Part One | Part Two
Jimmy Carter: I promised you four years ago that I would never lie to you. So I can't stand here tonight and say it doesn't hurt. About an hour ago I called Governor Reagan in California and I congratulated him for a fine victory. I look forward to working closely with him...
Dan Carter, Historian: All his life he believed if you worked hard enough at it, understood the issues, mastered information then you would come out first. I said to him, "It must have been hard to turn over the keys to Ronald Reagan." And He said, "You don't know how hard it was."
Narrator: On January 20, 1981, after one of the most humiliating defeats in American political history, President Jimmy Carter returned home to Plains, Georgia to what he called, "an altogether new, unwanted, and potentially empty life."
Rosalynn Carter: He really was better than I was when we came home, because I um, was so depressed about it that he was always trying to prop me up, [laughs].
Narrator: Four years before he had stunned the nation.
Pat Caddell, Pollster: Going from total anonymity, to being President of the United States in less than twelve months, is unprecedented in American history. If it weren't for the country looking for something in '76, Carter could never have gotten elected.
Douglas Brinkley, Historian: He offered a biography of what we wanted to hear; A Farmer, Main Street values, Plains and he carried that message through, it was the right message at the right time.
Carter: Our commitment to Human Rights must be absoluteŠ
Narrator: He had promised a new beginning. To heal the wounds of Watergate and Vietnam. A government "as good and decent and compassionate as the American people." But events would overwhelm him. An energy crisis. Inflation. An Islamic revolution. And 53 Americans held hostage 444 days. Carter came to be regarded as a good and decent man who was in over his head.
Elizabeth Drew, Journalist: He's a very, very smart man. And very well intentioned. But feel, feel is very, very important in politics, especially in a president. And Carter just didn't have very much of it.
Hendrik Hertzberg, Carter Speechwriter: What he had was a moral ideology. And the issues where he proved successful, the Panama Canal treaties, the Human Rights crusades, Peace in the Middle East, those were issues where is moral ideology guided him
Carter: In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families ...
Narrator: "Carter was one of the more exasperating men ever to claim the White House," one journalist said. "His tenacity, so admirable, could shift to stubbornness; his religious faith to self-righteousness. His brilliant mind could be bound up by intricate details."
Walter Mondale, Vice-President: Many times the one argument that I would find would ruin a person's case is when he'd say, "This is good for you politically." He didn't want to hear that. He didn't want to think that way and he didn't want his staff to think that way. He wanted to know what's right.
Doug Brinkley: This is one of the most highly ambitious people you will ever meet. I mean you don't make it from Plains Georgia to the White House just on charm. But what makes him complex is he's got that kind of hubris and arrogance And also this Christian humbleness. That's the battle he's constantly finding himself in.
Narrator: "As a child my greatest ambition was to be valuable around the farm and to please my father," Jimmy Carter wrote of his boyhood in rural Georgia. "He was the center of my life and the focus of my admiration."
Dan Carter: I can't believe that Jimmy Carter ever felt lost. In the sense that he didn't know where his place was in the world. And a lot of that comes from his father, who, not only was a well respected, powerful figure in the community, but I think had a real sense of who he was. And that certitude and self-confidence was something that his son, I think, absorbed unconsciously.
Narrator: By the standards of southwest Georgia, Earl Carter presided over a small empire. A staunch segregationist, he owned some 350 acres of land where he planted corn, cotton, and peanuts employing more than 200 workers at harvest time. Five sharecropper families who depended on him for their survival, lived year round at his farm in Archery.
Betty Glad: Earl was the boss in Archery. The workers were all black, the maids who did the cooking and took care of Jimmy were black, and at the top of the system was Earl Carter.
Narrator: From a position of privilege, Earl's children, Jimmy, Gloria and Ruth, became acquainted with the ways of the Jim Crow South. "More than anyone else in my familyŠevenŠmy own fatherŠ I understood the plight of the black families because I lived so much among them," Carter later wrote. He often ate and slept in the homes of his black neighbors. And played with their children.
Andrew Young, U.N. Ambassador: The interesting thing about the South is that we played together, black and white, when we were 7, 8, 9,10. But then when you got to be a teenager, all of a sudden, ah, segregation set in.
Narrator: "One day, [my friends] and I approached [a] gate," Carter would later recall, "to my surprise they stepped back to let me go through firstŠ. It was a small act, but a deeply symbolic oneŠ Things were never the same between them and me." "A strong memory in my mind is coming home and my mother not being there," he wrote.
Dan Carter: There is a very deep tradition in southern society of the caretaker mother figure who is responsible not only for her family but outside of it as well. Well, those people exist in almost every southern rural community. But Miss Lillian took it a step further than that.
Narrator: Carter's mother, Lillian, was an avid reader, loved traveling, and was known to enjoy a sip of Bourbon. She put in long hours as a nurse at a nearby hospital and devoted much of her free time to helping sick neighbors, regardless of race.
Chip Carter, Son: She got paid in chickens and vegetables and that kind of things, because she really helped‹and felt called to help‹those that had less than her. And I think she instilled that in all of her children.
Rosalynn Carter: She was the only person in Plains who would take up for Abraham Lincoln if he was ever brought up. Today it's unbelievable to think about that, but back then it was just a way of life. And we never thought anythingŠ we never thought it was really wrong.
Narrator: Lillian set for Jimmy the example of service to others. Earl put the steel in his character.
Betty Glad: He was very demanding. He expected his children to be the very best. And in some ways they all had that built into them.
Narrator: "I never remember him saying 'good job' when I did my best to fulfill his orders," Jimmy later said. "The punishments he administered remained vivid in my memory." A short distance from the Carter farm was Plains, Georgia, population 600. The only place for miles to get a cup of coffee, a haircut, buy or sell goods. It is the place Jimmy Carter always called home. Where as a child he went to the all-white Baptist church on Sundays, and where he attended the all-white public school.
Dan Carter: Everybody knew that he was special. He was somebody different. Smarter than, worked harder than, did more than, ceaselessly working at improving himself even as a child.
Narrator: Jimmy made all A's‹he played basketball, and joined the book lover's club read Shakespeare's King Lear, Ben Hur, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He dreamed of joining the Navy. His uncle, Tom Gordy, had excited his imagination with tales of adventures, and postcards and gifts from exotic faraway places. Earl encouraged Jimmy to pursue his dream.
Betty Glad: It was a way that many young southern men got the polish, got the education that would make them a part of either the local elite or the national elite.
Narrator: Jimmy reviewed the strict requirements of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and worried he wasn't good enough. He thought his feet were flat and rolled them over coke bottles to strengthen the arches. He thought he was too thin and went on a banana diet. He even went to a local college for two years to study the required courses. "He just wouldn't quit," Jimmy's Uncle, Alton would later say. "That boy just wouldn't give up on anything." In June 1943, at age 18 the farm boy from Plains was admitted to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis -- the first Carter ever to leave Georgia to pursue a higher education.
Rosalynn Carter: Jimmy's sister Ruth was my best friend and she had a picture of him on the wall in her bedroom. I just thought he was the most handsome young man I'd ever seen. One day I confessed to her that I wished she let me take that photograph home. Because I just thought I had fallen in love with Jimmy Carter.
Narrator: Rosalynn Smith was shy, a dedicated student, read the bible daily and went to church on Sundays. Her mother once described her as a girl who could wear a white dress all day and keep it clean.
E. Stanly Godbold, Historian: She was very bright. She was a reader. She liked to look at maps. She was always interested in seeing the world. And she always wanted to get away.
Rosalynn Carter: I went to a meeting at the church and I was standing outside, and Jimmy drove up with Ruth and her boyfriend, got out of the car and came up and asked me to go to the movie. He kissed me goodbye. I was thrilled to death. And then we started corresponding. And by the time Christmas came, I was swept off my feet.
Narrator: One month after his graduation from Annapolis, Jimmy and Rosalynn were married. She was18, he was 21. The Carters began married life in Norfolk, Virginia where the Navy lieutenant first reported for duty. The children arrived in quick succession. Jack one year after their wedding, James Earl or Chip less than 3 years later in Hawaii. And a third, Jeff, born in New London, Connecticut. With her husband away at sea Rosalynn found herself alone and in charge of all the affairs of the Carter household. "I felt inadequate and very lonely," she later said. "Sometimes I cried though I didn't let Jimmy know. He has no patience with tears, thinking instead that one makes the best of whatever situation and with a smile."
Rosalynn Carter: I learned to be very independent. I could take care of myself and the baby and-and do things that I never dreamed I would be able to do alone.
Narrator: Two years after joining the Navy, Ensign Carter was accepted into the submarine service. It was a way to advance rapidly in a highly competitive environment.
Doug Brinkley: The military was everything for Jimmy Carter. It's his training. He's never a minute late for anything. Punctuality means everything. His sense of order- there's no sense of a mess around Jimmy Carter. It's a certain kind of person that works in a submarine. It takes a kind of mental discipline.
Narrator: While the rest of the officers lingered after dinner or settled in for a long game of bridge or poker, his shipmates remembered, Carter would read a book, solve a sonar problem, always something constructive. "I mastered the assignments that I had," Carter would say of his Navy career, "got the best fitness reports, and I never put in for anything that I did not get."
Archive Voiceover: She's coming up out of the deep. The Seawolf. . .
Narrator: After six years in the service, Lieutenant Carter earned one of the most coveted posts in the Navy. Senior Officer of the USS Seawolf, on the vanguard of America's nuclear defense program.
Rosalynn Carter: He always had one of the best positions in the Navy. And I think it gave him a lot of confidence that he could do whatever he wanted to do.
Narrator: In 1953, less than a year after he began duty on the Seawolf, Carter received a message from home. His father had cancer and was not expected to live long. Ten years had passed since Carter left Plains for a career in the Navy. Visits home had been rare. Father and son had grown distant. As he sat by Earl's bedside, Jimmy discovered a side of his father he'd never seen before. "Our long conversations were interrupted by a stream of visitors, black and white," Carter later wrote. "A surprising number wanted to recount how my father's personal influence and many secret acts of generosity had affected their lives."
Betty Glad: He saw that he had really built a community around himself. A lot of people liked him, and came to see him when he was sick, and when he died, came to his funeral. And what Jimmy realized, he didn't have a community for himself.
Peter Bourne, Biographer: He's actually said to me, "You know," he said, "I wondered at that time if I died, how many people would come to my funeral, or how many people would care if I died." And I think it made him, at a fairly fundamental level, examine what life is all about.
Narrator: Duty also weighed on Carter. Miss Lillian had no interest in the business, and Ruth and Gloria had married. His brother Billy, just sixteen, was "mad as hell" when told his older brother would be stepping in.
Doug Brinkley: He was a shining star in the U.S. Navy who could have gone very, very far. He dropped all that to emulate his father, to take over his father's business. I don't think there's any higher tribute a son can make to his father than to say, "Now that you're dead, Daddy, I want to stand in your shoes."
Narrator: When Jimmy told Rosalynn, she was furious. "She almost quit me," he later said.
Chip Carter: Mom was kind of disappointed to be going back to Plains. She had worked a good bit of her life to get out of there. And they were going back to take over a business that wasn't doing very well.
Doug Brinkley: Rosalynn had finally got out of the fly speck village and had gotten to see the bright lights and big cities. Imagine being based in Hawaii, where you get a Pacific breeze and palm trees, and the smell of the Orient in the air. And now you're back in this, suffocating, mosquito-plagued humidity of Plains, Georgia. She pleaded with him not to go.
Peter Bourne: She had seen a very nice life ahead of them and then he wanted to give that all up and go back and become a peanut farmer. And she was just really angry. And she literally did not talk to him the whole way back to Plains.
Rosalynn Cater: I pouted for about year. [laughs] Not really, but I was just the total mother and wife. It was tough for a while.
Chip Carter: We loved it. Plains is a place where at 6 or 7-8 years old, you can go off by yourself. We spent every afternoon after school in the woods playing hide and seek and building forts and fishing and hiking and that kind of thing. It was just a great way to grow up.
Narrator: Only a year after their return home, the Carters were thrust into the turmoil sweeping across the South. In 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools. White Southerners, organized into White Citizens' Councils, vowed to resist.
Rosalynn Carter: Jimmy was approached by one of the prominent businessmen asking him to join the White Citizens' Council. And he told him that it only cost $5 to join, and that he would be glad to pay his dues. And I think Jimmy told him he could flush his money down the john. But anyway Jimmy refused to do that and we lost some customers.
Dan Carter: I won't say it was a profile in full courage, but it was not an act of discretion. You had to carefully think about it. And it required at the very least a kind of independence of thought, and in some respects a kind of courage to say, "No, This I won't do."
Narrator: Carter applied all his energies to peanuts. "[He] was always experimenting, Rosalynn later wrote, trying new thingsŠdreaming up something else he wanted to doŠ. " As the business expanded, he turned to Rosalynn for help.
Chip Carter: Mom is not really the type to-to join the Stitch and Chat, and to sit around and be content with that. Part of their uniqueness is that they're partners in everything. And I think a lot of that started back then to make her a part of what was happening so that she would really have something to be proud of.
Rosalynn Carter: He asked me to come and keep the office. And I had a friend who had taught an accounting course in the vocational technical school and she gave me a set of accounting books. I began to study accounting. I began to keep the books. And it was not too long before I knew actually as much or more about the business on paper than he did.
Chip Carter: I started working there when I was nine. We worked in the warehouse during peanut season. Peanut season was a very heavy time. Sometimes worked 50 hours straight. I think that he worked hard. He tried to instill it in his children. He obeyed his father and jumped when he spoke. We did the same thing.
Narrator: "I had to admit I was enjoying life," Rosalynn later said. The Carters went fishing, played golf, took frequent vacations. Jimmy served on the Sumter County Board of Education, taught Sunday School at the Plains Baptist Church, was scoutsmaster, Vice-President of the Lions Club. But he had "come to the point of boredom," Rosalynn remembered. And one weekday morning in 1962, "he got up and put on his Sunday pants."
Rosalynn Carter: I was really shocked. I had no idea he was thinking about running for the State Senate.
Narrator: The campaign that launched Jimmy Carter's political career lasted all of fifteen days. There was no money and no staff -- only family and friends, and his own determination. Though he would always play the reluctant politician, even by his first campaign, Carter was no stranger to politics.
Dan Carter: Politics was something he lived and breathed from the time he was a child. A kind of weekly‹daily even, during election season‹interaction. Barbecues. You gathered on the county courthouse grounds for speeches. He talks about going to rallies with his father, remembering them very well. And I think he came to see politics as something not alien not something he had to make a decision to do but was almost natural.
Narrator: "I received a startling educationŠ," he said, "one that set the tone for my future career."
Warren Fortson, Lawyer: Quitman County, historically, had been run by a man named Joe Hurst and Joe was not atypical for many, many small counties in the state, the poorer counties, you had one person who was a political power who just in effect kind of ran the county
Narrator: Hurst was used to getting what he wanted, and in 1962 he wanted another Democrat, Homer Moore, to be elected Senator.
Warren Fortson: The ballot box was a liquor box, that had been taken and a hole cut in the top of it, so that you put your ballot over in there, after you-and it sat up on the counter and you had to come up and mark your ballot right next to it with Joe and a bunch of his crowd watching, you know while your doing it.
Narrator: Fraud was rampant: voters were threatened, ballots detroyed. Joe Hurst even stuffed ballots of dead voters into the Old Crow box. That evening, when the votes were counted, Jimmy Carter had lost. He decided to contest the election.
Dan Carter: By all accounts, even allowing for certain hyperbole in the memory of Mr. Carter this required an extraordinary kind of doggedness, just keeping at it keeping at it, and not giving up.
Narrator: Carter appealed to newspapers, filed for injunctions, took affidavits from voters. Miss Lillian kept saying, "Jimmy is so naďveŠso naďve." There were threats against the Carters. Jimmy was followed. A stranger came by the Carter warehouse and warned Rosalynn that the last time anyone had crossed Joe Hurst, their business had burned down. "I was constantly scared," she later said. "Jimmy was frightened too." Two weeks later, a local judge agreed to hear Carter's case.
Warren Fortson: When it came time to open that box and recount it right there rolled up into a ball were all these ballots. And Judge Crow was a funny fellow. He chewed tobacco. And he had just cut off a little piece of tobacco and put it in his mouth and he was kind of putting it around. And I saw that and I saw him cut his eyes and stop chewing and then go back to chewing and sit back and right then is when I knew we had that thing won.
Narrator: On January 14, 1963, the morning after the traditional whiskey and barbecued wild hog dinner, Jimmy Carter was sworn in as a member of the Georgia Senate. He was one of 89 new legislators joining the Georgia Assembly. Many of them determined to change the old ways of Georgia politics.
Leroy Johnson, Georgia State Senator: I had the good fortune of being the first black to be elected to the General Assembly of Georgia in 100 years. Carter was one of those persons who came to the Senate at that time. And he was not a leader of the Senate. He was quiet. He was effective. He was deliberate and he made no waves.
Narrator: Carter opposed special interests and sweetheart deals. He worked hard and read every bill, staying away from drinking sprees and poker games.
Rosalynn Carter: In the last session of the state senate in his last year there, I was standing in the back of the senate chamber with him, and the lieutenant governor was going on and on and on, and it was bedlam, like the last day. And Jimmy said, "If I were lieutenant governor, this wouldn't be happening." And I thought, "Uh-oh. He's really enjoying this."
Narrator: In 1966, after two terms in the Georgia Senate, Jimmy Carter jumped into the race for Governor of Georgia. He ran well behind arch-segregationist Lester Maddox, famous for wielding an ax handle to keep blacks away from his chicken restaurant. Carter left his younger brother Billy in charge of the business, while the rest of the family went on the road.
Chip Carter: I think I had 25 dollars a week for expenses to eat on and I had a gas credit card. And we came in every Saturday night and told what we'd been doing. It was a real education for all of us and we were doing it as a family.
Rosalynn Carter: I would come home and ask him questions that people had asked me while I was campaigning. And I didn't know the answers to. And he would give me the answers, so I could go back out and talk about issues. He had confidence in me to do the things that I needed to do.
Narrator: Carter promised better schools, better hospitals, better roads, and a more competent government. "It is hard to hear Senator Carter talk about state government and not be impressed by his integrity," one reporter wrote.
Dan Carter: You're not gonna turn the apple cart upside down, but you're gonna bring changes, you're gonna bring improvements in the South. And you are going to do it by applying good sound business techniques to everything from the way you run your public institutions to the way you run your government.
Narrator: Carter took his message to every corner of Georgia. "We never stopped," Rosalynn recalled, "no matter what." By election day, he was closing in on the lead.
Chip Carter: We went to bed thinking we were going to win. Had gotten up and gone to school the next day, being congratulated about my father winning the primary, and then Billy came to the about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and told us that Lester Maddox had beat us by less than a half of a percentage point. So it was very disheartening.
Narrator: "We all felt sick," Rosalynn recalled. "We were 66,000 dollars in debt and Jimmy had lost twenty-two pounds." After all the miles traveled, the handshakes the long days, Jimmy Carter was right back where he started when he first ran for the Senate in 1962. Weeks later, with the loss still fresh in his mind, Jimmy went for a walk with his sister Ruth, an evangelical Christian and a spiritual healer. All of his life he had been a church going Christian, but now felt that his faith had been superficial. "We are both Baptists," he said, "but what is it that you have that I haven't got?" "Total commitment," she replied. "I belong to Jesus, everything I am." "Ruth," he answered, "that's what I want."
Doug Brinkley: At that point he decided that he'd always put Christ in his life first, and politics second. But that's been a struggle for him because politics is the ego and Christ is the humbleness.
Narrator: The "born again" Christian traveled North, to blighted neighborhoods in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts as a "personal witness" for Jesus Christ.
Doug Brinkley: He would go door-to-door, getting people to witness Christ take Jesus into their lives. I mean, can you imagine ten years later this man is president of the United States, and he's banging on doors, asking people do you want a bible? Will you take God in your life?
Peter Bourne: He wanted to understand theology. And so he began reading a lot of theologians and began to craft for himself a political theology that was compatible with his own personality.
Narrator: Carter found guidance in the writings of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
E. Stanly Godbold: Niebuhr said, "The sad duty of politics is to bring justice to a sinful world." A Christian has to get involved in politics. He has to soil his hands as a politician or in an immoral society, in order to improve it.
Doug Brinkley: Niebuhr taught him that there is good and evil in the world, that politics is corrupt, but it's honorable, as long as you kept your heart pure and your sense of morality pure.
Narrator: "I believe God wants me to be the best politician I can be," he said. In 1970, with renewed fervor, Carter ran for governor of Georgia a second time.
Carter: I have been campaigning almost 18 hours a day without stopping for eight months. I've seen almost every factory shift in Georgia and been in almost every store.
Rosalynn Carter: It was just kind of an obsession. He had lost so we had to win. And we worked as hard as we could.
Narrator: It would not be the amateur run of 1966, but a well-coordinated effort. Carter brought in two Southwest Georgia boys: Jody Powell as his personal assistant and Hamilton Jordan to manage the campaign. Advertising man Gerald Rafshoon would handle the media. Bert Lance, a banker from Calhoun, played the role of advisor.
Bert Lance, Adviser (before presidency), Budget Director (during presidency): It was a tough, tough campaign. And there were many who thought that Carter could not possibly win.
Narrator: Carter's rival for the Democratic nomination, Carl Sanders, enjoyed a commanding 20% lead. He had the backing of the Atlanta business establishment, and the support of African Americans, voting in greater numbers since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Carter went after Sanders with a vengeance.
Carter Campaign Ad: Some candidates in this governor's race have large campaign contributions behind them. Big money asking big favors. Jimmy Carter only has the people of Georgia...
Narrator: Carter portrayed Sanders as a tool of the Atlanta business establishment and himself as a hard-working every man.
Carter Political Ad: No wonder Jimmy Carter has a special understanding of the problems facing everyone who works for a living. Isn't it time somebody spoke up for you?
E. Stanly Godbold: He wanted to appeal to the large middle class, blue collar type, predominantly white, and most of these people are going to be segregationists.
Betty Glad: He courted the racist vote. There were some radio ads that he ran in 1970. He said that "Unlike Sanders, I am not trying to get the" and he sort of slid over whether it was "block" or "black" vote. But it sort of meant the same thing.
E. Stanly Godbold: Carter himself was not a segregationist in 1970. But he did say things that the segregationists wanted to hear. He was opposed to busing. He was in favor of private schools. He said that he would invite segregationist governor George Wallace to come to Georgia to give a speech.
Leroy Johnson: The only solace that we got and received was the fact that in private meetings, he convinced us that if he was given an opportunity he would make things better. He always come up with this question of trust. Trust me. I believe in doing the right thing.
Betty Glad: If you are really trying to accomplish good moral ends, you may have to be a low life politician to get there. And he didn't probably like doing it that much, but he was willing to do it.
Carter: At the end of a long campaign I believe I know our people...
Narrator: On January 12, 1971, Jimmy Carter, age 46, was sworn in as governor of Georgia. In his inaugural address he revealed his true feelings on race.
Carter: I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over. No poor, rural, weak, or black person should ever have to bear the additional burden of being deprived of the opportunity of an education, a job, or simple justice.
Leroy Johnson: We were extremely pleased. Many of the white segregationists were displeased. And I'm convinced that those people that supported him, would not have supported him if they had thought that he would have made that statement.
Dan Carter: I do remember reading his inaugural address and thinking this is wonderful. We've got a governor in a deep south state who is stating emphatically not just that it's time to accept change, but that it's time to really move far beyond that and end all forms of discrimination. I suddenly saw him as part of this new generation of southern politicians who were moving beyond the divisions of racial politics in the 1950's and 1960's.
Narrator: The Carters moved into the brand new governor's mansion, on eighteen acres in Atlanta's poshest district.
Carter: This is the first time our family has really been together for the last four years. Our oldest boy has just gotten back from the Navy. And I've been campaigning for four years, so we're looking forward to living as a family again.
Reporter: Mrs. Carter, have you had any special problems?
Rosalynn Carter: No, not really. We packed the clothes in the car last night. And really the only furniture we had to bring was one sofa, which is just a favorite old sofa that my children love.
Rosalynn Carter: Going from Plains, Georgia, to the governor's mansion was much harder for me than going from the governor's mansion to the White House. I had never, ever been in the governor's mansion. When Jimmy was in the state senate, I didn't come to Atlanta because I was working at home. I was just not part of the Atlanta political community. It was a really difficult experience.
Chip Carter: She had to learn her own voice, how to project, how to make a speech, how to win people over, how to deal with legislators on her issues. She had to learn how to do all that.
Narrator: The people of Georgia came to meet the new first family, and fell in love with Amy, the Carter's three-year old daughter.
E Stanly Godbold: The public identifies with a small child, and Carter understood that and they kept Amy in the limelight. It made him human. He could be a successful politician, a successful governor, and a successful father, all at the same time.
Narrator: Carter appointed an unprecedented number of women and African-Americans, stimulated foreign investment, reformed the state's criminal justice and mental health systems.
Carter: I see unfair taxes and government waste and I see runaway spending. . .
Narrator: The centerpiece of his agenda was a radical plan to streamline state government with savings at every level.
Bert Lance: Everybody had to pay for their own lunch. You know, we had to put $2 into the kitty. Mary Beasley, who was his secretary at the time, would ask you want you wanted, And so you felt honored to be able to go and spend money for a dried out sandwich.
Narrator: The Governor's proposal to slash the number of government agencies provoked outrage.
Carter: I welcome confrontation with heads of departments. I'm willing to fight with anybody who opposes a recommendation...
Leroy Johnson: I saw a completely different side of Carter. In the senate he was not assertive. As governor, he was assertive. He knew where he wanted to go, and he knew the direction he wanted to go in. And he wanted complete compliance.
Lester Maddox: He's fighting for total submission and total control of the legislators and he's willing to use 100 million or 200 million or whatever it is . . .
Warren Fortson: Jimmy's character is such that he wants to get things done. He wants them done. And he has a tendency, I think, to run roughshod over anything that stands in his way.
Carter: We need to remember who pays the taxes and who pays our salaries.
Dan Carter: He had a tendency to take his case to the people and then try to force the legislature to follow him. He never, as Governor, broke what I think was an unfortunate habit of seeing personal politics, as kind of, that is with other politicians, as a kind of nuisance, something that had to be done, because you had to talk to these people. He never developed the interest in or really particularly good skills at working with individuals who may have disagreed with him.
Narrator: By the time his reorganization bill reached the Senate floor, Carter had alienated most of the Assembly. But his bill squeaked through‹by a handful of votes.
Warren Fortson: As I told the committee up there, he reminds me of a south Georgia turtle who's been blocked by a log. And he just keeps pushing, pushing, pushing straight ahead, he doesn't go around here until he finally gets a soft spot in the log and right on through he goes. He is a man of great determination and steel.
Narrator: Election season 1972, Jimmy Carter extended his hospitality to Democratic hopefuls. Barely two years in the Governor's Mansion, he already had his eye on the White House.
Chip Carter: Every Democrat running for office came to Georgia. And every single one of them, Dad would ask to come and stay with him at the governor's mansion. And we realized that they were just people like him.
Narrator: That July, Carter led the Georgia delegation to the Democratic National Convention, hoping for the second spot on the ticket.
Rosalynn: I'm over here in the box and I really can't tell what's going on so much. But, Jimmy comes over from the floor and kind of briefs me once in a while. It's the first time I've ever been to a conventionŠand I'm just so excited about it.
Gerald Rafshoon, Media Adviser: I remember at the end of the McGovern speech at 3 o'clock in the morning, Hamilton Jordan and I were walking away from the convention hall, and I said, "You know, if Ed Muskie, Hubert Humphrey, Terry Sanford, Scoop Jackson, George Wallace, Ted Kennedy can run for president, Jimmy could run for president" And then of course we said, "And if these guys who are running these campaigns" -- like we met the people in the McGovern campaign -- "can run a campaign for president, hell, we could do that."
Rosalynn Carter: I called Ruth, I said, "Jimmy's going to run for p-p-," I couldn't even say the word, it was so . . . unreal to me.
Carter: I'm one of 15-20 people in the country who were active in the Democratic party who have been mentioned for a place on the ticket...
Narrator: Carter's timing was perfect. For the next two years Americans would be gripped by the Watergate scandal. Disillusioned with politics, they were ready for a change.
Rafshoon: It was 19--, early 74. I went over to see him one night. Rosalynn was out of town. I went over to the Governors mansion. I said, "Lets just talk about what the themes would be." And he took a yellow pad and he wrote, "Fairness, not from Washington, not a lawyer, southerner, religious." These things were coming from Carter were the themes of the campaign.
"Jimmy Who?" "Jimmy Carter?"
"I don't know who he is." "Jimmy Carter is a basketball player isn't he?"
Narrator: Carter officially announced his candidacy in December,1974. The one-term southern governor, was a long shot.
Doug Brinkley Nobody knew him. It was like picking a name out of the phone book. I mean, it takes a bit of hubris to think you're the best person to be the President of the United States, because you were a one-term governor of Georgia.
Campaign Song: "Once and for all, why not the best?"
Doug Brinkley: It's a kind of arrogance run amuckŠ
Carter: I want to see us once again have a nation, that's as good and honest and decent and truthful, and competent, and compassionate, and as filled with love, as are the American people...
John Farrell, Journalist: At that time character was a monumental issue. The country had been through a horrible time and Jimmy Carter represented honesty and decency.
Carter Ad: I will never tell a lie. I will never make a misleading statement. I will never betray the confidence any of you has in me...
Doug Brinkley: Lyndon Johnson lied to us about Vietnam; Richard Nixon lied to us about Watergate. He's saying, You know I'm not one of those turkeys whose messing things up-up there.
Narrator: Carter's campaign strategy was simple: run early and run hard. Before any other candidates even announced, Carter had traveled more than 50,000 miles, visited 37 states and delivered more then over 200 speeches.
Peter Bourne: He was a wonderful speaker before small groups. He would get up and talk without notes with extraordinary passion. Almost like a preacher really having the spirit with him.
Narrator: It was a grassroots effort, financed on a shoestring.
Chip Carter: We had all these stepping stones we had to do. We had to qualify for federal matching funds by a certain point And we accomplished every one of them. And every time you accomplished one, it gave you more and more confidence.
Rosalynn Carter: We had our boys out, we had Aunt Sissy out, we had his mother, all going in different directions.
Chip Carter: At one point in the presidential campaign we had 11 family members in eleven different states at the same time.
Narrator: The first test came in January 1976. With no delegates at stake, other candidates wrote off the Iowa caucuses, but Carter saw them as a way to surface early and gain the attention of the press. Iowa put Carter on the political map, and gave him momentum heading into a field of better-known Democrats --Mo Udall, Birch Bayh, Sargent Shriver -- in the all-important New Hampshire primary.
Jody Powell: We had almost a month, between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, which gave us time to build on the win, both in terms of recognition and coverage, and in terms of raising just enough money to make it through New Hampshire and have a bit left over.
Narrator: Campaign volunteers from Georgia, the "Peanut Brigade," descended on the Granite State.
Chip Carter: We were out every day, knocking on doors. We knocked on 60,000 doors in New Hampshire. That was probably almost every Democratic household that we could identify in the whole state.
Peanut Brigadier: "Hello. Are you Mrs. Cobb? I'm Dot Padgett and I'm. . ."
Betty Pope: You'd say, "Mrs. Smith? My name is Betty Pope and I'm from Americus, Georgia." And if Mrs. Smith was there with her dog, I would remember that this beautiful lab came to the door with her. So I'd make a note, and I'd talk to her a little bit about Jimmy, and often it was, "Have you ever met him?" And of course, that's why we were there.
Chip Carter So we did get our name out. And I think that we surprised America when he won.
Walter Cronkite: Jimmy Carter took a long lead tonight in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He won the New Hampshire primary handily. . .
Carter: I remember when we couldn't find a microphone . . . [cheer]
Narrator: The next crucial contest was Florida. The leading contender, George Wallace, the former governor of Alabama, was an outspoken segregationist who had become a liability to the Democratic Party.
Walter Mondale: We'd run a northerner that was right on civil rights, and George Wallace would steal a third of our vote and we couldn't get elected. Here came along a man from the South, with very good civil rights credentials, who just might be able to handle George Wallace.
Narrator: As a native son, Carter could appeal to white voters. He also had the support of African American leaders.
Chip Carter: Martin Luther King, Sr., had endorsed us. Andy Young was on our team. Great civil rights leaders here in Atlanta were behind us, others that got to know us. It was a real asset to us.
Andrew Young: All of the liberals that I had worked with got nervous in a room full of black people. And Jimmy Carter didn't. He was very comfortable, very relaxed. When I talked with him, I realized that he read more; he was more disciplined, more organized; his personal life was more meaningful; his religion was really way down deep in the marrow of his bones. And-and I said, you know, "That's the kind of guy that ought to be running this country."
Narrator: Most candidates stayed away from Florida, confident the little known Georgian could be dealt with later.
Dan Carter: There really was an underestimation of Carter from the beginning in that '76 campaign. And he took advantage of that repeatedly. Carter in no way played the southern [rube], but there was a little bit of this sneaking up on everybody. By decisively defeating George Wallace, he not only succeeded in doing what the liberals wanted him to do, but transforming himself into a really powerful, major candidate.
Betty Glad: What the liberals had not realized is that by the time of Florida, Jimmy Carter would have won Iowa, would have won New Hampshire, and would have this huge retinue of press following him around. And he was the man to beat.
Narrator: Carter's stamina seemed superhuman. "Behind that Huckleberry Finn grin," one reporter observed, "there is a perfectionist campaign machine that shuts down only six hours out of twenty four. State by state, the delegates kept adding up.By the time the Democrats convened in New York in July 1976, Carter had a lock on the nomination.
Walter Mondale: The fact that Carter could unite the nation, North and South, and give us a clean shot for the Presidency. This was the culmination of my dreams.
Carter: My name is Jimmy Carter and I'm running for President. [smiling] And now I've come here to accept your nomination . . . [cheer]
Betty Glad: He'd pulled off a miracle. In the fall of 1975, he was barely visible as a candidate, below 5% in all the polls. And suddenly, six months later he has the Democratic presidential nomination, and he is running 70% in the public opinion polls. That is a miracle. Now the problem was that he had his vulnerabilities, and they showed in the fall.
Narrator: In the summer of 1976, with a huge lead in the polls the Democratic candidate could relax The press descended on Plains, eager to learn about the peanut farmer who might become president, and the remote southern town he called home.
Betty Glad: It was thought out and carefully planned by the campaign committee. As Jody Powell said, "Our campaign was not really about issues. It was about blue skies, where everybody knew each other and no pollution. That was it all the way." And so going into Plains you see blue skies, you see everybody in town seemed to love Jimmy, everybody was enthusiastic about him. So it was perfect.
Jody Powell: This was who he was. This is where he came from. The people in that town clearly saw him as one of them. That was a tremendous asset.
Betty Pope: When you're campaigning, every little picture in the paper, every little something, is free publicity. So we were trying to impress the people and trying to let them know what the real Plains was like. We went and took this empty depot and steam-cleaned it, and we brought furniture from our homes and pictures off the walls. Everybody just cooperated and wanted to help.
Narrator: Back home, surrounded by family and friends, Carter would display his best qualities.
Betty Glad You would go to the church on Sunday and there would be Jimmy, and he'd have the lesson for the day. And he'd outline something. One time, he came out and he had underlined, "The Baptists believe in the separation of church and state." So he was safe on church issues. You might go out to the pond house and hear Jimmy Carter come out and say what he just heard from a group of experts, and like an A student in a seminar, tell you what everybody said with great clarity. And if you asked him a tough question, you got those cold blue eyes, and reporters would just shudder with delight. That look. And so you ..... you could see he'd be a tough son-of-a-bitch. So not only was he moral, and did he have all these people love him, but he would be tough.
Narrator: Carter's eccentric family provided color. Sister Gloria rode a Harley Davidson and was a born-again Christian. Sister Ruth was a Charismatic Christian and popular faith healer. And holding forth at his filling station across from the Depot was Billy, Carter's hard drinking brother.
My big advantage? Sam Donaldson was against me.
Betty Pope: Brother Billy. . He was a sport. He was a very good businessman, and he was extremely colorful. And he was much brighter, much more learned and well read than most people think.
Chip Carter: He read a book every day. And had over 20- thousand in his library stashed up in his attic when he died. Billy ended up with a reputation and then he tried to live up to it.
Narrator: Of all the Carters, it was the irrepressible Miss Lillian who best reflected on Jimmy. Since her husband's death, she had lived life on her own terms. Always committed to helping the poor, she had joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in India.
Doug Brinkley" There's that wonderful story of Miss Lillian when one reporter a woman from New York came down to Plains, and Miss Lillian greeted her and said, "Welcome to Plains. You know, it's so nice to see you. Would you like some lemonade? How was your journey, your dress is beautiful." You know, poring on the southern hospitality. And the reporter jumped right in on Miss Lillian and said, "Now Miss Lillian, your son is running for president saying he'll never tell a lie. As a mother, are you telling me he's never told a lie?" She goes, "Oh well Jimmy tells white lies all the time." And the reporter said, well tell me what, what do you mean? What is a white lie?" And Miss Lillian said, "Well, remember when I said, welcome to Plains and how good it is to see you? That's a white lie."
Sam Donaldson & Miss Lillian: Q: Now, it's sometimes said that the parents are never really satisfied with what their children accomplish-- A: I won't be satisfied until he gets in the White House. Q: Do you think he will? A: I know he will. Q: And then what are you going to do? A: I'm gonna stay at the Pond House and fish.
Carter: This election means a lot to our country . . .
Narrator: Carter began the fall campaign against incumbent President Gerald Ford with a fifteen-point lead.
Carter: We've been disappointed, disillusioned, we've been kept out of government. We've been embarrassed. Sometimes we've been ashamed . . .
Narrator: He returned to the themes of honesty and trust that had defined his primary campaign.
Gerald Ford: Jimmy Carter will say anything, anywhere to be President of the United States.
Narrator: But as election day approached, he was pressured to take a stand on the issues.
Gerald Ford: He wanders, he wavers, he waffles, and he wiggles. He isn't the man you want for President of the United States.
Bert Lance: He was a moderate to the moderates, he was a conservative to the conservatives, he was a liberal to the liberals. And in fact, he was all of those things.
Carter: We are going to have a fair government once again, we are going a government that's open and not secret once again.
Joshua Muravchik, Coalition for a Democratic Majority: His standard line, when asked about his foreign policy was, that he wanted to provide a foreign policy as good as the American people. Well, gee, that's great, but what in the world does it mean?
Carter: You can depend on me. You help me, I'll help you...
Betty Glad: The gist of what he presented was that he would be a centrist Democrat who had liberal values in his heart, as well as the desire for frugality and thrift and efficiency in government. And so he could appeal to people from all parts of the Democratic party. But as Julian Bond said at one point, "The problem with this is, his support was an inch deep and a mile wide."
Narrator: Alarmed that support among liberal Democrats was eroding, Carter's young staff made a bold move.
Pat Caddell: We did the Playboy interview to show that that being a born-again Christian, was not a threat to more secular Democrats and young people.
Narrator: For five hours, Carter tried to explain his views on culture, politics and faith. Toward the end of the interview, exasperated at not being understood, he said, "I've looked at on lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times."
Pat Caddell: If you read the interview, the "lust in your heart" line was, to try to explain that he, too, was a sinner. But the language was and I would see this all the time, Carter used language that was germane to his world, like we all do, to our own cultural context.
Betty Glad: Here's a guy who is so moral that on the one hand he talks about, he's lusted after women in his heart, and he talks about shacking up, and he uses language that's going to really enrage and turn off a lot of people.
Doug Brinkley: Do not underestimate what a crisis that interview and the "lust in my heart" caused Carter. It almost derailed the entire Carter campaign. They were in havoc over it.
Pat Caddell: In retrospect it was kind of amusing. It wasn't very funny at the time. Trying to explain to people that Jimmy Carter was not some child molester, you know, I mean, or pervert.
Carter: The Playboy thing has been of very great concern to me. I don't know how to deal with it, exactly. I . . .
Narrator: By the time Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford met in the first of two presidential debates, Carter's lead had evaporated. The momentum belonged to Ford. Two weeks later he blundered.
Gerald Ford: There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.
Debate panelist: Uh, I'm sorry, could I just follow, did I just understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe as their own sphere of influence and . . .
Walter Mondale: We knew that this was going to hurt. That a lot of people couldn't see how a president would say that. It gave us about a week, as I recall, to pound away on this. And you could just feel people moving on that question. So what it did, I think, was rather than electing us, it stopped our slide.
Narrator: By Election Day, the polls showed a dead heat. It was not until 3 a.m. that the networks announced the winner -- by one of the closest margins in American history.
Pat Caddell: I look back now, I just-- I'm amazed. Going from total anonymity, to being President of the United States in less than twelve months, is unprecedented in American history. If it weren't for the country looking for something in '76, Carter could never have gotten elected. He would never have been allowed out of the box.
Doug Brinkley He offered a biography of what we wanted to hear; Farmer, Main Street values, Plains it was the right message at the right time And it didn't happen by accident. Carter created that message, knowing that that's what would win the day.
Carter: I came all the way through the 22 months, and I didn't get choked up until I . . . [he breaks down]
Cronkite: Šthis was not planned, this was not scheduled, and whether this is Carter's surprise for his inaugural, by golly Bob...How 'bout that...
Narrator: The morning of January 20th, 1977, Jimmy Carter surprised the nation.
Chip Carter: I remember I was out there walking. And you could hear Walter Cronkite over the loudspeaker saying, "The president is walking down the street!" It was a major moment of the Carter presidency symbolically. It was great theater.
Dan Carter: Here was this tremendous breath of fresh air. He was going to bring something new to Washington. Bring new people and new ideas.
Carter: Our commitment to human rights must be absolute. Our laws, fair. Our natural beauty, preserved...
Jack Farrell I was so different from what had come before. People were looking for something that was simple, something that was pure. And it just struck a cord in the American people.
Carter: ... more is not necessarily better. But even our great nation has its limits . . .
Hendrik Hertzberg: Jimmy Carter was exactly what the American people always say they want: above politics, determined to do the right thing regardless of political consequences, a simple person who doesn't lie, a modest man, not somebody with a lot of imperial pretenses. That's what people say they want. And that's what they got with Jimmy Carter.
Narrator: The Carter team arrived in Washington full of confidence, ready to take on the Washington insiders they had run against.
Pat Caddell I felt like the advance wave of the German army arriving in Paris in 1940. I mean, this is a Democratic city. And they were terrified. I mean, terrified. You could feel it in the air.
Jack Farrell: They did not have a lot in common with the national political party. They did not have a lot in common with the Congress. They were a very close knit band of brothers. And they were intensely loyal to Jimmy Carter. And they were pretty cocky guys as well.
Jody Powell, Press Secretary: There was clearly some degree of suspicion and maybe and a little bit of resentment that, "Here come these folks riding in here that didn't really pay their dues. They're not us. They're not our kind of folks." And all of a sudden they're in the White House, and "We'll show them that this town is tougher than they think."
Elizabeth Drew: His top people had no experience in Washington. And they were sort of contemptuous of Washington. Well, it's one thing to sort of run against Washington, but you have to live there and you have to govern there, and you have to work with the people who are there. And it really doesn't get you anywhere to have this attitude if you want to get anything done.
Pat Caddell You get things done by power. You get power from having public support. My argument was that in order to maintain power we would have to reinforce constantly the message of what we were doing.
Carter: Good evening. Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I became president ...
Narrator: On February 2, Carter addressed the nation in a fireside chat on energy. The country had been through an oil scare in 1973. To head off a new crisis, Carter appealed directly to Americans to rally around a new program.
Carter: All of us must learn to waste less energy. Simply by keeping our thermostats, for instance, at 65 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night, we can save half the current shortage of natural gasŠ.. If we learn to live thriftily and remember the importance of helping our neighbors, then we can find ways to adjust.
Narrator: Carter lead by example. He curtailed the use of limousines, cancelled magazine subscriptions, unplugged television sets, and put the presidential yacht Sequoia on the auction block.
Walter Mondale: He turned off the air conditioners, and it was so hot in the White House, people would come in there -- [laughs] It was unbelievable. It would be a hundred above in there.
Narrator: To save on staff overtime, all White House functions would end at midnight. No hard liquor would be served.
Hendrik Hertzberg: Jimmy Carter is a Low Church Protestant, where it's a sin not to have a hard wooden bench to sit on in church. And he brought that simplicity to the White House.
Dan Rostenkowski, U.S. Congressman: We were all invited down to the White House every other Tuesday. We walked into the private dining room on the first floor just off the East Room. We looked at the table and there were these little finger-tip cookies, and ... Tip O'Neill looked at me and he said, "What's this?" And I said, "Well I guess that's breakfast." So the President walked in and shook hands with everybody. And O'Neill looked at the President and he says, "Mr. President, you know, we won the election."
Narrator: Carter presented his agenda to the Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill. Energy was Carter's number one priority, but it was competing with his long list of other legislation -- bills on hospital cost containment, urban policy, ethics in government.
O'Neill: . . . you've brought enough for four years work . . .
Narrator: There was nothing in the package to grease the wheels of government. When Carter struck from his budget nineteen multi-million dollar water projects that had been approved by President Ford, Congressmen were furious.
Elizabeth Drew: He was absolutely right to take it on, these sort of boondoggles and unnecessary, really pork-barrel things. But he didn't know how to take it on. You have to build political capital, you have to build alliances, you have to make deals.
Bert Lance: The quid-pro-quo was not in him. If you came to him and said, "Look, we can get so-and-so to vote for us," he would turn a deaf ear.
Narrator: "He never understood how the system worked," Tip O'Neill would later complain. "And although this was out of character for Jimmy Carter, he didn't want to learn about it either."
Dan Carter: If your job is to find the public good, to arrive at what the public good is and then to articulate it, and then you become the voice of the people. And when you do that, it becomes very difficult to compromise.
Dan Rostenkowski: On one occasion when I was talking to President Carter I said, "Mr. President, you know, I've had three presidents before you and I'll have several after you Š I'm telling you, from the vantage point of what I see in the legislative process, you will be able to do and what you won't be able to do. Now, you can accept that or not accept it." But Carter's attitude was members of the House and Senate are bad guys.
Jack Farrell: Carter put O'Neill and the others like him in the same category with the corrupt Georgia court house pols that he had been fighting for much of his life. The same kind of back-scratching, featherbedding pol worrying about the next election, worrying about their public opinion polls, coming in and not doing what was right.
Doug Brinkley: Often he wouldn't return phone calls of leading Senators. There was a kind of an abrasive attitude he had towards them. He never showed them respect. So they all eventually got bitter and turned on him.
Dan Carter: Even if he had had a personality transplant. And he had spent three hours a night playing poker with Tip O'Neill, I don't think that would have made the difference. I mean, he was faced with an extraordinarily difficult set of circumstances which in part sprang not only from the political situation, but from his, the lack of a connection between his own views, and those of his party.
Narrator: "There will no new programs implemented unless [they] are compatible with my goal of having a balanced budget by the end of my first term," he pledged. But liberal Democrats, eager to resume the social agenda of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, would not back away.
Stuart Eizenstat, Domestic Policy Adviser: There had been an eight-year period when there had been no Democratic President. There were a lot of pent-up and legitimate desires by constituency groups for more investment in a whole range of programs. Although he sympathized with much of it, all of his instincts were to cut budgets, reduce the deficit dramatically. But he was always under pressure from the left to have more spending.
Narrator: At a breakfast meeting Carter berated the Congressional Democratic leadership for adding $61 billion dollars in new programs to his budget. "The Democratic Party needs to remove the stigma of unjustified spending," he said.
"Mr. President," Tip O'Neill reminded Carter, "the Democrats are the champions of the poor and the indigent."
Peter Bourne: Carter thought that big social programs and large amounts of federal spending would bankrupt the country. He could see, I think, very clearly where the world was going and that that old era had to be phased out.
Elizabeth Drew Carter, looking back, was being very long-sighted in saying, you know, "We just don't have an open-ended, never-ending amount of money to spend. We have to get things in balance."
Narrator: Carter's commitment to fiscal restraint appealed to a growing number of Americans. "He brings to the (office) a refreshing habit of plain words and simple manners," wrote Newsweek. "A mind and discipline of tempered steel, and an insatiable appetite for work. Carter had entered the presidency with only 51% of the vote. By June, he enjoyed an approval rating of over 70 percent. Then, came an event that rocked the foundation of the Carter Presidency. It was called the Lance Affair. In July 1977 Carter's budget director, Bert Lance, was accused of financial improprieties at his bank in Calhoun, Georgia. A federal investigation cleared Lance of any illegal activity, but concluded he had engaged in "unsafe and unsound banking practices."
Carter: ... Bert Lance is a man of competence and a man of integrity.
Narrator: Believing the affair was behind him, Carter stood by his friend.
Carter: Bert Lance enjoys my complete confidence and support. I'm proud to have him as part of my administration.
Narrator: Carter had miscalculated. To the press, the issue was ethics, not the law. Sensing a scandal, they went on the attack.
Jody Powell: There were a lot of journalists who very much wanted to prove that they could be as tough on a Democratic president as they had been on-on a Richard Nixon. There was a-a real desire to make sure that it was clear that they were going to pursue this every bit as aggressively.
Peter Bourne One of the things people like to go after more than anything else is what they perceive as hypocrisy. So that you're judged by the standards that you set for yourself. And certainly Carter's talking about "I'll never tell you a lie," emphasizing honesty provide an easy opportunity.
Narrator: Carter's inner circle urged him to get rid of Lance. But he was torn between loyalty to his friend, and his own reputation. For weeks he allowed the Lance Affair to fester.
Bert Lance: Q: Do you feel you were drummed up? A. My statement speaks for itself. I have no comment about being drummed out. I said in my statement that I had to analyze and question. . .
Bert Lance: The day that I resigned, I came home and I was spent. I lay down on the bed crying about the situation. Just from the stand-point of just having run out of any adrenilaine or emotion of anything else. And so we had all that horde of media out on the front yard, that had been there constantly. I guess it was a suicide watch.
Elizabeth Drew Looking back he wasn't that big a deal. But what it did do at that time was give the first blow to the image that Carter was trying to project that his was a squeaky clean administration.
Carter: . Whether my own credibility has been damaged I can't say. I would guess to some degree. An unpleasant situation like this.
Narrator: Carter's approval rating plunged 25 points.
Jody Powell: It would have been better for the President if we had brought that to an end sooner. It threw us off our stride. It made it harder for us to talk about other things, and sort of played into questions about whether we could lead and run the country
Pat Caddell: Until that moment, we had been driving the agenda. Everyone danced to our tune. After that, we danced to everybody else's tune. And that hurt us with the public, because now Jimmy Carter is not in charge.
Narrator: Only nine months in office, Jimmy Carter was a wounded leader, struggling, to regain the confidence, of the American people. He would succeed where others had failed. And face challenges no one could have imagined.