WASHINGTON (May. 6)
Two of former Gov. Jimmy Carter’s closest aides have vigorously denounced accusations levelled against him by former speech writer, Robert Shrum, about the Jewish vote in the Georgian’s primary campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Carter’s chief media spokesman. Jody Powell said that Carter “has expressed concern at the lack of support from Jewish voters” but “in a completely different context” from that stated by Shrum. Carter’s national issues coordinator. Stuart Eizenstat, a leader of Atlanta’s Jewish community, described the accusation as a “total fabrication.”
Powell and Eizenstat made their statements from Carter campaign headquarters in Atlanta in separate telephone conversations with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington bureau which initiated the calls. The JTA asked the headquarters for its views after the charges by ex-speech writer Shrum appeared in interviews published in the Washington Post and the Washington Star.
In accusing Carter of “a degree of manipulation and deception.” Shrum quoted the candidate as saying: “We have to be cautious. We don’t want to offend anybody….I don’t want any more statements on the Middle East or Lebanon. (Sen. Henry M.) Jackson has all the Jews anyway. It doesn’t matter how far I go. I won’t get over four percent of the Jewish vote anyway, so forget it. We get the Christians.”
Shrum said he did not believe Carter intended that remark as anti-Semitic but rather as a concept of political pragmatism. According to the Post. Shrum, a former speech writer for Sen. George McGovern (D.SD). Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D.Me.) and former New York Mayor John V. Lindsay, joined Carter’s speech writing team only two weeks before he quit following Carter’s victory in the Pennsylvania primary.
A TOTALLY RIDICULOUS CHARGE
Eizenstat responded tersely to Shrum’s comments about Carter’s remarks. “I was present at many of the meetings involving the discussions referred to by Mr. Shrum and they (his comments are total fabrications,” Eizenstat said. Powell observed that Shrum’s “statement that Carter did not need Jewish votes is totally ridiculous and contradictory to the concern Carter has felt and expressed himself about it.”
Noting that Carter commented on the Jewish vote at a staff meeting on issues in Atlanta at which Eizenstat was chairman, Powell pointed out that had Carter spoken as Shrum had said he did, Eizenstat “would have walked out of it.”
Powell observed that Shrum’s assertions “appear to combine several different comments” of which “only a part is valid.” He added that Carter, in Shrum’s presence and on several other occasions, expressed concern at the lack of support from Jewish voters battle concern “was more of dismay and bewilderment.” Powell said that “Of course, the idea he would not continue to make statements on the Middle East is completely ludicrous. He has made repeated statements on the Middle East and he will continue to do so.”
SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL ON RECORD
The Carter aide recalled that the Governor’s “statement of support for Israel” was part of Carter’s announcement speech 18 months ago at the National Press Club here, which the JTA reported at the time. Powell added that Carter has “continued to voice that support all over the country. That’s an indication that, although dismayed and discouraged in that he has not received much of the Jewish vote, he has done it not only in New York. Massachusetts and Florida but also in states where Jewish voters are not considered a large segment of the electorate.”
Powell and Eizenstat are described as among the eight members of Carter’s “official family” behind the “Carter phenomena” that seeks to make him the Democratic Presidential nominee and put him in the White House. Two others among the eight are active in Atlanta’s Jewish community–Robert J. Lipshutz. the campaign treasurer and Gerald Rafhsoon, the advertising director. Recent press reports describe the three as men Carter trusts. whose advice he respects and who would almost certainly have the ear of the White House if Carter becomes President.
Eizenstat, who was also the issues coordinator for Carter’s successful gubernatorial campaign in 1970, has been a director of the Atlanta Jewish Community Center for six years and is vice-president of Atlanta’s Bureau of Jewish Education. Recently he received the Young Leadership Award from the American Association for Jewish Education for his contribution to Jewish education. Lipshutz is a past president of The Temple in Atlanta, one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the southeast and a recent recipient of B’nai B’rith’s Humanitarian Award.