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Jimmy Carter gives Mitt Romney an unexpected boost

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(Read caption) Why did House leader John Boehner say the GOP has a one-in-three chance of losing the house? DC Decoder's Liz Marlantes breaks it down.
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Former President Jimmy Carter hasn't been involved with electoral politics for some time now, so perhaps he didn't realize the significance of his remarks. 

Then again, maybe he'd finally had enough of Republicans saying over and over that "Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter" with Democrats essentially responding, "no, no, he's much better."  

Whatever the reason, Mr. Carter raised some eyebrows Wednesday by offering up a notably charitable assessment of President Obama's chief opponent, Mitt Romney.

Asked for his thoughts on a Romney presidency in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC, Carter said that while "he'd rather have a Democrat," he would be "comfortable" with Mr. Romney as president because, as he put it, "I think Romney has shown in the past – in his previous years as a moderate or progressive – that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics." He also complimented Romney as "a good, solid family man."

We're sure (well, we think we're sure) that Carter meant all this as an above-the-partisan-fray commentary, befitting a former president. But it was not, shall we say, exactly on-message.

In fact, from the Obama campaign's perspective, Carter's remarks couldn't have been more poorly timed – since they came at a point when Democrats have been trying to move away from the "Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper" message in favor of a "Mitt Romney is waaaay to the right of most Americans" theme.

The reasons for this pivot are clear: While Romney's past moderate positions during his tenure as Massachusetts governor made for some rough going during the Republican primary battle, they're likely to be an asset in the general election, when candidates need to appeal to centrist swing voters. 

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