Jimmy Carter photo

Fort Worth, Texas Remarks at a Rally With Area Residents.

November 01, 1980

My good friend Jim Wright, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby, Congressman Martin Frost, Congressman Charles Stenholm, Congressman Henry Gonzalez, Ralph Yarborough, a great Senator from the past, but still with us in the present:

I'm very grateful to be here with Louis Zapata and all of you, and I'd like to ask you a question. Are we going to whip the Republicans next Tuesday? [Applause] Right.

It's a great honor for any American to come here to Fort Worth, which was so important in establishing in the consciousness of all people the pioneer spirit of our land, the strength of those who never faltered in the face of danger, who exemplified human courage, the ability to explore for a better life, starting right here, the starting point of the Chisholm Trail, on the way to Chicago and the great markets. And I'm very glad to see that you're still on the cutting edge of American industry and business and progress in Fort Worth. This historic area is now being rebuilt and preserved by the close cooperation of my administration, Jim Wright, the local officials. It's typical of what Fort Worth has been in the past and the greater future you have ahead of you in the years ahead, and I'm glad to be part of it.

You know, the world has suffered the last 4 years since I've been President. We've had terrible ravages of inflation in almost every nation on Earth. In Israel the inflation rate is 200 percent. A lot of communities around the world have inflation rates over 100 percent. Unemployment, very high. They've had no employment growth in Germany, France, Great Britain. But I notice in this Nation in the last 4 years we've added almost 9 million new jobs for American workers, in Texas alone, 914,000 new jobs, in Dallas and Fort Worth area, 294,400 brand new jobs, in the Fort Worth city limits, 46,000. That's the kind of country we've got.

God has blessed us in this Nation. You might look back on past times and just think about how they were, compared to what we experience now, with the blessings God's given us. What's happened right here, in kind of a revitalization of the historic treasure of our country, is typical of what has happened.

I was born in 1924. I grew up on a farm in south Georgia, and I remember what happened in my own life in those last 50 years since Democrats were in the cutting edge of helping working families and the poor and the elderly and those that didn't have good education. My family have lived in this country since the 1600's. Every one of us have been farmers. My father never had a chance to finish high school. Neither did his father. As a matter of fact, I'm the first one in my family that ever had a chance to finish high school.

I grew up on a farm, as I say, and when Franklin Roosevelt came into office, we were facing despair and poverty. He thought that working families ought to be treated in a decent way, and he put electric lights in our farmhouse. Republicans were against the REA, the TVA program. They said it was socialism, communism. Franklin Roosevelt thought that a working man or a working woman ought to have a decent wage to buy food, clothing, shelter for their children, so he put forward the first minimum wage, 25 cents an hour. The Republicans were against it. They didn't think that a working man or woman was worth 25 cents an hour. They said it was communism, socialism, to have the Government tell an employer to pay a man or woman 25 cents. I got my first job as high school graduate in 1941. Minimum wage, 10 hours a day, I had to furnish my own car and pay the expenses, 40 cents an hour. The Democrats put it forward. It was a great advance. Republicans were against it.

Franklin Roosevelt thought that older people when they reached retirement age ought to have some security in life, ought to have some chance for self-respect, so he proposed social security. Republicans said it was communism, socialism. Democrats passed it into law. Later on in 1961 the Democrats thought that older people ought to have Medicare, put forward the program. Republicans opposed it.

My opponent in this election, Governor Reagan, got his start in politics working for the medical lobby, traveling around this country telling people that Medicare was socialized medicine, and this country was going to be taken over by socialists. This kind of historic background I tell at the beginning of my talk, because I think it's good for you—remember that things don't change very much. You're approaching a major decision next Tuesday. And I don't want you to forget historically what has happened.

You've been listening lately to Governor Reagan speak, and you know, if you saw the Republican Convention, that he's been trying to wrap himself in the mantle of great Democratic Presidents. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever in your life heard a Republican candidate for President quote a Republican President?

THE PRESIDENT. No, you haven't. No, you haven't, and I'll tell you why.

They talk like Democrats just before election day and try to mislead the voters of this Nation. And then when they get in office, they act like all the other Republicans have always acted, and so they never do anything or say anything that's worthy of quoting later on.

It's surprising how many working people in this country get misled every 4. years by the high-paid song and dance Republicans put on. Franklin Roosevelt understood it. I'd like to read you what he said in 1944—listen to this—Roosevelt's words: "The whole purpose of Republican oratory these days seems to be to switch labels." "Now, imitation," he said, "may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I'm afraid that in this case, it's the most obvious common or garden variety of fraud." Roosevelt knew what he was talking about.

The same thing happened in 1960. You remember it, when John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were heading the Democratic ticket, Republicans doing the same thing, here's what John Kennedy said of the Republicans: "They're even beginning to say a few kind words about Franklin Roosevelt. Twenty years from now, they may even speak a good word for Harry Truman, but I guarantee you that Truman will never say a good word about Republicans." As you know, that prediction came true. The Republicans almost fooled Democratic voters in 1960, It was that close. You remember it. If 28,000 people in Texas had voted differently and a few thousand in Illinois, John Kennedy would never have been President. Likely, Lyndon Johnson may never have been president, and this country would have suffered because of it.

Now, I'll make a prediction to you now. I predict that 20 years from now the Republican candidates will even be saying nice things about Jimmy Carter's second term.

Let me quote a few things that Governor Reagan has said. I didn't come here tonight to criticize him particularly, but I just want to quote his words. The Republican candidate said this year, 1980, fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. Now, do you think Roosevelt would have liked that?

THE PRESIDENT. The Republican candidate this year, 1980, said, "I'm opposed to national health insurance. There is no health crisis in America." And the Republican also said this year about the minimum wage, "The minimum wage has caused more misery and more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression."

And the Republican candidate this year says that in 1980, that we should threaten a nuclear arms race against the Soviet Union. John Kennedy negotiated the nuclear test ban treaty, and every President since Harry Truman, Republican and Democratic, have known that the awesome power of nuclear destruction and the control of it was a major responsibility of a President until Ronald Reagan changed the policy.

Well, you notice that I like to quote Governor Reagan. I would also like to quote your Governor. [Laughter] But I'm afraid that if I did, my mother might wash my mouth out with soap, so I won't do it.

Now, I'd like to remind you of this: You've all seen the polls. The election is close. As a candidate for reelection I'll fight all the way to the wire. This campaign does mean a lot to me personally, because I've invested a lot of years of my life in building a foundation now for a greater future for our country. But what matters most is not what it means to the candidates, but it's what it means to millions of Americans around this country just like you. Think about the consequences for a moment in your own life if you wake up Wednesday morning and discover that we'll have a Republican administration for the next 4 years. Think about it.

Think about the consequences if they are successful in repealing the minimum wage law. Think about the consequences for working people of an administration hostile to their very basic rights to organize, the consequences to working women of an administration that would deny constitutional protections of the right to equal pay when women do equal work. Think about the consequences to older Americans if Mr. Reagan should be successful in his often-made proposal to make social security voluntary. It would mean the end of social security. And the other night in the debate I notice he said again that for a young person social security payments were a bad investment. The fact is that for a young father or mother starting at the age of 22, making social security payments, they'll get back 3 1/2 times more than they put in by the retirement age. And in addition, as a bonus, they get disability benefits if something happens to them, and if one of them dies the survivor benefits, as you know, help the surviving spouse and all the children till they're 18. Now, the spreading of word by a President (candidate)1 that social security is a bad investment is a direct threat to the security of the aged people of this country.

1 White House correction.

Think about minorities. I'm from the Deep South. I saw what happened to us in the South with the passage of the voting rights bill, civil rights bill under Lyndon Johnson. It's the best thing that ever happened to the Southland. And at the time it passed, Governor Reagan said, • "The Civil Rights Act is bad legislation." We would not be having the enormous economic growth, the technological advances, prosperous farms, a better life, if we had still around us the stigma of racial discrimination. Think about minorities; what might happen to you Wednesday morning if a bad dream comes true.

Think about the threat to the American environment. God's given us a beautiful land. I've been flying all over Texas this morning, from Houston to Beaumont, San Antonio, Abilene, and now to here, and I've seen what you've got—clear air, beautiful streams, good, productive land. The Democrats believe that we can have technological advances and economic development and still keep good stewardship over the precious things that God gave us.

Think what it'll mean to the philosophy of the Supreme Court if you have a strict theological or philosophical requirement before a person can be considered to interpret the Constitution of the United States. Think about the consequences to our control of nuclear weapons, to our ability to control their spread to terrorist countries. Think about the consequences to our children and our grandchildren. Think about American agriculture that's grown so well the last few years with a farmer as the Secretary of Agriculture. We've never before seen so much increase in gross income. We've doubled the prices of corn, wheat, beef. We've never had so much of an increase in history in net farm income. We've set a world's record in '77 on exports of 'American farm products, broke that record in '78, broke it again in '79. This year the biggest increase in history, $8 billion more than last year, $40 billion worth of American farm products going overseas.

And I might tell you this: I'd like to mention one word. You don't think about it often. The word is "China." We've just signed a contract with China to send them every year enough wheat to make 15 loaves of bread for every one of the 1 billion people who live in that country. And I might point out to you Texans that already China is the number one customer of American cotton. We have tripled trade with Mexico since I've been in the White House. This year we'll sell to Mexico 10 million tons of American grain. Think what will happen to those programs and those commitments and the involvement of American farmers in the next farm bill that'll be written in 1981 if we don't have Democrats there to protect you along with a Democratic Congress.

We also must have a strong defense, and this is an important issue on which I will close my remarks. As long as I'm President we'll have a nation with a defense strong enough so it'll be second to none, and you can count on that. Now, here again the Republicans talk big and they mislead people. But let me tell you what happened the 8 years before I became President. We had two Republican Presidents in the Oval Office. In 7 of those years—listen to this—7 out of 8 years our Federal budget for defense went down, in over an 8-year period we had a reduction of 37 percent in American investment in defense.

Since I've been in office, with the help of Jim Wright, Lloyd Bentsen, and other members of the Texas delegation, we've had a steady increase every year above and beyond inflation in our Nation's defense. We've got a strong defense now, and as long as we have a Democrat in the Oval Office we'll keep it strong. But we'll also remember that having powerful, advanced, destructive weapons and highly trained men and women in our Armed Forces is not enough. It's how you use America's defense capability that counts.

My philosophy is this: We keep the peace with a strong America. And I can say something to you that no President has been able to say in the last 50 years: Since I have been in the White House we have not been at war. We have been at peace. The best weapon is one that never has to be fired in combat, and the best soldier is one that doesn't have to lay his life down or shed his blood on the field of battle. That's what I believe.

When I came into office there was no long-range cruise missile program. Now we have one. We're building 40 every month. When I came into office there was no battle tank being built. Now they're in production. When I came into office there was no modern personnel armored fighting vehicle. Now we're making them. There was no answer to our potential vulnerability of our ICBM missiles located in silos. Now we have an answer, the mobile MX missile. Listen to this: When I came into office our purchases, under the Republicans, of Army equipment, jet fighters aircraft, attack aircraft, had dropped by two-thirds in 8 years before I became President. Since then we've increased expenditures for those items by 50 percent.

Now, I've described to you a few items which are used by the Republicans every 4 years to confuse people. I've described the election of 1980 as a choice between two futures. Here's what I see in the future that you and I are fighting for together. I do see a nation at peace. I see a nation strong enough to be secure. I see a nation in the pursuit of progress for all its people. I see a nation where everyone can have the dignity of a decent job, where new industries create a new generation of American buildings and vehicles to house us and to move us, using less energy, yes, but the energy that we use coming from America, not from overseas.

I see a nation where children are educated better than we've been educated, to their maximum potential given them by God, where the elderly are treated fairly and with the respect that they've earned with a productive life, where families are close and intact and secure. I have a vision of a nation free enough to attract and strong enough to welcome the deprived from other parts of the world seeking liberty and justice and love. And I need your help to make this vision a reality.

Think just one more moment with me. You've been great to come out this evening. I'm sure you've supported Democratic candidates this election and in the past. Some of you maybe make financial contributions to help the Democratic Party pay for advertising and all, and that's good. But think about the possibilities next Wednesday morning, and I want you all to resolve in your hearts to do the best you can these last few hours for yourself, for your family, for the people that you love.

Think back in history what great Democrats have meant—Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, John Kennedy. Think about the Republicans all the way from Herbert Hoover to Richard Nixon, how they've changed your lives, and how Republicans have been elected by misleading people the last few days before an election. I'd like for all of you to resolve in your hearts to do something about it, not just to vote.

There's not a single person listening to my voice that cannot contact at least a hundred other people between now and next Tuesday. Some of you might contact a thousand, and some even, through the electronic media or otherwise, 10,000. But I ask you to join in with me in a crusade to keep this Nation on the road to peace, keep this Nation on the road to progress, to make sure we have equality of opportunity, to keep our working families strong, to give our children a better education, to keep our Nation respected around the world, to look forward with confidence and with unity and deep commitment, because you're partners with me, as a candidate. And I hope you'll be partners with me in the next 4 years, if you'll do what I ask you between now and Tuesday.

Thank you very much. God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 5:54 p.m. outside the Fort Worth Livestock Exchange.

Jimmy Carter, Fort Worth, Texas Remarks at a Rally With Area Residents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/252135

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