Jimmy Carter to Trump: ‘Keep the peace ... tell the truth’

Former US President Jimmy Carter. (AP)
Updated 13 September 2017
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Jimmy Carter to Trump: ‘Keep the peace ... tell the truth’

ATLANTA: Former President Jimmy Carter offered a damning indictment of US foreign policy and domestic affairs Tuesday, saying money in politics makes the nation more like an “oligarchy than a democracy” and casting President Donald Trump as a disappointment on the world stage.
Carter’s criticisms, offered at his annual presentation to backers of his post-presidency Carter Center in Atlanta, went beyond Trump, but he was particularly critical of the nation’s direction under the Republican president’s leadership.
The 39th president, a Democrat, offered this advice to the 45th: “Keep the peace, promote human rights and tell the truth.”
Carter, 92, did not mention explicitly Trump’s threatening exchanges this summer with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but the former president said the US should engage directly with the insular leader and discuss a peace treaty to replace the cease fire that ended the Korean War in 1953.
“I would send my top person to Pyongyang immediately, if I didn’t go myself,” Carter said, noting that he’s been three times to the country, even as successive US administrations have refused to deal with the regime.
The North Koreans, Carter said, want a treaty that guarantees the US will not attack unless North Korea attacks the US or an ally, particularly South Korea. “Until we talk to them and treat them with respect — as human beings, which they are — I don’t think we’re going to make any progress,” Carter said.
He also dismissed Trump’s optimism that he can engineer Middle East peace. Trump has tasked his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with handling the issue that has vexed US administrations for generations, but the president notably backed off the long-held US position calling for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
Carter said he is “practically hopeless” that anything Trump comes up with would give “justice to the Palestinians.”
“I don’t think Trump or his family members are making any process in that respect,” he said. Carter criticized both Israeli and Palestinian leaders for a lack of flexibility, but he singled out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, a Trump ally, for having “no intention at all of having a two-state solution.”
The former president and his wife, Rosalynn, largely steer clear of partisan politics, long having yielded any active role in the Democratic Party. But they maintain their high-profile advocacy through the Carter Center, which focuses on human rights, public health and democratic elections.
Carter on Tuesday defended the center’s role in monitoring the August presidential elections in Kenya that the country’s Supreme Court later discarded. The court has ordered a new election.
The Carter Center’s monitoring team, led by former Secretary of State John Kerry, said days after the vote that the process of casting paper ballots was fair, but that the electronic tabulations were “unreliable.” Carter said Tuesday that international monitors were not allowed to observe the counting process.
The center also remains engaged in trying to end the Syrian civil war, Carter said. He noted that he and others from the center have engaged Russian President Vladimir Putin and others trying to broker peace.
Carter touted a program at his center that tracks social media usage in the war-torn nation. By identifying the locations of individual posters with known political and military affiliations, Carter said, analysts can discern which factions control various cities and provinces. Carter said the center shares that intelligence with the Pentagon, the State Department, various media outlets and foreign allies of the US
Carter made no mention of ongoing inquiries into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential campaign or potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
At 92, Carter is second eldest living US president and fourth longest-lived president in history. His birthday is Oct. 1. George H.W. Bush, the eldest living president, turned 93 on June 12, putting him 92 days into his 94th year. Ronald Reagan was 120 days beyond his 93rd birthday when he died in 2004. Gerald Ford died two years later, having lived 165 days beyond his 93rd birthday.
Carter already has the longest post-presidency, having been out of office for 36 years and almost 8 months.


Trump kicks off 2020 campaign at Orlando rally

Updated 35 min 4 sec ago
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Trump kicks off 2020 campaign at Orlando rally

  • Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to capture the Republican Party and then the presidency in 2016
  • Democratic front-runner Joe Biden says Trump’s politics are “all about dividing us”

ORLANDO, Florida: Jabbing at the press and poking at the political establishment, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday at a Florida rally where he exhorted thousands of rollicking supporters to keep advancing his political movement to put America’s “own citizens first.”
At the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, Trump reminisced about his 2016 campaign, describing it is as a “great political movement” and “a defining moment in American history.”
And he said he had fundamentally upended Washington, staring down “a corrupt and broken political establishment” and restoring a government “of, for and by the people.”
Vice President Mike Pence offered a more direct pitch.
“We’re here for one reason and reason only: America needs four more years of President Donald Trump,” he said, prompting a “Four more years!” chant.
“It’s on,” Pence added. “Time for round two.”
Of course, Trump never really stopped running. He officially filed for re-election on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne, Florida.
He has continued holding his signature “Make America Great Again” rallies in the months since, while also raising millions to fund a more professional, far larger campaign operation, with about 80 staffers now working at the campaign’s Virginia headquarters, in New York and in key states across the country.
Despite his perch in the White House, Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to capture the Republican Party and then the presidency in 2016 as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo.
But any president is inherently an insider. Trump has worked in the White House for two-and-a-half years, travels the skies in Air Force One and changes the course of history with the stroke of a pen or the post of a tweet.
“We’re taking on the failed political establishment and restoring government of, by and for the people,” Trump said in a video released by his campaign Monday.
That populist clarion was a central theme of his maiden political adventure, as the businessman-turned-candidate successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. And he has no intention of abandoning it, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.
He underscored that on the eve of the rally in the must-win swing state of Florida, returning to the hard-line immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that, next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.” That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term.
Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Tuesday that Trump’s politics are “all about dividing us” in ways that are “dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.”
His deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield added in a statement that the country “cannot afford four more years of Trump.”
But those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe that his brash version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s cozy ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.
Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that, despite more than two years in office, he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: the bomb-throwing political rebel.
Trump and those who spoke before him also tried to make the case that Trump had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs.
“He said he’d make America great again and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said Pence in his introduction.
On Monday, a boisterous crowd of thousands of Trump supporters, many of them in red hats, began gathering outside the Amway Center arena in Orlando, where the campaign had organized a festival with live music and food trucks.
They spent Tuesday braving downpours and listening to a cover band playing Southern rock standards such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” at an outdoor “45 Fest” the campaign organized to energize the crowd. Vendors sold water, as well as pins, hats and T-shirts with slogans including “Trump 2020” and “ICE ICE Baby,” a reference to the law enforcement agency tasked with enforcing immigration laws. In the high-80s heat, some women wore “Make American Great Again” bathing suits.
“Trump has been the best president we’ve ever had,” said Ron Freitas, a retired Merchant Marine and registered Democrat from the Orlando area who sat in a lawn chair. Freitas said he was sure Trump would prevail over whomever his Democratic opponent was.
Alex Fuentes, a municipal diesel mechanic, wore a shirt that said “Make Democrats cry again.” He said he was an Iraq veteran who twice voted for Barack Obama but parted company with Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, mostly over foreign policy.
“There’s a lot of minorities that are hidden Trump supporters,” Fuentes said.
Close by, hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-meter) blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. The blimp looks like the one that flew in London during Trump’s recent state visit but is not the same one.
“The goal is to get under his skin,” said Mark Offerman, the blimp’s handler.
Protester Shaun Noble wore a rainbow-colored sign that said “Super, Callous, Fragile, Racist, Sexist, Nazi, POTUS.”
Noble’s mother was at the Trump rally while he was at the anti-Trump protest.
“It’s really caused a divide in our relationship,” Noble said. “But it’s my right to believe what I want to believe in, and it’s her right to believe what she wants to believe.”
Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were spotted marching in Orlando and at least twice tried to enter the street where the anti-Trump protest was being held. They were stopped by groups of police officers and deputies. As they walked away, a man from the Proud Boys group said, “We’re just Americans. This is a sad day.”