Carter: Obama Has Obstacles I Didn't at Midterm

Comparing the current political situation as the Democrats head toward midterm elections with his own, former President Jimmy Carter said that President Obama faces obstacles he did not in 1978.

Appearing on CBS' "The Early Show" this morning from a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Washington, D.C., President Carter said that at the mid-way point of his term of office, "I had a 66 percent favorable rating and we had a very successful midterm election.

"But [Obama] is faced with an obstacle that I didn't have, and that's almost complete polarization and an absence of any cooperation from the Republican Party. I had very good bipartisan support."

He said Mr. Obama needs to concentrate on addressing the economy over the next two years. "I'm sure he will anyway," he told anchor Harry Smith. "He's gotten some very wonderful achievements so far. But what people are interested in is more jobs, and I think he's going to do that."

Special Report: Campaign 2010

Mr. Carter said he thinks the midterms will at least bring clarity to Washington, if not happiness for Democrats, from which the president can move forward.

"Maybe after the election is over - I don't think the Democrats are going to have a very good success in a couple of weeks - but after that's over, he'll still be president for two years, and I think he'll have a much more forceful presentation now than he's got, you know, a clearer picture of what the situation will be, and I believe he'll be successful."

President Carter, who celebrated his 86th birthday Friday, as well as the recent publication of his latest book, called "White House Diary," was hospitalized last week with what he said was a "brief bout with a virus."

"I feel fine," he said today. "I only had one day of intensive hospital care and I've been out working ever since."

He described the recent work by Habitat for Humanity, which he said has shifted its emphasis from building new homes to refurbishing empty or abandoned houses. "This is a very cost-saving effect and we have increased that about five-fold over what Habitat's done in the past.

"So we are rehabilitating communities now by putting empty homes back in use and filling them up with very eager families to have a good house."

Carter was at a new Washington, D.C. Habitat project site on World Habitat Day. he said he was following that this week with projects in Annapolis, St. Paul/Minneapolis, and Birmingham, Ala. "So, Habitat's building a new house for people every 28 minutes now somewhere in the world.

"We are making a lot of progress, but obviously we want everybody to know that there are still many people who are homeless and many people that have insufficient homes," he said.