The longest-serving U.S. president in history is looking forward to a simple day, his family said.

ATLANTA — Jimmy Carter, already the longest-serving US president in historyturned 98 on Saturday, the latest milestone he shared with family and friends in Plains, the tiny Georgia town where he and his wife, Rosalyn, 95, were born in the years between World War I and the Great Depression.

The Carter Centerwhich the 39th president and former first lady founded together after their one term in the White House, celebrates 40 years of advancing democracy and conflict resolution, election monitoring and improving health care in developing countries.

Jason Carter, the former president’s grandson who now chairs the board of the Carter Center, described his grandfather, an outspoken Christian, as content with his life and legacy.

“He’s looking at his 98th birthday with faith in God’s plan for him,” said the younger Carter, 47, “and it’s just a wonderful blessing for all of us personally to know that he’s at peace and happy where he was.” and where he is going.’

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Executives at the Carter Center said the former president, who survived a cancer diagnosis in 2015 and a serious house fall in 2019, is already enjoying reading the congratulatory messages sent by well-wishers from around the world through social media and the center’s website. But Jason Carter said what his grandfather was most looking forward to was a simple day that included watching his favorite Major League Baseball team, the Atlanta Braves, on television.

“He’s still 100% with it, even though the day-to-day life is a lot harder now,” Jason Carter said. “But I guarantee one thing. He will be watching all the Braves games this weekend.”

James Earl Carter Jr. won the 1976 presidential election after starting the campaign as a little-known one-term governor of Georgia. His surprise performance at the Iowa caucuses made the small Midwestern state the epicenter of presidential politics. Carter went on to defeat President Gerald Ford in the general election, largely because he swept the South before his home region swung heavily to the Republicans.

A graduate of the Naval Academy, a naval officer and a peanut farmer, Carter won in large part on his promise never to lie to an electorate weary of the Vietnam War and The Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon from the presidency in 1974. Four years later, could not curb inflation and assuage voter anger over American hostages being held in Iran, Carter lost 44 states to Ronald Reagan. He returned home to Georgia in 1981 at the age of 56.

The former first couple began planning The Carter Center almost immediately. It opened in Atlanta in 1982 as the former president’s first venture of its kind. Stated mission: To promote peace, human rights and health worldwide. Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. In his 80s and 90s, he traveled around the world, and officially stepped down from the board only in 2020.

Since its opening, the center has observed elections in 113 countries CEO Paige Alexander, and Carter also acted individually as a mediator in many countries. Carter Center efforts almost exterminated the guinea worm, the parasite spreads through unclean drinking water and causes pain in humans. Rosalyn Carter led programs aimed at reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.

“He’s enjoying his retirement,” said Alexandra, who took over her role in 2020, around the time Jason Carter replaced his grandfather. But “he spends a lot of time thinking about the projects he’s started and the projects we’re continuing.”

Alexander called the Guinea worm eradication effort a highlight. Carter set the target in 1986 when there were about 3.5 million cases annually in 21 countries, with a concentration in sub-Saharan Africa. So far this year, Alexander said, six cases are known in two countries.

In 2019, Carter used his final annual address at the center to lament that he had been largely silent on climate change since his presidency. Jason Carter said the center’s management is still exploring ways to deal with the climate crisis. But he did not offer a timetable. “We’re not going to duplicate other effective efforts,” Carter said, explaining that one of the center’s strategic principles is to prioritize cases and places that other human rights organizations haven’t.

In terms of elections and democracy, perhaps the most unpredictable twist is that Jimmy Carter lived to see the center shift its efforts to the domestic front. The The center now has programs to combat mistrust of the democratic process in the United States. Carter Center staff have been tracking the 2020 US presidential election slate in Georgia since then-President Donald Trump claimed the result was rigged. Numerous recounts of votes in Georgia and other states confirmed the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory.

“Certainly, we never thought we’d be coming home to do democracy and resolve conflicts around our elections,” Jason Carter said. “(But) we couldn’t be this incredible organization for democracy and human rights abroad without making sure that we add our voice and our expertise … in the U.S.”

Ahead of the US midterm elections, the center asked candidates – regardless of party – to sign a set of principles for fair elections, including a commitment to a peaceful transfer of power. Among those who have signed the pledge are Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams.

Carter himself largely withdrew from politics. For years after his defeat in 1980, Democrats stayed away from him. It has enjoyed a resurgence in recent election cycles, attracting visits from several Democratic presidential candidates in 2020 and in 2021 from President Joe Biden, who in 1976 was the first U.S. senator to endorse Carter for the presidency. With inflation now at its highest level since the late 1970s and early 1980s, some Republicans are once again citing Carter as a line of attack against Biden and the Democrats.

Jason Carter said the former president reads and watches the news daily, and sometimes takes calls and visits from political figures. But, he added, the former president is not expected to appear publicly to endorse any candidates until November.

“His people that he feels like the closest connection to are the people in the Plains and his church and other places,” Jason Carter said. “But, you know, his partner #1, #2, and #3 is my grandmother, right? He outlived his friends and so many of his advisors and people he had accomplished so much with in the past, but they were never alone because they were always with each other.”