(CNN) -- Former President Jimmy Carter predicted that Republicans' obstructionist ways should change and President Obama's re-election prospects could improve after next week's midterm elections.
Speaking Wednesday on HLN's "The Joy Behar Show," Carter said the Republican party has been "completely irresponsible" in the past 18 months by opposing most legislative initiatives backed by Obama and his fellow Democrats.
But the nation's 39th president said that approach might not work as well, if Republicans go from the minority to the majority in either the Senate or House of Representatives. He said it could also end up leading to less of a logjam on Capitol Hill.
"If they, maybe, gain control, ... they'll have to show some responsibility, so that Obama will will have an opponent with whom he can debate with some degree of rationality," Carter said.
Carter praised Obama for doing "an extraordinary job" despite numerous challenges, including an environment in which most every move he made, even if it had once been championed by Republicans, faced immediate opposition.
If and when Republicans engage the White House after voters hit the polls on November 2, Obama may be more able to engage them as well as voters in drawing a clear distinction between himself and his opponents, Carter said.
"They've been able to snipe away at what he does, and (Obama) hasn't had a target to debate," he said. "But that's going to change over the next two years. So I think he'll have a better chance to be re-elected than I think he (may seem to have) now."
A devout Christian and longtime Sunday school teacher, Carter also addressed recent comments from Republican senatorial candidates Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O'Donnell of Delaware talking openly about religion on the campaign trail.
He said that it's very different from when he was president in the 1970s, because "there's sort of a marriage between religious groups and one political party" -- the Republicans.
Carter said the growing role of money in politics had poisoned the process, not only in funding relentless rounds of negative advertising, but also when the candidates set up shop in Washington.
"That's been the main cause of the change in the political environment -- the enormous influence of vast amounts of money, (sometimes) secretly without identifying donors. A lot of that money is used in negative advertising to destroy the reputations of opponents," said Carter. "That animosity, that hatred, carries over."