Jimmy Carter photo

Flint, Michigan Remarks at a "Get Out the Vote" Rally.

November 02, 1978

Senator Don Riegle; Congressman Dale Kildee; Speaker Bobby Crim; Mayor Rutherford; your next United States Senator, Carl Levin; your next Governor, Bill Fitzgerald; and my good friends from Flint, Michigan:

It is true that almost exactly 2 years ago at the end of a long 2-year campaign in all 50 States, Vice President Mondale and I chose this auditorium to close our campaign effort. We came here for sound reasons. Flint is a famous community, the birthplace of one of our greatest corporations-the greatest on Earth, perhaps-the epitome of what it means to be an honest, decent, hard-working American, the birthplace of enlightened labor leadership, and a place which epitomizes in the finest way what our Nation is, what our Nation has been, what our Nation can be in the future.

It was mentioned that 1960 was the year when John Kennedy was elected President and was the last year that Michigan chose a Democrat to be Governor.

In 1960 two-thirds of the American people went to the polls the first week in November to vote. The projections are that next week, two-thirds of the American people will not vote. This rally today is an opportunity for me as President of all the people of our country, Democrats and Republicans, to remind you of the great responsibility that we as Americans have to demonstrate that we are able to manage our own affairs, to run our own government, to set our own standards, to form a team, and to make a great nation even greater in the future.

Will you help me next week by electing this Democratic ticket and going out to vote? [Applause]

I am going to breathe a sigh of relief when Carl Levin comes to Washington as your new United States Senator.

There are many problems which I have as President of our great country. One is to fight inflation, which has been hanging over our head and putting a burden on the working people of this country for the last 10 years. This is not an easy assignment. It requires cooperation from labor, from business, from agriculture, from the private homeowner. It also requires the most intense cooperation from your own elected leadership.

Carl Levin's opponent has already discounted the effort to fight inflation. I believe that you want a United States Senator that will help me help you control inflation. Is that right? [Applause] Very good.

I worked hard for 2 years to be elected to this office I hold, because I wanted to be President of the United States. I cast my lot, when not 1 percent of the American people had ever heard my name, with workers in factory shift lines, with people on street corners, with elderly, retired citizens, with young students, with those who believe that our Nation could be better, could be more honest, could be more decent, could be more filled with justifiable pride than was the case 2 or 3 years ago, when our Nation had been embarrassed with the failures of a Republican administration, when our farmers were facing another recession, or even depression. Prices were down. Every month or two the Republican administration would declare an embargo against the sale of American grain products overseas. And I pledged in my campaign and never, as long as I was President, would we ever embargo the sale of American farm products to foreign markets, and we'll never do it. And we are now setting records every year in the export of farm products overseas.

We also had a problem with unemployment. When I was elected President, we had 10 million Americans who were looking for a full-time job and could not find it. Seven million Americans could not find a job at all. Congress helped me, and we set a goal for ourselves to add new jobs to the American societal structure.

Since then we have had a net increase of 6 1/2 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is down 25 percent; in Michigan, 35 percent. It needs to come down further, and I need a United States Senator there to represent Michigan, along with Don Riegle, who wants to be Senator, who will work at it, who will help me get the inflation rate down, help me get better life for farmers and put our people back to work.

Carl Levin will not be my man. He has proven that he's a man who is not afraid to fight powerful political figures, and Carl Levin is not afraid to fight the bureaucracy. He has proven this in his own community, and he will prove it, when he gets to the Senate, for the entire State of Michigan and also for the country that we both love. It's very important to control the bureaucracy, to cut down waste, to initiate ethics, and to make sure that our public officials are honest. Carl Levin is a man who's not afraid to tackle the bureaucracy, and I need somebody that will come there and work full-time with me to bring some order out of government.

I'd like to remind you of this: Now the polls show a slight advantage for the Democratic candidate for Senate. But the last few days can make a difference. I've seen it happen over and over and over the last 2 or 3 years, when people got complacent, took a victory for granted, and the Democrats got out-spent on television, radio, billboards, telephone calls, newspapers, the last few days.

Carl Levin's opponent will spend over $2 million on his campaign for reelection. Carl Levin, as is typical with Democrats, will spend about one-third that amount.

What can make the difference? Being a better candidate? Yes. We have that advantage. But what Carl Levin needs is friends, supporters, neighbors, those who believe in a greater Michigan, who will get out and work these last 4 days in a sacrificial way and be, in effect, every one of you, a campaign manager for the Democratic ticket. If so, we'll go over the top next Tuesday night.

I'd like to tell you about two things that happened to me in the last few weeks. One was last week. I was in the State of Connecticut. When I campaigned there 2 or 3 years ago, that State was quite discouraged. Industry was moving out every week. The unemployment rate was extremely high. 'Connecticut has a dynamic Governor, Governor Ella Grasso. She believes that the Governorship ought to be a place for dynamism, aggression, and a hard fight day by day to make her State better. She has brought in the last year 260 new industries and cut the unemployment rate in half.

I believe Michigan is ready for that kind of dynamic and aggressive fighter as a Governor, and we have that opportunity in Bill Fitzgerald. Will you help put him in office? [Applause]

He's raised legitimate issues. He's interested in a highly publicized health problem. He's taken the position that's responsible and courageous. He is a man who believes that the Governor's office ought to be a place for action. He's also a man of great respect in this entire country.

Recently, I had to send a small delegation to Rome to represent me as the President and our country as a nation at the funeral of the Pope, and I chose Bill Fitzgerald to go along with my mother and just a few others to represent our Nation. This is the kind of leadership we need. This is the kind of leadership we will have next year with Bill Fitzgerald.

He told me he only made one mistake on that trip, to play poker with my mother. He should not have done it. [Laughter] And because his personal finances and his campaign treasury were reduced by my own 'mother, I hope you'll help him even more this next 4 days to win his election.

Let me close by saying that we need in Washington a strong team. We need, as we relate to you, a strong relationship between your State administration and the Democratic team in Washington. We've worked hard to bring down unemployment in our country. We've got a long way to go. We are working hard to bring down inflation, which has been with us more than 10 years. We've got a long way to go.

Yesterday, I signed two bills that give the greatest Federal aid to education in the history of our country from preschool years, elementary, secondary, and aid to college students of all ages and of all incomes. We've also sustained a rate of growth of housing construction in our country, over 2 million per year. We've been sensitive in meeting the legitimate needs of our country, but we've also brought a new concept to Washington.

The Democratic Party has always been a party of compassion, a party that recognized that we needed to extend a hand to those who are less fortunate in our society, to let them be able to stand on their own feet, to make their own decisions, to support themselves, to play a role in government, to be respected members of a community. We still have that unique characteristic which has given the Democratic Party the support for generations of the working people of this country. But we've also realized that you cannot educate a child, you cannot feed a hungry person, you cannot build a home or repair highways with waste, corruption or inefficiency.

I believe in tough management. When I was running for President, we had a Federal deficit of more than $66 billion. In giving better services to our people, we have been able to cut the deficit down already by more than $25 billion. In the budget I'm working on now, we'll cut the Federal deficit more than half, and with the help of people like Don Riegle, Carl Levin, Congressman Kildee, we are working forward in the future to having a balanced budget for the Government of the United States of America.

How can you give better services, balance the budget without raising taxes? We've been able to do it. Last year, aided by the Democratic Congress, we cut taxes by $8 billion. This next week, as soon as I get the final bill from the Congress, I will sign it to reduce income taxes another $20 billion.

So, we've been able to give better services, cut the deficit and cut taxes, a pretty good achievement if I do say so myself.

We're trying to stabilize the value of the dollar. We had great luck yesterday by taking bold action to make sure that America is economically strong, that we are not afraid to make difficult decisions, and the rest of the world cooperated with us.

We've proved in the process that our allies and our friends will sustain the United States in a common effort to balance the world economic system and give us a more stable future. The Congress has now passed for the first time in our history a national energy plan to give us
. adequate supplies of energy at reasonable and predictable prices, to cut down our imports of foreign fuel, let our Nation be self-sufficient, to shift us toward more plentiful supplies of fuel like coal, solar energy, to preserve the precious fuel oil, gasoline for use in mobile equipment, as is Constructed in your own State, and to give homes a chance to have an adequate supply of natural gas in the future. This is a great step forward, and we will continue to make our Nation strong in itself.

I believe that we can have a government that's efficient as well. For 95 years we've had a civil service system that steadily grew more and more bureaucratic in nature and which prevented good, qualified, dedicated, hard-working civil servants from being adequately rewarded. You would have two workers sitting side by side at adjacent desks, one, as I've just described, working hard, trying to do a good job, dedicated, efficient; another one unqualified, lazy, without motivation. They both got paid exactly the same amount, exactly the same pay increases, exactly the same promotion. There was no motivation for better performance, managers could not manage.

Now we've got a new civil service reform bill. We can reward the dedicated and competent employee in the Federal Government. The other one who's not been working well, we can inspire them to do better, transfer them to a more fitting job, or discharge them if they don't work. This is what I believe is best for our country. It's what we're going to continue to do.

I agree with the people of Michigan that we need a strong nation, not just politically, not just economically, but militarily as well. We have the strongest military defense capability on Earth. And as long as I'm in the White House, we're going to keep it that way—number one. It's going to stay that way.

We need to be strong so that we can maintain peace. This is important for our own country, yes. I'm very proud of the fact—and I hope I can go out of office still saying the same thing—that since I've been President, we've not had a single American in uniform shed blood in a foreign country. This is a notable achievement.

And it's true because we are strong, but it's also true because we are now repairing the damage that was done to our country, through the Vietnam war years, the Watergate scandals, and the revelations about the CIA. There's a new spirit in our Nation, but there's also a new respect for our Nation among the other countries of the world. We want to preserve peace for ourselves, yes, but we also believe that as long as we have a country that has a reputation for honesty, openness, decency, with a spirit and the ideals and the commitments on which our Nation was founded, that our influence can be beneficial and helpful in the other trouble spots of the world.

This is important to us. It's important to others. One of the great things that we have been able to do is to raise high the banner of human rights, and our country is now looked upon as the nation that stands foremost in the protection of basic human rights. And we'll have that reputation again as long as I'm in the White House.

Let me say that we've also tried, with some success, so far, to bring peace in southern Africa, to bring peace to Cyprus, to bring peace in the Middle East. A few hours ago in New York I was with Prime Minister Begin. Cy Vance, the Secretary of State, is meeting with him there all day today. We had some success, some good luck at Camp David because of the tremendous courage of President Sadat, Prime Minister Begin, who represent the hunger in their people's hearts for peace.

I believe that if we keep on working together and if I, when I speak, my voice is recognized as representing what you want, with decisions made openly, after public debate, with the knowledge of the Congress, that my voice will not be hollow and not be discounted by other leaders. And I believe that through strength, through a common commitment of the American people to restore the greatness of our Nation, we can be successful in the Middle East and live in a world at peace.

Tuesday, 4 days from now, will be a time for you to make a decision. Do you want to continue an increase in jobs in our country, to control inflation, to deal with the bureaucracy, to have a better life for farmers, to cut down the Federal deficit, improve education, housing, highways, strong defense, human rights, peace? If so, don't leave those responsibilities to me or to those who seek public office. Share those. responsibilities with us. There is no reason why every one of you in the next 4 days cannot become in effect, as I said, a campaign manager for candidates in whom you have confidence.

Coming to this rally this afternoon is appreciated. It shows your interest in the future of Michigan, in the future of our country. But if you don't vote Tuesday and if you don't encourage your relatives, your neighbors, and those who will listen to your voice to vote, then by default you have let your Nation down.

We've got the greatest country on Earth. With your help, between now and next Tuesday, we will elect this fine Democratic slate, and in the future, because of you, we'll have an even greater nation than it is today.

Thank you very much, partners. We'll work together for the next 4 days.

Note: The President spoke at 5:08 p.m. at the Industrial Mutual Association Hall. In his opening remarks, he referred to Bobby D. Crim, speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Jimmy Carter, Flint, Michigan Remarks at a "Get Out the Vote" Rally. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243841

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