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BIRDWHISTELL: Senator McClellan I wanted to get your impressions of when Senator Clements first came to the Senate in 1950 and quickly rose to power in the Policy Committee and working with Lyndon Johnson how he was able to become such an influential person in the Senate so quickly.

McCLELLAN: Well I don't know that I can answer that. Immediately the leadership at that time was attracted to him or rather he was attracted to them and they used him. He was a worker and cooperator and he actually met their requirements for the assistance they needed.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well working in a position of influence in the Senate when the McCarthy hearings came up in the early fifties, do you 1:00recall any of his reactions to the McCarthy hearings and how he felt it was affecting the Democratic Party? Or did he discuss this with you in any way?

McCLELLAN: Oh I can't recall that. I wouldn't know how he thought about the Army-McCarthy hearings. I participated in them. It's been a long, long time ago.

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand that.

McCLELLAN: And it was a time just before McCarthy was censured and McCarthy was regarded by some almost as a public enemy, and by others he was regarded as a hero. I am sure Earle felt like many others that he was not necessarily a credit to the Senate. And I knew Joe well and worked with him and very fortunately got along with him. Though we disagreed, I think he completely respected me. And I have reason to believe that.

2:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, at the l952 Democratic Convention when Stevenson was nominated Clements was pushing for Barkley's nomination at that convention for the Presidency and then later withdrew his support in favor of Stevenson. Did he ever discuss with you the possibility of Barkley being named a nominee at that time?

McCLELLAN: I can't recall, possibly did.

BIRDWHISTELL: In terms of Senator Clements' work as the Minority Whip and Majority Whip did you find that his--the way that he went at the job differed from people that had had the job prior to him? Did he--

McCLELLAN: Well I can't say. Earle was a very able and efficient Whip. He worked quietly. There was no fanfare about him. He 3:00talked with persuasion to members of the Democratic Party, to Democratic Senators and I think he was very effective. As I say there was no threat or intimidation attitude on his part but one of more or less gentle persuasion, and I think he was very effective.

BIRDWHISTELL: One historian has commented on the fact that Clements was a liberal in the Democratic Party and Johnson used him to persuade the liberals to go along with party decisions. Did you consider him a liberal?

McCLELLAN: I would not in the strictest sense, no. I think he was a moderate. I think be was something in between. I think Earle could make adjustments and adapt himself to a give-and-take position. 4:00And in that way he was able to effect agreements, able to bring forces together, people of different philosophy together, each side making some concession. I regarded Earle as very capable in that respect.

BIRDWHISTELL: If you'll recall in '52-'54 Clements served as Director of the Campaign Committee. Did he ever work with you in any of your re-election campaigns that you--

McCLELLAN: Well I ran for re-election in 1954.I would say if he was there he helped. I don't remember any of the details but that was a year when we had the Army-McCarthy hearings. And 5:00they continued until June 22 and my election in the Democratic primary was on July 27. So I stayed here till they ended and I had about a thirty day campaign. And I went down and made it and I don't know what help if any I got out of Washington. I got some, and I'm sure Earle was sympathetic to my re-election and possibly contributed. I think maybe he helped. I don't know whether it was through the campaign committee up here, Democratic Campaign Committee, but I'm sure Earle was instrumental in raising some funds for me, no big amount but some contribution.

BIRDWHISTELL: In Kentucky as Governor, Senator Clements had taken steps to 6:00reduce discrimination against blacks in the state. Did you ever discuss with him any civil rights legislation during the 1950's or his attitude toward the race question?

McCLELLAN: I don't recall.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was wondering how it would affect his relationship with the other Democrats, possibly Southern Democrats.

McCLELLAN: Well I think Earle Clements was well-liked by both the extreme conservatives and the liberals. I regard myself as a conservative. I wouldn't say an extreme conservative, but in political terminology today and philosophy I could hardly be classed any other way. And I had a high regard for Earle. I didn't find him so liberal that he was obnoxious or regarded by me as someone I couldn't work with and work out accommodations with.

7:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Well Senator I know you're pressed for time and I wanted to find out in 1956 Senator Clements lost his re-election campaign to Senator Thruston Morton. I was wondering if he ever discussed this defeat with you. Did he ever share with you some of his feelings about what happened and why?

McCLELLAN: No I don't remember any details about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: I suppose that in reflecting back now you were surprised that he was defeated in that race.

McCLELLAN: Well, of course, I knew nothing about Kentucky politics. From my viewpoint and my assessment of Earle's competency, his dedication, and the quality of service he was rendering, yes I could well say I was surprised that he wasn't re-elected. I couldn't see any reason why 8:00he should be defeated. Yet I know nothing about Kentucky politics and I wouldn't, other than that comment, wouldn't pass judgment.

BIRDWHISTELL: In '59 Senator Clements was working for Johnson's Presidential campaign. Did he ever approach you on this subject?

McCLELLAN: Oh I'm sure we talked about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: You don't recall any specific--

McCLELLAN: Oh nothing special, nothing special. We all felt that Johnson would--you're talking about, that is in '59?

BIRDWHISTELL: Yes.

McCLELLAN: I supported Johnson of course before the convention. He was a Southerner and that didn't mean I had any antipathy at all towards Kennedy because I felt very kindly towards the Kennedys and was very glad at the time, very glad that when Kennedy received the 9:00nomination that he asked Lyndon to be his running mate.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well then toward the end of his career Senator Clements went with the Tobacco Institute here in Washington. Did he ever talk with you about any legislation that effected the tobacco industry as a lobbyist and work with you on tobacco or--

McCLELLAN: Not to any great extent. He may have indicated to me sometimes on something that he favored or would like to have, but any hard core lobbying no. Earle was a good enough friend that he might chat about most anything with me. But I never regarded--I can't say at the moment that I could really say Earle ever really lobbied with me any more than maybe to indicate his 10:00views on some legislation and I can't recall that specifically.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well I appreciate your taking the time this afternoon and I was just wondering in closing if there's any story or anecdote about Senator Clements that you can recall.

McCLELLAN: No I couldn't recall any I don't believe. Some people remember every little incident, especially every little humorous incident, and I just happen not to be one of those who give those second thoughts.

BIRDWHISTELL: Thank you very much Senator.

[End of interview.]

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