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Jimmy Carter: I Couldn't Have Been President at 80

'I hope there's an age limit'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 18, 2019 1:58 AM CDT
Updated Sep 18, 2019 6:33 AM CDT
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Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter talk about the future of The Carter Center and their global work during a town hall, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Atlanta.   (Branden Camp/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
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(Newser) – Weeks shy of his 95th birthday, former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday he doesn't believe he could have managed the most powerful office in the world at 80 years old. Carter, who earlier this year became the longest-lived chief executive in American history, didn't tie his comments to any of his fellow Democrats running for president, but two leading 2020 candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, would turn 80 during their terms if elected. Biden is 76 and Sanders is 78. "I hope there's an age limit," Carter said with a laugh as he answered audience questions during his annual report at the Carter Center in Atlanta. "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." He said the Oval Office requires a president "to be very flexible with your mind," particularly on foreign affairs.

Carter's observation came in response to a jovial inquiry about whether he had considered running in 2020 since he's still constitutionally allowed another term, the AP reports. The 39th president left office in 1981 at the age of 56 after losing his reelection bid to Ronald Reagan, who served two terms and left office as the oldest sitting president in history, at 77. Either Biden or Sanders would be older upon their inauguration than Reagan was on his final day in the Oval Office. At 73, President Trump is a record setter, as well. He eclipsed Reagan's mark as the oldest newly elected president in history and would become the oldest president to be reelected. Carter said he remains undecided in the 2020 Democratic primary, but one of the major factors he will have in his mind is "who can beat Trump."

(Read more Jimmy Carter stories.)

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