Jimmy Carter photo

Gresham, Oregon Remarks at a "Get Out the Vote" Rally.

November 03, 1978

Governor Bob Straub, Congressman Bob Duncan, Congressman Les AuCoin, Senator Cook, Chairman Klonoski, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee John White, and my friends:

How many of you are going to vote next Tuesday? [Applause]

In 1960, when John Kennedy was elected President of our country, twothirds of the American people went to the polls to vote. In recent elections and the projections for next Tuesday, twothirds of the American people will not vote.

It's very important for all Americans to know that the government is yours, that candidates who know you will vote will be much more cautious about following your mandates and desires. And also you have a responsibility and an opportunity in a free and democratic nation to exercise your will at the ballot box.

Yesterday, I was in Flint, Michigan, the last place I stopped before the great election 2 years ago, when I was chosen to be your President. In the primary in Michigan, out of more than a million votes, I won by less than 2,000, which meant that less than one person per precinct decided who won that State. Last night, I was campaigning for Congressman Abner Mikva in the 10th District of Illinois. He won 2 years ago with 201 votes, less than one-half vote per precinct.

It's extremely important that if you care about your Nation that you work hard enough to get other people to vote and also vote yourself.

I'm very glad to come to beautiful Oregon. When Fritz Mondale, the Vice President, was here a few days ago, there were heavy rains. Today, when the President comes, there is no rain. You can see how much it pays off to have a President.

I would like to emphasize again the importance of your participation in the democratic processes.

It's not easy holding public office these days. I guess one of the most difficult jobs in the world is to ,be President of the United States. It's also one of the best jobs of all, because I represent the greatest nation on Earth.

It's getting better every day, with your help. We have a young, vigorous, dynamic, confident, competent administration. Our Nation is the strongest on Earth. It's the strongest militarily, and it's going to stay that way. It's the strongest politically, because we believe in the dignity of every human being, the right of people to stand on their own feet, to make their own decisions, to control their own government, to let their own individuality be expressed. And we're trying to spread this philosophy, this commitment, these ideals around the world.

We now have a country where people can trust the Government once again. I remember just 3 or 4 years ago when many Americans were ashamed of our own Government. The Vietnam war was one that turned many people against our own country; the revelations in Watergate, where many of the top officials, as you know, in our Government went to jail. The CIA wag violating the laws of our Nation. Corruption, scandal pervaded our Government. We've changed all of that. We're trying to bring a government of honesty, openness, and decency, of which not only we can be proud, but which will earn the respect of the rest of the world.

It's only through strength of character, it's only through strength economically that my own influence can be used, as your President, to bring peace, not only to our own people but to other trouble spots of the world as well. I hope that I can go out of office at the end of my term by saying what I can say today, that not a single American in uniform has shed blood in a foreign country since I've been President. We're going to try to keep that peace.

We've also raised high the banner of human rights, and as long as I'm in the White House, we will protect basic human rights, not only in our own country but in every country on Earth, and you can depend on that as well.

I want to tell you why I came to Oregon at this particular time. I want to let you know the importance of government, the importance of your participation, and also to get out as many people as possible to vote next Tuesday and to ask you to vote for a superb Democratic ticket, headed in Oregon by my good friend and a great Governor, Bob Straub. I want you to help him.

Some people say that Governor Straub is not a good politician because he takes difficult stands on controversial issues. And I think that's true.

Oregon is the birthplace of the referendum, where people can put on the ballot issues that you consider to be important to yourselves. He analyzes those issues. He doesn't try to guess what's the most popular thing to do. He's not wishy-washy in his own decisions. He lets the people know where he stands. He's a strong and courageous leader, and he's helped Oregon tremendously since he's been in office.

If he has one fault, it's that he's overly modest. When he came into office, Oregon had the fourth highest unemployment rate in the United States, 12 percent unemployment. Bob Straub has brought that unemployment down to 5 percent. He's cut it more than in half, and now Oregon is at the top in employment, not unemployment.

He's tried to protect the environment in Oregon at the same time—at the same time—he has helped to improve business and jobs. Seventy-two new businesses have been brought into Oregon to provide jobs for you and those you care about; 175 existing Oregon businesses have expanded. But at the same time Bob Straub believes that the good quality of life that is enjoyed in your State—and there is no better quality of life anywhere on Earth— ought to be preserved. And you need a Governor that'll keep your environment clean and make sure that the land is used well and the forest industry is protected, the forest harvests are expanded, that more trees are planted. And I hear this from Bob Straub every time I talk to him. And you need to keep him in office to protect you and the quality of your life in the future.

What kind of industry do you want in Oregon? Clean industry, right. That's the kind I want throughout the country, and Bob Straub is setting an example for other States to follow. I might point out that Bob Straub also believes in lower taxes, at the same time opening government so you can understand it better and participate in it, but giving better services to the people as well.

Many of you are still students, and Oregon now has the highest State support for education in over 30 years, which is a very good commitment and a better life for you and those you care about.

He's fighting for lower utility rates, lower rent for elderly people, and also fighting to give lower costs for dental care for elderly people. He believes, as I do, that we can tackle tough problems and be successful.

As you well know, Congressman Bob Duncan, Congressman Led AuCoin are very strong supporters of what I'm trying to do in Washington. I inherited, when I went into office, a very serious series of problems. We had over 10 million people in our country who could not find a fulltime job. Since then, we've had a net increase of 6 1/2 million new jobs. On the way here from Illinois this morning on Air Force One, I got a report that last month we added 642,000 jobs in our country, and we cut down the unemployment rate another two-tenths of 1 percent. It's now 5.8 percent, the best it's been in many, many years.

I've been concerned, as have you, about the stability of our own economy. I want to say just a word about the prospect for a recession next year.

In the last 2 weeks many economists, advisers of mine, have been predicting that if the American dollar was not stabilized on foreign markets, that inflation rates would go up much higher next year than this year and that we would face an almost sure recession.

Last Saturday night I met with my top economic advisers to consider what to do. And we made a decision that we believed then and believe even more strongly now would not only stabilize and strengthen the dollar overseas; it'll expand American export, create more jobs for American citizens, and make sure that we do not have a recession in 1979. This is what we believe we can accomplish. If you will help us with our anti-inflation program, we'll be successful. Will you help me with that by using all of your influence in the future? [Applause]

This is a program that requires cooperation and teamwork from Democrats and Republicans alike, from employers and employees alike, from those who live in cities, those who live on the farms, because all of us have to make equal sacrifices to control rampant inflation.

We've had a very high inflation rate now for 10 years. The 3 years before I became President, we had an average inflation rate of 8 percent. It's not quite that high now, and we want to hold it down.

In the last 2 days, the value of the dollar has gone up against the deutsche mark, for instance, in Germany 8 percent. As you know, day before yesterday, the stock market went up more than it ever had in history, over 35 points. That's an indication of confidence in our Government.

When I began running for President, nobody thought I had a chance, but I stuck to it and won. When I made my anti-inflation speech— [applause] —with your help. When I made my anti-inflation speech, a lot of people said we don't have a chance to win. But I don't intend to lose, and we're going to fight inflation until we whip it. We're going to keep Americans employed. We're going to keep a strong dollar. We're going to keep jobs going, and our Nation is going to stand as a bulwark against depression throughout the world.

It takes a good team effort, a good Democratic team effort, and I want to ask all of you to think back—sometimes in a very brief life, since a lot of you are quite young—how things were 2, 3 years ago, before Bob Straub was your Governor and before we had a Democratic administration in Washington. We've still a long way to go. We haven't solved all our problems. We don't claim to have done that. But we are trying to recognize for a change that our Nation is one of which we can be justifiably proud.

Our military and economic and political strength is not being used to abuse other people. We no longer have any need to espouse every totalitarian regime in the world to make us look good. We've been willing to treat the Panamanians fairly. We've injected our beneficial impact into South Africa to bring peace, an end to apartheid, majority rule, one person-one vote in that troubled continent.

We're working to bring peace to Cyprus. We're trying to have a SALT agreement negotiated with the Soviet Union, to remove once and for all the threat of nuclear destruction from the entire world. And I intend to succeed in having a good SALT agreement in the next few weeks.

The Congress has passed a nonproliferation bill, the first time we've ever had one which will prevent nations that don't presently have nuclear explosives from ever having them. We're making progress toward peace, and, as you know, not too long ago, I invited President Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Begin to Camp David, and we had some good luck there. We're going to keep working until we have peace in the Middle East, and you can depend on that.

So, what is it fair to say that we want in an American Government, in the government of Oregon? What do we want our Nation to be? We want it to be strong, and we'll keep it that way. We want it to be peaceful in its attitude, and we're going to keep it that way. We want our influence to be felt in a beneficial way around the world, and we'll keep it that way. We want us to help bring peace to areas which are troubled. We want to keep our young people from having to give their lives in war.

We want to remove the threat of nuclear destruction. We want our people to have jobs. We want to control inflation. We want the American economy to be strong. We want farmers to be prosperous. We want young people to get a good education. We want homes to be built, a good highway system to be maintained.

These are the kinds of things we are working to achieve in this administration, and we also at the same time want to have a competent, tough, and efficient government. We don't waste money any more.

When I was running for President, we had a Federal deficit of over $66 billion. I've not been in office very long yet, but in the preparation of the next budget, on which I'm working now every week, we will have cut the Federal deficit more than half in two. And we're going to continue to work until we have a balanced budget for the Government of the United States.

Well, I want to come to a close in my own speech, to ask you first of all to participate by voting and encouraging other people to vote next Tuesday. Secondly, I'd like to ask you to vote for the Democratic candidates, and particularly those who are running a tough race against very high financial odds.

There's no doubt in my mind that Bob Straub's opponent will have two and a half times as many dollars to spend on his campaign as does your Governor. I want you particularly to help him to be elected, because Bob Straub is a man who deserves support, particularly from young people, who believe in the idealism of American life and the strength of our country and a good quality of existence, with good jobs, growing industry in the future in Oregon. That's very important. But most of all, I want you to make sure that you feel that you're a part of the American political existence. When you vote, your influence is felt. And I want to make sure that young people like yourselves, who are idealistic, who are not afraid of change, who believe in openness of government, who believe in principles that haven't changed for the last 200 years, who believe in courage in the face of difficulty, who don't believe problems are too great to overcome, who don't believe the questions are too difficult to answer—you are the ones on whom the future of the United States depends.

We have got the greatest nation on Earth now. With your help and your participation, your support and your confidence, we're going to have an even ,greater nation in the years ahead, when you're the leaders of our country.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:15 a.m. in the Amphitheater at Mt. Hood Community College. In his opening remarks, he referred to Democratic Senatorial candidate Vern Cook and Jim Klonoski, State Democratic Party chairman.

Jimmy Carter, Gresham, Oregon 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/243854

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