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Carter: 'Probably superior' to other ex-presidents

*** UPDATE 3:59 pm ET *** Former President Carter issued a written statement after his comments aired:

"What I meant was, for 27 years the Carter Center has provided me with superior opportunities to do good."

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, former President Jimmy Carter, who has been a target of the right through the years, lauded his own post-presidency, telling Williams, "I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents."

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Carter, who is out with a new book defending his legacy, backed up his assertion by saying the Carter Center goes where the United States government does not, "to fill the vacuums in the world."

"The Carter Center has decided, under my leadership, to fill the vacuums in the world," Carter said. "When the United States won't deal with troubled areas, we go there and we meet their leaders who can bring an end to a conflict, or an end to human rights abuse, and so forth. So I feel that [I] have an advantage over many other former presidents in being involved in daily affairs that have shaped the policies of our nation and the world."

Before Barack Obama was sworn in as president in January 2009, the living presidents (and then-President-elect Obama), gathered for an Oval Office photo shoot -- with Carter notably standing off to the side, apart from the group.

Asked if he feels he is treated differently because of the active role he has taken as a former president, like going to North Korea, for example, Carter said, "Yeah, sometimes. And I can understand that. ... I can see how it makes sometimes the incumbent president uncomfortable to have me doing things of this kind, when political niceties don't let-- him or his administration do them."

Here's the transcript of the interview:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The last photo of you with your-- fellow former presidents, you were well off to the side on the right. And I thought to myself, well, there's-- there's a possible metaphor. What is it-- about you, you think, the way you've-- decided to conduct your life and post-presidency? Do you feel listened to? Do you feel-- that you receive your due? Or do you feel, in fact, apart from the crowd?

JIMMY CARTER: No. I-- I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents. Primarily because of the activism and the-- and the injection of working at the Carter Center and in international affairs, and to some degree, domestic affairs, on energy conservation, on-- on environment, and things of that kind. We're right in the midst of the-- of the constant daily debate.

And-- and-- and the Carter Center has decided, under my leadership, to fill the vacuums in the world. When-- when the United States won't deal with troubled areas, we go there and we meet their leaders who can bring an end to a conflict, or an end to human rights abuse, and so forth. So I-- I feel that have an advantage over many other former presidents in being involved in daily affairs that have shaped the policies of our nation and the world.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And do you think you're treated differently because of that?

JIMMY CARTER: Yeah, sometimes. And I can understand that. For instance, we-- I just got back from a trip to North Korea. We haven't had a-- a day of peace talks with North Korea since 2009. And this is one of the-- needs in the global affairs, is to bring about denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and also to have a permanent peace agreement between the United-- among the United States and-- South Korea and North Korea.

We go there. I go to Pyongyang. I meet with their leaders. I talk to them. I bring back their messages to the State Department and to the White House. And-- and I think we fill, you know, a legitimate need. But I can see how it makes sometimes the incumbent president uncomfortable to have me doing things of this kind, when political niceties don't let-- him or his administration do them.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: There goes Jimmy Carter again.

JIMMY CARTER: That's true.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Yeah.

JIMMY CARTER: I know.