Jimmy Carter photo

Hartford, Connecticut Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Governor Ella Grasso.

October 28, 1978

My good friend, Governor Ella Grasso; Lieutenant Governor Killian; Senator Abe Ribicoff, about whom I'd like to speak in a few minutes; Congressmen Cotter, Moffett, Dodd, and Giaimo—one of the greatest and strongest congressional State Democratic coalitions that I have ever known, wonderful men—Bill Ratchford, who will join them in January in the Congress; former Governor John Dempsey; Chairman John Dempsey, Jr.,' Bill O'Neill, who's the next Lieutenant Governor; Hank Parker, State treasurer; Ed Caldwell, State comptroller; Carl Ajello, attorney general; and Barbara Kennelly, the next secretary of state:

As you know, Barbara Kennelly comes from a great Democratic family. I believe if there's one thing that epitomizes Connecticut politics, it is that the Democrats comprise a family. I noticed when Ella Grasso introduced me, she first mentioned my favorite joke writer, my mother— [laughter] —who thinks that Ella Grasso is absolutely beautiful. And then she mentioned my wife, Rosalynn, and then she mentioned my son Chip, who hasn't even come yet, and and last she mentioned me, the President of the United States. [Laughter]

But when you start talking about the Baileys—and I'm very grateful that Mrs. John Bailey1 is here as an honored guest—the Dodds, the Dempseys, you can see that what the Democratic candidates in Connecticut represent is kind of a solid family structure. It provides cohesion and strength. It provides a mechanism by which standards and ideals can be maintained and passed on from one election to another, continuity in principle, dedication, consistency in purpose, a closeness to one another.

1Wife of the former State and National Democratic chairman.

That's why I think that I'm lucky to be in Connecticut. That's why I think that you're lucky to have Ella Grasso as your present and future Governor.

The first time I met Ella, I don't think she believed that I was going to be President, although I told her so. [Laughter] She wanted to talk to me about my term as Governor, because I had been successful in reorganizing the structure of State government. And she has taken 200 fragmented State agencies, and now she's bringing them down to 22 major State organizations which can do a better job for you and save money.

I've seen her also inherit a $71 million deficit, and she's changed that, over a 3-year period, to a $200 million surplus that she's using to keep local property taxes down. And I think this is the kind of administration that I admire, that you appreciate, and that you want to have continued.

She's a person who cares deeply about people. She's worried about your government, its structure, deficits, tax cuts. But I think that when I came through Connecticut campaigning for 2 years, '75 and '76, the overwhelming concern that I felt in your State was about the strength of our economy, the high and growing unemployment rate.

When I became President, we had 10 million people in our country who were looking for a full-time job and could not find one. Over 7 million people could not find a job at all, and I, the Congress, the Governors, others began to work on this serious problem.

We've had remarkable success. We've added a net of 6 1/2 million new jobs in our country, never before achieved, even in time of war. And we've cut the unemployment rate by 25 percent nationwide. But in Connecticut, under Ella Grasso's leadership, the unemployment rate has been cut 50 percent. And the good thing is that she's done it not by creating jobs that are paid for by taxpayers, but by creating new taxpayers, providing jobs in the private industry sector.

She's brought in 260 new plants, factories, and employers just since she's been in office. And this has been done with a great care to invest favorably in the future. She's been very careful not to cause a deterioration in the quality of life for those who live here. She hasn't lowered standards or given special tax breaks to bigshots in order to get jobs coming into Connecticut.

She's not turned her back on the Connecticut people. She's given you and those you care for a new chance in life, and she's set kind of a standard for us to emulate in Washington.

One of the things that I struggled for most eagerly but unsuccessfully was a good hospital cost containment bill. Ella Grasso was able to get one in Connecticut, and she's cut hospital costs 30 percent already.

Well, I've just about decided to ask her to quit Connecticut and come to Washington to help me. But to show you how much I think of Connecticut, I'm going to sacrifice my own future administration and let you keep her for 4 more years, perhaps.

I'd like to mention not in passing but in a very important way your own congressional delegation. I think if there's one person who has helped me more than any other to control inflation in the House by being a sound and mature statesman in managing the fiscal affairs of Congress, it's been Bob Giaimo.

As you know, he's on the Appropriations Committee permanently, and he has been the chairman of the House Budget Committee. There's not a more responsible, difficult job that could have been awarded him by the other Members of Congress, and he's done a superb job in this. I'm very grateful to you for letting me have him in Washington.

Toby Moffett serves on the Government Operations Committee, responsible for Government reorganization, and Toby has the reputation of being one of those Members of Congress who really keeps his foot, one in Washington, one in his own district, takes care of his own constituents, and helps Presidents and the rest of the Nation as well.

Bill Cotter—in the South, people would think he's my brother, but, you see, he's not. [Laughter] He serves on the very powerful Ways and Means Committee. And because of his superb ability and his growing seniority, he's in a position to help you and me in the future. Health, welfare, taxation, energy, many other crucial subjects come before the Ways and Means Committee, and this is a very great credit to him and to you.

I'd also like to mention Chris Dodd. Perhaps above all other committees, the one that decides which legislation is seriously considered by the 435 Members of the House, which legislation is called up first, which legislation can be amended, the extent of the amendments, it's the Rules Committee. And service on the Rules Committee is a great honor for a Member of the House of Representatives and a great credit for the State which sent him to Congress. And I want to congratulate Chris Dodd on doing such a fine job in this important position.

Bill Ratchford, scheduled to go to Congress next January, has already proven in Connecticut that he's an expert on the problems of our senior citizens. But that's not all. He rode on the airplane here with me, and I asked him, "What is the most important issue that you would like me to mention?" And he said, "I would like to be known as the man who, when I come to Washington next year, is going to help you, Mr. President, to control inflation in our country." You couldn't have a better platform than that.

It almost becomes a personal thing for me when I mention the next person that I'd like to talk about. If there is one man who, ever since I have known him, exemplifies in the finest way the rare word "statesman," it's your Senator, Abraham Ribicoff.

He's a man of great courage, and there may have been times, even since I've been in the White House, when he has cast a vote that was not popular among many people in Connecticut. But as time has gone by, his sound judgment and his knowledge of domestic and foreign affairs has proven him to be right. He runs the committee responsible for all Government reorganization. And I would say that above all other Members of the Senate, he has helped me most in my dealing with the Middle East crisis. And I could not have been successful in Camp David had it not been for the leadership and the courage and the knowledge of Abraham Ribicoff, and I want to thank him again.

Now I want to say a word about my own administration. [Laughter]

Part of a family life is teamwork. I've not been President very long; as you know, I haven't been in politics very long. But I've tried to bring to the White House the kind of attitude that would make you proud of our Government once again.

There was a time, 2, 3, 4 years ago, when the people of our Nation lost confidence in our Government because of the war in Vietnam, because of Watergate, because of the CIA revelations. But we've tried to tackle those serious problems in an open and effective way, depending on you, the people of our country, to give us guidance.

We've accomplished a great deal already in putting our people back to work. We provided better services in strengthening our cities, education, highways, a stronger defense. At the same time, we've been able to cut taxes—last year, $8 billion, this year, $19 billion more.

I have also been concerned about the budget deficits. When I ran for President in 1976, the budget deficit for the Federal Government was over $66 billion. Now, to give better services, to cut taxes, and also to reduce the deficit is not an easy combination to achieve. But we've already cut the Federal. budget deficit more than $25 billion. By the next budget, which I'm now working on, we will have cut the budget deficit for the Federal Government more than half.

And this congressional delegation that you're sending to Washington and I pledge ourselves to continue our efforts, with a strong economy, to get the Federal Government budget balanced in the years ahead.

With Abe Ribicoff's leadership, the Congress passed and I signed this week a new ethics bill. The vast majority of top Government officials are honest, decent, sensitive, wanting to be accountable to you. But I pledged in the campaign that we would let it be more open. So, I signed a bill this week that requires all the Members of Congress, the President, the Vice President, the Cabinet members, every person who has any kind of top leadership role in the executive branch of Government, all the Federal judges, to reveal their net worth and to reveal their source of income to the people of our country, not only to prove they're honest but to remove temptations which sometimes afflict those in positions of power.

This is a good step forward, and I hope that in this respect and also by proceeding on our platform goals, that confidence in our Government will be restored.

We have the strongest military force on Earth, and we're going to keep it that way. I lived and worked as a young officer in Connecticut, in New London, when I was in submarines on two different occasions, and I know how much your own State has contributed to a strong national defense. With that strength can come steps toward peace. We're negotiating a new SALT agreement with the Soviet Union. We're working on it every day.

Very early next month Abe Ribicoff will take 10 other Members of the Senate to the Soviet Union to explore new ways whereby we might guarantee peace with them and a growing sense of friendship.

Peace is important to us, and I'm very proud of the fact that so far since I've been in the White House, not a single American person, no soldier, sailor, marine has shed blood in any conflict overseas. And I hope that I go out of office with that same record.

We've tried to maintain a strong moral leadership. I want our Nation's Government to have the reputation all over the Earth of being clean and decent. We're struggling with difficult issues in South Africa, in Cyprus, strengthening NATO, exploring ways for new peace and recognition between ourselves and our former adversaries in Asia.

And as you know, we've been lucky so far, after Camp David, in trying to bring peace to the Mideast. This is not an easy thing to do. There are ancient, historical enmities, distrust, hatred, repeated wars. The negotiating effort is not yet over. We need your support and we need your prayers.

In recent days we've had a problem, as you know, with the Israeli settlement announcement. President Sadat had sent word to his delegation to come back to Egypt. But I got in touch with President Sadat, and he informed me this morning that as long as I wanted the Egyptian negotiators here, that he would leave them in Washington to negotiate a peace treaty. And I'm thankful for that.

Both sides want peace, and I think as long as our Nation is strong, as long as foreign leaders know that I don't speak with a hollow voice, that when I speak, the Congress knows what we are trying to accomplish, the congressional leaders like those on the stage here with me, Governors and citizens like you understand and support me, it gives my voice great authority and great influence which it would not have otherwise.

And I have tried to raise again the banner of principle—the principles on which our Nation were originally founded. And as long as I'm in the White House, we will have the reputation of being the nation, the strong nation that will always insist upon an enhancement of basic human rights around the world.

So, to close, let me say this: We've got a good Democratic team. I feel very proud to be the leader of the Democratic Party, to see the cohesion that we enjoy giving strength to our country. I have no fear of difficult challenges. There are no easy answers to problems that have afflicted our Nation for a long time. But with a strong congressional delegation, a strong Governor and State administrators, State legislature to work with me, there is no doubt that if we can earn your confidence-and we're determined to do so-and keep that confidence and support, that we will make the greatest nation on Earth even greater in the future.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. in the Capitol Ballroom at the Hartford Hilton Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to John Dempsey, Jr., State Democratic Party chairman.

Jimmy Carter, Hartford, Connecticut Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Governor Ella Grasso. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243670

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives