Jimmy Carter photo

Chicago, Illinois Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraising Reception.

October 06, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, Chairman Jack Touhy, Mayor Jane Byrne.

It's wonderful to be here in Chicago, one of the great industrial centers of the Nation. I'm particularly proud of the one thing that you produce best, and that's good Democrats. And now at least you and I know what I really mean when I say we want to increase productivity, right, throughout the country? [Laughter]

This next 4 weeks is important. It's also impressive to be with a group like you and to see what creative and imaginative people Democrats are. Nobody else could find such an infinite number of things to disagree on as Democrats do. But I know there's one thing that every person in this room agrees with tonight, and that is on November the 4th we're going to whip the Republicans from top to bottom.

A lot of people have said I've been running a mean campaign.

AUDIENCE MEMBER. Right on. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No matter how much you might approve, that's not exactly the case, because I think there's definitely a place in our political society for Republican candidates, and that's second place. Right? Second place. And this year we're going to use all the Democratic power we can exert to keep them in second place.

Well, I've been very eager since the first of the campaign to have a man-to-man, one-on-one debate with my opponent, Governor Reagan, because he and I represent our two parties. He and I are the product of months and months of primary and caucus competition. He and I are the choices of the two great conventions of the parties of our Nation, and the choices between us are extremely important. There has never been in my lifetime a more sharp, stark, important decision for the American people than the differences that exist this year, not just between me and him, not just between the Democratic Party and its platform corn. pared to the Republican Party and its relatively radical platform, compared to previous years, but between the two futures that'll be spelled out for our people. And I'm very eager to see these issues debated during the next 4 weeks.

We have important work to do among us. My responsibility is the same as yours. You and I are partners in every sense of the word. Ours is a party of history, a party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, a party of Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy. And those memories that come back to Democrats' minds, whether old or young, just from the listing of those names are warm memories. They are memories of progress. They are memories of commitment to peace. They're commitment to the equality that ought to exist among Americans of all backgrounds and all faiths and all interests and all national origin. They're the party that's closest to the lives of average Americans, of working families.

We are the party that believes in nuclear arms control. We're the party that believes in jobs for all Americans. We're the party that believes in fair and equitable tax systems. We're the party that believes that the energy crisis is being resolved through courage, and the new energy policy will be the foundation for a revitalization of the American industrial complex. We're the party that believes in a better life for minorities and the poor and working families and for the elderly and those that might not have a powerful voice because they're not rich or influential, but who have a powerful voice because they are represented by a party both of compassion and of competence.

We're talking tonight about the future of our Nation. We're talking tonight about the future of our own lives and about the future of the lives of people that we love.

Ours is a nation that believes in strength, and we believe in using that strength to maintain peace. In the last 8 years before I became President, when Republicans were in the White House, 7 of those years we had a decrease in the allotment of budget funds to keep our Nation strong. In the last 3 or 4 years, since I've been in office, we've had a steady, planned, meticulous, deeply committed, orderly, and effective increase in our allotment for defense. And as long as I'm President, we're going to have a strong nation, because only through strength can our Nation stay at peace. And in the last 3 1/2 years, and I pray God for the next 5 1/2 [4 1/2] years, I've not had to send a single soldier of the American Government or the American people to combat, to die in war.

I just want to say a couple of other things to you. This month, the month of October and 3 or 4 days in November, will be crucial moments of choice. The actions that you take will literally decide the lives of millions of people in our country and indeed throughout the world.

You'll have to determine whether consumers have a voice on Capitol Hill and in the White House, whether the quality of our land and our water and our air will be maintained and improved. And you'll also determine whether there'll be jobs. for all Americans, whether working people will be on the inside counsels, around the table, when decisions are made about the future of our Nation or excluded on the outside, alienated, driven from the counsels of government and therefore frustrated. You'll determine whether or not this America will be unified or, if I lose the election, whether Americans might be separated, black from white, Jew from Christian, North from South, rural from urban; whether this Nation will be guided by a sense of long-range commitment to peace, sound judgment, and broad consultations; whether we'll have a close feeling of community and consultation with our allies; whether our adversaries will be tempted to end the peace for which we all pray.

These kinds of questions and many others ought to be on your minds and hearts as we go through this next 24 hours of registering people to vote and go through the next 4 weeks of making the best basic decision. Although you are my partners, I, as the President of this country, as the nominee of our party, as the standard bearer, nominated at the convention, will be the leader, along with Fritz Mondale, one of the best Vice Presidents, perhaps the best that this Nation has ever seen.

And finally we need to think about the candidate who's been chosen by the Republican Party. I don't believe this country needs a President who believes that the best way to control nuclear weapons is to start a nuclear arms race and play a trump card against the Soviet Union. I don't believe we need a candidate for President who believes that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and I quote, "is none of our business." I don't believe that Americans want a President who thinks that Americans who draw unemployment compensation are just on a prepaid vacation for freeloaders. I don't believe we want a President—those of us who grew up during the Depression as I did—who says that the New Deal was based on fascism or that those tonight who believe and love Hubert Humphrey believe, as Governor Reagan does, that the Humphrey-Hawkins bill is a design for fascism.

It's difficult to get the message across to the American people in the hurly-burly of a campaign, when the Republicans have unlimited finances, to explain those deep and penetrating differences that exist in the lives of people of this country in the future depending on the choice that will be made on November the 4th. I'll do the best I can during these last 4 weeks.

This is my last campaign, the last political race that I will ever run. I do not intend for it to end by turning the Government of the United States over to people whose political philosophy and views about this country are directly contrary to everything in which I believe with all my heart and soul. But I must remind you again that 29 days is not a very long time.

Many of you have helped the Democratic Party and helped candidates like Hubert Humphrey and John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, perhaps through your entire adult life. You've helped to keep this party together through thick and thin. Our party is strong now. Our party is united now. Senator Ted Kennedy and I are campaigning together in many ways, in many places. And I appreciate what you've done in the past, what you've done tonight, and what you've pledged to do during the next few days. I congratulate you on your service in the past. I thank you for your service now.

But we must get our voice through to the American voters, in a clear, undistorted, truthful, and unvarnished way, about the choice to be made on election day in November. You've given this party your contribution; you've given this party your hearts. But you cannot walk out of here tonight satisfied that you have fulfilled your obligation even though you've given a major contribution in funds to. night and in dedicated work and service in the past.

The job is not yet done. We still must have your leadership, your voice, your dedication, your energy, and your spirit. I need it all, working together. And if we have it, with everyone here a leader—no one in this room who cannot reach at least a hundred people—many of you can reach thousands of people between now and November the 4th. If you do that and realize the important responsibility on all of us, then there is no doubt in my mind that Illinois will be a key to the victory that we will celebrate in the evening of November the 4th for the Democratic Party and for our Nation.

In 1960 if just 28,000 people in Texas had voted differently and just a few people here in Illinois had voted differently, John Kennedy would never have served in the White House. In 1968 if all of you and I had done just a little more during that crucial election, Hubert Humphrey would have been our President and Richard Nixon would never have served in the White House. Those ifs are very important, but they show in a vivid way the crucial nature of a Presidential election, the impact of an election on the well-being and attitude and stature of our country and the catastrophe that can result if the outcome of those elections go the wrong way.

I tell you that there is much more at stake in 1980 with me versus Governor Reagan than there was in 1976 in the election between me and Gerald Ford-much more at stake. The Republican Party is different. The consequences of the election are much more profound. To lead this country through a threshold to a bright and secure future, we must work together, because the alternative is too doubtful, too bleak to contemplate.

I do not intend to lose this election, and I want to know: Will you help me? [Applause] Right on. We're ready together, and we will not lose. Right? [Applause] Right on.

Note: The President spoke at 7:31 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Palmer House.

Jimmy Carter, Chicago, Illinois Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraising Reception. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250725

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