Speaking to CNN's Piers Morgan on Thursday, former president Jimmy Carter said (video embedded) that President Barack Obama personally thanked his grandson for his role in the release of the infamous clip of a Mitt Romney speech in which he spoke about the "47 percent" of the nation that the GOP candidate said would never vote for him.
Obama, Carter said, ran across the room, embraced him and thanked him profusely. The meeting, Carter said, took place last week.
"When James went to meet President Obama, President Obama ran across the room, embraced him and thanked him profusely for his time, by the way," Carter said in the interview, which aired Thursday evening.
The former president's grandson, James Carter IV, had a critical role in the release of the secretly-taped remarks, which many considered a turning point in the 2012 presidential cycle.
While speaking at a private fundraiser in Florida, Romney made the following remarks, which became a meme:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing.
The President's team turned the statement into a campaign ad, hammering Romney and adding to the already prevailing view that Romney was rich and out-of-touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.
Carter IV had made it a habit to search YouTube every few days for keywords like "Romney" and "Republicans." One day in August of last year, he found a clip that grabbed his interest. With a substantial amount of perseverance and a lot of work to gain the trust of the anonymous video taker, Carter managed to obtain the full video of the Florida fundraiser.
Carter persuaded the source to trust David Corn of Mother Jones with the full video, with the caveat that he keep the source's identity a secret. Corn ran with the video and used clues in the video to figure out when and where it had been recorded.
Given the now public facts, Morgan joked:
So basically, Carter won Obama the election.
I think so. I think it was the pivotal moment ... It stuck with him [Romney] for the rest of the election and I think it was a major factor, if not the major factor.