For former President Jimmy Carter, flying commercial is the only way to travel

By Tierney McAfee
August 23, 2018 02:50 PM

For former President Jimmy Carter, flying commercial is the only way to travel.

Unlike his fellow former commanders in chief — George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who often travel via private jet — Carter and his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn, prefer to share their flights with the American people.

And they don’t hide out in first class either.

On a recent flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles, Carter, 93, walked up and down the aisle, shaking hands with his fellow passengers and even posing for selfies, Carter’s friend Jill Stuckey told The Washington Post for a new profile on the nation’s 39th president.

His former White House communications director, Gerald Rafshoon, said that sums up Carter’s character: “He doesn’t like big shots, and he doesn’t think he’s a big shot.”

Jimmy Carter
Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty

Carter’s modest way of life in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, is the subject of a new Washington Post profile titled “The un-celebrity president.”

According to the article, Carter is the only modern president to return full-time to the house he lived in before entering politics, and the only living president who actually saves taxpayers money.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty

In the current fiscal year, Carter’s pensions, office, staff and other expenses cost the government $456,000 — less than half the $952,000 budgeted for George H.W. Bush and the $1 million for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The Democrat also told the Post that he chose not to join corporate boards or give high-paid speeches because he didn’t want to “capitalize financially on being in the White House.”

Not that he judges other ex-presidents for doing just that.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it; I don’t blame other people for doing it,” Carter said. “It just never had been my ambition to be rich.”