Acadia National Park, Administrative staff, Chafee, John H., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Clinton, Hillary Rodham, Environment, Health care, Maine, Mitchell family, Mitchell, George, Sr., Mitchell, Mary (Saad), Muskie, Edmund S., Negotiating skills, U.S. Senate appointment (1980), U.S. Senate culture, Waterville (Me.)
George J. Mitchell was born on August 20, 1933, in Waterville, Maine, to Mary Saad, a factory worker, and George Mitchell, a laborer. Senator Mitchell spent his youth in Waterville. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College in 1954, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps until 1956. In 1960 he earned a law degree from Georgetown University. Mitchell worked for Senator Edmund S. Muskie as executive assistant and as deputy campaign manager during Muskie's 1972 presidential campaign. He later became U.S. senator (D-Maine) 1980-1995, Senate majority leader 1989-1995, and, upon his retirement from the Senate, special advisor on Northern Ireland 1995-1998. Since 1998, Senator Mitchell has served on many boards and committees and has received high profile appointments including: chairman of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Fact-Finding Committee on the crisis between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (2000); overseer of the Red Cross Liberty Fund (2001); lead investigator into the illegal use of performance enhancing substances in Major League Baseball (2006); and special envoy for Palestinian-Israeli affairs (2009-2011).
Interview includes discussion of: health care issues, beginning with the Clinton administration in 1992; legislative battles relating to the economy during the Clinton administration; contacts with Senator John Chaffee while Mitchell was a federal prosecutor in Maine during the ‘70s, and their subsequent friendship and common interests in health care legislation; industry opposition to proposed health care legislation, and increasing Republican distaste even for their own health care bill; parallels between the Clinton health care legislative process and that of the Obama administration; speculation on the future of health care reform; Hillary Clinton’s involvement in and efforts on behalf of the failed health care legislation in the early ‘90s; environmental issues and how those relate to health care; legislative efforts in the Senate relating to Clean Water and Clean Air; the substantial improvements to waterways as a result of the Clean Water acts, citing Maine as an example; the history of federal legislative and executive influences on Clean Water, and the staying power of that legislation; Mitchell’s affection for Senator Muskie; Acadia National Park boundary issues, and how dealing with those sharpened his negotiating skills; transitioning to fill Senator Muskie’s Senate seat; affection for Mt. Desert Island as a summer getaway locale; administrative staff, particularly Mainers, and their importance in Senate affairs; immigrant family history, growing up in Waterville, Maine, and how those experiences influenced his career; his father’s adoption; the role of the Maronite rite of the Catholic Church in family life; Mitchell’s inferiority in athletics compared to his brothers’ abilities; detailed recollections of his parents, their personalities, and their interests; food, cooking, and hospitality in the Waterville Mitchell household; reestablishing train service between Boston and Portland, Maine.
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.