Didn't Carter approach the Soviets during the 80 and 84 races to "warn" them about Reagan and to get "help" to defeat them? That would put it during the same campaign as the Kennedy - Tunney contact.
Yes, I'm pretty sure I remember reading about Carter doing that during the '80 election. I think he used a different intermediary than Tunney, though I don't remember who it was offhand.
Peter Schweizer, a Hoover Institution research fellow, has just written a new book, "Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism."
Soviet diplomatic accounts and material from the archives show that in January 1984 former President Jimmy Carter dropped by Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin's residence for a private meeting.
Carter expressed his concern about and opposition to Reagan's defense buildup. He boldly told Dobrynin 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."
Using the Russians to influence the presidential election was nothing new for Carter.
Schweizer reveals Russian documents that show that in the waning days of the 1980 campaign, the Carter White House dispatched businessman Armand Hammer to the Soviet Embassy.
Hammer was a longtime Soviet-phile, and he explained to the Soviet ambassador that Carter was "clearly alarmed" at the prospect of losing to Reagan.
Hammer pleaded with the Russians for help. He asked if the Kremlin could expand Jewish emigration to bolster Carter's standing in the polls.
Carter was not the only Democrat to make clear to the Russians where their loyalty lay. As the election neared in 1984, Dobrynin recalls meetings with Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill. This article also has some interesting stuff on how Kennedy was in turn going behind Carter's back to the Soviets in 1980 via Tunney and Peter Edelman:
Detailed information on the results of a visit by Bahr154 to the USA at the request of Chancellor Schmidt155 were received from a source in government circles in the FRG. During his ten days there Egon Bahr, the Federal Secretary of the Social Democrats, met Benson, Brzezinski,156 Kissinger,157 Shulman158 and the lawyer Peter Edelman159 who was a confidante of Senator Edward Kennedy.160 He found out their ideas about the new situation in the Middle East. From his short trip to the USA, Bahr gained the impression that three factors governed the situation: uncertainty, the desire for strong leadership and a growing fear of war with the Soviet Union The reason for this was "the general loss of faith in the power of America politically, economically and militarily." This feeling was strengthened by the failure of the administration to react in a sensible and decisive way to the events in Afghanistan and Iran. From his conversations in the USA, Bahr was convinced that the actions of the Washington administration were dictated primarily by "Carter's pathological wish to be elected for a second term" and were a consequence of the lack of a united view of the key contemporary problems among the President's advisers.
Summarizing his impressions from his American meetings, Bahr noted that "Carter is incurable with his inconsistency and flawed decisions which he takes on the spur of the moment for reasons of prestige." Bahr was convinced that it would become increasingly difficult to work with the American administration. For this reason he said that it was essential to support those forces in the USA which opposed Carter, meaning primarily the pretender to the post of head of the White House, Senator E. Kennedy. When the senator learned that Bahr was in the USA, he telephoned lum to express his regret that he could not meet him because of an election trip to Iowa and said that he could fly to Europe at a later date to meet him personally. He sent Bahr his confidante, Peter Edelman. In his talks with Bahr, Edelman was very open and on the instructions of the Senator gave Kennedy's analysis of events. According to the Senator, the protracted character of the Iranian conflict increased Carter's chances of re-election as it enabled him to demonstrate his firmness. The events in Afghanistan, which were overshadowing this conflict were also favorable to Carter. Kennedy was sure, however, that the public interest in Afghanistan, which had been fuelled by the American authorities, would soon wane and that it would return to Iran. The question "Who started this conflict by hiding the Shah in America?" would be asked which would be awkward for the present administration. Edelman said that this would enable Kennedy to campaign "for the normalization of relations with the Soviet Union and other countries in the interests of peace." A trump card for Kennedy would be his involvement in some form in settling the problem of the American hostages in Tehran. Edelman said bluntly to Bahr that "if Moscow were able to help Kennedy in this way it could count on a very positive development in Soviet-American relations."
On 5 March an American politician, John V. Tunney,163 was in Moscow on behalf of E. Kennedy to relay the latter's ideas on ways to lessen international tension to the Soviet leadership. The Senator considered that the foreign Policy part of Brezhnez's speech to voters in the Bauman district reflected the consistency and steadfastness of the USSR to the policy of détente and created a real basis for a settlement of the Afghan question. At the same time the Carter administration was trying to distort the peace-loving ideas behind Brezhnev's proposals. The White House was feeding the public opinion with nonsense about "the Soviet military threat" and Soviet ambitions for military expansion in the Persian Gulf. The atmosphere of tension and hostility towards the whole Soviet people was being fuelled by Carter, Brzezinski, the Pentagon and the military industrial complex. All the Republican presidential candidates were whippmg up anti-Soviet hysteria and prophesying that "the Russians will be stained with Afghan blood as the Americans were in Vietnam and that the standing of the USSR will decrease, particularly in the Islamic countries."
But there were other groups in the USA who were also represented inside the administration (Vance, Christopher,164 and others) who considered that Carter's policies were against the interests of the US and that the tension could be lessened through negotiations with Brezhnev. Having considered all these points, Kennedy had come to the conclusion that, in spite of the negative consequences for him personally, it was his duty to take action himself, which could force the Carter administration to act to de-escalate the crisis. He had to act immediately as inaction by the peace-loving forces in the USA would make it impossible for Carter, if he won his re-election, to change course. He would be bound to continue his policies of aggravating Soviet-American relations. If the Republicans were to win, the situation could only be worse. Kemedy thought it essential to make a speech on 16 to 18 March on the events in Afghanistan. He intended to call on the White House to guarantee that it would not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and to use all the means it could to ensure that China and Pakistan would stop interfering in the country. He would call on the government of Babrak Karmal to announce a policy of nonalignment and [to declare] that it would not join a military alliance or allow the presence of foreign troops. He would also urge him to make the Afghan government more democratic and to include in it members of other parties and the clergy. He wanted to call on the governments of the USA and the USSR to start negotiations on concrete measures to guarantee non- interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and to draw up mutually acceptable forms of these guarantees with the participation of the UN. He would ask the Soviet government, if the outcome of the Soviet-American talks were favorable, to demonstrate its goodwill and, in agreement with the Afghan authorities, withdraw some troops (10,000 to 20,000) from Afghanistan and fix a date for the withdrawal of the remaining troops in 1980-81. He thought that some of his proposals would be acceptable to the Soviet government and would be grateful if Brehinev could express his approval if this were the case as this would give a powerful boost to the peace-loving forces.
Tunney stressed the basic difference between Kennedy's proposals and those of the USA administration. The White House was actually demanding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, in other words an acknowledgement that they were unlawftilly sent into the country, whereas Kennedy, not touching the question of the legality of the presence of the Soviet troops, considered that their withdrawal should be linked with measures to guarantee non-interference from outside in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
The KGB reported this infon-nation to the top together with its own comments. "Although not all Kennedy's proposals are acceptable to us they are worth considering as they contradict the line taken by Carter and other politicians."
On 14 May confidential remarks by the American Ambassador in Moscow, T. Watson,165 and Senators R. Byrd166 and A. Cranston167 became known. They had said that at the forthcoming meeting in Vienna the Americans intended to discuss a wide range of questions relating to Soviet-American relations, such as security problems in Europe and trade and economic cooperation including grain sales to the USSR., as well as Afghanistan. In this way the acuteness of the Afghan problem would be less apparent.