Jimmy Carter photo

Miami Beach, Florida Remarks at a State Democratic Party Rally.

October 26, 1978

My good friend Bob Shevin; Florida's next Governor, Bob Graham; Congressman Claude Pepper— [applause] —go ahead and applaud; great—Congressman Bill Lehman; Congressman Dante Fascell; Mayor Haber; Chairman Duran:

Let me say that it is a great honor and pleasure for me as President of the United States to come back down to Florida, my neighboring State, first of all, to pay my thanks to you for supporting me when I ran for President, and to let you know that I'm here to support some men who can do a great job for you on November 7. Will you help them in 12 days to be elected? [Applause]

Florida needs a Governor who will continue the absolutely superb work of my friend, Governor Reubin Askew, one of the greatest Governors who ever served any State in this country.

Florida needs a Governor who knows what it means to work, a man who has held, during the campaign, more than a hundred jobs, spending a day alongside Floridians like you on farms, in factories, grocery stores, working in hotels, learning what it means to take care of a home, trying to see at first hand what could be done to make Florida an even greater State.

Florida needs a man who can come from a position as an underdog and be triumphant over nine other very worthy, dedicated, competent candidates who challenged him. Florida needs a man who knows about education, who served as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, who's worked as a teacher, who knows what it means to give our young people, indeed our old people as well, a chance to continue to stretch minds, to stretch hearts throughout their life's existence.

Florida needs a Governor who understands your basic natural resources, your basic human resources. He wants to see those resources developed in the most effective way. Florida needs a Governor who's eager to freeze property taxes. I think that's one of the best campaign promises I know of, and he's the kind of man who will keep that promise.

Florida needs a man who, as Governor, will be dedicated to law enforcement, to eliminate the threat of crime that causes concern among all those who live in this beautiful State. And Florida needs a man who can join with the Members of Congress in the great State legislature to make sure that our elderly citizens, our retired citizens still have an enjoyable, secure, and fruitful life, to let their own existence be meaningful as long as they live on this Earth. That man is Bob Graham. I hope you'll help him get elected.

I'd like to say a word about Claude Pepper. El es un buen hombre, un buen candidato. Es muy importante ayudarle. Es necesario tenerle en el Congreso de los Estados Unidos. Es un amigo de mi. [He's a good man, a good candidate. It's important that you help him. It's necessary to have him in the Congress of the United States. He's a friend of mine.] And I hope that you will give him every support on November 7.

He's a man of courage. He's a man of vision. He's been an inspiration to many of us who have lived in the South in eliminating discrimination against people who were weak, poor, black, who couldn't speak English very well or who were old.

It's a great honor for me to be on the same stage as Claude Pepper. And I know you're going to give him one of the greatest margins of victory of any congressional candidate in the United States. He deserves it.

I also want to recognize Bill Lehman, who, along with Claude Pepper, is one of the greatest friends that Israel has. He serves on the Budget Committee. He helped me get civil service reform. He's a loyal, dedicated man who is so well liked that he doesn't even have any opposition on November 7. And he's going to help all the other Democratic candidates, Bill Lehman. Thank you, Bill.

There are many of you here who have a great interest in Latin America, in foreign affairs, in peace and defense. And you've got a strong supporter and a strong fighter for the things in which you believe in Dante Fascell, who's one of the great congressional leaders in international affairs and who also takes care of his own district.

Well, you can see that we have in the Democratic Party a good team. I've been President now for less than 2 years, but I believe that we've done what you want your Government to do in many aspects of life in Washington. Do you want a government of which you can be proud, that fights for human rights throughout the world? [Applause] That's what we've tried to bring in Washington through our Nation's foreign policy.

There have been times in the past when we could not be proud of everything our President did or everything our Nation's Government stood for. But I think it's accurate to say now that throughout the world, we have raised high a banner of which we can be proud; a nation that in its domestic affairs and foreign policy is clean and decent and represents the ideals and commitments and principles on which our Nation was founded 200 years ago.

Do you want a government whose officials are honest and who are free of embarrassment and corruption? Do you? [Applause] That's what we're trying to bring to Washington.

This morning before I left the White House I signed a bill called the Ethics Bill of 1978. It requires that in the future, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Cabinet members, all top civil servants, all the Members of Congress, all the top members of the judiciary, all our judges, have to account for their net worth, their incomes, make sure that the public has available to them an assessment of whether or not that candidate or that public official is honest.

We've been fighting to get this legislation now in our country for over 20 years. It has not been possible until this morning. And from now on, your public officials will have to account to you, and it will not only make them honest, but it will keep them honest. And they'll have to prove it.

Let me ask you another question. Do you want a government that's able to put American people back to work? [Applause] Right on. I knew you'd say yes.

When I took over as President 21 months ago, we had 10 million Americans who could not find a full-time job. We had 7 million Americans who couldn't find a job of any kind. The unemployment rate was 8 percent. In the last 20 months, we have brought the unemployment rate down 25 percent. And we have also added, in doing so, over 6 million more jobs than we had when I was inaugurated President.

The Congress deserves a lot of credit for this, because they've emphasized not jobs in government, but jobs in the private sector, permanent jobs.

We still have a long way to go. Many of our young people, many of those who belong to minority groups still are not employed. And we want to be sure that in the months to come we give them an opportunity to expend their one life on Earth in a productive way and feel that they are part of society, doing a useful job in their life, not alienated from society because they can't get a job they want.

Let me ask you another question. Do you want a government that will get the regulatory agencies and government agencies' nose out of the private sector's business and let our free enterprise system work in the United States? [Applause] Well, that's the kind of government we're trying to bring you in Washington.

As I got off the plane at the airport a few minutes ago, I was met by Frank Borman, one of the great heroes of our country, one of the astronauts that went to the Moon, now president of Eastern Airlines.

When I came in as President, I promised that we were going to deregulate the airline industry, to make sure that we eliminated the artificial holding up of prices to those who wanted to fly on our commercial airlines. We have reduced those fares tremendously. The number of passengers has gone up greatly, and the profits for Eastern Airlines, Delta, Pan Am, and all the others have gone up as well.

I'm committed in the future to bringing deregulation to other industries and make sure the free enterprise system in our country has a chance to have competition, which is good for our industry and also good for consumers. That's another goal that we've set for ourselves, that if you'll help us, we're going to meet.

I've got two or three more questions to ask you.

Do you want a government that works hard to control the threat of atomic weapons, which could destroy us all? Do you? [Applause]

We're negotiating every day to bring about a good SALT agreement with the Soviet Union, to cut down the level of atomic weapons. And the Congress has already passed a very good nonproliferation bill which prevents countries who don't have atomic weapons from having them in the future.

Two years ago there was a general belief that the atomic genie was out of the bottle, that nobody could stop the spread of atomic weapons. But we've been successful so far. And I believe that next year we'll have a chance to approve in the Congress a SALT agreement that will give our Nation less atomic weapons but greater security in the bargain.

And I'd like to ask you another question. Do you want to make sure that the United States is always number one in military strength? [Applause] That's what we've got now, and that's what we're going to keep, because with strength comes the ability to use our influence in a beneficial way around the world.

Our country is now respected by others. We are no longer the butt of all the jokes. We're no longer the target of all the attacks by the small nations, the weak nations, the new nations, the nations whose people might be brown or yellow or black. We've spread our influence in a beneficial way, and we've let our potential adversaries, the Soviet Union and others, know that we're going to stay strong.

But strength is not just military might. It's also economic strength. It's also political strength, based on freedom and the right of each individual person to make one's own influence felt.

Let me ask you another question. Do you want a government that can cut down the Federal deficit? [Applause] I thought you'd say that, too.

When I was running for President down here in 1976, our budget deficit, Federal deficit, was $66 billion. The first year we cut it down to the fifties of billions of dollars. The Congress and I have now cut it down a little below $40 billion. And before I've been in office one more year, we're going to cut the Federal deficit down below half what it was when I came in office. And we are going to continue to work for a balanced budget for your Federal Government.

Do you want a government that cuts your income taxes? [Applause] Okay, okay. Last year, we cut income taxes $8 billion. This year, the Congress has already passed a bill that would cut our income taxes about $19 or $20 billion more. When I get back to Washington and get that bill, do you think I ought to sign it? [Applause] I'll take your advice. I've decided to sign the bill.

I'm just going to ask you three more questions. One is, do you want a government that will keep our social security system sound? [Applause] Well, as you well know, 2 years ago, when I came down here to campaign among you, the first question I ever got from retired people or those who were approaching retirement were, "Is the social security system going into bankruptcy?"

At that time, in 2 more years, our social security system would have been bankrupt. Now the Congress has a social security system that will be sound and secure and dependable the rest of this century. And I can predict to you that forever, as long as any of us live, we're going to have a social security system on which you can depend.

And now, the two most important things: There is a great challenge that presents itself to us that we have not yet solved. I talked about it to you 2 nights ago; the anti-inflation program that I outlined is badly needed. It's tough. It's necessary. It's fair. With the exception of peace for our Nation and the security of our Nation, next year the most important responsibility which I will have on my shoulders is to control inflation.

There are going to be a lot of special interest groups who are selfish, who will not want to join me in controlling inflation. As you well know, the ones who suffer most are the ones who live on a fixed retirement income, who have very low-paying jobs, or who are insecure. I want to ask you to help me every way you can to join in against the inflationary threat to us, and if you will join me and help me and point out those who violate the guidelines I've set down, which are fair, then I believe we can have success.

Will you help me fight inflation this next year? [Applause] Good deal.

And the last question I want 'to ask you is this: Do you want a government that will help bring peace to the Middle East? [Applause] Very good.

We've made good progress, as you know. The people of Israel, the people of Egypt want peace. They have two courageous leaders, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin. I want peace as well. And we've had an excellent relationship to date. It's not going to be easy to conclude the details of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. I need your help, your support, and your prayers.

I believe that we can be successful. But I think that this is one of the greatest opportunities that any President has ever faced, to bring to that troubled land in the Middle East peace, which has escaped those people for thousands of years.

We'll be negotiating, starting again tomorrow. The Israeli delegation returns to Washington this evening. Secretary Vance will be working on this almost full-time. I will help when my help is needed. And I pray that before Christmas, I will be going to the Middle East to join in signing a peace treaty that will bring permanent, good relations between ancient enemies, Egypt and Israel.

Well, you can see that we are trying to do our best. We've had some successes, some partial success, some great challenges still ahead of us. I want to have a government that can be justifiably proud of what it is. I want to make sure that our Nation has a reputation of being clean and decent. I want our strength to depend upon the finest characteristics of the American people. I hope that you will help between now and November 7 to encourage all your friends, all your neighbors to vote.

In 1960, two-thirds of the American people went to the polls to vote. In recent elections, two-thirds of the American people did not go to the polls and vote. It's important that you do so. If you will help me to elect these fine candidates whom I've come down to Miami to help, we can make a great nation of which we are all so proud an even greater nation in the future.

Thank you very much. God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 5: 35 p.m. at the North Shore Community Center Park. In his opening remarks, he referred to Robert L. Shevin, Florida attorney general, and Alfredo Duran, State Democratic Party chairman.

Jimmy Carter, Miami Beach, Florida Remarks at a State Democratic Party Rally. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243589

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