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Carter sees tea party parallels to his 1976 run


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ATLANTA (AP) - Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday he sees parallels between today's tea party and his own campaign for the White House in 1976. But he doesn't think the movement will be much of a factor beyond this fall's elections.

The Georgia Democrat told The Associated Press he rode a wave of voter discontent to the presidency on the heels of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal that felled President Richard Nixon, much like tea party conservatives are now earning support by voicing anger at the nation's economic woes.

"I was a candidate that was in some ways like the tea party candidate," Carter said in an interview. "I was a complete outsider. I capitalized legitimately on the dissatisfaction that was permeating our society."

He said the tea party's momentum will likely wear off and they will be co-opted by the Republican Party.

"I think they're going to be quite a major factor in November," he said. "I think there's already a process of absorbing them into the Republican Party. I think they will be much less of a factor in 2012 and in future years."

The comments came the same day the former president's new book, "White House Diary," was released.

In the book, Carter said he pursued an overly aggressive agenda as president that may have confused voters and alienated lawmakers. But he said the tipping points that cost him the 1980 election were the Iran hostage crisis and the primary challenge by U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

"Had we not had the hostage crisis, I would have won," he said in the interview of his defeat to Republican Ronald Reagan, adding: "Had I not had Kennedy as my opponent, who sapped away a portion of the Democratic wing, I would have been re-elected."

"I coulda won. I coulda been somebody. I coulda been a contender, instead of an egomaniac, which is what I am."
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