A Clandestine Journey and a Four-Decade Secret: The Untold Story Behind Jimmy Carter’s Defeat

After Mr. Connally’s campaign failed, he and Mr. Barnes went into business together, forming Barnes/Connally Investments. The two built apartment complexes, shopping malls and office buildings, and bought a commuter airline and an oil company, then a barbecue, a western art magazine, a securities company and a corporation. of advertising. But they overdid themselves, took on too much debt and, after falling oil prices upended the Texas real estate market, filed for bankruptcy in 1987.

The two remained on good terms. “Despite the disillusionment of our business arrangements, Ben Barnes and I remain friends, though I doubt either of us will ever return to business with the other,” Mr. Connally wrote in his memoir, In History’s Shadow, “little before who died in 1993 aged 76. Mr Barnes, for his part, said last week that “I remain a huge fan of him”.

Mr Barnes said he had no idea the purpose of the trip to the Middle East when Mr Connally invited him. They traveled to the area aboard a Gulfstream jet owned by Superior Oil. It was only when they sat down with the first Arab leader that Mr Barnes learned what Mr Connally was doing, he said.

Mr. Connally said, “Look, Ronald Reagan is going to be elected president and you have to let Iran know that they’re going to get a better deal with Reagan than with Carter,” Mr. Barnes recalled. “He said, ‘It would be very smart of you to tell Iranians to wait until after these general elections.’ And boy, I’m telling you, I’m sitting here and I heard it and now it comes to mind, I realize why we’re here.

Mr. Barnes said that with the exception of Israel, Mr. Connally repeated the same message at every stop in the region to leaders such as Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat. He thought his friend’s motive was clear. ‘It became very clear to me that Connally was a candidate for Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense,’ Mr Barnes said. (Mr Connally was later offered an energy secretary, but declined.)


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