The former president and first lady, both in their 90s, have attended every inauguration since Carter himself took the oath of office in 1977.
Former President Jimmy Carter will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the first time he will miss the ceremonies in more than four decades.
The former president and former first lady Rosalynn Carter are both in their 90s, and the pair have attended every inauguration since Carter himself took the oath of office in 1977.
At the time, Biden, who is now 78, was serving his first term as a U.S. senator for Delaware. A spokeswoman for the Carter Center, the nonprofit that oversees the former president’s humanitarian endeavors, confirmed that the Carters would not travel to Washington for the event, Politico said.
“President and Mrs. Carter will not travel to Washington for the inauguration but have sent their best wishes to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and look forward to a successful administration,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
Carter is the longest-living president in the history of the United States, and he has survived several falls in recent years as well as a serious bout with cancer that was first diagnosed in 2015.
Four years ago, Carter was quick to RSVP for President Donald Trump’s inauguration at a time when other former presidents were weighing whether or not to show up. Former President Bill Clinton — along with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in the 2016 presidential election — and former President George W. Bush ultimately joined Carter. (Bush reportedly remarked that Trump’s grim inauguration speech was “some weird shit.”)
Biden’s inauguration is due to be a scaled-down affair due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which poses an especially grave risk to older people, though Biden is expected to take his oath of office at the Capitol — the traditional location for the ceremony— and deliver an inauguration address afterward. There will also be some type of parade, though other typical events surrounding Inauguration Day are either being significantly reformatted or nixed entirely.
It remains an open question whether Trump himself will attend the inauguration, as outgoing presidents typically do, and he has privately explored ways to upstage Biden’s swearing-in.
The news of Carter’s absence was previously reported by The Associated Press.