Jimmy Carter said Monday that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had tapped into “inherent racism” to bolster his candidacy.
In an interview with The New York Times, Carter, the 39th president, also said Trump violated “basic human rights” by labeling Mexican and Muslim immigrants as criminals and terrorists.
“When you single out any particular group of people for secondary citizenship status, that’s a violation of basic human rights,” Carter said.
The 91-year-old Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for promoting human rights across the globe through his work with the Carter Center.
Carter, the oldest US Democratic president alive today, told The Times that “racially conscious Republicans” hadn’t been able to handle an African-American as president, though he said President Barack Obama’s election was a hopeful sign in race relations. Carter said Republican animosity toward Obama had “a heavy racial overtone.”
Trump, he said, was a stunning success because he “tapped a waiting reservoir there of inherent racism.”
The first born-again evangelical Christian to hold the presidency, Carter was asked why evangelicals had flocked to support Trump’s candidacy. An NBC News poll from earlier this month found that 40% of white evangelicals supported Trump in the Republican primaries and caucuses – more than any other GOP presidential hopeful.
“The use of the word evangelical is a misnomer,” he told The Times. “I consider myself an evangelical as well. And obviously, what most of the news reporters thought were evangelicals are conservative Republicans … They have a heavy orientation to right-wing political philosophy, and he obviously is a proponent of that concept.”
Carter spoke with The Times to promote a summit he will hold in Atlanta later this year. He is aiming to bring together Baptists – Carter is a Southern Baptist – of all races and cultures to work on race-related issues as well as issues of social inequality.