Mitt Romney has singled out President Jimmy Carter as an example of a failed president who is “anti-jobs, anti-investment, anti-growth.” But the feeling, it turns out, isn’t mutual.
While Democrats scramble to paint Romney as a political opportunist at best and a hardcore conservative at worst, Carter is singing a different tune about the likely GOP nominee.
He thinks he’s a pretty good guy, one who wouldn’t make a terrible president.
On Wednesday, Carter told MSNBC that he’d be “comfortable” with Romney in the White House.
JANSING: You’d be comfortable with a Romney presidency?
PRESIDENT CARTER: I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable — I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive … that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know. He’s a good, solid family man and so forth, he’s gone to the extreme right-wing positions on some very important issues in order to get the nomination. What he’ll do in the general election, what he’ll do as president I think is different.
Carter predicted President Obama will win the election in the fall, but would not go so far as to say Romney’s shifting positions make him untrustworthy.
“Romney already has a reputation of being changeable in his positions — and so I think that’s a stigma that he’s already been able to weather at least in the Republican primary — if he moves back more to the center position on some major issues, I’m not sure he can suffer any more as being changeable,” Carter said. “So I don’t know how to predict it — but I stick to my prediction that President Obama will win.”
This is about as close to a Democratic endorsement of Romney as you’re likely to find. Democrats have attacked Romney’s gubernatorial record that Carter called “competent.” His record as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics has also been scrutinized by Democrats. They also insist that Romney as president would embrace and enforce the conservative positions he carved out during the primary, an idea Carter seems to reject.
Obama, by contrast, told Rolling Stone that general-election Romney would not be able to outrun primary Romney:
I think the general election will be as sharp a contrast between the two parties as we’ve seen in a generation. You have a Republican Party, and a presumptive Republican nominee, that believes in drastically rolling back environmental regulations, that believes in drastically rolling back collective-bargaining rights, that believes in an approach to deficit reduction in which taxes are cut further for the wealthiest Americans, and spending cuts are entirely borne by things like education or basic research or care for the vulnerable. All this will be presumably written into their platform and reflected in their convention. I don’t think that their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, “Everything I’ve said for the last six months, I didn’t mean.” I’m assuming that he meant it. When you’re running for president, people are paying attention to what you’re saying.
Carter is not exactly the best Democratic surrogate when it comes to attacking the GOP nominee. But Democrats should give him credit for at least one thing — he’s consistent. Carter was praising Romney back in September 2011, in an appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show.
“I would be very pleased to see him win the Republican nomination,” Carter told Maddow. Carter was speaking specifically on whether the GOP would nominate a Mormon (“my preference obviously would be for his religious faith not to be
an adverse factor in the choices made about who should be representing the
Republican Party,” he said) but conservative blogs ran with the comment as an endorsement for Romney.
The irony of all this, of course, is that Romney has been trying to tear down Obama by tying him to Carter. Turns out Carter might be the only major Democrat who thinks Romney’s not such a bad option.