THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, my good friend Lud Ashley, Senator John Glenn, Senator Metzenbaum, Congressman Pease, Mayor DeGood, and all my friends, both Republicans and Democrats, who've come here—especially Democrats. I'm glad to be with you.
It's a pleasure to be introduced by one of our Nation's greatest Members of the Congress, who's left his mark not only in this community, which has seen so much progress lately, but also on our Nation's progress in energy and urban affairs. When the Congress addressed the energy issue, perhaps the most difficult issue the Congress has ever had to deal with, Lud Ashley was chosen by the Speaker and by his fellow Members of the House to head up the comprehensive committee, to put together this very successful program.
I'm glad to be here in the home of the Spartans. I understand you have a tradition of championships. And there's another very famous Toledo athletic team that I understand has been knocked lately by the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, the Mud Hens. I'm for the Mud Hens. I think they've done a great job. There are some people in the so-called Bush league, but not the Mud liens. [Laughter]
I really share your pride in the revitalization here of Toledo. The Chamber of Commerce says that over a quarter of a billion dollars has been invested in your great community in the last 2 years in partnership with the Federal programs that have been hammered out with the Democratic congressional leaders and my own administration. That's the kind of partnership that I think is crucial to our Nation. Now that we have an energy policy in place for the first time in the history of our Nation, it's time for us to completely revitalize the industrial complex of the United States.
I will be going from here to a nearby farm in one of the richest agricultural regions of the world to make my single major farm speech of the campaign. This speech will be recorded. It'll be played later on on radio stations and television stations around the Nation. But I wanted to come here to your area—a dynamic, progressive, unified community with industry and agriculture—to make sure that I had this impact in the last 10 days, to make Lud Ashley's prediction come true.
We have now about 35 more minutes. I'm not going to make my remarks any longer. I'd like to start with the questions, beginning on my left. I'll try to keep my answers pertinent, brief, and to the point.
PROGRAMS FOR THE ELDERLY
Q. Mr. President? Is the mike on?
THE PRESIDENT. I can hear you. I don't know if the audience can.
Q. I am Eleanor Kahle, a representative of the most rapidly increasing segment of population in the United States today, the senior citizens.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. we are also the group most adversely affected by inflation. We are concerned about allocations for programs affecting seniors, primarily those programs that focus on keeping seniors out of institutions as long as possible. As the need and numbers increase, being granted the same amount of funding as in the past is in reality a cut decreasing the reduction of services that we are able to give to our seniors.
What are your plans for the continuation or the increase of funding in the areas of nutrition, transportation, housing, health care for senior citizens? What is your commitment to us?
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Mrs. Kahle. Since this is an election year, I think it's incumbent on a candidate to point out what has been done, what will be done, and the contrast between me and my Republican opponent.
When I was campaigning in Toledo 4 years ago, the biggest single concern of senior citizens was the prospective bankruptcy of the social security system. With the help of Howard Metzenbaum, John Glenn, Lud Ashley, Don Pease, and other Democrats, we were able to put the social security system back in a sound financial condition. And I can guarantee you that as long as a Democrat is in the White House, the social security system will never be threatened with bankruptcy again. That's the first thing.
Secondly, concerning social security, it's very important to realize that over a period of years, my opponent, Governor Reagan, has called for the voluntary participation in the social security system on at least four different occasions. This would mean the end of a sound social security system. If you could let anybody who wants to, who's paying into the social security fund, withdraw anytime they wanted and make it voluntary, obviously the social security system would be dead.
Closely associated with social security in the past is the future. I read yesterday a Wall Street Journal analysis—as you know, that's a very strong Republican paper, very strong, supportive of Governor Reagan front page article saying that Governor Reagan's advisers were asking him to eliminate the increases in social security that will go to pay senior citizens as inflation builds up in order to keep their purchasing power intact. If I am reelected, we will continue those annual increases for social security benefits so that you will not have any reduction in your buying power in the years ahead. Also, I am adamantly opposed to any sort of taxation of social security benefits, and I will not change the eligibility requirements for social security beneficiaries either.
Another thing that's very closely associated with social security is Medicare. As you know, this was a Democratic program. It was opposed by the Republicans. As a matter of fact, Governor Reagan got his start in politics working for the American Medical Association, traveling around the Nation speaking against Medicare. And of course, we want to have national health insurance with an emphasis on prevention of disease; a lid on hospital costs so they don't charge you too much for your medical care; an emphasis on outpatient care, the care for senior citizens and others in their own homes, not in very expensive hospital rooms; an emphasis on the prevention of illness among very tiny babies and little children, starting at the prenatal stage, where mothers and babies in the first few years of their existence on Earth can have good medical care; and also a catastrophic health insurance program so that if a family is affected by unexpectedly high health costs, then you would have a Government insurance program to help them pay those very high bills. Those are the kind of things that are in the national health insurance program that I've put to the Congress. Governor Reagan says he's absolutely opposed to any such program, if he should become President.
So, we will continue our very steady growth in housing programs, improving programs for social security, and health insurance. And I might point out that the health insurance emphasis is not toward a massive spending program, but would probably actually reduce the cost of health care because you'd be preventing disease and preventing those chronic things that take place in a person's life. because they didn't get adequate care when they were little tiny babies, a lid on hospital costs, and an emphasis on outpatient treatment. All those things will reduce medical care costs and give us better medical care.
So, from housing to social security, Medicare to health insurance, I think my programs are very good, sound, already presented to the Congress, making good progress through the Congress. Governor Reagan would be just the opposite. I suggest you vote Democratic.
Q. My name is Anne Zanville. Mr. President, I would like to ask you what are you going to do about the unemployment in this country and the energy crisis?
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, Anne.
Since I've been in office, we have emphasized employment perhaps as successfully as anything that we've done. In the last 3½ years, we have added almost 9 million new jobs above and beyond the Americans who were employed when I was inaugurated President. I noticed the figures this morning, for instance, for Ohio. There has been an increase in employment in Ohio of 417,000 people in the last 3 1/2 years. In other words, today, in full-time jobs, there are 417,000 more Ohioans at work than there were when I came into office. And in the Toledo metropolitan area, although right now you are suffering from the changes taking place in the automobile industry, there are 17,000 more people at work now than when I was inaugurated. That's as of last month. So, we've made good progress. Unemployment is still too high.
We have formed a very close working relationship in some of our basic industries between the Government, management, and labor. You probably remember 2 or 3 years ago, almost every headline showed that there were wildcat coal strikes and the mines were shut down. You have not seen one of those headlines, I don't believe, in the last couple of years, except very rarely. And this year, we'll have more American coal produced than any year in history. We'll also have more oil wells and gas wells drilled this year than any year in history. Today we are importing from overseas one-third less oil than we did just a year ago. This shows the effectiveness of the other part of your question, the energy program. And it also helps greatly with employment in the automobile industry.
With a very high increase in oil prices—OPEC raised the oil prices last year, in 1 year, more than oil prices had increased since oil was first discovered in the 1800's, and our economy has had to accept that shock along with nations all over the world. I think we've done very well in accommodating that. And as you know, the inflation rate was up around 20 percent earlier this year because of that. The last 3 months, we've gotten the inflation rate average down to about 7 percent—still pressures—we must guard against increased inflation. In the steel industry, the same thing—the workers, management, and the Government are working together. So, I see for us now a great opportunity to completely reindustrialize this country.
After the Second World War the United States rebuilt industry in Germany, we rebuilt industry in Japan, and now it's time to rebuild industry in the United States of America. That's what we're going to do.
HAITIAN AND CUBAN REFUGEES
Q. Mr. President, Shirley Flanner, foreign language department here at Start High School. Bienvenido. [Welcome].
THE PRESIDENT. Gracias. Es un placer para mi estar aqui. [Thank you]. It's a pleasure for me to be here.
Q. Mr. President, in Florida and Texas many problems are developing due to the non-English-speaking refugees who need schooling, medical care, et cetera. Some of the city officials there say that the Government has bailed out and left them financially in the pits. Number one, have we bailed out, and number two, do you think we should help them financially?
THE PRESIDENT. I've just come from Florida early this week and had a townhall meeting in Miami, which has been the most heavily impacted city in the Nation, as you know, with the refugees escaping from Cuba. The Congress has passed a law, which I support, so that those refugees that have come here and put an extra burden financially on the communities where they've settled, the Federal Government will pay 100 percent of those extra costs.
It's very difficult for me to deal with this issue, because from Haiti and from Cuba people have come to our country in a flood that we did not anticipate and which the American laws did not anticipate either. A lot of people said, "Let the boats sink. Stop them. Don't let them come on our shores." We did the best we could with a flotilla of Navy and Coast Guard ships to try to prevent those boats going from Florida down to Cuba to pick them up, and now we've got the flow stopped.
But I think it's good for all of us to remember that ours is a country of refugees. Ours is a country of immigrants. Unless there are a few American Native Indians in this audience, all of our families came from foreign countries. We've come here, sometimes against our will, as was the case with the black slaves early in our history, but we've come here most of the time looking for a better life, looking for religious freedom, looking to escape from persecution, looking for a chance that our children could have more freedom and more opportunity than we had. It's not weakened our country to have those immigrants come in. It's strengthened our country.
When the European Jews came here, there was an opposition to it among those already here. When the potato famine in Ireland occurred and the Irish came here, they were despised by some who had been here a little longer. And when the Europeans came here from Poland or from Italy or from Holland, there was an inclination on the part of some Americans to say, "We've got it made in this great country. Now no more immigrants ought to come." But that's not part of the consciousness and the character of our Nation.
So, we will, in accordance with American immigration laws, continue to strengthen ourselves with immigrants. And when there is a special unanticipated flood of refugees that nobody ever thought would take place, the Federal Government has acted to alleviate the financial burden on local people and on State governments. And we've done it very effectively in Florida. Florida, particularly, and other places, maybe like some in Toledo, have performed superbly. I'm very proud of the way Americans have reacted. Our country is not weakened because of it.
My judgment is that our country will be even stronger because of the freedomloving immigrants who've come here and also because of the way Americans have reaffirmed the principles and the ideals which have been the root of our progress in years gone by.
PROGRAMS FOR THE ELDERLY
Q. Good morning, sir, Mike Clemmer.
THE PRESIDENT. Mike.
Q. I'm a student at the University of Michigan, and I would like to join- [laughter] —sorry about that, gang, Ohio country. I would like to join Anne in asking you about your plans for programing to the aged.
During your administration, the United States seems to have become increasingly hostile and cruel as a place for older adults to live. Last winter older adults froze to death in the winter, because they could not afford heating fuel. Hundreds of older adults died last summer, because they could not afford air conditioners or even fans as protection against the heat. The aged have suffered from both hypothermia and hyperthermia as their reward for their efforts to conserve energy.
The price of fuel and other utilities as well as increasing tax burdens have forced too many older adults to give up their homes and move to the senior high-rises, nursing homes, or worse, in these inner-city ghettos of the aged. When the price of fuel has forced cuts in public transportation and increases in fares where public transit is available, older adults are forced to abandon their private automobiles because of fuel and oil prices.
THE PRESIDENT. Mike, do you have a question?
Q. Yeah, I do.
THE PRESIDENT. When you get through reading the Republican brochure, I'd like to have the question. [Laughter]
Q. Sir, I'm not a Republican.
THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say you were. I said you were reading the Republican brochure.
Q. Well, unfortunately, I'm calling it as I see it, and I've talked with quite a few older adults in preparing this.
THE PRESIDENT. I doubt if you'd find that those statements are true, but go ahead if you insist.
Q. Okay. The energy relief program was too little too late, and transportation programs seemed stonewalled. The Older Americans Act has thrown services to the aged into a confused and miserly retrenchment.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS. Question!
Q. You'll get the question.
The legislation assuring the barrier-free access to—
THE PRESIDENT. We've only got 45 minutes.
Q. I know it. The mainstream of our society is commonly circumvented.
If you are reelected, sir—and this is my question, because it's very important to my career plans, because my concern is the older adults—what new initiatives do you plan to undertake to make our Nation a more hospitable place for our older adults and those millions of others, the handicapped and the poor, who share some or all of the aged's needlessly difficult circumstances?
THE PRESIDENT. Mike, I don't know if it's necessary for me to repeat the answer I gave Anne over here earlier. But I'll try to add one or two more points.
The Congress, at my urging, not only put social security back on its feet, but we also increased each year social security payments to more than compensate for the inflationary pressures. Just a couple months ago, I think in May, we increased social security payments 14.3 percent, which is at least as much and a little bit more than the inflation rate's increase because of OPEC oil price increases.
In addition to that, we've got an extraordinary revitalization of elderly housing programs, whereas under Nixon and Ford, as you may remember, the housing program was completely killed. There was a moratorium placed on any Federal Government housing for the elderly.
In addition to that, in the same Wall Street Journal article that I just read-the superb Democratic program, financed already out of general revenue funds, and in the future to be financed out of windfall profits tax funds, have been allotted directly to State governments, to be transferred to older citizens who are poor to pay for the increase in their heating bills-and a new amendment will let them help pay their air-conditioning bills in extraordinarily warm weather in the summer-so that they won't be afflicted with adverse cold in their own homes.
We have also increased, by several billions of dollars, the new allocation of funds to let senior citizens and poor citizens insulate their homes, so that they can have cheaper fuel bills. And then if the fuel bills do go up, we'll pay them cash money—as we have 2 years now, 3, as a matter of fact—and we'll do it again this year, so they wall not suffer.
Yesterday, in the 'same Wall Street Journal, which I'm sure you read on occasion, Mr. Reagan's advisers advocated the doing away with the special allocation of funds for senior citizens to pay their heat bills. As long as I'm in the White House, we will protect the senior citizens, continue to improve their living conditions, social security, health care, housing, transportation, and the ability to pay increasing heat bills. That's what my plans are for the future.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Q. First of all, Mr. President, I'd like to add my welcome to the welcomes that you've just heard from the other people.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, sir.
Q. My name is James Epstein. I'm a teacher at Start High School, however my question has nothing to do with Start High School. Mr. President, earlier in your administration, when you met with President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, you gave Israel and Jewry the world over great confidence that the U.S. would be supportive of a just peace for Israel and the Near East. Since then, some of that confidence seems to have waned, and especially as a result of an apparent slip-up in communication between the White House and the U.N. Representative at one time. Can you give us some idea of how our former confidence can be restored?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I'll try.
When I first met with the Prime Minister of Israel it was Mr. Rabin, and just 2 or 3 weeks later I met with President Sadat. At that time they had just completed the fourth war between Israel and Egypt in the 25 or so years, 30 years, of Israel's existence. I told the Prime Minister and the President that my ultimate goal for the Mideast was that the major Arab nation, Egypt, should start to recognize, first of all, Israel's right to exist, which no Arab nation had been willing to do; secondly, that there should be direct negotiations between Egypt and Israel; third, that Israel's security should be guaranteed in an agreement; fourth, that there should be open borders between the two nations, there should be diplomatic recognition between the two nations, there should be exchange of ambassadors between the two nations, and also trade and tourism between the two nations.
President Sadat replied to me, "That's my dream also, Mr. President, but it'll never come into realization in my lifetime." All of those dreams have already been realized.
We are still engaged in the negotiations between Israel and Egypt to try to bring about a comprehensive peace. There are some difficult issues. If I should ever mislead the leaders or people of Israel or Egypt in any way, my value as an intermediary or mediator would be destroyed. I have got to keep the trust of both sides by being honest and open. I do not have any secret agreements or understandings with Israel that's not known by the world and certainly not known by President Sadat or vice-versa. I'll maintain that.
I know there are some very sensitive issues with the Israeli people and also with American Jews. I will never support a PLO state or a Palestinian independent state. I'll never negotiate or recognize the PLO until after they announce that they support Israel's right to exist, to live in peace, and support U.N. 242 as a basis for a Mideast settlement.
I will continue to protect Israel in international councils, in UNESCO, the ILO, in trade missions, and in the General Assembly. I've since announced that if the constant Syrian and other effort is ever successful which I don't think it will be—to expel Israel from the General Assembly or to reject their credentials, that I see no way our Nation would continue to participate in the deliberations of that body. If there are resolutions in the future in the Security Council, where we have a veto, I will continue to protect Israel, and if those are frivolous resolutions designed to damage Israel or to damage the peace process that we initiated at Camp David, I will direct that a veto be exerted by the United States to kill such a resolution.
Another point that ought to be made is this though. I cannot always promise you that I will agree with Israel—unless it's the desire of the American Jewish community to terminate the peace process-when Israel takes a unilateral step, say on Jerusalem, with a proposal that the headquarters be moved into east Jerusalem, I cannot approve that as an unbiased negotiator or mediator between the two. The agreement that I have with the Israelis and the Egyptians is that Jerusalem will remain an undivided city, that the holy places will be freely acceptable (accessible)1 to all those who want to worship there, and that the ultimate legal status of Jerusalem will be determined through negotiations, understanding that the final terms of that negotiation would have to be acceptable to the Government of Israel. That's the American position, well understood by Mr. Begin and all his fellow workers, well understood by President Sadat and all his fellow workers, and I think it's a sound position.
1 White House correction.
I might add that we are very much aware that our aid programs and our support for Israel is not a benevolent act. My duty is to the United States. And when I see a strong, united, secure, democratic Israel, that is a direct benefit to the security of my own Nation. And I'm very proud of the fact that in just 3 1/2 years, the Congress and I together have provided more military and economic aid to Israel than in all the other almost 30 years of Israel's existence. This is a good investment for us in our own security. And it will continue.
Q. Mr. President, my name is Joe Guerrero. Governor Reagan has proposed tax cuts which he says will benefit the American people. However, many experts say these would benefit only the wealthy while they would take away money used to fund Federal programs for the aged, the poor, black, and Hispanics. Don't you feel that this would be counterproductive?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. [Laughter] Joe, let me explain to you why.
We have been afflicted in our Nation and all over the world this last 12 or 18 months with the unanticipated and enormous increase in oil prices. It's created a change in buying habits for Americans concerning what kind of automobiles they want, as you know. They want the smaller, more efficient cars now with high-priced gasoline. It's also created inflationary pressures for all countries. The inflation rate in Israel is probably almost 200 percent, and ours, as I say, this quarter has been about 7 percent. It's still too high, but the inflationary pressures are there.
Governor Reagan has come out here, in an election year, with a massive tax reduction proposal called Reagan-Kemp-Roth. Its primary benefits would be for rich people—and maybe there are some in the audience— [laughter] —because a person making $200,000 a year, under Reagan's proposal, would get 35 times more tax benefits than a family making $20,000 a year. This would create a flood of money into the American economy, if it ever should be put into effect, that meant that for a given level of products, as they were bid for, with that flood of money, inflation would go sky high. It would just be like pouring gasoline on a fire.
My tax proposal, which we will put into effect next year, is anti-inflationary in nature. Most of it will go to encourage industry to create new tools and new plants, to encourage American workers to be more productive and to increase jobs. There are two other elements of it. One is to offset the increase in social security payments next year, to keep the social security system sound. And the other element is to eliminate the so-called marriage penalty, because now, as you know, a man and woman who are married and who are living together and both working pay higher income taxes than a man and woman who are living together, both working, who are not married, and that to me is destructive to the family system of our country. So, we're going to change that.
And finally let me say that Governor Reagan's proposals are absolutely ridiculous. There's no way for him to cut taxes 30 percent the next 3 years, have a massive increase in the Federal spending for defense above and beyond a large increase that's been put into effect by me, without eliminating almost completely all the Federal programs that are precious and dear to the people who need help most.
His attitude is expressed pretty accurately when he refers to the minimum wage. And the Wall Street Journal article yesterday said that his advisers will urge him to completely eliminate the minimum wage. He has said about it, "The minimum wage has caused more misery and more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression."
And I know in Toledo at this time with the automobile industry changing, taking place, there are people, hard-working families, who are temporarily unemployed. That situation is improving lately, but still you have that. Governor Reagan says that unemployment compensation is a prepaid vacation for freeloaders. I'm quoting him exactly. That's the attitude that might be expressed from the Oval Office if Governor Reagan should be in office. It's not only his tax program but it's his historic, long-term, and most recent statements and attitudes that concern me very deeply.
So, I agree with your premise and your question.
VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT
Q. Mr. President, my name is Pete Ganzel. I'm 18 years old, and this is my first time voting in the Presidential election.
First of all, I want to say I feel very alienated from our Government. And the question I have is, how can you bring the Government down to reach me personally? And also, as a youth I feel that there's really no one in the Government who will sit down, listen to my criticism, listen to my suggestions, listen to my ideas, and give us some straight answers, no traditional political double-talk, which we hear so much in the past, and we also hear it in the elections going on now.
For instance, if you are elected and if I would come to Washington, D.C., would you give up 3 hours of your time, sit down, and talk to me? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. No. Steve, I couldn't promise you that I could give you 3 hours of my time. There are 230 million people in this Nation, and if I gave everybody 3 hours I wouldn't have any way to deal with the problems that you and I discuss. But one thing that I have done is to come to places like this.
I had two of these kinds of sessions yesterday with smaller groups, one in the Grand Rapids area, a little town called Wyoming, just high school students, where the five high schools chose their five outstanding students and they came and cross-examined me in front of the local television, radio news media and also the national press, and earlier with a group in Gloucester City, New Jersey, where one Catholic family in the Knights of Columbus Hall brought all the members—about 60 of their family and friends and they asked me questions about government issues that affected them. And I answered those questions in public, and I'm doing the same thing today. I'll go from here out to a farm nearby, to talk about agriculture.
I've done this all during the campaign. I have to say that Governor Reagan has not. He's not had a town meeting, and he's not going to have a town meeting. He very seldom has even a press interview, because, as you know, when he has made a statement, quite often it's been very embarrassing. I'm eager to have my views known clearly to you and otherwise.
Lud Ashley, I presume, is your Congressman. It's much easier for him to deal directly with you or a small group of your classmates. If you have—and I'm sure Lud would be glad to. Lud, is that right? And to a large degree, Steve, I get my instructions from people like Lud Ashley and Don Pease and Howard Metzenbaum and John Glenn about what I ought to do for Ohio. But our system of government is such that you, dealing with Mayor DeGood, if you live in Toledo, or dealing with your own Congressman, Lud Ashley, or with your Senator, can present your views to me indirectly. And in a system like this, a session like this, you can present your views to me directly.
I might say one other thing. There's no reason for you to be alienated from your government. Are you 18 now?
THE PRESIDENT. So you'll be able to vote on November the 4th. That vote is crucial. You've heard us discuss today matters of inflation, employment, the aged. You've heard discussion about taxation, about Israel, about peace. Those kinds of things are important to you and to all Americans.
So, I will continue to let my views be known, as clearly as I can. I'll honor the views of your own local elected officials, and also I'm very interested in your views as well. So, you can write to me, call me, and if you come by Washington, I'll be glad to see you briefly. But I can't promise you the 3 hours, okay?
Q. Thank you.
Q. Mr. President, my name is John Drolshagen. I'm an unemployed, disabled vet. It's kind of a redundancy, I think. My question is why the veterans, disabled and the rest of us, are treated as third-class citizens, and why the Agent Orange syndrome from Vietnam is being pushed under the carpet? And who comes out with the figures of what is acceptable for catching cancer from this—what percentage? I'd like to know who says it's okay that an "x" amount of us have Agent Orange and that's to be accepted?
THE PRESIDENT. I'll try to answer that—John, is that right?
Q. Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT. John, when I became President, I was very concerned about the situation with veterans, and particularly Vietnam veterans. There was no screening process for veterans from the Vietnam war who had either psychological problems or physical problems as a result of any debilitating or damaging experience in the war. I searched this country over to find the best person possible to head up the Veterans Administration, who had a special insight into Vietnam veteran problems, and I chose Max Cleland who's the Veterans Administration Administrator. He's a triple paraplegic. He was injured in Vietnam. He's a very strong and able person. He was a senior staff member of the Senate Veteran's Committee, working along with John Glenn, Howard Metzenbaum, and others who are especially interested in veterans.
We've established now several thousand screening centers around the Nation where Vietnam veterans, in particular, can come and get a special insight into their own problems and get treatment. We've had special job programs created for Vietnam veterans since I've been in office. It never existed before. We've extended the time within which the GI bill can be honored for Vietnam veterans.
In addition to that, we've had a very good increase annually, for the first time, in veterans benefits. No President's ever done that before, but every year we've increased veterans benefits at least to try to stay up with the cost of inflation. We've done that four times since I've been in office.
On the Agent Orange question, it's a very serious problem. Max Cleland, with a staff of both scientists and doctors, is trying as best he can to find out the facts about the Agent Orange effect on people's lives and health. And if you have a special problem for that, I hope that you will call Max Cleland. I'll have my staff tell him to wait for your call, and he can refer you to specifically the people in his agency and the Veterans Administration that can answer your question. So, if you would just give my staff members your name and address and telephone number. And if you wish, I'll have Max Cleland give you a call personally about it.
Keech LeGrand2 says that's all the questions I can take. Can I take one more, Keech? I'm going to be late.
Thank you, ma'am. I'll take it.
2 White House staff advance person.
Q. Mr. President, this will be brief. Everybody knows, everybody should know that the problems that beset this Nation today are not the doing of one man, nor will they be undone by one man. Yet a second term offers you greater understanding, experience, greater strength, greater freedom, conviction to act. Why is this not more positive in your campaign?
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, ma'am. Well, as you know, in the heat of a campaign it's often very difficult for a candidate to make those points as well as you just made it then. We've not had a President who's served two full terms since Dwight Eisenhower, because of different circumstances, assassination, resignation, and other tragedies. And I believe that it is to the advantage of the American people to understand the continuity that is valuable to us.
If you were managing a major corporation or trying to determine the affairs of a major city, obviously someone who had been in that office for 3 or 4 years would be much more knowledgeable about the interest groups and the challenges and the problems and their possible solutions; also the intricacies of the Federal Government bureaucracy, just a knowledge about other nations on Earth and their leaders, their characteristics, their hopes and their dreams, and the problem, troubled areas. But in the heat of a campaign, charges are made against an incumbent administration that quite often steal the headlines.
I was in Orlando, Florida, this week. And I noticed, for instance, the headlines, "Reagan Charges United States Has Lost Military Supremacy"—big headline. And it went on to say that we have now, because of the maladministration of the incumbent President become, and I quote Mr. Reagan, "This administration has allowed the United States to become number two in military power." And it went on to say, "collapse of the American will and the retreat of American power." The date on that is September 1976. He was talking about President Ford, and it's hard for me to understand how, if President Ford and Kissinger let the Nation become the number two military power, how I have let the Nation become a number two military power.
This kind of rhetoric and exaggeration in a political campaign tends to cover up what actually is the circumstance in our country. Our country is not second to any in military power; it will never be. And just to continue the tradition, I'd like to read to you the response that President Ford's spokesman made. He said, referring to Governor Reagan's comment, he said, "This is the kind of thing you could read in every right-wing magazine in the last 5 years." I'm not making that comment, I'm just quoting President Ford 4 years ago about Governor Reagan.
The point is that the people of this Nation in a political campaign have to stop and consider what is our Nation's circumstance, what has been accomplished in energy, in the number of jobs built, in how Toledo itself has changed in the last 2 or 3 years, whether senior citizens are now more secure, whether we are reducing oil imports, whether peace has been brought to the Middle East, whether we've opened up new friendships with a billion people on Earth in China, whether our defense establishment is strong, whether our Nation has stayed at peace. These are the kinds of issues that I think are proof of what has been done under .this administration and gives a good preview of what will be done if an experienced President, knowing how to work with the Congress, knowing how to deal with these issues, can stay in office another 4 years. I'm glad you asked the question. It gave me a chance to answer it.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you.