Jimmy Carter photo

Des Moines, Iowa Remarks at a State Democratic Party Reception.

May 04, 1979

My son Chip loves you— [laughter] -my mother loves you and I love you. I think my mother considers Des Moines a second home and particularly the Dixieland band who went to Ireland with her. Thank you very much.

I'm really proud to be back. None of you could ever know the feelings, even, of emotion that sweep over me when I walk into the room and I see Iowa people who, when no one else in our Nation knew or cared who I was, took me into your homes and considered me to be a friend—I'm sure, privately figured that I had no chance ever to become President, but didn't let that doubt stand in your way-and who've now become almost like a member of our own family.

I can tell you that there's not much difference between Iowa people and those where I live. In fact, throughout the country, folks are interested in the control of inflation, better life for our people, control of nuclear weapons, peace, the way the President parts his hair. [Laughter] So, I feel like I'm part of you, and I am glad to be back.

It is a superb development, I think, in Iowa to see how you've continued one of the most dynamic and dedicated and competent Democratic Party organizations in our country. This has been an opportunity to show the leadership of Ed Campbell,1 and I want to express my personal thanks to him as President of our country and as the titular head of the Democratic Party for the great job he's doing here in Iowa.

1 Chairman of the Iowa State Democratic Party.

I want to say also that above every other political consideration, no matter what it might be, the number one priority for me in 1980 in Iowa is the reelection of a superb Senator, John Culver.

And I want to thank you for the great support you gave Dick Clark when he ran both times. This was a tragic loss for the United States Senate, when Iowa abandoned its usual sound judgment and did not send him back to Washington. But I brought him back, and I am grateful and I would like to say to you that he's one of the finest men I've ever met. And he has not only the competence and the dedication, the knowledge of human affairs, but also the sensitivity and idealism to finally make a success out of our own policy toward refugees. And I'm glad that he was able to ride with me from Washington back to Iowa. And I want to personally thank Dick Clark for what he means now, what he will mean in the future, and what he's always meant to you. Dick Clark, thank you.

I knew that if I mentioned Dick Clark the applause would take up all my time. [Laughter] But I certainly have time to express my thanks also for two superb Congress Members who came to Iowa with me today and who gave me a new and up-to-date briefing on the concerns and the challenges and the future of your State. Congressman Neal Smith and Congressman Tom Harkin, who are personal friends of mine and superb Representatives of a great State, thank you for being with us.

I don't want to make a long speech. I've already spoken to the county officials, and I just had a 30-minute press conference. I think I've covered most of the points. But I would like to ask you as Americans and as Democrats to help me in the upcoming crucial battles that will face the United States Congress.

First of all, there's the ratification of SALT. When we do conclude the negotiations, which will be very shortly now, I will then meet with President Brezhnev, if no unforeseen developments should occur, and then present to the Senate later on this year the SALT II treaty for ratification. The issue is in doubt, but in my opinion, there could not possibly be a more important challenge to the American people than the continuation of control of nuclear weapons.

My goal, as you well know, is to eliminate nuclear weapons completely from the face of the Earth. And I need your help and your support, and if you let your voice be heard and let all the voices of your neighbors be heard throughout Iowa, both Democrat and particularly Republican, I believe we'll have an excellent chance to get this treaty ratified. I'm committed to it. I'm dedicated to it. I don't know of anything more important to my own administration or to the future of our country than to continue this progress toward controlling nuclear weapons.

The second thing I want you to help me with is the consummation of an adequate national energy policy for our country. We must save energy. We must be innovative in evolving new domestic supplies of all kinds. And we need to impose a windfall profits tax on the oil companies to give us the funds necessary for the further development of solar power and other advanced technologies that might let us be energy-independent in the future.

We've had good luck so far in letting the spirit of America be felt throughout the world. I think we've reestablished in other nations the sure knowledge that our Nation has not abandoned the principles on which it was founded 200 years ago-faith in God, freedom, independence, peace, equality of opportunity, individual initiative, and a commitment to basic human rights. These will be the policies of our Government as long as I'm in the White House. And we have seen one implementation already, in the signing of the Mideast peace treaty. It's a first step. We've got a long way to go. But I hope you will help me in this respect as well.

And the last thing I want to mention to you is this: I don't know exactly why, but I have read the public opinion polls taken among farmers in Iowa that show a belief that I and, to a lesser degree, the Secretary of Agriculture are not sensitive to the needs of farm families of our country. This is not the case. Anyone with any memory at all, or any sound judgment at all, would recall the situation among farm families of our Nation when I first began to come to Iowa and to walk from door to door and to drive or fly from one town to another. I witnessed the life of the farm families then. I learned elements of agriculture that wasn't a part of my past existence.

But at that time, as you know, grain embargoes were a normal part of the farm community's life. In 1973, 1975, all exports were terminated. When we finally made a sale, like to the Soviet Union, we were embarrassed because the farmers got cheated and grain dealers got rewarded. And Dick Clark and John Culver and the Members of the House, as you well know, finally put some integrity in the quality of farm products, particularly grain we sell overseas.

Net farm income in the short 2 years-net farm income has gone up 40 percent, and exports every year hit a new record. We've now provided an opportunity for farmers to control their own harvest until it's ultimately sold with increased farm storage.

These are the kinds of things that I could spend a long time talking about that ought to be emphasized. And if anybody criticizes the Democratic Party, the Members of Congress, my administration, for the courageous action that we've tried to take, just ask them to think back 3 years and compare their life then and their life now. We obviously still have problems in our country but we are not afraid to face them.

I'd like to say this in closing: I've got a little time set aside, and I've already expressed my thanks to you for what you mean to me personally, and to our country, from this podium. But I don't like to approach Iowa people on opposite sides of a velvet rope. So, I would like to ask you, if you don't mind, to come by one at a time and let me shake your hand and thank you personally and pledge my complete, dedicated service to make you proud of our Nation. And if you don't mind, I'd like to get an individual photograph with you as well. Okay?

Q. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:35 p.m. in Monterey Rooms 3 and 4 at the Des Moines Hyatt House.

Jimmy Carter, Des Moines, Iowa Remarks at a State Democratic Party Reception. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249105

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