Hamilton Jordan loses cancer battle

May 20, 2008 7:47:59 PM PDT
Hamilton Jordan, a political strategist from south Georgia who helped propel Jimmy Carter to the White House and served as his chief of staff, has died 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 planned Friday at The Carter Center in Atlanta and Carter would attend.

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 and became a key adviser to Carter during the 1976 presidential campaign.

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.

In a recent public appearance, Jordan told the Atlanta Press Club that he was a fan of Barack Obama in his race for the Democratic nomination.

Jordan visited the press club with the Georgia Cancer Coalition and discussed 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."

Jordan recalled that after "the American people sent us back to Atlanta in 1980" by unseating Carter, he helped his wife, Dorothy, begin a summer camp for children with cancer called Camp Sunshine.

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."

Rafshoon said that although Jordan's spirits seemed good, he was obviously getting weaker.

"He was a fighter to the very end," he said.


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