Appearing on CBS' "The Early Show" from a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Washington, Carter said Obama is up against "almost complete polarization and an absence of any cooperation from the Republican Party. I had very good bipartisan support."
He said Obama needs to concentrate on the economy and jobs in the next two years.
"Maybe after the election is over -- I don't think the Democrats are going to have a very good success in a couple of weeks -- but after that's over, he'll still be president for two years, and I think he'll have a much more forceful presentation now that he's got, you know, a clearer picture of what the situation will be, and I believe he'll be successful," Carter said.
Carter was hospitalized last week with what he called a "brief bout with a virus."
"I feel fine," he said Monday.