Washington – While dozens of House Democrats are boycotting Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, Jimmy Carter will be front and center at the swearing-in ceremony.
The Georgia Democrat said last week he wanted to maintain close ties with the Trump administration as the Carter Center works to eradicate a number of illnesses, including Guinea worm disease.
“Of course, we are dependent, in some cases, on U.S. AID. I’ll be going to the inauguration,” said Carter. “I’ll be meeting with President-elect Trump, and also with the new secretary of state, who has charge of U.S. AID, to let them know what we’re doing.”
The 92-year-old was the first ex-president to RSVP for the event when he told his Sunday school class shortly after the election he would attend. And, for a time, he was the only one.
Then Bill Clinton sent word to reporters that he’ll attend the inaugural along with Hillary. So did George W. Bush, although his father, George H.W. Bush, won’t attend because of his ailing health. (He wrote a note to Trump saying his doctors warned him sitting in the cold would put him “six feet under.”)
And President Barack Obama will also be there to formally hand over the keys to the White House.
It was not a given that any of those ex-White House denizens would attend the bash. Trump repeatedly mocked Jeb Bush during the GOP primary, casting him as a low-energy tool of the establishment. Bush ’41 and Bush ’43 both refused to endorse Trump in the general election, and Barbara Bush and Jeb Bush openly opposed him.
And Trump ran a bitter campaign against Hillary Clinton, invoking scandals from Bill Clinton’s past in the final stretch of the race – and vowing to sic a special prosecutor on the former secretary of state to probe her use of a private email server.
Carter, meanwhile, dinged Trump with faint praise, telling the British Parliament that he’d rather see Trump in the White House rather than Republican rival Ted Cruz.
“Trump has proven already that he’s completely malleable,” ” Carter said last February. “I don’t think he has any fixed opinions that he would really go to the White House and fight for.”
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