News Conference in New York City
Jordan. In mid-April, I think on the 17th, we presented a general kind of outline of the processes that the Governor might follow, options in terms of selecting a Vice Presidential running mate. On June 2, we presented him with a very complete list of all people who might be considered, Members of Congress, Democratic mayors and governors, with some arbitrary evaluations that resulted in him being able to reduce the number of people being considered from, I think, 300 or 400, to what, Jimmy—he went from there to 24.
Q. State the number again?
Governor Carter. There were several hundred. That included people like college presidents and leaders in business and heads of nonprofit organizations.
Q. Was the list prepared at the Governor's request or by staff initiative?
Jordan. Which list?
Q. The June 2 list. Did he ask for a list?
Jordan. After Pennsylvania—before Pennsylvania, on April 17, I gave Jimmy this memorandum outlining the processes and between Pennsylvania and June 2, Mr. Kirbo and I and the Governor started talking about this thing that we hoped we are going to have to do and that resulted in my writing the memo that I gave to Jimmy on June 2 that carried it the next step.
At the same time, back in May, Pat Caddell and I had the brilliant idea of polling to see which of these guys would help us. We found out none of them would help us, and none of them would hurt us.
The Governor was really not involved or informed of that until the results were known.
Governor Carter. Until the article came out.
Jordan. I think somebody wrote it in the Globe.
Governor Carter. I think the effort there—I was a little bit aggravated when I discovered that the poll had been done. But what they tried to do was not to select 14 specific people necessarily, but just 14 different kinds of people to illustrate the relative public acceptance of them. They were all good people by the way. All of us felt that the results of the poll were preliminary and that any immediate asset or liability would be overcome in the campaign itself.
Most of them detracted more than they helped at that point.
Q. Detracted, you said most detracted?
Governor Carter. Yes, most of them detracted. One of the several things— Pat can explain this better than I—but he took just theoretical Republican tickets and ran myself and one particular other person against the ticket and saw whether it added or detracted from my rating against the Republican alone.
Q. Was Senator Mondale in this list of 14?
Q. How did he finish?
Governor Carter. Go ahead and tell.
Caddell. I don't remember. He was not very well known. In fact in the group he was one of the least well-known candidates.
We made a judgment at that time, given his recognition levels that were so low, the significance in terms of the unknown was not very great, and really not very helpful.
Governor Carter. I do remember that Glenn and Muskie were well at the top and Mondale well at the bottom.
Q. Is this the poll you referred to this morning when you said it held one person higher------
Governor Carter. Yes. If I remember correctly, Mondale's recognition factor was something like 30 percent. Seventy percent of the people didn't know who he was.
Caddell. Of the 30 percent, we considered only about half of that to be really able to recognize who he really was.
Governor Carter. At that time we were not oriented to Mondale at all.
Q. Did you also do a poll at this time on the Catholic problem? Is that in that poll?
Governor Carter. I think Pat could answer the questions about the polls better than I. I generally just receive the summaries of polls. Only on request do I get a complete poll to take home and study.
Caddell. We were already doing some national questions on image and things of that nature. Hamilton and I in our brilliant move decided to really add this stuff on top of it. That was a survey to make a strengths and weaknesses and perceptions test.
Essentially the survey was geared to doing that, measuring those qualities; Governor Carter versus any one of the potential Republicans.
Q. On that point, too, a followup question. Did you do subsequent polling on any or all of these, and most particularly did you do any very recently?
Caddell. There is a rumor floating around about a survey done this last weekend which is not true. A couple of people asked me on the floor about that. We did not do any surveys in the last week.
We did go back about a week after we completed these results simply to recheck some of the interviews we did on a couple of things.
Q. What date are you roughly talking about?
Caddell. I would say it would be about the 17th or so. It was rough reinterviews to cover a couple of points we had not done on some subjects.
Q. Was this a new area you had to go back and recheck?
Caddell. We had some political questions we wanted to look at in reinterviewing, and we also took a look at a couple of names.
Governor Carter. I think we added a few names by the way. I said why don't you add a few more.
Q. You said that you made one choice after the Ohio primary. This was right after the Ohio primary. Did you make one choice on the 9th and another choice------
Governor Carter. I never closed my mind and said this is my person. But had I been required at that moment to have the press conference that I had this morning, I would have chosen different people.
I am not going to name those people. I don't think it would be appropriate now.
I might later on for historical purposes.
Q. In that connection some of us thought that the inevitable order of such a choice would be Church to Glenn to Muskie to Mondale. Is that wrong?
Governor Carter. That would be in the framework of rationality, but I would not want to------
Q. That was not the order?
Governor Carter. I said that would be within the framework of rationality, but I wouldn't want to confirm or deny it specifically. You can interpret that circumlocution any way you want to.
Q. It sounds like the Governor of California.
Governor Carter. I was with him this morning.
Q. About that meeting this morning, you did not mention Walter Mondale at all in that meeting with the California delegation. Was that an oversight or what?
Governor Carter. If I didn't, it was an oversight.
I had discussed Senator Mondale with Brown very thoroughly and also with the two Senators about Mondale in the campaign and asked them when they did their own polling, particularly Senator Tunney, that they tried to identify areas in California where he would be most helpful.
Q. Governor, could you tell us something about your interview with Senator Mondale and what sort of things you thought you were going to see and maybe what sort of impression that you made?
Governor Carter. Do you all have any other questions about this particular sequence first?
Q. On the questionnaires, were the questionnaires standard questionnaires or did each of the Senators and Congressmen who got the questionnaires get a tailor-made questionnaire from Mr. Kirbo?
Kirbo. Yes, I left one with them.
Governor Carter. You said the same questionnaire with each one of them.
Q. There was a standard form? Because we heard, for example, Senator Glenn got a shorter form than somebody else.
Kirbo. He thought he did. What happened in the preparation of these, the first page was some items used to refresh my memory and points I wanted to make before I gave them the questionnaire. Page two started with the questions.
So I left Senator Glenn only beginning with page 2, and the staff ran me down later on in the day and said I left off the first page. He thought he missed something.
I explained to them that they didn't have to fill out the questionnaire and suggested that they might want to assemble the information and have it ready if they preferred to keep it until they thought that they had a better chance of being selected or if for any reason keep it for a while, I would pick it up later.
I left it entirely to them as to whether they wanted to sign it and told them it would not affect their consideration if they elected not to reveal all of the information requested. That was the sort of thing that might have been on page one.
Q. Mr. Kirbo, we had heard that Senator Muskie had first declined to complete the questionnaire.
Kirbo. That is not correct. He didn't decline it. I just went to Senator Muskie and Ribicoff at the Governor's direction, after I had gone to the others, and asked them if they would be willing, if they desired to be considered, and I didn't ask them to fill out a questionnaire, and told them if they desired to be considered, we had the questionnaire, and had Senator Muskie look at it and asked him how long it would take to assemble that information if the Governor desired to select him. He told me that he had no objection to answering those questions and could assemble it in a fairly short time and that he was interested.
I was reading a paper on the plane coming back to Washington a day or two later, and I saw in the paper where the staff said I failed to leave a questionnaire. I assumed maybe they wanted one.
So I went by his office and carried it, and he filled it out, and I came back and picked it up later.
Governor Carter. Have the questionnaires been handed out?
Powell. We handed them out downstairs this morning.
Q. I understand someone in the Carter campaign called Senator Church's aides on the weekend before last and asked where Senator Church would be located. And as I understand it, they were told. And then no call came for a period of 3 to 4 days. I do know for a fact that they were epileptic at Church headquarters in Washington about that.
Governor Carter. I was told that Church was going to the Bahamas with his family. I really tried to accommodate the scheduling and the desires of the Senators involved.
I was a little embarrassed at first about asking him to come to Plains. In every instance I left that up to them. I offered to come to Washington or to meet them at the convention or to have them come to Plains.
I did not call Senator Church because Mr. Kirbo told me he had a long term schedule with his family to go to the Bahamas on a sailboat or something. I didn't want to interrupt that. So that is why I delayed that request.
Kirbo. He said he could get back up here mighty fast if we needed him and that I would find out how to locate him through his staff.
Q. The questionnaire seems a very thorough one. How do you know they were telling the truth?
Governor Carter. I don't remember the details of the questionnaire, but Mr. Kirbo followed up the questionnaire with a very careful and detailed, and I think lengthy discussion with them. And some of the questionnaires that were given to them were substantiated by documents, financial status, previous income tax returns, and then to get to the point that has not been discussed yet, we also asked some of the newspaper leaders in Atlanta, in each instance to contact on a confidential basis news media leaders in the states involved, and to give us a summary of any detrimental comments that have been made about the persons and the assessments of whether it had substantiation or not.
My presumption has been that the persons did make truthful statements. In fact some of the statements made on the questionnaire may or may not have been complimentary to themselves. I can't prove everything that was put was true, but I believe it was.
Q. I just wondered, for example, where you asked if there ever had been a problem with income taxes or if there was anything in their background to be detrimental, you had a cross-check?
Governor Carter. Yes. I think that they were very meticulous about that I believe more than one said their income tax returns had been checked by IRS. I think mine has been checked almost every year, which I don't object to. I don't think there was any inclination on their part to mislead me or make a false statement.
Obviously had we detected the slightest degree of evasion there, there would have been possibly a fatal increment in the decision.
Q. Did you use any outside people, investigators or accountants routinely with these people?
Governor Carter. I will let Mr. Kirbo answer that. The answer is yes.
Kirbo. A questionnaire was designed to bring out any problems. After you get answers from the questionnaire or—either information from other sources or from what I gathered from the interview with him, there would be some problem—for instance if you had a net worth statement or you had income tax returns that I thought areas needed to be worked out, that I would get an accountant to give us a memorandum on his version of it.
Some of my partners in the law firm are tax lawyers. I would ask them questions and go over it with them. And then where it was necessary to check partners or associates or substantial contributors or any person in connection with it, I thought it was a briefing, I had someone, usually two sources, check on the person and see what sort of reputation he had and what business he was in and that sort of thing so we could determine whether the person that this senator or congressman was associating with was a man of good character or might cause some problem, political problem later on.
Governor Carter. I would like to add one thing. All of this was done with the consent and knowledge of the person being considered.
Q. Can you tell us the news media leaders that you asked to help you?
Governor Carter. Did they say it was OK?
Powell. I don't think I would mention it, the ones I talked to, I prefer not to.
Governor Carter. I think we can say it was executive officers and others in Atlanta newspapers.
Q. Were any reporters or writing editors involved?
Governor Carter. They were people that had personal relationships with other papers and who had counterparts in other papers and calls basically posed general questions about this person or that person. "What do you think?"
Q. Were they writing people though, were they publishers?
Governor Carter. They were executives.
Kirbo. Those were executives. They were a combination of both. They were writers, and in addition to that, I talked—I interviewed several reporters on a rather broad scale and took notes and submitted that to Governor Carter. Every time a reporter would interview me, I would interview him on those questions.
Governor Carter. Also during the whole process there were quite a number of uncomplimentary statements made or allegations of impropriety, and we very carefully checked out all of those.
As I said this morning, I am sure Mr. Kirbo will confirm this, because we talked about it, on all six persons, seven including Congressman Rodino who did not want to be considered finally, there was' no revelation of any factor that would have been detrimental to them had they run for Vice President. There was nobody eliminated from consideration.
I had thought earlier, just in a tentative way, that out of six or seven people a couple of them would have something that would make it difficult to run with them. That was not the case, and I was surprised at that.
Q. Governor, what are you going to do with the files on those that were not successful? This gives you rather complete information on persons who are not in your administration.
Governor Carter. I have those files in my own home in Plains in a secure place. I had never thought about it, they might want them back, I would be glad to return them. There is only one copy of them.
Kirbo. I told them we would return them.
Q. It seems that the questionnaires and this part of the process was, as you say, looking to see if there were detrimental information of a personal or financial nature. That probably was a difficult process. But the other parts might have been more difficult, assessing their leadership and political qualities and so forth. How did you go about that?
Governor Carter. That was primarily my responsibility. Mr. Kirbo did talk to—I am not going to start naming names, I don't want to be exclusive—people like Tip O'Neill, the Speaker of the House, Senator Mansfield and others on down in the elected hierarchy of the Congress who know these people well, and there were long detailed conversations about all the persons.
In addition I talked to, I would say, 30 or 40 people whose names I think would all be known to you, about their ideas concerning the Vice President.
And my question—I developed a formal and fairly standard routine saying : If you were called upon to select a Vice President, what persons would you consider? And they would ordinarily give sometimes one, most often two or three names, in an order of priority, and I would say among five or six other names that I will give you alphabetically, would you tell me how you feel about them?
We used three measurements of qualification. One was the ability to govern.
The second was general reputation, integrity, character.
The third one was any comments about the political aspects of their placement on the ticket.
That was one of the major sources. I found that there was only one exception, but out of 30 or 40 people I never had anyone say I don't want to participate. The one person by the way who did not want to give me specific names was John Gardner, who heads up Common Cause.
I called and talked to him. He said he would like to talk to me. After 4 or 5 days, I called him back and he gave me help on the characteristics that would be important and so forth, but he said he thought it was inappropriate for him in his position to name names.
With that one exception, the other people I called did give me their recommendations. That was one way.
Of course I had other people of my staff, Stu Eizenstat in particular, to prepare for me two very thick notebooks about that thick [indicating] describing general background and characteristics, record in previous election, rating by different groups, so forth, on the candidates.
Q. This is on the final seven or the bigger list?
Governor Carter. This was on a bigger list because I never told Stu Eizenstat who the final seven were.
Q. One of these persons was almost surely Senator Humphrey. In view of your selection of Senator Mondale, I wonder if you would share with us in just that case some of Senator Humphrey's thoughts and how important they were to you?
Governor Carter. No; I won't do that. But I would certainly confirm that Senatoi Humphrey was one of those that was interviewed by Mr. Kirbo, not by me. It was just coincidence. You are perfectly willing to go and talk to Senator Humphrey about that. I don't want to reveal how he might have ranked Mondale in relation to others.
Q. On that, how important in your own thinking were the views of Senator Humphrey in the decision that you reached?
Governor Carter. Well, important, but there was a very remarkable pattern that developed after I talked to 30 or 40 people. I think Mr. Kirbo would confirm this. We didn't detect any additional persons who were named. There weren't any startling surprises. And every now and then, there would be one person who would recommend a name we weren't considering deeply. But there was a remarkable pattern to it. That was important to me. And then out of those interviews with Senators Humphrey and Mansfield and others, as far as I am concerned they are confidential, they are welcome to reveal what they said if they want to, we extracted not only compliments, but also concerns.
Then this was all done really almost exclusively by me and Mr. Kirbo. I didn't want other people to be involved in it.
If Mr. Kirbo picked up a concern, he would share it with me and vice versa.
Then as we had subsequent conversations with people on a confidential basis, we would cross-check those who had knowledge of that characteristic of whether or not there was an agreement on that defect. So it was a very careful, methodical thing. I kept all the records, made notes, and Mr. Kirbo did too.
I don't want to reveal what any particular person said about another person.
Q. Could we focus on Senator Mondale a bit?
Governor Carter. Yes.
Q. You listed all the 'various categories, but 1 wonder if you would be a little more detailed about what were the things that turned your mind finally to Senator Mondale. Were there specific things that you constantly kept coming back to that finally tipped you over in his direction?
Governor Carter. It is hard for me to answer that without comparing him with other candidates in a detrimental way to them. I don't have any doubt that I made the right choice.
Sometime in the distant future I might feel like I made a mistake. I don't think I shall. But when he came to Plains, I had never known him before. I had just met him; once I testified simultaneously with him in a congressional hearing on Title IV(a), and I had seen him. He came down once to make a very brief breakfast speech on behalf of Andy Young. I came and made the first speech and left. I didn't even hear Senator Mondale's speech.
I had not known him. When he came, I was prepared and he was extremely well prepared. I asked him a question: What did he think the relationship ought to be between a Vice President and a President, and he knew what he wanted to say. He had carefully considered it. He knew that relationship.
I asked him: What do you think the relationship ought to be between the Vice President and the Cabinet?
He had a very thorough and carefully considered answer.
The same thing about foreign affairs, diplomatic meetings, the same thing with interrelations with Congress.
He had thought about nuances of difference between a Vice President's impact in dealing with the Senators and the impact that might be contrasted with the House of Representatives. I learned a lot from him. I felt a sense of ease with him.
He has obviously, as he said this morning, read my major speeches and he was familiar with what I stood for. I didn't know what his stand was—I had a statement from Stu Eizenstat about his stand on busing, for instance. Stu had said Senator Mondale is not for forced busing, but he has consistently opposed legislative attempts to circumvent constitutional provisions.
When I asked him the question, he gave me the same answer. He was very consistent with his past record. I had been involved with him in a nonpersonal way in dealing with problems of day care centers and the elimination of Title IV(a) programs under Nixon, and what the strength ought to be for revenue sharing for state and local government.
I had respected him from a few telephone calls I had while governor. I felt his judgment was good. He is young, but he is experienced. I think he has approached the other members of the Senate with a superb degree of compatability. There was a remarkable acceptance of Senator Mondale, approval of him, among both the liberal and the very conservative members of the U.S. Senate.
And one thing that made an impression on me was that he had been able to work harmoniously with Russell Long in the Finance Committee and also with Senator Muskie on the Budget Committee.
As you know, quite often those two committees have been in contention with one another. In both areas apparently, he had done a good job.
So I don't know exactly how to express it, it was a subjective analysis and a subjective judgment.
Q. Was the process, Governor, though, a positive one or did you eliminate the others because there was something you decided you didn't want?
Governor Carter. No; it was a positive one. It really was.
Q. There wasn't something about each of the others that turned you away?
Governor Carter. No; I can't really say that that was the case. That was a relative degree of acceptance, but I think had I chosen any one of those persons, the nation would have accepted------
Q. Is there anything in the personal interviews you had with any of your men that tended you to think perhaps they would not be good running mates for you or something perhaps more negative than the interviews that you didn't find in your session with Mondale?
Governor Carter. I have to say frankly that he came out on top. I've already demonstrated that with the press conference announcement this morning.
I could have run with a feeling of equanimity with any of them.
Q. I have two questions. Did you similarly poll your own staff for their recommendations?
Governor Carter. I didn't have to.
Q. 1 understood that at Sea Island you did sit down at one point and go around with them.
Governor Carter. The only poll I ever took was that Amy prepared a ballot at Sea Island. She distributed them to my sons and my daughters-in-law and my wife. That was the only poll that was taken. I encouraged the staff members to be aggressive in their own recommendations, and Hamilton was forceful in his espousing of a person.
I had the feeling Mr. Kirbo favored a different person. Amy is still the only unreconciled one in the family. Her preference is John Glenn. I have talked with her about it since lunch, since 12, and she still has got to be convinced that I made the right choice.
Q. Why do you favor such young polltakers?
Governor Carter. I didn't initiate that poll. Amy just did it.
Q. Can you tell us what the results of that poll was?
Governor Carter. Well, there was a preference for Senator Church then.
Q. In your family?
Governor Carter. That was right after the elections and before we started the process.
Q. Governor, in your talk with Senator Mondale, does anything of the small town background, the fact that his father was a minister, did that affect the chemistry at all?
Governor Carter. I don't know about the chemistry, but it did affect my preference. Had he come from a metropolitan area and had, say, been a Catholic, that would have probably have been an asset. But, no, I don't------
Q. Maybe I am not stating it well.
Governor Carter. I can't describe the chemistry of it. I felt at ease with him. I didn't feel ill at ease with any of them.
I think everyone with whom I met would probably confirm the feeling; they may have been a little tense when they came to Plains and came here. I really felt when we had concluded the 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 hour interviews, that they went away feeling compatible.
Q. This subject brings up to me one of the major political considerations for some of us. Thai is the question, the Catholic question. Did you change your views as time went on about the importance of the Catholic voters, and did you wish at any point that you had broadened your list to include possibly more Catholics from which to choose?
Governor Carter. No.
Q. This did not increase in importance in the last week or two?
Governor Carter. No.
Q. Can you give us a little of your thinking about that?
Governor Carter. I think it would be better to restrict the question. I don't want to cut you off.
Let me answer questions about the selection process. My answer is accurate. That is a factor. I said earlier this week, when I came down with one of the tickets, that I cannot balance a ticket geographically between me and the Congress, and between aggressive campaigners and more dormant campaigners and in a religious way, I just can't balance the ticket in all the different ways. I finally just eliminated that process.
I came to the conclusion, as I said this morning, that if I chose a person that I felt would be the best President or Vice President, regardless of race, or regardless of location, background or religion, that I was making the right political decision. I still feel that way.
Q. Governor, I was just going to essentially ask the same question relating to chemistry. Those of us who saw you and all the prospects, 1 think it seemed to most of us that the chemistry looked like it worked with you and Mondale down in Plains, much more so than anybody. He was loose. You were loose. You didn't feel, I hate the word "vibes"—it looked like you had good vibes with Mondale, perhaps better than any of the others.
Governor Carter. That is hard to say. I think if somebody would ask me with which one did you feel most at home, I would probably have said Glenn even 5 minutes ago. Glenn kind of fit in with our family and we had a good relationship.
Q. What about wives, compatibility with wives?
Governor Carter. I didn't have much to do with their wives, except they did come in, two or three of them, and stay during the interview that I had with the Senators. That was a good—if you know their wives, they are all superb women and very fine politicians, but I really can't say honestly that had anything to do with it.
Q. Just going in your general thought process on this, when did you sort of feel Mondale coming to the top, rising to the surface? When did you begin to get the feeling that that would be your choice?
Governor Carter. It was after I got up here that I began to feel that.
Q. What were the primary factors there?
Governor Carter. I can't identify any one particular factor. I hate to answer completely frankly, but I don't want to say anything detrimental about the others, but there was a kind of organic change within my staff members, my key advisers, my family, toward Mondale. I think if you could plot it on a graph, the number of people out of 20 who gave me continuing advice, the number who supported Mondale, it would have just gone up steadily. That may have been influenced by a number of factors. I don't know exactly what it was.
But I made the decision. I might say this. The last 3 or 4 days there was no strong advocacy positions put forward to me. I think Hamilton, Piat and Jody and everybody else felt it was time for them to back off an let me make my own decision. At first they were very aggressive in pursuing their preference. I think they saw I was having a hard time with it and they backed off and let me make the decision.
Q. The stories that leaked out about Muskie and Mondale, did that represent division within the staff rather than any ranking within your own mind?
Governor Carter. I can't answer that. There has never been a single person to whom I expressed a preference, never. I avoided that. There is nobody in the world closer to me than Charles Kirbo and I never expressed my preference to him, and I didn't tell Mr. Kirbo who my choice was this morning until after I had already called Mr. Mondale. I told my wife only about 2 minutes before I placed the call because she had specifically requested that I not tell her as she was interrelating with the news media.
She wanted to be able to tell them truthfully that she didn't know.
Q. You had seven press conferences in a row with your prospective nominees. In each case you stood aside and listened while the rather aggressive members of the press asked some questions which were fielded.
I wonder whether in listening to those questions, you were also turning over in your mind how this person as a potential Vice President might react under those kinds of pressures and whether that was a factor in your decision?
Governor Carter. Yes, it was. I thought it was a good part of the learning process.
Q. Governor, you mentioned this morning you were anxious that Senator Mondale would go down to Georgia and Alabama. Can you tell us, this doesn't reflect on the selection necessarily but you wanted his staff to get together with Ham and the staffs. When are you going to meet with him again and project the campaign?
Governor Carter. I am going to meet with him tomorrow at noon I believe for lunch probably here in this suite. I haven't talked to Jody about it. But I would guess we would make a brief photographic availability there and then check the doors and then let me and him and Joan and Rosalynn have a chance to talk. In the meantime the staffs have already begun to interrelate. Senator Mondale came up here after we left, when I went to California caucus, and they have already begun to extract from one another mutual ideas on how best to conduct the campaign.
My own instructions to Hamilton are to let Senator Mondale and his staff make a proposal on their own initiative on how he can best work in the campaign itself. My guess is that that would be what we would adopt
Q. I have a question which isn't involved with the selection process, but it is on something you raised yourself. You said you thought your tax returns had been checked probably every year. I just wondered if you could tell us what the nature of those checks were? Were they audits?
Governor Carter. They were routine IRS audits. When I was governor, I do not know if there was any motivation from the White House to check all Democratic governors—some Democratic governors think so—my income has been at a fairly high level, not exorbitant level. I think I ordinarily make $75,000 to $100,000 a year. I think in that income bracket there is a fairly routine procedure of checking income tax returns. They always go to my accountant in Georgia. His name is Robert Perry. He is a very conservative CPA.
Whenever there is a doubt, he goes with the IRS. In retrospect, I am glad of it. I used to argue with him quite a bit. But I am glad.
I think the New York Times, by the way, I think Mr. Horrock went down and checked our returns. I think he has access to all of them. When he made his report, I believe he also confirmed after an independent auditing firm had gone over my returns what I just said is true that we had taken a conservative position in every instance. When there was a doubt, we paid the taxes.
This is a good posture.
My major motivation in life is not to make money, but to stay in public service.
Q. Governor, I wonder, without any derogatory comparisons, if you could tell us what you saw as strengths of Senator Muskie and what you would have recommended in him if you had gone with him?
Governor Carter. I had known Senator Muskie perhaps better than any of the other candidates with a possible exception of Senator Jackson. I went to see Senator Muskie several weeks ago, not to consider him for Vice President, but to talk to him about budgeting procedures and how they were working out.
He particularly had asked me to come by and asked me to talk to him about the sunset law of zero-based budgeting. I was very deeply impressed with him, with his knowledge of procedures, and with the thorough approach to that kind of responsibility that he had assumed.
So when we started the interviews, although he had not been on the original broad list, I asked Mr. Kirbo to include him if he was willing to be considered. I didn't know whether or not he would. I felt the others by the way would.
He has a maturity that would be valuable to me. He is from New England, obviously he is Catholic. He represents a minority, white ethnic group. He has had experience not only in Congress but also in the electoral process. He had thought quite deeply, which was obvious in my interview, about relationships with Vice Presidents to the President, although he said he and Senator Humphrey had never discussed that in great depth, but he had certainly thought about it. There was a general political feeling that he had been a victim of the dirty tricks campaign and he didn't quite get a fair presentation to the public in the 1972 effort.
I think I can say—I think I am right—among all the persons who were put forward in the public opinion polls, Senator Muskie I think almost always showed up on top. Those are some of the good aspects.
Q. Can you tell me at what time did you say to yourself, "Mondale is the man"? When was that decision made, and were there any other concerns besides high blood pressure and low recognition factor that you had to get over before going with Mondale?
Governor Carter. I didn't until yesterday—although I think the movement toward Senator Mondale was almost inevitable. The only concern that I had about Senator Mondale was political in nature. I really tried to relegate that to a secondary position, and that was about his acceptance in the South.
Our polls show that I am very strong, as you can well imagine, in the South. But I was surprised when the Atlanta Constitution polled the Georgia delegation—this was the day Senator Mondale came down, when it was published, and he was the one most favorably mentioned, and I think the same thing was the case with the Alabama delegation.
It was between Mondale and Glenn. I think some of the Alabama folks thought Glenn's position on gun control would hurt him there. So far as I can tell, there was not substantial amount of difference. Yesterday—and those are not serious concerns—I just searched to see if there was concern that I had.
Q. Governor, it is not to suggest that you made the decision for that purpose, but yesterday when you spoke to Western State caucuses, you gave a very interesting speech about not only desirability, but in your opinion the possibility that the party could be reunited ideologically over a broad range. Not to say you made the selection for that purpose, but do you think the scene tonight, the two of you together, this choice is going to go a long way toward that?
Governor Carter. Yes. I do. That is a factor.
Q. Could 1 follow up?
Governor Carter. Just a couple more questions.
Q. You said with Georgia and Alabama delegations added to—was it genuine or were they anticipating what they thought you were going to do?
Governor Carter. This was a long time ago.
Q. A long time ago?
Governor Carter. Yes.
Q. On that point, could you say, I know what you said this morning about political considerations not being prime, but looking to the future, could you say what strengths and weaknesses dispassionately you see in this ticket that you have now put together? You have touched here on this possibility of a concern that you felt about Mondale in the South. What else?
Governor Carter. I see its strengths. The only weaknesses that I see would possibly be because of the religious issues and perhaps in the far West I had a very good meeting this morning with Governor Brown. I hope and expect him to play a major role in our campaign. I believe he would help me as a matter of fact with both those problems. I hadn't even thought about them though, both of them together until this moment. But I think we have an excellent chance to overcome both of those.
Q. Could you define what you mean by religious issue?
Governor Carter. The fact that both of us are Protestants.
Q. Could you explain why in your press conference with Peter Rodino that you did not, neither of you mentioned that he had asked his name be withdrawn.
Governor Carter. It wasn't that firm. He had told me when I talked to him on the telephone that he was going—no, when he was trying to make an appointment with Mr. Kirbo to see him, that he had to go to the hospital for a glaucoma problem. When he came up here, as we closed the conversation, he expressed some reservations about his age and about his possible problem with glaucoma. He also said that he was strongly for me and he would like to do anything he could to help me, even including possible nominating speech.
I said if I don't choose you for Vice President, I would like you to be the one who makes the nominating speech. So that was the circumstance when we went down to the press conference.
Later we both decided, he decided more than I did, he didn't want to be considered for Vice President at all, that he would be glad to make the nominating speech.
Before I let Jody announce that, we called Congressman Rodino, and discovered after talking to him, that he had already had a similar revelation on his part about his problem with glaucoma. It was something that would not have been a serious thing, but in his mind it was serious about his age.
Q. Governor, I am not sure if we have covered this, maybe we have, but you have described the way in which your thinking about Mondale evolved. Could you give us some idea of where you started, that is, what was your image of Mondale?
You said he was quite low on your list, not really under serious consideration. If somebody said the name Mondale to you at the time this process started, what thoughts and what image would have flashed in your mind?
Governor Carter. Let me just tell you two or three concerns that I had at the beginning that have been alleviated and I think long ago. I had the impression that Senator Mondale was primarily concerned with peripheral issues in the federal government.
The more I got into his voting record, his committee assignments, his involvement, congressional deliberations, the more I found that was not true. I did not, for instance, know that he was on the Finance Committee or the Budget Committee. And when I began to talk to the leaders of the Senate, that is where they felt that his contributions had been greatest.
I was also concerned about his withdrawal from the Presidential race, although I was glad to see him get out. There was a slight feeling of resentment that I worked harder and he was not willing to work hard. But I discovered after talking to those who knew him well and as confirmed by his own private statement to me that he made what he considered to be an all-out effort year before last and just was not successful and that he was faced with a fruitless campaign compared to increasingly gratifying experience in the Senate. And had he thought he maintained a chance to be President, he would have stuck with the race.
In checking with some people in Minnesota, they said he has run aggressive campaigns there when necessary. He was appointed I think to attorney general, and then just 2 or 3 months later he had to run for attorney general. He won overwhelmingly.
As he pointed out to me, he did most of his campaign work before the campaign started.
The fact that he won by strong majority ought not to be held as a factor against him, that he did work early in the morning, late at night on senatorial duties, which had been confirmed too. So his reputation I had of lassitude or disinclinations for hard work was completely erroneous as confirmed by many sources.
I didn't know what his specific stand was on national defense. I think it is compatible with my own. He is in favor of a very strong national defense posture. He has voted for some of the major issues. He said he had never voted for a specific cut. He has voted against specific weapons systems, which I would have done myself.
I thought he was in favor of forced busing. His record as confirmed by my staff was he was not.
He has always tried to find an alternative to busing. His stand on gun control is identical to mine.
Philosophically, I find myself to be much more compatible with him than I thought.
One more question if you don't mind.
Q. Governor, in regard to the concern with the South, the 30 or 40 people that you talked to, can you say whether Governor Wallace was one of them or not?
Governor Carter. No, I did not talk to Governor Wallace. I didn't deliberately exclude him. One time I placed a call to him to try to talk to him and I missed him. I didn't go back to him.
I talked to very few governors as a matter of fact What I wanted was people who had personal knowledge of Washington leaders.
I was not looking for political approbation or disapproval of my prospective nominees. I was looking for personal experience with these people to indicate there are strengths and weaknesses in their own demonstration of leadership capability.
Thank you very much.
NOTE: Also appearing at the session with reporters were Hamilton Jordan, campaign manager; Pat Caddell, campaign pollster; and Charles Kirbo, adviser.
Jimmy Carter, News Conference in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347740