Saturday, September 23, 2023

the last book I ever read (Jimmy Carter: The American Presidents Series: The 39th President, 1977-1981, excerpt six)

from Jimmy Carter: The American Presidents Series: The 39th President, 1977-1981 by Julian E. Zelizer:

Reagan’s weakest point, immediately seized upon by the Carter campaign, was his proclivity to make embarrassing gaffes. Reagan, who would turn seventy in his first year in office, constaly raised the eyebrows of reporters. During the primaries, he answered “Who?” when Tom Brokaw asked him a question about Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France. He once dismissed questions about his record on environmental legislation by stating that trees were the cause of air pollution. One of Carter’s ads featured Californians telling the camera that they would hate to see Reagan in office, especially, as one person said, with his “ill-formed, shoot-from-the-hip types of comments.”

Carter’s team felt Reagan’s gaffes gave them a significant advantage. Caddell, looking through his most recent polls, sounded uncharacteristically optimistic when he proclaimed that “if Reagan keeps putting his foot in his mouth for another week or so, we can close down campaign headquarters, doubts about him are growing, his lead is shrinking, and more and more people are wondering whether he’s up to the job. If this impression hardens, he’ll be out of the race.”

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