Cancer does not appear to be getting Jimmy Carter down.
Looking robust, the 91-year-old former president who is battling melanoma that has spread to his brain, was both joking and joyful at a nostalgic Washington reunion with the man who served with him in the White House, former Vice President Walter “Fritz” Mondale.
“As a Georgia peanut farmer, I needed a lot of help,” Carter said, drawing laughter from the crowd gathered Tuesday night for a “Celebrating Fritz” gala.
Under Carter, Mondale, now 87, was the first vice president to have an office in the West Wing. And Carter empowered Mondale as a key confidant and adviser.
“He was a perfect partner, and I don’t believe we ever had a serious argument during the four years which was better than my relationship with my wife, Carter joked Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
At a seminar that Mondale led earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden credited Carter and Mondale for blazing the path Biden has followed. “You have both made this the most worthwhile job I have ever undertaken,” Biden said, according to The Washington Post.
Carter’s appearance in Washington was the latest in a string of activities that defy both his age and medical condition. When the longtime Baptist preacher from Plains, Georgia, announced in August that he was starting treatment on the melanoma that had spread from him liver to his brain, he promised not to slow down any more than the chemotherapy forced him to.
And so Carter, in addition to his work at The Carter Center in Atlanta, is also mediating a legal dispute over family heirlooms among the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s children, teaching Sunday school at his church more than two hours away in Plains, and squiring wife Rosalynn, 88, out and about in Atlanta.
Even on his packed Tuesday morning flight to Washington, Carter was walking the aisle, shaking hands and making fans, according to Memphis-area congressman, Rep. Steve Cohen, who tweeted photos of the former president:
Even as Tuesday was Mondale’s night, Biden paid special tribute to Carter: “You possess so much grace. The way you have dealt with every difficult moment in your life – including now – is a model to which I think few people can compare.”