More about Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter’s good friend Andy Warhol helped him win the presidency in 1976.
Jimmy Carter had little chance of winning the presidency. Even though he was running against more nationally-known politicians, his distance from Washington D.C. proved useful as the Watergate scandal was still fresh in the minds of voters. Much to everyone’s surprise, the peanut farmer (his campaign slogan was “Not Just Peanuts”) managed to win the democratic primaries. Yet Carter didn’t have many resources left to ensure his continued success.
Then The New York Times commissioned Andy Warhol to produce an image of the unlikely presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter. Warhol took a quick trip out to Plains, Georgia to spend time with the Carter family and take pictures of Jimmy on a $25 camera. Warhol’s departure left Carter feeling “very disappointed.” Two months later, the Democratic National Committee asked Warhol to produce a print for Carter’s campaign. The once-demonized Warhol was now seen as a progressive contemporary artist whose celebrity status could pull in the support of young voters.
Warhol used the same photograph he did for the New York Times cover, added vivid color and scribbles to emphasize Carter’s tense expression. Carter’s image so far had been that of a happy-go-lucky country boy, but Warhol’s portrait of Carter as a serious man deep in thought showed America another side of the man who would eventually become their president. Warhol’s limited-edition print raised an enormous amount of money and popularity for Carter’s campaign that enabled him to win the election.
This isn’t the only portrait Warhol did of Jimmy Carter. For Carter’s inauguration in 1977, Warhol, along with Roy LIchtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jacob Lawrence, and Jamie Wyeth, was asked to produce prints for a portfolio titled “Inaugural Impressions.” Warhol basically produced the same portrait as he did before, only this time Jimmy Carter is smiling! When asked about the print, the newly-elected Carter said, “It's very significant that this picture is smiling. And I am going to try to keep myself smiling and maybe all of you smiling for the next four years.”
According to most historians, Jimmy Carter was an average President (if there is such a thing) but also an underrated one. During his presidency, Carter dealt with an economic recession, a national energy crisis, and numerous foreign conflicts, including the infamous Iranian hostage situation that lost him the 1980 election to Reagan. However, he also established a national energy policy, expanded the national park system, created the Department of Education, strengthened Social Security, and appointed a record number of minorities to government jobs. That’s a lot! Now the longest-retired president in history, Carter lives a humble lifestyle in a modest ranch home he built himself and makes most of his income writing children’s books. He is most proud of keeping the peace and supporting human rights, which is why many consider him one of the more successful ex-presidents of America.
- Carter, Jimmy. "1977 Inaugural Portfolio Presentation Remarks on Receiving the Portfolio at a White House Reception for the Artists", The American Presidency Project. June 14, 1977. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=7679
- Guiles, Fred Lawrence. Loner at the Ball: The Life of Andy Warhol. New York: Bantam, 1989.
- Lewis, Jo Ann. “Prints to Profit the Party”, The Washington Post, June 11, 1977. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1977/06/11/prints-to-p…
- Mitchell, Nancy. Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race and the Cold War. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018.
- Freidel, Frank and Hugh Sidey, The Presidents of the United States of America, (Washington, D.C: White House Historical Association, 2006). https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/james-carte…
- Dillon, John. The Record-Setting Ex-Presidency of Jimmy Carter, The Atlantic, September 9, 2012. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/the-record-setting…
- Berger, Sarah. “Former President Jimmy Carter lives in a $167,000 house and shops at the Dollar General,” CNBC LLC, August 22, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/22/jimmy-carter-lives-in-an-inexpensive-ho…
- Jimmy Carter's Post-Presidency," American Experience, PBS.