45 years ago, Jimmy Carter was elected president

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter wipe away tears at their greeting in Plains after winning the presidential election on Nov. 6, 1976. (Billy Downs / AJC file)
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Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter wipe away tears at their greeting in Plains after winning the presidential election on Nov. 6, 1976. (Billy Downs / AJC file)

Credit: Billy Downs

Credit: Billy Downs

On the last day of Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in November 1976, he awoke at 5:30 a.m. in a Sacramento hotel room, 2,500 miles away from his home in Plains.

As of 4 a.m. on Nov. 2, 1976, Carter had captured 272 electoral votes to President Ford's 178 and led with 51 per cent of the popular vote, giving him a 2 million vote edge.

The farm boy from a town of just 638 people would become the first and only Georgian to be elected president of the United States in history.

Here are excerpts from President Jimmy Carter's victory statement as printed in The Atlanta Constitution on Nov. 3, 1976, from his World Congress Center headquarters in Atlanta:

"Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you everybody. Let me say just a word. Let me say just a word to you. This ...  this tremendous crowd at 4 o' clock in the morning represents hundreds of millions of American people who are now ready to see our nation unified, and I want to congratulate the toughest and most formidable opponent that anyone could possibly have, President Gerald Ford."

"We have a great nation as you know, and sometimes in the past we've been disappointed at our own government. But I think it's time to tap the tremendous strength and vitality and idealism and hope and patriotism and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood in this country to unify our nation, to make it great once again."

“It’s not going to be easy for any of us. I don’t claim to know all the answers, but I have said many times in my campaign around all 50 states that I’m not afraid to take on the responsibilities of President of the United States, because my strength and my courage and my advice and my counsel and my criticism comes from you. And if I can tap the greatness that’s in you and in the American people, we can make our nation’s government great and a source of pride once again.”

ExploreWatch President Carter's full victory speech here.
ExploreRead more about Jimmy Carter from the AJC

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