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East Rutherford, New Jersey Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Democratic State Legislative Candidates.

October 25, 1979

Governor Byrne, Chairman Coffee, distinguished leaders of the State legislature, distinguished Members of your fine congressional delegation, Democrats, and my friends:

It's always a pleasure for me to come back to New Jersey. I like a State like yours: two Democratic Senators, a strong Democratic congressional delegation, a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, a Democratic Governor, a Democratic President—and you know the proper role for the Republicans to play—that is a minority role. [Laughter] You've got to keep them that way.

And that's not the only reason I'm glad to come back to New Jersey. Somebody told me that Brendan Byrne was passing through this country, and I wanted to be here to meet him— [laughter] —because he's one of the strongest, best leaders I know.

I'd like to remind you of something tonight. I had a prepared speech, but I don't want to make it, because you need to be reminded of a fact. When I first began moving around this country in my campaign for President, I came to New Jersey. I was a lonely candidate; nobody cared about me; nobody thought I had a chance. I traveled in a car with one driver, and I had a chance to learn a lot about this Nation.

At that time—and you think back-New Jersey was a drastically different State. There was a great deal of discouragement in your State. There was a very high unemployment rate. There was very little confidence in government at any level. There was not a spirit of anticipation about the future.

Now it is absolutely different. I have never seen such a startling transition in the tone and quality and the vitality of a State anywhere in this Nation. And I think you all know why—it's because you have a great Democratic Governor in Brendan Byrne, and you have a great Democratic legislature that has backed him to the hilt and taken some very courageous stands.

It has not been easy for him or for the courageous Democratic leaders in the legislature. I came here fairly early in 1977, when Brendan Byrne was running for reelection. Everybody was calling him "One-Term Byrne"—you remember that. But as the people went through that campaign and assessed what had been done and the difficulty and the political consequences of some of his courageous stands, you made the right judgment.

I believe in this country—we have the greatest nation on Earth. And I believe in the Democratic Party, and I'd like to tell you, in a few minutes, why.

The Democratic Party is a party of compassion. We care about people. We don't believe in keeping someone down. We don't believe in giving him a constant hand of help. We believe in helping them to stand on their own feet, to meet their own needs, to live their own life, and to live a life of dignity.

The Democratic Party believes in hard work. I grew up on a farm. I know what it means to work from before sunup till after sundown, day after day, to make a crop during the depression years. And I believe that every American ought to have a right to a job, and the Democratic Party has this commitment, and always has.

You remember the mess that Franklin Roosevelt inherited in the early thirties. He put America back to work. Since I've been in office, in the last 3—almost 3 years, we have added a net increase of 8 1/2 million new jobs in this country, because we believe in work.

It's good for our country to have its people at work, that's true. But it's particularly important to a person, a human being, to be able to do something useful with a precious life, to take whatever talent or ability God might have given that person and use it with pride and with self-confidence and a realization that you're making a contribution to your own family, to your community, and to your Nation.

The Democrats believe in work and the right of Americans to have jobs. The Democrats are concerned about the older people. We believe that they ought to live in dignity and have security in their lives, and that's what we've had to accomplish in this last 3 years.

When I was campaigning around this country, a constant question was: "What are you going to do about social security? It's on the verge of bankruptcy." It was. It's now been put into a secure status.

The Democrats believe in a strong nation, a strong defense. We believe that our Nation ought to be at peace. I'm the first President in 40 years who hasn't had a single American killed in combat overseas. I want to keep that record intact.

The reason for it is that our country has been strong, and our country must be strong to stay at peace. If we ever get weak in military strength or in the will or resolve or unity that comprises a nation's strength, that's when we'll be vulnerable to an attack by a potential adversary, and that's when our young people will be losing their lives in war. We must stay strong, and I believe in a strong defense, and the Democratic Party does. And we're going to keep it that way.

Another thing the Democratic Party believes in is harmony. Think back in the history of our country. This is a nation and you are a State of immigrants—you might even use the word "refugees." One of the great potential strengths of our country has always been that different people from all over the world come here with their own pride in their heritage, their own pride in their habits and beliefs, and still preserve those precious things in our lives, but still blend together without losing their individuality to become a strong, united nation. And the Democratic Party has always opened its arms to everyone who comes here.

The first few days or the first few weeks or the first few years a person is in this country, which party has always said, "Come and be a part of a political system of a great nation. Come and realize your right to choose your own leaders, to shape your own government, to preserve your own freedom, and to determine your own destiny?" The Democratic Party has.

And the last thing I'd like to mention is this: The Democratic Party does not believe in waste. We believe not only in a compassionate government and a confident government, we also believe in a competent government.

Now, you can have better services delivered to people not when you establish massive spending programs that are not well run and not sensitive to the needs of the people they're serving, but wasteful. And one of the things about Democrats is that we have the kind of relationship with those who need the services of government, so we understand how well those services are being provided.

In the Republican Party there's a tremendous chasm that exists between Washington on the one hand and the people who need help on the other: a local government, a county, a city, a housing project, a family, an unemployed person. There's a big chasm if a callous party supported by big shots is in office. But the Democrats have always felt a relationship, and they've been able to consult and communicate and assess what government is doing to make sure that it is efficient and effective. We do not waste money.

Next year our country will have the benefits of $40 billion in reduced taxes. At this moment, we have fewer Federal employees than we had when I became President. At the end of the next year, we'll have 20,000 fewer Federal employees than when I became President. We've had a tremendous improvement in housing, in education, in transportation, in every element of American life.

We've tried to cut down the Federal deficit. When I was running here in 1976, the deficit was $66 billion. I just got the report for this past year, that was completed the end of September—we've cut it from a $66 billion down to a $27 billion deficit already, and we're still on our way to making sure that in the future we have a balanced budget for our Federal Government. That's not a callous thing, that's a good thing for all Americans.

The last thing that I'd like to say to you is this: We need a nation with confidence in one another, confidence in our neighbors, confidence in our institutions, our churches, our schools, confidence in our Government.

A government leader can't always do what you like, but you have got to have confidence in the system of government in this country. And I know that we've had a lot of things happen to us during the 8 years before I became President that shook the confidence of America in our own government, things of which we were ashamed, unprecedented failures in government. Those times are gone.

We've still got problems. We've still got challenges. We've still got questions to be answered, but we can solve problems together. We can overcome obstacles and challenges together. We can answer difficult questions together, but there's got to be a sense of participation.

And I hope that every one of you tonight who have contributed your money-I hope you'll contribute more in the future—will also contribute your time in this next 12 days, because it would be a devastating blow to New Jersey if, through overconfidence or lack of concern about your own lives and your own government and your own State, you didn't participate to the fullest degree in making sure that Brendan Byrne still has for the next 2 years a strong Democratic General Assembly in New .Jersey to back him, to make a great State even greater in the future.

I'm proud of New Jersey, because you're my State, too. I'm proud of this country. I'm proud of the Democratic Party. But working together with unity, we can make everything of which we're proud even better. You're my partners; I'm proud of you.
God bless every one of you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:47 p.m. in the East Room at the Stadium Club, Giants Stadium. In his opening remarks, he referred to Richard Coffee, chairman of the New Jersey State Democratic Party.

Prior to his remarks, the President attended a private reception for New Jersey State legislative candidates in the Pegasus Room at the Stadium Club.

Jimmy Carter, East Rutherford, New Jersey Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Democratic State Legislative Candidates. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248253

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