Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter smiles during a book signing event for his new book 'Faith: A Journey For All' at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Midtown Manhattan, March 26, 2018 in New York City. Carter, 93, has been a prolific author since leaving office in 1981, publishing dozens of books. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter to hit the campaign trail with Abrams in Plains

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn are set to campaign with Democrat Stacey Abrams in Plains next week as she unveils her rural healthcare platform.

The ex-president will appear with Abrams in his hometown of Plains on Tuesday to discuss what the campaign calls “the importance of supporting rural medical facilities and rural healthcare professionals across Georgia.”

Abrams faces Republican Brian Kemp in the November race for governor and has made expanding Medicaid and shoring up the struggling network of rural hospitals a central part of her campaign. 

Kemp, the secretary of state, opposes expanding Medicaid but has left the door open to applying for waivers that he said would help stabilize insurance premiums. 

He said he would oppose any waiver to the Medicaid program, but this week added that he would also be receptive to a broader Affordable Care Act waiver as Abrams ratchets up her focus on healthcare

Carter endorsed Abrams’ campaign for governor in August, becoming the third U.S. president to wade into the race. 

What You Need To Know: Stacey Abrams

Barack Obama has also given Abrams his full-throated support, while Republican Donald Trump endorsed Kemp six days before the July GOP runoff. 

Carter, a native of Plains and former Georgia governor himself, is understandably closer to this contest than the other two presidents. 

He released a statement last August saying he won’t choose a side in the Democratic primary with former state Rep. Stacey Evans after he called Abrams a “remarkable” politician who “knows how to reach out to both sides” at a fundraising dinner. 

Carter’s grandson Jason, the party’s 2014 nominee, also endorsed Abrams after staying on the sidelines during the primary. Virtually all of the state party’s leading figures – and many of her party’s 2020 presidential hopefuls – have publicly backed Abrams. 

So have Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the two leading Democrats in the 2016 contest. (Ex-President Bill Clinton has yet to weigh in on the race, though one of his top advisers backed her rival in the primary.)

Abrams hopes her progressive policies will mobilize a legion of left-leaning voters, many of them minorities, who rarely cast ballots. Since locking up her party’s nomination, she’s traveled the state highlighting what she calls “solvable problems” and touting her education and economic plan.

Kemp has steadily tried to move toward the political center with a more nuanced approach to the “religious liberty” debate while also stepping up his appeal to the party’s conservative base by highlighting his anti-gang crackdown.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.