Jimmy Carter visited Manitowoc in 1976. He laid a wreath aboard the USS Cobia and spoke at the Senior Center. Here's a look back at his primary campaign stop.

Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
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Recent news about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s decision to spend his remaining time at home with family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention brings to mind his presidential primary campaign stop in Manitowoc in 1976.

On March 29, 1976, the Herald Times Reporter printed a brief news story, “Carter to Visit Area,” on page 3 of the Monday edition.

The former Georgia governor was expected to reach the city at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, coming by car from Appleton.

Arriving in Manitowoc, Carter, 51 at the time and a submarine officer during the Korean War, placed a commemorative wreath at the base of the American flag aboard the USS Cobia following a short address to an estimated 300 people.

Speaking in a light rain and sleet, Carter discussed the principles that made the nation great and said one of the top presidential priorities was to have an “adequate defense department” for the protection of the country.

Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Many of those in the crowd were school children who had a chance to shake hands with the candidate.

A brief talk welcoming Carter to the city was given by Mayor Anthony Dufek at the start of the submarine program.

A short time later, Carter spoke at the Manitowoc Senior Center, 3330 Custer St., where he was greeted by a crowd of about 300 people who sang “On, Wisconsin!” to the accompaniment of organist Milton Detjen.

Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Carter told those gathered at the Senior Center he had won eight primaries and finished second three times to that point in the primary race.

His talk focused on the elderly, whose fixed incomes were eroded by inflation and the lack of adequate health care in the nation.

The program closed with the audience singing “God Bless America.”

Following Carter’s campaign appearance, members of the Carter family visited Manitowoc over the next two days. On Thursday, Carter’s son Jeff and his wife Annette visited campaign headquarters at 808 Commercial St. On Friday, Rosalynn Carter attended a coffee hour at the home of William and Mary Bowers, where she talked with local residents and answered questions about her husband’s campaign.

Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Former President Jimmy Carter is shown during a March 31, 1976, primary campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Carter won the April 6, 1976, presidential primary in Wisconsin with 36.63% of the Democratic Party vote, beating challengers U.S. Rep. Morris Udall of Arizona — 35.62%; Gov. George Wallace of Alabama — 12.49%; and U.S. Sen. Henry Jackson of Washington — 6.43%.

Carter went on to win the 1976 presidential election on Nov. 2, winning the state of Wisconsin with 49.5% of the vote, giving him 11 electoral votes.

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Carter carried Manitowoc County with 19,819 votes (53.9% ) to 16,039 votes for Republican President Gerald Ford (43.62%).

Carter won both the electoral vote (297) and popular vote (40.8 million).

Jimmy Carter’s legacy: Nobel Peace Prize winner, humanitarian and country’s longest-living president

James Earl Carter Jr. was born Oct. 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946. About one month after graduation, on July 7, 1946, he married Rosalynn Smith, the best friend of his sister Ruth.

Carter graduated from submarine-training service in 1948 and became engineering officer of the nuclear submarine Sea Wolf.

After his father died in 1953, Carter resigned from the Navy and returned home to manage the family peanut warehouse business in Plains.

In 1962, he was elected to the Georgia Senate and was reelected in 1964.

He was elected governor of Georgia in 1970.

After leaving the governorship in January 1975, Carter began to work full time for the presidential nomination. In January 1976, he received the most votes in the Iowa caucus, then won the year’s first presidential primary election in New Hampshire.

Carter won 18 primary elections and became the Democratic candidate for president on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention in New York City.

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In 1980, Carter was defeated in his bid for a second term by former Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan of California.

Leaving the White House, the 39th president returned to Plains. In 1982, he published “Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President.” That same year, he and the former First Lady founded The Carter Center in partnership with Emory University in Atlanta. The charitable nonprofit organization helps to improve the lives of people by advancing peace and health worldwide.

In 1986, The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum opened in Atlanta.

Bob Fay
Bob Fay

In 2002, Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

Former President Carter’s involvement with Habitat for Humanity, which he first volunteered with in 1984 and continued well into his 90s, will be part of the longest-living American president’s legacy.

Bob Fay is a historian and former executive director of the Manitowoc County Historical Society.

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This article originally appeared on Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Jimmy Carter in hospice visited Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1976 election