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Biden says Jimmy Carter has asked him to deliver his eulogy

President Biden says he plans to deliver the eulogy for former President Jimmy Carter, who remains in hospice care at his home in Georgia.

Biden told donors at a California fundraiser Monday night about a recent visit with the 39th president, whom Biden has known since he was a junior senator from Delaware who supported Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign.

“He asked me to do his eulogy,” Biden said, before refraining from saying more. “Excuse me; I shouldn’t say that.

Carter, who at 98 is the longest-serving US president, announced on February 18 that he would spend his remaining days at home receiving end-of-life care, forgoing further medical interventions after a series of brief hospital stays.

The Carter Center in Atlanta and the former president’s relatives have not released details of his condition, although Biden alluded to Carter’s cancer diagnosis in 2015 and his subsequent recovery.

“I spent some time with Jimmy Carter, and he finally got the hang of it. But they found a way to keep it going much longer than they expected, because they found a breakthrough,” Biden said in San Diego County’s Rancho Sante Fe.

The president and first lady Jill Biden visited Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, now 95, at their home in Plains, Georgia, a few months after Biden took office in 2021.

Biden was the first US senator to endorse Carter’s presidential bid in 1976, breaking with the Washington establishment that Carter, then a former governor of Georgia, surprised by winning the Democratic nomination.

Biden’s presidency represents something of a sea change for Carter’s political position. He served just one term in the White House after losing to Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980, prompting top Democrats to keep their distance from the former president, at least publicly, for decades.

Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did not have a close relationship with Carter. And the long-range presidential candidates who sometimes ventured to the Plains over the years usually did so in private.

But as the Carters’ global humanitarian work and advocacy for democracy through the Carter Center gained respect, Democratic politicians began to visit South Georgia publicly ahead of the 2020 election cycle. And with the election of Biden, Carter again found a true friend and ally in the Oval Office.

Some members of the Carter family have confirmed that the former president will have a state funeral in Washington, DC, and a private funeral and burial in Plains. Past and incumbent presidents often speak at the state funerals of their predecessors, sometimes even across the political aisle.

Clinton spoke at Republican Richard Nixon’s funeral in 1994. In 2007, Carter praised Gerald Ford, the Republican he had defeated to win the presidency. The former rivals had become close friends after their presidencies and had agreed that whichever survived the longest would pay tribute at the other’s funeral.

When George HW Bush died in 2018, fellow Republican Donald Trump attended as acting president, but the only former president to speak at the Washington National Cathedral service was the late president’s son, George W. Bush.