November 21st, 2010
02:03 PM ET
12 years ago

Jimmy Carter explains 'rabbit attack'

(CNN) - At 537 pages, former President Jimmy Carter's latest book, "White House Diary," is full of behind-the-scenes accounts of his time in the Oval Office - but one incident goes without mention, and it involves a rabbit.

In April of 1979, Carter used a paddle on his boat in Plains, Georgia to splash a rabbit and prevent it from swimming too close to his boat. Thirty-one years later, CNN's Howard Kurtz asked him about the ordeal.

"I was fishing one afternoon…," Carter said on CNN's "Reliable Sources." "…and a rabbit was being chased by hounds... he jumped in the water and swam toward my boat. When he got almost there, I splashed some water with a paddle."

Carter says that the animal turned in the opposite direction and crawled out of the pond. A photographer then snapped a picture, and the legend of the "killer rabbit" was born.

According to Carter, his Press Secretary, Jody Powell shared the rabbit story at a bar with members of the press.

"I don't know what Jody told," Carter explained to Kurtz. "It was in a bar after a lot of drinking had gone on."

Powell passed away in 2009, but in his book "The Other Side of the Story" said he accidentally told Associated Press reporter Brooks Jackson about the rabbit incident over a cup of tea, not in a bar.

"It was a nightmare," wrote Powell. "The Washington Post… headed the piece, 'President Attacked by Rabbit' and ran it on the front page."

Powell lamented that the press kept pushing the story for more than a week.

However, Carter maintained his humor about the whole ordeal decades later.

"It became a very humorous and lasting story," he said. "And we're still talking about it."

Filed under: Jimmy Carter • Reliable Sources
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Four and The Door

    The media should finally cut President Carter a break. I think he's the second most effective of the last 3 Democratic US Presidents. ( I liked Bill Clinton ).

    November 21, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. richard schwartz

    Its only amusing if you weren't the rabbit swimming for its life, running from hounds. Cater's lack of empathy is notable. Nor did just leave it alone. He hit it with water from his paddle. What a brave man. I wonder how this religous man would feel if the roles were reversed?

    November 21, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Jim from Va

    JIimmy Carter has done a lot of good things since he was voted out of office after his miserable presidency.However,he constantly talks down this country and it's direction and shows why voters tossed him out.Obama is a lot like this man.

    November 21, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Ron

    Carter had the guts to defend himself from this killer. Bush would have fainted.

    November 21, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. tony

    I have a house rabbit, but I had no idea rabbits could swim. Maybe Watership Down is wrong.

    November 21, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |