The Norman Transcript

Local news

August 8, 2009

Carter remembers Oklahoma visits fondly

Former President Jimmy Carter's visit to Norman Friday was for religious reasons, but he's been to Oklahoma before in other causes.

In the 1970s, he visited Oklahoma several times as he campaigned for first the Democratic nomination and then the presidency itself.

On one campaign visit, he visited Elk City and met Larry R. Wade, the Elk City Daily News publisher who was part of the Carter for President campaign in Oklahoma, who spoke to him about a return visit.

"Governor," Wade said, "if you get elected president, we'd like you to come back to Elk City." Carter agreed.

In 1979, he held a town hall meeting in Elk City.

"So he kept his promise," Wade said.

Carter flew into the Air Force base in Burns Flat on a Saturday evening and rode in a presidential limo to Elk City, Wade said. The city had a street parade in his honor and he then went to the high school for a town hall meeting with about 3,000 people.

That night, Carter stayed at Wade's house. Sunday morning, he went to the First Baptist Church of Elk City and then flew out of town, Wade said.

Friday, Carter remembered the visit to Elk City fondly when he talked with the Associated Press before his speech at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center.

"I visited at least 50 places for town hall meetings when I was president, and the best one I ever had in my life was in Elk City," he said.

Even before Carter himself came to Oklahoma, his wife, Rosalynn, visited the state in 1976 to campaign for her husband's nomination. She visited Shawnee and for one night stayed with the family of current Gov. Brad Henry.

Friday, he recalled that he sat at the breakfast table with her and talked freely.

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