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Tom Turnipseed, Wallace Staff on
volunteers during the 1968 campaign

Tom Turnipseed Q:Talk about the volunteers from Alabama and the more extreme volunteers that you found in other states.

A: Our volunteers in the ballot qualification thing were just amazing. All we did in the Wallace campaign, up until the last 3 or 4 months, was ballot qualification. We moved Governor Wallace all over the United States in coordination with his campaign. In other words, we'd count, ballot qualifications, drove the campaign. And so we got many volunteers from the state of Alabama and other neighboring southern states, and many of them were more mainstream folks that hadn't been reported much about in books and shows that I've seen about Governor Wallace since. But, you know, guys like lawyers and businessmen and architects and members of the legislature who had business interests with a tremendous patronage that the Governor had in the state of Alabama. And they would volunteer to go off for like two and three weeks and we paid their way too, you know. And they would interact, of course, with more true believers. I considered to be some of them forerunners of the present militia movement and white supremacy movement in America today.

One of my top coordinators in L.A., a local guy, just a hard worker, really believed in Governor Wallace and went to all the rallies and helped turn out the people and worked just hour after hour volunteering. And I needed him particularly this one weekend because Governor Wallace was coming to L.A., and I needed him to help with it. And, I said, "Look, I'm looking forward to you doing this and that." He said, "I can't do it this weekend." I said, "Well, what's the problem?" And he said, "I've got prior plans; there's something I've got to do." And I said, "Well, what is it?" And he took me down to the parking lot, I think it was an old pickup. He had a tarpaulin, and he rolled the tarp back and he had in there all kinds of military weapons. He had bazookas and machine guns. And I said, "What's going on?" And he says, "Oh, we've got maneuvers up in the desert". And I says, "For what?" And he says, "Well, it's our group." And I says, "Well, is it the National Guard?" "No, no, no, it's a private group." And I said, "What do you call it?" He said, "Well, it's our militia." And I said, "Who you armed against?", you know, "Who are you after? Are the Communists going to get you?" And he said, "No, we're more concerned about the Rockefeller interest in the trilateral commission." And I just looked at the guy -- what could I say -- very serious. But you know, we had fellows like that.

All over the country we had some interesting people. I found that there was more really overt racism in some of the northern cities, particularly with some of the ethnic groups from Eastern Europe and so forth. For instance, in Webster, Massachusetts, we had a big drive in Massachusetts. We had to get, I think, might have been 10 percent -- 5 or 10 percent -- of the registered voters to sign Wallace's petition, so we had to spend a lot of time up there. And I mopped up most of the western states. I went to help up in Mass. And I remember I was in a little town in south central Massachusetts called Webster, and it was a shoe manufacturing city that was heavily Polish. We always looked at the demographics of where the working blue-collar people were. We figured they might be Wallace folks. So, I said, "Well, I'm going to go and try to book him into, have a rally with some music, speechifying as we used to call it, in the Polish-American club." And so I went to the Polish-American Club. Very nice layout. They had a nice bar, and a ballroom, and, you know, a social gathering place for the Polish citizens there. And I told the manager of the bartender, I said, "Look we're here, I'm here representing George Wallace and we're working to get him on the ballot, and we want to have a little rally here next Wednesday at 3:00. And we're going to have live music and a band, and might even have a polka band and good music." And, and he said, "Well, that's great. I love George Wallace. Yes, sir, I want him." And "How about staying?" I signed him up, and scheduled it. And he said, "Well, how about staying a few minutes to have a drink with me?" And I sat there and had a couple of drinks with him, and he started talking about his feelings about race. And he says, "Well, when Governor Wallace is elected president, he's going to line up all these niggers and shoot them, isn't he?" And I said, "Oh hell, no." You know, I was being honest with him. I said, "He's just worried about agitators and things like that." But this guy was dead serious.

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