Study Guide

Patrick Caddell in Crisis of Confidence

By Jimmy Carter

Patrick Caddell

Patrick Caddell is nothing if not opinionated.

Since the early 1970s, he's been advising and instructing influential political leaders, from George McGovern in 1972 to Jerry Brown in 1992—and seemingly every Democrat in between.

But maybe his greatest political legacy concerns his relationship with fellow southerner Jimmy Carter. In fact, it was at Caddell's insistence that Carter focus on such nonpartisan issues like trust and integrity in the 1976 presidential election—a strategy that successfully catapulted the relatively unknown Georgia governor to the oval office. Because of this feat, his star rose quickly.

He was considered the LeBron James of political strategists.

Following this emphasis on intangibles, it was Caddell who, along with Hendrik Hertzberg, helped convince Carter to deliver the "Crisis of Confidence" speech. After all, these themes of trust, confidence and character had worked in 1976. But 1979 wasn't 1976. The mood, and most importantly the economy, had changed, and the American public was not as receptive to intangibles as they were to the concrete. Voters were not as interested in confidence as they were in jobs.

The advice, in hindsight, did not pan out. But Caddell has continued his political career, working with such ranking figures as Joe Biden as well as advising political dramas such as the West Wing.

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