"Obama's campaign has been extraordinary and titillating for me and my family," Mr. Carter said. The 83-year-old former president, who left the White House in 1981, compared Mr. Obama's speeches to those of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said he believed the candidate could carry some southern states if he becomes the Democratic nominee.
Mr. Carter also said he talked by telephone at length on Monday with former President Bill Clinton, who was "trying to explain that he was not raising the race issue" on the campaign trail. Mr. Carter said the phone call was to finalize speaking arrangements for Mr. Clinton's appearance at a meeting organized by Mr. Carter of moderate Baptists in Atlanta beginning today. But much of the conversation centered on the presidential campaign, Mr. Carter said.