Carter blames Ted Kennedy for three-decade delay of health reform

Thirty-two years ago, then-President Jimmy Carter and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) squared off over how to approach a Democratic push to enact comprehensive healthcare reform.

Carter, it would seem, hasn't forgotten the failure of that effort, and he's not mincing words about who's to blame.   

"The fact is that we would have had comprehensive health care now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy’s deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed," Carter told 60 Minutes, during an interview to be aired Sunday. "It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill."

The 1978 feud revolved, not around policy, but around the issue of how the Democrats should proceed strategically. Kennedy, who died of brain cancer 13 months ago, had urged a strategy of passing a single bill, while Carter wanted to make the changes incrementally.

According to one Kennedy biographer, "There were political ways out of confrontation, but they were unlikely between rivals who did not understand each other,” The New York Times noted Friday.

Kennedy would go on to challenge Carter in the Democratic primary in 1980. Carter won that battle, only to be crushed by Ronald Reagan in the general election.