Former New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang’s Time With President Jimmy Carter
Long before being elected Mayor of New Bedford – and years before moving to New Bedford – Scott Lang was deeply involved in Democrat Party politics. Lang's path crossed with many national Democrats, including the 39th President of the United States, James Earl "Jimmy" Carter.
Lang was a student at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., in November 1973 when he first met Carter, a one-term Governor of Georgia. Lang worked for the Democratic National Committee while attending Georgetown.
Lang's work for the DNC included fighting for rule changes and making the party appealing enough to get Democrats elected. Carter traveled the country with the DNC, recruiting candidates and meeting potential voters.
"Carter was campaigning for president a year before he announced his candidacy," Lang said.
Lang remembers Carter as a "very, very nice guy," someone who "stuck to a routine." Lang said Carter "kept to himself and his staff" a lot of the time. He recalls being "impressed with Carter."
When Carter sought the Democrat presidential nomination in 1976, Lang was "running the delegate selection process for the DNC."
He had little or no interaction with Carter until the fall of 1976 when he saw the future president on a regular basis, he said.
Lang remembers participating in a two-day "whistle-stop" campaign train event that took the candidate, his wife Rosalyn, and vice presidential hopeful Walter Mondale from New York to Chicago.
Lang said that Carter campaigned successfully as an outsider, something that worked against him after he defeated Republican incumbent Gerald Ford and became president.
"It's not easy to deal with the Washington establishment," Lang said.
By 1978, Lang and other Democrats became disillusioned and doubted Carter's ability to lead.
"It became more and more clear to the Democratic Party that Carter was not going to get re-elected," he said. "(Carter) did not connect with the American people on major policy issues."
Lang said Carter "inherited an awful lot of problems," but under Carter, things "got a heck of a lot worse."
Lang, who was born in Oceanside, New York, figured it was time to put his law degree to work and moved to New Bedford, where he started the law office Lang, Straus, Xifaras and Bullard.
Lang was elected Mayor of New Bedford in 2005 and served three terms before deciding against seeking re-election in 2012.
Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan in 1980 and has spent decades in service to the public, speaking and writing books.
When U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1980, Lang backed Kennedy.
Lang said Carter "accomplished more as a humanitarian than as president." He said Carter was able to "rebuild his legacy and reputation as a person and a humanitarian" after leaving office.
Listen to Scott Lang's conversation with Barry Richard about Jimmy Carter: