Meet the Press   |  March 23, 2014

A Call to Action: An Exclusive with Jimmy Carter

NBC's Andrea Mitchell sits down with former President Jimmy Carter to discuss his new book on gender equality and the driving forces that inspired him to write it.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back. andrea mitchell back with me now. earlier this week, you had a chance to sit down exclusively with former president jimmy carter .

>> that's right. i spoke with him at the carter have in atlanta about his new book, a call to action , women , religion, violence and power. we also talked about the crisis in ukraine as well as his distant relationship with president obama .

>> why did you choose this time to focus on women and the way women are victimized around the world? for the last three years, we've been concentrating on the relationship between religion on the one hand and the abuse of women and girls on the other. existing abuse of females is the worst and most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on earth. that is derived i would say indirectly from the fact that religious leaders say women are inferior in the eyes of god but when they see that the pope and the southern baptist convention and others say that women can't serve as priests equally with men they say i'll treat my wife the way i want to because she's inferior to me.

>> you and rose lynn carter left your own congregation because of the way your church was treating women .

>> convention decided in its annual meeting to require that women be sub servant their husbands and women could no longer serve is an a pastor or priest or even as a deacon. those kind of things convinced me i should change.

>> another institution you were very much part of was the military. the naval academy . and why do you think it is that the pentagon is so the resistant to changing and reforming the way sexual assaults are handled in the military?

>> exactly the same thing happens in universities in america as happens in the military. because presidents of universities and colleges and commanding officers don't want to admit that under their leadership, sexual abuse is taking place. so rapists prevail because they know they're not going to be reported.

>> i want to ask you about foreign policy given all of your expertise. it was actually on "meet the press" in 1980 that you said we would not go to the olympics because of the soviet invasion of afghanistan .

>> it's very important for the world to realize how serious a threat the soviets invasion of afghanistan is.

>> now we have this situation with ukraine. what advice would you give in dealing with vladimir putin ?

>> i think there has to be a concerted international prohibition against putin going any further than crimea.

>> does the president ask you for advice?

>> unfortunately, the answer is no. president obama doesn't. but previous presidents have call on me and the carter center to take action.

>> why do you think you don't have that relationship with barack obama ?

>> i -- that's a hard question for me to answer, you know, with complete candor. i think the problem was that in dealing with the issue of peace pa between israel and egypt, the carter center has taken a very strong and public position of equal treatment between the palestinians and israelis. and i think this was a sensitive area in which the president didn't want to be involved. when he first came out with his speech in cairo calling for the end of all settlements and he later said that the '67 boardsers would prevail he and i were looking at it from the same perspective. but i can understand those sentists and i don't have any criticism of it.

>> there's been a lot of criticism of his policy regarding drones and the nsa surveillance and the nsa. are you this kind of intelligence gathering is critical 0 try to expect the american homeland?

>> that has been extremely liberalized and abused by our own intelligence agencies . i have felt that my own communications were probably monitored. and when i want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, i type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it.

>> old fashioned snail mail .

>> yeah, because i believe if i sent an e-mail, it will be monitored.

>> i just wanted to ask finally, with all your energy, what keeps you going? what is the secret, the magic of jimmy carter ?

>> well, it's no magic involved. my wife and i have been lucky enough to be leaders of the carter center promoting peace, enhancing democracy. it's adventurous. and i have to say it's gratifying and exciting for us to be able to do that.