On Hardball this afternoon, former President Jimmy Carter offered his 1980 loss as a cautionary tale for any Democrats who might be excited about the prospect of Michael Bloomberg seeking the White House in 2012.
“Well, I’m not sure that Bloomberg is seriously considering that,” Carter told Chris Matthews. “I think it would be a mistake if be did, because he couldn’t win, but he might prevent Obama from winning reelection.
“And what he would do was just guarantee that a Republican would move into the White House. And that’s what happened in 1980 when Ronald Reagan moved in, because of a split Democratic Party,” said Carter.
That year, Illinois Congressman John Anderson, a former Republican, ran an independent challenge that captured 6.6 percent of the vote. Carter pointed out that Reagan only captured 51 percent of the vote, and said he “won because of a third party candidate” (though, strictly speaking, Carter’s 41 percent plus Anderson’s 6 percent still don’t eclipse Reagan’s majority).
“So you think it would be bad for the country?” asked Matthews, who speculated that the only states Bloomberg could conceivably win–New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, “maybe Florida”–were all states Obama carried in 2008.
“I think it would be better for the country if President Obama was reelected,” Carter said.