Carter announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 1974. He won the nomination in July 1976, choosing the liberal U.S. Senator Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota as his running mate. Republican Gerald R. Ford, who had come into office in 1974, after Richard Nixon resigned in the stir of Watergate, was Carter's opponent during this time. In November 1976 Carter and Mondale won the election by 51 percent of the popular vote and gained 297 electoral votes to Ford's 240.
Carter began his presidency with his inaugural walk with his wife Rosalynn. He focused on reinforcing his image as a man of the people. He introduced an informal style of dress and speech in public appearances, held frequent press conferences, and reduced the display of the presidency. Early on in his administration, Carter showed vast interest in programs for social, administrative, and economic reform. He was unsuccessful getting these new ideas approved despite having a Democratic majority in Congress. On one hand, Congress, given the post-Watergate environment, was more willing to challenge the executive branch; on the other, Carter, being a populist, was quick to criticize Congress and decided to take his plan to the American people. Within two years of becoming president, his popularity decreased and he was unable to make his ideas into law.
There were two scandals that lessened Carter's credibility. In the summer of 1977 Bert Lance, a Georgia banker, was accused of financial improprieties. Lance was not only the director of the Office of Management and Budget, but he was also one of Carter's closest friends. When Carter stood by Lance, many of the American people questioned the president's principles. Carter's image suffered a second time in summer 1980 when his younger brother, Billy was accused of acting as an influence peddler for the Libyan government of Muammar al-Qaddafi. Senate investigators concluded that, while...