Miller Center

Hamilton Jordan

Speakers: Hamilton R Jordan, Landon Butler, Thomas Donilon
Date: November 6, 1981

Hamilton Jordan joins Deputy Chief of Staff Landon Butler and congressional liaison Thomas Donilon to discuss President Carter, election politics, and their role in the Carter administration. The interview begins with Carter's rise to the top of the Democratic Party and his victory over President Ford in 1976. The first year is explored in detail, specifically the administration' failure to set clear priorities, the compartmentalization of issues, the fragmentation of the Democratic Party and its traditional supporters (labor, women, blacks, etc.), and the negative perception of the administration that developed as a result of these mistakes. Jordan also discusses his own role within the White House and the perception that he was the top advisor within the spokes on the wheel concept. He examines the so-called "malaise speech" and the subsequent Camp David staff review, and his appointment as Chief of Staff shortly after. As the first Chief of Staff of the Carter administration, Jordan assesses the organization of his office, his development as a strategist and planner, and his role in various foreign and domestic policy issue areas. Donilon joins Jordan and Butler for the afternoon session, which focuses on President Carter – his management style, skills as a politician, and view of the presidency. The interview ends with some thoughts on the 1980 presidential election – some of the key issues of the campaign (oil prices, hostage situation, Kennedy challenge) and how Jordan's involvement with Iran policy diminished his role in the campaign.