Jimmy Carter's Biggest Failure as President

Question: What was your biggest failure as a President, and what did you learn from it?

Jimmy Carter: I guess my biggest failure was not getting re-elected. And I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them. I did the best I could, but I failed.

And I think another lesson I learned is, I should have paid more attention to the organization of the Democratic Party. I was not only the leader of our nation, but I was also the leader of the Democratic Party. And I think I failed in that respect to keep the party united. It was divided in my reelection campaign between me and the people who were loyal to Ted Kennedy and then that cost me a lot of votes. So those were the two things that I believe could have been done better.

Recorded November 30, 2010
Interviewed by Andrea Useem

The 39th President laments his failure to be reelected—and his failure to keep the Democratic Party unified.

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