman E. (Herman Eugene), 1913-2002; United States. Congress--Committees.; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:36:17 - Robert Byrd / Mike Mansfield

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Partial Transcript: The newspaper reported that, uh, Senator Byrd stopped by to see you.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston recalls his first encounters with Senator Robert Byrd and Democratic majority leader, Senator Mike Mansfield.

Keywords: Democratic majority leaders; Majority parties; Personalities; Political favors; Political speeches; Speeches; U.S. Senators; United States Senators

Subjects: Byrd, Robert; Democratic Party (Ky.); Democratic Party (U.S.); Legislators--United States.; Mansfield, Mike, 1903-2001.; Political campaigns.; United States. Congress. Senate--Majority leaders; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:40:14 - Reception in U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: You, you have such an ability to get along with people and I--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about his relationship with Senator George Aiken. Huddleston talks about why he was generally well received among colleagues.

Keywords: Amicability; First impressions; Legislation.; Legislative processes; Likeability; Political processes; Resolutions (Law); Work dynamics; Work relationships

Subjects: Aiken, George D. (George David), 1892-1984.; Legislators--United States.; Professional relationships; Reputations; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:43:39 - Working alongside major figures in the U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: When I, I--one of the things that, uh, impressed me was that, uh, I--when I went in...

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes what it was like to work alongside historical U.S. Senators as a freshman senator.

Keywords: Backgrounds; Career opportunities; Historical figures; Opinions; Personal backgrounds; Political beliefs; Political figures; Political ideologies; Political opinions; Political philosophies; Public figures; Role models.

Subjects: Eastland, James O. (James Oliver), 1904-1986.; Ervin, Sam J., Jr. (Sam James), 1896-1985; Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horation), 1911-1978.; Inspiration.; Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Koppel), 1904-1986; Legislators--United States.; Muskie, Edmund S., 1914-1996.; Stennis, John C. (John Cornelius), 1901-1995; Symington, Stuart, 1901-1988.; Talmadge, Herman E. (Herman Eugene), 1913-2002; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:46:51 - Swearing into office / Party caucuses

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Partial Transcript: Well you got sworn in as senator.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes what it was like to be sworn into the U.S. Senate both privately and publicly. Huddleston describes the type of oration and discussions that took place during private Tuesday party caucuses.

Keywords: Honest discussions; Oaths of office; Opinions; Party caucuses; Party conferences; Political discussions; Political speeches; Political traditions; Private sessions; Senate caucuses; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Work traditions

Subjects: Democratic Party (U.S.); Initiation rites.; Initiations; Legislators--United States.; Speeches.; United States. Congress-Caucuses; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:50:13 - Recollection of the Watergate scandal

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Partial Transcript: And from what you were saying about President Nixon, he wasn't going to come up and ask you if you wanted a cup of coffee, probably.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes how the Watergate scandal affected his first year in the U.S. Senate. He describes in-person encounters with Richard Nixon before and after the scandal. He talks about his criticisms of Nixon.

Keywords: Government scandals; Impeachment processes; Impeachment trials; Impeachment votes; Political atmospheres; Political natures; Presidents; Republican Party (U.S.:1854- ); Vice presidents; Watergate scandal

Subjects: Agnew, Spiro T., 1918-1996; Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909-1998.; Impeachments; Impeachments--United States.; Nixon, Richard; United States. Congress. Senate.; Watergate Affair, 1972-1974

00:57:08 - Nature of politics then versus now

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Partial Transcript: So you're saying in the Clinton situation, you thought there was some glee?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes how the nature of politics has changed since his active career. He talks about intentions of politicians and attitudes between politicians then versus now.

Keywords: Decorum; Majority parties; Minority parties; Nature of politics; Political atmospheres; Political decorum; Political dynamics; Political etiquette; Political natures; Politics; Sensationalism in politics; State senates; Work dynamics; Work etiquette; Work relationships

Subjects: Democratic Party (U.S.); Etiquette.; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Philosophical issues; Political culture.; Politicians.; Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ); United States. Congress. Senate.

01:04:26 - Platforms in U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: Uh, the first bill you filed in the Senate, you filed with Senator Cook.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes the process of filing his first bill on daylight savings time with Marlow Cook. He describes his general legislative platform addressing government oversight responsibilities.

Keywords: Agency dilemma; Agency problem; Bills; Congressional oversight; Cook, Marlow W. (Marlow Webster), 1926-2016; Daylight savings; Farmers.; Legislative oversight; Political platforms; Principal and agent; Principal-agent; Principal-agent problem; Public services; Writing bills; Writing legislation

Subjects: Agency (Law).; Legislation.; Legislative oversight--United States.; Legislative oversight.; Legislators--United States.; Municipal services; United States. Congress. Senate.

01:07:15 - Vietnam War politics and legislation

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Partial Transcript: On, um, January 25, 1973, I came across a press release or a newspaper article where you call for a monument to Vietnam Veterans and POWs.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about advocating for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and his reasoning for doing so. He compares the reception of Vietnam War veterans to World War II veterans. He details his criticism of Nixon's bombing of Cambodia and conduct during the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Cambodian Civil War; Historical monuments; Joint resolutions; Madman theory; Military homecomings; Operation Menu; Prisoners of war (POWs); Soldiers; Vietnam veterans; Voice votes

Subjects: Cambodia--History--Civil War, 1970-1975; Criticism.; Legislators--United States.; Monuments.; Nixon, Richard; United States. Congress. Senate.; Veterans.; Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Washington, D.C.); Vietnam War, 1961-1975

01:14:56 - Wendell Ford's upcoming U.S. Senate campaign / Kentucky primary election ballot

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Partial Transcript: So we--so far, Senator, we've gotten you, uh, uh, moved to Washington, set up in your office, you hit the ground running socially and, uh, and within the Senate, uh, your voice is heard, your, your message is getting back to the people in Kentucky and, and, uh, uh, I was just, uh, impressed with the way things got going for you.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about his initial reaction to the knowledge of Wendell Ford's upcoming campaign for U.S. Senate, how it affected Huddleston's relationships with colleagues in U.S. Senate, and how it affected the Kentucky primaries election ballot.

Keywords: Ballots; Campaign support; Election ballots; Election campaigns; J. R. Miller; Lieutenant governors; Nature of politics; Political culture.; Political relationships; Primaries.; Primary elections; Senators; U.S. Senators

Subjects: Carroll, Julian Morton, 1931-; Cook, Marlow W. (Marlow Webster), 1926-2016; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-2015; Kentucky. General Assembly; Legislators--United States.; Political campaigns; United States. Congress. Senate.

01:23:32 - More on adjusting to the U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: I quoted you saying your biggest shock was space and, and resources.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks more about adjusting to the U.S. Senate early in his first term. He describes thinking senators would work collaboratively more often, dealing with pressure to pass certain legislation from individuals, committees, and delegations, a packed schedule, and senator attendance of floor debates.

Keywords: Collaboration; Collaborative work; Congressional committees; Congressional delegations; Congressional proceedings; Congressional records; Congressional responsibilities; Kentucky Senate; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Political influences; Political support; Political sway; Senate committees; Senate delegations; Senate floor debates; Senate floor proceedings; Senate responsibilities; Senators; State senates; U.S. Senators

Subjects: Cooperation; Legislators--United States.; Meetings.; Political capital; Political culture.; Scheduling.; United States. Congress--Committees.; United States. Congress. Senate.

01:29:14 - Ward Sinclair

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about Ward Sinclair.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes his opinion of Ward Sinclair, a news reporter. He also talks about Sinclair's work and writing style.

Keywords: "The Courier"; "The Post"; Articles; Bias; Ed Ryan; Informational writing; News reporters; Political writings; Reporters; Washington (D.C.); Writers; Writing styles

Subjects: Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Journalists; Reporters and reporting--Law and legislation.; Reporters and reporting--United States.; Reporters and reporting.; Sinclair, Ward; Washington post.

01:32:00 - Bob Packwood and interactions between U.S. Senators

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Partial Transcript: In February 1973, you, you co-sponsored a bill with Senator Packwood, which you probably don't remember, and the bill was to do away with the marriage penalty in federal income tax.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes his relationship with Senator Bob Packwood. He describes how senators interacted with each other before the allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault were made against Packwood and before Reagan's presidency.

Keywords: "Bourbon and branch water"; "Shooting the breeze"; Changes in politics; Colleagues; Committee on Finance; Eastland, James O. (James Oliver), 1904-1986.; Federal income tax; Federal tax system; Federal taxes; Magnuson, Warren G. (Warren Grant), 1905-1989; Marriage penalty; Nature of politics; Nelson, Gaylord, 1916-2005; Political behavior; Political controversies; Political dynamics; Reactions; Reagan, Ronald.; Senators; Small talk; U.S. Senators; Work interactions; Work relations; Work relationships

Subjects: Legislation.; Legislators--United States.; Packwood, Bob; Personal issues; Political culture.; Professional relationships; United States. Congress. Senate.

01:39:37 - Robert Strauss / L. Patrick Gray / Thomas Eagleton / George McGovern

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Partial Transcript: Another person that's, uh, prominent during this period is the National Democratic Party Chair, uh, Robert Strauss.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses his opinions of and interactions with Robert Strauss, L. Patrick Gray, Thomas Eagleton, and George McGovern.

Keywords: Acting directors; Evidence tampering; F.B.I.; F.B.I. directors; FBI; FBI directors; Party chairs; Personal impressions; Personal opinions; Vice-Presidential candidates; Watergate Affair, 1972-1974.; Watergate scandal

Subjects: Democratic National Committee (U.S.); Democratic Party (U.S.); Eagleton, Thomas F., 1929-2007; Gray, L. Patrick, III (Louis Patrick), 1916-2005; Legislators--United States.; McGovern, George S. (George Stanley), 2911-2012; Strauss, Robert S.; United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

01:45:30 - Relaying politics to civilians

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Partial Transcript: --(Huddleston laughs)--You know, I keep asking these questions because, uh, it's hard for civilians to understand that sort of, that sort of, it's sort of outside the normal day-to-day world of people, you know, that people jab each other and they want to confess and they want to explain but in politics it's understood in so many ways.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses how civilians understand the mechanics of politics versus how politicians understand it. He talks about starting his newspaper column to help people understand tough political issues and legislation.

Keywords: "Puff pieces"; Civilians; Leadership; Leadership responsibilities; Legislative responsibilities; Newspaper columns; Political issues; Political principles; Political responsibilities; Politicians

Subjects: Legislation.; Newspapers--Sections, columns, etc.; Political culture.; Political science.; Politics and culture.

01:47:56 - Managing time for self and family

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you're coming back--it looks like you're coming back to Kentucky quite often.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes how demanding being a U.S. Senator was. He talks about struggling to set aside time for himself and his family and feelings of guilt, especially towards his family.

Keywords: Careers; Demanding jobs; Labor time; Labor.; Moving, Household.; Raising children; Raising families; Senators; Time management.; U.S. Senators; Washington (D.C.); Work commitments

Subjects: Children.; Families.; Grandparents; Legislators--United States.; Parenthood.; United States. Congress. Senate.; Work and family.; Work-life balance.

01:50:44 - Favorite U.S. Presidents / Getting to know U.S. Presidents

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Partial Transcript: We're about out of time, Senator, and, uh, uh, you know I had to interrupt at a holiday--it's President's Day when--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about who his favorite presidents in U.S. history are and why. He also talks about his experience forming more personal relationships with some U.S. presidents in his time in the Senate and the importance of those personal experiences.

Keywords: Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946-; Civil war.; Economic summits; Great Depression; Leadership abilities; Leadership skills; National crises; National leaders; Personal connections; Personal relations; Presidents; Role models.; U.S. Presidents; War on terrorism

Subjects: Depressions--1929; Humanity.; Interpersonal relations.; Leaders; Leadership.; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.; United States presidents; Washington, George, 1732-1799.