President Joe Biden told a room full of rich Democrat donors that ailing former President Jimmy Carter had asked him to deliver his eulogy.
Biden, who was first elected to the Senate career in 1972, four years before Carter was elected to the presidency, made the boast at a fundraiser in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Carter, who at 98 is 18 years older than Biden, entered hospice care last month.
“He asked me to do his eulogy,” Biden said, before adding, “Excuse me, I shouldn’t say that,” according to a pool report.
“I spent time with Jimmy Carter, and it’s finally caught up with him,” Biden continued. “But they found a way to keep him going for a lot longer than they anticipated, because they found a breakthrough.”
Carter announced in August 2015 that he had brain cancer. Ironically, despite Carter’s well-documented animus toward the state of Israel that led him to write speeches for Yasser Arafat, it was an Israeli-tested drug called Keytruda that helped Carter battle life-threatening tumors. By December 2015, Carter revealed doctors found no evidence of the four lesions discovered on his brain.
In September 2019, having lived longer than any other president, Carter, just before his 95th birthday, commented on the two leading prospective Democratic candidates for president, saying of the presidency, “I hope there’s an age limit. If I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger, I don’t believe I could undertake the duties I experienced when I was president.”
Carter was answering questions during his annual report at the Carter Center in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press, which noted at the time that Biden and primary opponent Bernie Sanders would turn 80 during their terms if elected.
Carter’s comment came after someone asked if he had thought of running in 2020. He added that the presidency requires a president “to be very flexible with your mind,” adding, “You have to be able to go from one subject to another and concentrate on each one adequately and then put them together in a comprehensive way.”
Although he is still revered by many Democrats, Carter’s presidency is generally viewed as one of the greatest failures in the history of the American presidency. He oversaw a botched attempt to rescue 52 hostages held for 444 days by Iran; pulled U.S. missiles out of South Korea without consulting the Pentagon; signed the Panama Canal Treaty, thus giving up control by the year 2000; implemented price controls, and presided over an economy that by 1980 featured interest rates at a staggering 21%, inflation at 13.5%, and unemployment at 7%.