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Jimmy Carter on Principles & Values

President of the U.S., 1977-1981


1980: Conceded before CA polls closed; hurting down-ballot

[In 2004,] stunningly inaccurate exit polls began to be released around noon on election day and convinced news anchors, talking heads, and even the campaigns that Kerry would win walking away. Recall that when Jimmy Carter conceded the election to Reagan in 1980 before the polls had closed on the West Coast, Carter was blamed for costing a slew of down-ticket Democrats their elections. In 2004, the entire punditocracy had essentially conceded the election to Kerry. Only at 9 PM when the real results began to come in, did the election flip to Bush.

Ludicrous exit polls showing Kerry winning in Florida by 110% were soon being cited by liberals as proof that Bush stole the election. Contributing to the conspiracy theories was the fact that Mitofsky's exit polls in other countries have always been accurate. In other countries, such as Mexico and Russia, everyone answers the exit polls. In the US, he said, about half of those leaving polling places refused to participate in exit polls.

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.209-210 , Nov 10, 2009

1979 "Malaise speech": a crisis of our national will

On July 15, 1979 the president delivered the most self-destructive address of his administration.

Carter lectured the people of the nation on their contributions to what he called "a fundamental threat to American democracy." This contribution, he declared, was a collapse of confidence and of faith, in government and in themselves.

"It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will," Carter intoned. "We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and political fabric of America."

This would become famous as Carter's "malaise" speech, although the president did not use that word in his remarks. It was a speech born of panic: the product of a ten-day "domestic summit meeting." It was in the aftershocks of this speech that I began thinking seriously about running for the presidency in 1980.

Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.366-367 , Sep 14, 2009

1970s: Too many of us worship self-indulgence & consumption

As the debt and dependency of people and the government increased, America found itself in difficult times in the last years of the 1970s. Pres. Carter attempted to blame both the people and the government: "In a nation that was proud of hard work, stron families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption." Carter continued by explaining that we have "a system of government that seems incapable of action...a Congress twisted and pulle in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests."

Carter missed the real cause of America's problems. Government was trying to do too much. Government becomes "incapable of acting" when it attempts to serve a large number of particular needs rather than promoting the general welfare. When the federal government began to involve itself in planning specific aspects of America's culture and economy, it was inevitable there would be destructive and costly consequences.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 35-36 , Jul 4, 2009

Discourteous & dismissive of White House staff

Jimmy Carter was known to the Secret Service as the least likeable president. If the true measure of a man is how he treats the little people, Carter flunked the test. Inside the White House, Carter treated with contempt the little people who helped and protected him. "Carter didn't want agents looking at him or speaking to him when he went to the office," says an assistant White House usher. "We never spoke unless spoken to," says the White House chief of the Secret Service Uniformed Division.

At the same time, Carter tried to project an image of himself as man of the people by carrying his own luggage when traveling. But that was often for show. As a candidate in 1976, Carter would carry his own bags when the press was around but ask the Secret Service to carry them the rest of the time. As president, says a Secret Service agent: "When he was traveling, he would roll up his sleeves and carry his bag over his shoulder, but it was empty. He wanted people to think he was carrying his own bag."

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ron Kessler, p. 70-71 , Jun 29, 2009

1976: blacks in administration reflected support at polls

By 1976, the number of black elected officials had risen above forty-three hundred. President Jimmy Carter's administration, reflecting his debt to the black voters who helped him win, included more dark faces in visible roles than perhaps ever before. Patricia Roberts Harris (HUD secretary), Clifford Alexander Jr. (secretary of the Army), and Andrew Young (UN ambassador) were among his high-profile appointments, along with Eleanor Holmes Norton (EEOC). Reflecting on black's newfound visibility in leadership roles, in 1977 Young told an audience, "We were protest and now we are it."

He wasn't just talking about at the federal level [but also about blacks in local politics, and the recently formed Congressional Black Caucus, and 1972's first National Black Political Convention.]

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 85 , Jan 20, 2009

OpEd: Ran when voters were fed up, and welcomed an outsider

Carter took office with great popular goodwill after the trauma of Nixon era. But when twin crises of energy and stagflation hit, he failed to deal with either.

Carter came to Washington as the ultimate outsider. He served just one term as governor of Georgia, and after he left office in January 1975, he spent the next 22 months running for president. At the time I was working on The Washington Post as the junior man on the paper's national staff. When Carter formally declared for president, I drew the assignment. So unlikely a candidate was Carter that hardly any other reporters showed up, and the Post put my story on the shipping page.

He began with just 2% national name recognition. But Carter had the fortune to run in a year when the voters were fed up with Washington and welcomed a complete outsider candidate. Like other outsiders, Carter also ran against Congress. But unlike successful presidents, he failed to build bridges to the congressional leadership once he assumed office.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 55 , Aug 25, 2008

1979 "Malaise" speech: Crisis of confidence threatens nation

At the peak of the energy crisis, Carter gave his famous "malaise" speech, which never actually used the word "malaise":

"I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation," he began his speech of July 15, 1979. "I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy. The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity or purpose for our nation."

Many commentators felt that the president was trying to deflect blame for failed policies onto the people. Voters were less worried about "the meaning of their own lives" than the price of oil. Three days later, Carter asked for the resignation of his entire cabinet, a move calculated to suggest a fresh start but one that conveyed panic.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 56-57 , Aug 25, 2008

OpEd: ignored Congress since his mandate was from the people

Carter's dark horse candidacy overtook and then lapped the Democratic field from the far outside in 1976. Carter was the model of a "New South" white politician: a fusion of traditional southern conservative and Christian Democratic values, minus the Dixiecrat segregationist baggage.

In truth, Carter was inevitable well before Election Day. But from almost the day after, Carter began battling with Congress. There were always fights between Hamilton Jordan, Carter's chief of staff, and the Democrats. Always, Jordan actually thought Carter could govern while ignoring the House of Representatives. His attitude made for a very rough honeymoon. How do you, as president, dismiss one half of Congress that your own party controls? I guess the explanation was that Carter was really a naval officer and not a politician. Moreover, Carter thought his mandate came from the American electorate, not the liberal-leaning Democratic leadership in the House, a belief that had some truth to it.

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.217-218 , Aug 5, 2008

2002: won Nobel Peace Prize for post-presidential work

In 2002, President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize, largely for his work after leaving the White House in fighting to eradicate guinea worm and river blindness in Africa, helping poor nations to become self-sufficient in food production, promoting human rights, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, and monitoring elections in troubled democracies to make sure that all eligible citizens can vote and that their votes are counted.
Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p. 6 , Sep 4, 2007

My faith goes beyond religion and requires work

I have one life and one chance to make it count for something.I am free to choose what that something is, and the something I've chosen is my faith. Now, my faith goes beyond theology and religion and requires considerable work and effort. My faith demands--this is not optional--my faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have, to try to make a difference.
Source: Be the Change, by Michelle Nunn, p. 23 , Nov 1, 2006

Fundamentalist politicians divide our country

Recent debates have both Democratic and Republican Parties relying on vituperative commercials to win elections, congressional deliberations increasingly characterized by partisan animosity, and our entire population having adopted "red" and "blue" as habitual descriptive phrases.

Fundamentalists have become increasingly influential in both religion and government, and have managed to change the nuances and subtleties of historic debate into black-and-white rigidities and the personal derogation of those who dare to disagree. At the same time, these religious and political conservatives have melded their efforts, bridging the formerly respected separation of church and state. This has empowered a group of influential "neoconservatives," who have been able to implement their long-frustrated philosophy in both domestic & foreign policy.

The influence of these various trends poses a threat to many of our nation's historic customs and moral commitments, both in government and in houses of worship.

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p. 2-3 , Sep 26, 2006

Challenging times for those shaped by religious faith

In my 2002 Nobel speech in Oslo, I said, "The present era is a challenging and disturbing time for those whose lives are shaped by religious faith based on kindness towards each other." When asked by "Christianity Today" to explain this statement, I responded:

"There is a remarkable trend toward fundamentalism in all religions--including the different denominations of Christianity as well as Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. Increasingly, true believers are inclined to begin a process of deciding: 'Since I am aligned with God, I am superior and my beliefs should prevail, and anyone who disagrees with me is inherently wrong,' and the next step is 'inherently inferior.' The ultimate step is 'subhuman,' and then their lives are not significant. That tendency has created, throughout the world, intense religious conflicts."

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p. 30-31 , Sep 26, 2006

OpEd: 1980 presidential debate lost election

In 1980, Reagan won in a landslide. I remember the moment in that election when the tide turned. Carter refused to debate with John Anderson; there was only one debate between the two major-party nominees that year, and it was late in the campaign.

Until that point--people forget this today--the race was neck-and-neck. The economy, to be sure, was in terrible shape: The so-called "misery index" was in double digits, interest rates were as high as 15%.

But his most brilliant move was the way he dealt with Carter's attempt to attack him as a dangerous ideologue. When Carter suggested that Reagan had tried to discontinue Medicare, he saw his chance to turn the tide--to paint Carter, for once, as the guy who kept getting things wrong. Turning from the camera, he looked directly at the president, and laughed, "There you go again..." That was it. Carter looked like a fool. And Reagan looked like an indulgent storeowner, wondering whether this fellow he'd hired was really up to the job after all.

Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.239-240 , Oct 17, 2005

Zell Miller has betrayed our trust

Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as state senator, lieutenant governor and governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as US senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.
Source: Response to Zell Miller’s 2004 Republican Convention speech , Sep 8, 2004

Show decency to switch party for philosophical differences

Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn, disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.
Source: Response to Zell Miller’s 2004 Republican Convention speech , Sep 8, 2004

Zell Miller also said Kerry was an authentic American hero

Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican National Convention because of your being a “Democrat,” and it’s quite possible that your rabid speech damaged our party and paid the GOP some transient dividends. Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign’s personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as “one of this nation’s authentic heroes, one of this party’s best-known and greatest leaders-and a good friend.”)
Source: Response to Zell Miller’s 2004 Republican Convention speech , Sep 8, 2004

Zell Miller has chosen lies and obfuscation over the truth

There are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral pre-emptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.
Source: Response to Zell Miller’s 2004 Republican Convention speech , Sep 8, 2004

Trust is at the very heart of our democracy

Our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people. When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken. After 9/11, America stood proud - wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
Source: Primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 28, 2004

Our decency, compassion, and common sense will prevail

Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America’s role in the world. At stake is nothing less than our nation’s soul. But I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe, as I always have, the essential decency & compassion & common sense of the American people will prevail.
Source: Primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 28, 2004

Openly a Born-Again Christian

Jimmy Carter claimed to be born-again and even taught Sunday School during his White House years, yet he seemed to erect a wall of separation between faith and practice when it came to being president. Ronald Reagan claimed a vital Christian faith and sense of mission, though he rarely went to church and his wife's dabbling in astrology made skeptics of many.

[The evangelical community] wanted their president to be a godly man. Jimmy Carter had talked about being born again but had disappointed most evangelicals. Though Carter at least made faith in office fashionable, Ronald Reagan was their true hero.

This new secular orientation prevailed for a season but was already in transition before George W. Bush assumed the presidency. Jimmy Carter's openness about being born again started the change, and the shift continued under Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, both of whom were outspoken about their personal faith and the need for religion in public life.

Source: The Faith of George W. Bush, by S.Mansfield, p. xviii&82&172 , Apr 12, 2004

Preconditions for fair elections not present in 2000 Florida

Carter, who often is invited by foreign nations to serve as an election observer, says that the Carter Center in Atlanta requires 3 criteria to be met before he agrees
  1. That voters are able to understand the ballot procedures and the ballots themselves.
  2. Voters have equal rights to have their votes counted.
  3. There is a central commission in the country to resolve election disputes.
Carter says that none of these conditions prevail throughout the US & that Florida violated all three.
Source: Crashing the Party, by Ralph Nader, p.296 , Oct 14, 2002

Grew up in Archery, GA; no longer exists except for church

Just beyond the town [of Plains, Georgia] there is a place called Archery, where the topography begins to change for the first time since Savannah, from flat plains to rolling hills and poorer soils that extend on to the Chatahoochee River, which divides Georgia from Alabama. Archery is no longer there, except on the old maps, but it's where I grew up and lived from when I was 4 years old in 1928 until the very end of the Great Depression, when I left for college and the US Navy in 1941.

190 miles west of Savannah, Plains is located exactly 120 miles due south of Atlanta. It is surrounded by productive farms, and seems to have citizens who are exceptionally inclined to resist moving away to distant places.

Archery, on the other hand, was never quite a real town. Except for the church, which is still vibrant and active, all the rest is gone.

Source: An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter, p. 14-15 , Dec 16, 2001

Former President criticizes Clinton’s last-minute pardons

Former President Carter said that Bill Clinton abused his power and brought disgrace to the White House with his last-minute pardon of fugitive Marc Rich. “I think President Clinton made one of his most serious mistakes in the way he handled the pardon situation the last few hours he was in office,” Carter said . “A number of them were quite questionable, including about 40 not recommended by the Justice Department.” Of the Rich pardon, Carter said: “I don’t think there is any doubt that some of the factors in his pardon were attributable to his large gifts. In my opinion, that was disgraceful.“ Clinton has insisted there was nothing wrong with his pardon of Rich, who until then had been wanted by the Justice Department for allegedly evading more than $48 million in taxes, fraud and illegal oil deals with Iran. Carter said he pardoned about 500 people during his four years in the White House, most of those in the first three years, and none during the final weeks of his term.
Source: Associated Press on CNN.com , Feb 21, 2001

1975 campaign promise: I'll never lie to you

In early 1975, Jimmy Carter began campaigning in Iowa. "I'll never lie to you," Carter said one day. [Carter's advisor] noticed that Carter's pledge of honesty resonated with the small audience. They stirred, they perked up. People were fed up with the lies that Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had told about Vietnam and Watergate.

In the days and weeks that followed, Carter kept saying it, and he went further. "I'll never mislead you," he promised. He told audiences if he did lie or mislead, they should not support him. They should vote for someone else.

Carter's mother, Miss Lillian, told him it was a mistake to make such a bold promise. Small, white lies were a part of life.

But Carter saw the no-lie pledge was recruiting fervent supporters. It was the backbone of the rationale for his candidacy. He was not Nixon. He was not a lawyer. He had never held office in Washington--the seat of a government few any longer trusted. He as an outsider, and he would tell the truth--always.

Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p. 41-42 , Jun 15, 1999

Born into a privileged world surrounded by poverty

President Jimmy Carter was born into a privileged world surrounded by poverty. He grew up with blacks aqs friends and self-made millionaires as relatives, an aristocrat in the midst of 20th century slavery. His father was a segregationist, his mother the radic-lib of her day.

Part of him was naval officer, Sunday-school teacher, scholar, engineer, liberal, businessman, conservative. Primarily, he was a politician. And those of us who covered him found him the most complex and interesting of our time. His enemies said he was consumed with selfish ambition, a ruthless opportunist who would change his politics to further his climb to the top. Yet his ambition was not only for himself, but for others. He said to me once, “I feel like I have a certain amount of talent and ability and one life to live and I don’t want to waste it. I’d like it to be meaningful to myself and the people around me.”

Source: How Jimmy Won, by Kandy Stroud, p. 11 , Jan 1, 1997

Leapfrogged liberalism; focused on managing bureaucracy

Carter’s politics fit no simple category. He could be conservative on abortion and welfare reform and taxes, and simplifying the federal bureaucracy, liberal on programs like National Health Insurance, Day Care, ERA, cutting the defense budget. Like Robert Kennedy, he became a new kind of liberal, leapfrogging over the old liberalism he thought to be obsolete, unworkable, divisive. He questioned the old shibboleths of welfare and federal paternalism. He was more interested in a manageable bureaucracy, an America back at work, with financial and judicial equality for the poor as well as the rich.

Above all, he was misunderstood. Being Southern, he would be, and being rural Southern, he would be even more so. Being a born-again Bible-toting Baptist in an ever more Godless world did not help. Snobbism accounted for part of the lack of understanding. And yet, on November 2, 1976, James Earl Carter, Jr., was elected the 39th President of the United States.

Source: How Jimmy Won, by Kandy Stroud, p. 13 , Jan 1, 1997

Broad appeal by straddling key issues

Although Gerald Ford called him someone who “wavers, wiggle, wanders, and waffles,” Carter established a broad-based appeal by selling himself as both a liberal and a conservative, straddling issues with the agility of a tightrope walker: for and against abortion; for and against bussing; for and against prayer in the schools; for and against right-to-work laws; for and against big business. Pummeling his audience with statistics he convinced them he understood complex issues well enough to be President. But with his talk of compassion and decency and truth and love, he conveyed he cared first and foremost for what touched human beings.
Source: How Jimmy Won, by Kandy Stroud, p.425-6 , Jan 1, 1997

New South: led party away from race-based conservatism

Twenty years ago, the notion of a New South embraced liberal and moderate Democrats who led their party away from the race-based conservatism of a century's practice. They seemed progressive to the national press, while presiding over courthouse business as usual at home. Jimmy Carter was a prime example. Today's New South is different, and the Gingrich Republicans are its political standard-bearers. Some are transplants from the North who bring Republican politics with them. Most are former Democrats from the South's small towns who went away to college and then moved to the metropolitan hubs for opportunity. They are more apt to be white-collar than not, more likely to have chosen to vote Republican than to have inherited party loyalty. Many are onetime Democrats for whom the party moved too far to the left. The Christian Coalition has mined those voters effectively for more than a decade.
Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.137 , Jun 1, 1995

Withdrew from Moscow Olympics to protest Afghan invasion

"We had a long discussion about the 1980 Olympics. We will make a decision about whether to participate. [Not participating] would be the most severe blow to the Soviet Union. Only if many nations act in concert would I consider it to be a good idea." -- Diary, Jan. 2, 1980.

For the Soviet Union, the Moscow Olympics was much more than a sporting event. They saw it as a triumph for communism & a vivid demonstration to other nations of the world that the Soviets represented the true spirit of the ancient Olympics. For several years, thousands of athletes and many businesses and communications firms had already committed themselves to participate. To interrupt all this preparation would be a serious step indeed.

I announced our decision about the Moscow Olympics: We would send a message to government leaders in the world, stating that unless Soviets withdrew their troops from Afghanistan within a month there should be no participation in the Moscow games.

Source: Keeping Faith, by Jimmy Carter, p.474-482 , Jan 20, 1980

For the first time in a generation, we face no crisis

We've come through a long period of turmoil and doubt, but we've once again found our moral course, and with a new spirit, we are striving to express our best instincts to the rest of the world.

For the first time in a generation, we are not haunted by a major international crisis or by domestic turmoil, and we now have a rare and a priceless opportunity to address persistent problems and burdens which come to us as a nation-quietly and steadily getting worse over the years.

We here in Washington must move away from crisis management, and we must establish clear goals for the future-immediate and the distant future--which will let us work together and not in conflict. Never again should we neglect a growing crisis like the shortage of energy, where further delay will only lead to more harsh and painful solutions.

Source: Pres. Carter's 1978 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 19, 1978

To Southerners, presidency represented political redemption

In the panhandle of Florida during the primary election campaign, I'd had my first real understanding of how much it would mean to southerners to have one of their own elected President. Governor George Wallace had told Floridians that a vote for him would "send a message to Washington." A vote for me, I told them, would send a President there. At that time, Southerners had some messages to send to the world, and I listened to them. The most important was that we in the South were ready for reconciliations, to be accepted as equals, to join the mainstream of American political life. This yearning for what might be called political redemption was a significant factor in my successful campaign.
Source: Keeping Faith, by Jimmy Carter, p. 22 , Jan 20, 1977

My greatest strength is that I am an ordinary man

Carter said often, “I have never claimed to be better or wiser than any other person. I think my greatest strengthis that I am an ordinary man, just like all of you, one who has worked and learned and loved his family and made mistakes and tried to correct them without always succeeding.” He was just plain “Jimmy.”
Source: How Jimmy Won, by Kandy Stroud, p.425 , Jan 1, 1977

A Government As Good As Its People

The problem [in our society] isn’t just economic, it’s a matter of the spirit. We as a nation have been disillusioned, we’ve suffered too much, and I n too short a time. The assassination of great political leaders, a tragic war, a national scandal - all of these things and others made millions of American people lose faith and trust in our government. To all of these people I say every day, many times, please, don’t give up. Don’t be apathetic. Give our system another chance. To those who are disgusted or filled with apathy I say our government can work, and it will work, if we can only have leaders once again who have wisdom, and who are as good in office as the people who put them in office. That’s what this campaign is all about. We must have a government that listens to our people and understands our people and respects our people and reflects the greatness of our people.
Source: Democratic Party speech, in “Good As Its People,” p.236 , Oct 19, 1976

Put the people and US allies back into foreign policy debate

CARTER: We can only be strong overseas if we're strong at home. We've lost in our foreign policy, the character of the American people. It's been one of secrecy and exclusion. In addition to that we've became, contrary to long-standing beliefs and principles, the arms merchant of the whole world. We've tried to buy success from our enemies, and we've excluded friendship of our allies.

FORD: Governor Carter indicated that he wanted to cut the defense budget by $15 billion. [One analyst] said if we cut defense by $5 billion, we will have to cut military personnel by 250,000, civilian personnel by 100,000, jobs in America by 100,000. We would have to reduce our naval construction program, and the research and development for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and Marines by 8 percent. We would have to close twenty military bases.

Source: The Second Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Oct 6, 1976

Return to values of Constitution and be open with the people

Q: Governor Carter, What should the role of the United States in the world be?

CARTER: I've seen the hurt in the aftermath of Vietnam and Cambodia, Chile, Pakistan, Angola and Watergate. We were proud of our country, its moral integrity, what our Constitution stands for. I believe there's no limit on what we can be if we can harness the meaning of the Constitution. Every time we've made a mistake in foreign affairs, it's because the people have been excluded.

Source: The Second Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Oct 6, 1976

Constitution & Bill of Rights should guide foreign policy

I believe that the boycott of American businesses by Arab countries because businesses trade with Israel or they have Jews who are owners is an absolute disgrace. It's a matter of morality. I don't believe Arab countries will pursue it when we have a strong president who will protect the integrity of our country, the commitment of our Constitution and Bill of Rights and protect people in this country who happen to be Jews. It may later be Catholics. But we ought to stand staunch.
Source: The Second Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Oct 6, 1976

Return to values to regain role as world's moral beacon

We ought to be a beacon for nations who search for peace, freedom, individual liberty, who search for basic human rights. We can be again. We'll never have that world leadership until we are strong at home, and we can have that strength if we return to the basic principles. It ought to be a quiet strength based on the integrity of our people, the vision of the Constitution, an innate purpose that God's given us in the greatest nation on earth.
Source: The Second Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Oct 6, 1976

The greatness of America can be restored

Our greatest resource are the 215 million Americans who have the strength, character, intelligence, experience, patriotism, idealism, compassion on which we rely to restore greatness to our country. I believe we can bind our wounds. I believe if we tap the tremendous strength in this country, we can once again have a government as good as our people, and let the world know what we know--that we still live in the greatest and the strongest and the best country on earth.
Source: The First Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Sep 23, 1976

Lusted in his heart & feels forgiven by God

In late September, Playboy magazine released an interview in which Carter said some remarkable things. "I've looked on a lot of women with lust," Carter confessed. "I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognized I will do--and I have done it--and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shakes up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guys is loyal to his wife." And then he continued, "I don't think I would ever take on the same frame of mind that Nixon or Johnson did-lying, cheating and distorting the truth."
Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.416-417 , Sep 1, 1976

Oct. 1975: Choice of 1% of voters; others said, "Jimmy Who?"

Although the name Jimmy Carter has recently become a household word, many American citizens are probably unaware that in October 1975--less than 10 months before the 1976 Democratic convention--the Gallup presidential poll indicated that nationwide the former Georgia governor was the choice of only 1% of Democratic voters. Little wonder then that American voters asked "Jimmy Who?" when queried by pollsters or newsmen about the smiling Georgian. But within a period of 5 months Jimmy Carter jumped to 2nd place in the Gallup poll, 2 points behind Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (30% to 28%); by mid-May he had forged ahead.
Source: Jimmy Who?, by Leslie Wheeler, p. vii , Jan 1, 1976

Nothing wrong with ethnic purity in neighborhoods

By March, Carter was riding high. Then came April and the furor over "ethnic purity." The ill-chosen phrase first appeared in an interview published in the New York Daily News. Asked about low-income, scatter-site housing in the suburbs, Carter said, "I see nothing wrong with ethnic purity being maintained. I would not force a racial integration of a neighborhood by government action. But I would not permit discrimination against a family moving into a neighborhood." There was nothing "wrong" with Carter's position here, but the phrase ethnic purity seemed to have racist and even Hitlerian connotations.

The networks proceeded to grill Carter as to exactly what he meant by "ethnic purity." The flak that resulted looked as if it might have serious effects on Carter's campaign. The candidate's main black supporter, Andrew Young, called the phrase a "disaster". White Northern liberals who had suspected Carter of being a "scrubbed over" Wallace all along produced a chorus of "I-told-you-so's."

Source: Jimmy Who?, by Leslie Wheeler, p.125 , Jan 1, 1976

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  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Jimmy Carter.
Other past presidents on Principles & Values: Jimmy Carter on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2014