Jimmy Carter: I’d choose Trump

Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump.

Credit: Greg Bluestein

caption arrowCaption
Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump.

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Did Jimmy Carter just say he’d like Donald Trump to become president?

Not exactly. And only if, you get the feeling, he was down to his very last choice.

Carter, 91, appeared in Britain’s House of Lords Wednesday afternoon to deliver a lecture on the Carter Center’s long and impressive campaign to eliminate Guinea worm disease from the world. A question-and-answer session followed, and, despite the presence of many esteemed members of Parliament and other dignified guests in the ornate “Robing Room,” the first one to the mic was — wouldn’t you know it? — a pesky reporter.

“Can you give us your assessment of American politics,” the man from the BBC asked as some veddy British boos began riccocheting around the Robing Room. “Also, whether you’re for Sanders or Clinton.”

“I was hoping I wouldn’t get that question, but I’m not surprised,” Carter said. He then launched into a confident, five-minute response that began with him recalling his own surprise victory in the 1976 Democratic presidential caucuses (“I was the one who put Iowa on the map”) and proceeded to his analysis of this year’s results there.

“Bernie Sanders has had a remarkable showing, particularly among young people. In Iowa, he had 85 percent of young people’s (support),” Carter said. “I don’t know what the final result will be. My own personal opinion is that it’s very likely Hillary Clinton will still prevail in the Democratic party. Of course, I’m a Democrat and I will support the (Democratic party’s) nominee.”

But wait, the former president was just getting warmed up! Turning to the “almost completely unpredictable” race for the Republican nomination, Carter said he had a “feeling” that Trump’s chances ultimately would “fade away.

“When people actually get ready to put on a ballot, ‘This is the person I want to lead me for the next four or eight years, I think they’ll have a little different opinion,’” Carter said.

Still, better him than Ted Cruz.

If he had to choose between Cruz and Trump for the Republican nomination, Carter chuckled, “I think I would choose Trump, which may surprise some of you.”

(It did, judging by the loud laughter from the audience.)

“The reason is, Trump has proven already he’s completly malleable,” Carter explained. “I don’t think he has any fixed (positions) he’d go the White House and fight for. On the other hand, Ted Cruz is not malleable. He has far right wing policies he’d pursue if he became president.”