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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid