June 4th, 2008
03:44 PM ET
11 years ago

Carter says unity ticket would be 'worst mistake'


Jimmy Carter is not a fan of the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket.

(CNN) - A host of prominent Democrats are pushing for an Obama-Clinton unity ticket - but Jimmy Carter isn't one of them.

The former president, who publicly endorsed Barack Obama shortly before polls closed Tuesday in the final two primary states, told a London newspaper that a joint ticket between the two former rivals would be "the worst mistake that could be made."

"That would just accumulate the negative aspects of both candidates," Carter told the Guardian, saying that both candidates' vulnerabilities could overshadow that the ticket if the two team up together.

"If you take that 50 percent who just don't want to vote for Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be who don't think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough or because he's got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds," he said.

This is not the first time the former president has expressed doubt in the success of a unity ticket. Speaking at a Houston event late last month, Carter called the prospect "highly unlikely," and said other potential picks could better serve the Illinois senator.

"I think it would be highly unlikely for Obama to ask her to take it," he said then. "Because I don't see how it would help his ticket. I think he needs somebody like a [former Georgia Sen.] Sam Nunn, but I won't name others. But I think if he asked her, she would take it."

Carter largely stayed on the sidelines during his party's prolonged presidential nomination fight, though the Georgia Democrat had long hinted his preference for Obama. Speaking with Sky News last month before he made his endorsement, Carter said that once the final two contests had been held June 3, it would be time for Clinton to give up her presidential bid.

soundoff (1,076 Responses)
  1. LB

    I have no desire to be rude to Hilary supporters but what they don't understand is how incredibly restrainted I have been about Hillary's behavior during this campaign. And I do not use 'hate' because I don't 'hate' people even if I disagree with them.

    I will not vote for a ticket with Senator Clinton on it. It would go against my principles. But I won't vote for McCain either.

    But to those who think he can't win without Hillary on his ticket...

    Most definitely!
    Yes He Can!

    June 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. DKNY

    Oh Jimmy Carter giving advice – now that's someone successful to listen to. It was because of his lack of leadership and campaign abilities that Reagan was elected thus paving the way for too many years of Republican leadership. Please Mr. Carter, keep your opinions to yourself – we don't need another 20 years of Republicans in the White House!

    June 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Mauri

    Congressman Charlie Rangel says, "Obama can't win without her." Former President Jimmy Carter says to choose her as a running mate is the worst thing he (Obama) can do. Caroline Kennedy has been selected by Obama to be on his committee to select a VP running mate. If she's like Dick Cheney, she could pick herself. Wouldn't that be something???

    June 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Karen in Fla

    Snotty Michelle Obama has already said Barak can't have Hillary as VP.

    The only reason Obama is claiming the nom is because the DNC has so screwed up the process that lemming Delegates can go against the popular vote. Add that to the nonsense of the Electoral College, and you have a sadly broken electoral system. The vote of the people is NOT reflected by the delegate count and it is a sham to say it is. The only reason behind creating the super delegates was so the DNC can ram a candidate of their choosing down our throats which is exactly what they have done. Apparently all these "new" voters who are so enamoured of Obama don't understand our political or elective process and are just getting caught up in the hype.

    Funny how the Obama people calling Clinton supporters who won't vote for Obama nasty names change their tune when the question comes up of a joint ticket with Hillary on it.....

    Obama would be really fortunate to get Hillary on the ticket but in keeping with his wimpy can't make a decision reputation, I suspect Michelle will keep that from being offered, regardless of if Hillary would accept.

    June 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. David Pearson

    Mr. Carter is absolutely correct. It is time for the extreme wing-nuts among Hillary's supporters to go ahead do what they will. AND, if Hillary has any party loyatly, it is time for her to speak up against those of her supporters who have voiced such outlandish claims and charges. But, I doubt very much that she will...

    June 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. David F

    I agree with President Carter. Clinton is not the best choice for the VP position. I hope Mr Obama chooses someone else!

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Sujith

    Totally agree with him !

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Ben, Keene NH

    Senator Clinton's supporters who want to fight it out at the convention are asking that the rules under which Senator Clinton and Senator Obama entered the primary contest be rewritten at the end of the game. The nomination goes to the candidate who wins the most delegates - not who won the popular vote, or the popular vote in primaries but not caucuses, or who's ahead at the moment in opinion polls in certain states. If you enter a contest, you are making an agreement to play by the rules and abide by the outcome. How would Clinton's fanatical supporters react if Senator Obama were trailing and now demanded that the rules be rewritten at the last moment to allow him to win?

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. michele lynch

    The chance to change history is here. As it seems (to my disappointment) the DNC will name Senator Obama as our candidate for President. They would be remiss in their civic duty to offer Senator Clinton the Vice Presidency. I won’t address “water under the bridge”; rather I look to the future. When have there ever been a President and Vice President working together along party, racial and gender lines to unite this country and take it back? When has a Vice President actually made the world better than when he took office? Why must this be about the President and not about the United States of America? Our most successful US Companies have seen the light to rise above titles, building Leadership teams to insure success. While the President has a role defined in expectations and Constitutional responsibilities why not break the mold and have Hillary become the first Vice President in history to make the changes we need to move forward? Partnership is what we need to truly need to make change work. It will be tough to win without her, and it would be a shame to discount 18 million votes to even try.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. peakarach,des moines



    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Chris from Richmond

    Put Jim Webb on the ticket, and you've got Virginia.

    Also, I find it interesting that everyone says Obama needs Clinton so badly – the only regions she won in my state were the solidly Republican ones that a Democrat wouldn't be likely to carry anyway in the general election. All the other districts that are "traditionally" Democratic, Obama trounced her.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Kyle

    SHAME on any Hillary supporter who will vote for McCrazy because they dislike Obama and cannot fathom her defeat. You people are NOT Democrats… and will have blood on your hands if your support for the Republican war machine proves successful. You people are pathetic and clearly have no clue what another Republican presidency would do to this fragile country. Go ahead, hate Obama… but at a minimum, recognize even if he was 2% better as a president than the current businessmen in power… and the senior citizen running against him… he's still 2% better and might even be 99% better. Which dice would you rather role. We know what we will get with McCain… we don't know what we will get with Obama. Those are odds I would take. Now wake up America…. the world is watching if you screw it up, AGAIN.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. kmiller

    well said Tyrone !

    repeat that 29 million times. ! loll..... maybe she will get the hint.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Alex

    I have to agree with Carter on this. Obama should pick a different VP. He should not give in to the clinton surrogate pressure. If he gives in now, he will have to suffer for it all his presidency.


    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Shasta

    Okay, I'm sorry, but I'm so sick of the whining on here. Hillary Supporter- Obama is running for president, not Obama's supporters. Get over it. Gary- Hillary did not win the popular vote unless you're content to discount the votes in the caucus states- Get over it.

    In short, get over it. She has lost, and it's time to get over it and move on toward the general election and time for people to pick a candidate who will actually make the country better for the first time in 8 years.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Brian

    Carter clearly want Sam Nunn as V.P. and it seems more likely that that is the reason he doesn't want a unity ticket. Like it or not, a unity ticket is the fastest way for the Dems to heal and unite the factions. Clinton needs to concede (to reality) before that can happen, however. She's not making it easy.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. lenny

    His reasons are pointless because they hold true regardless of his running mate. If people are dumb enough to fear his blackness or arab name then it doesn't matter if Hillary is on the ticket because they are most likely misogynist idiots as well. Plenty of morons will vote in this election but they tend to be Republicans, as we've learned in the past. But thats changing. Which is Great!

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Chris from San Antonio

    Wow, what a bunch of whiney, spoiled brats. "If my candidate doesn't win, I will vote Republican!!" And you wonder why people make fun of you?

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. A. Klich

    caroline Kennedy for VP

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Peter

    I agree with President Carter: Hillary Clinton would not be a wise choice as Vice President for Barack Obama. I submit the following reasons:

    1. While Clinton would bring more Dem votes for Obama, her presence on the ballot would likely bring out even greater numbers of conservatives who do not feel comfortable voting for McCain, but could be energized into action to keep a hated Clinton out of the White House. VP's usually get little attention. Clinton on the ballot would give the Republicans two people to demonize.

    2. I do not think she could take a backseat to Obama once in the White House. I think she truly believes that she is the better leader and that she should be the Democratic nominee, and that spells trouble in any kind of co-operative arrangement. The next 4 years could end up looking like a super-extended campaign for the 2012 Dem nomination. Throw Bill Clinton into this volatile mix and you could have trouble. You would certainly keep the party divided into ever-widening camps.

    3. I also think that her belief that she is the REAL Dem nominee could cause problems on the Presidential campaign. Imagine if Obama faltered at some point, weakening in the polls. Would Hillary support him? Would she try to pounce to wrest control for herself? Would she shrug and watch him get torpedoed, happy to know that her 2012 chances were boosted? Far-fetched? I am not so sure.

    Hillary would be far more effective with her intelligence and energy directed at a goal other than national leadership. She should definitely play an important role in an Obama Administration, but VP is not the right role.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. cda

    Barack Obama should not be strong-armed into taking Hillary Clinton. She has a few 'positives' and many 'negatives'. I think it would be best to select someone other than Hillary Clinton, but the decision should be his, not Hillary's or her supporters.

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Truth Be Told

    ...An Obama/Clinton ticket....was ANYONE watching or listening to these campaigns and what's been said leading up to Obama being declared the presumptive nominee? Wow...

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Ohiovoter


    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. andrew s. rostolder

    this is the only time i have heard howdy doody say something that you can take to the bank.......... the 3 clintons will pummel this man into the ground...........

    June 4, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Robert

    "ON TO DENVER!!!!! CUT the VP bull…… We won the popular vote. we won all the big blue states, & swing states!!!!!!! Let's based it on the voice of the people, not the voice of the few delegates!"

    Popular vote does not win elections in our Republic. A fact we painfully were reminded of in 2000.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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