Jimmy Carter photo

Democratic National Committee Dinner Remarks at the Fundraising Dinner in New York City.

June 23, 1977

I've enjoyed seeing all of you tonight individually. If I missed anyone, if you would stand by the door--[laughter]after my brief speech, I'd like to shake your hand.

This is the largest crowd I've seen since we had our last White House staff meeting. Of course, as you know, they are all temporary, and you are permanent Democrats, so there is quite a difference.

Originally we had thought about having this supper in Queens, but Andy Young--[laughter]--figured it would be best downtown tonight. Andy has helped me a lot. He made it clear that I was not the only one that gave a Playboy interview. And it's sometimes kind of hard to know exactly how he means things, as you may or may not have noticed. He pointed out to the Playboy people that I still was filled with lust, but I didn't discriminate. [Laughter]

I've really learned a lot in this brief 5 months as President. I've learned a lot from some of you, as a matter of fact. I know how the young man felt who climbed up the tall building, and after great exertion, he got to the top and found out his reward was a $250,000 lawsuit. I ran for 2 years, and the only thing I've got out of it so far is an income tax audit. [Laughter]

I've learned, too, about compromise. The mayor fined him $250,000 and had to settle for $1.10. It reminds me of my compromises with the Congress so far. I'm learning. They told me I'd always have a second chance. But I haven't found it to be the case yet. As a matter of fact, my tax audit is coming out OK. The only thing they've questioned so far is a $600 bill for toothpaste. But it paid off. I'm President. [Laughter]

Tonight I do want to thank Arthur Krim and Steve Ross and Mary Lasker for being our hosts and hostess.

But I would like to recognize one special person in the audience who hasn't yet been recognized. When I started campaigning for President a long time ago, and I would come to New York for a fundraiser, there would be four or five people present in this early friend's apartment-and she worked awfully hard to get five people to come. And I want to ask Alice Mason if she would stand.

Arthur Krim wins both ways. He is recognized throughout the Nation as a man who has given his heart to sacrificial public service. And when I knew that he and Steve and Mary would be in. charge of this banquet, I had no doubt about the outcome.

But he also benefits from the Democrats as well. Late this past year there was a movie that was going to be made about the former Republican Governor of New York. And he found that he couldn't have this biographical film made, so Arthur went down to Philadelphia and got a Democrat ethnic with the same first name as Rocky and made a film, and he made a lot of money on it. [Laughter] So, the Democrats help Arthur Krim as well as helps us.

There are some fine people here. I seriously want to recognize Governor Carey, who has a balanced budget, which I hope to have in Washington, and who for the first time in 57 years has been successful in getting a tax reduction for New York citizens. I think that's a very fine achievement.

And Abe Beame, who helped me when I needed help, who stood staunchly with me, is appreciated tonight. But I think the most I have ever appreciated my good friend Abe Beame was on election night when the returns came in from New York City and the former President, whose name escapes me---[laughter]--got 33 percent and Jimmy Carter got 67 percent in New York City. And I thank him for that.

And I am very grateful that my associate Waiter Mondale is here. I've done the best I could to find something for him to do. [Laughter] And I have really been successful. I think all of the news reporters would agree that above and beyond any previous Vice President, he's done a superb job. And he's had his hands full, and he's been well received wherever he's been.

I would like to ask you to keep him from getting lonesome in the White House. And he's given me a list of his projects and wanted me to call them out to you. If you have a question about the Concorde, Northern Ireland, abortion, gay rights, downtown parking--and he was also in charge of the $50 rebate. [Laughter]

I've just put him in charge of a much more important project. I know that you feel that the rest of the country supports you in a time of crisis when New York's spirits have been low. And I believe that if anyone can bring Tom Seaver1 back, Fritz can. [Laughter] So, call on him.

1A baseball player who had been traded from the New York Mets to the Cincinnati Reds.

And last I would like to recognize the greatest Democrat who lives in our country--Hubert Humphrey. I think when anyone tries to assimilate in one's mind what the Democratic Party is, what it stands for, its cleanness, its decency, its compassion and humanity, its fairness and its honesty and its dedication, its love for people, the personification of all those things is Senator Humphrey. He has been a great help to me and an inspiration.

I think it's good to point out tonight, too, that we have evolved a good working relationship with the Congress. For 8 years we had government by partisanship. Now we have government by partnership.

And we've had good success. I'm new in Washington, as you know. I've never served there before in my life until last January 20. But in this brief period of time, there has been a remarkable demonstration of compatibility and mutual purpose between the White House and Capitol Hill.

When I was preparing to be inaugurated, I had meetings with different Members of Congress, and there were five basic questions that I wanted to present to them as goals I hoped to achieve sometime in the future. One was for both Houses to pass strict ethics legislation to make sure that conflicts of interest that had embarrassed our Nation in the past were over. And they have both already done that.

I wanted to see a strong economic stimulus package passed, and without delay the Congress has acted again.

I wanted to be given authority to reorganize the executive branch of Government and to be given immediate direction to proceed without delay. And the Congress, of course, has acted on that as well.

I recognize that when Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, he pushed hard and worked hard and 2 years later finally got some semblance of the Department of Transportation that he wanted--2 years.

We asked the Congress 3 months ago to establish for our country a new Department of Energy. And they have already acted, and I believe that the conference committee will complete their work and I will sign this legislation into law very close to the Fourth of July.

So, four of the five major issues that I asked for have already been completed-an absolutely unprecedented achievement on the part Of the Congress.

And the other one of the five was equally difficult. And that was to evolve a new energy policy for our country that would be adequate and fair with vision for the future and a realization that we need to conserve our precious possessions that provide us with jobs, heat, light, and a possibility for progress. And the Congress is making good progress, in spite of tremendous complexity and tremendous pressure from special interest groups, many of them quite benevolent. But it's going to take a lot of courage, and I have no doubt that the Congress can exemplify the requisite courage themselves.

So, to sum up my own feeling toward the Congress, it's one of appreciation for their achievements and also appreciation for the partnership that we've formed.

I want to work in the future with you and the Congress to continue to strip away the secrecy from government, to let the American people know what we do, to observe our achievements, yes, but also to observe our failures and our needs, our shortcomings and our mistakes.

I believe that we'll make sounder judgments in domestic and foreign affairs if the American people's tremendous vitality, intelligence, sound judgment, and experience can be tapped in government. And I think all of us in Washington will perform better knowing that you know how we do perform.

I want to be sure that our cities are strong, that the housing programs, transportation programs, control of crime, job opportunities are centered for a change in the areas that have been deteriorating in the past but which will come to life in the future.

And those members of my Cabinet who are directly responsible for these major programs are here tonight to reaffirm our joint commitment to the great cities of our country, the greatest of which we are in tonight.

I think you know that when a problem arrives on the President's desk in the Oval Office or on Capitol Hill, that it's one that can't be solved by individuals or within a family or by mayors or county officials or by Governors or State legislatures. They are the most difficult of all, the ones that have far-reaching national and international significance and the one where controversy abounds. But I don't have any fear that our democratic process can work. And as I expressed to the graduating class at Notre Dame a few Sundays ago--and, I hope, to the world--I believe that we've demonstrated already that our Nation is vital, that we've made serious mistakes in the past, that we've taken bold action to correct those mistakes and prevent their recurrence, and that we have faith in our system of government.

We can correct the problems that relate to social security. We can have an effective and fair welfare system. We can have a fair tax structure. We're working to bring down the unemployment rate. And it's already fallen precipitously, which is a good accomplishment and, I think, an equally good omen for the future.

At the same time, we're trying to stop nuclear proliferation around the world. I think 8 months ago there was a general feeling among the leaders of nations on this Earth that it was too late, that the genie that could kill all mankind had escaped, that there was no way to put it back in the bottle. But we've worked very closely with our friends and allies in Canada, Australia, Britain, and other countries to make sure that the peaceful use of atomic power can continue to generate electricity and give us power ,but that the waste products that can be changed into explosives would be carefully controlled.

And I believe we now have a good prospect for success. We are trying to cut down on the indiscriminate sale of conventional weapons around the world, particularly to those countries that can't afford them. And we are trying to get other nations to join in a voluntary reduction in their demands for weapons.

We are trying to alleviate tensions that have divided other countries one from another, without intruding into the internal affairs of those countries. We've established, working with many other people, a basic commitment to human rights, and now I think our Nation stands as a beacon light so that we can be proud of ourselves, that we can restore the commitments that made our Nation great beginning 200 years ago, and we can also set an example for the world.

It's not an easy thing. There's a lot of controversy around it. And I think that when you say the words "human rights," that is in itself an action. And if you see those who are suffering today in political prisons, those who have been kept from free travel, those who have suffered because their families are divided, the action that they took was a few words. But I think now there's a general feeling around the world that we each must make our own nations free of legitimate criticism from other countries and among our own citizens.

This change is slow, but I think it exemplifies what the American people feel, and I believe it's an achievement of which we can be proud.

We are discussing without cessation a reduction in strategic atomic weapons with the Soviet Union. We are negotiating today in Moscow to eliminate the testing of atomic explosives. We are trying to move toward demilitarization of the Indian Ocean and to lessen tensions which might lead to war.

These kinds of efforts, I think, will be successful if I can accurately represent what you are and what you want our Nation to do and to be. Because if I speak after a policy is evolved in secrecy, I speak with a single voice. But if you participate in the debate and the discussion and then I evolve a policy based on what you want, I speak with the voice of 215 million Americans.

And the last thing I want to say is this. Senator Humphrey, Vice President Mondale, many of the members of the Cabinet, the Members of the Congress are working closely with me in the hopes that not too far in the future we might arrive at a settlement in the Middle East that will guarantee a permanent status of a free, strong, secure, and peaceful Israel.

These are some of the purposes of our party, in the White House and in the Capitol, and they are purposes of yours. None of them are easy. Many of the problems that we are now addressing have been postponed for year after year, decade after decade, some even for generations. But I believe that the best way that we can prevent a further deterioration in the circumstances that do concern us is to address them forcefully and with courage and with mutual support.

We need your help, not just to raise funds for our party but also to make sure that the purposes of our Nation are realized and that we who serve in public office as Democrats and as Americans can deserve your trust and that together we might continue to be proud of our country, the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Jimmy Carter, Democratic National Committee Dinner Remarks at the Fundraising Dinner in New York City. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243976

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