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'I hope there's an age limit:' Jimmy Carter says he could not have managed the presidency at 80

Posted at 4:37 PM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 16:55:52-04

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. 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."

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 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.

Carter, who turns 95 on Oct. 1, said the Oval Office requires a president "to be very flexible with your mind," particularly on foreign affairs.

Carter also commented on the Israeli election, lamenting that returning hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power could "end the peace process" altogether. Exit polls show that Netanyahu's party fell short of securing a parliamentary majority, potentially threatening his position.