Former President Jimmy Carter said actor Robert Redford’s advice on appearing before cameras helped him secure the presidency in 1976.
“I was probably president because of Bob Redford,” Carter told an audience in Sundance, Utah, Sept. 4, according to the Deseret Morning News. Carter was appearing at the actor’s resort for the Tree Room Author Series to promote his new Revolutionary War novel, The Hornet’s Nest.
Carter recalled his thoughts leading up to the 1976 presidential election pitting him against President Gerald Ford.
“You can imagine the feeling of a Georgia peanut farmer who is scheduled to have three televised debates with the incumbent president of the United States,” Carter said, according to the News. “I didn’t know what in the world I was going to do.”
Enter the actor.
“And here came Robert Redford to Georgia,” Carter said, “and he had a 16 mm film of the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and he sat on our living room floor and we played the debate over and over, and he gave me advice.”
The 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debates are famous for the way John F. Kennedy appeared much more genial on television than Richard Nixon.
“So since I won by a fairly narrow margin,” Carter mused, “I think it’s fair to say that all the things that I did as president, good or bad, Bob Redford has a share in them.”
Redford introduced Carter at the forum and praised the former president.
“His concern for peace, human rights and justice was more than evident when he was in office but even more so after he left office,” Redford said, according to an Associated Press article.
Carter also joked, according to AP, that Redford gave him no advice for the 1980 presidential election, which Carter lost to Ronald Reagan.
Redford played Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in “All the President’s Men,” about Woodward and fellow reporter Carl Bernstein’s uncovering of the Watergate scandal. The movie was filmed in 1975 and released in early 1976.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.