Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Of Carter, 1992, and 'October Surprises'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Of Carter, 1992, and 'October Surprises'

Article excerpt

THE question asked recently in this column about why the Democrats are completely ignoring Jimmy Carter in seeking a presidential candidate has evoked no thunderous response. It did cause some stir in the media - print, radio, and TV.

But the party's leaders didn't seem to find the suggestion of Carter's potential availability relevant to their plans for 1992.

This careless shunting aside of a president who could serve another term causes some pain among those who were once his top team members in Washington. They see it as a sign of the low ebb to which the Democratic Party has fallen.

Commenting on the party's lack of interest in Carter and on its emerging plans for a northern strategy to win the White House next year, one Carter cohort said disgustedly, "The party has a death wish."

The philosophical thrust of the Democratic Party is what really bothers these Carter men.

Said one: "It will never win the presidency with an agenda which stresses social liberalism. It can only make a persuasive appeal nationwide by running hard with economic issues."

Another key member of Carter's team, referring to the still dominant liberalism among party leaders, had this to say: "By so doing the Democrats are forfeiting the presidency."

Does Carter himself feel rebuffed by Democrats' failure to even whisper his name in their search for a candidate? "He's past that," says Bert Lance. "He doesn't want to look back."

Jack Watson puts it this way: "Jimmy is using his life now in a most constructive and fulfilling way. He is doing things now, as a former president, that he couldn't do as a president. He has an almost unbelievable schedule of good works these days."

The "way Carter left Washington" is a basic reason the former president would not want to go through it again, according to another Carter confidant. "He feels he was vilified - by politicians and the press. Rosalyn was particularly bitter - and still is."

So Jimmy Carter's future trail is likely to lead him away from a bid to recapture his glory days in politics. …

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