Jimmy Carter Death Watch: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Jimmy Carter stands with heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield and former Costa Rica President Miguel Angel Rodriguez during Election Day in Jamaica in 1997. Political turmoil rocked the island but it was nothing compared to the crazed rabbit Carter encountered in 1979. (Joey Kulkin)

Peanut farmer Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, cut short his election-monitoring trip to Guyana after reports of him not feeling well, thus prompting a death watch for the 90-year-old Democrat from Georgia.

Since 1989, The Carter Center “has observed 99 elections in 38 countries. Missions are undertaken only upon the invitation or consent of all major parties to an election.” Guyana’s will be the Carter Center’s 100th monitoring, even without the ex-president.

jimmy carter guyana

Carter is one of five living presidents along with George H.W. Bush (90), Bill Clinton (68), George W. Bush (68), and current Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama (53).

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Living Presidents of the United States, from left, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama (current), George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter. (Getty)

Aside from the chiding he gave President Obama for waiting too long to deal with ISIS, not to mention he has one testicle, here’s what you should know about Jimmy Carter:

1. The Democrat Served as President from 1977 to 1981

Democrat Jimmy Carter is sworn in by chief justice Earl Burger as the 39th president of the United States while first lady Rosalynn looks on. (Getty)

Democrat Jimmy Carter is sworn in by chief justice Earl Burger as the 39th president of the United States while first lady Rosalynn looks on. (Getty)

Carter, a small town Georgia boy who became an officer in the Navy, made foreign diplomacy and energy the centerpieces of his platform. He beat Republican nominee and Nixon replacement Gerald Ford but lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan. Walter Mondale, Carter’s veep, was crushed by Reagan in ’84.

As biography.com noted: Carter’s presidency was widely considered a failure. He had very poor relationships with Congress and the media, stifling his ability to enact legislation or effectively communicate his policies. In 1979 Carter delivered a disastrous speech, referred to as the “Crisis of Confidence” speech, in which he seemed to blame America’s problems on the poor spirit of its people. Several foreign policy blunders also contributed to Carter’s loosening grip on the presidency. His secret negotiations to return the Panama Canal to Panama led many people to believe he was a weak leader who had “given away” the canal without securing necessary provisions for defending U.S. interests.

His 1976 interview with Playboy magazine became a hot topic of discussion after he was quoted as saying “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”

In this video of a 1976 presidential debate with Gerald Ford, Carter explains his lusty quote:

2. Iran Took 60 Americans Hostage for 444 Days on Carter’s Watch

The second released group of U.S. Embassy staffers in Tehran hold a press conference in 1979, the day after Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of all women and black U.S. hostages. (Getty)

The second released group of U.S. Embassy staffers in Tehran hold a press conference in 1979, the day after Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of all women and black U.S. hostages. (Getty)

According to history.com:

On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 60 American hostages. The immediate cause of this action was President Jimmy Carter’s decision to allow Iran’s deposed Shah, a pro-Western autocrat who had been expelled from his country some months before, to come to the United States for cancer treatment. However, the hostage-taking was about more than the Shah’s medical care: it was a dramatic way for the student revolutionaries to declare a break with Iran’s past and an end to American interference in its affairs. It was also a way to raise the intra- and international profile of the revolution’s leader, the anti-American cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The students set their hostages free on January 21, 1981, 444 days after the crisis began and just hours after President Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural address. Many historians believe that hostage crisis cost Jimmy Carter a second term as president.”

In the video below, Carter rails on the “inhuman and degrading conditions of the hostages:

The Ben Afflect-directed “Argo” centered around a top-secret mission to release six Canadian hostages and won the 2012 Oscar for Best Picture.

Elvis Presley died about 8 months after Carter took office. Here was his statement:

Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable. More than 20 years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country.”

The Camp David Peace Accords and Arab-Israeli Peace Process was a milestone of the Carter presidency. After intense negotiations at the White House getaway in Maryland, Egypt became the first Arab state to recognize neighboring Israel as a sovereign nation.

The Camp David Accords, signed by President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in September 1978, established a framework for a historic peace treaty concluded between Israel and Egypt in March 1979. President Carter and the U.S. Government played leading roles in creating the opportunity for this agreement to occur. From the start of his administration, Carter and his Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, pursued intensive negotiations with Arab and Israeli leaders, hoping to reconvene the Geneva Conference, which had been established in December 1973 to seek an end to the Arab-Israeli dispute.

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Former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (left) shakes hands with former Israeli Premier Menachem Begin, as President Jimmy Carter looks in 1978 at Camp David, the U.S. presidential retreat in Maryland. (Getty)

But that fishing incident with a crazed rabbit (listen here) undid everything.

3. Carter Grew Up Working on His Dad’s Peanut Farm in Georgia

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Jimmy Carter shoveling peanuts on a peanut farm, 1970s. (Getty)

He also loved sitting with his dad and listening to baseball games at night:

According to biography.com:

James Earl Carter Jr. was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia. His father, James Earl Carter Sr., was a hardworking peanut farmer who owned his own small plot of land as well as a warehouse and store. His mother, Bessie Lillian Gordy, was a registered nurse who in the 1920s had crossed racial divides to counsel black women on health care issues. When Jimmy Carter was four years old, the family relocated to Archery, a town approximately two miles from Plains. It was a sparsely populated and deeply rural town, where mule-drawn wagons remained the dominant mode of transportation and electricity and indoor plumbing were still uncommon. Carter was a studious boy who avoided trouble and began working at his father’s store at the age of ten. His favorite childhood pastime was sitting with his father in the evenings, listening to baseball games and politics on the battery-operated radio.

4. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Have Been Married 69 Years & Have 4 Kids

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Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter embraces his wife Rosalynn after receiving the final news of his victory in the national general election, November 2, 1976. (Getty)

While in the Navy, Jimmy reacquainted with a childhood friend, Rosalynn Smith, and they married in 1946. Rosalynn is 87. Their kids are John William (born in 1947), James Earl “Chip” III (1950), Daniel Jeffrey (1952), and Amy Lynn (1967). Amy, a little girl when Daddy became president, won the affections of Americans far and wide. According to georgiaencyclopedia.org,

Amy Lynn, born in Plains in 1967, was a young girl during her father’s presidential tenure (1977-81). From the time television crews captured her being awakened to hear that her father had won the election, Amy was the object of frequent attention in the press. After attending Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, she received her master’s degree in art history at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1995 she collaborated with her father on a children’s book, The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer, and she later illustrated his memoir, Christmas in Plains (2001). Amy married James Gregory Wentzel in 1996, and they became the parents of Hugo James in 1999. The family resides in Atlanta.

Carter left the White House in debt after the family business faltered, but huffingtonpost.com lists his net worth at $7 million thanks to the proceeds from his 14 books.

5. Jimmy Carter Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002

On Dec.10, 2002, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Carter “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

Listen to his acceptance speech in the video above.

Carter has been critical of the U.S. and Israel when it comes to Palestine, and here’s an excerpt from this book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”:

The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens–and honor its own previous commitments–by accepting its legal borders. All Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israel’s right to live in peace under these conditions. The United States is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories.”

And here’s an interview he gave former Breaking the Set host and advocacy journalist Abby Martin during a Habitat for Humanity trip in Haiti:

For those who enjoy longer biographies, here is the PBS piece on President Jimmy Carter:

One day when he’s long gone, Jimmy Carter will be credited with helping eradicate the guinea worm, which would join smallpox as the second human disease ever expunged.

Sometimes misinterpreted science or politics cause setbacks. In 2003, states in Nigeria blocked us from giving polio vaccines. But when a three-foot worm is coming out of your face or sexual organs, it attracts attention. Guinea worm existed in 23,735 villages when we started. We’ve been to all of them. Now, for each person who has it, we know their name and how they got it. We’re making sure it doesn’t spread so that it might be completely gone in a few years.