Administrative staff, Cohen, William S., Fundraising, Iran-Contra, Maine congressional delegation, Maine politics, Republican Party, Secretary of State appointment (1980)
Robert Stanley “Bob” Tyrer was born on April 30, 1957, in Hamilton, Ohio, to James and Margaret Tyrer. He grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. In 1974 he became interested in the Watergate hearings and went to listen to then Congressman Cohen give a talk in Birmingham, Michigan. In 1975 he began college at George Washington University and volunteered in Cohen’s congressional office. He worked on Cohen’s 1978 Senate campaign and stayed in Maine to manage the Bangor office, completing his last year of college at the University of Maine. He returned to Washington, D.C. as Senator Cohen’s press secretary in 1981. He became chief of staff in 1986 and remained in that position for the rest of Cohen’s tenure in the Senate. He was Susan Collins’s campaign manager for her 1996 Senate campaign. He went with Cohen to the Department of Defense in 1997 as chief of staff. At the time of this interview he was with the Cohen Group.
Interview includes discussion of: first encounter with Cohen; interning in Cohen’s congressional office; working in Maine and for Maine interests without being a Mainer; a story about his confusion about a road called “the airline”; his job as press secretary; transitioning to the chief of staff role; Senator Cohen’s detachment from partisan politics; the division of labor in the Senate office; different management styles of Senators Cohen and Mitchell; partisanship; lessons learned from the 1974 gubernatorial race; Mitchell’s U.S. Senate appointment in 1980; the Iran-Contra affair; working together as the Maine delegation; the similarities between Mitchell and Cohen; the joint approach of the Mitchell and Cohen offices and the staff interaction between their offices; the change when Mitchell became majority leader and how he and Cohen would joke about it; the evolution of the leader’s job and the increased importance of fund-raising; Mitchell and Cohen’s respective decisions to retire; Cohen’s career after the Senate; the similarities and differences in Cohen and Mitchell’s voting records; the behind the scenes role of Senate staff; Cohen’s philosophy of letting the merits dictate his point of view; Mitchell’s legacy; Mitchell’s accomplishment in Ireland; an anecdote about the first time Tyrer and Mitchell met and Mitchell wanting to know how he could get The New York Times delivered early in the morning; Mitchell’s ability to always be the first to get in touch with constituents who were ill or had a death in the family; and Mitchell’s drive and detail-oriented approach.
This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.