Exchange With Reporters on Arrival at Charlotte, North Carolina.
IT IS great to be in Charlotte again, along with Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin. Saturdays are always nice after you've gotten more good news on the economy like we got last Friday. It must be a Democratic plane trying to drown out that good economic news that we have been getting. [Laughter]
But anyhow, the increase in the cost of living was the lowest in 4 years. If we annualize that, it means that it is going to be 1.2 percent for a 12-month period. That is too much to expect, but we certainly are greatly encouraged because, as all of you know, when I came in it was about 12 percent or more. And to get it down to this area, certainly, will have an impact on consumer confidence, and that is a real key to the overall recovery which is well on its way. I think the people in North Carolina will like that good news, just like they have in the other 49 States. So, it is just nice to be here.
REPORTER. Mr. Ford, you have been talking about Ronald Reagan pulling out of the race, yet this trip was relatively hurriedly scheduled. Your trip last week to central North Carolina was changed politically to a campaign swing. Are you afraid Ronald Reagan is going to take your momentum away in North Carolina?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think we have momentum on our own, and I have no apprehension that it will be stopped by any forces that I see at all.
Q. Mr. President, do you plan to continue your campaign against Ronald Reagan of asking or pestering him to get out of the primaries?
THE PRESIDENT. I haven't personally suggested, nor have I authorized anybody on my staff to suggest to my opponent that he ought to get out of the race.
Q. Did you suggest it would be divisive to have him continue in the campaign?
THE PRESIDENT. I said it had some potentiality if the campaign continued, but I have not myself, nor authorized anybody on my staff to contact the Reagan people for that purpose.
Q. Do you wish he would get out?
THE PRESIDENT. I really don't care, because our campaign is predicated on going to Kansas City and getting the nomination and that being, of course, the forerunner to a victory in November of 1976.
Thank you all very, very much.
Q. Can you tell us the current status of the Bo Callaway matter?1
THE PRESIDENT. I can only tell you that the Callaway matter is where it was a week ago today when Bo Callaway asked to step aside--and I agreed--until the investigation is complete. Until that is completed, there is no change in status, and I wouldn't speculate on what might happen if there was a change.
Thank you all very, very much.
1 See item 212, footnote 3.
Q. Senator Helms said yesterday that if you didn't fire Mr. Callaway that it could be another Watergate. What is your reaction to that?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we took the appropriate action with the request by Mr. Callaway for himself to be suspended until the investigation was complete. So, there is just no comparability or connection whatsoever, and any allegation like that is without foundation.
Thank you all very much.
Note: The President spoke at 9:05 a.m. at Douglas Municipal Airport.
Gerald R. Ford, Exchange With Reporters on Arrival at Charlotte, North Carolina. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/257843