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Greg Bluestein

Jason Carter’s delicate dance on his grandfather’s Hamas position

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Jimmy Carter discusses his role in his grandson Jason Carter's gubernatorial campaign on Monday, July 14, 2014, in Plains. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Jimmy Carter’s views on Hamas have given his grandson’s gubernatorial campaign headaches.Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

You could almost hear the groans from Democrat Jason Carter’s camp last week when his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter, co-authored an op-ed arguing that Hamas should be recognized as a legitimate political actor.

Gov. Nathan Deal has since tried to tie his November opponent to his grandpa’s views of Hamas, the militant faction which the U.S. considers a terrorist group. Others, including some Democratic supporters, have questioned why Carter didn’t come out strongly against his grandfather’s position.

Carter’s strategists don’t want the campaign to answer for his grandfather every time he says something controversial. They also recognize Deal and other Republicans – Senate nominee David Perdue said he was “offended” by the ex-president’s comments – will keep up the pressure.

Those forces were at play on Saturday when we asked the candidate his stance on his grandfather’s position.

“I think first of all the governor is talking about this issue because he’s trying to deflect attention from the failed policies he’s operating under on education, his failed economic policy for the middle class, and the fact that we need an honest government and we’re not getting it,” said Carter. “That’s why Nathan Deal is talking about it first and foremost.”

His campaign message aside, we asked whether Carter wanted to distance himself from the former president’s stance. The response was another tack to his talking points. Said Carter:

“I have been on the front page of the paper talking about the ways in which I disagree with my grandfather. I believe that Israel has a right to defend itself, especially against Hamas’ terrorist actions. But the cornerstone of what the Georgia governor’s job is, is to make sure that we are pressing forward on the issues that confront the Georgia governor. That’s what I’m focusing on – those issues are education, the economy and ethics.”

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