Biden says Jimmy Carter has asked him to deliver his eulogy

A black-and-white photo of Jimmy Carter listening to Joe Biden, who points off camera
President Carter and then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) in 1978. Biden was the first U.S. senator to endorse Carter’s 1976 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
(Barry Thumma / Associated Press)

President Biden says he plans to deliver the eulogy for former President Jimmy Carter, who remains under hospice care at his home in Georgia.

Biden told donors at a California fundraiser Monday about a 2021 visit with the 39th president, whom Biden has known since he was a young senator from Delaware supporting Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign.

“He asked me to do his eulogy,” Biden said, then stopped himself. “Excuse me; I shouldn’t say that.”


Carter, who at 98 is the longest-lived U.S. president, announced Feb. 18 that he would spend his remaining days at home receiving end-of-life care, forgoing further medical intervention.

The Carter Center in Atlanta and the former president’s family members have not disclosed details of his condition, though Biden alluded to Carter’s 2015 cancer diagnosis.

The 98-year-old former president has decided to spend his time at home with family instead of receiving “additional medical intervention,” the Carter Center said.

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“I spent time with Jimmy Carter, and it’s finally caught up with him. But they found a way to keep him going for a lot longer than they anticipated, because they found a breakthrough,” Biden said in San Diego County’s Rancho Sante Fe.

The president and First Lady Jill Biden visited Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, 95, at their home in Plains, Ga., a few months after Biden took office in 2021.

Biden was the first U.S. senator to endorse Carter’s 1976 presidential bid, breaking from the Washington establishment that was soon shocked as the former Georgia governor went on to win the Democratic nomination.

Biden’s presidency represents a turnabout, of sorts, for Carter’s political standing. The Georgian served just one term in the White House after losing to Republican Ronald Reagan in a 1980 landslide that prompted top Democrats to keep their distance from the former president, at least publicly, for decades.


Presidents Clinton and Obama did not have close relationships with Carter. And the long-shot presidential candidates who sometimes ventured to Plains over the years typically did so privately.

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But ahead of the 2020 election cycle, as the Carters’ global humanitarian work and advocacy of democracy through the Carter Center garnered respect, Democratic politicians began publicly visiting southern Georgia. And with Biden’s election, Carter again found a genuine friend and ally in the Oval Office.

Some family members have confirmed that the former president will have a state funeral in Washington, D.C., and a private funeral and burial in Plains.

Former and sitting presidents often speak at the state funerals of their predecessors, sometimes even crossing the political aisle.

Clinton spoke at Republican Richard Nixon’s funeral in 1994. In 2007, Carter eulogized Gerald Ford, the Republican he had defeated to win the presidency. The erstwhile rivals had become close friends after their presidencies, and had agreed that whichever lived longer would pay tribute at the other’s funeral.

When George H.W. Bush died in 2018, fellow Republican Donald Trump attended as sitting president, but the only former president to speak at the Washington National Cathedral service was the late president’s son George W. Bush.