Ronald Reagan picture

Governor Reagan's News Conference

October 14, 1980

I have a statement which will be handed out to all of you. I will read it for the sound media. As you know, a number of false and misleading accusations have been made in this campaign. During the next three weeks, I intend to set the record straight.

One of the accusations has been that I am somehow opposed to full and equal opportunities for women in America. I regret even having to address this issue for fear that discussing it might lend even a scintilla of credence to such a charge.

But I cannot permit this campaign to go forward while some people apparently believe that I would in any way restrict the freedom and rights of women.

Nothing could be further from the truth. My entire life, public and private, has been devoted to the dignity of all people. I could never personally tolerate any kind of discrimination.

As Governor of California, I signed legislation prohibiting discrimination on account of sex in employment, real property transactions, or in the provision of accommodations and services by businesses; establishing the right of a married woman to obtain credit in her own name; revising community property to give the wife equal rights in regard to management and control of community property; extending the state unemployment disability benefits to pregnant employees; increasing the penalties for rape and for use of firearms in a rape; providing for the development and improvement of child care centers.

All in all, we passed 14 statutes eliminating from the body of state law practices that discriminate against women. Now, as President, I will follow my convictions. Intelligent, committed, qualified and responsible women will be placed in important jobs in my administration.

I oppose tokenism, and I oppose setting false quotas. My responsibility will be to make our Government work better and to solve the critical problems facing America.

To achieve those ends, we need the best people possible at the highest levels of Government regardless of sex, race or religion. I am also acutely aware, however, that within the guidelines of excellence, appointments can carry enormous symbolic significance. This permits us to guide by example, to show how deep our commitment is and to give meaning to what we profess.

One way I intend to live up to that commitment is to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court. I am announcing today that one of the first Supreme Court vacancies in my administration will be filled by the most qualified woman I can find, one who meets the high standards I will demand for all my appointments.

It is time for a woman to sit among our highest jurists. I will also seek out women to appoint to other Federal courts in an effort to bring about a better balance on the Federal bench.

There will be no name announced nor will I submit names to be considered until I have conducted a comprehensive search and have received the recommendations of an advisory committee of eminent legal and judicial experts.

The procedures they will be asked to follow are the same procedures I intend to establish for all judicial appointments. I am confident that this woman, whomever she may be, and all of my other women appointees, will contribute to the goals that I seek for America.

But no matter who holds those jobs, the ends we seek to achieve will be the same: a country at peace, an economy with strength, a maximum of freedom and the renewal of a community of values.

Q: Governor, is this statement this morning reflective of your feeling that the issue of the equal rights amendment is hurting your campaign more than you originally thought?

A: No. It's just that I, as I said in my opening statement, some of the false accusations that have been made I think have possibly concerned people on that issue, and they've confused the fact that the only difference between people like those demonstrators and myself is one of how best to achieve this equality of opportunity.

Q: Governor, why did you wait until now to make this decision?

A: You can't do everything in the first week of the campaign. You take things as they come, and as I say, I did meet with leaders who did not understand my position right after the convention in Detroit.

And they left apparently satisfied with what I told them I would do, and what my views were. And then this other continued.

Q: Governor, over the years you have sought, advocated the use of military force, naval blockade and so forth, and there is some question whether you, if you became President, would use military force as your handy foreign policy weapon. What are your views on the use of military force?

A: Well, my views are considerably different from the things that you stated, supposedly based on previous statements I have made. You have to look at those in the context of the time and what I was actually saying, and I can assure you ...

Q: A naval blockade of Cuba?

A: A naval blockade of Cuba was used as a hypothetical example of our lack of a contingency plan for further aggression by the Soviet Union.

Every time, we think only in terms, we wait and then are surprised by each new move they make.

We have apparently never planned out and said, what will we do if they make moves that really begin to infringe upon our national security.

And what I was suggesting was that for their moves, made 9,000 miles away, half way around the world in their backyard, that why don't we think of some contingency plan in which we can exert pressure on them.

And I gave the hypothetical that they have a colony 90 miles off our shore -and anyone who thinks it isn't owned lock, stock and barrel by the Soviet Union is naive. Here would be one in which we would demonstrate, and it would be in our backyard, leaving them the logistic problem 9,000 miles, what you do in response to an Afghanistan, saying we're going to do this until you stop doing that.

Now this was not, this does not envision armed conflict. I doubt that there would be any attempt to violate such a blockade. The simple answer about armed forces is it is always the last resort. It is when there is no other choice. And if you have a firm policy, and a firm foreign policy, and you have the strength that you need to really protect our national security, I doubt that there will come a point that you will have to use it.

We don't get into wars because someone wants a war and wants to push a button. We get into wars when we have a foreign policy of the kind of the present, a foreign policy in which he reacts from crisis to crisis and events are totally out of control, and you find yourself inadvertently in a position where the unwanted war could possibly come.

Q: Governor, during the course of this long campaign, you frequently called for transfer of Federal programs back to the states, along with revenue sources. I wonder now at this point, three weeks away from election day, if you can tell us specifically one program you would transfer, and also a specific revenue source you would transfer back to the states?

A: I have frequently remarked about this. I am sorry you missed it. The first program I would try to do that with is welfare. And what I said about this, because there is legislation being framed right now in this regard, I would, I would advocate first of all block grants of the Federal share of the cost in that transfer, but use those as a transition to finally select. And, no, I have not selected what would be a tax source.

But, then find how quickly you could move that to an actual tax resource.

Q: Governor, a national survey released today by the Global 2000 News Service indicates that 73 percent of Americans would like to see a debate between yourself and President Carter. If Congressman Anderson were to actively support the relevance and importance of a one-on-one debate between yourself and the President, would you accept the League's offer?

A: If Congressman Anderson removed himself as a viable candidate, then that would remove the only reason why there isn't a debate. Let me call to your attention. I agree with the 70-odd percent of the people who want that debate, and I think I've proved it. I've been in almost half a dozen debates. And President Carter has yet to be in one, going clear back to when he ran for Governor of Georgia and he reneged on a commitment to debate his opponent there.

He reneged in the primaries on his commitment to debate Teddy Kennedy. He has held off simply because he apparently does not want to meet in any way Senator Anderson in a debate.

Now I met Senator Anderson in three debates, and I can tell Jimmy Carter, there's really nothing to be worried about.

Q: What if the Congressman says that it's important for the American people to see similarities between yourself and the President and that he would be willing to step back and have a threeway debate following that?

A: Oh, look. I have to believe, in view of the record of the President, that if he gets his way with the one-on-one debate with me, there will never be another debate involving Congressman Anderson.

Q: When you look for your additional appointees, what qualifications will you require? Will you require that they have specifically conservative political backgrounds for Federal judges and Supreme Court judges?

A: I will do what I did in California. And here I think even my opponents will give me high marks on judicial appointments. In California, I set up a series of committees of laymen to an individual's peers, in other words lawyers, and the judiciary, and all of these committees reviewed every name that was submitted for possible judicial appointment.

I then received a rating that ranged from N.Q., not qualified, to E.W.Q., exceptionally well qualified, and all the gradations in between, and made my appointments from that list.

And without exception in eight years, I took my appointees from those who were rated exceptionally well qualified.

Q: So you would place merit standards ...

A: Yes.

Q: Governor, could you tell us what your opinion is of those who say God doesn't believe, doesn't hear the prayers of Jews? Do you think they're prejudiced or bigoted in any way?

A: Either that, or they're making their own interpretation of the Bible. But I've only heard but one man so far. I've never heard such a thing ...

Q: Well the Reverend Falwell said that.

A: No. And he made that plain. I can't recall the name of the gentleman. It's another gentleman back there that.

Q: Reverend Singer.

A: That may well be the name. He, Falwell, has repeatedly denied this. I don't happen to believe that myself, and I don't think that most Christians do.

Q: But do you think that those who do believe it are prejudiced or bigoted?

A: That, or as I say, then they've got such a literal translation of the Bible that, the Old Testament, that they are being guided by that.

And we've had many, many injustices back through history, with people who may be sincerely motivated but who have used religion, or been carried away by religion, who do things that may be discriminatory. And I'm not going to judge them myself, but I do not agree with that statement, and I don't know anyone else that I have ever talked to of the Christian faith who agrees.

Q: Governor, in selecting a woman for the Supreme Court and other judicial appointments, will it be important that this person her opposition to abortion?

A: I believe, based on my previous record here, that you make those appointments on the whole not only qualification, the whole philosophical viewpoint of the individual, not picking out individual or single issues.

Q: Then it is conceivable that you could appoint someone to the Supreme Court who favored abortion?

A: I would appoint, as I say, on the basis of the overall philosophy.

Q: Governor, ... Egyptian and Israeli peace negotiator and Palestinian autonomy. I think at the synagogue last night you seemed to suggest that the Camp David peace process in the Middle East is obsolete.

Do you think Camp David has outlived its usefulness? How would you hope to build on it? And specifically, do you think as President Carter has said, that the Israeli settlements on the West Bank are an obstacle to peace?

A: No, I do not believe that they are. It is possible that they might have made it more difficult. That's a judgment decision I won't make.

But the charge by this Administration at the time those settlements were first started, that they were illegal, was false. They are entirely legal under the U.N. Resolution 242. All people, Moslems, Jews and Christians, are entitled to live in, on the West Bank until a determination is made, and that determination under 242 is to be based on the subsequent Resolution 338 on peace first being declared, and then the negotiations between Jordan and Israel take place that settle.

Q: What about Camp David? Do you think it's outlived its usefulness?

A: It offered a promise, and I will not say that it helped at that time in furthering what it started, and President Sadat accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Began to go to Isreal. That, they really started themselves. It was a help, but I do think it just came to a kind of impasse there, then with subsequent events.

Q: Governor Reagan, many of the polls show you have more support among men voters than you do among women. Do you think that your opposition to the equal rights amendment is the reason for that, or what would the reason be?

A: I don't know. Maybe it's a misunderstanding about my position. I don't really have any way to know. I don't take the polls myself, so I don't know the reason they give.

But it might reflect some success with the false charge by the President and his spokesmen about the earlier question that was asked, that I might be prone to turn to war as an answer, and I would think that women would be most affected by that.

And therefore I'm going to use every opportunity that I can to address, as I've said many times, I've known four wars in my lifetime. I would consider war as the last, the last resort. Our mission in the world is to protect the peace.

Q: Governor, from the BBC in London. Do you have any doubts about your ability to play to role of America's leading man?

A: Do I have any doubts about my ability to play to role of the leading man in America? I never thought of it that way. I left that profession.

I have confidence, based on my experience as Governor, that I can offer a better solution to the problems than either of my opponents.

Q: Governor Reagan, the League of Women Voters has announced it is going to take another look at John Anderson, to decide whether or not he meets their criteria. If he does not, would you accept their offer to debate?

A: I'll meet that when it happens. It could just be that they are so anxious to have another debate that they would shave the rule of fairness themselves. I hope not.

Q: Governor, Senator Goldwater and some other Republicans have suggested that Congressman Bauman should resign from the Congress and as president of the American Conservative Union because of alleged homosexual activities. How do you feel about that?

A: Well, this is a very great tragedy, and I think there is justification for some of what they ask, but I'm not going to comment on the situation.

Q: In the things you are saying, you seem to be trying to say that you are more moderate than some people perceive you to be. One, why do you find it necessary to make that point? And two, who do you think is responsible for the wrong perception if it is the wrong perception?

A: I think there has been a wrong perception, and I think many of you here who have traveled with my campaign in two elections, 1976 and again now, know that the further you get away from California and the West, the more the lack of knowledge there is of my record as Governor.

I don't use the labels, the words that everyone applies, because they don't mean the same things to different people. What I am trying to do is reveal exactly where I stand. I talk about the issues, what my beliefs are.

For anyone to suggest, as some have, that I'm now switching or changing - no one could do what I have done for the last quarter of a century, the amount of public speaking, the lecture circuit I have been on, for years now a five-day-a-week radio commentary, twice-aweek news columns - and to believe that I'm changing my positions. I've been very explicit about my positions.

Q: Governor Reagan, in Long Beach Vice President Mondale said that the fundamental difference between your campaign and the present Administration is reflected in the attitude toward the long-term global implications, like those outlined in the Global 2000 report. How do you propose responding to those long-term global implications of overpopulation, resource depletion and degradation of the environment?

A: Well, the response must take into consideration what we can do to predict in the long term. I don't think anyone could, would not want to, do that.

Again, I refer to my record. We thought in terms of population growth of our state here. That's why we added thousands of acres to our parks, to our state beaches and so forth.

You find many off those state beaches today, on the hottest day of the summer, there's no one on them. But we were preparing for a future population increase.

But I would also like to point out that you have to look at those projections into the future with some common sense, because there have been many such projections in the past.

And those projections can only be based on what we know now. They cannot foresee what is going to happen, what is going to come in the line of technology and so forth.

An example of that was a study commissioned by President Herbert Hoover, and it wasn't completed until Roosevelt was President. But it was one about a plan for time 20 or 25 years ahead of that particular period. There was no mention in that prediction, there was no mention of at least 15 or 20 things such as antibiotics, nuclear power, things of that kind. Not a single mention of all those things that came into being in the period of time they were prognosticating.

Now, we can go back further than that to the Malthusian Theory also. The world was going to starve to death. At that time they didn't know aanything about artificial fertilizers. They didn't know anything about pesticides. And they didn't know anything about mechanical farming. It was a man with a hoe at that time.

Now, today, there are studies, farm studies, based on the tillable land on earth, and based on if they are farmed at the level of American farming worldwide, that the earth can support a population of 28 billion people.

Lyn Nofziger: Just hold on. We have time for one more question, because you've got to file.

Q: Governor, would you agree to sell spare parts, I mean to allow other nations to sell spare parts to Iran, if it will help get the hostages back?

A: I would have no objection to that. I just don't, if, how could we prevent them from selling?

Q: Well, we are preventing them right now. They could buy them from other nations, but not until we give the O.K.

A: Let them give back the hostages, and then give the O.K. Nofziger: Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

Ronald Reagan, Governor Reagan's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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