United Party? Carter Still Upset with Kennedy 28 Years Later

So much for that Ted Kennedy love fest in Denver. CNN's "American Morning" today showcased former President Jimmy Carter who is still obviously bitter about the divided Democratic convention of 1980.

Carter told anchor John Roberts that he is "probably the world's foremost expert on split parties" after that experience.

The former president then told the other side of the Massachusetts senator and showed how he hasn't let go animosity after 28 years. "In 1980, we were never able to heal the wounds between me and Ted Kennedy, who never did endorse me. He wouldn't even shake my hand on the platform the night I got the nomination," Carter told Roberts.

Carter used his tale to segue into a claim that the party will leave Denver united. But Roberts pointed out Carter's own objection to Obama with a clip from the Nov. 30, 2006, "Charlie Rose Show," where the former president had this to say about his would-be successor: "He's got yet to prove substance or experience to be the president."

Carter told Roberts that was understandable since it occurred so long before Obama became a candidate. "So that was a normal thing to say, you know, two years before he ever announced that he was going to be candidate." However, Carter's timeline was wildly flawed. His appearance on the "Charlie Rose Show" came less than two months, not two years before Obama announced January 16, 2007.

In fact, it wasn't even two years from his initial criticism to Carter totally changing his tune.

There's more fun in the Carter interview including his comments about the "great deal of squabble" between the Clintons and the Obamas. Here it is for your enjoyment:

ROBERTS: Mr. President, it's good to see you. It's always good to see you.

JIMMY CARTER, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

ROBERTS: There was a video of you here at the convention. You walked out on stage with Rose. But you didn't speak here at the convention.

CARTER: That's right.

ROBERTS: What's the reason for that?

CARTER: Well, I had a choice. I talked to David Axelrod, who was in charge. And I saw that at the time we had that conversation there was a great deal of squabble going on between the Clintons and the Obamas, you know, with Michelle being the first night and then the second night, tonight would be Hillary and the third night would be Bill Clinton and then the last night would be Obama. And I told them that I didn't care about making a speech but I just wanted to be of maximum help. So we decided that I would go down to New Orleans. I spent all day last week in New Orleans and to make a film. And rather than my coming back on the stage and describing what I saw in New Orleans, it's going to be better to make a high quality documentary about New Orleans and how the Democrats and Republicans deal with crises of that kind in a different way. That was fine for me.

ROBERTS: Though some pundits have suggested that it might be your views toward Israel, the fact that some Jewish voters are still not quite sold on Barack Obama, they didn't want what they saw as potentially an antagonizing factor on the stage tonight.

CARTER: I can't deny that but I don't know anything about that.

ROBERTS: Right.

CARTER: I just know what I just told you.

ROBERTS: Let me remind you of something you said. It was back in November of 2006 on the "Charlie Rose" program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: He's got yet to prove substance or experience to be the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: What changed since then for you?

CARTER: Well, at that time, as you well know, I never had met Obama. The only time I ever saw him was when he made the convention speech in 2004. I knew he did a superb job then. And I was really then hoping that Sam Nunn would run or Joe Biden would run and they would have been my choices. So that was a normal thing to say, you know, two years before he ever announced that he was going to be candidate.

ROBERTS: Mr. President, you know well the effects of going into a convention divided or there being a divide in the party going back to the 1980 convention. Are you concerned that the remains have split in the Democratic party between the Barack Obama faction, the Hillary Clinton faction and do you think that that can be repaired?

CARTER: John, I'm probably the world's foremost expert on split parties. In 1980, we were never able to heal the wounds between me and Ted Kennedy, who never did endorse me. He wouldn't even shake my hand on the platform the night I got the nomination. But this year is different. I think that by the end of this week, you will see a united party. And I believe that tonight with Hillary's speech, I don't know what he's going to say, and tomorrow night with Bill's speech you're going to see a major healing process. And by the time we leave Denver, the Democrats are going to be united behind Obama.

ROBERTS: Mr. President, it's always great to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

CARTER: I've enjoyed it. I enjoyed the music that we heard.

ROBERTS: Good luck in the future, sir.

CARTER: Thank you very much, John.

 

Dan Gainor
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and Vice President for Business and Culture for the Media Research Center