Notable quotes from former first lady Rosalynn Carter

2 weeks ago 12

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Rosalynn Carter, from her 1984 book, “First Lady from Plains”

On the campaign: “Later I was thankful for those early months when there were no large crowds, although I wanted them at the time, and when there were no press with me to record every slipup or misstatement. I was soon able to anticipate questions and to answer them, falteringly at times, but I learned. I also developed a standard stump speech and learned to get my message across in the often small time allotted no matter what questions were asked.”


On her relationship with the president: “I often acted as a sounding board for him. While explaining a particular issue to me, he could think it through himself; and I and the rest of the family often argued with him more strenuously than his advisers or staff did. To us he was the same participant in our nightly dinner table discussions that he had always been. I soon discovered that it was easier for me to learn about people’s needs as I traveled than it was for him. ... A president, no matter who he is, can become very isolated if he’s not careful.”


On criticism that she was too powerful: “Jimmy and I had always worked side by side; it’s a tradition in Southern families, and one that is not seen as in any way demeaning to the man. Once the press and our persistent opponents heard about my attendance at the (Cabinet) meetings, very soon it was rumored that I was ‘telling’ Jimmy what to do! They obviously didn’t know Jimmy!”


On making mental health her top priority: “I wanted to take mental illnesses and emotional disorders out of the closet, to let people know it is all right to admit having a problem without fear of being called crazy. If only we could consider mental illnesses as straightforwardly as we do physical illnesses, those affected could seek help and be treated in an open and effective way.”

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