TOLEDO, Ohio -- Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday Republicans have done a better job of marketing candidates than Democrats, in part because the GOP's views are more in line with the thinking of the American people.
The last Democrat to win the White House also said President-elect George Bush will face the tough issues that an extremely popular President Reagan was able to ignore.
Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, visited Toledo to meet with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an international organization that builds homes for people in need of shelter. The Carters are board members of the group.
Speaking with reporters, Carter said that for the Democrats to win the White House again, they must put together a more balanced platform to appeal to a broader spectrum of voters.
His 'formula for success,' Carter said, would include keeping of the party's liberal ideals while adopting 'a fairly conservative approach to taxation, to balancing the budget, to strong defense and to strengthening local and state governments.'
Bush defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis on Tuesday because 'the Republicans have done a better job this year of marketing, based on very sharply focused and negative television spots,' Carter said. 'I think this caught Democrats by surprise.'
He predicted the transition to a Bush administration will be more harmonious than the switch from his administration to Ronald Reagan's in 1980. Among the problems then, Carter said, was that Reagan waited until the last moment to name some Cabinet members and then refused briefings on the issues.
Once in office, Carter said, Reagan enjoyed such extreme popularity that he was able to ignore problems that Bush will have to address. But those issues may cause political problems for the president-elect because Bush does not have Reagan's 'grandfatherly' ability to ignore them.
'I think this next president is going to have a very difficult time remaining popular,' Carter said. 'President Reagan, despite his multiple mistakes and errors, remained above the criticism. It was never his fault when anything happened. He made the people feel it's OK to abandon civil rights; it's OK to have a $200 billion deficit.
'I don't think George Bush is going to be that kind of a Teflon president who escaped the responsibilities for the problems. So I think it's not a natural assumption that Bush is going to be up for an easy re-election.
'I think almost everyone liked what President Reagan has,' Carter said. 'President Reagan has an image of a kind of grandfatherly person who doesn't quite know what's going on, and if anything goes wrong, it's not his fault.'