In what might have been a slip of the tongue, President Joe Biden said Monday night that former President Jimmy Carter asked him to deliver his eulogy.
“He asked me to do his eulogy,” Biden said, at a fundraiser in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
Biden then stopped himself, adding: “Excuse me, I shouldn’t say that.”
The Carter Center, Carter’s Atlanta-based nonprofit, declined to comment early Tuesday on Biden’s remarks.
The center announced last month that Carter, 98, had entered home hospice care in Plains, Georgia.
Biden didn’t say Monday how long ago Carter asked him to deliver his eulogy.
Carter and Biden have enjoyed a relationship dating back to when Biden was a first-term senator from Delaware in 1976. Biden endorsed Carter, then Georgia’s governor, as the Democratic presidential candidate, becoming one of the first elected officials outside the Peach State to back Carter.
Returning the favor in 2020, Carter endorsed Biden for president, saying in a recorded speech that Biden was someone with the “experience, character and decency to bring us together and restore America’s greatness.”
In 2021, Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter in Plains, a rural town of barely more than 500 residents.
In his speech Monday, which was covered by a White House press pool, Biden talked about his 25-year plan to cut the cancer death rate in half.
“I spent time with Jimmy Carter, and it’s finally caught up with him,” Biden said. “But they found a way to keep him going for a lot longer than they anticipated, because they found a breakthrough.”
In the fall of 2015, Carter announced that he had several cancer spots that had spread to his brain. By December of that year, and after therapy, Carter announced in church that an MRI scan had revealed that the spots were gone.
But his health deteriorated again recently.
“After a series of short hospital stays, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter today decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,” the Carter Center announced on Feb. 18. “He has the full support of his family and his medical team.”
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