Jimmy Carter photo

Columbia, South Carolina Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting

October 31, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. My good friend, Dick Riley, and Senator Fritz Hollings, distinguished Members of the Congress who are here, State and local leaders, students, teachers, parents:

I'm glad to be here in the Southland, back home, where I belong and where I'm going to return—and I'm intending to come back down here to stay in 1985 after I finish my second term in the White House.


To be serious for a few minutes before I take the questions, I want to say that I come here at a time when one of the great questions dividing the South is about to be decided. I've tried never to shirk the tough questions, never to shrink from speaking out on issues that people care about deeply, and I will not do that today. Even though I am from Georgia, I honestly believe that the Gamecocks have a chance against the Bulldogs tomorrow. And aside from football teams, there's also a contest between two men. One, of course, is Hershel Walker from Wrightsville and the other Georgian is George Rodgers from Duluth. If Georgia's made two contributions to what's best for the lives of South Carolinians, I'll say George Rodgers maybe comes first, but I hope Jimmy Carter comes second. Okay? [Applause]

If this had been anywhere else, I would have said it was too early to have alert people come to discuss affairs of our Nation. But here in Columbia, in South Carolina, I know that a lot of you have already done a half a day's work before you came to the meeting, and I base that assumption on how hard your great Governor, Dick Riley, works on anything that's good for South Carolina. You can be proud of him.

It's always a special pleasure for me to talk to students. I talk to Amy quite often about matters of great importance to our Nation. [Laughter] Amy's only 13 years old, but she knows what atomic bombs would do to the world. And I also was serving on the local school board as my first public position back in the 1950's, approaching the early 1960's when the great decision was made in the South, and later throughout the Nation, about equality of rights, the elimination of discrimination, the honoring of the principles of our Constitution—one of the greatest changes ever having taken place in the world. It's helped all of us, black and white, and I'm very proud to be part of a nation—a region of that kind.

When those changes were taking place, there were two reasons that one of the older members of the school board always gave why we couldn't do what was better. The first was, "We've never done it that way before." And the other one was, "We've already tried it." So when you're caught between those two things—never done it before and already tried it—it opened up an avenue for young minds to address the crucial issues of our time.

This is a season for inventory. As we approach the 4-year election for a President, it's good for us to look at the nation God's given us—the land, the freedom, the individual hope that exists in the hearts and minds of people, a search for equality of opportunity, the elimination of doubt and division and fear and trepidation, and the engendering of hope and confidence in the future and our lives. This part of our Nation, the South, has suffered in the past. There were times when we had a very poor educational system. There were times when our people worked for starvation wages. There were times when our land was depleted with soil erosion because the poverty that swept this part of our Nation didn't permit good cultivation techniques and good fertilizing techniques.

This is a time when we can look back on those years with a great deal of gratitude. And a lot of that gratitude, in my judgment, goes to the principles and the ideals of the Democratic Party, because I grew up like many of you my age during the Depression years. And I saw Franklin Roosevelt and other great Democrats like Harry Truman come along in those years of despair and raise the banner of hope and do away with the affliction of older people and put forward social security. Republicans were against it. Minimum wage—Republicans were against it; the REA to put electricity on our farms-the Republicans were against it. Later, Medicare to give our older people a good chance for health care—the Republicans were against it.

And now we look to the future, a change that must take place to give our Nation even brighter years ahead. The Democrats have their hearts with the working people of this Nation. It hasn't changed, never will change. That is a basic issue of this year.

And of course, to keep our Nation strong is a part of the Southern character. We are not a belligerent people. We recognize that only through strength can we have assured peace. And I'm proud to say that for the last 4 years, for the first time in a half a century, the United States has been a nation at peace. We have not had any war, and I pray to God that for the next 4 years, through strength, we'll keep our great Nation at peace.

It's a crucial time in our lives. We've faced them before. And before I take the first question, I'd like to remind you that when our Nation has been tested in the past, we've never failed the test. We've never failed to answer a question, no matter how difficult it might have been. We've never failed in this Nation to solve a problem, no matter how complex. We have never failed in this Nation to overcome an obstacle, no matter how high. And the problems that we face now, the temporary inconveniences, pale into insignificance when we look back on some of the experiences that we've had, with the Great Depression, the World Wars, the divisiveness of Vietnam, the shame of Watergate. What we face now are tests of our national strength and will, but I guarantee you that we will not fail in this great Nation.

And now I'd like to have the first question, and I'll try to keep my answers brief.



Q. Mr. President, I want to know, okay, when we started in Vietnam—


Q.—in 1963 with Kennedy, okay, and the Russians started sending weapons over there, that was all fine and dandy. We had to fight with the Russians and the Communist Chinese. All right. Now that the Russians have taken Afghanistan they ask for our help. We don't give it to them. We might send small arms over there but we're trying to please the Russians. The Russians have been taking from us since World War II. And like the next war, well, it's going to be fought by people like me. And I for one am sick and tired of people pushing us around. I'd like to see us start pushing the Russians around—or not pushing them around but standing up for our rights.

THE PRESIDENT. The first American entry into Vietnam was under Dwight Eisenhower, but it was pursued by John Kennedy, and then later by Lyndon Johnson, then by Nixon and later we wound up that war unsuccessfully, as you know, under Gerald Ford. I think it would be an improper assumption that either Democrats or Republicans were responsible for it. It was one of those tragedies that existed, the first time our Nation has ever gotten into a war that we did not win. And we were there, in my judgment, trying to protect freedom, but the Nation was divided because of it. I think we learned a lesson from it, and that is not to inject ourselves into the internal affairs of another country unless our own direct security was involved.

I'd like to point out to you that in recent years, we have not fared poorly in our contests with the Soviet Union. When the Soviets went into their neighboring nation, Afghanistan, this was not a triumph for communism, it was an indication of the failure of communism. If the Soviets' friendship and their form of government had been attractive to the Afghan people, the Soviets would not have had to send 80,000 troops into that small, freedom-loving country in order to try to impose their will on it. And there are now 900,000 people, at least, or more, who have left Afghanistan to escape to freedom, now living in Pakistan; several hundred thousand perhaps in Iran. The same thing's happened in Cuba. If Castro should open the doors of Cuba, the people would escape from totalitarian government to freedom. The same thing's happening in Cambodia.

But if you look back in the last 10 to 15 years, you'll see that the Soviets have lost out around the world in their claim on the friendship and influence of people who are very strong. Egypt was formerly a Soviet ally; now Egypt is one of our strongest allies. Nigeria, the biggest and most powerful, most influential, wealthiest black nation on Earth—80 million people in Africa. A year before I became President, the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was not permitted to land his plane in Nigeria. Now they're our strong ally and friend. Just a few weeks ago, the new democratically elected President of Nigeria was over here to recement the friendship between our two countries.

Also, for the first time in my memory, perhaps in history, we are strong allies and friends now, not military allies, but friends and trading partners with both Japan and China. Four billion people live on Earth; 1 billion of them live in China. Not too long ago, the Chinese and the Russians were military allies. Now we have a good working relationship with the Chinese, and the Soviets, basically, have been frozen out—a major loss by the Soviet Union in their strategic influence, and a major gain for us. We're not exchanging military alliances with China, but having their friendship helps to stabilize that whole Asian region.

In NATO, lately, we have revitalized that relationship. We've got a 15-year progressive plan now, where we're increasing our own defense expenditures with the help of Fritz Hollings in the Senate, and we are also calling upon our allies to increase their expenditures, putting in new tactical nuclear weapons, so that we can defend ourselves.

I think it's important for us to remember that the best way to deal with a question like Afghanistan is not to send American military forces halfway around the world to fight in a neighboring country, when the Soviets have millions of troops just a few miles away. The best way for us to address those kinds of issues is through moderation, strength, political, diplomatic, and economic means.

Just one final point. No President serves in the Oval Office without there being a problem area in the world somewhere, every day, sometimes two or three. Since I've been President, there have been six or eight times when armed conflict has broken out somewhere on Earth. I've had to make a judgment about how to address that threat to world peace.

When the Soviets went into Afghanistan, I had military options, economic options, political options. I decided—no one else decided—I decided that our options should be political and economic. We marshaled 104 other nations with us to condemn the Soviet Union, the first time that it had ever been done. The Moslem countries, 34 of them, some of them former, very close allies and dependent on the Soviet Union, condemned the Soviet Union, demanded that they withdraw from Afghanistan. We have supported, publicly and otherwise, the freedom fighters in Afghanistan, giving them the strength of world opinion to say, "You can keep your freedom." And the Soviets have been bogged down in Afghanistan, unable to impose their will on those people, and they've suffered accordingly.

The Soviets are relatively isolated. We've prevented Soviet Union ships from fishing in American waters. We've cut off the shipment of feed grains to the Soviets, and now in the Soviet Union they have a lower meat allotment and food allotment than any other nation in Eastern Europe, much lower even than their satellite countries. They're suffering because they don't get our grain. They are not going to get it until they get out of Afghanistan, until they change their policy. And we've also cut off the shipment of technological, advanced items to the Soviet Union.

So, the thing that we're trying to do now is to restrain the Soviet Union from further aggression and to prove to them once and for all that aggression does not pay. But the failure of communism has been demonstrated vividly by the fact that the Soviets don't have a single nation on Earth, out of 150 nations, that want to have the same kind of government that exists in the Soviet Union. But there are dozens of nations now shifting over to the American form of government, which shows that in the long run, we'll prevail.

Good question. I'll try to keep my other answers shorter, but that's a darned good question.

Yes, sir?


Q. Yes, sir, Mr. President. I have really a two-part question I would like to ask you this morning. First of all, I would like to know your position on the merger of the civil service retirement system with social security and, second of all, are you for or against the repeal of the Hatch Act for Federal employees?

THE PRESIDENT. I am for the modification of the Hatch Act to give them more influence without their being subservient to the elected political leaders, like myself, who might interfere in their freedom of choice in the election campaign. I'm not in favor of the elimination of the civil service retirement system for any person; force them into the social security system.

Q. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, sir.


Q. President Carter, I would like to ask you, how do you propose to work out the problem of unemployment, taking into consideration inflation, which has, in other words, closed down many important, large corporations like Chrysler, and other places like that?

THE PRESIDENT. Okay. Let me point out, first of all, that because of the action of the Congress and me, Chrysler has not been closed down. As a matter of fact, we decided in our Government to guarantee loans to Chrysler from the private banks and insurance companies, at no risk to the taxpayers, to let Chrysler stay a strong and viable company. They have about 100,000 people that work directly for Chrysler and another 250,000 that supply Chrysler with important items in making their automobiles. Chrysler has now come out with a K-car, as you know, and the first day that car rolled off the assembly line they had 40,000 people waiting to buy it.

The American automobiles now, by the way, are more durable, safer, and just as fuel-efficient as any cars on Earth. And I hope that when Americans go to the car dealers in the future to buy automobiles that if all things are equal, they'll remember that American workers are making those American cars.

Secondly, on inflation, we were hit in '79 by OPEC, the oil producing nations, mostly Arab nations, with an increase in the price of oil greater than the total increase in oil price since oil was discovered back in the 1800's. We had a similar impact in 1974, when we had extremely high unemployment and much higher inflation in '74 than we've had in the last 6 months of this year. We've added, since I've been in office, in spite of that shock, almost 9 million new jobs in this country, above and beyond what we had the day I was inaugurated in January of '77—1.3 million of those jobs went to black citizens, and another million went to Spanish-speaking citizens. So, we've had a good growth in employment. Also, the last few months, unemployment rate has been going down, not going up.

The first quarter of this year, when we had the worst shock of the OPEC price increases, the inflation rate averaged about 18 percent. The second 3 months, the inflation rate averaged about 13 percent. In this last 3 months, the inflation rate averaged 7 percent, varying from zero to about 12 percent. The average was 7 percent. That's still too high, and we're working on it.

But my own commitment has been to create jobs, not in the government but in the private sector of our economy. It's very important to remember that we've got now 44,000 fewer full-time Federal Government workers than we had when I was inaugurated President. We're giving better services with a more efficient Government, but we have permitted people to be employed in the private sector.

And we now have a youth bill before the Congress—it's already passed the House; I think it'll pass the Senate—that will provide 600,000 jobs for young people at the junior, senior year in high school and above, combined with corrective education in vocational technical schools in the high schools to let those young people hold jobs.

In addition, we've got a revitalization program that's going to be put into effect next year that gives tax incentives to businesses to invest in new tools and new plants to keep the American workers more productive. This will add another million jobs in the next 2 years.

And of course, with our new energy policy, where we've cut down our imports of oil from overseas by one-third just in the last 12 months, we've got a base now to provide an exciting new future for Americans in the production of synthetic fuels, in the repair or weatherization of homes to make them more efficient, the use of solar power, the building of a public transportation system, aid to poor families that have to pay higher heat bills. These kinds of things are now on the law books and will give us a bright new future, using American energy to propel our vehicles more efficiently, to heat our homes more efficiently, and to give us a technological opportunity that this Nation has never experienced.

The size of this is important for all of you to remember. What we will do in the next 10 years, based on our new energy technology, is bigger than the Marshall plan that rebuilt Europe after the Second World War, plus the total space program that put men on the Moon, plus the entire Interstate Highway System in this Nation. That's how big it is. So that gives us a wonderful opportunity in the future for more jobs, an exciting, better life, more security because we're not depending on OPEC oil, and a chance for young people like you to go into new kinds of careers without the impact of discouragement or danger to our Nation that we've experienced in the past.

All those things have happened. I might point out this. This election year is very important to all of you. Governor Reagan has taken positions just the opposite from what I've described. On his tax program, which is the basis for his future economic development it's called the Reagan-Kemp-Roth bill—this would give tremendous tax breaks to the rich and would result in uncontrollable inflation.

Business Week magazine, which is hardly a Democratic publication—it's kind of a conservative business publication-said that Governor Reagan's proposal was completely irresponsible and would result in an inflationary explosion in this Nation that would destroy our economy and rob or impoverish everyone living on a fixed income. That's his proposal there. On energy, his proposal is to repeal what we've done, that I just described to you, abolish the Department of Energy, and turn over the responsibility for the future on energy to the oil companies. His attitude on the minimum wage is to repeal the minimum wage. He's been against the minimum wage from the very beginning, and his proposal is to do away with it. As a matter of fact, just this year, he said that the minimum wage has caused more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression.

So, on energy, on economics, on job security, on social security, on Medicare, on the control of nuclear weapons, on many very important issues, the decision about your life's future will be made next Tuesday. And that's why I'm here to ask you all to help me and to keep intact the things that I've described, that'll give you a better life.

Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, on behalf of myself and the mighty W. J. Kenner Raiders, we welcome you to South Carolina. And my question is, in a recent newspaper article, our own Senator from South Carolina, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate budget, has come out against the SALT II treaty. Also, Senator Henry Jackson, a Democrat, has stated his opposition to SALT II. In face of growing opposition from your own party, why do you still support the SALT II treaty which would place us in a position of military inferiority to the Soviet Union?

THE PRESIDENT. Okay. I'll be glad to answer that. There's no guarantee that among Democrats there'll be unanimity about an issue of that kind. And there's a difference in perspective between a Senator and a President. The Senate has only just begun to consider the strategic arms limitation treaty. This treaty is a continuation of what Presidents have attempted to do ever since Harry Truman was in office.

Under the limited test ban treaty, under the SALT I treaty, under the antiballistic missile treaty, under the Vladivostok agreement under President Ford, and now, after 7 years of negotiation under Presidents Ford, Nixon, and myself, we've come up with this treaty.

This treaty has now begun to be considered by the committees in the Senate. It has not yet reached the Senate floor for either a debate or a final vote. My belief is that the treaty, as negotiated, is good. It's a treaty that's balanced. It's a treaty that will control nuclear weapons. It's a treaty that can be confirmed by observation from satellites and from other places. It's a treaty which will lead to a lowering of the arsenals of our Nation and the Soviet Union in the future. In my judgment, it's a necessary step toward much more drastic reductions in nuclear weapons, which I think you'd find that your own Senator Hollings and also Senator Jackson would prefer.

The thing is, a Senator can disagree and can express his own opinion, which is part of our system. But a President must be in the leadership for our Nation's attitude and tone. A President has to deal with other nations around the world. Every one of our allies around the world is in favor of the ratification of this treaty.

I don't claim the treaty is perfect. But this treaty would require the Soviet Union, immediately, to dismantle 10 percent of all its nuclear launchers. It would restrain the Soviet Union between now and 1985, when the treaty expires, to reduce their planned increase by at least a third in the number of nuclear launchers they will have. This treaty will also permit us to move ahead on every single plan that we have for improving our own strategic forces—the Trident submarine, the Trident missiles, the air-launched cruise missiles, the ground-launched cruise missiles, the MX missile, located in mobile sites. It will permit us to move ahead on every single plan that we have.

There's no way to negotiate a treaty that's perfect for a given country, because you've got to negotiate with another nation. But the balance here has been retained and, in my judgment, only with the ratification of SALT II can we then move on to additional engagements with the Soviet Union to have that balanced, reduced, controlled, and confirmable arrangement. If we don't have this treaty, then the Soviets are under no restrictions whatsoever, either about building new missiles, putting more warheads per missile, concealing from the world, including is what they are doing. This is very important element of the agreement.

The Soviets have gone to enormous missiles, like the SS-18, because they didn't have miniaturized circuits and didn't have as good a propellant system as we do. Our missiles are basically smaller, more accurate. We've been in the forefront of technological progress. We're the first nation that MIRVed missiles, put more than one warhead on a single missile. If the Soviets are unrestrained, they could put 25 or 30 warheads on a single missile. Under this agreement that we worked out, they are limited to only 10. If we didn't have the treaty, they could immediately move toward 40, 20, 30 warheads per missile. In my judgment, there is no doubt that this treaty is for the best interests of our country and the entire world.

The last point is, if this treaty is withdrawn by the President—if Governor Reagan should be elected and the treaty is withdrawn—then there will be no debate on the Senate floor, there will be no debate that the American people can observe, there will be no chance to modify this treaty within the Senate to make it more acceptable to the American position and perhaps to be accepted by the Soviet Union. There'll be no base for control of nuclear weapons, and there'll be no base for a further negotiation on SALT III, which will be the next treaty that would be even lower in its limit on our country and theirs. So, to abandon this treaty would be a major setback for our Nation, in my judgment, a major advantage for the Soviet Union, in my judgment, and an elimination of the progress toward the control of nuclear weapons which, in my judgment, is the most important single issue facing this Nation and the world in the next few years.

Governor Reagan was not for the limited test ban treaty. Governor Reagan was not for the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Governor Reagan was not for the SALT I treaty, now in effect. Governor Reagan was not for the Vladivostok agreement negotiated by President Ford. And Governor Reagan, still, is not for this treaty.

There's another element of nuclear threat that ought to be mentioned in passing that's very important, and that is the proliferation of nuclear weapons among nations that don't presently have them. Our country has been in the forefront of trying to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons, atomic bombs, to other countries. All Presidents have done that until Governor Reagan came along as a candidate for President. He was asked a couple of times this year, "Suppose another nation like Pakistan or Iraq or Libya wanted to develop their own atomic weapon?" Governor Reagan said, "That's none of our business." He thinks that each nation ought to have a right, if they choose, to develop their own atomic weapons. And the threat to us from a terrorist nation like Libya, if they had an atomic bomb, would be an overwhelming terrorist threat.

So, the attitude toward the control of nuclear weapons is something on which Senator Hollings, Senator Jackson, and others agree. Governor Reagan's position is a radical departure—on the control of all nuclear weapons, past, present, and future agreements, the control of the spread of nuclear weapons to those that don't have them.

I think this issue is the most important that will be decided next Tuesday. Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, I'm the parent of a child at Drare High School. I'm a teacher at C. A. Johnson High School here in the city. I went into the military during the Korean war, along with my brother. I flew 95 combat missions in Vietnam; I did three tours over there. My last one was in target intelligence at Eighth Air Force on Guam, choosing targets for B52s. In both wars, strange things happened. We gave up a defensive position at the negotiating table and came back to the 38th parallel, which is indefensible, and apparently the North Vietnamese-the North Koreans rather, are simply waiting for an opportunity to charge across that line. And, as a matter of fact, that battle has never been resolved. We're still meeting at the negotiating table there.

In Vietnam, as a chooser of targets, all sorts of strange things were happening to us. We got a message in one day that said, "You cannot bomb a military target within 1 kilometer of any foreign embassy." Within 24 hours, we got a new list of addresses of foreign embassies. And, of course, what the North Vietnamese did was they gave new embassies to their friends, which included military targets, and we still couldn't strike those military targets. And we said, "Why?", and they said, "Well, the United States State Department said we cannot."

THE PRESIDENT. What's your question?

Q. Okay. Just a minute. I'm trying to give you some background. I'm not sure that you understand.

THE PRESIDENT. I understand. Go ahead.

Q. Let me tell you another thing that was very, very strange. At target intelligence, we chose some targets for our B52s that we felt would have stopped the flow of military goods down the Ho Chi Minh trail within a week, by bombing the dikes and dams around Hanoi and the harbor. We were told that we could not do this, we could not put the people of Hanoi and Haiphong up to their hips in muddy water and stop the flow of military goods down the Ho Chi Minh trail, which was killing our people, because the State Department said, "What would the world think of us?" Okay?

Now, this bothered me greatly at the time, and it still bothers me. And I look at some of the things that you want to do. For instance, you want to sign a treaty with the Soviet Union that cannot be verified. They will not let our people go on their territory and count what they've got. You want to do it from satellites.

THE PRESIDENT. I have signed the treaty. There is nothing in the treaty that cannot be verified by us.

Q. Can we send people on their territory and actually count their weapons on the ground?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I can assure you on my word of honor as a gentleman and a southerner and a President that there is nothing in that treaty that we cannot verify, with our own means.

Q. Apparently, Senator Hollings agrees with me that we cannot do it. We're dealing with people—

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe that.

Q.—whom lying, cheating, and stealing is their main—

THE PRESIDENT. I think, really, that we're about to run out of time.

Q.—point, is their main philosophy. Okay. I really haven't got to my question yet, for goodness sake.

THE PRESIDENT. I noticed that. I noticed that. Maybe after I have to leave, you would want to continue your explanation, but I really would like to have a question, and I'll try to answer it.


Q. Okay. In both conflicts, I was told that I was fighting to hold back world socialism. And now I discover that there is a semi-secret organization, based in New York, whose avowed purpose is world socialism and you belong to it—the Council on Foreign Relations. Your top 17 advisers are members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Can you explain your relationship with the Council on Foreign Relations? And then I'll sit down.

THE PRESIDENT. Sure. I don't have any relationship with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Q. The minute you became elected you didn't, because it was written into the bylaws. But before that, were you a member of the Council on Foreign Relations?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe I've ever been a member of it. No, I don't think I have ever been a member of any such organization as the Council on Foreign Relations.

Q. I'm surprised. All right. I stand corrected.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. Let me point out that the Vietnam war was over when I became President. There were some restraints placed on American fighting men during the Vietnam war and during the Korean war that were very disturbing to many Americans. Those restraints were imposed by President Ford, President Nixon, also by President Johnson, President Kennedy, and President Eisenhower, and Truman before him, in the Korean war.

Sometimes a President has to place restraints on the activities of our country. I have available at my fingertips, literally, the most awesome destructive force on Earth. I described the other night in the debate what a 1-megaton warhead was, and we've got the equivalent of several thousand megaton warheads. And a President has to exercise moderation and restraint. A President has to assess the consequences of actions. A President has to retain the confidence of one's own people. A President has to understand what the exchange of a few megaton warheads would do in this country. It would result in 100 million Americans being killed. And it's all right for us to say we are the strongest nation in the world, let us push around everybody else, but that's not what a President can do. You've got to have sound judgment and an even temperament and a careful consideration in the White House.

This will have to be the last question.


Q. Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning.

Q. My name is Waiter Smith. I'm from Columbia. My daughter's in the public schools here in Columbia, South Carolina.

I'd like to ask you one question. Can you help, nationally, deaf people, black and white relationships, handicapped, the education of these people, equality in education for these people, for minorities-trades, work, and technological improvements? Most of the government agencies are not helping handicapped people. We're on very low levels. We are very far behind educationally. I would like to ask you to help us better our future, so that our people can look to you and possibly vote for you.

THE PRESIDENT. One of the most gratifying things for me as President has been the ability to implement the special sections in the laws relating to disabled or handicapped people. We've had a special emphasis on special education and also a new commitment to the prevention of handicaps early in a child's life, so that they won't follow them through their years as an adult. We've increased, for instance, the Federal allocation of funds for public education by 73 percent since I've been in the White House and, at the same time, we have committed ourselves not to let the Federal Government interfere in the operation of or the management of the school systems themselves. That should be left at the local level and the State level, and that's part of my philosophy as a southerner and as a former school board member in Sumter County, Georgia.

I might say that we still have a long way to go, because many handicapped people in this Nation don't know about the new changes and the new financing programs that have been put through the Congress since I've been in office to give young people and older senior citizens a chance—who are handicapped—to learn a trade and to have a better chance in life.

I have put into office, as the Administrator of the Veterans Administration, a young man who happens to be from Georgia, Max Cleland, who was an officer in the Vietnam war. He's a triple amputee, having lost both his legs and one arm in the Vietnam war. But he has a special knowledge of how handicapped people suffer but also a special knowledge of how they can overcome those handicaps and live an almost normal, fully productive life. This is a major commitment of mine.

I think your question is very well placed, and I think that it would be good for this audience to learn this morning one symbol, so that you can talk to a handicapped or a deaf person in the future, and that's the symbol like this [signing]. How about everybody trying it? It means, "I love you." So whenever you meet someone who can't hear and who might be mute and who can't speak, if you'll go like this [signing], it means "I love you."

And I'd like to tell the audience from the bottom of my heart, as your President, as your next-door neighbor, and as one who's enjoyed being with you this morning, I love you all. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:10 a.m. in the Township Auditorium.

Jimmy Carter, Columbia, South Carolina Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251936

Filed Under




South Carolina

Simple Search of Our Archives