February 21st, 2013
04:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama thanked Carter's grandson, who found '47%' tape

(CNN) – President Barack Obama expressed gratitude last week to former President Jimmy Carter's grandson, who had a role in leaking secretly-recorded video of Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" comments, James Carter said Thursday on CNN.

Obama met James and his cousin, Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter, last week when the president was in Atlanta for a post-State of the Union visit.

"After (Jason) got his picture taken, he told Obama that I was the one that had found the 47% tape," James Carter said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"Then Obama said, 'Hey, great, get over here.' And then he kind of half-embraced me, I want to say, put his arm around me, and we shook hands. He thanked me for my support, several times," he said.

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In the video, Romney argued at a private fundraiser in Florida that nearly half of Americans were victims "dependent" on the government and would vote for Obama "no matter what."

"There are 47% of people who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you-name-it," Romney said on the tape.

Adding to his argument about entitlement, Romney said his "job is not to worry about those people."

The moment caught on camera is still noted as a major turning point in the race and cited-even by Republicans-as one of the main reasons Romney lost the election. Many potential GOP 2016 contenders have sought to distance themselves from those comments.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, for example, said a week after Election Day that in order for the GOP to be "competitive," it has to "go after 100% of the votes, not 53%. We need to go after every single vote."

James Carter, an opposition researcher, said he found the video online and got the person responsible for the tape in touch with a writer for the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if the person who filmed the video was a guest or a waiter at the event, Carter said, "It wasn't one of the people who had paid $50,000 to be there. But I'm not going to say anything more than that."

Carter added he had only seen a small portion of the hour-long tape at the time and had no idea it would blow up as much as it did last September.

"I obviously hoped that everything that I found would make a difference," he said. "It ended up being way beyond my wildest dreams."

Carter's grandfather, Jimmy Carter, bragged about his grandson's efforts in a separate interview to air Thursday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

The former president said he thought the video was a "pivotal moment" in the election.

"It was something (Romney) could not deny and it stuck with him for the rest of the election and I think it was a major factor, if not the major factor," he said.

"Carter won Obama the election," Morgan joked.

"I think so," Carter said, laughing.

Carter added he was not at last week's Atlanta event himself, as he was giving his own speech in the same city, but was invited.

Last year, the former president told Morgan that he didn't have much of a relationship with Obama.

Asked if that had changed, Carter said it was "about the same."

"He and I respect each other," he said.

- CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

– Catch the full interview with Jimmy Carter tonight on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," starting at 9 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Jimmy Carter • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. R.A.

    Obama needs the help so he can pass Jimmy Carter as worst President ever. Thanks James, your a good democrat.

    February 21, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  2. Meki60

    Obama is such a charlatan

    February 21, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  3. Carol

    If I were there, I would've thanked him, too, for exposing to the public exactly what Romney thinks of a large portion of the population.

    February 21, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  4. strangerq

    Mr. Obama likely would have won the election anyway, but the 47% tape was the death knell for Mr. Romney's fact-free campaign. If nothing else it exposed the GOP for being the party for plutocrats (only), working against the interests of the majority of Americans.


    February 21, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. GIUK

    That tape didn't mean anything to the people who supported Romney. All sixteen of them.

    February 21, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. cat5fred

    That wasn't the key point in the election for me.

    The key point was when Romney attacked 'Obamacare' after having implemented the same thing in MA. The guy was a liar or at best a flip-flopper.

    February 21, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. Don Gavins

    90% of Canadians & Europeans support Obama too. No nuclear, no coal, no pipelines & thank you Mr Obama for the planned carbon taxes.

    February 21, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  8. a guy

    I was under the impression that the 47% voted for Romney.

    February 21, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Shay

    I'm happy President Carter's grandson found the 47% tape and made it available to Mother Jones. It provided information America needed to know. It's something Mitt Romney can't lie about.

    Thank you James Carter!

    February 21, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. RF Burns

    Obama's campaign using this recording was one of the most brilliant political ads I had ever seen. I credit this ad with the biggest reason Romney wasn't elected.

    February 21, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. Matt

    Romney was right, about that anyway.

    February 21, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  12. BravoShocker

    The man deserves the Medal of Honor for saving America from Romney's destruction.

    February 21, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. Liber8me

    I think all of America should be grateful to this guy for exposing Romney before it was too late.

    February 21, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  14. Navin Johnson

    Republicans lost because they failed in their lofty goal of making sure ONLY old white men could legally vote in this country. Maybe next Presidential race they can succeed in this. If not, they will lose again, and again.

    February 21, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Kimmy

    The whole world should thank Carter, not just Obama. Imagine this racist, flip-flopping moron President?.

    February 21, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  16. Navin Johnson

    Democrats spent 30-40% less per campaign ad for the 2012 election in the same time slots than Republicans because Democrats had a reason to be thrifty. Republicans have deep pockets and don't care about being thrifty. And Republicans say Democrats have a spending problem. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL....there is a reason why Republicans are laughing stock of the world!

    February 21, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. Robert

    I would like to reward Carter but he would not like the gift.

    February 21, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  18. Bill Davis

    I remember Jimmy and 21% interest, Bill Bob Beer, and Pea Nut Butter never went down in price after he seen it got raised.

    The contry was a real nut case back then.. Every night..want to pea nut...

    February 21, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. driveby

    Carter, the last president who actually served in the military will be viewed favorably by historians. Nuclear scientist, business man and humanitarian. His defeat by Reagan marks the watershed of the decline in American politics.

    February 21, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. Tyler Durden

    President Carter then thanked Obama for no longer making the state of the nation between 1976-1980 look like the worst in 100 years.

    February 21, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. KG

    Lucky us. We get stuck with a national debt that's spiraling out of control, health care costs that are doing the same, a national image that is in serious decline, a second rate educational system, a dysfunctional Congress, and the list goes on. A large, contributing factor is that we re-elected a President who refuses or is incapable of leading. Don't blame the Republicans. Clinton was a Leader. Reagan was a Leader. Neither Bush was and Obama certainly is not. A leader builds concensus by creating a vision of a future that is inspirational. Bush created a vision where America is the world's policeman and anyone who disagrees with us is the enemy. Obama is creating of vision where America is in decline and it's citizens are so inept the government must take care of them. For both of them, creating a vision of a successful Americal where the industrious can prosper based upon their own skills and merits was beyond the ability or comprehension. I don't think Romney would have been much better than Obama or Bush, but he most certainly could not have been any worse. At least Mitt has a grasp of basic economics and may, perhaps, helped stem the bleeding.

    February 21, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  22. keeth

    Romney got 47% of the popular vote. Oh, the irony...

    February 21, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  23. Strategic Bob

    Before he was elected, I said that Jimmy Carter would go down in history as one of our worst Presidents, at least in the 20th Century. It is not that he was a bad man as much as he was simply unsuited to the position, probably because he is too good a man to be effective (see Machiaveli, "The Prince"). Then, before he was "elected," I said that George W. Bush would end up making Carter look positively great by comparison. I believe both current opinion and history will validate my predictions. Now, it finally appears that a Carter has done something truly great for this country.

    February 21, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  24. Mary

    When holding a fundraiser, the objective is to let your contributors know how you are going to win, what the strategy is, etc.. there was nothing wrong with Romney explaining those facts, (that there was a segment of the population that would never vote for him and that campaign money was not going to be wasted on that effort). What is very wrong, is that we have an ignorant voting base that could not even begin to fathom the campaign reality. This was the worst the media could find on Romney, (after probably digging under every rock in Utah). Pathetic.

    February 21, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  25. John

    Carter vs Obama in a race to the bottom how inspiring!

    February 21, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
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