Gerald R. Ford photo

Exchange With Reporters on Arrival at Houston, Texas

October 29, 1976

I THINK the people of the great Lone Star State know of President Ford's deep personal commitment to a strong national defense program. Everybody here knows that I have worked for 2 years with the Congress, trying to get the Congress to go along with the kind of a defense budget that's needed and necessary now as well as in the future. We were fortunate in the last Congress to have made considerable success in that regard.

I am looking forward to a continuation of a strong national defense program. That's the most effective way to keep the peace and the most effective way to ensure our domestic security.

I want everybody in Texas to know what a great contribution they have made to the national security of the United States. Your military industry here in Texas, not only in the building of aircraft but electronic communications systems, as well as all the other things, are very significant in making our defense program the kind that will produce results in deterring the enemy, maintaining the peace, and meeting any challenge.

I also wish to compliment the young men and women who man the military installations from El Paso to Houston. They do a tremendous job on behalf of our national security.

So, it's great to be in Texas with all the fine people that have contributed so significantly to my campaign. And I might add one footnote: In the last 5 days, there has been a very noticeable, very evident upturn in the polls, a very discernible increase in crowds all over the United States, whether it's in the Southeast, the Middle West, the Northeast, or elsewhere. We have the momentum going and we expect it to keep going, because we have got the right programs and we have got good leadership and good organization. And with that kind of a momentum, we're going to surprise some people on November 2.

REPORTER. Mr. President, with the court decision today in New York regarding Mr. McCarthy, could you afford to lose Texas and still win the election on Tuesday?

THE PRESIDENT. We are optimistic, of course, about winning Texas. It is a very key State. On the other hand, we don't write off New York even if, by chance, the court does decide in the final analysis that Senator McCarthy will be precluded from offering himself as a prospective candidate in New York State.

Texas is crucial. I think we have got some good news that has been coming. It's getting better. And when you look at how well we're apparently doing in California, how well we're doing in some other States, as I said a moment ago, we're going to surprise some people.

Q. Mr. President, this had been a grueling campaign for you. Are you looking forward to the end of this on Tuesday night?

THE PRESIDENT. Do I look tired? [Laughter] I tell you, I get stronger every day, and for good reason.

Q. How far behind do you see you are at this point, and is there time left to catch up?

THE PRESIDENT. I think we're neck-and-neck. And when you've got momentum, and the opposition is trying to put their finger in every dike to try and stop the erosion-obviously, we've got the momentum going and they are frantic and frustrated and frenzied. And, gee, I just feel good about it, just wonderful.

Thank you all very much.

REPORTER. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The exchange began at 3:40 p.m. at the William P. Hobby Airport.

Gerald R. Ford, Exchange With Reporters on Arrival at Houston, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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