U.S. President Jimmy Carter Presidential Nomination

About the U.S. President Jimmy Carter, history and biography of the presidential nomination process.

39th President

JAMES EARL CARTER, JR.

PRESIDENCY

Nomination: Carter's game plan to capture the Democratic nomination was to declare early, blitz the first few primary states with a good grass-roots organization, and count on momentum to sew up the nomination before the other candidates knew what hit them. It worked. He took the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. He knocked out George Wallace in Florida, Morris Udall in Wisconsin, and Henry Jackson in Pennsylvania. Ted Kennedy, the only Democrat who could have stopped Carter, declined to do so.

July 14, 1976 ...

Democrats smelled victory as they filed into New York's Madison Square Garden. Carter already had enough delegates for a first ballot victory, so he, unlike most previous Democratic nominees, thoroughly enjoyed the festivities. When he was not nibbling shrimp and Virginia ham at the exclusive "21" or picking at the antipasto at Mamma Leone's, he held court in his 21st-floor suite at the Americana Hotel. The only suspense centered on the vice-presidential choice. A large field was at last narrowed down to two, astronaut-turned-senator John Glenn and Walter Mondale of Minnesota. He chose Mondale, thereby locking up the liberal vote. In a rare display of Democratic unity, Coretta King and Barbara Jordan joined George Wallace onstage to hold hands aloft with the nominee. On July 15, Carter began his acceptance speech with a line he had used working the factories at shift time in the lonely snows of New Hampshire five months before: "My name is Jimmy Carter and I'm running for president."

He went on to set the tone for his campaign: "There is a new mood in America. We've been shaken by a tragic war abroad and by scandals and broken promises at home. Our people are searching for new voices and new ideas and new leaders....

"We need a Democratic president and Congress to work in harmony for a change, with mutual respect for a change, in the open for a change, and next year we're going to have that new leadership. You can depend on it....

"It's time for government leaders to respect the law no less than the humblest citizen, so that we can end once and for all a double standard of justice.

"I see no reason why big-shot crooks should go free and the poor ones go to jail."

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