NOS News•yesterday, 10:17 PM•Amended yesterday, 10:25 PM
Former US first lady Rosalynn Carter has died at the age of 96. The wife of former President Jimmy Carter suffered from dementia and had been in poor health for months. Just this weekend she was admitted to the hospice where her husband has been staying for some time.
The Carters were married for 77 years and during Carter’s presidency (1977-1981), his wife was his chief adviser. Unlike other first ladies, she attended cabinet meetings, spoke out on controversial issues and stood in for her husband on foreign trips. She also sometimes acted as his envoy. White House advisers referred to her as “co-president” behind her back.
She made no secret of her involvement in government affairs. This went so far that she was once forced to make a statement after a redistribution of cabinet posts. “I’m not the one running the government.”
Washington insiders rate her political instincts higher than those of her husband. Advisors often secured her support before submitting ideas or projects to the president. The Carters themselves acknowledged that that image was correct.
After Carter’s huge election defeat against Ronald Reagan in 1980, Rosalynn dreamed aloud of a comeback, which at the time seemed highly unlikely. And she later admitted that she longed for life in the White House, which was in stark contrast to the Carters’ quiet life on their farm in rural Plains, their hometown in Georgia, where they married and lived forever. They knew each other all their lives, in fact, the nurse who delivered Rosalynn was Jimmy’s mother.
As usual with first ladies, she also chose topics to profile herself during her husband’s presidency, mental health and problems of the elderly in her case. When the media did not sufficiently report on her efforts to her taste, they were accused of only wanting to write about ‘sexy topics’.
After leaving Washington, the couple founded the Carter Center in Atlanta, where she continued to advocate for mental health and Jimmy mediated conflicts around the world. They are also committed to better living conditions in developing countries.