What Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford Teach Us: Lessons Learned about Their Bipartisan Relationship

Join Aug. 23 Discussion with Carter Center and Ford Presidential Foundation Leaders on how to Rebuild Trust, Restore Institutions

ATLANTA — On August 23, Paige Alexander, chief executive officer of The Carter Center, and Gleaves Whitney, executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, will discuss Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and the close friendship and working relationship that developed between the former rivals. In a conversation at the Ford Presidential Foundation and Presidential Center, titled “Rebuilding Trust, Restoring Institutions,” the two will discuss what their example teaches us today about the path to restore public trust in elections and democracy and to rebuild institutions.

“The relationship between President Carter and President Ford began with mutual respect and grew into deep friendship,” Alexander said. “While in office, President Carter consulted with and received support from President Ford on difficult foreign policy issues. For decades after their presidencies, both former presidents realized the significant impact they could have by working together on bipartisan issues of foreign and domestic affairs. This unique relationship was enhanced by the close friendship and collaboration between Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford in their work to advance mental health care and substance misuse treatment.”

The conversation will be moderated by Jeff Polet, director of the Ford Presidential Foundation’s Leadership Forum. This program is free and open to the public and will be shown online. See registration and viewing details below.

“Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter developed the strongest friendship of any two former presidents in American history,” said Whitney. “Their example of overcoming a fierce rivalry in order to work together for the greater good is exactly the example our deteriorating civic square needs today. The Ford Foundation is delighted to host our good friend and colleague, Paige Alexander, from The Carter Center, because they have done excellent work on election integrity in America and democracies around the world.”

The former presidents and first ladies each asked each other to speak at their funerals.

View the eulogy from Mrs. Carter for Mrs. Ford »
View the eulogy from President Carter for President Ford »

Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Program begins at 6:30 p.m.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
303 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Registration for in-person event »

Register for Zoom alternative »


The Carter Center
Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.