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Jimmy Carter: 'Beyond the White House'

Oct 9, 2007 (Morning Edition)

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Former President Jimmy Carter says that when he left office at age 56, he and his wife Rosalynn faced a stark question: "What would we do with the rest of our lives?"

Carter describes his answer to that question in a new memoir, Beyond the White House. He talked with Steve Inskeep about his life after his presidency, when Carter has engaged in peacemaking efforts and fighting disease worldwide.

"The post-presidential years have been much more an opportunity for me and Rosalynn, personally, to become involved in the lives of other people around the world," Carter says.

Though Carter concedes that he sometimes misses the power that came along with being the president of the United States, he says that he has learned to manage without it. Today, in his efforts around the world, he must inspire and persuade his supporters.

"It's a much more complex way to build up influence than just to exert the power of a great nation," he says.

Does he feel that he has accomplished more after his presidency than he did while he was in office? Carter doesn't necessarily disagree with that statement: "I tried to do the best I could in both cases," he says.

Carter says that working with his human rights organization, the Carter Center, has been particularly rewarding.

"For the last 25 years," the former president says, "my life could not have been more expansive, and unpredictable, and adventurous and gratifying."

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