Jimmy Carter Invokes Idea of ‘Age Limit’ for Presidential Candidates

In widely circulated remarks this week, Jimmy Carter, the longest-living president in United States history, weighed in on a range of issues, including the appropriate age for a commander in chief, Democrats’ 2020 prospects and the relative merits of various nut products.

Perhaps most memorably, Mr. Carter, 94, speaking on Tuesday at the Carter Center in Atlanta, suggested a possible candidacy restriction when asked whether he would consider running for a second term as president.

“I hope there’s an age limit,” Mr. Carter said to laughter at the event, billed as a conversation with his wife, Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady.

There are currently five candidates seeking the presidency in 2020 who are at least 70, including the three Democratic front-runners, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. (76), Senator Elizabeth Warren (70) and Senator Bernie Sanders (77). President Trump is 73.

“If I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger,” Mr. Carter said, “I don’t believe I could undertake the duties that I experienced when I was president.”

“One thing is you have to be very flexible with your mind,” he continued. “You have to be able to go from one subject to another and concentrate on each one adequately and then put them all together in a comprehensive way.”

In the Democratic race, when younger candidates — some positioning themselves as agents of generational change — have tried to use the ages of the older candidates against them, it has not worked.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Sanders has dismissed his age as an issue, forcefully maintaining that he is up to being president. “At the end of the day, it’s not whether you’re young or whether you’re old — it’s what you believe in,” he said in April.

On Tuesday, Mr. Carter suggested that a candidate’s age was not a concern for him or his wife — nor had it been three years ago.

“I’m going to vote for one of them,” Mr. Carter said of Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden. “I voted for Bernie Sanders last time.”

Mr. Carter said he was taking his time to decide about his 2020 vote. “I’m going to keep an open mind,” he said. “One of the major factors I will have in my mind is who can beat Trump.”

“I think it will be a disaster to have four more years of Trump,” he added.

On Wednesday, Mr. Carter fielded questions from students at an event at Emory University. One asked the former commander in chief for his views on almond butter.

Mr. Carter, whose parents were peanut farmers, said he couldn’t say.

“I never have tasted it and I don’t intend to,” Mr. Carter said to the roaring crowd. “We only have peanut butter in our house.”