Jimmy Carter's Grandson Dodges DC on Path to Georgia Governor's Mansion

"Medicaid expansion itself is sort of a limited idea and I don't think that we should be limited to that because other states have found creative solutions to get those tax dollars back," Carter said. "I'm looking for good answers. I have seen them in places like Arkansas."

Arkansas, a state with its own Democratic governor (something of a unicorn these days), struck a deal with the federal government to provide private insurance through the marketplaces to some 200,000 Arkansans who qualify for Medicaid, rather than enrolling them in the federal system.

The tricky politics of navigating his allegiance to Democratic policy aside, Carter is unabashed about drawing upon one well dug for him by his grandfather's governorship of the state in the 1970s.

Jimmy Carter became one of the first southern governors to openly call an end to racial discrimination in a state torn apart by segregation. Carter later ran for president in 1976 with the support of Martin Luther King Sr.

The task of a modern Democrat in the South is to motivate African-American and Latino voters who helped President Obama gain 47 percent of the vote in Georgia in 2008, while also appealing to white rural and working-class voters.

Carter brings to the challenge his own unique experience: years working in the Peace Corps in post-apartheid South Africa.

"The wounds of apartheid were still so fresh," Carter said. "It was an incredible experience for me as someone whose family has been in the American south since the 1600s."

"The lesson is that there are a lot of things that divide people but at the end of the day you know, people really can come together, work together across differences and move forward together," he added.

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