Is Pete Buttigieg the New Jimmy Carter?

Buttigied

Over at The Washington Post, historian J. Brooks Flippen compares the two Democratic political outsiders.  Here is a taste of his piece “Is Pete Buttigieg Jimmy Carter 2.0“:

Like Carter, the former long-shot mayor has emerged as one of the front-runners by winning Iowa and performing well on Tuesday in New Hampshire, finishing a close second. Like the former president, Buttigieg grew up in a middle-class household — Carter’s father was a prominent landowner and Buttigieg’s father a professor. Both served in the Navy, Carter having attended the U.S. Naval Academy and Buttigieg having served with the Naval Reserve in Afghanistan. When they declared their presidential ambitions, both were derided as too inexperienced and thus garnered little media attention.

In response, both demonstrated remarkable self-assurance and confidence, proposing an ambitious agenda early. Both welcomed the civil rights debates that their respective candidacies engendered. Carter had promoted desegregation in his governorship and even in his Southern Baptist Church, while Buttigieg championed gay and lesbian rights, even touting his marriage to a man. In response to ensuing questions and attacks, both cited their faith. In fact, both men made their religions central to their candidacies, Carter famously declaring himself a “born-again Christian” while Buttigieg proclaimed that his faith demanded LBGQT equality.

As they launched their presidential campaigns, both men confronted an energized Democratic electorate, anxious to repudiate the scandal-tarred Republicans. Both faced large Democratic fields initially crowded with accomplished candidates — 17 in 1976 and in 28 in 2020. Neither field, however, had a clear front-runner.

Read the entire piece here.

Jimmy Carter Beat 17 Competitors to Win the Democratic Nomination in 1976

Carter 1976

As Gillian Brockell notes at The Washington Post, the last time we had a very large Democratic primary field we got Jimmy Carter.  The Plains, Georgia peanut farmer emerged as the primary winner over Birch Bayh, Lloyd Bentsen, Jerry Brown, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Sargent Shriver, Morris Udall, and George Wallace, to name a few.

Here is a taste of Brockell’s piece.

As the primaries approached, one Democrat after another announced campaigns for president. Most were senators. Some were governors. One came from a university town in Indiana. They spoke of a need to clean up an executive branch they said was riddled with corruption.

No, this isn’t a description of the 2020 campaign. It was 1976 — the most crowded Democratic presidential field in modern American history, until the current election cycle, which boasts 21.

And, despite worries about a bruising intraparty battle, the little-known peanut farmer who won the primaries also won the White House. His name was Jimmy Carter.

How many Democratic candidates were there in 1976? One historian put the number at 17, though it depends on how you count them. Let’s just say the race was remarkably fluid right up until the last primary.

Read the rest here.

Will Ted Cruz Be Reaganesque Tonight?

Cruz and Trump debate

Ted Cruz has yet to endorse Donald Trump.  Some of you may remember that during the campaign Trump liked to call Cruz “Lying Ted” and mocked the appearance of Cruz’s wife Heidi. Cruz called Trump a “pathological liar” and a “narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.”  Oh yes, Cruz also called Trump a “serial philanderer.”

When Gerald Ford ran for POTUS in 1976 he faced strong opposition in the primary season from then former California Governor Ronald Reagan. At the time of the GOP convention in Kansas City, Ford had a slight delegate lead over Reagan, but he did not have the 1130 delegates needed for the nomination.  Reagan, the favorite of the conservative wing of the GOP, came to the convention with 1070 delegates.  After a tough battle on the convention floor the Mississippi delegation switched its support from Reagan to Ford and secured the nomination for the sitting POTUS.  Ford would go on to lose the general election to Jimmy Carter.

After he realized he had lost the nomination, Reagan took to the microphone and called for party unity.  Here is what he said:

No historical analogy is perfect. Trump came to Cleveland this week with enough delegates to get the nomination.  Cruz has no chance.  But the Texas Senator will be speaking tonight.  It will be interesting to see what he says.  Will he endorse Trump and call the GOP and his delegates and supporters to rally around the pathological liar, narcissist and serial philanderer?

Remember what happened to Reagan.  In 1980 he ran again and was elected POTUS. Rumor has it that Cruz wants to run again in 2020.  Whatever he says tonight will leave an important legacy that GOP voters might remember in four years.

That Time Gerald Ford Lost His Voice

This past week at the Fred W. Smith Library at Mount Vernon I attended a discussion of American first ladies with C-SPAN’s Susan Swain and presidential historian Richard Norton Smith.

The discussion was based on Swain’s book  First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women.  (The program will air on C-SPAN on Sunday night at 7pm).

I learned a lot of things I did not know about First Ladies.  For example, I did not know that Gerald Ford lost his voice on the day of the 1976 presidential election.  After Jimmy Carter won the election, first lady Betty Ford delivered her husband’s concession speech.