For the first time since 1977, Jimmy Carter will not attend a presidential inauguration.
A spokeswoman for the former president and Georgia native said Tuesday that neither Carter, 96, nor his 93-year-old wife Rosalynn Carter would be attending the Jan. 20 ceremony for President Joe Biden.
The Carters “have sent their best wishes to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and look forward to a successful administration,” said Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman at the Carter Center.
Carter, who has stayed close to Plains since a series of falls in 2019, last traveled to Washington for an official event in 2018 for the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush.
Since his presidency, Carter has attended every inauguration through Donald Trump’s in 2017.
Former President Jimmy Carter with Senator Joe Biden at the Carter Center in June 1987. Steve Deal/AJC
According to the Associated Press, Carter was the first former president to confirm his plans to attend Trump’s inauguration in 2017. The Carters were seated on the aisle, next to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, and former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. George H.W. Bush did not attend.
Because of the coronavirus, Biden’s inauguration will be scaled down and lack some of the grand pomp and circumstance that previous ones have had. It is unclear if Trump, who continues to insist that there was widespread voter fraud and that he won the election, will attend.
Carter, a Democrat, has said that, during his presidency, “Joe Biden was my first and most effective supporter in the Senate.”
“For decades, he’s been my loyal and dedicated friend,” Carter said.
In Jonathan Alter’s new Carter biography, “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life,” he wrote that Biden was the first senator to endorse Carter in his bid for the presidency.
”Biden would appear in dozens of states for Carter in 1976,” Alter wrote. “He joked that. at age 33, he was still two years shy of the constitutional age requirement to be president. So, since he couldn’t yet run himself, he was backing Jimmy.”
In August, he and Rosalynn Carter delivered a recorded speech on the second night of the Democratic National Convention in support of Biden and Harris.
“Joe has the experience, character and decency to bring us together and restore America’s greatness,” Carter said at the time. “Joe Biden must be our next president.”