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Informal Exchange With Reporters in Fargo, North Dakota, Following a Meeting With Northern Plains States Governors.

July 24, 1970

IT HAS BEEN very helpful for me to get the views of Governors from some of the less populated States. Usually the wheel that squeaks gets the grease.

The big States naturally have bigger representation in Congress and they have more representatives in Washington. The Governors of these States gave us an indication of their problems in a very direct and blunt way.

I think what happens when you come to the country is that, as I said to them, a meeting held in Fargo is one where people speak more freely where the President is present than they will speak in the Cabinet Room.

When somebody comes in the President's office or in the Cabinet Room they tend to be somewhat restrained. But when you get out here in the country, then you are on their ground. They spoke very directly about the programs, the proliferation of Federal programs, and the need for more attention to what is basically rural America so that we can stop this migration out of this part of the country.

Q. What is the main thing you got out of today's meetings?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, a number things. One, the need to have a new approach to our Federal programs, we are already working on, so that could get away from all of the lapping. They just have huge books indicating all the areas that they could apply for aid. And that is fine when you have got a huge staff in a big State. It is impossible for a smaller State.

Then beyond that, however, we went into the very important problem of the future growth of the United States. Should the United States continue to grow by piling more and more people into the big cities on both coasts and in the middle of the country, or should we reverse the migration flow or use policies, the policies that will reverse the migration flow, so that we could have more people living in what is called the heartland of the country, from which there has been a considerable amount of migration?

I think one of the things that particularly sticks in my mind is when one of the Governors reported that they had polled the students, the graduates of South Dakota University.

Eighty-five percent of the graduates had left South Dakota.

They polled them and asked them whether they would return to South Dakota if there were job opportunities here. And the indication was that well over 50 percent of them would return if there were job opportunities; therefore, the need for industry, the need for Federal attention to this part of the country.

Note: The President spoke at 5 p.m. in the Civic Center in Fargo, N. Dak.

On the same day, the White House released the transcripts of two news briefings: The first on the President's meeting with the Governors by Clifford M. Hardin, Secretary of Agriculture, John R. Price, Jr., Special Assistant to the President, and Charles Williams, Staff Director, and Dr. Irwin P. Halpern, National Goals Research Staff; the second by Governor Norbert T. Tiemann of Nebraska on the report of the National Governors' Conference Committee on Rural and Urban Development, which had been presented to the President at the meeting.

Richard Nixon, Informal Exchange With Reporters in Fargo, North Dakota, Following a Meeting With Northern Plains States Governors. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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