James Earl Carter Jr. had become the 39 th president of the United States in 1976. The Democrat and once Georgia senator had promised to bring a fresh, new approach to the White House in hopes to break people's doubts about the presidency that were left from the Nixon/Ford era. In the election of 1976 Carter squeaked by the republican, Gerald Ford by a 49. 9% vote to a 46. 9% vote.

Carter had differed greatly from all of the previous presidents in several ways. He brought a more informal, "homey" feeling to the White House. Instead of the tradition suit wearing he wore jeans around the White House and once gave a speech on national TV. At first this was liked by the American public, but his image later suffered because he dropped the ceremonial style of the presidency. Carter had made many advances in his foreign policy. To resolve the conflict in the Middle East, he invited Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel to sign the Camp David Accords.

Under the accords it was agreed that Israel would pull out of the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for Egypt's recognizing them as a country. Carter also had made a deal with the Panamanian government on the situation of the Panama Canal. It was agreed upon that the canal would be given back to Panama in 2000. Relations with China and Russia were also improved upon during Carter's presidency. There was one situation that had permanently damaged Carter's reputation and ruined his chances of re-election. This was the Iran hostage situation.

The former ruler of Iran was given medical treatment in the U. S. This had angered the people of Iran and they stormed the U. S. embassy, taking all of the people working there hostage. This lasted for 400 days and destroyed Carter's reputation politically.

During his presidency, Carter had several problems domestically. There was an oil shortage, forcing gas prices to skyrocket. One of Carter's main goals in his domestic policy was to conserve energy. He did this by supporting nuclear power over petroleum. After the nuclear meltdown of the Three Mile Island power plant Carter's image was hurt even more. Carter's presidency is often characterized by historians as "A brief period of democratic rule in a long period of Republican dominance" His one major flaw was his inability to stick to one policy or to display strong leadership..