Americus Times-Recorder Endorsement of Carter’s Candidacy

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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Carter Candidacy “A Historic Moment for All Georgians,”

Says Americus Times-Recorder


D. Jason Berggren


From the outset of his long-shot bid for the White House, the Americus Times-Recorder provided coverage of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign. In the Dec. 12, 1974 edition of the paper, the day of Carter’s candidate announcement, assistant publisher William E. Blair wrote an editorial, entitled “Jimmy Carter for President.”


Blair noted that Carter’s entry into the 1976 race was “a historic moment for all Georgians.” Before Carter, no Georgian had been elected to the presidency, and few even had actively sought it. For instance, prior to Carter, the most serious presidential effort by a candidate from Georgia took place in 1824 when the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford competed in a four-way contest. In the end, trailing Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and only ahead of Henry Clay, Crawford received the third most votes in the Electoral College. Because, no candidate won with an outright electoral vote majority, the U.S. House selected Adams to be the sixth president.   


Blair mentioned the fact that Georgia’s U.S. Senator Richard Russell once ran for president, but he did not win because he was “from below the Mason-Dixon line.”  Russell finished a distant third in the voting at the 1952 Democratic National Convention. It was widely believed that a Southerner could not be nominated by the Democratic Party because of continued racial segregation. A Southerner at the top of the ticket, it was generally thought, would turn off significant numbers of Northern voters and it would damage the country’s international image as the leader of the free, democratic world.


Things changed in the 1960s and 1970s. With the success of the civil rights movement and the new determination of the federal government to adopt and enforce civil rights legislation, the South was desegregated and moved toward integration. Additionally, the South was no longer the country’s number one economic problem. By the time of Carter’s declaration of candidacy, the South had become “a viable part of the modern social and economic scene in America.”  Indeed, Blair wrote, “the whole South is considered by many to have the brightest future of the entire nation.” 


Because of these positive changes in areas of civil rights and economic development, Blair posited that “a Southern political leader such as Governor Carter has a better chance to achieve national political recognition than ever before.”  As the story unfolded, he was right.  There were other Southerners who ran in 1976, including Governor George Wallace of Alabama, former governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina, and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas.  However, with his status as a Washington outsider who possessed executive experience and who promised to be an “open, direct and honest” president, it was Georgia’s favorite son who would win the Democratic Party’s nomination and then prevail in the general election.


What follows is a modified version of Blair’s article that appeared on the front page of the Times-Recorder on Dec. 12, 1974.


By the time you, our readers, are reading this, Governor Jimmy Carter, native born son of Sumter County, Georgia will be making his much-expected announcement that he is a candidate for the presidency of the United States. It is a historic moment for all Georgians, but especially for the residents of Plains and Sumter County. We share this moment of pride with his family, his friends and his neighbors. Your hopes are ours.


The South has produced a number of top-quality leaders throughout the history of our country, but never before has a time seemed so right for a Southerner to make it all the way to the White House. Only in the very recent past have the two great political parties shown much interest in the problems and opinions of the South.  Even though Richard Russell was once conceded to be presidential timber, he was ignored and only because he was from below the Mason-Dixon line.


But the last two elections for president, 1968 and 1972, saw politically winning tickets which included overtures to the South. It indicates to us that it will be difficult for any candidate to win a national election without the support of the new South which is now such a viable part of the modern social and economic scene in America.


The South is now the mainstream of American life, most any way you choose to look at it. Parts of the South are pacing the growth index and the whole South is considered by many to have the brightest future of the entire nation.


Being largely rural, Georgia exhibits a kind of common sense and earthy conservatism on economic issues that has made it the envy of many of the Northern industrial states…


All of this is simply to say that a Southern political leader such as Governor Carter has a better chance to achieve national political recognition than ever before.


His own record as Governor will be a real plus factor when the people examine his efforts and purposes.


The muddled mess in which we Americans find ourselves is a ripe vineyard for the efforts of a man like Jimmy Carter who seeks to be open, direct and honest.  Georgians have found him trustworthy, both those who have opposed him and those who supported him.


He has been quoted as saying, “Our nation now has no understandable national purpose, no clearly-defined goals, and no organizational mechanism to develop or achieve such purposes or goals. We move from one crisis to the next as if they were fads, even though the previous one hasn’t been solved.”


As governor he has exhibited the qualities of fairness, integrity, and wisdom. He has been a leader who gave completely of his energy to be a good and effective servant of the people. By dedicated hard work he has prepared himself to be president as well as anyone ever has.


Certainly, no other announced candidate that we know about so clearly fits the mold of the kind of president we would like to see.


America is at a crossroads. But at the moment we don’t even know for sure where the roads lead. But one thing is certain. Only the best, dedicated leadership available in our nation today will bring us safely through and back on the track to the bright tomorrows we have come to expect as ours.


Jimmy Carter has that leadership.  We hope the nation has sense enough to use it.

Visit the Americus Times-Recorder’s coverage of Jimmy Carter’s life and impact for more information.