Former President Jimmy Carter says he can't see himself running for president in today's political climate, in which an unprecedented influx of new money has come to define the 2016 race for the White House.
"I don't think anybody now can hope to be the nominee of the Democratic or Republican Party if they can't raise like a quarter of a billion dollars," Carter said in an interview with AARP published Thursday. "This massive infusion of money automatically polarizes our country. When hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent tearing down the reputation of an opponent in order to get elected, animosity and negativism carries on into Washington."
"There was harmony among congressmen when I was there, and I got just as much support from Republicans as I did from Democrats. I can't imagine myself as a successful candidate today," he added.
Buoyed by the rise of super PACs, which allow would-be candidates to raise unlimited funds, the 2016 presidential contest is expected to cost upwards of $5 billion. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is alone expected to spend around $2 billion. On the Republican side, over a dozen or so candidates are sure to add substantially to that number. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to raise $100 million without even announcing his campaign for president -- a tactic some campaign finance experts have described as flouting the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.
In the AARP interview, Carter also said he felt a little sore about not being invited to speak in person at the 2008 Democratic nominating convention in Denver.
"I was a little upset at the time, but now I've gotten over it," he said.