The man whose shadow hangs over the Democratic Convention is not here. Billy Carter decided not to attend, which has made Carter managers ecstatic. How was he persuaded not to come? Here is the inside story.
President Carter was asked by his campaign people to keep Billy from coming to New York. It was the toughest assignment Mr. Carter had been given in his four years of being president. He knew if he asked Billy not to do something Billy would do it just to spite him.
The president prayed and prayed for a solution and then suddenly it came. He called Billy in Plains, Ga., and said, "Billy, I have a favor to ask of you."
Billy said, "Drop dead."
"I mean it, Billy. I've never asked you for anything, but I need you. I would like you to come to Madison Square Garden the week of August 11th and nominate me for president of the United States."
"You have to be kidding. Why would I want to do that?"
"Because," Mr. Carter said, "you're my brother."
Billy said, "I ain't nominating you for dogcatcher. Being your brother has got me in all the trouble I'm in right now. Why didn't you stay in submarines where you belong?"
"Billy boy, don't get testy. Didn't I show you the nice cables about you from Libya?"
"Yeh, and you also threw me to the wolves at the Justice Department. Thanks to you I may be pumping gas at Allenwood."
"I didn't tell you to get mixed up with the Libyans. I warned you that you could get in a peck of trouble if you started messing in international affairs. You're a country boy, Billy, and once you start messing with those city stickers in Tripoli, they're going to take you for everything you've got."
"That's easy for you to say. You're president of the United States. You don't have to worry about making a living. Mom was always nicer to you than she was to me. She encouraged you to be president, but she never said I could be president. It was always Jimmy this and Jimmy that. The only thing she said I was any good for was becoming a registered foreign agent."
"Let's not go all over that again. You're going to be in New York. Would it hurt any if you got up on Wednesday night and just said, 'I wish to nominate my brother Jimmy Carter for the highest office in the land'?"
"Is that what you really want, Jimmy?"
"Yes Billy, I do."
"Then I ain't even coming to New York for the convention. I'll just sit down here in Plains and see you sweat."
"You wouldn't do that."
"Just see if I wouldn't. If you think I'm coming to the convention you can kiss my bottom."
The president hung up the phone and Ham Jordan came into the Oval Office.
Ham said, "Did it work?"
The president smiled. "Like a dream. We won't be within a thousand miles of New York."
"Good work, Sir. This will put to rest once and for all the lie that the president can't handle his brother."