News / USA

Jimmy Carter: Negative Political Ads are Dividing the Nation

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at a ceremony at the Carter Center in Atlanta, October 2010. (file photo)
Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at a ceremony at the Carter Center in Atlanta, October 2010. (file photo)
Kane Farabaugh

As presidential contenders campaign for the Republican Party nomination, advertising that supports or attacks each of the candidates is already costing millions of dollars. In an interview former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat who defeated Republican President Gerald Ford in the 1976 election, but who lost to Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980, says negative advertising is polarizing American politics.

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich promoted his plan to run a campaign free of negative attack ads in the run-up to the January 3 Iowa caucuses. “Our ads have been positive; the speeches have been positive.  You have a chance tonight to send a signal to America that the consultant driven, viciously negative campaigns are totally wrong for this year when America is in these kinds of problems,” Gingrish said.

But negative advertising sponsored by a political action committee that supported Gingrich’s rival, Mitt Romney, helped influence voters in Iowa.  “Newt has a ton of baggage.  He was fined $300,000 for [House of Representatives] ethics violations and took $1.6 million from [mortgage] Freddie Mac before it helped cause the economic meltdown," said one ad.

Gingrich placed fourth in the Iowa caucuses.  

His campaign changed for the South Carolina primary election, and began negative attacks on his main rival, Romney.

“Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney.  He can’t be trusted.
I’m Newt Gingrich, and I approve this message.”

Millions of dollars are flooding into Florida ahead of that state's Republican primary for similar ads, as the Republican presidential hopefuls and the political action committees, or PACs, that support them, fight for the lead in the party's nomination.

Former President Jimmy Carter says it is a very different atmosphere from the campaigns of 1976 and 1980.

“When I ran against Gerald Ford, who was an incumbent president, and later when Ronald Reagan ran against me, as the Governor of California, we never had any dream of having negative advertisements.  We would just refer to each other as "my distinguished opponent," and that's all,” Mr. Carter said.

Mr. Carter says much of the money he spent on his campaign for the presidency in 1976 came from a general fund of taxpayer contributions of one dollar each, based on a voluntary election on annual income tax forms.

“This massive injection of millions and millions -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- and the spending of a lot of that money on a negative campaign to destroy the reputation and character of our opponents is what has divided our country.  That division takes place not only in the congressional district or in a state, but it carries over into Washington.  It also permeates, I think, the general society, where you have very rigid, now, blue states and red states, [i.e., Democrat and Republican leaning states] which we didn't really know when I was in politics,” Mr. Carter said.

Although Republican President Gerald Ford was defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, the two men overcame their differences.

In his Inaugural address in January 1977, President Carter thanked Gerald Ford for helping heal the nation in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

Mr. Carter says from that moment, the two men formed a bond that was the closest of any two presidents in U.S. history.

“When I was with Jerry Ford and we were riding somewhere together in the same car, we always hated to get where we were going because we just liked to be with each other.  I think that's a kind of a personal relationship that used to exist, even among senators who are Democrats and Republicans, and members of the House [of Representatives] 25 years ago.  It no longer exists.  And there's an incompatibility and an animosity,” Mr. Carter said.

Mr. Carter says he and former President Ford attended library dedications side by side and took part in post-presidential events together.  They also participated in an reform commission that addressed the irregularities of the 2000 general election.

Then, in 2006, an ailing Gerald Ford made one last telephone call to his friend . . .“ and asked me if I would give the eulogy at his funeral.  I was kind of taken aback, so I said, 'Jerry, I'll do it on one condition -- that you give the eulogy at my funeral,' and so we made an agreement,” Mr. Carter said.

Former President Carter lived up to his end of that agreement on January 3, 2007, when he delivered the eulogy at former President Gerald Ford’s funeral service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mr. Ford’s hometown.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs