Jimmy Carter photo

Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors.

December 09, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. Good afternoon, everybody. Have a seat, please. I apologize for interrupting your meeting. [Laughter]

First of all, I want to thank you for coming to the White House to interview our people and to let me see some old friends. Jody 1 began this program at the beginning of this year over some opposition of mine, because I thought it would be too time-consuming, and I was afraid we couldn't get enough benefit from it and understanding of what we are doing in the White House. This is the 16th meeting we've had so far, more than 450 editors and others from around the country.

1 Jody Powell, Press Secretary to the President.

Jody tells me every State except three-we haven't had anybody yet from Hawaii or Alaska or, just because of scheduling, Vermont--but 20 percent of the newspapers in the United States have had editors here at the White House this year to talk to me personally and to ask questions in an unrestricted way. It's been a very helpful thing for us in telling the American people accurately what we are doing, what our problems are, what our achievements have been, what our plans are for the future.

As has been my custom, I'd like to take about 5 minutes to outline present circumstances, what's going on right now, and then spend the other 25 minutes answering your questions.


The two major items that the Congress is dealing with, of course, are social security and energy. We've had a very productive year so far, and I think when a tabulation is made of what the Congress has done, it will be well received. We've had a major agenda. The Congress committees have been heavily overloaded, and they've responded very well in my opinion. They certainly have my appreciation and admiration.

In the energy package we've got five major programs. I'd say three of them have been successfully resolved. We have made a good bit of progress lately on the crude oil equalization tax; we still have natural gas pricing to go. But the committees are working in a very difficult, complicated, and politically unattractive field or subject.

I think the American public is in favor of a comprehensive energy package being passed. But they are not in favor of some of the specifics that need to go in the package to make it effective.

And I think the Congress has shown a great deal of both hard work, dedication, and courage in bringing us as far as they are.

I hope that we'll have the complete work by the committees and a chance to vote on the energy package before Christmas. It all depends on unpredictable kinds of agreements between the House and Senate conferees.

The other thing is social security. We faced when I came into office, as was the case in energy, a longstanding problem that nobody had been willing to address. It's not an attractive thing to do to provide adequate taxes to bring the social security reserve funds back into a sound position.

The integrity of the social security system is of intense importance to most Americans. One of the reserve funds would have gone bankrupt in 2 years, another one probably 2 years, another one 5 years. And the Congress has moved on that. We now are down to the point of negotiating on particular subjects, the most controversial of which have absolutely nothing to do with social security. But they've been added on to the social security package, just as a legislative maneuver, so that they could be considered not on their own merits but as part of a package that, because it is attractive, might not be vetoed by me.

We are trying to cut down on the very liberal add-on provisions in social security because somebody has got to pay for it. And the ones that have to pay for it, of course, are the families that still have workers. We are very concerned about this aspect of social security.

In international affairs, Cy Vance arrived this morning in Cairo. He's just attended a NATO conference with all the European foreign ministers. He'll be going from Cairo to Jerusalem, and then he'll be going from there to visit the other Middle Eastern leaders.

We're trying to hold together as best we can a commitment that presently exists in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel to have a comprehensive peace settlement. I personally believe that the Sadat visit to Jerusalem has broken through what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles and has greatly clarified the issues that have to be still addressed..

I believe that Sadat showed a great deal of courage. And my hope and my expectation is that the Israelis will respond accordingly.

We are trying to keep the door open so that the Syrians can come into the negotiations later on, the Jordanians the same, and also the Lebanese. And we hope that the Saudis, who are not part of the negotiations, will continue their constructive support of Egypt and give their tacit support, at least, to the initiatives that President Sadat has taken.

We have good and substantive talks going on with the Soviet Union on a comprehensive approach to prohibiting the testing of nuclear explosives, a comprehensive test ban, for the first time. We had fairly good progress on that recently. The SALT negotiations--we are proceeding on three levels. One is a 3-year protocol which would temporarily take action. At the end of 3 years, we'd assess that action to see if we want to renew it or to modify it in some degree. A longer agreement, it would go for about 8 years, and then we would initiate an outline of what SALT III would comprise.

My own ultimate goal is to eliminate the use or threat of nuclear weapons altogether. And I personally have been pleased in the last few months, at least since the summer, at the constructive attitude of the Soviet Union. We have to be very careful on technicalities and on major strategic elements of the negotiations to protect our own interests. We've got to be sure that we do have an equal or dominant position on all aspects of strategic deterrent. And I believe that we have that posture now, and I want to be sure to maintain it.

We've tried to open up a new relationship with Africa. We've been successful, I think, so far. We've got a very good relationship with Latin America. I think that could possibly be wiped out overnight if the Senate fails to ratify the Panama Canal treaties, but I hope and believe that the Senate will ratify these treaties.

We've got a good relationship, perhaps better than at any time in recent history, with Canada; strong, constant negotiations on a variety of items with Mexico. And we've, I think, restrengthened our position in Europe. We consult almost constantly with European Community nations and also with our NATO allies on military affairs. Harold Brown has just come back from there--well, I think he's on the way back now.

The other aspect of .our foreign policy, of course, extends to the Western Pacific. We are now in hard negotiations with the Japanese on trade matters, and I hope that we can resolve those differences. Japan has a very high positive trade balance. We have a very high negative trade balance. The obstacles to selling our goods in Japan are quite difficult to overcome. But Prime Minister Fukuda, I think, is negotiating in good faith. Perhaps we can have some success there.

I'll be leaving Washington on the 21st, going down to Plains until the day after Christmas, and then I'll come back and leave almost immediately for a trip, beginning in Poland, that would encompass a visit to Brussels, to France, to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and India. And then I'11 come back home after about a 10-day trip.

Perhaps you have some questions. I just briefly sketched a few points to arouse your interest.



Q. Mr. President, I'm from Cheyenne where water is very scarce, and this is an energy-related question.


Q. I understand you favor the coal slurry pipeline concept. Do you also favor a program under which the water would be recycled or replaced if used in such a pipeline?

THE PRESIDENT. I never endorsed and I would be very cautious about endorsing the use of the coal slurry concept of transportation when water at the origin was scarce. That would not be my highest priority for use of water. Obviously, the use of water for drinking purposes, human use, and for agricultural purposes would come first.

This is a matter that hasn't yet been proposed, so far as I know, in any tangible fashion for the more arid regions of our country. I did support the right of eminent domain in the future if the local courts should decide that it was necessary.

In my opinion, that is important because some of the other competing forms of transportation--say, for instance, the railroad--could permanently block a necessary coal slurry line just to prohibit competition. But I don't favor the escalation of water for coal slurry use above those purposes that I've described to you.


Q. Mr. President, I'm from Pittsburgh. I'm interested to know whether or not you were surprised by the resignation of Pete Flaherty, and do you believe it was tied to a reported dispute with Attorney General Bell over the appointment of U.S. attorneys; and just one other part, whether or not Mr. Flaherty has asked you to campaign in any way for him in his anticipated run for the Governor's chair in Pennsylvania?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let me answer briefly. I was very proud that Pete Flahetty came to work as a Deputy Attorney General. That was an an arrangement that was made really without my prior knowledge between the Attorney General and Pete Flaherty.

Secondly, I did not know ahead of time that Pete was going to resign and go back to Pennsylvania. It was not a result of a dispute or an argument or an incompatibility between him and the Attorney General. It was an action taken by Pete on his own initiative. He did a very good job during the time that he was here. He was basically in charge of reorganization of the Department, doing some long-range studies for management reasons. I think he and the Attorney General were completely compatible. And the only, comments that the Attorney General has made to me were in praise of Flaherty.

I have not talked to Pete. I got a written letter saying that he intended to resign, and I've written a letter back to him accepting his resignation and expressing my regret that he was leaving and my good wishes for the future. But he's not discussed with me any involvement in the campaign. My policy has been and will be not to involve myself in any sort of Democratic primary campaign. But I have habitually supported Democratic nominees, after they, were chosen, in a general election.


Q. I notice you met with Henry Howell this morning.


Q. I was wondering if you had offered him a position in the administration and, in view of your campaigning for him, if you felt his defeat was a personal political defeat?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I was disappointed when Henry lost. I know him very well and like him and, as a matter of fact, came into Virginia twice 4 years ago to campaign for him at my own initiative just because I have an admiration for him. But of course that's a judgment that the Virginia people made, and I wouldn't question the soundness of their judgment.

I did not offer him a position in the Government.


Q. Mr. President, I'm from North Carolina, Senator Morgan's home county.


Q. We're delighted that you're going to visit the State next week. Will you be able to tell us any more about the plans for your visit there?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'm going down Friday afternoon. My youngest sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton--her oldest son is getting married. It's going to be a chance to be with my family. We don't get our whole family together very often.

Q. Will you be there overnight, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I'll be there overnight Friday, and I'll be there for a breakfast for the family on Saturday morning, and I'll stay for the wedding Saturday afternoon.

Q. We're neighbors. Would there be any chance of coining down to Dunn, North Carolina? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I doubt if I can. We have to come back immediately. We had to cancel a reception here at the White House for the Secret Service and the ones who serve here and their families. We have rescheduled it for Saturday afternoon, so we'll be having to come back right after the wedding. We don't have often a chance for me and both my sisters and my brother, Billy, and my mother and me all to be in the same place. I hope that Fayetteville, North Carolina, survives our visit. [Laughter]

Hi. Good to see you.


Q. Mr. President, a very general question, nonpolitical. As you look back at the end of this first year, what has been the most personally gratifying accomplishment of your year in the Presidency?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it's hard to pick out the accomplishments. We were very pleased to get the economy moving in the right direction. We had an economic stimulus package that the Congress passed with dispatch. The unemployment rate has dropped about 1 percent. Employment has increased more this year, I think, than ever before in history--4 million people net gain in employment this year; 900,000 last month alone.

Since June, the inflation rate has leveled off at 4 percent. I wish I could predict that it was going to stay that low; I don't think it will. But this shows a good response.

We formed a new Department of Energy, which brings order out of chaos in one of the most serious challenges that might affect our Nation in the future. Formerly, we had 50 different agencies in the Federal Government that were dealing with energy. It was almost impossible to get the answer to a question or to register a complaint or to make a beneficial suggestion.

The Congress, I think, has dealt fairly with my programs. We've got a longrange, very well-considered farm bill that will be in effect now for about $ years. We've met all the challenges, so far as I know, that I've put to the Congress.

We've made good progress in getting back on the track the negotiations with the Soviet Union. We've protected .our own interest; we've shown them that we are firm and can't be pushed around.

We've begun some major reorganization effort, projects. It will take us about 3 years to finish them all; some require a great deal of time. But the Congress has given me almost unlimited authority, subject to subsequent congressional veto, to take over the executive branch now and to bring it into a manageable state. We've cut back tremendously on Government regulations, paperwork, reports to be required.

This past week, OSHA, for instance, eliminated 1,100 regulations that they had evolved over the last number of years. I'm trying to approach the Government as a business manager and also as a small businessman who knows the defects in the Government.

Our family has been brought very close together.

We've had substantial success in the developing nations of the world in being reaccepted as a part of the world community who had some concern about them and who treated them with equality and mutual respect.

I believe we've had a blessing in that we've not had a serious military threat. This, obviously, is something that I hope to maintain throughout my term in office.

I hope that we've taken at least a small step forward in restoring the confidence of the American people in the integrity of the Government and the competence of Government. This is going to be a slow process. It's something that can't come in a year, or even 2 years, because with the horrible shocks of Vietnam and Watergate and the CIA revelations, the American people had lost confidence that there was something here in Washington that they could trust and admire.

I think the most pleasant surprise to me has been the worldwide impact of our reemphasis on human rights. I really felt when I came into .office that something needed to be done just to raise a banner for the American people to admire and of which they could be proud again. I think that the emphasis on human personal freedom and democratic principles is very important for us to espouse.

And although a year ago, I think, very few national leaders anywhere in the world paid much attention to human rights, I don't believe there's a single one out of the roughly 150 that now doesn't consider, "Before we take action, what is the world going to think about me, the way I'm dealing with political prisoners or out-migration or the reunification of families or the persecution of human beings?" I think the human rights issue has been a great escalation.

We've also made a major move toward nonproliferation of nuclear explosives. And again, I think a year ago there was great despair in the world about whether anybody could ever put the nuclear genie back in the bottle. I think there's a reconfirmation now of effort on the part of even countries that have sold reprocessing plants, like Germany and France, all the rest of us, to try to stop the spread of nuclear explosives and not let it go into nations that haven't had them in the past.

Those are a few things that come to mind.


Q. Mr. President, I'm a publisher from South Dakota, and agriculture is my topic. I'm wondering, what is being considered in the way of alternate markets for agricultural products? I notice the farm strike is focusing on Plains, Georgia, I presume, to get your attention--

THE PRESIDENT.---and also because we didn't make any crops down there. [Laughter]

Q. Biomass fuels could offer some partial solution to energy problems as well as the farm problem.

THE PRESIDENT. That's true.

Q. Could you address that a minute?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, in the first place, as I mentioned briefly in passing, I think we've got a very good farm bill that was passed this year, that will be in effect for the next 5 years. We've had some increase in farm prices since I came into office. Corn prices are up about 38 cents--the last time I checked the market. Wheat prices are up about 60 cents a bushel compared to when I came into office. I certainly don't attribute that to the fact that I'm here. But we have got a Secretary of Agriculture who's a dirt farmer who understands the special problems of farmers.

And with the exception of the time I've served in the Federal (and State) 2 Government, all of my income all my life has come from the farm. And I have a sense, too, of what agriculture does need. I think we've had a very good step forward in having grow, in the Department of Agriculture, a special concern about consumers. We don't have enough farm-supported Members of Congress to prevail in a showdown vote. But the more we can let the average American consumer who comes from, perhaps, the urban areas know how valuable a resource we have in our land and in our food and fiber production, the better off we'll be in prevailing and treating the farmers fairly.

We've got a very good price support, target prices, that approach the cost of production, at least in the areas where the efficiency is high. I think we've got this Printed in the White House press release. past year, up to the 1st of October, the highest farm export level we've ever had in history--$24 billion worth of American farm products were sold overseas. We've never done that before. We are even emphasizing that effort much more in the future.

We'd like to open up permanent sales possibilities in countries that don't presently buy food from us. My first stop on my trip will be Poland. We want to maintain our sales of agricultural products grown in this country to the so-called Eastern European countries, to the Soviet Union, to the People's Republic of China, as well as to our natural allies and friends in this hemisphere and others.

In the energy package--we've tried to put it together in such a way that it would not only protect the farmers and the agricultural communities but also open the way for increased use of, as you refer to it, biomass, and also forestry products. I spent about 4 1/2 hours this morning--I got up at about 5 o'clock and came over here early to work on it--and I will be spending 2 1/2 hours immediately after this meeting, in this room, working on the budget for the Department of Energy next year.

And I'll be analyzing and making final decisions, pending congressional approval next year, on how much research and development money to put into things like the use of biomass, wood products, forestry products, shale, and other energy supplies. But I think the fact that I do know agriculture, do know farm families' needs, and have an Agriculture Secretary the same way, gives me a sense of judgment that maybe I wouldn't have if I had a different background.

So we've got, I think, a good thrust now to resolve some of the longstanding problems. I disagreed very strongly with some of the policies that Secretary Butz had when he was in office. There are not any easy answers. I would say that Bob Bergland has one of the most difficult jobs in Washington. It's a tough proposition.


Q. Mr. President, this question is on behalf of my 12-year-old son who is a newspaper publisher down in Plains, Virginia.


Q. He looks at fathers as sort of an example. And he had read that during your first year in office, you had been getting up at the hour you mentioned a while ago, 5 o'clock in the morning, and working until midnight. And he said that since the end of the softball season and tennis, that he's afraid you're not getting enough exercise, either. [Laughter]

Would you share with us, after 10 or 11 months in office, the kind of a schedule you keep now, and I can assure him that you are getting enough rest and exercise?

THE PRESIDENT. Okay, I'd be glad to. I have a permanent call-in to the Secret Service at 6 o'clock. If I don't call them the night before, they always wake me up at 6:00. On Monday mornings, I have to get up at 5:00, because in addition to my regular work, I have a 2-hour Cabinet meeting and I need to prepare myself for the Cabinet meeting. I also have my weekly senior staff meeting Monday morning immediately before the Cabinet meeting. I would say about three mornings a week I get up at 5: 00 or 5: 30. I've always done that. It's not a handicap for me; it's not a sacrifice or an extraordinary thing for me to do. I prefer to work early in the morning rather than staying up late.

Most nights I go to bed by 11 o'clock, and so does my wife. And I always set aside some time to go home in the afternoon, 5:30 or 6 o'clock, to be with my daughter and to listen to her play the violin and to brag on her and to go over some of her school studies.

Q. He was worried about that, that you weren't seeing Amy.

THE PRESIDENT. I see her enough. Amy and I planned the treehouse, and we built it together. We go to Camp David whenever we can. We find that that's the most pleasant place for us to go. In fact I'll be leaving for Camp David this afternoon. Amy and Rosalynn can't come until tomorrow morning. This is the first time I've gone without them. But I've invited, as my guest, Senator Humphrey. When I brought him back from Milwaukee [Minneapolis] a few weeks ago, he commented to me that he had never seen Camp David. His wife is temporarily in the hospital, so he and I are going to go up together this afternoon and have a chance to sit in front of the fire and talk about both history and the future.

And in the warm season of the year, I play tennis about three times a week. Amy and I and Rosalynn have bowled twice this week. We have a little---one bowling alley in the White House that was put there by Harry Truman. We go swimming at Camp David and do a lot of hiking, bike riding. I get a good bit of exercise. I keep my weight exactly the same as it was 10, 15 years ago. I weigh about 155.

And although some people say I've aged--the people that say I've aged, I've noticed they've aged, too. [Laughter] But to summarize, I enjoy it. I'm in good shape, physically, and I get a thorough examination quite often. I have a fulltime doctor that stays with me all the time and have a dentist that comes in about every 6 weeks to check my teeth and make sure I'm in good shape. But I've enjoyed it and get a lot of exercise and don't overwork.

This is a new editor, by the way. Saul [Saul Kohler, Newhouse News Service] is going to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to be an editor there. He has been on the White House professional reporting staff.


Q. Thank you, sir. Mr. President, is your commitment to a negotiated settlement in the Middle East deep enough that, if necessary, you would go there yourself to confer with the heads of state of Israel and the Arab countries, notwithstanding the fact that they have all been here?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Asad has not been here; I met him in Geneva. But I have met with all of them. I don't anticipate any need for me to go to Geneva or to go to the Mideast to bring about a negotiated settlement. My commitment to that is very strong and permanent. If it takes the full time I'm in office to bring about a complete, comprehensive, permanent peace in the Middle East, I'll devote my fullest resources to it, both in convincing the public of this country and the public of the world that it's necessary and in assuaging hurt feelings, trying to bring together leaders who may have been separated by one circumstance or another.

One of the reasons that I wanted Cy Vance to go over is because Asad and Sadat are not presently on very good terms, and I wanted Cy Vance to meet both of them and see what bounds could be reestablished to pull them back together.

But obviously, if I felt sometime in the future--and I don't anticipate this, Saul--but if I felt sometime in the future that my personal presence was the difference between success or failure, obviously I would go, because I consider this to be a very important thing not only for the Middle East but for the world.

If you analyze the quantity of oil that we have to get from the Middle East, it's enormous. But if you look at our allies and friends, Japan, Germany, Italy, and others, they are almost completely dependent on the Middle Eastern oil. And so I don't know of any area that concerns me more. There's nothing in foreign affairs that has equaled the time and effort I've spent both studying long-past history of the Middle Eastern problem and also analyzing possible solutions in the future. So, I would do almost anything within reason if I thought it was necessary to bring permanent peace to the Middle East.


Q. Mr. President, looking back over your first year in office, is there anything that you would do differently if you could attack that problem again?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Scotty Reston [James B. Reston, New York Times] asked me that the other day. Always, I think, in your life--and mine as a farmer and mine as a naval officer and mine as a candidate, if I knew everything then that I know now, I would have done some things differently.

I made some mistakes in judgment that weren't fatal. I underestimated, first of all, the quality of the Congress, the intense concentration that individual Members of Congress put on a specific issue, sometimes for 25 or 30 or 40 years. They become experts in that issue. And the quality of their staff work is equivalent completely to the quality of my own staff work here in the White House.

This was something that I had not experienced in the Georgia State Legislature, when they only meet for 40 days and then go home. There's no continuity of the legislative process in my State. And I was pleasantly surprised and underestimated the competence of Congress. I think it's a very. good thing that no longer do you have a dominant White House as sometimes existed--I don't say the country suffered when, say, Franklin Roosevelt was here and he could send up bills to the Congress and almost immediately they would be voted on without thorough analysis.

I overestimated the Congress in its ability to deal with complicated subjects expeditiously. This is particularly the case with the Senate, where every Member of the Senate is autonomous and prides himself on being independent, has the ability if he chooses to delay action on any bill no matter how important it is to the country; a constant threat sometimes realized, some not exercised, of a filibuster. Even when you have enough votes to override a filibuster, it takes 5 or 6 days to go through the legislative procedures to do that.

And I think you've noticed that the burden of work we've put on the Congress has just been more than they could handle in the time allotted, so I've had to delay the implementation of some of the programs that I wanted to put forward much earlier. I had anticipated having a comprehensive tax proposal to the Congress by September. And now, of course, we are ready to go with it as far as the executive branch is concerned, but I don't want to send up a comprehensive tax proposal until I see what the impact on the tax structure might be from social security and, say, energy. And as soon as I get those answers, we'll have the package ready to go.

But I don't know of any serious mistakes we've made; probably expecting a little too much from the Congress on expeditious passage, underestimating their competence on the other hand.

At first, we had a shaky start in just knowing how to deal with the Congress. We were eager to do the best Ave could. I've consulted with Congress, perhaps more than any President who has ever served in this office. And I've consulted with the Joint Chiefs more than they've ever seen the President.

I had lunch with the Joint Chiefs last week, and I said, "How do I compare in negotiating with you and getting help and advice from you, compared to previous Presidents? I met with you at the Blair House before I was President. I met with you about 6 or 8 or 10 times since I've been President." We had long discussions about Korea and about China and about Taiwan, and about the Middle East and about SALT and everything else. And they said, "Mr. President, we saw you more than we had ever seen any President that first meeting at Blair House before you ever came into office." [Laughter] So, I've learned and I've benefited from it.

I want to thank you again. I got to go, but I want to thank you again for letting me have this chance to meet with you.

This is an enormous job. It's one that taxes any individual human being to encompass the challenges and solutions to problems. The ones that arrive at my desk are obviously the ones that can't be solved in a home or in a city hall or at a State Governor's office, and they come to me. But I've really enjoyed it.

It's been a reassuring thing to have a superb Cabinet. There's not a single weak person on it. I've really been pleasantly surprised with them. And the Congress has given me strong and good support. The differences that have arisen between me and the Congress have been that the much more easy job of my preparing a proposal and drafting legislation, than the Congress debating it and passing it.

There's an inherent delay in the congressional process which I think is very good and very healthy. And as you know, I've never served in Washington before at all. I've got a good, sound White House staff. I use my Cabinet more than previous Presidents have.

We have a full-scale, at least 2-hour session here every Monday morning, with the full Cabinet sitting around this table. Most of the time, we have a 100-percent attendance. And it's a lively discussion, and the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Secretary of HUD have a chance to listen to an explanation of what Cy Vance is doing, what Bob Strauss is doing, what the Secretary of Treasury is doing. So, there's a good interchange and good team spirit.

I don't have the same need for a chief of staff or a strong, powerful, autocratic White House staff that President Nixon felt. There will never be an Ehrlichman or a Haldeman in my White House staff that gives orders and commands to the Cabinet members who are trying to run the major agencies of Government.

This is not the way I ran the Governor's office. in Georgia. It's not the way I am going to run it here. And some of the local press have deplored the fact that I don't have a similar set-up as was the case when President Nixon was in office. It's just not my way of running things. As you know, President Eisenhower also had a chief of staff, Sherman Adams, who ran things almost like a secondary President.

But I've substituted for that an unprecedented use of the Vice President. He and I are close, personal friends. We have a harmonious partnership. I've grown to respect and like him more every day I've known him. And he has authority and responsibility in foreign and domestic affairs and also in helping to manage the White House staff that no Vice President has ever dreamed of having. And it takes a great deal of the burden off my shoulders.

Formerly, Vice Presidents were over in the Executive Office Building across the street. I asked Fritz specifically to move over and occupy an office right down the hall from me. And so, in effect, he is the one who coordinates the staff work in the White House. He's thoroughly familiar with the Congress. He's been there for 12 years himself. He was on the Finance Committee and also the Budget Committee. So he's familiar with that.

When I have budget hearings 2 1/2, 3 hours here in the afternoon--3 1/2 hours yesterday on defense--Fritz is there at my side. And I've incorporated him in this strategic military chain of command. No other Vice President has ever occupied those positions. And if something should happen to me, he would be thoroughly familiar with all the controversies, all of the foreign affairs considerations, all of the defense considerations, and be ready to act in a proper way.

So, there are some different ways of management that I have brought into the White House that quite often have not been understood, but which I've very carefully evolved and of which I'm quite proud.

I have a note that I haven't read yet. Thank you, Gene [Eugene Johnson, White Bear Press, White Bear Lake, Minn.], very much.

Thank you very much.

Note: The interview began at 1 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

The transcript of the interview was released on December 10.

Jimmy Carter, Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242958

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