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Bangor, Maine Remarks at a Reception Following a Fundraising Dinner for Senator William D. Hathaway.

February 17, 1978

It's a great pleasure to be here with all of you wire formed close friendships with members of my family. One man came through the line and said he had been with my wife when she campaigned in the northern part of Maine in Aroostook County, along the Saint John River, and said that he had had my Aunt Cissy to spend the night in his home with him and his wife, and had a chance to pray with my sister Ruth, and he was looking forward to drinking a beer with Billy. [Laughter] But I was really the bottom one on his list. [Laughter] He was also glad to shake hands with the President.

I'm glad to come back to the State that's got the most interesting Democratic Presidential primary law in the world. It kept Maine in the forefront of my mind for at least a month- [laughter] —while two delegates came forward, you know, every 2 or 3 days. Also, I've noticed that the Indian treaty question is not as unpopular with country club members as I had thought it was. [Laughter] At least you haven't changed the name of the country club. [Laughter]

This is a State where difficult issues are addressed with courage and conviction. I'm going to talk primarily about a close friend of mine who introduced me. But I would like to say this about two former Governors of yours—perhaps one of the closest friends I have in the world, a man who epitomizes what I think a public servant should be and one who's done a tremendous job for the Democratic National Committee the last year, Ken Curtis. For a few months I spent almost as many nights with him and Polly and Angel as I did with Rosalynn and Amy. Ken, I thank you for what you've done for all of us.

And I think one of the great statesmen of our Nation, a man who with his sincere, quiet logic, cooled the almost frantic searching for truth in our country during the years of the previous administration, a man who has transformed the Democratic Party in Maine because of his integrity and competence, and a man who's now completely recovered, ready to go to work with me back in Washington, Ed Muskie. Ed, thank you very much for being here.

Senator Hathaway announced earlier today that I had approved the emergency declaration for Maine. And I want to express my thanks as President to him as Senator for making this announcement for me— [laughter] —earlier today.

I think in the coastal region where you have been so severely hurt, I think again it's a tribute to the strength of the Maine people that you've come through so well. You've been able to bear this kind of physical hardship, and I'm sure it's brought your people closer together.

I would like to say a few words about Bill Hathaway. If there ever was a tenacious and aggressive fighter for his own State, it's Senator Bill Hathaway. He is willing to address difficult questions. He always keeps in the forefront of his mind what's best for his people back home. And at the same time, he occupies a remarkably important series of positions in the U.S. Senate. As a member of the Finance Committee and the Subcommittee on Energy, he deals with one of the most crucial questions of our country. And I know that everyone who lives in New England, particularly Maine, recognizes that the consumers' interest and our Nation's interest must be protected.

At the same time, the second most important issue that we face this year, domestically speaking, is our economic problems. And he's the leader of the subcommittee responsible for economic problems, for employment, for tax reform. And it's remarkable how, with his own capability and quiet attention to detail and legislation in the Senate, he's acquired those responsibilities so early.

He's responsible for revenue sharing, and as you know, this again has been a very, very important panacea for us to strengthen the ties between the Federal Government and the State governments. He's also a man of compassion, which I think is important because that's an element of leadership that never changes. Other issues come and go, but a close, sensitive attention to those who suffer in our society is the mark of a great leader and a great statesman. He's been particularly interested in trying to alleviate the problems that result from drug addiction and from alcoholism. And he's been particularly concerned about the treatment for those millions of Americans who suffer. He's also extended this one generation in the future, because he's made a special study of the adverse effect on infant children of alcoholism in their mother during the time of pregnancy.

He's interested in our national security. He's been especially singled out for honor by serving on the Senate committee on intelligence and I don't think there's any more sensitive area in the whole Federal Government than the special committee on the intelligence community in the U.S. Senate. That's a small group of carefully chosen leaders who are extremely trustworthy, because in their hands and in their minds are placed the utmost sensitive secrets about our interrelationship with foreign governments. And they are also trusted, along with the President, the CIA, and the Defense Department, in protecting our country against subversion. And there has to be a careful balancing there between strength in protecting our country and the protection of the basic rights of American people. We've seen during the Nixon years that this can be abused.

Bill Hathaway happens to be the chairman of the subcommittee that looks into the financing, the budget of the Intelligence Community. And he did the first complete audit of how funds are spent and whether they were legal. And his work and those of others on that committee have been responsible already for the preparation of an Executive order that I issued recently, in close cooperation with the Senators involved, that I think brings order out of the chaos that previously existed in the management of this sensitive area of our country.

And now legislation is being prepared for the first time to spell out the authority, responsibility, and the limitations in the collection, dissemination of intelligence, and the protection of our country against counterintelligence.

Just in one day in my life as President, I had encounters with Bill Hathaway. In the morning, I met with the intelligence committee to talk about these things that I've just described to you. And later on that day I signed the small business assistance legislation for 2 years to help small business people. That was authored by, you guessed it, Bill Hathaway.

It's a very fine record and one that quite often is not adequately recognized around the Nation, because Hathaway is a Senator who doesn't protect his own achievements by personally bragging about them. He doesn't call press conferences to say, "Look what I did," or "Look at the error I found," or "Look at the advantage that I've now achieved for the people back in Maine or the United States." He's almost too reticent. But his peers in the U.S. Senate and his executive partner in the White House recognize the stature and the competence of this man.

He's had a special responsibility also in career education, which is important to me as a person who's had to work all my life. And I come from a part of the country that's very poor; many parts of Maine are very poor.

Those who grow crops under the ground have something in common. We don't make much money. [Laughter] And a lot of our children don't have a chance to get an advanced education and career education. And the matching of the graduates of our vocational schools, high schools, technical schools, with the job opportunities has been the special province in the United States Senate of Senator Bill Hathaway. And he's the author of that legislation that I signed into law this past December.

I won't mention many other things, but I would like to say that he is a coauthor of the Older Americans Act, and a lot of people don't know it.

I've been all over the country during the campaign to meet with, and I've eaten many lunches with older people in a renovated old building, and I've also been into homes when the meals on wheels were served.

I'll bet you not more than a thousand people in the whole country know that Bill Hathaway was the coauthor of the legislation that treats older people with dignity and respect and compassion.

And the last thing I'd like to say in just a brief few minutes is he knows his own State. He has a special interest in textile workers. Georgia has 60,000 textile workers. And Bill understands them and fights for them. He understands and knows the potato farmers. He protects them and he fights for them. He understands the capabilities of the shipbuilding opportunities at Bath, Maine. And I've just put into the 1979 budget authorization for eight more patrol frigates. And I think there's an excellent chance with Bill Hathaway and Ed Muskie working on it that Bath will get their share of those contracts. [Laughter] He understands the special problem of fishermen, and he fights for them.

And I think you all know that Maine in the past has really suffered because of your heavy dependence on imported oil. Your fuel bills for the same amount of heat are about 45 percent higher than many other parts of the Nation. Some of your industries have been here a long time, and the foreign competition is very severe.

And he understands people who work in places like Maine shoe factories. And he not only understands them but he fights for them.

If I were a resident of Maine, I would consider it not only a source of pride but also a source of assurance about the future and gratitude if Bill Hathaway was my Senator.

I was trying to think of something bad to say about him, but— [laughter] —I can't think of anything at this time. And maybe I should have talked to Ed Muskie ahead of time. But everything that I've said is absolutely true. And I have a special sense of responsibility as a Democratic President, the titular head of the Democratic Party, to assess the principles of our Nation and our party and to speak up when I deeply believe in someone.

And I especially feel this responsibility when that person quite often is not a show horse but one who quietly and meticulously and competently and courageously goes about his work and doesn't ask for accolades or appreciation, but gets his gratification out of knowing that he does a job well. And I can't think of anyone who most accurately fits that description than Bill Hathaway, who's a personal friend of mine.

And I come here to let you know that I hope that you'll leave this rally for him, the fundraising banquet for him, with a determination not to be satisfied with what you've already done. I know that many of you are personal friends of Bill Hathaway's. You've made substantial contributions, and that's not enough.

He's going to have a tough campaign on his hands this year. And it's going to require that each one of you become kind of a focal point .or an organizer to recruit other people, to contribute heavily financially, and also to arouse the spirit and the enthusiasm and the commitment of others who feel like you do, that Maine needs Bill Hathaway. And I think the United States needs him, too. So let's work together to get him elected.

Note: The President spoke at 7: 11 p.m. at the Penobscot Valley Country Club.

Jimmy Carter, Bangor, Maine Remarks at a Reception Following a Fundraising Dinner for Senator William D. Hathaway. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244479

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