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Yesterday I described how Gary and I met in 1984 (to negotiate the Helms-Hunt debates) and how I didn’t lay eyes on Gary again for eight years – until the morning he walked into the boardroom of a law firm downtown to negotiate a debate between Lauch Faircloth and Terry Sanford, saw me sitting there, and said, We’ve got to stop meeting like this.

Gary sat down and the Broadcasters Association’s attorney handed everyone an agreement – setting out the debate rules – then started ticking through the points to see if anyone disagreed.

Point one, fine.

Point two, fine.

Point three, fine.

Then he came to a provision that said neither Lauch Faircloth or Terry Sanford could use footage from the debate in their TV ads – in the past I had always deleted that paragraph but Lauch, for all his attributes, was not a world-class debater. As soon as the lawyer finished reading the provision Gary stared straight at me – waiting. Then he said, I guess, this time, neither of us wants the other candidate using debate footage in his ads.

I said, Amen.

Sitting in opposite camps, still not trusting one another, without expecting it, we’d landed on common ground.


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