Don’t mess with Georgia.
There’s a certain rough justice in the fact that Republican Mitt Romney has made former President Jimmy Carter a whipping boy in his campaign against President Barack Obama, only to find Carter’s grandson taking credit for finding the videotape that exposed Romney talking about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no taxes and are dependent on government for everything — health care, housing, food — “you name it.”
James Carter IV has made the rounds of media interviews today, explaining to the Washington Post the methodology of his searches of the Internet for Romney videos that yielded a YouTube find he considered worth pursuing, tracking down the source of the videotape secretly made at a Romney fundraising dinner in Florida on May 17 and convincing the source that he had the connections who could make it famous.
“It’s safe to say” that the maker of the video was not one of the Romney supporters who paid $50,000 a plate for the dinner at the Boca Raton home of private equity executive Marc Leder, Carter said in an appearance this afternoon on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” Beyond that, the self-described partisan opposition researcher offered no more clues as to the origin of what will be remembered as the clip of the campaign, raw footage of Romney’s self-described “off the cuff” comments about what he really thinks about the have-nots in America.
It’s politics unplugged, the under-the-breath, after-the-podium, out of the spotlight comments that are the stuff of history.
And it made its way to Mother Jones magazine, which published segments of the tape yesterday and today and then the full tape online today, via the offspring of a former Democratic president who has been vilified by the other party in this campaign and even shunned by his own party. Carter was relegated to a videotape of his own shown at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this month. Carter, citing his own convention in 1976, told the 2012 convention goers from afar: “I said then that America needs a president who shared your dreams… We have just such a leader in the White House.”
The Republican Party this summer produced an ad tying Obama’s presidency to Carter’s — a minute-long piece opening with Carter in the Oval Office initiating “an unpleasant talk” with the American people: Gas prices doubling, the trade deficit growing, too many unemployed, federal spending taking a growing portion of what Americans produce. “The federal deficit is simply too high now,” Carter is shown saying in the footage, calling it “a turning point in our history.” The sober reminder of a time of malaise is interspersed with current images of Obama. “Are you better off?” the ad asks, concluding: “Obama isn’t working.”
Carter the Fourth received an e-mail from his grandfather today, the Associated Press reports.
“James: This is extraordinary,” the former president wrote. “Congratulations! Papa.”