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Jimmy Carter to Colbert: America “apparently” wants a jerk for president

Jimmy Carter capped a busy week -- even for him -- with a lively appearance on Friday’s edition of “The Late Show” on CBS  in which he both seemed to poke fun at Donald Trump and made clear that he’s praying for the current president.

Carter, 93, was there in to talk about his new book, “Faith: A Journey for All,” but host Stephen Colbert clearly had other subjects on his mind as well.

    Read an excerpt from “Faith” by Jimmy Carter on myAJC

For instance, Colbert brought up Carter’s good works as an ex-president, then slyly suggested he might actually have been too good a guy while in the Oval Office.

“Were you too nice to be president?” Colbert jokingly demanded of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. “Does America want kind of a jerk as president?”

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Carter grinned.

“Apparently, from this recent election year,” he answered with a twinkle in his eye. “I never knew it before.”

But Carter also said he’s praying for Trump. 

The former presidents all set together at the Atlanta church.

“I pray that he’ll be a good president and that he’ll keep our country at peace and refrain from using nuclear weapons,” said Carter, who recently told his Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains it’s good that Trump has decided to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “And that he’ll promote human rights. So yeah, I pray for him.”

   MORE: Jimmy Carter on North Korea: ‘It’s good we’re going to be talking to them.’

“Do you think your prayers are being answered?" Colbert asked. Carter responded by repeating something he said he’d heard his former pastor say:

"When you pray, God has one of three answers: ‘Yes, no and you've got to be kidding,’” Carter said, then tacked on his own observation: “Not sure which one it is (regarding Trump) yet."

The interview actually was taped earlier in the week, something Carter hinted at when Colbert asked him if he and the other former presidents “feel good” about possibly “going up ranks” compared with Trump.

“In fact, I’ll be with two of them tomorrow, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton,” Carter told the intrigued-looking Colbert.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, left, Bill Clinton, front and center, and George W. Bush face a portrait of Zell Miller, the former Georgia governor and U.S. senator, as they attend his funeral Tuesday at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta. (John Amis) (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

That was a reference to last Tuesday’s remarkable “celebration of life” service for Zell Miller at Atlanta’s Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. One by one,  first Bush, then Carter and finally Clinton rose from the pew they shared with Gov. Nathan Deal, his wife Sandra and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to eulogize Miller, the former Georgia governor and U.S. senator.

   MORE: Three presidents lead a high-powered crowd at Zell Miller’s funeral

Colbert ended the interview by suggesting that the former one-term president and Georgia governor could have one more campaign left in him: A  bid against Trump.

“Here you go, young man,” Colbert said, handing Carter a t-shirt that bore the slogan, “Carter 2020: Still Constitutionally Eligible.”

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