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Aliquippa, Pennsylvania Remarks at a Reception for Gene Atkinson.

September 23, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much. Now let me say a few words. Thank you so much. It's really tremendous for me to be among friends, between two friends who were there when I needed them, and who have formed an allegiance with me and my family that is absolutely unshakable, and that there is no way that I as President could have a closer relationship with you and the rest of my own administration than to have Pete Flaherty in the statehouse running your own affairs in Pennsylvania, and Gene Atkinson there to represent your district.

As you know, we were not very well financed in 1976. [Laughter] So, when we came into Beaver Valley to campaign, we didn't have any campaign headquarters and couldn't afford one. But there was one certain man who cared enough about me and who cared enough about my wife, who was in here campaigning for 5 full days, to say, "I've got a campaign headquarters and telephones. Why don't we share it?" And you know who that person was, it was your next Congressman, Gene Atkinson.

There are some things—

MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE. Thank you, Gene Atkinson. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Right. Thank you, Congressman Atkinson.

MR. ATKINSON. You're welcome, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. There are some things that we need in Washington, as you well know. I made a mistake, a slight mistake in the townhall meeting a while ago. We do have a limit on what can be contributed to Members of Congress, and they have to reveal it. What we need in a general election, though, is Federal financing of the entire election.

In the President's race, once President Ford and I were nominated, there was an amount of money allocated to our campaigns that got all contributors out of the picture completely. There was just one mass of contributors, and that's the taxpayers of the country, and the maximum contribution that you can make is $1 per year.

That's what we need for the Congress as well. And these two men standing next to me are the kind who want to see cleanness and decency and honesty and openness brought back into the Government, so that the only people we represent are you.

We need someone representing you in Congress who knows something about business and management—a small businessman, understands payrolls, understands how to make employees be prosperous and form a partnership with them, doing work in the graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh in business management, knowledgeable about local affairs, county commissioner—7 years?

MR. ATKINSON. 7 years.

THE PRESIDENT. And in 7 years—this is unbelievable for me; I want you all to check on it—he tells me that they've only had a 4 mill increase in property taxes in 7 years under his administration—unbelievable. That shows good knowledge not only of how local government can work well but also how to treat people who trust him and put him in office.

I hope that all of you who have helped today by coming here to meet with me and to meet with Gene and Pete will leave here with another additional commitment. You've not done enough. A financial contribution, that helps, but you can give, many of you, more.

And there's no one here who can't go back home and raise 10 times as much as you have contributed in coming here today. I know you've got 10 friends who are not here today who would be willing to give that much to get a good Congressman to represent you in Washington.

Also, you are Americans who believe in our country. And I think it's time for you to make an investment of time. Many of you, perhaps, already are. But there's also no one here who can't go back home and become, in effect, a campaign manager for Gene Atkinson, to ask your own family, your own block, your own neighborhood, perhaps a whole community, to organize for him.

When election day comes, you ought to have a list of several hundred people that you could call on the telephone, maybe beginning the night before, and say, "Would you go out tomorrow and vote for the next Congressman of the United States to represent us?" This is the kind of thing you can do, if you will.

The ones that can help most, of course, are maybe retired people, because the Congress takes actions almost every day that affect your lives. And many of you are not employed full-time, because you have reached the retirement age. You can make 150 telephone calls per day. I have done it, from my study in Plains, Georgia, to Iowa, 'before the first votes took place. I made 128 long-distance calls from Plains to get the nomination commitment in Iowa. So, there's no limit to what you can do if you're willing. And I hope you'll be willing, because it's an investment that you can make in a campaign for a man that will not only serve you well, but let me be able better, as President, to serve you well.

I need him there. He's a personal friend. I know how he feels about you. And there's no doubt that if you would elect and will join me in helping to elect Gene Atkinson, you could not possibly have a better man in Washington.

Perhaps you have been here almost long enough. Now I want you to leave here, go home, go to work for Gene.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 4:30 p.m. at Ciro's Top of the Mall Restaurant at the Beaver Valley Mall.

Jimmy Carter, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania Remarks at a Reception for Gene Atkinson. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243366

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