Jimmy Carter: On the Independent Candidacy of John Anderson (from
Public Papers of the President, Carter, 1980, pages 1683
Q. Mr. President,
how do you assess the Anderson candidacy and the feeling that
some observers have that it'll hurt you more than it'll hurt Ronald
Well, there's no doubt that it hurts me more than it does Reagan.
All the polls indicate that it's different, and particularly in
States like California and New Jersey--California and New York--and
I'm not sure about New Jersey...
Anderson is primarily a creation of the press. He's never won
a primary, even in his own home State. He's never won a caucus
contest in any State in the Nation. He ran as a Republican, and
he's still a Republican. He hasn't had a convention; he doesn't
have a party. He and his wife hand-picked his Vice-Presidential
nominee. But Anderson being the third candidate in the race, who's
given equal treatment on the evening news and in the newspapers
with myself and the Republican nominee, is obviously the recipient
of support from people who are disaffected with me or with Governor
Reagan, and this makes him a very significant factor in the 1980
other third candidates running down through history, some with
parties and some without parties. On occasion they've been highly
publicized, as was the case with Theodore Roosevelt when he tried
to run for reelection, and George Wallace when he ran. But I don't
know what's going to come out later on...
early in the season, and we are concerned about the fact that
I've not been able to induce Governor Reagan to debate me, for
instance, on a two-man basis. What he will do in the future is
hard to discern, but as you know, a three-person debate format
is more like a forum than it is a real debate...
accommodated political uncertainties in the past and been fairly
successful, and I have no aversion to making the same attempt
in the next few weeks. I believe I'll be successful with it. It's
hard to say what the final outcome will be, whether Anderson will
be a significant factor or not. Right now I'd say he's a significant
Q. You stand
pat on the decision not to debate, not to just take--[inaudible].
I've never said that we wouldn't debate Anderson. What I've said
was that we wanted to have two-man debates with Reagan assured
and that I would be glad to debate Reagan, Anderson, or any other
candidates in an open forum. I have no aversion to that at all.
Mr. President, do you think you'll change your mind about the
League debates and take part in them if they had one-on-one after
a multi-candidate debate for the first time?
My position has been clear. It's consistent, and I do not intend
to change it. We have offered in an unprecedented way to debate
both the [p.1702] Republican nominees, Reagan and Anderson, and
any other candidate for President who might have a theoretical
chance to be nominated for President...
of Women Voters has done a good job. But they have refused, along
with Governor Reagan, to consider so far in any serious way a
debate one-on-one between myself as the Democratic nominee for
President and Governor Reagan as the Republican nominee for President.
This is what we want...
already accepted three different invitations to debate Governor
Reagan in a two-man debate. It's obvious to me and I think to
almost everyone else in this country that the two people who have
a chance to be elected as President are the nominee of the Republican
Party, Governor Reagan, and myself as the nominee of the Democratic
Party. That is what I want. And if the other two of the many candidates
decide to debate as a Republican duo, to debate each other, that's
perfectly all right with me. We still are eager to have as many
debates as we can schedule between myself and Governor Reagan
first and then to debate Governor Reagan, Congressman Anderson,
and any others that the sponsors of the debate might bring together.
Q. Is there
any prospect today of a one-on-one debate?
It's up to Governor Reagan.