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

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects 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.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs