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Boise, Idaho Informal Exchange With Reporters on Arrival at Boise Airport.

August 21, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. Hi, everybody. Good to see you.

Q. We're told you're not going to say anything real heavy for us, but you might say a little something.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll say the most important thing. I'm glad to be in Idaho. We've been looking forward to it. I used to come out here back in the early fifties when I was working under Admiral Rickover, came into Pocatello and Arco. And I came out here when Cecil Andrus was Governor—we're very close friends—and we're really looking forward to going down the Middle Fork. I'm an old canoeist and kayaker.

Q. You're going to try that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think we will probably stick with the raft. But if they give me a chance, I might try the canoe at least.

Q. You better watch out for him. He's a fly-fishing enthusiast. Is there a challenge to do any particular contest as to how many and how big you're going to catch on the

THE PRESIDENT. He brought his own fly-casting outfit. I've got mine back in Georgia. But I'm going to have to borrow one. So, if he does win and catch the biggest fish, it's because he's fishing with his own tackle. [Laughter]

Q. Can we ask you one thing of small substance?


Q. Apparently you met with Senator McClure last Thursday


Q. — concerning the continuation of the atomic breeder reactor program. Have you changed your position on. that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not at all. We are strongly in favor of an adequate, very strong research and development program in the breeder field. My own background is in nuclear physics, and I'm familiar with the need for it. What I don't want to do is to firm up a specific design plan and start building the Clinch River breeder reactor, which, by the time it's finished, will be outdated and which will sap away the research and development funds that I think can be used much better to our advantage the way we have it planned.

But I think that Senator McClure agrees with this approach. His only concern, since I hadn't talked to him about it, was to be sure that our country is going to have a strong, viable, aggressive, continuous research and development program in breeder reactor technology.

Q. The man right behind you here, Governor Evans, has been trying to meet with you. Apparently he will meet with you. I assume that-you're going to endorse his candidacy. You want to do anything physical for us here?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'm not sure that he needs it. But the closer I can get to him politically, the more it helps me, he's such a good and popular Governor.

We have, I think, an excellent prospect here in Idaho and throughout the country this year to have success. And Governor Evans, as you know, is a very fine successor to Gecil Andrus. They see things the same way, and I think they are both equally popular in Idaho.

Q. Do you have any plans to sort of pontificate as you float down the Salmon River and figure out ways to increase your popularity in the polls?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think we're doing okay in the polls. We have addressed some very difficult subjects, and one of the polls that we will be observing very carefully is the ability of Democratic Members of Congress to be reelected in November. I think this will be a good way to assess the attitude of the American people toward me and toward the Congress.

Ordinarily, in the past, even with Presidents who have been very high in the polls, they've lost 35 or 40 members of the incumbent President's party in the House of Representatives. We hope to do better than that in November. And, of course, we've been very successful, I think, with Congress in getting people back to work. We've had good success in foreign affairs, in trying to deal with the very difficult questions of inflation. But I can't run the White House and make my decisions as President based on what's more popular. I have to make decisions sometimes when I know that either way that I go will be unpopular.

But I think in the long run that's the kind of President the American people want.

Q. Mr. President, thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. It's been a pleasure.

Q. Do you see this as an unusual vacation for a President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I understand it's an unprecedented vacation, but I've been looking forward to this for a long time. Cecil Andrus and I have been close friends since we were first elected Governor, and he's never lost an opportunity to tell me about the beauties of Idaho. And my own background in whitewater canoeing and kayaking has prepared me to want to come out here and see the Salmon River. So, we are looking forward to it. And even if it is unusual, I think I benefit from the fact that I've decided to do it.

Q. What about the youngest member of the family staying back?

THE PRESIDENT. Who, Amy? Amy's here with us.

Q. No, the other closest member of the family, the other young man.

THE PRESIDENT. The other son?

Q. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, he had some other duties to perform. He's just finished college this year in geography, and he's a computer programer and a mapper. And he's got work already cut out for himself and couldn't get off.

My oldest son, Jack, has spent a lot of time on the whitewater canoeing trips, and he's with us, and also my middle son, Chip, and Amy, of course, who's an outstanding swimmer. We're all looking forward to it. It's really nice to be back out in Idaho.

Q. How long has it been since you spent a night in a sleeping bag? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll say Amy's spent probably 10 nights in a sleeping bag, since I've been President. It's probably been 3 years since I've been in a sleeping bag.

Q. Since a scoutmaster?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, even since then. When I was Governor, we went out every now and then.

Q. Can you swim?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes, very well. [Laughter]

Thank you. Good to see you all; really proud to be here.

Note: The exchange began at 6:05 p.m.

Jimmy Carter, Boise, Idaho Informal Exchange With Reporters on Arrival at Boise Airport. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248782

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