SALEM, Mass. -- Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday Walter Mondale's defeat in the 1984 presidential election was predictable because he announced he would raise taxes if elected.
But Carter said he didn't think any Democrat could have beaten President Reagan this year, regardless of the tax issue.
'Mondale was telling the American people the truth,' the former president told a news conference before addressing a Salem State College forum, 'but this was a very big mistake. He made some tactical errors.
'I think that the election results yesterday were predictable several weeks ago. I don't think Reagan has ever been under 55 percent in the polls this year. That lead was never really narrowed appreciably,' Carter said.
'I think the surprise is how well the Democrats did in the House and the Senate, despite President Reagan's large win.'
Carter said Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., Mondale's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, would not have fared any better in Tuesday's election.
'I don't believe that any candidate could have beaten Ronald Reagan this year. I don't think Gary Hart could have done any better,' he said.
'I don't see the election yesterday as a groundswell of support of his politics at all. It was more like a personal endorsement. I don't think the American people were misled. I think he appealed to what the American people wanted to hear,' Carter added.
He predicted a Democratic maverick would emerge in the next presidential election.
'I just got the nomination on my own, and I think that's exactly what's going to happen in 1988,' he said.
He also saw no chance for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to win if he decides to run in 1988.
'In Massachusetts, I am reluctant to say it, but I think Sen. Kennedy would be a loser if he ran,' Carter said. He said Kennedy is too liberal for the mood of the country now.
He praised the selection of Mondale's vice presidential running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, saying her candidacy opened the way for other women to run for the White House.
'I think Geraldine Ferraro did a superb job, both as a member of Congress and as a vice presidential candidate. I don't think she really helped the ticket, but I also don't think she hurt it,' he said.
'I know that Amy (Carter's daughter) is not discouraged by Mondale's and Ferraro's defeat. She (Ferraro) has laid new ground for what in the future will be a common thing,' he said.
He said his daughter, who is a senior in high school this year, is preparing to go to college next year and is hoping to attend Brown University in Providence, R.I.