Carter Speaks His Mind
After the laughable SOTU, it is so refreshing to listen to someone who has a mind to speak.
Aired February 1, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, the 39th President of the United States Jimmy Carter here for the hour on the Carter Center, the death of Coretta Scott King, last night's State of the Union address and more. Former President Jimmy Carter is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Lots of news to talk to President Carter about tonight from the State of the Union to the issue of warrantless wiretaps to Iran's nuclear ambitions but first a project that's close to the president's heart, the annual Carter Center fund-raising auction.
The president comes to us from the Wilderness Room at Club Med in Crested Butte, Colorado and looks every inch the wintry president, in perfect garb. What are you in Colorado for?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Larry, the first time I ever saw snow skis was when I was 62 years old and that was 19 years ago and I'm still skiing. So, we'll be skiing with some very close friends of the Carter Center letting them know what the Carter Center is doing around the world. We have programs in over 65 countries.
And then we get to know them individually and then the last night that we're here we always have an auction and have a wide range of very delightful and attractive and very valuable things to auction off.
Usually the high point is a major piece of furniture that I build during the rest of the year. So, this year I built a beautiful piece of furniture that we hope will bring a lot of money.
KING: That's the persimmon wood cabinet; hand-made, designed and built more than 100 pieces of furniture since leaving the White House. Why do you indulge in this? Why do you like designing furniture?
CARTER: Well, I've just finished my 20th book this past year and I'm working on my 21st book about the Middle East right now that I'll finish this year. And I get up early in the morning and when I get tired of the computer and tired of doing research, I walk 20 steps out to my woodshop and I either build furniture or paint paintings. I'm an artist too. Sometimes we auction off some of my art and so it gives me something to do.
And this particular piece by the way, Larry, is made from a special wood, persimmon wood. The log was buried under a south Georgia stream for more than 150 years and it was salvaged in hopes that it would be the heads on golf driver clubs. That's what persimmon wood is used for because it's so hard and so beautiful and polishes so well.
But, they started using titanium a few years ago, so this guy in south Georgia has this log left over. He called me on the phone and sent me a letter and asked me if I wanted the wood.
So, I went down and he and I sawed it in boards on the largest band saw in the world. So, it's really a special thing. It's got wonderful designs in the wood caused by that immersion and, you know, tannic acid water for a century and a half.
KING: Proceeds all go to the Carter Center?
CARTER: Everything goes to the Carter Center. I give the furniture or the painting to the Carter Center ahead of time. They auction it off and keep all the money.
KING: They're also going to auction off two bottles of President Carter's private label wine.
KING: You have wine specifically made for you?
CARTER: Yes. Every now and then when we run out of wine at my house I make about 100 bottles of wine, this last time about 75 bottles of red wine and 25 bottles of white wine.
So, Rose and I drink a little wine along but we kind of got reluctant to drink the wine now because when it's auctioned off, you know, it brings several thousand dollars a bottle, so we feel like when we drink some of my wine we're drinking very expensive wine.
KING: There's also an autographed photo...
CARTER: But I enjoy making wine.
KING: ...autographed photo of five U.S. presidents at the Reagan Library in '91, Bush 41, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon. That's extraordinary.
CARTER: It is. While we were at the Reagan Library, Larry, we decided to sign just a very few photographs of all five of us presidents as a matter of fact and six first ladies, including Lady Bird Johnson signed these photographs. Each president got just a very few of a signed and autographed photograph. So, obviously there are no others like it in the world, so that will be auctioned off as well.
KING: And, also rare prints of a painting by you.
CARTER: That's right. My paintings have gotten to be pretty popular and I've taken a little bit more interest in painting the last few years. In fact, my novel that I wrote not too long ago, "The Hornet's Nest," I painted the cover picture for it and I do a good bit of painting now.
KING: All that takes place this weekend in Colorado where the president hosts. The auction goes for the Carter Center, one of the most noble concepts in the world. The work they do at the Carter Center in Atlanta and around the world is extraordinary. They also auction off vacation trips to Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Florence and Hawaii. We'll talk more about it a little later. I'm sorry, go ahead.
CARTER: Anybody can bid. Anybody can bid by the way, Larry, if they look up the Carter Center on the Web site just www.cartercenter.org. They can bid on the items and there's some information about these items on television -- on the computer, excuse me.
KING: So, the bids are being -- bids are being accepted online, information at www.cartercenter.org. The president was just in London for the Mid East Quartet meeting there.
KING: And his most recent book, a book taking on the administration, maybe is one of your best sellers ever. Were you surprised at that? You took on religion.
CARTER: I thought -- I thought America might be ready for the book. The first week it was out in November it was number one on "The New York Times" list and then two weeks after Christmas it was still number one on "The New York Times" list. So, it's been I think the most popular book I've ever written, yes.
KING: Were you surprised at that?
CARTER: Pleasantly surprised, yes. In fact, my wife and I just got back from holding, monitoring the election in Palestine this past week and after I got back then I -- I went back to London afterwards to meet with the quartet and they're the ones, you know, the United States and Russia, the European Union and the United Nations those are the quartet, they're the ones that basically shape the policy of the western world on the Mid East peace process.
And so, the election was extremely interesting, both the way it was conducted, which was almost perfect and the outcome, as you know, where Hamas won a surprising victory.
But, it was a beautiful election and this is the third time that the Carter Center has monitored the elections in Palestine beginning ten years ago when Arafat was elected president. It's our 62nd election in the world.
KING: What do you do when you want a democracy, a this country would like all countries to be democratic, and in a democratic election they elect someone you don't like?
CARTER: Well, obviously if you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world then when people make their own decision about their leaders I think that all the government should recognize that administration and let them form the government as decided by the people themselves. If there are prohibitions, for instance, like in the United States against giving any money to a government that is controlled by Hamas, then the United States could channel the same amount of money to the Palestinian people through the United Nations, through the refugee fund, through UNICEF and things of that kind.
So, I hope that the people of Palestine who already suffer, as you know, under Israeli occupation, will not suffer because they're deprived of a right to pay the schoolteachers, the policemen, their welfare workers, the health workers and provide food for people. So, that's what I hope that it won't cost the Palestinian people their quality of life.
KING: We'll be right back with President Jimmy Carter. Again, that Web site if you want to bid on these extraordinary items, www.cartercenter.org. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with President Carter. You were there. Is there any chance of Hamas turning away from the violent statements in their concept?
CARTER: Yes, I think there's a good chance, Larry. After Arafat was elected ten years ago, I was there and he knew me and he asked me to intercede with Hamas leaders to see if at that time they wouldn't accept the new Palestinian government, the parliament members and Arafat as president.
And, I spent a while with them but some of their leaders were out of the country, so I arranged to meet with the leadership in Cairo after I left Palestine. But when the time came they canceled on the meeting, so I haven't had any contact with them since until two days after this election.
I did meet with some of the same Hamas members in Ramallah and I think they told me they want to have a peaceful administration. They want to have a unity government, bring in the Fatah members and the independent members and I think that there's a good chance that they will, of course, what they say, what they do is two different matters.
One thing they pointed out and Israeli security confirmed this to me, Hamas leadership in August of 2004 pledged themselves to apply a cease-fire and they haven't committed any actions of violence in the last 18 months.
This indicates what they might do in the future but it also indicates another thing I think is quite interesting. That is that Hamas is a highly-disciplined organization and if they say "We will not have any violence from our people," I think they can enforce what they say.
KING: What did you think of the State of the Union address?
CARTER: Well, I didn't get to see much of it because I came in from London that afternoon and the plane was late coming in. We had to go through Manchester, England to pick up some more passengers. I saw part of it and I was very glad to see President Bush, I say finally, call for some steps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil from oil nations around the world.
You might remember that when I was elected president we were using about eight million barrels a day and we instituted some very severe restrictions on efficiency with automobiles and house insulation, things of that kind. And then, within a few years we had cut that in half, only four million barrels a day.
Now, we are using 12 million barrels a day, so it's gotten out of control because there has been very little effort made to enforce the efficiency in automobiles or anything else or to build supplies of alternative fuels. And, I think that if the president sticks with what he says in his State of the Union message concerning that, it would be a major step in the right direction.
KING: Do you support the Iraq war?
CARTER: No, I haven't supported it from the very beginning. In fact, I wrote a major, I thought it was a major editorial in "The New York Times" a few months before we invaded Iraq pointing out that it was an unnecessary and unjust war and the editorial was repeated on full page ads in a lot of other newspapers.
So, I've always been against the war. But once we got there, obviously we need to give our young men and women our absolute and full support, so I'm not in favor of an immediate withdrawal. I think we ought to decide as a nation that we will turn over as quickly as possible not only the military responsibilities to the Iraqi people but also let them manage their own economic affairs.
I don't think we have any idea now of turning over their oil supplies and let them handle who gets to manage the oil, like even France and Russia and I hope we'll back off and let them run their own political affairs.
But, what I believe is that there are people in Washington now, some of our top leaders, who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they're looking for ten, 20, 50 years in the future...
CARTER: ...having major American military board -- well, because that was the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that ten years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq.
I would like to hear that. But that's one of the things that concerns Iraqi people. And when I meet with Arab leaders around the world they all have noticed this. They're the ones that have brought it to my attention and I think it's an accurate statement.
KING: Do you believe that's the intent of the administration to keep the -- when you say high officials do you mean the Bush administration wants to keep troops in Iraq ad infinitum?
CARTER: Yes, I do and I hope I'm wrong. I don't think there's any doubt that we did not need to go into Iraq. We went in there under false pretenses, either inadvertent misunderstanding of intelligence or maybe deliberate. I'm not saying it was deliberate. I don't think President Bush was deliberately misleading us, maybe some of his subordinates.
But, I think it was a mistake to go in and I think that the United States has got to make sure that the Iraqi people know and the surrounding neighbors know we're willing to get our troops out of Iraq when and if a government is established and I hope that will be soon and the Iraqis are able to maintain order.
And, I think a lot of the violence that takes place now in the streets of Iraq are caused by the fact that American troops are still there. I think that will in itself that change will automatically reduce the terrorism considerably.
I was with Bob Woodruff by the way. He was with me in Palestine the night of the election and he interviewed me, he and his cameraman and after that he immediately left immediately and went to Iraq and unfortunately was seriously injured and I pray that he'll be OK.
KING: We'll be right back with more of President Jimmy Carter. And, again, this auction takes place over the weekend and you can get online now and make bids at www.cartercenter.org. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: We must face the fact that the energy shortage is permanent. There is no way we can solve it quickly but if we all cooperate and make modest sacrifices, if we learn to live thriftily and remember the importance of helping our neighbors, then we can find ways to adjust and to make our society more efficient and our own lives more enjoyable and productive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with the 39th President of the United States Jimmy Carter, who is coming to us from the Wilderness Room at Club Med in Crested Butte, Colorado and he looks like Colorado tonight.
What do you make of -- what do you make of warrantless wiretapping? The president defends it almost daily. In a major speech in Nashville today he did a long defense of it as he did in the State of the Union.
CARTER: I think it's illegal and improper and unnecessary. There's no reason at all why this president, as have all presidents in history, if they want to get or wiretap American citizens then all they have to do is go to a court that's set up for that purpose and let judges agree with the president that this American citizen needs to have his or her telephone tapped because it's a matter of security. That's all that has to be done.
So, there's a legal way to do it and an illegal way to do it and I think in the last two or three years we've been seeing it done and just found out that it has been done illegally. That's not necessary.
KING: But how do you react to an imminent threat?
CARTER: I think with an imminent threat the president or his representatives can go to the special court set up and tell the judges there's an imminent threat and immediately without delay the judges can give a warrant, an authorization for a wiretap. That's the way it's always been done. That's the way it ought to be done. There's no delay involved.
KING: How secure are we? How secure are we do you think? In this war on terror how are we doing?
CARTER: Well I think we're -- I think the tight restraints that we've seen in the airports, I think more vigilant Americans, an increase in the number of security personnel, all these things I think it paid good dividends and other countries are cooperating as well.
If anybody wants to see real security at airports and so forth, they ought to go to Israel and fly on El Al or one of the planes coming out of Israel. That is really tight security and I think that tight security has been warranted and so far thank goodness effective in most cases.
KING: All right, let's turn a little domestic. What's your overall view of Katrina and the very short amount of time paid by the president to it in the State of the Union?
CARTER: Well, all of us know the extreme disaster that afflicted not only New Orleans but major parts of Alabama and Mississippi. It was one of the greatest natural catastrophes in the history of our country and there were major promises made that New Orleans would be built back the way it was.
I think now after all these months the attention being given to it has been minimal and the amount of actual reconstruction has been extremely disappointing and the degree of priority that it has at the top level of our government, that is in the White House, I think was indicated by the very casual mention of it during the president's speech.
So, I hope this is not an indication of the federal agencies, all of them, state agencies as well and private organizations abandoning many of the people who have suffered in New Orleans and now are very doubtful about whether they'll ever have a home to go back to in those regions that were damaged.
KING: Why on earth would we give minimal attention to this devastation? I mean what would be the -- how could we reason that?
CARTER: I don't know. I think it's an unreasonable aftermath of this horrible catastrophe and I don't think any American, if there was a poll done, I think it would be 99 percent of all Americans would say let's give the Katrina victims top priority.
Let's make sure that they can have their lives restored. Let's build the dike to protect them from future flooding and let's give them adequate facilities to rebuild homes even better than they were. I think that's what Americans would like to see.
And, I'm very distressed not only at the lack of attention given when the catastrophe first occurred, which brought discredit on our government and on FEMA, an organization that I established earlier, but it also now is bringing additional and sustained discredit on the attention that our government is giving to these poor people.
KING: We're hopping all over the place; your thoughts on the newest Justice Samuel Alito?
CARTER: I hope he'll be better than the indications are. He's caused me a great deal of concern with some of his -- some of the questions that he did not answer but he's confirmed now. We have to live with that.
And, I think there's one saving grace about it all and that is that there was never any doubt when American people went to the polls in 2004 when the Republicans did win the election and there was no doubt that President Bush was intending to appoint as conservative members of the Supreme Court and the other courts as he could possibly get confirmed by the Senate. And, I think that the new Justice Alito will be just as conservative as maybe Scalia and Thomas.
KING: And therefore that concerns you.
CARTER: It does concern me but one of the things that concerns me most, I'm not all that concerned about abortion for instance. That doesn't bother me. But I am concerned about not protecting American civil liberties and giving excessive power to the executive branch of government at the expense of the Congress and the court system.
And, that's the kind of answers that Justice Alito refused to answer to give when he was questioned at the hearings and based on his previous judgments and his public statements and the writings that he's done, I think he's not committed to a reasonable balance of power and authority between the three branches of government that have sustained the American democracy since the founding fathers had the visions.
KING: It would not bother you if they overturned Roe v. Wade?
CARTER: When I was president, I announced and I still maintain that I can live with Roe v. Wade. I did everything I possibly could as president under that ruling, which I don't think ought to be changed, to minimize the need for abortions. I think every abortion is a result of a horrible series of errors on the part of people involved.
And so, I made sure that our young people had adequate instruction on how to avoid pregnancy if they should choose to have sex before marriage and before they wanted a baby, abstinence is the best approach of course, I made sure that women and infant children, the WIC Program, Women and Infant Children gave prospective mothers the assurance that they could have their child and that they would be adequately cared for economically.
And I also improved the quality or ease of adoptions by a mother who didn't want to raise her child to get matched up in a convenient way with couples who couldn't have children of their own and could delightfully raise those children. So, I did everything I could to minimize the need for abortions.
KING: Let me get a break and come back with more of President Jimmy Carter. And we have a little surprise for you at the end of the show. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: I'm determined that the United States will remain the strongest of all nations but our power will never be used to initiate a threat to the security of any nation or to the rights of any human being. We seek to be and to remain secure, a nation at peace in a stable world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with former President Jimmy Carter. His big auction is this weekend -- extraordinary items, painting done by the president, furniture designed by the president. And you can go online and see them all and bid, www.cartercenter.org. It benefits the Carter Center, www.cartercenter.org.
You have had your trials and tribulations with the nation of Iran. What do you make about where they're going?
CARTER: Well, so far, they are acting within the technical law of the Nonproliferation Treaty. But I don't have any doubt that Iran does intend, if given enough leeway, to develop nuclear weapons of their own.
And this would be a very serious threat to peace in that region and to stability in the world. So I hope that the International Atomic Energy Agency will make a decision to go to the security council and get the full force of the global community focused on Iran to prevent their reprocessing the waste material from the nuclear reactors so that they can build atomic weapons.
KING: But what do you do if you do it?
CARTER: Well, if they do it, I think we have to consider very serious matters. But I don't want to advocate for the president of the United States and other leaders what they should do. I think that economic sanctions ought to be the first major step.
And if the sanctions are tight enough and severe enough, this will be extremely punitive. If Iran in effect is cut off in its trade and commerce, even the selling of oil from the outside world completely, this can be a devastating blow to the leaders of Iran. I think that would be adequate to change their minds.
KING: You don't think it's going to happen, then?
CARTER: I don't know yet. I don't get the security briefings. I don't have any secret information about Iran. All I know is what I see on your program and on "The Daily Show" and other key sources of news these days.
KING: How is your dear friend Gerald Ford doing?
CARTER: Well, I talked to Penny Circle (ph), who's his assistant. She's right at his bedside when he was in the hospital. I called him frequently. He's one of the best friends I have in the world and I'm delighted that he's back home, and I understand he's in good spirits and getting along as well as can be expected.
KING: President Bush the first and Bill Clinton have developed a friendship that has become kind of extraordinary. Yours and Ford's is really a bonding, isn't it?
CARTER: Yes, it is. It's a personal bonding. You know, when we have been together at his home and my home and his presidential center and mine, we've been off together helping hold elections in foreign countries together. We make speeches together. We hold forums together. We exchange visits even recently. We talk to the phone with each other.
And it's just a matter of an unexpected close friendship. When we're in a car together riding to a forum or something, both of us are kind of disappointed when we get there because we haven't run out of things to say. And I might say that Rosa and Betty have become close friends as well.
You know, Rosa deals with mental health problems around the world. Betty is one of the foremost leaders in substance abuse. And so there are a lot of commonalities between mental illness and substance abuse. And so they've also grown very close together. So it's a family friendship of which I'm very proud.
KING: So you can report to us that his health is improved?
CARTER: Yes. The report from his -- well, he's not in the bed right now, but the report from his home is very good in the last few hours.
KING: I know you knew her well, what are your thoughts on Coretta Scott King?
CARTER: I was distressed at her passing. I never had a chance to meet her husband, Martin Luther King Jr. But I think that of all the spouses in the world, she has been the most determined, able, forceful, courageous, and tenacious in carrying out the finest elements of his legacy. She's famous around the world. Rosa and I have been in maybe 125 or so countries. And everyone knows that she has been in the forefront of what he tried to do to bring civil rights in America and human rights around the world.
And as a matter of fact, I recall that not more than two weeks after he was assassinated, Coretta was in front of a march so that the people would not forget what Martin Luther King did. I've always said many times that if it hadn't been for the civil rights movement, led by Martin and Coretta, I could never have been considered seriously, Larry, to be president of the United States.
There had not been a president from the deep South since 1848. I think James K. Polk was the last one. And Coretta's endorsement of me and Daddy King's endorsement of me and their sustained support for me just not only helped me in the African-American community, but it let people know in New York and Massachusetts and Connecticut and in the Midwest and the West Coast that it was OK to support a southern governor and to support him for president. So we had close ties personally and I'm very grieved at her death.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with President Carter. Picking up on the Martin Luther King Jr., concept, is the playing field level?
CARTER: You mean between African-Americans and Hispanics?
KING: Race relations, yes.
CARTER: No,. There's still an extraordinary amount of racial segregation. And I think in many cases discrimination. And also, the gap in the United States between richest people in our country and the poorest people is growing wider and wider every year. And this is happening also around the world.
And I think it's a mistake for us to be self-satisfied or to ignore some of the needs that the poorest people have. I think one of the most vivid examples of that in the last few months was what we discussed earlier in the program, and that was the suffering in New Orleans.
And almost overwhelmingly the people who suffered most and the people that are still suffering most and are being neglected now are the African-American and Hispanic people, minorities who live in New Orleans.
And this is a vivid demonstration of the fact that they're still poverty stricken and they need the attention and the balancing that was pledged during the civil rights movements by President Johnson and by President Kennedy, by President Eisenhower and others. This needs to be continued. KING: President Carter, a couple of other things we want to -- what do you make of the 2006 midterm elections? Do you think the Democrats could take the House?
CARTER: Well I think the recent public opinion polls show that the Democrats are picking up, or at least the Republicans are going down. I can't say that there's a clear voice among the Democratic candidates.
Actually, we won the election in 2000. The only one we've lost on a presidential basis was in 2004. And that was very close and primarily because of the patriotism element, having our troops overseas and the president looked on as commander-in-chief. So I think there's a good chance that the Democrats will pick up substantial numbers in the House and the Senate.
KING: Often happens in the second term, though, right?
CARTER: Well, it does. And I think the public opinion polls show that there's a great deal of dissatisfaction with what has been going on in Washington and the lack of progress in the Iraqi war -- extremely great tax breaks for the richest people in America at the expense of working-class people.
The environment not being protected. These kinds of things I think are causing great concern. And I believe that it bodes well for people who are going to be candidates for the House and Senate on the Democratic ticket.
KING: Now let's talk national politics. Can Hillary Clinton be stopped? If she wanted this nomination and she went all out for it, could she be stopped?
CARTER: Well, one thing I've learned in politics, and I haven't been in there very many years, but it's almost totally impossible to predict this far ahead of time who might even be the nominee of a party.
If you go back 50 years, it was almost totally a surprise. If people had to guess two and a half years ahead of time who was going to be the nominee of a Democratic or Republican Party, you could hardly ever guess, unless it was an incumbent running for re-election.
So I think it's too hard to predict. And I don't know what Hillary will do. She'll be a formidable opponent. She'll certainly be the preeminent one at this moment in the Democratic Party.
But there are others, other members of the Senate. Joe Biden comes to mind. I don't want to exclude anybody. Bright young governors and former governors like Mark Warner from Virginia who might come forward. And who knows who will win.
I wouldn't say that anybody would be invulnerable. There's no doubt though at this time that Hillary is a leading candidate within the Democratic Party because she's so well known. And I think she's done an excellent job by the way as a senator from New York.
KING: And would you say John McCain would be the leader in the Republican Party right now? CARTER: I think so. He's certainly the most attractive candidate in the Republican Party. He's one that hasn't been besmirched by the scandals that have afflicted the Republican Party, particularly in the House of Representatives. And he's been in the forefront of trying to make basic reforms to prevent corruption and to clarify the election laws, to cut down on the gross abuse of major sums of money that influence the way members of Congress vote.
So I think that John McCain has done a fine job so far. And I think the public would prefer that he be the nominee. But whether he can get the support of the more conservative element in the Republican Party, that's doubtful. And in the past few years, of course, they have been the dominant factor.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with some more moments with Jimmy Carter. And then in our final segment, a little bit of a surprise. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with President Carter. Again, that Web site if you want to click in and bid on the wonderful items up for sale and going to the Carter Center, the proceeds, it's www.cartercenter.org.
What do you make of this -- the Democrats are calling it a culture of corruption, Abramoff and the rest. Do you think the seeds of corruption are all over Washington? Or are these isolated cases?
CARTER: I would like to think that they're isolated cases, Larry. They've been brought about by the enormous and unprecedented infusion of money into the political arena. I remember when I ran in ancient times now, against Gerald Ford and then Ronald Reagan.
We had very little money to spend. We didn't spend all that money. And there was no such thing as a negative advertisement. I always referred to my opponents as my distinguished opponent, and they did the same thing for me.
But with the advent of enormous sums of money and the almost tripling of the number of lobbyists, almost all working for the Republican Party in Washington lately, then these scandals have been revealed. But I would like to hope, and I really believe, that the vast number of Democratic and Republican House members and senators are basically honest and want to do a good job for their constituents and want to uphold the basic constitutional principles of our country. It's a serious matter, it ought to be rooted out and corrected, but I think it's focused on just a few people.
KING: Weren't there lobbyists in your day?
CARTER: A few, yes. There were a few lobbyists around. But I think the statistics show that just since the Republicans came to power in the House and Senate, it has greatly magnified, overwhelmingly increased the number of lobbyists.
And also the tremendous power that they have, the money they have to dispense, and also the fact that under Tom DeLay, as has been revealed in all the news media, he has almost forced the major companies who hire lobbyists to hire only Republican lobbyists and to distribute their funding to Republicans. This is an extraordinary, recent and dramatic new development.
KING: Did you see "Brokeback Mountain?"
CARTER: No, I haven't seen it. I watched the Johnny Cash movie on the way over to Crested Butte this afternoon. That Johnny Cash movie is very good, "Walk the Line."
KING: "Walk the Line," yes. All right, it's happening Sunday. You're a big sports fan. I know the Atlanta Falcons are not in it. But give us your assessment, Mr. President. The Steelers or the Seahawks? And tell us why.
CARTER: Larry, I haven't kept up with that as much as I ought to. I have a friend with whom I always bet. And since I'm not an expert on professional football, I always take the team that's closest to my hometown. And most of the time I've lost in the past by the way.
KING: That's Pittsburgh, then.
CARTER: Well, Pittsburgh's closest to my hometown. So I'm going to make a major bet. We always bet $1. And when he wins I have to sign the dollar bill. And he's got a pretty good collection of dollar bills with my signature on them.
KING: You are a foremost Atlanta Brave fan, are you not?
KING: I keep up with baseball. I know baseball. And I've studied it and my mother and father were experts on baseball. And baseball is my sport.
KING: All right, we're going to take a break. When we come back, Jimmy Carter will be joined by someone rather close to him. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: God gives us a capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes. And we must.
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KING: President Carter remains with us. Joining us now from Las Vegas, Nevada, is Jack Carter. He's the eldest son of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter and he's a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate seat in Nevada. Where have you come from, Jack? Why now? Why now?
JACK CARTER (D), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have been out of politics -- actually, I thought about running for politics once in 1979. And I looked at what I would get if I won and I thought it was too hard a job to do so I went off into business. But in the last three or four years I've been feeling more and more uncomfortable with the direction our country's been going. And so in about early October, I decided I would just do it.
KING: You will be taking on who?
JACK CARTER: Senator John Ensign, he's the incumbent Republican from the state of Nevada.
KING: Do you expect a tough race? You must, he would be favored, wouldn't he?
JACK CARTER: I'm sure he's favored, yes. But I think it will be a good race.
KING: Is Nevada your home?
JACK CARTER: It is. We've been out here a little over three years. And it feels like home, Larry. It's the kind of place where personal freedoms just resonate in the whole country. And it's a great place for me to live.
KING: President Carter, what do you think about this?
JIMMY CARTER: Well, I know he's got a tough row to hoe but he doesn't He has a lot better chance to win than I had when I announced for president. And I have confidence in Jack. He's worked hard all his life, driving spreader trucks, loading fertilizer, shoveling peanuts. So he had a good start on work. And I know that if anybody will cover Nevada with an excellent and hard-working campaign, Jack will do so. Also, he never backs down.
KING: What business have you been in, Jack, mostly?
JACK CARTER: It's been the investment business, Larry. We came up -- I came up through the commodities business. I started in the grain business, then went to Chicago, got into the bond business and then foreign exchange. And later we do investment business, my wife and I.
KING: What did it take to get the nomination?
JACK CARTER: I think you have -- you know, it's interesting because growing up in a small town, I think, teaches you how to win races in this country. And the reason is, in small towns you don't have a choice about being with who you are. You have to deal with people that you disagree with all the time.
And when you do that, you understand that 95 percent of what Americans believe in is shared, is things like freedom and liberty and the Constitution and cooperation among people, community life and living. Those things are all shared.
And the things that we disagree on are only about five percent. And so from a small town, you can look through the disagreements and you can see the people behind that. And I think that's the way I'm going to win here.
I'm going to go to the people, I'm going to let them see me. I know who they are because I've met an awful lot of people in my life. The people in Nevada and I are just one. And we resonate together and it's going to be a great race, I think. And I've got a great chance to win it.
KING: You did avoid the media a lot during your father's presidency, didn't you?
JACK CARTER: Well that was on purpose, Larry.
KING: I got it. President Carter, do you intend to campaign for Jack?
JIMMY CARTER: Well Larry, he campaigned for me when I ran for president so I think I help him any way I can, yes.
KING: Are the Democratic big wigs going to come into the state?
JACK CARTER: I don't know, Larry.
JIMMY CARTER: I don't know.
KING: President Carter, you have a little clout.
JIMMY CARTER: It's ancient. But I still have some good friends in the Democratic Party. I think everybody in the Democratic Party, all the way from California to Maine, would like very much to see a change in the leadership in Washington.
And I don't think there's any Democrat who wouldn't support Jack, at least from a distance, there in Nevada itself. So yes, he'll have full support from every responsible Democrat, and there are a lot of responsible Democrats.
KING: Jack, we'll be following the race closely. Best of luck to you.
JACK CARTER: Thank you very much, Larry.
KING: Jack Carter, the eldest son of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Nevada. And Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, the Noble Peace Prize laureate, author of "The New York Times" best-seller, "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis." Founder of the Carter Center, the winter weekend auction to support that center takes place this weekend. Want to get online and see all the items? www.cartercenter.org.
Thank you all very much for joining us. Anderson Cooper, "A.C. 360" is next, good night.
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