WASHINGTON -- Jimmy Carter criticized President Reagan Wednesday for making 'radical' changes in U.S. foreign and domestic policy, and said Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin is responsible in part for failure of the Camp David accords.
In a wide-ranging news conference, Carter also twitted Reagan for trying to lay the blame for the nation's problems on the previous administration.
'There is always the temptation for an incumbent politician to blame all his mistakes on his predecessor. Most are willing to withstand the temptation. Mr. Reagan, apparently, is not,' Carter said.
'The public sees through that and the results of the (midterm) election proves I'm right.'
Although remarking that he would rather have returned as president, Carter said he came to Washington with 'self-confidence and friendship ... (and) gratitude I was able to serve.' The capital was Carter's fourth stop in a six-city tour to promote his book, 'Keeping Faith.'
Speaking typically with a soft voice but strong words, Carter said:
'Most of the quite radical departures in foreign, domestic and economic policy have not been good for the country. We have an unprecedented number of people unemployed; bankruptcies are the highest in years; farm income is at the lowest level ever; the deficits have never been so high, and so forth.'
Carter said from the time he took office in 1977 to now, the federal deficit has risen from $66 billion to almost three times that amount and unemployment has grown from 8.5 percent to 10 percent.
'The thrust ought to be parallel to what I and Congress did then,' he said. 'Concentrate on the creation of jobs, slash the deficit thrugh a broad range of means and prevent overstimulation of the economy by tax reductions.'
Carter proposed foregoing the third year of Reagan's tax cut, whittling the defense budget and implementing jobs and training programs.
'It's true President Reagan inherited some serious problems from my administration. I inherited some from President Ford. But to try to forego blame and say all these problems are my predecesor's fault is patently irresponsible and ill-advised,' he said.
Carter called Reagan's nuclear policies 'ill-advised.'
In his travels in Europe since leaving office, Carter said, 'I found quite a far-reaching depth of concern about an apparent change in our nation's policies, arms control and human rights.'
Carter said the move he began for reduction of nuclear arsensals now 'is gone' and Reagan's comment about the acceptability of a limited nuclear war 'didn't go over very well in Europe.'
'There's not that assured feeling now that our country is in the forefront of peace, nuclear arms control, human rights and environmental concern that it was before,' Carter said.
'My hopes and dreams for the Camp David agreement have not been realized,' Carte also said. 'Part of the blame falls on Prime Minister Begin. I am not satisified (he) is committed to the spirit and letter of the Camp David agreement.'
'Begin's pledge to give the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza full autonomy, to encourage involvement of the Jordanians and the Palestinians on an equal negotiating basis (and) to avoid any war or bloodshed with Israel's neighbors have not been realized,' Carter said.
But, Carter said, Begin was the only Israeli leader who could have agreed to the 1978 Camp David accords.