Jimmy Carter’s Stolen Manuscript
June 20, 2017
The 1980 US Presidential election was set to be a forgone conclusion with veteran politician and incumbent Jimmy Carter facing off against the little known Ronald Reagan. Reagan was not at all known for his politics, he was a B-movie actor and a newcomer to the game.
Late in the campaign, Carter and Reagan were due to face off in a live television debate which Carter was widely expected to win. Except Reagan had an ace up his sleeve, he was literally going to cheat his way to victory. The debate was hyped up like a heavy weight boxing bout and the two were pretty close in the polls.
So how did Reagan pull off the win? Carter was thorough and a perfectionist. His people put together a whole dossier of what he was going to say and not say during the debate. It was complete to the point of also having one liners and put downers with which to demoralize his foe.
Just a few days before the debate, Carter’s team found that a copy of the dossier had gone missing. It was obvious what had happened. Someone from the Reagan team had got their hands on a copy and gave it to him to memorize. Not only that, but Reagan used a stand-in for Carter and practiced the debate, only he had all the material at hand and could therefore create his arguments in advance and work on his own comebacks.
The strategy worked a treat and Reagan came across as if he knew what Carter was going to say before he had even said it. Of course, that is exactly what was happening. Reagan trounced Carter in the debate and went on to beat him in the election.
The truth eventually came out, but Reagan’s growth policies meant that the revelations did him no harm on the popularity front.