George J. Mitchell Oral History Project
 

Interviewer

Andrea L’Hommedieu

Date

1-21-2010

ID Number

GMOH 184

Document Type

Interview

Subject Headings

Administrative staff, Cohen, William S., Driving, Iran-Contra, Smith, Margaret Chase, Travel, U.S. Senate campaign (1982), U.S. Senate culture

Abstract

Biographical Note
Michael M. Hastings, a native of Morrill, Maine, graduated from Tilton School (NH) in 1968 and Bowdoin College in 1972. Following a year of graduate study in Public & International Affairs at George Washington University, he worked for seven years as a foreign and defense policy aide to Senator William S. Cohen (1973-1980) and for four years for Senator George J. Mitchell (1980-1984). In October 1984, he joined the international staff of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and moved to Africa. Over a span of eight years, he worked as a CRS development administrator in Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and The Gambia. During the same period, he assisted in the provision of emergency food for people displaced by civil wars in the Southern Sudan and Liberia. In 1992, he returned to Maine to direct a “center for excellence,” focusing on aquaculture and economic development. Since 2004, he has worked for the University of Maine as its director of Research and Sponsored Programs. Between 1992 and 2008, he also served on several civic boards and institutions including the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, the Maine Oil Spill Advisory Committee, the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission, the Down East Institute, and the Maine Sea Grant Policy Advisory Committee. Between 1996 and 2001, he was elected three times to be a member of the Town Council of Hampden, Maine, where he resides with his wife, a middle school teacher.

Summary
Interview includes discussion of: his transition from Cohen’s staff to Mitchell’s staff; Cohen’s feelings about Hastings’s move to Mitchell’s office; state and national issues; Kahlil Gibran; Cohen’s and Mitchell’s leadership styles with their office staff; the staff atmosphere around Mitchell’s 1982 election; the Mikulski Commission; the 1982 election; Mitchell’s staff, including Jane O’Connor, Regina Sullivan, and Gayle Cory; relationship between the Mitchell staff and the Cohen staff; Men of Zeal and the Iran-Contra scandal; Pat Cadell; Jim Tierney; Mitchell and Arab American groups; John Linnehan; anecdote about placing a large photo of George Mitchell in his Maine campaign office during the 1982 campaign; driving Muskie around; and Margaret Chase Smith coming back to Washington to celebrate her birthday with Mitchell.

Restrictions

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.

TEXT

Andrea L’Hommedieu: This is an interview for the George J. Mitchell Oral History Project at Bowdoin College. The date is January 21, 2010, this is Andrea L’Hommedieu, and today I’m doing a second interview with Michael Hastings. Mike, could you start, I guess the last time we ended, you had talked about your time coming up into starting on the Senator’s staff, right about that time. I didn’t specifically ask the question, I think, of whether your move from one senator to the other was a difficult one, or what were sort of the issues that you faced in doing so?

Michael Hastings: Yes, I think we began to cover it in the last interview. In 1980 I moved from the staff of Senator Cohen, Republican of Maine, to Senator Mitchell, appointed Democrat from Maine. I did it in October. I essentially handled the same issues for each of them, which in summary included fishing, maritime affairs, foreign policy, defense, and I did a lot of special projects that related to issues in Maine, like the Indian Land Claims case, things like taxation of fishermen. I did a lot of projects that involved military installations in the state, there was a contract for the Maremont Corporation in Saco for example, it made machine guns. We were always looking to try to get additional business for Maremont to keep the job levels high, things of that sort. So I did those things in both offices.

And it was a difficult transition year, I mean it was unusual for somebody to go from working for one member from Maine to another member from Maine, and of course they were in different parties, and so -

AL: Well, what made it difficult?

MH: Well, I think when I first joined Senator Cohen’s staff I think I was, I was a Democrat, I worked on his campaign because he was against the war, and that’s all I really cared about. I wasn’t looking at all of his different issues. I was primarily interested in supporting somebody who was bright and articulate, and against the Vietnam War, and he fit the bill. But I realize I was somewhat naive at the time, in that when you make a decision to go work for a politician who has national exposure, you’re really making a commitment to that party structure, that team, if you will. And it’s very difficult to switch teams, because I think that you’re never trusted by the team you left, and you’re never completely trusted by the team you join.

And so I’ve warned young people that, before they become an intern in somebody’s office in Washington, that they have a fairly good idea of where they’re heading in life, and if they want to stay in politics it’s good to stick with the same party. Because I think it was, I loved working for Senator Mitchell, I enjoyed working for Senator Cohen, but I think that going from one to the other handicapped me when I got to Mitchell’s office, to a certain degree.

AL: In what way, forming relationships with others in the office?

MH: The staff was very open and I think welcomed me and trusted me completely. I think some of the people that were in the party, kind of the party supporters back in Maine, just by nature of the way politics works in this state, they had real reservations about Cohen and the whole team over there. And some of them couldn’t figure out why Mitchell would hire somebody from the Cohen team, and wouldn’t go back to Maine and pull somebody out of the, you know, a party activist, for example. And that’s a legitimate question. I think that Mitchell hired me because I had eight years of Capitol Hill experience. It was all directly tied to issues in Maine.

Most of the issues that I handled were really not partisan issues. The Land Claims case wasn’t really a partisan issue, trying to prevent the closure of Loring Air Force Base was something that everybody in the delegation was trying to prevent. The kind of things that I did, and back then foreign policy and defense were let’s say less partisan subject areas than they are today. And so I never approached things on a partisan basis. And I think Jim Case, who hired me to work in the Mitchell office, I think recognized that, and I think the other people with whom I worked in the Mitchell office recognized that. But some of the folks back in Maine, who I got to know later, Democratic Party regulars, I think questioned it, questioned, why would Mitchell do this? And as I look back on it, I realize that there are reasons why people are loyal to their own followers.

AL: Right, and of course Mainers are well known for taking a long time to warm up, and so I imagine the Democrats must have put you in the category of ‘from away.’

MH: Well yes, I mean I’m from Maine originally, but I’d been in Washington for a long time, compared to many of them.

AL: So tell me how Cohen reacted to that decision.

MH: I think Cohen felt I think a bit betrayed at the time, and I felt very bad about that. I tried very hard so that, when I moved from his office over to Senator Mitchell’s office, I tried very hard not to make a big deal about it. As we talked about it in the earlier interview, I kind of kept my head down, I didn’t want it to be some subject of press stories. But I think he, because I’d been with Cohen since the very early days of his first campaign, and also I think that what he did not realize was that he, compared to me, he had shifted a bit to the right, he was a bit less progressive by 1980 than he was when I started working for him in November of 1971. He was a member of the Republican Party, the kind of Reagan revolution was in play, the whole country shifted a bit to the right.

I think he probably given where he was and the challenges he was facing, that was probably a natural thing, that he would be a bit more conservative. But I tell my friends, I started working for Bill Cohen because he was interested in the Cooper-Church Amendment, the War Powers Act, to limit commitment of American troops to foreign places. And when I left Cohen, I was his defense aide focusing on weapons systems. It was kind of a bit of a change for me, kind of as this anti-war person, I ended up as his defense analyst, and I decided I just didn’t want to spend the rest of my working life in Washington doing that kind of work. Senate Armed Services Committee work, which is what Cohen was focused on, while it handles things like the SALT, the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties, it really focuses largely on keeping the Defense Department, the Pentagon in business, it focuses on comparing weapons systems, about military manpower kind of questions. It’s not talking about broader foreign policies, and I realized that if I was going to stay with Cohen I was going to have to become a real weapons analyst, and I didn’t see that in my future.

When I went over to Mitchell, while I handled defense and foreign policy and fishing, I was largely preparing the Senator for votes that he had to cast on the Senate floor. I wasn’t doing in-depth memos on issues, because that wasn’t required of him. He was focusing, during the four years that I worked for him -

AL: Those were his first four years.

MH: His first four years, two years before the ‘82 election and two years after, the issues that he focused on in depth were those that came before the committees on which he sat, namely Finance Committee issues, so he was doing a lot of work on taxation, particularly the Reagan tax policies that came in after 1980. He was also focusing on Environment and Public Works legislation, which back then was Clean Air, Clean Water, Superfund were the big ones. I believe, if I recall correctly, I think he was also a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

AL: He was.

MH: But I didn’t handle that.

AL: Because you remember, that became part of an issue in his ‘82 campaign when David Emery’s staff put out the memo saying, about his voting on Veterans’ Affairs, when he wasn’t yet seated.

MH: Right, they were looking at votes that Muskie had cast. So what I’m saying is, a senator is, and I think this is true even today, in terms of issues, yes, he’s focusing on issues that affect his own state and his own constituents, but in a general sense, nationally, his decisions really fall into two categories. One is, how’s he going to vote on amendments and bills that come before the United States Senate daily, and he has to be prepared, and he has a personal staff that helps him prepare for those votes. And they often will write little Congressional Record statements that explain why he voted which way he did, or she did, that kind of thing. But then he focuses on the areas that he becomes an expert in, they’re the ones that are taken up by the committees on which he sits.

And so when I went over, so I went from, in Cohen’s office from specializing in committee work, to Mitchell’s office in which I was specializing on floor votes. So there was a difference there. I will say, I think, that I did bring eight years of experience to the Senator’s office, and so he got, you know, the first day I walked in the door I was up to speed on most of the issues, for example. He could turn to me and ask, “What is Maine’s fishing industry really concerned about this week?” And I could tell him; it was not something I had to familiarize myself with. And so I think that I did serve a purpose, and I’m sure that’s what Jim Case was thinking when he hired me.

AL: What were the, not the issues or your specific positions in the two different senators’ offices, how did the senators differ in their styles in the office and relating to you?

MH: Well, let me start by saying that both of them are extremely intelligent men, and they’re both very articulate. And that’s not the case with every senator, but we seem to produce in Maine effective, articulate, bright senators, and I think we have a history of that going back many, many years. Cohen’s a would-be poet, he’s written several books of poetry, it’s something that he really enjoys doing. Sometimes his poetry creeps into his speeches, and so we would often write speeches for Cohen and he would add kind of lyrical passages into some of the speeches, which I think if you didn’t know him, you’d think they were a little bit out of place, or a little bit strange. But it’s the way he expresses himself, and they’re his speeches so let him do what he likes.

Mitchell wouldn’t do that; he wouldn’t be taking our work and adding stuff in. He acted, even though Senator Mitchell was only a judge for a very short time, under a year, he behaved like a judge dealing with opposing attorneys, when it came to dealing with his own staff. He would frequently, [Senator] Mitchell would frequently, if there was a difficult vote coming to the floor, and if Mitchell wasn’t certain of how he was going to vote, sometimes he would ask different members of the staff to write memos, opposing memos, and he would then assemble these memos and he would, like a judge, pull language out of them that would end up in his final floor statement that explained how he came to decide however he decided.

And so Mitchell was much more, I think he used staff more effectively than Cohen. Cohen, I’m sure, would disagree with me. The way Cohen often did things was, he often used us as lightening rods. If he wanted to focus on an issue himself, he’d let the staff take care of everything else while he became his own staff person on an issue. And so in that respect, they were very, very different.

Senators also have the benefit of staff support from the caucus, too. You have a Democratic office that prepares briefing papers, you can also go to the Library of Congress, which is completely nonpartisan, and they will delve into an issue on behalf of a senator, if the senator gives guidance to them. And so there’s a variety of ways. The other thing I think, most of my experience with Cohen was actually spent on the House side. All of my experience with Mitchell was spent on the Senate side. And those two institutions are very different, so in a way it’s kind of hard to compare their operating styles, because they were operating under completely different sets of rules.

For example, when you’re a senator, you have many more staff people. Staff people can actually, you might have two or three staff people working on one committee. On the House side, you might have one staff person who handles all the activities of one committee, plus four or five other subject areas, and so there’s no way that a House staff member can deal with things in as much depth as a Senate staff member can. So at least when Cohen was on the House side, we were just trying to keep our heads above water, understand what votes we were going to have to cast, or the representative was going to have to cast. So they were really very different.

But I think the big difference was that Mitchell would assign people on his staff to go into things in depth and then bring him memos, and then he would assemble them. The other thing too is that Senator Mitchell had a speech writer, Anita Jensen, during the entire period that I was there – actually her full name is Anita Holst Jensen. And she and the Senator had a working relationship that was really unique. He could call her up and say, “I need a three-minute statement, and I need it in a half an hour.” And she would sit at her typewriter, and she could type over a hundred words a minute, and she could type a statement, and the first draft would be exactly how he would read it. In other words, she had a sense of his own writing style, his way of presenting things; a truly brilliant woman and a wonderful person to have on your staff.

Anita also during this period, Anita’s relatively short in stature, and she would wear tall, spike heels, and when she finished one of these floor statements or speeches, she would whip it out of her Selectric IBM typewriter and take off down the corridors. And of course all the corridors in the Senate office buildings are marble and you could hear her coming, people all around us knew when Anita was headed to the Senate floor, because you could hear those heels hitting the floor, and she’d run it over to the Senate floor, which is about a ten minute walk from our offices. You had to go through a tunnel between the office building and Capitol Building, and you could hear her the whole way, going down. She was a well known person on Capitol Hill, and she served him marvelously. And so what I’m saying also here is that, while I might suggest what might go into a floor statement for Senator Mitchell, it was Anita who would polish it up and punch it up, really give it his cadence and give it his voice.

AL: And so you’d been there on his staff, did you go over to his staff immediately when he became senator?

MH: No, Muskie became, as I recall, after the Iranian rescue attempt, Secretary of State Vance resigns, and that was actually in late April, and Governor Brennan appoints George Mitchell to be the replacement for Senator Muskie very early in May, I think May 7th or something like that.

AL: The exact date doesn’t matter, but what I’m saying is -

MH: I didn’t appear on the scene until October. I really didn’t know, you know, I’d kind of followed Mitchell’s political career, I followed the failed governor’s race in ‘74, I knew he was U.S. attorney under President Carter, but I really didn’t know much about him. It really wasn’t until he came to Washington as a senator that I began to watch him and think I’d really like to work for this guy.

AL: Oh, so that sort of triggered your wanting to move. And so by the time you got on his staff, they were already thinking about, ‘oh my gosh, we need to run again in ‘82.’ What was the atmosphere like? Because that’s another whole piece to the atmosphere in the office and the staff relations.

MH: At the time, we recognized that Senator Mitchell was very fortunate, in that he had what we believed was the longest appointed term as a U.S. senator up to that point in American history. It was about two-and-a-half years before he actually had to face an election. Now that has to do with Maine law, and how you replace senators who resign. So this all happened – there was an election scheduled, a June election was scheduled in 1980, but the filing date for that election had passed when Governor Brennan chose Senator Mitchell. And what that meant was that it would be June two years hence when Mitchell would face his primary election in his own right for the Senate seat, so that would have been in 1982, June of 1982, and then the general election, when he would actually have to run against the Republican for that seat.

So he had two and a half years, and that is not a long time when you’re - Shortly after I took the job I think, it was between October of 1980 and December of 1980, Congressman Emery, who was interested in being Muskie’s successor, released a poll showing that he was over thirty points ahead of, in favorability, to George Mitchell. And I believe that the polling that Senator Mitchell was doing confirmed what Emery’s poll said, in other words, so he was thirty points behind Emery, six months into his first term he was roughly thirty points behind Emery. That’s a big margin to overcome, so there was no doubt on anybody’s mind that everything that we did was going to be, every vote that he cast, every public utterance was going to be subject to very close scrutiny and we had to be very, very careful. It was no honeymoon at all. I think people were already in the campaign mode when I started in October of 1980, everything was focused on the campaign. It was clear to me that George Mitchell had no intention of repeating the 1974 experience.

AL: In what ways?

MH: Well, in one way was that he worked around-the-clock. I have never seen anybody – Cohen worked very, very hard during election periods, but usually that election period was only a year long. This was a two-and-a-half year election period, and Senator Mitchell worked as if it was the last week of the election, all the time. He would get into the office usually after attending some kind of breakfast meeting, maybe with some kind of a constituent association like a labor union group or municipal officials or things like that, but he started right from, I think that the minute that he left his apartment he was running. And he had a very packed schedule, he had a little card that he would read his schedule on, and he would just go from one thing to another thing. And that would be true all day long, and usually he would be, unless he was going out to a reception or some kind of evening event, he was the last person out the door. And that could be, if the Senate stopped meeting at seven o’clock, that might be ten o’clock at night, as he was getting ready for the next day. So I mean he really worked around the clock for two and a half years.

And his wife and daughter were in South Portland, and so he would be with them on weekends when he was up campaigning. It seems like he, I saw his schedules, it seemed like he really, he was campaigning most of the time when he was in Maine as well. But he was always gone as soon as he could be gone, as soon as there were no Senate votes on the floor, one of us would get assigned to take him over, usually it was David Lemoine, who’s now Maine’s treasurer, was his driver and would take him over and get him on a plane and he’d be back to Maine. It was a grueling schedule for such an extended period of time.

The only times that I can remember him relaxing actually was, he was an avid tennis player.

AL: Even that early on?

MH: Yes, I think he must have taken up tennis when he was an attorney, before he became U.S. attorney, and it was obviously something that he enjoyed very much and relaxed him. And I tried to find out from David Lemoine a couple of times who it was that he played tennis with in Washington, and David, being a discreet staff aide, was very circumspect. What we finally figured out, that the person he was playing with most of the time in that period was actually Judge William Webster, who was the director of the FBI, they would meet over at the Washington Hilton and play tennis. I’m sure there were others as well, but that’s one thing he did for relaxation. When he was back in Maine, according to Regina Sullivan, who did some of the scheduling, his favorite activity in Maine to relax was to go to a hockey game in Portland with Joe Angelone, the restaurant owner, who was one of his closest friends.

AL: Did you know Joe?

MH: I did not know him, I did not know him – only by reputation. Never actually, I might have shaken his hand on election night, because all those people were there then, but I did not know Joe Angelone.

AL: And also played tennis with Murray Zweben?

MH: Yes, that was another thing, there was a – and this is one thing I would like to state about the Senator is that, even though he’d been up in Maine since about 1966 or something like that, he reconnected with people that he had known when he worked for Senator Muskie and when he went to law school in Washington. And I think he connected in Washington with people that he had met through his activism in the Democratic Party, being a National Committeeman, going to national conventions. Also, he made a lot of friends in the Democratic Party when he served on the Mikulski Commission. The Mikulski Commission was a panel that was established by the Democratic Party -

AL: Named for Barbara Mikulski?

MH: Named for Barbara Mikulski, who is currently, as we speak, is a sitting senator from the state of Maryland; she was a Democratic Party activist, always known as being bright and innovative. And I don’t have my dates in front of me about the Mikulski Commission, but my understanding was that it was sometime around 1970. And the commission was formed in reaction to the kind of image that Democratic politics was all conducted in cigar smoke-filled backrooms, and there was, I think, an effort on the part of younger people in the party to make the process more transparent and to give the people more of a say and reduce the influence of party bosses, if you will.

And George Mitchell was in the midst of that, he was a very active member on that commission. For better or worse, the recommendations that came out of that commission ended up with rules which basically allowed George McGovern to be the candidate, and so McGovern was I think the first presidential candidate beneficiary of that transparency effort. But George Mitchell made a lot of friends nationally, and when he came down to be appointed senator, he reconnected with a lot of these people. And as I said, he also reconnected with people who were very much a part of Senator Muskie’s entourage, people like Al From, for example, and Berl Bernhard, who was an associate of, he knew from his Muskie days, and who later became a law partner with him.

So you didn’t get the impression this guy was green by any stretch of the imagination. He was very well plugged in to the Washington establishment. By the time I got to his office in October, he was an insider in terms of who he knew. And he really had networks of people who were separate from his staff network, so he would go and have appointments with people, I’m sure was trying to raise money for the campaign and things of that sort that I never saw. And actually I think, Jim Case I think was involved in that, and David Johnson definitely, Jim Case’s successor as chief of staff was very much a part of that inner circle that was aware of these networks. But those of us who were worrying about everyday legislation and work in the committees, we weren’t really part of that.

AL: So when did you see, as a staff person in Washington, the tide sort of turning on that ‘82 election, what were some of the signs that showed he was gaining ground, do you have recollections of that?

MH: It was a very gradual process. I would say toward the beginning of 1982, we were making a lot of headway. I don’t have a log or anything that I kept, but he was obviously such a quality person, and he, one thing that - We’d get anecdotes that would come back about how much George Mitchell had changed since 1974 – when he lost the governor’s race – how dour he was in those years, and how serious and kind of uptight. And the persona that he had, that he developed during that 1982 campaign was just the opposite. He had these self-effacing jokes that he could give, and people could hear three or four times, over and over again, and everybody would laugh, everybody enjoyed being in his company. He was friendly, he was relaxed, and you clearly had the feeling that he was on a winning roll by the beginning of, that it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that the Republican David Emery was going to walk away with the race.

My wife was very relieved. She thought I was crazy. When David Emery released the poll showing him thirty-six points ahead or whatever, my wife really questioned what I had done when I left Cohen to go to Mitchell. She thought I’d left great job security and gone to a very insecure position. But she was very pleased; she was also very fond of Senator Mitchell.

Just one story is that my son, who was born in 1978, had a serious medical problem shortly after I joined Mitchell’s staff. And Mitchell called up the Georgetown Hospital, where my wife and I were tending to the needs of our son, and he was really nice, I mean the guy was just, as I say, his schedule was so packed, and the fact that he would take the time to call was really, it was a life threatening problem that my son had, and he pulled out of it and is a healthy young man today, but at the time we were very concerned. And Mitchell took the time, and the next thing I knew, it was about an hour later, somebody from the staff arrived at the hospital with a model airplane. It was actually a memento that had been given to the Senator by the commanding officer of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, it was a copy of the P-3 aircraft that were based at Brunswick, and Mitchell was always getting these plaques and models and stuff like that, so he put this one to good use. And my son still has that P-3 aircraft.

AL: Oh, I’m sure it was -

MH: It was a P-3 Orion, Lockheed Orion. And actually, you know better than anyone, Andrea, that I’m conducting some of these interviews for the Mitchell Project, and while I won’t identify anybody, calls like the one that Mitchell made to my wife and I at Georgetown Hospital, many people bring up the fact that he, even long before he was a senator, he was very considerate like that and would take the time to express concern when somebody was having a difficulty. And I think that that’s something we - It’s very consistent and it’s very thoughtful.

AL: Talk about the staff, some of the staff you worked closely with. I know you’ve mentioned Case and Johnson and others, but the staff you worked with, and sort of the relationship you all had with each other. In other words, what kind of a staff was it? You know, some Senate offices, they talk about a lot of combativeness or trying to one-up each other, and then in other offices you find a real contributing to each other’s growth type of atmosphere.

MH: I think my staff experience in Mitchell’s office was a very pleasant one, and I think looking back on it, it’s because we all had this common, it was kind of like people fighting a war, you know. When you know you have only two and a half years to win this election, and that you have to perform, you have to do the public’s business in a way that ensures that the public want to keep on your boss, you tend not to, there’s not a lot of infighting, so we were kind of all pulling in the same direction. So I think that, had I joined the staff immediately after the election, it might have been a very different experience. But we were all very focused on that one, on that next election that was to come, and so it was a great team.

Janie O’Connor, who was from Augusta, I think her family’s in the automobile industry, was one, kind of manned the front desk. Regina Sullivan, who was actually from the Washington area, Regina’s father was a long-time, highly respected staffer for the House Transportation Committee and she’d grown up in that kind of political milieu, and she was assisting Gayle Cory, who was a very close, Gayle Cory was a very close confidante of the Senator’s, and she’d been with Muskie for many, many years.

AL: Right, can you talk about her in terms of getting to know her?

MH: Gayle was like the mother in the office, I mean if anybody had a personal problem or something like that, you ended up talking to Gayle about it. And so maybe that’s one of the reasons why there was so little back biting or, I mean let’s face it, people who go to work for senators and congressmen are interested in politics, many of them want to be in politics themselves, and they tend to be Type A people and kind of aggressive. And so the possibility that there would be rivalry between staff people is always there, but I think that perhaps because Gayle was there, she’d had so much experience, she tended to, I mean just adjust where people sat in the office, adjusted what their duties were and stuff, to keep all that stuff to an absolute minimum. So I never really felt that there was a lot of internal rivalry and back biting or anything like that in the office. I’ve been in a number of work situations since then, and I think that that was about as free of back biting as I can think of. And again, because we were focused on a common objective, and because we had somebody like Gayle, who was like a puppet master, was pulling the strings to minimize those kind of things.

AL: Did you ever observe the relationship between Mitchell staff and Cohen staff, and what sort of, how would you describe that?

MH: Well, as we talked about in the first interview, Mitchell and Cohen knew each other but they didn’t know each other well, when Mitchell came to Washington. I think that Senator Cohen, rightly, thought that he became the senior senator. Muskie had left, Cohen became the senior senator, and I think that there is a certain kind of respect that’s due to the senior person on the delegation. But it wasn’t, they got along okay.

One reason they got along okay was the fact that they had a – and this is really thanks to Senator Muskie – after Margaret Chase Smith retired in 1972, Muskie was very instrumental in bringing the Maine Congressional Delegation together. What I mean by that is that once a month the Maine congressional delegation would meet, regularly. They had their own stationery, each member of the delegation had a staff person who would attend the meetings with their member, and they would work as a unit of a group of four, on Maine problems that really were not partisan. And that hadn’t been possible under Margaret Chase Smith, Margaret Chase Smith had a viewpoint that the people of Maine were best served when the members of the delegation were kind of competing against each other, and so she did not like the idea of them working as a group of four.

What that meant was that during Margaret Chase Smith’s time, it meant that, let’s say the town manager of Brunswick wanted to come and talk about the traffic problem in Brunswick, he would have to go around and discuss his problem in each of the four offices. After 1972, Muskie, by setting up this Maine Congressional Delegation idea, that town manager could come and talk to all four of them at the same time, and they could actually discuss how each of the members could use their contacts, their committee positions, whatever, to solve the problem that was being presented. And so that Maine Congressional Delegation mechanism existed when George Mitchell arrived, and immediately he was working closely with Senator Cohen, and with Representative Emery and with Representative Snowe, right from the first month as a member of the Maine Congressional Delegation. And there were actually times when we would do Maine Congressional Delegation press releases, where all four of them might have a quote about how they were approaching a problem that they were all working on.

And so it was, I think Mitchell and Cohen got used to each other, and I think there was mutual respect there, and I think generally, well I mean, as I earlier said, I didn’t want to become a bone of contention between the two of them, and I think we managed it fairly well, I mean my going from one to the other was not a big deal.

AL: And then how did the two staffs interact with each other?

MH: We were competitive. The thing is, one of the problems was, is of course Mitchell was only in there for six months and Reagan gets elected. Mitchell had a very short amount of time at the beginning of his appointed term as a member of the majority party in the Senate. Okay, he had from May to December, and then he and his staff were functioning as the minority party. And of course the Reagan White House would, any kind of benefit that would come to Maine would get channeled through the Republicans on the delegation, they would always get the heads-up first. And that’s true when the Democrats are in the White House too, I mean, and so Cohen would always get kind of the lead.

And of course things like U.S. attorney, U.S. marshal, Farmers Home Administration director, those, and there were very few actually high paying political jobs in Maine. And of course when Reagan came in, it was Cohen who got to make the recommendations for those. I think that Cohen did it very responsibly. He didn’t recommend people that Mitchell would be vehemently opposed to, or any Democrat would be, I think they were both essentially moderates and so they weren’t at each other’s throats on things like appointments.

I think that the – clearly Andrea – I left in October of 1984. Within a couple of years after I left, they were writing a book together, Men of Zeal, about the Iran-Contra scandal.

AL: In ‘87.

MH: I left in ‘84, it was a couple years after that, it was three years after that, they were writing a book together. So I think that clearly, their cooperation grew after I left. You could see it. We didn’t cooperate on everything, but we frequently would be doing things jointly.

AL: There were some people who were quite close to the Senator, and you’ve mentioned a couple of names: Berl Bernhard, David Johnson, Pat Cadell – now who was Pat Cadell?

MH: Pat Cadell was well known as, became very well known nationally, he’s a pollster, and he was President Carter’s pollster. So when Carter became president, Pat Cadell moved into the White House to do - He was a political advisor. He was the person who was kind of keeping track of what happened, favorability for President Carter. Mitchell knew him, again, through the Democratic Party links. He also knew, for example, Peter Hart. I know he had at least one poll, Peter Hart, who I think operated then out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, I know he conducted at least one poll for Senator Mitchell during that appointed period. So they were there. And there were people, it became clear, we saw a lot of Severin Beliveau in the office, we knew that Hal Pachios was a - We called him Hal back then, now he seems to be called Harold more often, but Harold Pachios was a very close friend and associate of the Senator’s. I think the Senator went to Harold Pachios a lot to get, sound out ideas and propose different campaign strategies.

We would see people like Jim Tierney. There was a group of younger rising Democrats in state government, in the legislature, and whenever they came to Washington for, let’s say, a National Association of State Legislators meetings or something like that, they would be out in our office, and Mitchell would always be very warm to them and always made them feel special. If he had a young rising star Democrat in Washington, he’d take them to lunch in the Senate Dining Room, he’d introduce them to other senators, U.S. senators. And they always felt, I think, very well treated.

End of CD One

CD Two

MH: I was very impressed. I think that the Democratic Party in Maine was much more unified than the Republican Party was during that period. I do not recall in the Cohen office, there being so many young Republicans from the state party coming through the office. And I think in part that was because there was kind of a progressive group that Cohen was quite tight with, and then there was a much more conservative group who had suspicions about Cohen, so I don’t think that they were that comfortable with him. But in the Mitchell office, it was just a constant parade of young politicians from Maine, many of whom are still very much in the picture here and have been candidates for governor, or in Baldacci’s case, have actually been governor.

AL: You talked a little bit about some of the issues you were involved in on the Senator’s staff. Do you have any stories about working on some of those issues?

MH: Oh, let’s see. Well one of the things that I found very interesting was that, of course Senator Mitchell was raised in a household that was Maronite, Maronite Catholic, Lebanese background, and it became very clear to me very early on in my work at the Mitchell office that he felt that Arab Americans didn’t have much voice in the United States Congress, and he felt that they deserved to have somebody to listen to their interests and their concerns. And so we had actually a fair number of meetings with Arab American groups, and I was always the staff person in those meetings. And he really bent over backwards to listen to them and to make them, you know, he did not hide the fact that he had this Lebanese background.

Now, George Mitchell also had a very strong voting record in support of Israel, and he didn’t let that get in the way. But he was very open to people who came in from Arab American groups. And there’s a large other Arab American community, there’s some around Boston, particularly around Lawrence, Massachusetts, of course it’s the Waterville community that he came from. There’s also a large number of Arab Americans in Detroit. The head of the Maronite Church is actually based in Detroit and we met him a couple of times, the bishop of the Maronites in the United States. And there was also a group of Maronites in Texas.

And one time, this is a story, is that a group of people came to the office, and they were anxious to have a memorial placed on the National Mall in honor of Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet who lived around WWI, 1920s era, and who wrote, The Prophet is the name of his best known work, and they thought this would just be great, to have this Lebanese. And it turned out that Kahlil Gibran’s son [sic: grandson] was a sculptor in Boston and was willing to do a sculpture to be placed on the Mall. And Mitchell listened very attentively to their things, and he said, well, he’d look into finding out what the process is. He said, “I’m sure there’s some steps you have to take.”

And so I was assigned the task of finding out the process to get a statue to honor this Lebanese American on the Mall, and I did, and it was a complicated process. There’s actually a zoning board for the federal enclave, that is the area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, and it’s called the National Commission on Fine Arts, and it has to approve anything that goes, any kind of memorials and things like that. And lo and behold, it actually takes a resolution passed by either the House or the Senate, I can’t remember thirty years later exactly what the process was.

But anyway, these people came back like two or three times, and the fact that Mitchell would listen to them and actually help them figure out what the process was, was very encouraging to them and they began to expect something to happen. And after the third or fourth visit, he turned to me and he said, “Mike,” he said, “just get this done and do what you have to do.” And [he] said, “I’ve got to focus on the campaign.” So I, being a dutiful staff person, I really researched it carefully and I went to the Legislative Counsel’s Office and we got a resolution, just a one-paragraph bill drawn up to basically authorize the placement of this thing at a place that the National Commission on Fine Arts would designate.

And the story ends basically, there was a late night session, it was actually an all-night session to do an appropriations bill in the Senate, and I filed the draft language as an amendment to an appropriations bill. And so in the middle of the night the parliamentarian people told me, ‘this is the time that you should do it.’ So we woke up the Senator who was sleeping in the lobby, there’s a room where the senators sleep when they have all-night debates, and he kind of comes out rubbing his eyes, and I hand him a speech and I hand him the bill, and he offers this amendment. And he passes it up to the front, and he basically asks that his speech get printed in the Congressional Record as if read. So it took about thirty seconds, then he went back to sleep, he went back in and went to sleep.

Well the next morning the front page of the Washington Post, there was a story about all of the non-germane amendments that had been added to the appropriations bill during the night, and it said, “While the American people were sound asleep, the Senate was hard at work doing all these things,” and of course the one thing that they featured in the article was, “George Mitchell was arranging for a statue of the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran to be placed on the National Mall.” Well, I came into the office a couple hours after reading the Washington Post, and Mitchell was not happy. The Senator was absolutely furious; he didn’t even remember he’d done it. But that’s kind of the way the Senate works. I mean he got over it, but -

AL: Did he direct his anger at the right person, or who got the (unintelligible)?

MH: No, he just was not happy being featured, it made him look trivial on a thing like that, but in fact, he told me to get it done and he knew that he’d done that, and so today you can actually go to the National Mall and there is a statue, a memorial to Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet, thanks to George Mitchell and the Lebanese community in Texas. That’s just one such story.

We also had, Lebanon at this time, there was a civil war going on in Lebanon, and there were various factions that had offices in Washington, D.C., and we would listen to each of them. They would come in. We spent a lot of time focusing on the Lebanese conflict. And this was now after the election, this was in the two years afterwards.

One thing, though, I was very proud of was that the Senate Foreign Aid bill had been voted out of committee, foreign aid appropriations bill had been voted out of the Appropriations Committee in the spring. And between the time it had come out of committee and the time it went to the Senate floor, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, and in the course of that invasion there was a lot of humanitarian problems. A lot of schools were destroyed, a lot of hospitals were decimated, and the Lebanese people were in pretty bad shape. The infrastructure was in bad shape.

I worked on an amendment for the Senator where we designated that twenty-five million dollars of the bill that had been reported out in the spring be diverted for the rebuilding of the schools and the hospitals in southern Lebanon. That twenty-five million dollars eventually got whittled down, because it wasn’t in the House bill. There was a compromise, but there was a Mitchell amendment, and I think it was in, it would have been ‘83 or ‘84, that contributed substantially to the rebuilding of Lebanon after the Israeli invasion. And that’s one of the beauties of the Senate, is you can react, because they allow non-germane amendments. You can react to a situation in the world fairly quickly. Of course there’s a flip side to that, the Senate can also go very slowly at times, but in this case it acted very quickly, and that was a time when Senator Mitchell was really instrumental in doing some real good in the Middle East.

AL: There’s another name on here that you mentioned that I’m not familiar with, John Linnehan.

MH: John Linnehan was an undertaker from Haverhill, Massachusetts, and he was a frequent visitor to our office. He had been, apparently during the Kennedy or Johnson administration, he was a very active Democrat in Massachusetts, and he was the chairman I believe of a thing called the New England Regional Commission, which was a economic development commission established by the federal government to get the New England states to work together on economic development. Mitchell knew him from I think his Muskie days, and he frequently came into the office and I believe he helped the Senator out in terms of fund-raising. Even though he had this kind of -

And I got to know him because my wife is from Haverhill, Massachusetts, and one day, my wife’s grandfather had died and I was up attending the funeral, and I recognized that the undertaker at the funeral was this guy who’s was always in the office. And I made this connection, and so he and I got to be good friends. It was actually John Linnehan who suggested to George Mitchell that Bradford College might be a nice college for Andrea, the Senator’s daughter. Bradford is in Haverhill, very close to where John Linnehan lived, very nice man and I think a solid fellow, and a big supporter and I think helped on raising money for the ‘82 campaign.

AL: Do you know if he’s still living?

MH: I don’t, I don’t, I really don’t. He could be, he would be quite old, he would be in his eighties, late eighties now.

AL: Oh, he was older than Senator Mitchell.

MH: I think so, yes.

AL: Going back to the ‘82 campaign, you made a few notes about things during that campaign; one was the giant photo of the Senator. What does that refer to?

MH: Well, it’s always tough for people who are on the federal payroll to sit in their office in Washington, D.C., when all the action’s happening up in the state, at the very end of the campaign. And so what we did, many of us did was, we would save up our vacation days, and I did it for like, I think I saved up two years’ worth of vacation, so that I could go up to Maine in the closing weeks of the campaign. As I recall, I was up there five or six weeks, I stayed with David Johnson actually in a cottage on a beach in Scarborough, and we would go into Portland and do various things.

And because I was, you know, David had been up there a long time, I was there for like, say, for the last five or six weeks, and I would get these kind of assignments to do various things. Well, when I first got to Portland, the campaign headquarters were on the second floor of a brick building that had a kind of clock tower on it, kind of a Victorian building, and it looked down on, I think it’s called Longfellow Square. It’s right where WCSH-TV is, it’s right near the museum in Portland. And I looked up, I stood, down on the thing, and looked up, and there was this huge window. And I said, “You’re really missing out on a really free advertising opportunity.” I said, “We could have a picture of George Mitchell in that window, with a light on it, and you could see…”

AL: Whose window was it?

MH: It was our campaign office, it was up on the second floor of this building. I said, “This would be great.” So David said, “Well if you can pull it off, do it.” So anyway, it turned out that Charlie Micoleau’s wife, Judy, was an amateur photographer. So Judy and I spent two days going around Portland to find somebody who could blow up a picture with good resolution that would exactly fit that window. And we eventually found a photography studio where the guy, he took his enlarging machine and he mounted it on his ceiling, and he put the photographic paper on the floor, and therefore was able to get the size right.

And we took this very large picture, and I went to the hardware store and the lumber store and I got a piece of plywood and we glued it to the plywood, and then we hung it from the ceiling. And then I guess got a very inexpensive light that shone up on it, and so you could drive up Congress Street, say after eight o’clock at night, and all you could see was George Mitchell’s picture. It was great, it was absolutely great, it didn’t cost anything.

AL: Are there any photos of that that you know of, that would be something to look at?

MH: I don’t know, the problem was, again, I had a tendency, I think things I did kind of sometimes annoyed the Senator. I got sent out to the airport to pick him up one night, he was coming in from somewhere, and it was right after we put this photo up. And I took him up Congress Street, and he’s a very modest man, and he did not like the fact that his picture was [in] this window, although I think he recognized very quickly that it was a very good thing for the campaign. But the idea of having this picture that kind of was in the window was kind of funny.

AL: God-like, yeah.

MH: And also another story from that campaign, and this is kind of a Muskie story. About two weeks before the Election Day, there was a gentleman named [Joe] Ricci, R-I-C-C-I, who owned Scarborough Downs, and he had agreed to let the Mitchell campaign hold a fund-raising dinner in the clubhouse at Scarborough Downs. And David Johnson had managed to secure John Glenn to be the keynote speaker at the fund-raising dinner, and Muskie was going to be there.

I was assigned the job to go to the airport and pick up Muskie and John Glenn, and Annie Glenn, John Glenn’s wife, and I had heard so many stories about how demanding Muskie was of his drivers, and I had never been to Scarborough Downs. So I asked David if I, the whole day before, I drove from the airport to Scarborough Downs, and then I drove around, I drove there three times to make sure I understood exactly where all the stop lights were, where all the roads were. And then at the very last moment, Gayle Cory called up and said that Muskie wants to go and freshen up at Charlie Lander’s house, which is somewhere between Maine Medical Center and the airport. So then I had to go and, so I went and drove that three of four times – this is all before they ever landed.

And so it was great fun, though, because I got a chance to, I had a very large car, and I picked up Muskie and Glenn and Annie Glenn, and they were all in the back seat. And I remember very distinctly, Glenn wanted to know what Muskie thought of George Schultz, who had been named by Reagan to be secretary of state, and Muskie was commenting on that and I felt like I was kind of, it was fun to listen in on conversation like that.

I was very impressed by Annie Glenn, Ann Glenn, I think her name is Annie, she’s a very, very nice lady, who had an enormous, she had a very, very serious stutter, and she was very, kind of withdrawn. And I understand since that she has overcome it, after years of focusing on that disability, she’s overcome it. But that was interesting. So I took them to Mr. Lander’s house – Mr. Lander worked for the telephone company.

AL: Yes, and he actually did a lot of driving for Muskie himself, as I remember.

MH: But Muskie, it was very interesting because I was just there, I was part of the wallpaper, I was just kind of sitting around, but they all, Muskie loosened his tie and they had a drink, and it was just a very friendly chat, and then when they were done with that I drove them to Scarborough Downs, and I actually got there on time.

AL: That’s a great story. And you mentioned something about a Tukey’s Bridge Group?

MH: Well, the day before the election was special, and I was trying to find things to do so I didn’t get in the way, but that was helpful. So there was a, right by where B&M Baked Beans, the factory is, in Portland, on the north side of Portland, there was a pedestrian bridge that went over the Interstate called Tukey’s Bridge. I think it was for people who wanted to get from, oh, I can’t think of the name of the avenue, but there’s a very large kind of working class neighborhood, and I think it was for workers who would go to the B&M plant. And they had this bridge over the highway, no road, it was just a sidewalk bridge.

And so anyway, with Sharon Sudbay, she and I gathered a whole bunch of volunteers and we, I think it was the day before the election, all day long, we had people on Tukey’s Bridge with signs. And we said, you know, “If you’re for Mitchell, honk and wave.” And I’m sure they wouldn’t allow it today, because it would probably cause traffic problems, but we had great fun. And people were there raising their signs up, and it was typical campaign stuff, but it was a staged spontaneous demonstration on Tukey’s Bridge, and we got a lot of publicity for it, because it was just one of those things that nobody thought of. And again, I was looking for ways that you could get Mitchell’s name into people’s heads that didn’t cost any money, and that was one of them.

And then that evening, one of problems we had the day before the elections, the day before the elections David Emery was up at Bath Iron Works and he passed out something that we felt misrepresented Mitchell’s record on aid to Bath Iron Works and ship building jobs in Maine. And so Mitchell had decided a number of months before that whenever there was any kind of inaccuracy on the part of the opposition about his record, that he would meet it head on and would refute it with facts, and would do it quickly. And so in the twenty-four hour period, a rejoinder was written, and I spent the night before the election in Rand Printing Company, in Portland, that’s Ann Rand I think her name is, R-A-N-D, she later became a state legislator, because I was given the responsibility of getting these things printed. And so on election morning, we were back at BIW at the main gate, handing out the rejoinder to the, what we felt were the misstatements that were circulated by candidate Emery the day before. So that was how I spent the Election Day.

The last story, if I may, Andrea, and another funny story, was that on election night, after it was clear that Mitchell had won – and won big – I was assigned the duty to get Senator Muskie from his suite at the top of the Eastland to the podium, or to the platform at the front of the ballroom. And I was told to do it in a way that didn’t detract from Mitchell’s victory. And so I scouted out the whole hotel, and I found out that there was a way you could go down to the basement, go through the kitchens, and then come up a few steps and go right to the podium. There was a kitchen door that was right next to the podium.

And so at the appointed time, just before Mitchell was about ready to give his victory speech, I was told to go and get Muskie. And so I went upstairs and I knocked on the door and Senator Muskie, who knew me but not well, acknowledged my presence. And I said, “I’m to take you down to the podium.” So I took him the circuitous route and we ended up in the kitchen in the [Eastland]. Muskie was furious, because he wanted to make an entrance through the main lobby where he could greet everybody, which is exactly kind of what we wanted to discourage, because we wanted it to be Senator Mitchell’s night.

AL: This was at the Eastland?

MH: Eastland Hotel, where we had the big night. So anyway, they had this wonderful, and a lot of people on the Mitchell staff remember this, because Muskie just tore into me in the kitchen, he said, “I feel like Bobby Kennedy,” he said, “down in the kitchen.” He was furious, he wanted to be up in the lobby where he could see all his buddies and stuff and make a very impressive entrance into the ballroom, and I basically had agreed, basically he came out the kitchen door and he was right there at the platform so he didn’t, he was just going to go up on the platform. And in hindsight, it was probably too much to expect that he would have gone along with this, but -

AL: So what eventually did happen?

MH: Oh, I got him there; he wasn’t happy but he got there. And of course he did all the welcoming of his friends after the speech instead of before. Over the years, when I worked for Cohen and when I worked for Mitchell I had various encounters with Ed Muskie, who I thought he was a wonderful man and I enjoyed him enormously, but he did have his moments in dealing with staff.

AL: Well, yes. It would be important to ask you how it felt. I mean did you just figure ‘that’s Ed Muskie,’ or did it feel more internal to you?

MH: No, no, no, I figured that it was just Ed Muskie. I had been around enough to know that these things passed fairly quickly, and he would forget even who I was in an hour. It was just Senator Muskie. Years earlier I’d once, Charlie Micoleau and I tried, we went to Muskie’s hideaway office in the west front of the Capitol to get something, a document or something, and we didn’t know that the Senator was in there sleeping on the couch and we interrupted him once, so I’d seen this kind of abrupt, annoyance kind of attitude before.

AL: Now, I want to ask you about Mitchell’s invitation to former Senator Margaret Chase Smith in 1983, on the anniversary of ten years of her retirement [sic: for her birthday]. Can you describe that a bit?

MH: I can. Senator Mitchell had been elected by this point, and he had a very close relationship with Margaret Chase Smith. I’m not certain exactly why, but it did go back to the days when he was working as Muskie’s executive assistant. And I think part of it may be that they’re both from pretty much the same part of Maine. She was from Skowhegan, he was from Waterville. I think she knew of his family, who were so highly respected in the Waterville area. But Mitchell and Margaret Chase Smith got along very, very well, and he would write her small notes and remember her birthday, or if there was some article about her in retirement, he would acknowledge that and send her a card or whatever.

Now, the interesting thing about Margaret Chase Smith is she swore that she would never, she said she didn’t want to be like so many senators who leave the Senate and then they kind of show up the following week and kind of hang around the lobbies, either as lobbyists or just because they can’t get over not being there as a senator. And so she never went back to the United States [Senate]. Her last day was probably January 3rd or something like that, 1972 [sic: 1973], she never went back to the Capitol Building.

And then after Mitchell was elected in November of 1982, and I think it must have been in ‘83, in recognition of her birthday, he invited her back to the Capitol Building, and she accepted his invitation. And here’s how it worked -

AL: Oh, and so, I’m sorry, I said it wrong when I asked the question. The event wasn’t ten years after her retirement, it was her birthday.

MH: It was her birthday, but it happened to be ten years after, just about ten years after retiring, but it was her birthday, it was a birthday celebration. It might have been ten-and-a-half, or eleven years after retiring. At the time, the legislative branch only had two limousines, one for the speaker of the House, and one for the president pro tem of the Senate. Senator Mitchell arranged for one of those limousines to carry me, and I have no idea why he chose me, but to carry me out to Silver Spring, to Margaret Chase Smith’s house, where I would pick her up and then bring her back to the Capitol Building. And we had it all arranged so that Senator Mitchell met her at the bottom of the Senate steps, on the East Front.

And so I drove out there with the chauffeur in this long, black limousine, and I was very excited, I’d never been in a limousine, and this limousine even had a telephone. Now, this was not a cell phone, this was actually a wired-in phone, and that was exciting. I mean that was new to me. So anyway, I get out to Silver Spring, and Margaret Chase Smith lived in a kind of 1950s ranch style house that was owned originally by her chief of staff, Bill Lewis. And at some point, I think when she hurt her leg, or hip, Bill Lewis, it was one of these ranch houses that was built into the side of a hill and had garages under in the basement, and I think it had, it was a two-car garage or three-car garage in the basement. He had the basement made into an apartment for Mrs. Smith, in his house – this was a number of years earlier – so she had this very beautiful apartment in this reconstructed garage. And Bill Lewis had subsequently died, and so I don’t know whether he left the house to her, or whether she was just staying on at the benevolence of his family.

But she had this very nice apartment in what had been the garage, in the bottom of this house and of course, and when I got there she wasn’t ready, and so I got to sit down. And it was absolutely fascinating, because every item in her apartment was a memento that had been given to her by somebody famous. I can’t remember exactly what they were but I remember there was something that Winston Churchill had given her, there was something that Arthur Vandenberg, he was a United States senator but who became the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Truman. There was a small spinet piano I think that, a little tiny kind of miniature piano that had been given her by Senator Vandenberg. Everything, I mean everywhere you looked there was some very interesting item with a little gold plaque on it that said where it came from. I suspect most of these things are in the Smith Library in Skowhegan now, or Northwood College where her papers are, in Michigan.

But anyway, it was just a delightful experience for me, because I got to talk with her in the back, on the way to the Capitol, and then when I got to about five minutes away from the Capitol I used the telephone in the thing and alerted Gayle Cory that I was almost there, so that when we drove up Mitchell was standing at the steps. She took him by the arm, and he led her into the building, and he took her to the member’s dining room and they sat down and began lunch. And unbeknownst to her, Senator Mitchell had arranged for, he had written letters to every senator in the body who had served with Mrs. Smith, and serially they came into the dining room to wish her a happy birthday, and some of them brought a rose. So she ended up by the end of the meal with this bouquet of roses, and she was just beaming.

And then, when lunch was over, he took her up to the senators’ gallery. There’s a portion of the Senate gallery that is reserved for the guests of the senators, and so I went with her and the Senator and he put her there and I sat with her, and then he went down onto the Senate floor and for the next hour, senators gave speeches about her career, and it was just a wonderful thing. Then it was all over and I put her back in the limousine and we went back out to Silver Spring and I said goodbye to her. So that was my date with Margaret Chase Smith, courtesy of George Mitchell.

And one of the things that was interesting about that is that when I was in college at Bowdoin, I think it was in my junior year, which would have been ‘70, ‘71, there was a huge anti-war demonstration on the grounds of Colby College, thousands of students. And Mrs. Smith was invited to come and address the crowd, and she came with Bill Lewis, who in addition to being her chief of staff and her landlord, was also, he was like a general in the National Guard or Army Reserves or something. And at some point during her presentation, somebody stood up – oh, I think it was actually, she made the mistake of suggesting that we did not have troops in Cambodia. And [Everett] “Brownie” Carson, who was a Bowdoin student at the time, and was a veteran who had been shot in Cambodia, stood up and said, “If we don’t have troops in Cambodia, why was I shot there?” And everybody was hushed, and she turned to Bill Lewis and she said, “Bill, we don’t have troops in Cambodia, do we?” or something to that effect.

And that demonstration and Brownie’s confrontation with [Senator] Smith was one of the kind of turning points in her campaign, which she eventually lost. And people thought that she’d kind of, she was out of touch, that she really didn’t know what was going on, that she was too old and that she was getting a bit dotty. So that was 1971. Now I’m doing this with George Mitchell in 1983, so it’s like twelve years later. The lady in the back of that car was the sharpest person alive; I mean she was on the top of her game when George Mitchell invited her to the United States Senate. She was sharp. Her memory was great. She was up-to-date on world affairs, and I never could really reconcile the image that came out of that 1971 demonstration and the impression that I got in the back seat of that limousine.

AL: That’s a great story. I think I’ve asked all the questions that I had. Is there anything that you think of that I’ve missed, or that you’d like to add today? We can always come back again.

MH: No, I think we’ve pretty much covered it. If I think of something I’ll let you know and we can have another go at it, but no, I think this is pretty much it.

AL: Thanks, Mike.

MH: Thank you.

End of Interview

 
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Interview with Mike Hastings (2) by Andrea L’Hommedieu

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