Former President Jimmy Carter stymied Democrats’ efforts to turn the death of Trayvon Martin into a partisan rallying cry Tuesday, telling local NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta that the acquittal of George Zimmerman was correct.
“I think the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented, because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman, and he was not at all defending himself, and so forth,” Carter said, speaking from the Carter Center for Peace.
“It’s not a moral question, it’s a legal question and the American law requires that the jury listen to the evidence presented. And I think another action that was taken in the court was not to bring in the race issue at all.”
Carter praised President Barack Obama for accepting the outcome of the decision. He rejected the notion that the court was racially biased.
“I can’t allege that the six jurors, all of whom are women, are not just as sensitive about the race issue as I am,” Carter said. “Or that you are,” he said, referring to the interviewer.
“My belief is that the verdict will stand,” he added.
The interviewer pressed further: “But given the reaction in this country, we can’t ignore race. Our country is responding in such a way that it makes you wonder where we stand.”
“I’ve seen outbreaks of this before,” Carter said, referring to the Rodney King verdict in 1992 and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. “With time passing, [African-Americans] start saying, ‘What can we do about the present and future,’ and put aside their feelings about the past.”
Carter has, in the past, eagerly joined the ranks of those who label criticism of President Obama racist. He has also been criticized–often, though not exclusively, by conservatives–for supporting segregation.