Gerald R. Ford photo

Exchange With Reporters on Departure From San Jose, California.

May 26, 1976

GOOD MORNING, everybody. How are you this morning?

This is the end of a very exciting and, I think, very encouraging trip to California, plus the very encouraging news that we got last night with the six primaries where we won 50 percent of them. That's not a bad batting average, certainly better than we anticipated and, I think, a little disappointing to our opposition.

While I've been in California, I have had the opportunity to make a few speeches and, at the same time, do a little listening. What have I heard? First, I think the people of California want some reductions in Federal spending and reductions in Federal taxation. I reminded them that I have proposed an extra $10 billion tax reduction, beginning as of July 1, including an increase in the personal exemption from $750 to $1,000.

I told them the big problem was the Congress, and I hoped that they would put pressure on the Congress, along with myself; so we could get some better equity in the tax structure, particularly for middle-income people.

I also said that the Congress was a problem on Federal spending. They want to spend $17 billion more than I do, and I'm going to fight with the Congress and do my very best to try to get the Congress to be more realistic in a reduction in the rate of growth of Federal spending.

But there was one other issue that was of deep concern to public officials, and I think equally so to the citizens of cities like San Jose and elsewhere: Unless the Congress passes my proposed extension of general revenue sharing, there will be very serious consequences in San Jose or in San Diego or all of the other communities in California.

I have recommended a 5 3/4-year extension of general revenue sharing, which would help significantly 39,000 communities in 50 States throughout the country. Mayor Pete Wilson of San Diego told me that unless the Congress acts favorably on my proposal to extend general revenue sharing, that it was his estimate that in communities throughout California there would have to be cut a 54-cent increase for every $100 of assessed valuation. Now, I'm for general revenue sharing, and if my general revenue sharing program goes through, we can avoid that kind of a local tax increase in San Jose and San Diego.

Now, some Presidential hopefuls are against general revenue sharing. I think my opponent in the Republican primary is one. So, I just hope that the voters, public officials in the State of California will work with me in getting an extension of general revenue sharing so we can avoid the kind of tax increases at the local level that would be inevitable.

Now, I will be glad to answer a question or two.

REPORTER. Mr. President, do you consider the wins in Tennessee and Kentucky upset victories?

THE PRESIDENT. We thought we had a fighting chance in both Kentucky and Tennessee. We obviously are very pleased with the win in both instances. They were good news from our side and may have been a little disappointing to our opposition.

Q. Mr. President, you told us yesterday you expected to split about even on delegates, but you lost more than 20.

THE PRESIDENT. We didn't do quite as well in the delegate count, but when you win Oregon, Kentucky, and Tennessee, those are three very important States. They are different States--two border States and one Northwestern State. That certainly indicates a clear, national potentiality that I have for winning in November. And I think that will be very encouraging to voters all over the country.

Q. Mr. President, can you win a first ballot nomination without winning California?

THE PRESIDENT. We think that's a possibility.

Q. Mr. President, do you think that Reagan's comments on the TVA had anything to do with his lesser showing, less than expected, in Kentucky and Tennessee?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not familiar with what my opponent said. I have got some awfully important things to do, and I like to talk affirmatively, so I-Q. The TVA is pretty important, and he could dismantle it.

THE PRESIDENT. Our best judgment is that his comments that he would at least study the sale of the TVA might easily have had an impact in the State of Kentucky and the State of Tennessee. As a matter of fact, it would have, I believe, an overall impact on all of the TVA States.

Q. Mr. President, do you encourage the move here to abandon the winner-take-all by legislative action?

THE PRESIDENT. I just read about it for the first time this morning, and I think that's a matter that the State of California and its elected representatives ought to decide. I didn't know about it until his morning. I read it in the paper.

Q. Mr. President, after the June 8 primaries, will you continue to travel in some of the convention States?

THE PRESIDENT. Ann [Ann Compton, ABC News], I haven't thought about it. We will wait and see what happens on June 8.

Q. Sir, after your trip here to California, has your assessment of how you will do in the California primary changed at all?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it has. I was thrilled with the good turnouts. I was obviously very pleased with the enthusiasm. I think we have made some headway. We're still an underdog, but we're going to be in this race in California for keeps, because if we can continue the kind of momentum we have, we think we have. a good fighting chance to prevail here.

Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], have you forgotten your question?

Q. No, I didn't.


Q. I didn't think you were going to call on me.

THE PRESIDENT. The last; the best.

Q. Do you think winning the border States will have any impact on California?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, certainly the winning Of the two border States contradicts what some of my opponent's friends have said--that I can't win below the Mason-Dixon line. Of course, winning in Kentucky and Tennessee is a good indication that we have a lot of support in those kind of States, and I'm convinced that I'm the best national candidate and the one Republican who can win nationally against any Democrat.

I'm not a regional candidate; I'm a national candidate. And I know I can win. I have some reservations about any other Republican candidate being able to win in November.

Q. Is Mr. Reagan a regional candidate in your mind?

THE PRESIDENT. He has had a Sun Belt strategy, as I understand it. I will let his record speak for itself.

Thank you all very, very much.

REPORTER. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:20 a.m. at San Jose Airport.

Gerald R. Ford, Exchange With Reporters on Departure From San Jose, California. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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