Jimmy Carter photo

Interview with Stanley Cloud of "Time" Magazine

July 19, 1976

Q. Some polls indicated that your support, while broad, is rather thin, and there is resistance, for example, among some Catholics and union leaders. How do you propose to deal with this?

Governor Carter. A lot of it has been derived from the tough combat between me and the 12 or 15 other major Democratic candidates. We've been emphasizing one another's weaknesses. We've not emphasized the compatibilities among us and the basic principles of our party.

Q. You're saying these elements will probably join you as the general election campaign progresses?

Governor Carter. Yes. In fact, there is a tremendous amount of that already among my previous opponents, mayors, governors, U.S. Congressmen and Senators.

Q. Do you think you will have any different approach to campaigning depending on whether Ford or Reagan is nominated by the Republicans?

Governor Carter. I doubt it. The issue would be to some degree, on one hand, the radical, perhaps dangerous nature of Ronald Reagan's character, and on the other hand, the absence of strong leadership capability on the part of Ford.

Q. What kind of President do you want to be?

Governor Carter. I'd like to be a President who is both competent and inspirational, who could be incisive in his analysis of the major problems of our nation, who could arouse support for the solution of those problems among a broad bas? of American citizens. I'd like to arrive at a maximum degree of harmony.

Q. But what kind of mark would you like to leave on the country?

Governor Carter. I've studied the finer aspects of previous administrations: the easing of fear by the Roosevelt Administration, the humility and courage and tenacity of Mr. Truman's Administration, the inspiration of Kennedy, the elimination of discrimination and inequity by the Johnson Administration. I would like to exemplify the finest aspects of each one of those great Presidents of the past. Whether that would be possible it is too early to say, but that's my goal.

Q. What should the country look for, assuming you are elected, in terms of appointments?

Governor Carter. Cabinet members in my administration will be independent, competent managers, advocates for the Americans served by their own departments, able to share with me the responsibilities of evolving long-range, consistent purposes for the administration. I do not intend to run the affairs of government through the White House staff.

Q. What would you do to reduce the imperial qualities of the Presidency?

Governor Carter. I would want to do everything I could to retain a closeness with the people by having a sunshine law in Washington, fireside chats, frequent or constant communication with the leaders of Congress and thorough explorations of the controversial matters that affect us—such as energy, transportation, elements of foreign affairs, defense—so that people think they are part of the government, part of the White House.

Q. Many people in this coalition of yours feel very strongly about some important issues, and you are going to have to make decisions that will antagonize one group or another.

Governor Carter. Well, so be it. I would like everyone in the country to be acting in harmony, but I don't expect it. When I was governor, some extremely controversial decisions came up—abortion, amnesty, gun control, the death penalty, government reorganization, prison reform. I never had any problems making decisions forcefully, calling on the people to support my position. I think there is a great inclination on the part of the American people to yield to some degree in order to realize major achievements of which our nation is capable. I don't think I'll ever be tentative.

Jimmy Carter, Interview with Stanley Cloud of "Time" Magazine Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347624

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