Jimmy Carter photo

Cleveland, Ohio Remarks at a Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Reception.

September 16, 1980

There are a lot of people that can't get in, but I hope they can hear.

Senator Howard Metzenbaum and Mary Rose Oakar, Charlie Vanik, Chairman Tim Hagan and, of course, our host and our hostess:

You've made it possible for us to come here to this exciting place.

How many of you believe, since you've heard the recent statements on this platform, that the Democratic Party in Cuyahoga County and throughout the State of Ohio is united and that we're going to have a tremendous victory on November 4? How many of you believe that? [Applause] Very good.

I think all of you realize that since the Democratic convention was concluded that one of my best and strongest and most effective supporters and campaigners has been Senator Ted Kennedy and I deeply appreciate that. And I also appreciate this show of support for me among some of his very strong supporters during the primary season. It was a time for discussing the issues that affect our Nation. Now is the time to bring ourselves together to think about the importance of what we've done together and to think about the importance of the future.

Ours is a nation which has been at peace now for 3 1/2 years, and with your help the United States of America will stay at peace for 4 more years. That's important to me and to your families. Ours is a nation that in the last 3 1/2 years has added 8.6 million new jobs. We've had the most difficult economic season in international affairs in recent memory. We've got a long way to go, but we have now achieved for the first time in our Nation's history a comprehensive energy policy. This year our country will produce more coal than in any other year in the history of the United States. This year our country has more drill rigs running to find more oil and natural gas than at any other time in the history of the United States.

In the 3 years before I became President we increased imports of foreign oil 44 percent. Since I've been in the White House, with the help of Senator Metzenbaum, Mary Rose Oakar, Charlie Vanik, and others, we have decreased our dependence on foreign oil by 24 percent. Today and every day in 1980 we will import from overseas 2 million barrels of oil less than we did in the year 1977. That's a tremendous achievement, and I want to express my thanks to you for it.

It's not been easy. Today, my Republican opponent will raise $2 1/2 million in one fundraiser among the oil executives in Houston, Texas. In my judgment, what the Congress has done in the last 3 years in hammering together an energy policy for our country—which we've never had before—is one of the great historic achievements of all time. And now we have a base or a foundation on which we can actually revitalize the entire American economy and make sure that the growth in jobs and opportunities and career chances for our young people and our old ones, for those communities that have suffered from the times of change, will have a bright future ahead in the 1980's-brighter and more exciting and more prosperous than we have ever seen before in the history of the country. That's what I believe we can have with a Democratic administration the next 4 years.

The human element is important, because we have to think about the families-the need for those families to be strong, to be united. The preservation of the quality of individual neighborhoods is crucial to us.
When I campaigned around this Nation, including Ohio, several times, in 1976, I had a constant message that came to me from two sources. One was the elderly people in our country—those who are approaching or already having reached the retirement age—"Do not let social security go into bankruptcy." Now I never have that question raised, because they know that if I'm elected President for 4 more years, the social security system will be sound; it will not be voluntary. We will continue with Medicare, we'll continue with Medicaid. We care about people and the people's future and the security of families. Those things will be preserved. But it wasn't sure 3 1/2 years ago.

And the other message to me from almost every mayor, Democratic or Republican, was our cities are deteriorating so rapidly that we face a constant crisis. You yourselves have had a very serious trial in this city—in Cleveland, in this metropolitan area. The future can be very bright as we solve the problems of better tools and better factories for our steelworkers, meet foreign competition in automobiles, make sure that we increase the production of American energy of all kinds, including coal—these kinds of things are now in the future, ahead of us, if America can retain the same commitment that's made our country strong.

This Nation with all its breadth of diversity-people having moved here from every country on Earth, retaining our cultural commitments, but uniting in a common effort—no matter what we have faced in problems that seem to be insoluble, questions that apparently could not be answered, obstacles that many thought could not be overcome—this country, when united, has never failed. And we will not fail in the next 4 years if we have a Democratic administration.

Peace is important to us. It's particularly important to a President. Americans revere the office of Presidency. The Oval Office is a place where difficult questions come. There are no difficult questions that come to anyone in the Nation any more trying for a human being. I never see an easy question or problem come to the Oval Office. If they are easy they're solved somewhere else— [laughter] —in a private home or in a city hall or in a county courthouse, in a State legislature, in a Governor's office. If they can't be solved in all those other places after a tremendous effort's made, they come to the Oval Office. And the most difficult ones and the ones that are most vital to the future of our country and the entire world are the ones where my own advisers are almost exactly equally divided in the advice they give me. And I have to make a decision about prosperity and failure, about moving forward or moving backward, about peace and war, about fairness and equity and opportunity compared to the loss of those opportunities for those that might be poor or whose families don't speak good English or who don't have political influence. Those are the kinds of decisions that I have to make.

This year will be a time of decision for the future of our country. It's more important than just a contest between two men. The differences are vast. Perhaps there's never been a sharper difference between two men with the possible exception of when Goldwater ran against Johnson. The choice between the two parties is sharp.

My opponent has departed radically even from the past history of his own party. The Republican platform this year could be devastating to the average working family of this country. Every President since Harry Truman and Eisenhower, Democratic and Republican, has said our Nation must be at peace, must be strong. But in order to do that we've got to control nuclear weapons and not have a massive nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. That philosophy, that commitment, has been changed.

Our Nation has stayed at peace because we are militarily strong, and we're going to stay strong. The 8 years before I became President, we had a steady decrease in real expenditures for our defense capability. Since I have been in office, with the help of these Members of Congress behind me from both Houses, we've had a steady increase in our commitment to defense. That is a good investment. And I'd like to point out to you that the best weapon is the one that's never fired, and the best soldier is one that's never killed. And I'm determined to keep this country at peace.

And finally, let me say this. I've talked a lot about me as President, I've talked a lot about your Senators, your Members of the House in Washington. The outcome of this election doesn't depend on us. I'll do the best I can. So will Fritz Mondale, who was here not long ago. So will the members of my Cabinet and the members of my family. So will supporters of mine who are chairmen of the county and State parties and in the Congress. But the results of this election will depend on you. And. I hope that every one of you in these next few weeks will think about the differences in your own life, in the lives of your own family members in the next 4 years, throughout the 1980's to the end of this century if the decision that's made is the wrong decision.

In 1968 we had two men running for President. One was Hubert Humphrey. The other one was Richard Nixon. We came out of the Democratic convention in Chicago divided. I would guess that everyone in this room felt even then that Hubert Humphrey was the better of the two men. But many people didn't rally to his support. They didn't contribute $5 or $50 or more. They didn't call their neighbors and ask the Democrats to go and vote. And by a very narrow margin, as you know, in spite of heroic efforts on his part, Hubert Humphrey lost. Ed Muskie was his running mate, and Richard Nixon was in the White House, followed by Gerald Ford, for 8 long years.

The same thing happened in 1960 the other way, when 28,000 votes in Texas, if they had changed, and just a few votes in Illinois would have meant that John F. Kennedy would never have been President. Our country now is facing a similar choice, and what you do as an individual American citizen, patriotic, wanting peace, wanting better education, wanting better transportation, wanting better job opportunities, wanting a better life for your family, will make the difference.

Our country has raised high the banner of human rights. We now stand for something fine and decent and honest and open and inspiring. And what's happened lately in Poland, to me, is a good indication of the benevolent influence of what our country can mean around the world. I'm not trying to take credit for the United States, for the heroism and the tenacity of the Polish workers, but it's a good sign. And it means that if our country can be strong and united and keep our principles intact and put our faith in the good, solid families that have been the structure and strength of this country, then after November 4 we'll make sure that the greatest nation on Earth is even greater the next 4 years and the rest of this century.
Thank you. God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 5:58 p.m. at Kiefer's Restaurant.

Jimmy Carter, Cleveland, Ohio Remarks at a Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Reception. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251167

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