Image: Jimmy Carter
Tony Dejak  /  AP
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter waves from a vehicle as he leaves MetroHealth Hospital in Cleveland on Thursday.
NBC News and news services
updated 9/30/2010 7:13:35 PM ET 2010-09-30T23:13:35

Former President Jimmy Carter landed in Washington on Thursday after spending two nights in an Ohio hospital, where doctors said a viral infection likely gave him stomach problems.

Carter, wearing a dark blazer, landed in a small private jet at Reagan National Airport just before 3 p.m. Thursday. He walked down the steps from the plane onto the runway and stepped into an SUV that immediately drove away. An airport police car escorted his SUV and two others from the airport.

Doctors advised Carter, who turns 86 on Friday, to remain at MetroHealth Medical Center after he was rushed from an airplane to the emergency room Tuesday morning with an upset stomach.

Earlier, Carter thanked his medical team at MetroHealth for the attentive and comprehensive care and treatment he received during his stay, the hospital said. He also again expressed his appreciation to people who sent greetings to him.

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Carter became ill during a Delta Air Lines flight Tuesday from Atlanta to Cleveland, causing rescue crews to rush him to the hospital after the plane landed. His medical team recommended that he stay for two nights for monitoring.

Story: Carter to stay in Ohio hospital for a second night

The hospital stay has interrupted Carter's tour to promote his new book, "White House Diary."

Planned book-signings in Ohio and North Carolina were called off Tuesday. His publisher also canceled scheduled events in Washington on Wednesday, including one at the Smithsonian Institution. The status of an event planned at a Columbia, S.C., bookstore Thursday was unclear.

Carter, a former peanut farmer elected to the White House in 1976, has spent his recent years pursuing peace and human rights, efforts that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

In the new book, Carter said he pursued an overly aggressive agenda as president that may have confused voters and alienated lawmakers. But he said the tipping points that cost him the 1980 election were the Iran hostage crisis and the Democratic primary challenge by U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

He is the author of more than 20 books, including the 2006 "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid," about his experiences in the Middle East, and the 2005 "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Carter released from hospital

  1. Transcript of: Carter released from hospital

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Washington, DC): Former president Jimmy Carter has arrived here in Washington tonight after spending the past two nights in an Ohio hospital being treated for a bad viral infection. Upon his release today, he thanked the staff of Cleveland 's Metro Health Medical Center . He was rushed there by ambulance Tuesday after feeling sick during the flight, but emerged today looking strong, carrying his own briefcase, in fact. He's resuming his normal meet -- schedule of meetings here in the nation's capital tonight. He turns 86 years old tomorrow.

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