August 30

Jimmy Carter Rabbit Episode

August 30, 1979 - statewide

On August 30, 1979, some bad news broke for President Jimmy Carter. It involved Carter’s fending off a rabbit on a fishing trip in southwest Georgia back in April. What appeared to be an amusing story in an outdoorsman’s life came to symbolize a perception by some of an ineffective Carter presidency.

Carter was alone in a small fishing boat when a swamp rabbit, a species of large cottontail, began swimming toward his boat. He turned the frightened and agitated rabbit away with a paddle. Several months later he jokingly mentioned it to press secretary Jody Powell, who repeated it offhandedly to a reporter. To Powell’s horror, The Washington Post headlined “President Attacked by Rabbit.” Carter was lampooned by turns as crazy, weak, and ineffective. The Iranian Hostage Crisis that began two months later, and haunted the rest of his term, seemed to confirm to his critics what the rabbit story suggested.

One writer later observed that the beginning of the end for the Carter presidency was August 30, 1979, Today in Georgia History.