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Jimmy Carter Reveals He Voted for Bernie Sanders Over Hillary Clinton

by Alex Seitz-Wald /
Former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga.David Goldman / AP

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Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter revealed Monday night that he backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in last year's Democratic presidential primary.

“Can y’all see why I voted for him?” the 92-year-old Carter said of Sanders, who was seated next to him during a discussion hosted by the Carter Center on Human Rights in Atlanta.

Carter kept his preference quiet during last year's heated race between Clinton and Sanders, but his distaste for Hillary and Bill Clinton is an open secret.

Carter would be Sander's highest-ranking supporter in the Democratic Party. Only one senator backed the Vermont Independent — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley — along with just a handful of House members and governors.

The Carters and Clintons have long had bad blood, despite their shared experiences as Southern Democrats who spent time in the White House.

In 1992, Carter suggested that Bill Clinton doesn’t “tell the truth,” and he skipped the 1996 Democratic National Convention. In 2008, Carter endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in what was widely seen as a stinging rebuke.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, Carter — a staunch critic of money-in-politics — said he had no doubt that Clinton would win the nomination "because money dominates and she has an inside track to the massive amounts that are going to pour into the Democratic Party."

And during the general election last year, Carter seemed to be holding his nose a bit as he said he supported the “quite unpopular” Clinton. "Everybody knows that I'm a Democrat, and I'll be voting Democratic,” was his less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of the Democratic nominee.

At the event with Sanders, Carter said he thought American voters elected Donald Trump because of their “dissatisfaction with the existing system of politics.”

“People were willing to just take a chance and abandon democracy and what we knew about its basic principles just to try something new, no matter what it was,” said the former president, who has mostly stayed out of domestic politics since leaving the White House after a single term in 1981.

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