Carter: 'A Personal Sales Job'
Critics say he's vague on the issues.
Supporters say No, he takes a broad
view. An AP poll shows voters aren't
all that interested in issues, anyway—
they look at a candidate's personal
Whatever, Jimmy Carter put it all
together in a personal sales job, if we
may look at it that way, scarcely
paralleled in American politics.
As he says with relish, never before
has a non-incumbent been able to
secure success before the convention.
There is no direct parallel with
previous campaign successes—at least
not in the memory of this reporter.
But Carter's nomination sweep does
recall the come-from-way-behind election victory of Harry S. Truman over
Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.
President Truman, having succeeded to the presidency at the death of
Franklin D. Roosevelt, had the Democratic rumination locked up.
But under what conditions? Even
some high in his administration were
skeptical if not actually against
In the election campaign, Dewey
was widely regarded as a shoo-in and
opponents rated Truman a joke until
well along toward election day. Truman's was a personal triumph.
Jimmy Carter went after the Democratic nomination against party stal
warts far better known. But he had
plusses going for him. He was able to
devote major time for many months
to personal campaigning where opponents had neither time nor financing
for such protracted application. And
he was a fresh face. He organized for
the long pull and had touched many,
many bases around the country long
before the primaries where his
strength came into view.
He likes to note the contrast
between the early days of his campaign and the raucous, pushing, shoving crowds in which he happily found
himself in New York City.
In his early campaign there were no
lights from TV crews blinding him at
a speaking platform, no crowds of
reporters with pencils poised competing for his attention, no jam-packed
audiences shouting "Down in front."
"In the early days," he recalls,
"there would be 15 or 20 people at our
meetings in hotels or homes or union
halls. If a reporter were heading my
way, I might sidle up to him ready
and eager for any question. What a
difference now when my group has to
push to get in and out of our
Uncertain on Issues
The AP poll which showed that
voters place personal qualities—however those may be defined—above a
candidate's stand on issues, was conducted by the Roper Organization
working with AP political experts.
The 2,001 adults polled named the
economy, crime and welfare as top
issues, but more than half said they
didn't know where their favorite candidate stood oh those issues.
About a quarter of Carter's supporters were wrong in describing his
views of five major issues. Only about
20 per cent were correct. The others
just said they didn't know where he
President Ford said flatly, before
Jimmy Carter emerged as the Democrat front-runner, that he couldn't tell
where Carter stood on issues. Mr.
Ford said he would like to run against
Hubert Humphrey, whose liberalism
and differences with Ford would offer
voters "a choice
The selection of Sen Walter F.
Mondale for vice president was hailed
by both Republicans and liberal Democrats. Carter said he chose Mondale
for personal, not political, reasons.
But Republican Ronald Reagan
forecast "the same old ideological
battle" in the coming election campaign, and Republican strategists
indicated Carter would be assailed as
..a Big Government liberal irrespective
of the "centrist" posture reflected in
his nomination campaign.
The issues will become clear, probably
within weeks after the Kansas
City Republican nominating convention. Issues will loom large and candidate stands will need to be
But note: Even candidates' election
campaign positions do not always
provide a firm clue to performance in
office. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his
campaign, called for efficiency and
economy in government
Everybody likes to be able to characterize a public figure 'with a single
word or phrase. Unflappable could be
a word for Jimmy Carter. After the
many months of barnstorming, he
came, to New York City having experienced just about everything, having
heard just about every question, that
could be conceived. Hence, he probably was unflappable. Certainly that
would characterize his every public
appearance in New York.
. . .
Old political pros voiced astonishment that Carter would agree to a
1-hour televised interview on Sunday
afternoon, July 11—the very eve of the
convention. TV sets were on and closely watched in every newsroom and
by thousands of incoming delegates in
their hotels. Any significant slip eould
have made headlines the morning of
. . .
There was, as expected, conversation among some delegates as to
Carter's religion—his references in
speeches, his occasional public
prayers. The entire Carter family took
a table for 12 for dinner at Leone's
restaurant near Madison Square Garden. A waiter said, "Mr. Carter
prayed for three minutes. I never saw
anybody pray at all in a family dinner
Miller is chairman of the board of
directors of Gannett Co. Inc.
Mamber of the Gannett Group
Frank Gannett, Founder
Chairman of the Board
Read Kingsbury, Editor of Editorial Page
Eugene C. Dorsey, Publisher
Stuart A. Dunham, Executive Editor
John L. Dougherty, Managing Editor
Published dairy except Sundays and holidays by Gannett Co, Inc., 55 Exchange St.,
Rochester, N Y 14614 Allen H. Neuharth,
president and chief executive; Jimmy L.
Thomas, treasurer; Douglas H. McCorkindale, vice president-general counsel and
Member of the Associated Press
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