The 'Tea Party' Elected Jimmy Carter

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Conservatives never particularly liked Jimmy Carter. Some, however, developed quite a crush on the Tea Party. So imagine the surprise among certain right-wing segments to learn that the Tea Party helped elect Carter in 1976. It's true. At least according to Carter, who also seems to have developed an affinity for the movement's diffuse, grassroots ethos.

In an interview with CNN's Howard Kurtz, Carter takes pains not to criticize Tea Partiers (reserving his verbal barbs for FOX News). Instead he says that "a lot of those same people, 30 years ago, were the ones who put me in the White House." Even Kurtz seemed surprised by the admission, reiterating the statement just to make sure that it came out right. Still, Carter then hedged by differentiating between the movement itself and the intentions of its financial backers.

This Tea Party doesn't realize that they are financed by oligarchs, in the oil industry primarily - the Koch brothers and others...They've been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the political system... after what I call a stupid Supreme Court ruling last January.

And--conservatives take heart--when asked whether Republicans would take the House after election day, he dryly noted: "That's almost a foregone conclusion."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.