Jimmy Carter is still a king maker in the next race at the White House.
It is quite an upheaval for a man who largely withdrew from party politics after his presidency, often without being missed by the leaders of his party in Washington, where he was an outsider even as a resident of the House white.
"Jimmy Carter is an honest and well-meaning person, a person we have been talking about for as long as we are," said Amy Klobuchar, Senator of Minnesota, in an interview. "He won because he worked very hard and that he had a message of truth and honesty. I think of him all the time. "
Klobuchar said Carter was "ahead of his time" on several issues, including the environment and climate change (he installed solar panels on the White House), health care (an important step towards universal coverage failed, mainly because the party liberals thought that it was nothing (go far enough) and the rationalization of the government (an effort that provoked the anger of some Democrats to the time).
But she also hinted at how her presidency was ending: a loss of slippage after gas pipes, inflation and unemployment and a hostage crisis that lasted 14 months in Iran. "Their administration was not perfect," she said.
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Klobuchar is one of at least three presidential candidates who visited the small town of Plains, Georgia, to meet Carter and his wife, 91-year-old Rosalynn. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Senator, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, also visited the Carters and attended the Sunday School lesson of the former President at Plains.
"An extraordinary person," Buttigieg told the press after meeting Carter. "A beacon and an inspiration," Booker said in a statement. Klobuchar also attended the lesson of Carter's church and says that she sometimes sends him emails. "He's signing them" JC, "she says with a laugh.
Carter traced an unlikely path to the White House in 1976 and suffered a humiliating defeat after a term. Now, six administrations later, the oldest of the leading cadres in US history is emerging from political obscurity at age 94 to reclaim his Democratic compatriots.
Former peanut producer turned politician then humanitarian worldwide, Carter assumes a special role as Democratic candidates are turning to his family campaign after the Watergate scandal, as a roadmap to overthrow President Trump in 2020.
Certainly, more 2020 candidates have discreetly sought advice from Barack Obama, the predecessor of Trump. Several spoke to Bill Clinton, who stepped down in 2001. But these groupings were more discreet, leaked through anonymous informers. Sessions with Carter are being bombarded on social media and discussed freely, suggesting a call that Obama and Clinton might not have.
Unlike Clinton, who has been indicted after an intern with the White House, Carter has no #MeToo demerits; Rosalynn and he, married since the end of the Second World War, did not even like to dance with other people at official dinners. And unlike Obama, popular among Democrats but polarizing for conservatives and GOP independents, Carter is hard to define by the current political divide.
He is a self-professed Christian who criticizes Trump's serial lies, praising him for his attempt to connect with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Carter praises his personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, another favorite of Trump. "I have his email address," Carter said in September.
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He confirms that he voted for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist, to the detriment of Hillary Clinton at the Georgia Elementary 2016. In 2017, Carter hosted Sanders, who is appearing again this year at The Carter Center. for a program in which both men spent money in politics. Carter called the United States an "oligarchy."
However, Carter has since warned the Democrats against "a too liberal agenda" for fear that they will not guarantee Trump's reelection.
Carter is enigmatic enough to be the only living president not to attract Trump's anger or taunts, even though Republicans have caricatured Carter for decades as a failure. Trump and Carter chatted by phone this spring after Carter sent Trump a letter on China and Commerce. Both men reported having a friendly conversation.
Klobuchar recalled Carter telling him that "family members would disperse in different states, and then they would come back every Friday, come back to the questions they had asked." all are prepared for their next travels, she said.
Klobuchar added: "It was a different time", recalling that Carter had stated that he felt "high-tech because they had a fax machine on his plane". Indeed, Klobuchar, born in 1960, was not old enough to vote for Carter until he sought a second term. Booker, 50, remembers voting for Carter, but at a simulated election in a primary school. Buttigieg, 37, was not even born when Carter left office.
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Associated Press contributed to this report.