KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Former President Jimmy Carter rebuked President Reagan Saturday at the World's Fair for blaming his administration for the country's 10.1 percent jobless rate and said 'Reaganomics has been a failure all the way around.'
'When I became president, the responsibilities were mine. They were not Gerald Ford's, Richard Nixon's, they were not John Kennedy's, Dwight Eisenhower's or Harry Truman's -- they were mine,' Carter said.
Carter told a news conference during a day-long visit to the 22-nation World's Fair that Reagan was wrong to blame his Democratic administration for the 11.3 million people who are out of work.
'I look on the unemployment rate, not as a political football, but as a human responsibility of the president, the governor, and everyone else in this nation,' Carter said.
With Republican Gov. Lamar Alexander sitting at his side, Carter joined a long list of Democrats bristling at the highest jobless rate since World War II. The unemployment rate was 8.1 percent when Carter took office and 7.4 percent when he left. Carter said his administration created 10 million jobs.
'In the last 20 months, instead of creating 10 million jobs, we've lost 3 million. Reaganomics is a failure all the way around,' Carter said.
He said the jobless rate does not reflect the millions of people who are too discouraged to seek a job. 'At least when I was in office, they had hope that if they were out of a job they could get one,' he said.
Carter visited the fair with his wife, Rosalynn, daughter Amy, and grandchildren Jason and James E. Carter, and his former budget director, Bert Lance. Carter was lauded for his efforts in committing $44 million in federal support for the six-month the fair.
Carter smiled and waved to thousands of tourists lined up to watch the former chief executive speak despite a brief rain shower. At one point, while Sen. Jim Sasser, D-Tenn., was speaking, Carter held a World's Fair red-and-white umbrella over his head to keep dry.