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Senator Mark Hatfield (R-Oregon). He worked closely with Dole in the Senate.

Interviewed July 10, 1996


FL: One of the phrases used to describe Senator Dole is an expert deal maker. And for most of the American people I think they may not have a sense of what that means, what a Washington deal is about and what are Dole's singular skills in pulling together all numbers of these senators....what are the skills he brings to the table to make a deal happen...

HATFIELD:

When we have a pluralistic society and we have strength in our diversity, sometimes we let it be a weakness, but basically the diversity, the pluralism, is our strength. And the idea is, unlike a dictatorship, and unlike a monolithic society, we have to get a consensus of many points of view before we can move ahead or resolve an issue. Now that's deal-making. But somehow we have not applied it to other parts of life in every community, a city council. In every business, labor relationship, it has to be a consensus of diverse points of view.

Now you take 100 Senators, and we have X number Democrats, X number Republicans. But within each party, we have diversity. We have the moderates, the liberals, the conservatives on both sides of the aisle. So we have not just a diversity of two parties, we have many diversities within both parties. In order to get 51 votes, in order to pass a bill, you have to get 51 people from all parts of this great diverse Senate organization to agree. They say that former governors have the most difficulty in adjusting to the Senate. I was a governor for eight years. I could make a decision, move on, take on the next problem. I came back to a legislative branch where I'd started my career, but this time in the federal, I had to wait til 50 other people decided they agreed with me, or I agreed with them in order to move something. All of that is merely process, but it also means we're getting a consensus upon which we can move ahead and make a decision.

Senator Dole has great expertise with this. First of all, he is an information gatherer. In other words, he has to know where different members of the Senate are coming from. He has to know them on this particular issue. Now they say that many Senators are very predictable. But there are issues upon which we're all inconsistent, in terms of our predictability on other issues, so he has to gather the information, take a census so to speak, of where each member stands on this issue, starting with the Republican side as a Republican leader, maybe he has enough Republican votes to pass something. But if he doesn't have, because of diversity within the Republican party, then he has to move across the aisle, and find out who on that side of the aisle he can bring together with those Republicans to pass a bill. Now that's the role of the majority leader.

His style is different than LBJ. LBJ had a very powerful control, he appointed the staff to the committees, he appointed the members to the committees, he would not permit a roll call vote if he didn't want one because they had to look at him to see if there were enough seconds to see whether they could raise their hand or not. He had absolute power from the standpoint of controlling that Senate. Bob Dole doesn't have that kind of power, in fact, after LBJ, no Senator, majority or minority leader has had the kind of power that LBJ had put together as a Senate majority leader. So they have to persuade, they have to cajole they have to say come on I need this vote, particularly for the next position we take, or whatever we made in the platform of our party or so forth and so on, or the Contract with America as in this session of the Congress, even though the Senate didn't have one, we still are a Republican House, we have to work with the House.

Senator Dole has the additional problem of not just getting something through the Senate, but of dealing with a Republican House which is the first time in 40 years we've had a Republican House. So consequently, his has been a more complex job as he has been majority leader in this particular session. So Senator Dole gathers information, Senator Dole has to know what kind of obligations that he has out there that he can call upon sometimes referred to as chips, political chips, and so therefore is a combination of information, persuasion, cajoling, unlike LBJ, I'm not aware that Senator Dole ever threatened, I don't think he ever threatened. I know he never threatened me. And I'm not sure that I have ever heard any one of my colleagues say he'd threatened them. LBJ was physical as you indicated, and he could use a threat, he could use the persuasion, but he also could use the club. Senator Dole is not that type of leader. He's a consensus builder.

FL: It's been said he can have people working in different rooms and is quite quiet, a style of going from room to room to room, is that a unique style, and the humor he uses too in that intense situation......

HATFIELD:

Well, let me make a comparison. When I came here, Senator Dirkson was the Republican minority leader. Senator Dirkson at that time represented the club within in the club. In other words, Republicans had been a minority for so long, they worked with LBJ. LBJ and Senator Dirkson had a very close working relationship. And as a consequence, they did things on a bi-partisan basis within a very elite group.

When Senator Dirkson wanted to persuade the Republicans he took to the platform, he came to the floor, and he would put on one of his great orations, that people heard all over the Capitol, Senator Dirkson is orating, they'd crowd in the galleries. It was a, it was a show. It was also his way of saying to each Senator, I'm speaking, it's going to be reported, it's going to be broadcast, it's going to be televised, it's going to be on all forms of media, of how I asked you for your vote and you're going to have to then tell the people of Nebraska or whatever state it might be, why you didn't support me, because everybody loved Senator Dirkson, I mean if nothing else, for his drama. And they, you know they would say Oh, he's great they should vote with him, sort of as applause for his drama, not necessarily for the merits of the case. So he used that great skill he had.

Senator Dole is not a great orator. He'd be the first to say he's not an orator. That's not his style. But Senator Dole will put people in rooms and say now look, you hammer out the difference between you. If I can be helpful, fine, I'll come in and be helpful. But I'd like to have you stay in this room, not locked in, but just stay in the room and talk to each other and find out where your differences are and where you can make concessions to get this resolved. So it's a behind [the] scene type of thing. It's not secretive in the sense that we don't want the public to know what's going on. It is a style of leadership. There are times when a quiet personal conversation can resolve more misunderstanding than a public debate on the floor. So Senator Dole has specialized in that sort of non-embarrassing role of putting the total focus and the total spotlight on an individual or a philosophy within the party. I think that would be my way of saying that Senator Dole has that additional skill and I think he chooses his environment to fit his skills.

FL: Senator Dole came to you directly, tell us about that, what it reveals about his style of operating.

HATFIELD:

Well this had to do with the so-called constitutional amendment to balance the budget. And it had passed the House of Representatives, it was part of the Contract with America, it was a vote that was expected to pass, because there were six Democrats who in their previous year had voted for the balanced budget amendment. Interestingly all six were running for re-election, and the balanced budget amendment had a great deal of public support in those states. So the assumption was, in the early planning for the balanced budget, that those six Senator had voted for it, just the previous year, even though I had voted no on the previous year, and therefore they could be counted, as those who would vote this time, even though they'd been re-elected. And so consequently, when it became clear, and I said from the very beginning I voted against it last year, I'm going to vote against it this year. It's not a matter of whether I believe in a balanced budget, I do, but the point is it would take seven years under the average of getting an amendment put through to the constitution. We can't wait seven years. I believe that we knew what to do, we just had to have the guts to do it now instead of waiting for seven years to get something to cover our backside, to tell our public and our constituents, well I had to because it's in the constitution.

Well, that was sort of the brief outline of the situation. Well, then it came to be known that those six Democrats were going to vote the other way. They'd gotten re-elected by being for a balanced budget amendment, so now they could vote against a balanced budget amendment. And it came down to one vote. It was that close. And it became clear that one vote, if one of those six Democrats who had voted for it the year before, should repent and decide that they'd gotten re-elected on that position, therefore they owed it to their constituents to vote the same way now that they were re-elected, would change their vote, that would be then sufficient to pass the amendment. But none of the six would do that. So consequently, the focus then came upon the only Republican that had said that he would not vote for it. And there were other Republicans that had voted against it the year before, but they had changed their mind and were pressured into voting for it. So you had Republicans and Democrats switching positions from the year before.

Senator Dole, on the very day of the vote, asked if I could give him some time, I said yes, I'll come to your office, as my leader. No he says, I insist on coming to your office as the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. It's just downstairs from the Senate chamber. So about an hour before the vote was to be taken, Senator Dole came and told me why it was so important to him to have this vote and to win on this. Not only as a member of the Senate, not only as the Republican leader, but as a probable, potential Republican nominee for President. So he gave me a very calm analysis of why this was so vital to him. I said I can not support it. And he asked if there was anyway I could think of in which I could vote for it. And I said no, the only feeling, the only answer I can provide is that I could resign at this moment in time, making 99 instead of 100, and you would have the sufficient vote. Now, well people say well were you serious about resigning. Yes, I was serious about resigning. First of all, I had only these few months left in this term, and secondly if it were that important and his presidential hopes and so forth were riding on this and other arguments that he made, I thought it was important enough that I would honestly resign. And he said no, we, I won't accept that, that is not the way to respond or not the way to answer this issue. And that was our conversation. No arm twisting, no persuasion that reached a point of threatening or of enmity that would result by my vote, severing any kind of friendship or any kind of relationship. It had nothing of that implied whatsoever.

FL: So what was revealed of the man and his style in that very important vote? Did you learn anything about him that surprised you or was it sort of typical of the way he operates?

HATFIELD:

I believe that I would have to say that's the first time that I've had that experience of one on one with Senator Dole as the leader, other than a comment in the well, when we go down to the well when we're voting. And he would say, "We sure need your vote on this," sort of a casual, we'd like to have your vote on this issue. This was over a period of 20 minutes, where it was just one on one, with all of the various arguments and positions of why he felt this was so important. And that's the first time I've ever had that kind of experience, the only time with Senator Dole. And it was a unique experience for me, and I hated to disappoint him. But on the other hand, I would resign before I would have abandoned my conviction. And I think he respected that.

FL: The struggle to reduce the deficit in 1985....a quite dramatic struggle in which Senators were asked to vote in a difficult way to give up certain things, everyone's entitlements were gone into, it was pretty much across the board, Just tell a little bit of that story. Do you have any memories of that particular struggle and its drama?

HATFIELD:

Well, I think that was a very high moment of drama, because that was the first time in my legislative career in which a serious proposal was made to get control of the runaway deficit. And to address the fastest growing component of that deficit, namely the entitlements. Entitlements have been the sacrosanct. The Democrats have demagogued frequently on the entitlements, and they did on this occasion. Republicans have demagogued on other issues. [I]t's not a matter of a partisan statement I'm making. But the idea that somehow by freezing the entitlements for that one year, not reducing them, not abolishing them, not cutting them, but just freezing the entitlements for that one year until we could get a handle or a strategy on how to begin to bring them under some kind of control in their rapid growth in their escalation of taking higher and higher percentages of the total budget. In fact by the year 2030 or 20, or somewhere along that line at the current rate of growth they'll the whole budget. There won't be money else in the budget all lines being in the same positions they are in now. [?]

So Senator Dole made this a keystone, of Republican fiscal responsibility. As I recall, he had 50 Republicans, and Senator [Domenici] as Chairman of the Budget Committee and myself as chairman of the appropriations committee, were working hand in glove with Senator Dole to get these votes to freeze those entitlements. We got one Democrat I believe. Senator Zarinski, as I recall, of Nebraska. And that gave us an opportunity to let some of the key Republicans running for re-election in those areas of high density of retirees such as Florida, Arizona, and so forth, to not vote for it because it did include Social Security and that's the hottest button of all. The minute that passed, there were speeches being made on the Democratic side, the Republicans are taking your Social Security away from you. And that became a theme song throughout that election and we lost those key states, in part because it was played against those Republican candidates who had voted, or against the Republicans generally who had voted for that freeze.

Interestingly, it wasn't just the Democrats on that, but President Reagan entered the picture and opposed the proposal of freezing the entitlements. And he had said at the year at which the inflation had not risen high enough to have a CODA, Cost of living index increase for social security, "Oh give it to em anyway because they've earned it." Now that kind of rug pulling by President Reagan along with the Democrats demagoguing the issue the Republicans are taking your social security away from you, created a major part of our defeat in losing the Senate in the election in 1986.

FL: Do you have any memories of that final dramatic night?

HATFIELD:

As I recall, we had to extend the time of the vote. As you know the votes are supposed to end in 15 minutes. I don't remember how long we extended it. But there was a lot of perspiration. There was a lot of agonizing by members who knew the right vote was to vote for it, and yet, who were facing the political challenge of re-election. And everything conceivable was said in effect, look better to vote right and go down if we can save our country, it's a sacrifice, but nevertheless, this is a time when duty calls. And we used all these arguments.

And Senator Dole was very non-demonstrative. Senator Dole is not an overly demonstrative person to begin with. And anybody watching from the galleries knew there was a lot of activity down there, but they didn't see fists being shaken in front of peoples faces, they didn't see scoochied up faces and all that. It was a very dignified, a very professional kind of logic that Senator Dole was enunciating for the rest of us. It was hectic, but I don't think you would have seen the full emotional impact by viewing it from the gallery.

And that's another thing about Senator Dole. Senator Dole is not basically an emotional person, in terms of showing his emotion. He has emotion. I remember the night he wept tears in introducing President Bush after the election when the Senate Republicans had this dinner party for the Bushes. And he was speaking about their relationship, their working relationship. And he choked up on that occasion. But that's one of the few times I think that any of us have seen that degree of emotion. So you wouldn't have caught it from just observation, but there was strong emotion down there in that well.

FL: Do you remember Pete Wilson's appearance........

HATFIELD:

And then they brought Pete Wilson in, who looked like he was not sure whether he was headed back to the hospital or back to the mortician. He was a very ill man at the time. But his duty called, and we were trying to say, even poor Pete, poor Pete is coming here sacrificing his life to vote right. So what can you do, able bodied, standing here in the middle of this well, what can you do other than likewise.

FL: We were talking about Bob Dole's complexity. What does it mean to you, the complexity, the contradictions......

HATFIELD:

Well, I think first of all, it's almost an incongruity to say that Bob Dole or any politician is a very private person. When you're immersed in a public profession like politics, how can you retain any sense of privacy. And yet he is a very private person. I consider myself a very private person. I don't know, maybe that's why we are attracted to the political, to offset our being basically introvertish or private person. I think the culture of politics lends itself to that too. Answer the question, but don't give any further target, be brief, not because it's television, but be brief because the more you talk, the more you expose yourself. In other words, there's a reluctance to share beyond just a yes or no. Mike Mansfield was the epitome of that. He'd go on one of those talk shows on Sunday and they'd have to get two to three times the number of questions, because he'd say yep, nope and that was the end of his comment. Well, that's part of the culture of politics, it lends that sort of support to being a private person.

Senator Dole has had ambitions for President for a long time, and I think when someone has in the back of their mind, an objective, a goal, whether it's short term or long term, a person is a little less outgoing, a person who wants to maintain a focus on the moment and not to divulge too much about the long term objectives or ambitions. And I think Senator Dole has had that desire early on, he was Vice-Presidential nominee as you recall with Gerald Ford back in 1976. I think Bob Dole is one of those people who came into politics saying the White House is my objective. I'm speculating. I'm going to the House of Representatives first, after my state legislature days, then United States Senate, he's been a candidate for Vice-President, obviously the presidency has been part of that evolution. So I think that's part of the complexity of a person in politics is that their long term and their short term. I think Bob Dole has also been wounded. I think his war injury, I think that can't help but affect a person's life. You've been wounded and you have been healed in many ways, physically, but that wound and that experience carries part of your personality beyond. I think many of views I know were out of my experience in bloody warfare. And being in Hiroshima a month after the bomb had dropped. So I can say, empathize in that sense that once you have seen that kind of life and you have suffered from it, it adds to the complexity of your personality. And we of all people usually are the least wanting to talk about it or to share it or to repeat or to relive it. We sort of want to flush it out, forget about it. And yet many of your activities draw it out or focus on it in the way in which you have to respond. So I think that's part of his complexity. And by the way, I think a complex person is not necessarily a negative. And there's nothing more to go. But I do think he's a thoughtful person, I think he does a lot of intellectualism, that is to say I think he thinks through not only the issue, but the strategy. And as a person who then thinks and takes internally through his mind, and feeling and emotion, they're seen as more complex people too.

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