Jimmy Carter photo

Houston, Texas Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraising Luncheon.

September 15, 1980

As all of you know, this luncheon was organized just 2 weeks ago, and a crucial thing for a President or a candidate is to have friends on whom one can call for additional assistance on short notice, when it's crucial to the success of a common effort. I'm particularly grateful to Jim Calaway who rode in here with me from Corpus Christi and Jack Warren who came from Washington down to Corpus and here, also, and of course, Lou Flournoy who was with me in Corpus Christi and who has been very helpful, and to all of you. It would be hard for me to list the whole group.

I would like you to know that I'm aware of some of your pressing local problems, and I'm sure that Jack would agree that as soon as they get their timing down-Statler [Stabler] 1 and his receivers—they will be winning games every week and put Houston back in the top where you belong. The Oilers are a great team, Houston's a great city, and I'm very grateful to all of you.

I understand that tomorrow the Republican candidate will be standing on this spot. This is the only place he'll be replacing me— [laughter] —because I have help and support from people like you.

1 Ken Stabler, quarterback of the Houston Oilers.

I'm not going to take long, because I want to shake hands with everyone here individually and thank you personally and have a photograph made, if you'll give me that much of an honor. But I think I would like to say a few words about two things. One is the Presidency itself. And the other one is the future of our country.

There's no way to measure in human terms the way people feel in this Nation about the office of the President. It's the greatest elective office in the world, the leader of the greatest nation on Earth, and there is a respect for the Presidency and an acknowledgement of the importance of the Presidency in the life of every American family. The world's future is shaped to a major degree by the decisions and the actions and commitments of our Nation expressed by the chosen leader. I've been there now about 3 1/2 years; I've seen the complexity of the problems that come to the Oval Office. There are no easy questions that come there. There are no easy decisions made in the Oval Office. If the questions or the decisions are easy ones, they're made somewhere else—in the county courthouse or city hall or in the State legislature or in a Governor's office or in a private business or home. But when they reach me, I am sure they're difficult, and the more vital they are and the more complex and the more difficult, the more sure I am that my own advisers will be divided almost equally in telling me what they think ought to be done. I'm the one that has to make the decision.

We've made some difficult decisions this last 3 1/2 years that have affected the lives of all of you, of Texas, of our country, and, I think, most nations on Earth. We've made good decisions—highly controversial, yes, but the right ones. A lot of people criticize the energy policy that we've hammered out together. But what they fail to point out is that before I became President, there was no energy policy; there was no assured path to the future that would help us conserve energy in our own country and produce more energy in or own country. The time has just been very short, as you know—a matter of months—since we got the basic elements of our policy enacted into law and clearly understood by the American people. The results have already been notable. We have more oil drilling rigs running now, this year, than any other year in history.

The 3 years before I became President, we increased oil imports from overseas 44 percent. In the 3 years since I've been in office, we've decreased oil imports by 24 percent. This year, every day, we will import 2 million barrels of oil less than we did the same date in 1977. That's a tremendous amount of money that we don't spend overseas, and that's a tremendous amount of inflation and unemployment that we don't import every time one of those large oil tankers ties up coming here from the Middle East or Persian Gulf region.

This is not all of it. We will produce more coal in the United States in 1980 than in any other year in this history of our country. A lot of people don't know that. A lot of that coal is now being exported, and my hope is that American coal, to a major degree in the worldwide markets on energy, will replace in the near future OPEC oil. We have tremendous reserves, and we're trying to find and to use them better.

Energy is obviously important. But that's not the only thing. You people in Texas, I know, are similar to those in Georgia. You believe we ought to get the Federal Government's nose out of the business of private families and the private enterprise system and let free competition prevail. It's better for business, it's better for the workers, it's better for consumers. Ever since 1948, or a few years after that, there have been efforts made to deregulate major elements of American life, unsuccessful efforts. Even when you had a Republican President and a Republican Congress, the efforts were unsuccessful.

We've now put into law deregulation of natural gas, deregulation of oil, deregulation of the trucking industry, deregulation of the airline industry, deregulation of the financial institutions of this country, and this is the kind of move and the kind of philosophy that, in my judgment, will make our country greater and freer in the future. The consumers benefit; our whole Nation joins in that benefit.

I was faced, when I was elected President, of an g-year history of constantly decreasing commitments to our Nation's defense. In real dollars, our defense expenditures had gone down 8 years. My profession is as a naval officer. My background is as a southerner, and I could see very clearly that our Nation, in order to stay at peace, had to be strong. We have had a steady increase every, year since I've been in office in real defense expenditures, not wasted money.

Under Harold Brown, Charlie Duncan, and Graham Claytor we've made very careful plans. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have spent more time with me, perhaps, than the Joint Chiefs have spent with all the Presidents since the Department of Defense was organized, making sure that we could see things clearly in the future. And the Trident submarines and the missiles, the MX missiles, cruise missiles, strengthening of NATO, and the building up of our conventional forces have sent a clear signal to Americans and to foreign countries that our country was united, had the will, determination, and capability to stay so militarily strong that any attack on us or threat to us would be suicidal on their part. And we've used that military strength to keep our Nation at peace, but also to provide peace for others. And in a peaceful world, in Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia, the principles for which our Nation stands can be enhanced and expanded.

We now have friendship with a billion people in the People's Republic of China we'd never had before, and we have not lost our trade relationships and our friendly relationships with the people of Taiwan. I was in the most advanced steel plant, I guess, in the world in Perth Amboy in New Jersey last week. Fifty percent of their steel rods are being exported to China. Half way around the world, they can sell American-made steel rods, made up of scrap material that used to be sent overseas, to China with a competitive advantage over the same steel rods made a few hundred miles away in Japan. American workers in that one factory produce more steel per year than in any other steel plant in the world.

Now that we've got the energy situation embedded into a national policy, we're ready to build on that to revitalize the American industrial system, to give new jobs, not in government but in private industry, to have more technology, better tools, better factories, to keep Americans producing efficiently. As you know, American workers are the most productive in the world, but that productivity has not been increasing lately, and that's what we have as a next major goal. This is an extremely important commitment, and it is going to be a successful commitment, compatible with the philosophy and the best interests of the people of Texas and the people of our country.

And finally, let me say that there's no way that we can have this sort of material progress unless we retain our commitment to the ideals and the morals and commitments of our country, commitments of freedom, the importance of the individual person, equality of opportunity, the protection of civil rights, keeping high the banner of human rights, expanding the beneficial effect of democratic principles, majority rule. These kind of things put us in a good competitive role on a peaceful basis with any challenge that might be mounted to the United States in the future.

So, this election year is not just a choice between two men or two parties, it's a choice between two futures for our country. And if you study the principles that are espoused in the Republican and Democratic platforms, the statements that are made, before he was muzzled, by my opponent compared to my own, and what we stand for for America's future, then I believe that your coming to this luncheon today is a good investment.

I don't intend to lose this election. With your help we'll have a tremendous victory on November the 4th.
Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:43 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Jimmy Carter, Houston, Texas Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraising Luncheon. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251069

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