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. Brad

    The dust needs to settle before this decision can be made. There are a lot of raw feelings on all sides. Once everybody calms down, they will realize that these two candidates really don't differ at all. I honestly think that is the reason why the race and gender thing was in the forefront so much. There isn't much difference otherwise.

    Clinton has shown an extreme lack of grace in not conceding though. I honestly don't understand why people think of her as a great public servant. She seems much more interested in serving herself.

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

    Don't pick Clinton, pick Sebelius. It's time for her to leave the limelight, if her supporters dont like it.... tough. This is a sport in that someone has to lose. Imagine the Super Bowl, where the losing team reserved a ll congratulations until a few days later. Sad really. Get over it, now we can talk about where relief may come from.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. jay nyc

    I love and respect my elders. Why? Because they speak their mind and are too old to worry about what you think of them. Carter is speaking the truth that too many people are afraid to publicly state. Obama will be just fine. There are plently of other qualified candidates out their like Kathleen Sebilus, Bill Richardson, etc..who will balance out Obama just fine! Thanks President Carter for telling it "like it is" – OBAMA/????? and somebody but Clinton 08! THANKS

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Trenton Sims, Los Angeles

    To: Hillary Supporter, 2:21 pm ET

    If she continues to Divide the Party, The Obama backlashing of her will continue.
    When she gets behind the Party Nominee as she promissed..then it will stop.. And we will welcome her back to the Democratic Family.

    For now...She has chosen to Alienate, Isolate and continues to be Divisive ..

    Very Not Presidential..on Hillary's part. Behaving like a High Schooler that lost the Student Body Presiency..:-(

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Deb

    Hillary has the voice of the people and more votes from individual folks then either Obama or McCain!

    She should take it to the floor and all the way to the White House!

    Obama needs her more then she needs him!

    He hasn't won votes from any "Mainstream" folks since Rev. Wright and won't be able to win the GE without her.

    Hillary 08

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Change is not having to deal with Bill Clinton's shenanigan's for another eight years...

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Steve in MN

    Dennis – you couldn't be more correct. If Obama loses this general election as a result of Hillary's supporters turning up their noses at him, she will never have a chance at winning again. If, on the other hand, her supporters clear their heads and help Obama win, she could still have a chance at a future bid if things don't get well for him during his term. Hillary supporters should think hard about their choice because it could have a big effect on Clinton's future roles of any kind.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Patrick

    People LOL big time Obama supporter here. The unity ticket will work BIG TIME. Look at the #'s. 36 millions people voted in the primaries for these candidates. Like them or not, the Clintons are very well respected around this country. Maybe not by Republicans, guess what THEY ARENT VOTING DEMOCRATIC ANYWAYS. Obama-Clinton '08 Let's UNITE!

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Doug

    Do you remember, a few months ago, the horrible specter that one candidate might win the popular vote but that the super delegates would go into a "smoke-filled room" and give it to the other one?
    Do you remember, last week, that the rules committee would not make a decision about Florida and Michigan which would alter the outcome of the election?
    Well, it looks like both things happened. Obama has 1,762 pledged delegates and could not have reached 2,118 without more than half of the super delegates, and Hillary would also have reached that threshold if she had received delegates according to votes in Florida and Michigan.
    This situation has been unavoidable due to the closeness of the race, so I am not faulting Obama for it. I have no problem with congratulating Obama for his success in mustering the delegates to become the presumptive nominee, but I don't think that people should criticize Hillary for not accepting defeat more immediately and more explicitly. It’s not like his victory was won in the voting booth, after all.
    The primary was a tie, at best, with the final decision determined only by 27 committee members and 680 super delegates. Why don't we just do the whole thing over again? If that's not really possible, perhaps we should all just respect each other a little bit and recognize that both of them could be on the ticket.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Margarita

    I agree with Jimmy Carter. This woman aka Hillary Clinton STILL has not conceded yet. I thought she was fighting for her country, but oh no, she is self-centered. All she thinks about is herself and not the democratic party. She is gonna bring division in the democratic party, so no VP spot for her please!
    Obama should pick someone he can get along with not someone abnoxious and narcist like Hillary!
    I used to be a Hillary supporter, but over time I switched my vote to Obama and I will support Obama in November!

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Time for a Democratic sweep!!

    Once again, it's left to the Democrats to fix the mess left over by the Republicans.

    The so called 'conservative, family value, small government' party have left more children behind, taken more of our money and built a gigantic out of control government.

    A vote for McCain means a vote the for exactly the same!

    Vote Dem!

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Phil

    HRC supporters have the nerve to talk about respect, when their candidate did'nt show Mr. Obama any respect last night, she was all about me,me,me and yet she can't ackowledge that he won the nonmination, but her supporters want him to offer her the VP position, and by the way her supporters arn't that respectiful of Obama supporters, HRC is not entilted to anything, she ran and she lost, move on.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. Mike in Houston

    Aww come on Billary grumps, it's over, your beloved HillBill got beat, fair and square. Quit with the disrespect nonsense. No one disrepsected her, she did that to herself. and no Obama should not pick her for VP, they, and I mean they, would be a distraction. We don't need another VP trying to overthrow the White House (hence Dick Cheney). I thought Rebub's where some of the biggest cry babies ever, you Billary supportors make the Repub's look like UFC champions. And even if you Billary cry babies go to Denver, the results will be the same, Obama 1 win 0 loses, Billary 1-1 (I will give Bill his due respect). History has been made, we have the first legit African American Presidental candidate, to lead a major party, in U.S. History, period. So much for being a fourth of a human being. Now go drink your mocca latte's and dry your eyes.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Marc

    Clinton is no friend of Obama's and would be a horrible choice for VP at this time. Her speech last night was her opportunity, in my opinion. It was her opportunity to regain her stature and show she that could be gracious and forthright, that she could sublimate her own ambitions to create a positive situation for the presumptive nominee. Instead, she chose to remain defiant and divisive in her words. With a different speech, I could have, possibly, seen an opening for a joint ticket. She closed that book last night.

    Also, Carter is right. There are many people in this country who are not ready to see an African American in the White House (Pres or VP). There are also many who are not ready to see a woman in the White House (Pres or VP). These are not the same people. Putting an African American and a woman on the same ticket puts that ticket at risk for discrimination twice. This doesn't even count the other negative factors which neither Clinton nor Obama can neutralize for the other.

    Not a good idea if the Dem's want to win in November.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Mary Ann

    Obviously Brian from Seattle and Fred are McCain supporters. I voted for you President Carter and you are the only one that continues to show dignity and respect for our country and I thank you for all your many contributions. I totally agree with you as well. Hillary ran a very negative campaign and she ended it the same way last night. I think he needs someone that will represent the change he is seeking and she's certainly not it. I don't trust her. She wants the position at any cost and she's not one to take second place.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Jonah

    Months ago I would have supported Obama, but the obvious disrespect shown to Hillary and her supporters by Barack, Michelle, Donna Brazille, and all the Obama supports have turned me against him.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Toot

    The 2nd worst President in history is trying to give advice!!

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. CL OT

    Carter (aka the worst president ever) makes a good point. Howere the statment

    "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"

    Shows how racist this man thinks. I guess you can only not like Obama if you hate blacks or Arabs.

    What a moron!

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Susan, Atlanta, GA

    I agree with Mr. Carter. Can anyone really image Mrs. Clinton being subservient in rank to Mr. Obama? She would have to keep her mouth closed–as ALL VP's must–on matters on which she disagreed with the president.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Donna

    As usual, Jimmy doesn't have a clue!

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Kim

    Clinton's negative comments about Obama during the campaign will mortally wound him in November. The Republican party has already started running ads using her comments in March, that whilst she and McCain had lifelong executive experiences, Obama's only experience was a speech he made in 2002. Her negative comments will come back to haunt her. Polls show that about 50% of Americans hate her and will not vote for her, if she was running as VP, the Republican party will run all the dirt they can on her, Whitewatergate, Travelgate, Vince Foster. There is also Bill's dirt, presedential pardon for a fugitive, the sex scandals etc, the recent suggestion that Bill has been philandering with an American actress over the last 2 – 3 years. Obama may have refrained from using such dirt, the Republican Part y will not.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Bob from Jersey

    The Clinton supporters who keep saying she won the popular vote think it's OK to have an election where only 1 candidate is on the ballot or only 1 candidate campaigns. That's what happened in Michigan and Florida. Those states broke the rules, HRC broke the rules with them, now she wants a reward. Do you Clinton supporters think nobody in Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Miami wanted to vote for Obama??

    Carter is DEFINITELY wrong about Sam Nunn. He is as much a Democrat as Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman. It's best for him to remain permanently retired.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. Megan

    I agree with Carter. People are too polarized. Picking Hillary would directly contrast with his message of change. Instead, he should pick someone who balances out his weaknesses and is known for staying above the political fray. Further, I don't think that the Clintons would ever take a backseat and allow Obama to be the presidential nominee without attempting to overshadow him.

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. John

    How does Obama claim to support change if he puts Hillary in the 2nd chair???

    June 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Bill in Rochester

    I expect that Hillary has a desire to make her own mark in history that would be delayed if she were to accept the position of VP. Once she realizes that Bill gave her hoards of poor advise during these primaries, in an attempt to get himself back into the White House and protect his own legacy, she will hopefully ditch the playboy and start on her own legacy in history. She might become the most powerful Senator in Congress or possibly launch her Clinton Universal Health Care plan as Secretary of Health. What ever she does, VP probably isn't on her mind. Just everyone else's. Let's let Obama decide.

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