Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday his remarks were “careless or misinterpreted” when he said the Bush administration has been the “worst in history” for its impact around the world.
Speaking on NBC’s “Today,” Carter appeared to retreat from a statement he made to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in which he said: “I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.” The comment was in a story published in the newspaper Saturday.
Carter said Monday that when he made the comment, he was responding to a question comparing the Bush administration’s foreign policy to that of Richard Nixon.
“I think this administration’s foreign policy compared to president Nixon’s was much worse,” Carter said. But he said he did not mean to call it the worst in history.
“No, that’s not what I wanted to say. I wasn’t comparing this administration with other administrations back through history but just with President Nixon.”
The White House on Sunday dismissed Carter as “increasingly irrelevant” after his harsh criticism. In response, Carter said: “Well, I don’t claim to have any relevancy. I have a completely unofficial capacity. The only thing I lead is the Carter Center.”
After the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story appeared, Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo had confirmed his comments to The Associated Press.
“The overt reversal of America’s basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me,” the newspaper quoted Carter as saying.
In his comments Monday, Carter said he has not been timid about sharing his opinions directly with the president and other world leaders, but said he has been careful not to level personal criticism against Bush.
NOTE: The Arkansas paper has the interview on its Web site and has invited readers to judge for themselves.