Former US president Jimmy Carter has cancer. Here are some things you should know about the 39th US president and peanut farmer…
- Jimmy Carter ceased to be president in January 1981. No one else has ever lived for as long after his presidency ended (thirty four and a half years as of August 2015).
- He is 90 but is only the second oldest former US president alive. George HW Bush (1989-1993) who is also 91 was born four months earlier (Carter in October 1924, Bush in June 1924).
- Carter saw a UFO in 1969, in his home state of Georgia. He said later: “There were about twenty of us standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunch room, and a kind of green light appeared in the western sky. This was right after sundown. It got brighter and brighter. And then it eventually disappeared. It didn’t have any solid substance to it, it was just a very peculiar-looking light. None of us could understand what it was.” He does not think it was an alien space craft.
- He was the first future US president to be born in a hospital.
- He appeared on the TV show What’s My Line? in 1973. None of the panel recognised him as the Governor of Georgia.
- On his second day as president in January 1977 he pardoned everyone who had evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.
- Carter won the presidency very narrowly in November 1976, winning fewer states but more votes and crucially more electoral college votes than his Republican opponent President Gerald Ford. Ford was harmed by a gaffe in the presidential TV debate in which he appeared to deny Eastern Europe was under Soviet rule.
- He himself lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan in 1980, becoming only the third elected sitting US president in the 20th century to be beaten in his bid for re-election (after William Taft in 1912 and Herbert Hoover in 1932).
- Initially keen to pursue Detente, Carter became fiercer in his anti-Soviet stance after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, beginning the big 1980s defence build up and leading the boycott of the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. The USSR countered by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics (after Carter had left office).
- He contributed to the Oscar winning film Argo.
- He has a first class degree in nuclear physics. The Three Mile Island nuclear incident (ultimately a very minor leak but big news at the time) occurred under his presidency.
- He gave a controversial interview with Playboy magazine while as a presidential candidate in 1976. A deeply religious man, he admitted he had “committed adultery in my heart many times”.
- His presidency was blighted by the Iranian hostage crisis from 1979 until 1981. The hostages were freed jus after Carter had left office, a final act of humiliation by Ayatollah Khomeini.
- He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
- He has written 23 books including a novel about the American War of Independence.