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Architect Of Carter Presidency
At the same time, Powell said, he "managed to be a wonderful husband and father and friend."
William Hamilton McWhorter Jordan was born in Charlotte and grew up in Albany, Ga. Although born with bowed legs, he corrected the condition by wearing braces to bed for 11 years. His parents said he had been a "political animal" since childhood. "If he didn't win himself, he'd run his cousin," his mother told Kandy Stroud, author of "How Jimmy Won" (1977).
At the University of Georgia, Jordan studied political science for what he said were "five and one-half unspectacular but fun-filled years."
While a student, he attended a rally for Carter, who was running for governor. Impressed by the candidate's sincerity and his progressive stance on race, he signed on as Carter's youth coordinator.
After Carter's 1966 Democratic primary defeat, Jordan finished work on his undergraduate degree and signed up to go to Vietnam, but he was classified 4-F, medically ineligible for the draft, because of flat feet. He went as a civilian volunteer with the International Voluntary Service, a refugee relocation organization, and stayed 10 months in the field. He was sent home after contracting blackwater fever.
He became campaign manager for Carter's successful race for governor in 1970. He served as the new governor's executive secretary but was almost immediately concocting ambitious plans beyond the Peach State for his boss. In 1972, two years before the end of Carter's term as governor, he submitted a year-by-year plan for capturing the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination
As Carter's national campaign director, Jordan raised money throughout 1974 and brought in a team of political newcomers that included press secretary Powell, media consultant Gerald Rafshoon, pollster Patrick H. Caddell and Stuart E. Eizenstat, Carter's director for issues and policy. Jordan "was the best," Rafshoon said last night. "A brilliant strategist, a dedicated American and a great friend to a lot of people."
Carter began the general election campaign with a 20-point lead in the polls over President Gerald R. Ford, who was hobbled by his post-Watergate pardon of Richard Nixon. The lead shrank as Carter made mistakes; party professionals blamed Jordan and his team of novices. After the Georgian squeaked in by a slim margin, Jordan told Stroud: "We couldn't do it the simple way. We had to screw around."
Students of the presidency have suggested that Jordan's reputation as an anti-establishment figure raised the hackles of movers and shakers in Washington and might have contributed to Carter administration problems.
At any rate, once Carter was in the White House, life seemed to become rockier for Jordan. It was reported that he was boorish in the presence of the wife of the Egyptian ambassador at a state dinner, comparing her d¿colletage to "the pyramids along the Nile." Another woman told reporters he spit iced amaretto and cream down her blouse. He was falsely accused of snorting cocaine at Studio 54.
House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill called him "Hannibal Jerkin."
After the White House, Jordan headed the Association of Tennis Professionals and was a marketing executive for Whittle Communications. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate from Georgia in 1986 and in 1992 managed H. Ross Perot's brief presidential campaign.
His non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was diagnosed in 1984, and he said he thought he contracted it from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. It went into remission after months of chemotherapy. In 1990, he battled skin cancer and then prostate cancer four years later.
Jordan wrote a memoir, "No Such Thing as a Bad Day" (2000).
His marriage to Nancy Konigsmark ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 26 years, Dorothy Henry Jordan and three children, Hamilton Jr., Kathleen and Alexander.