On repeated occasions, according to numerous Soviet accounts, [Jimmy] Carter encouraged Moscow to influence American politics for his benefit or for the detriment of his enemies. Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin recounts in his memoirs how, in the waning days of the 1980 campaign, the Carter White House dispatched Armand Hammer to the Soviet embassy. Explaining to the Soviet Ambassador that Carter was “clearly alarmed” at the prospect of losing to Reagan, Hammer asked for help: Could the Kremlin expand Jewish emigration to bolster Carter’s standing in the polls? “Carter won’t forget that service if he is elected,” Hammer told Dobrynin.
According to Georgii Kornienko, first deputy foreign minister at the time, something similar took place in 1976, when Carter sent Averell Harriman to Moscow. Harriman sought to assure the Soviets that Carter would be easier to deal with than Ford, clearly inviting Moscow to do what it could through public diplomacy to help his campaign.
Even when he was out of office, Carter still tried bitterly to encourage Moscow to do damage to his enemies during an election. As Dobrynin recounts, in January 1984 the former president dropped by his residence for a private meeting. Carter was concerned about Reagan’s defense build-up and went on to explain that Moscow would be better off with someone else in the White House. If Reagan won, he warned, “There would not be a single agreement on arms control, especially on nuclear arms, as long as Reagan remained in power.”
Did Ted Kennedy also try to throw a presidential election involving Reagan by going to the Soviets? Bryan of Hot Air writes: