MSNBC's Chris Jansing on Wednesday didn't exactly press Jimmy Carter as she interviewed the ex-President, wondering if Mitt Romney has "gone too far" with conservatism "to be trusted."
Carter appeared to disagree with his former presidential speechwriter, Chris Matthews, who smeared the former Massachusetts governor as a KKK "Grand Wizard" on Monday. Carter asserted he'd be "comfortable" with a "moderate" like Romney. Not seeming to accept this, Jansing pressed, "Do you think that he has gone too far into the conservative positions and do you think that that makes him difficult to be trusted?"
Later, Jansing offered this softball about the 2012 race and negative campaigning: "Do you think that we say every year that the election has never been this negative, the tone has never been this divisive, but is it true?"
Carter piously asserted, "We didn't dream of running a negative commercial on television that would destroy the character of our opponent."
Of course, Carter's people did do exactly that. During the 1980 campaign, a Carter aide trashed the Reagan campaign as racist:
The Reagan speech was the application of what was euphemistically dubbed the Republicans’ “Southern strategy” to crack the Democrats’ 120-year-long hold on America south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Carter aide Andrew Young, himself a former civil rights worker (and future mayor of Atlanta), would have none of it.
He called out Reagan’s camp.
“If he had gone to Biloxi, and talked about state’s rights, if he had gone to New Orleans, or Birmingham, I would not have gotten upset,” Young told the press.
“But when you go to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where James Chaney, Andy Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were killed — murdered — by the sheriff and the deputy sheriff and a government posse protecting state’s rights, and you go down there and start talking about state’s rights, that looks like a code word to me that it’s going to be all right to kill niggers when he’s President.”
A transcript of the April 25, 2012 segment can be found below:
CHRIS JANSING: A lot of comparisons have been made between the reelection efforts of President Jimmy Carter and President Obama from how each is dealing with a tough economy to high gas prices. I sat down with the former President in Chicago to get his take on politics 2012. Give me your assessment of what you think President Obama's reelection chances are and what do you think of Mitt Romney?
JIMMY CARTER: Well, I've just said that I think that President Obama will be re-elected. I believe that. I think of all the Republican candidates who are prominent, I think Romney would be the one that I would rather see have a slight possibility to be president.
JANSING: You would be comfortable with a Romney presidency?
CARTER: I would rather have a Democrat, but I would be comfortable. I think Romney has shown in the past in previous years as a moderate, a progressive, that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know. He's a good solid family man and so forth and has gone to the extreme right wing positions on some, maybe, very important issues in order to get the nomination. What he will do in the general election, what he'll do as president I think is difficult to know.
JANSING: Do you think that he has gone too far into the conservative positions and do you think that that makes him difficult to be trusted?
CARTER: I think he has gone too far in the conservative positions to suit the average American and that's why I think President Obama is going to be reelected. In historical terms, looking back all all the elections with which I am familiar both candidates have tended to come to the middle as they get into the general election. Romney already has a reputation of being changeable in his positions. And so I think that's a stigma that he already has been able to weather and at least in the Republican primary. If he moves back more to the central position on some major issues, I am not sure that he can suffer any more as being changeable. So I don't know how to predict it, but I stick to my prediction that President Obama will win.
JANSING: Do you think that we say every year that the election has never been this negative, the tone has never been this divisive, but is it true?
CARTER: It is absolutely true. We didn't dream of running a negative commercial on television that would destroy the character of our opponent. It would have been suicidal for the ones who did that. And we didn't raise money from special interest groups. Do you know how much money that I raised and Reagan raised and President Ford raised for the general election?
JANSING: What was the total?
CARTER: Zero. We didn't raise a penny from private contributors or from corporations or from special interest groups. I think the massive infusion of money into the political arena has been the major cause and depending a lot on it on the negative advertising and the stupid Supreme Court ruling of a little more than two years ago saying that corporations are people has exacerbated or made worse an already existing bad situation.