From the late 1940s on, the United States did its best to prevent the Italian Communist Party (PCI)from gaining a role in the Italian government. When Jimmy Carter took office in Washington in 1977, the PCI once again was maneuvering for a share of power in Rome. Some observers in Italy speculated that the new U.S. administration would be less averse than its predecessors had been to the prospect of Communist participation in the Italian government. The Carter administration's initial statements and actions created further ambiguity and may have emboldened some senior PCI officials to step up their efforts to gain at least a share of power. Faced with the prospect that Communists would be invited into a coalition government in Italy, the Carter administration dropped its earlier caution and spoke out unequivocally against a “historic compromise” involving the PCI. Although it is difficult to say whether the more forceful U.S. stance made a decisive difference, the ruling Christian Democrats in Italy were able to keep the Communist Party out of the government.