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   Barack Obama: The black Jimmy Carter

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1/28/2009 12:00 pm

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Entered 3/26/2009, Updated 3/26/2009

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Israel Matzav blog. "In 1976, a man with 2% name recognition decided to run for President of the United States. He was such an unknown quantity that when he told his own mother he was running for President, she asked "of what?" But when you read the story of Carter's campaign it sounds very much like today: Carter became the front-runner early on by winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. He used a two-prong strategy. In the South, which most had tacitly conceded to Alabama's George Wallace, Carter ran as a moderate favorite son. When Wallace proved to be a spent force, Carter swept the region. In the North, Carter appealed largely to conservative Christian and rural voters and had little chance of winning a majority in most states. In a field crowded with liberals, he managed to win several Northern states by building the largest single bloc. Initially dismissed as a regional candidate, Carter proved to be the only Democrat with a truly national strategy, and he eventually clinched the nomination. The media discovered and promoted Carter. As Lawrence Shoup noted in his 1980 book The Carter Presidency and Beyond: "What Carter had that his opponents did not was the acceptance and support of elite sectors of the mass communications media. It was their favorable coverage of Carter and his campaign that gave him an edge, propelling him rocket-like to the top of the opinion polls. This helped Carter win key primary election victories, enabling him to rise from an obscure public figure to President-elect in the short space of 9 months." One thing Carter did not have was foreign policy expertise. As a result, he relied on his foreign policy advisers, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (who was a partner in a major New York law firm) and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, a professor at Columbia University. The results were disastrous. Under Carter, the US allowed the Shah of Iran to fall and the Islamist Ayatollahs to take over."


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