Hamilton Jordan, a political strategist who helped propel Jimmy Carter to the White House and served as his chief of staff, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
Jordan, 63, died at his home in Atlanta about 7:30 p.m., said Gerald Rafshoon, who was Carter’s chief of communications.
“He was a great strategist. He just couldn’t strategize his way out of this,” Rafshoon said from his home in Washington.
Jordan’s battle with cancer began 22 years ago, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, followed by bouts with melanoma and prostate cancer.
Rafshoon said a memorial service was scheduled for Friday at The Carter Center in Atlanta and Carter would attend.
Carter's 'trusted confidant'
Carter said in a statement that he and his wife, Rosalynn, “are deeply saddened.”
“Hamilton was my closest political adviser, a trusted confidant and my friend. His judgment, insight and wisdom were excelled only by his compassion and love of our country.”
Jordan was born in Charlotte, N.C., in 1944 and raised in Albany, Ga. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a political science degree in 1967.
Rafshoon said Jordan was a key figure in Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign because he conceived a strategy to have Carter campaign in every state — even years in advance — and targeted early voting states.
“Iowa had gotten into the headlines in the 1972 campaign but Hamilton spotted the fact if you win Iowa, you could win New Hampshire and a truly unknown candidate had to have a national strategy,” Rafshoon said.
During Carter’s administration, Jordan participated in the Camp David talks and “worked tirelessly” during the Iranian hostage crisis, Rafshoon said.
Jordan viewed Carter as “the right man for the times, after Watergate, Vietnam. He saw somebody not from Washington, not in Congress, not tarred from the sins of the past and understood American people better than anybody in that campaign,” Rafshoon said.
Worked for Perot
After Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980, Jordan ran in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 1986. He lost to Wyche Fowler, who won the general election.
Jordan worked for H. Ross Perot’s presidential bid in 1992.
Later he worked with Unity08, an independent political group founded by independent Angus King, the former governor of Maine, along with Rafshoon and Doug Bailey, a former staffer on President Ford’s 1976 campaign.
Jordan told the Atlanta Press Club in March that he was a fan of Barack Obama in his race for the Democratic nomination. Jordan visited the club to discuss his fight with cancer.
“I’ve been to the edge of life and had to face my own mortality,” he said. “I’m here to tell you, I’m not through yet. We’ve been blessed with great medicine and great friends.”
Rafshoon said Jordan had fought his bouts with cancer successfully but recently “had a series of things that shut down his systems.” He said Jordan’s doctor would describe the medical complications on Wednesday.
“I talked to him many times during the past few weeks,” he said. “He was enjoying watching the latest presidential campaign.”
Jordan is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and their three children.