Budget Committee, Clean Air Act, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Humor, Middle East, Tax, U.S. Senators
Kent Conrad was born on March 12, 1948, in Bismarck, North Dakota, to Abigail and Gaylord Conrad. After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1966, he attended Stanford University; he later received an MBA from George Washington University. After college, Conrad became an assistant to the North Dakota tax commissioner. He became tax commissioner in 1980, a job he held until 1986, when he successfully ran for the Senate as a Democrat representing North Dakota, when George Mitchell was chair of the DSCC. In 1992, he chose not run for reelection because of a campaign promise he made that he would not run for reelection if the budget deficit had not fallen by the end of his first term. However, the other North Dakota Senate seat became vacant and Conrad won a special election to fill that vacancy in December of 1992. At the time of this interview he was still in the Senate, serving on the Finance Committee, the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Committee on Indian Affairs, and as chairman of the Budget Committee.
Interview includes discussions of: the Muskie presidential campaign; Conrad’s Senate campaign of 1986; Mitchell as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and his decision to give the maximum possible support to Conrad; the Clean Air Act; North Dakota’s interest as a coal state and the difficulties that posed for Conrad when Mitchell wanted him to get behind the Clean Air Act; Mitchell’s leadership qualities such as patience and determination; Mitchell’s role in balancing the budget under the Clinton administration; Mitchell’s skill in questioning witnesses; Mitchell’s sense of humor and how that served him well as a senator; Conrad’s recommendation to then Senator Obama regarding the importance of reaching out to Mitchell; and the prospects for Mitchell in his new post as special envoy to the Middle East.
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