U.S. President Jimmy Carter Campaign and Election Part 2

About the U.S. President Jimmy Carter, history of his presidential campaign and election.

39th President



Nov. 2, 1976 . . .

By accident of birth, Carter had put together the old Roosevelt coalition of the South, labor, blacks, and ethnics to become the first Deep Southerner to be elected president since Zachary Taylor pulled it off in 1848. Mississippi put Carter over the top. With 297 electoral votes to Ford's 240, Carter edged Ford in the popular vote 40.3 million to 38.5 million (50.06%--47.89%). Although Democrats had feared that independent candidate Eugene McCarthy might eat into the Carter vote in enough states to throw the election to the House of Representatives, the former Minnesota senator polled less than 1% of the vote.

Jan. 20, 1977 . . .

President Carter saw his inaugural as the beginning of the healing process for America. He took the oath from Chief Justice Warren Burger on the Carter family Bible, four generations old, opened to Micah 6:8: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" That over, he began his address with an unprecedented tribute to his Republican opponent. "For myself and for our nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land," he said. He then shook hands with a rather stunned Gerald Ford and, in an aside barely audible on the microphone, said, "Mr. Ford, I'm proud of you." He then resumed his brief speech, saying in part: "You have given me a great responsibility, to stay close to you, to be worthy of you, and to exemplify what you are. Let us create together a new national spirit of unity and trust. Your strength can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to minimize my mistakes."

The Carter people ordered a special reviewing stand built for those in wheelchairs and provided interpreters for the deaf. Mrs. Carter asked the three television networks to add deaf signal inserts to their coverage, but all three declined, saying that public broadcasting had planned to provide sign language. The rest rooms of the new FBI building were reserved for the exclusive use of the handicapped.

The inaugural was not carried in Puerto Rico because the commercial network there could not find a sponsor to pay for the air time.

The affair was billed as a "people's inaugural," and the First Family set the tone by abandoning their limousine to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. The crowds loved it; the Secret Service did not.

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