Carter: Redford Was Debate Coach

With just over three weeks until the first Bush-Kerry debate (domestic policy, Sept. 30), former President Carter has revealed he had help acting like a candidate from an actor who played a candidate.

Actor and filmmaker Robert Redford played videotapes of the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate "over and over" to coach Jimmy Carter before his debates with former President Gerald Ford.

Redford played California Democratic senate hopeful Bill McKay in the 1972 film "The Candidate," which won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

"I was probably president because of Bob Redford," said Mr. Carter, who confided that before the debate leading to his 1976 election he "didn't know what in the world I was going to do."

Redford told him what not to do. He arrived at Mr. Carter's house with a projector and films of the historic debate that made Richard Nixon look dour and John F. Kennedy charismatic.

Redford "played the tape over and over and gave me advice," the former president said Saturday at Redford's Sundance resort as part of an author's series.

Redford embraced President Carter before taking the podium to praise his old friend at his Sundance ski resort, nature preserve and corporate retreat in Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

"His concern for peace, human rights and justice was more than evident when he was in office but even more so after he left office," said Redford.

President Carter, author of 17 nonfiction books, talked about his writing career after serving one term as president. He joked that Redford offered him no advice for the 1980 election campaign he lost to Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Carter's latest work, "Hornet's Nest," is a saga of Deep South colonists during the Revolutionary War. The characters were patterned after President Carter's own ancestors, who helped settle Georgia during the 18th century. The former president, who turns 80 this year, appeared healthy and cheerful as he greeted fans, shaking hands and posing for pictures. During his days in Provo Canyon, he said, "We've had a good time climbing mountains and looking at waterfalls and catching trout — and releasing trout."