George J. Mitchell Oral History Project


Interview with Bob Carolla (1) by Brien Williams


Brien Williams



ID Number

GMOH 075

Document Type


Subject Headings

Administrative staff, Bath Iron Works (BIW), Cory, Gayle, Defense, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Fisheries, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate campaign (1982)


Biographical Note
Robert J. “Bob” Carolla was born in 1956, in Suffern, New York, to Anthony and Mary Pugliese Carolla. When he was eight years old the family moved from Pearl River, New York, to Canastota, New York, where his father was a high school principal. Bob attended Middlebury College. Upon graduation he worked as the press secretary and political director of the Democratic Conference, which was a project of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). He earned his law degree from Boston University in 1982. He worked with a law firm in Portland, Maine, and volunteered for the joint Brennan-Mitchell campaign in 1982. He accepted another position with ADA in Washington, DC, and was then hired by Mitchell’s Senate office as a legislative assistant. He began by handling foreign policy and defense issues and took on labor and commerce issues during his tenure in that position. At the time of this interview, he was director of media relations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Arlington, Virginia.

Interview includes discussion of: the Washington semester program and interning with Americans for Democratic Action; coming to Maine; Robert Kennedy’s 1964 Senate campaign and his visit to Canastota; Mitchell’s 1982 U.S. Senate campaign; Mitchell’s task force on campaign finance reform; becoming a legislative assistant in Mitchell’s Senate office in 1985; foreign policy, defense, labor, and commerce issues; 1986 railroad strike in Maine; Mitchell’s role as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC); the transition to being majority leader, how the staff handled that, and the question of where Maine issues end and national issues begin; bringing in more staff to handle the growing responsibilities of the majority leader; friendly competition between the Mitchell staff and the Democratic leadership staff; Fish Inspection Bill in 1989-90 and Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’s opposition to it; volatile personalities in the Senate; Maine’s interest in the DDG Destroyer program and how this affected the Senate majority leader’s race with Sen. Johnston (La.) in 1987-1988; Mitchell’s knack for capturing and simplifying a message; the ways in which Mitchell changed as a candidate between 1974 and 1982; Gayle Cory’s role in Mitchell’s office and wedding gift story; “silver bullet’ constituency case; the Marine Research Bill; and the importance of asking for a vote.


Audio and transcription not to be released during Senator Mitchell’s lifetime. Interviewee reserves the right to authorize access on a case-by-case basis; inquire at the repository. 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.



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