Carter calls on Americans to repudiate 'extremist doctrines'
BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Former President Jimmy Carter called on Americans Monday night to repudiate the "extremist doctrines" of the Bush administration that he said have "cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice."
Carter, who was elected the 39th president in 1976, said that after September 11, 2001, "America stood proud, wounded but determined and united." (Read transcript)
"A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world," Carter said to delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
"But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
"Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism," Carter said.
Carter recalled his service in the Navy as a nuclear submariner in 1950s as well as the record of Sen. John Kerry, soon to be the Democrat nominee, as a naval officer in the Vietnam War.
Alluding to President Bush's disputed record in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam era, Carter said Kerry "showed up when assigned to duty, and he served with honor and distinction."
"I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to follow him to victory in November," Carter said.
Carter, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy of global human rights since leaving office after his defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980, said Kerry's election is important "to safeguard the security of our nation."
"Our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America -- based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world," Carter said.
Carter said the primary issue in November is whether "America will provide global leadership that springs from unity and integrity" at home, "or whether extremist doctrines and manipulation of the truth will define America's role in the world."
Carter said at stake in the election "is nothing less than our nation's soul."
"In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life, and in many ways the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all," said Carter, who will turn 80 on October 1.
"But I am not discouraged. I do not despair for our country. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency, compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail."