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Ringing in Jimmy Carter’s Birthday With His Campaign Buttons

Today, Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, turns 96.

He’s the oldest living president—and holds the record as the oldest president ever.

Age may have slowed him up a bit, but it has not diminished his beliefs or advocacy—he recently spoke at the DNC, he defended peaceful protest following the murder of George Floyd, and he continued to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity last year before his brain surgery.

To mark the occasion of his birthday, as we’re thick in election madness, we’re looking back on his campaign buttons, and those of his challengers. Carter won his 1976 bid against Gerald Ford and Bob Dole, but lost to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in 1980.

Happy birthday, President Carter.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History. As the institution writes: "Jimmy Carter’s grin became such a signature part of his image that his name did not have to appear for him to be recognized as demonstrated by this button paid for by the Volunteers for Jimmy Carter. The use of the color green also helped voters identify Carter’s campaign items. The atypical color (red, white, and blue are much more common) was chosen both to set the 1976 Democratic nominee apart and to highlight his rural roots as a peanut farmer."

Encyclopedia Brittanica

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Smithsonian National Museum of American History. "Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia (top) and Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota were the Democratic nominees for president and vice president in 1976. They defeated the Republican ticket of President Gerald Ford and Senator Bob Dole of Kansas. Interestingly, all four of these men were at various times the losing candidate for president—Ford in 1976, Carter in 1980, Mondale in 1984, and Dole in 1996."

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Smithsonian National Museum of American History. "Gerald Ford is the only individual to have served as both vice president and president without having been elected to either position. After almost 25 years representing Michigan in the US House, Ford was selected as Richard Nixon’s vice president upon the resignation of Spiro Agnew in December 1973. Eight months later Ford became president following President Nixon’s own resignation. This button used a picture of a Model T as a visual play on words to promote Ford for president in his unsuccessful 1976 campaign to retain the position."

Smithsonian National Museum of American History. No comment.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

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