June 27th, 2008
09:33 PM ET
12 years ago

McCain calls Carter a 'lousy president'

McCain delivered a tough assessment of Carter.

McCain delivered a tough assessment of Carter.

(CNN) - John McCain directed his trademark straight talk toward a former president, flatly calling Jimmy Carter a "lousy" commander in chief.

The Arizona senator has long attempted to portray Barack Obama's policies as in the mold of Carter's, though the Republican has previously held back criticizing Carter so directly.

But in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun published Friday, McCain was decidedly more blunt than he has been in the past. McCain, who is a proponent of nuclear reprocessing, was asked why he thought Carter was against the process when he was president.

"Yes, because Carter was a lousy president," McCain quipped. "This is the same guy who kissed Brezhnev."

McCain's comments are in reference to the now famous moment when Carter and then Soviet Union leader Leonid Brezhnev kissed after signing the SALT II treaty in 1979. Both the agreement and the kiss were widely panned by Republicans.

Carter himself largely stayed on the sidelines during the prolonged Democratic primary race, refusing to publicly back a candidate. Though he had long dropped several hints that he was a supporter of Barack Obama and he formally endorsed the Illinois senator shortly after he tied up the nomination.

Watch: Jimmy Carter sounds off

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. James

    Next John McCain will be attacking Woodrow Wilson, the first Democratic President he remembers.

    June 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Shawna

    Regardless of how McCain feels about Carter, he is trying to be commander and chief...His comments are disrespectful and unbecoming of someone trying to be the leader of the US. He should issue an immediate appology, because these kinds of slip ups are the reason that the US is looked upon negatively. Once again McCain fails to separate himself from the titled "three more years of Bush", domestic and foreign policy mind set.

    June 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Brian H

    Lousy president, perhaps, but compared to George W Bush he is outstanding.

    June 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. puff

    He is going to make such a great president!! He tells it like it is!! You go John, we are with you!
    Hillary Democrats 08

    June 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Bill

    Let's not forget, this is the same John McCain who refers to Asians as a certain derogatory 4-letter-word beginning with 'G'.

    People trash Obama for what his pastor said, yet those same people aren't holding McCain accountable for his disgusting, racist behavior that HE HIMSELF said?

    I don't care what the Vietnamese did to him in his days as a POW, that does NOT justify the demeaning of an entire continent and culture.

    June 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Nia - Phoenix, AZ

    I guess McCain had to pick on someone his own age

    June 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. John from Orlando

    OK, Carter was no peach (no pun intended). He missed the boat in many areas. But for McCain to denigrate Mr. Carter, especially during an election year, is pretty stupid. McCain has been noted for unfortunate comments–a very blunt manner that has hurt others more than once in the past. His campaign staff needs to tell the man to tone it down. Obama appears to be a clear winner, and McCain cannot afford any mistakes. Unfortunately I dislike both candidates, but I'm leaning more toward Obama than before simply because McCain has so many rough edges. At least Carter was a gentleman.

    June 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. faye, NV

    McCainbush really need to get a grip. He is so out of touch and trying to do what ever, I don't know what ever to think of him.

    He is too funny

    June 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. Gearge, TX

    McCain is too OLD to be president. McCain is out of NEW ideas and he will continue to engage in name calling.

    June 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Patriot

    Sorry McBush,

    Most voters under 40 don't even remember Jimmy Carter being President, so I don't know why you're bringing Carter up all the time.

    A second Carter term would have been better than Reagan, who brought us Bush Sr, who brought us you-know-who.

    June 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    of course McCain seems to be adopting the policies of not only a lousy president, but the worst president ever.

    June 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. David, Tampa, Fl

    Was Carter a "lousy" president? Yes. But he isn't in the same league as the piece of work in the Whitehouse now. Life in these United States as we know it will be undergoing a drastic change in the next decade or so. Personally, I do not think Obama, McCain or Barr, is capable of making the bold sweeping changes needed to get us out of Bush's legacy- total economic meltdown.

    June 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |

    As president, Carter created two new cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He established a national energy policy[2] and removed price controls from domestic petroleum production

    Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties and the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). Carter sought to put a stronger emphasis on human rights; he negotiated a peace between Israel and Egypt in 1979.

    You call THIS record lousy???????????????????????????

    June 27, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Mike, Iowa

    Carter has nothing to do with the 2008 race just more republican BS to scaptegoat there own mistakes. All they do is smile and shake there heads and blame everything on someone else

    June 27, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. AWH

    Unfortunately for McCain, he will have a lot in common with Jimmy Carter come November

    when he proceeds to get smoked in a landslide victory for the DEMS. I dont know if it will be 489 to 49 ala the 1980 election but I venture to say it will be close to that margin of victory for Obama

    June 27, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Crush Rush

    From WAR HERO to COWARD in 8 years.He didnt have the guts to stand up to Bush in 2000,and now wants to take it out on anyone he can.

    June 27, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. CB

    I think most agree BUSH is the "lousiEST" president in U.S. history.

    McCain is living in the cold-war era – every comment he makes about Russia has been negative.

    June 27, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. nitro

    If sending us into a war for no reason , costing us billions of dollars in spending, having inocent soldiers killed, plus many civillians dont make you the worst president ever then truely we deserve everything we got. On the other hand what happened to the respect factor between presidents, oops that idiot McCain is not a president so say what ever you want to we all know who the worst ever is GWB. But then there was the idiot that caused the airline strike and then threaten to have them fired if they didn't return and then they named an airport after him. Oh and he couldn't remember authorizing the sale of arms to a country that we were at odds with. Alzhiemer is a mutha . John McCain think again or do you have that sickness to.

    June 27, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Soph

    At least Carter WAS President.
    Pretty darn sure McCain will never be able to make that claim.

    Easy to throw stones having never had the job, eh John?

    June 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Lisa

    The smartest man I know, my father once told me
    rewards on this earth are short lived, wonder who will have rewards for eternity, McCain or Carter
    Jimmy Carter loved his Lord first and that is something more should think about .... The reason he may or may not have been a "lousy" president is not the question we should ask ourselves. Was he a good man ... Yes he was and is and I am very proud to say i voted for him and would again.

    June 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  21. Bill from Missouri

    McCain is not fit to criticize President Carter. Carter was a visionary and foresaw the seriousness of the energy crisis thirty years ago and tried to set this country on the right course toward energy independence. Then McCain's hero cowboy Reagan came in ripped the solar panels off the white house and undid most of carter's effort to get us on the road toward renewables. McCain has lived his entire life on the strength of his imprisonment in Vietnam. Because of that he has been above criticism for his shabby treatment of his first wife, for his dishonesty in the Keating Five scandal, and his numerous flip flops on key issues. Most journalists from the Vietnam generation ducked the war themselves and out of guilt seem to give him a free ride, but the public won't in November. He's toast!

    June 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. Mk

    If Carter was such an awful president what does that make Bush?

    June 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. Joe Bloggs, Haiku, HI

    So McSame, are you saying that Bush was less lousy than Carter? IF lousyness is your criterion, then I must agree you are a good candidate to continue the trend of the last 8 years.

    June 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Nick - Arlington, VA

    Patrick Henry, Ft. Myers June 27th, 2008 3:52 pm ET

    One thing I can agree on for sure.

    Carter was absolutely the worst President in our nations history. He was stupid, did not listen to advisors, insisted on the wrong courses–at the objection of cabinet officers.

    He was, and remains, and idealist and an idiot. And with te exception of some of his charitable endeavors–was an absolutely ridiculous choice for President.

    He is a very nice man…and I know he is well intended…but he is stupid and ignorant of the appropriate way to deal with the "evil doer's "in the world, terrorists, and megalomaniac dictators of the world.
    Are you sure that you're describing Carter and not George W. Bush? lol

    June 27, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. Michael

    McCain is absolutely. This hayseed populist was a disaster. His ineptitude is why Reagan resonates and will resonate forever.

    June 27, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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