Jimmy Carter photo

Miami, Florida Remarks at a Reception With Dade County Democrats.

October 21, 1980

Senator Chiles and Chairman Whitehead, Congressman Lehman, Senator [Representative] Claude Pepper, my good friend, Vice Mayor—[inaudible]—Senator Jack Gordon, Gwen Margolis who will soon be Senator— [laughter] —I know, you don't have to tell me, I know—Bob Shevin, and Speaker pro tempore-elect Larry—[inaudible]—and others:

Let me say this, I've got a question to ask you: How many of you believe that in less than 2 weeks from now, we're going to whip the Republicans in Florida? [Applause] Right on. Okay. Any opposed, by like sign. That's real democracy in action. That makes me feel good.

We had a good townhall meeting this morning of some very difficult questions. And as I stood there and saw the unique nature of the concerns here in southern Florida, I recognized the breadth of responsibility of a President. I'm not going to go down a delineation of all the issues in this campaign; they're too multitudinous to cover. But there are a few that are important—one is the care that the Democratic Party has always had for a working family, for the elderly, for people who lack adequate care and respect, people who lack equality of treatment and opportunity, people who've suffered from legal and other discriminations, people who were deprived, people who didn't speak good English, people who might be temporarily unemployed, people who were poverty stricken, people like myself that grew up in the Depression in a house that didn't have running water or electricity. And we've seen our lives transformed for the better under Roosevelt and Truman and Johnson and Kennedy.

And when you think about the times when they had those long pauses- [laughter] —it's a sobering thought. When the housing program of our Nation was absolutely destroyed, when civil rights progress came to a screeching halt, whose fault was it?

I'm not sure. [Laughter] It's their fault once they get in office, but their actions are predictable. Republicans don't change spots, and although Republicans historically were against Medicare, against social security, against the minimum wage, against unemployment compensation, against the care for the aged, they haven't changed. The issues are still clear.

In 1948, nobody thought Truman would win. But the working people saw that he had stood strong for them and, at the last minute, because of over-confidence on the Republican side, he won reelection. That's a good story. In 1960, if 28,000 people in Texas had changed their vote and a few thousand in Illinois, John Kennedy would never have been President of this country. That's a good story. In 1968, a lot of people were for Gene McCarthy. Hubert Humphrey got the nomination. The McCarthy Democrats said, "Hubert Humphrey's not perfect. He served in the Lyndon Johnson administration. We can't vote for him."

George Wallace was a third party candidate. Republicans, predictably, supported Richard Nixon. He was elected. Hubert Humphrey never had a chance to serve as our President. What a great president he would have been. What a great president he would have been. I don't blame the Republicans because Richard Nixon was elected. It was kind of their duty, being Republicans, being mistaken in other things, to make a mistake in that way. [Laughter] But Democrats put Richard Nixon in the White House.

There's a parallel this year, a parallel this year. The issues between me and Governor Reagan are as sharply drawn as any time that I remember in my lifetime, perhaps even stronger differences than existed between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But there's a lot of confusion. This State is close. All the public opinion polls say that this State is close. Our own analyses show that the State is close. We've got less than 2 weeks to go. I'll do the best I can.

I'll try to come back to Florida; my wife will be back in Florida; Fritz Mondale will be back in Florida; these people on the platform with me will be working hard. But the difference will be up to you. I'm not trying to make, particularly, a pep talk, but I'm just trying to tell you from the bottom of my heart that in this next 10 or 12 days, I need you not to be satisfied with what you've already done, and God knows how much I .appreciate what you've done. I see the teachers in front who helped put me over the top at the convention. I know all of you have helped me now, regardless of what you have done in the past.

Senator Kennedy is campaigning hard for me, trying to pull his people into an enthusiastic support for the Democratic ticket. But a lot of his supporters are not making the sacrificial effort that he himself is making. He was with me last night late, early yesterday, night before last, last week on the weekend when he could have been resting, he was in Michigan campaigning for me, he's on the way to southern Texas to campaign among the Hispanic-Americans there. He's been with me in Los Angeles, in Boston, in New Jersey.

The point is we've got a few days left. The issues are so important to you, to the quality of your life, to the lives of people that you love, to the people who look to you for leadership, to the principles that have made our Nation and our party great. And I hope this next I 0 days or so that you will make an extra sacrificial commitment, above and beyond anything you've done.

I'm not talking about money; I'm talking about time. There's not a single person in this room that cannot contact a thousand people between now and election day. In your own home even, on the telephone, you can contact a thousand people. I know, because as busy as I am some days, I call 120 different people. Tough job, but you can do it. And some of you can reach more than 10,000 people with your enormous influence, because people trust you. You're the one that's interested in politics and government. You're the one that comes into the same room with the United States Senator and two Congress Members and with the United States President. People turn to you. Say, "These are the issues at stake." I'm not going to delineate the issues now.

I believe if we do form that Democratic team with the fervor and commitment and the hard work and the sacrifice that is required, there is no doubt that we'll have a victory on November the 4th and a continuation of the progress we've made toward peace, toward unity, toward the honoring of human hunger of all kinds, toward the enhancement of selfrespect, better education, better care for the elderly, better chances for peace and continuation of the stability of Israel, a closer tie between our two countries, the sharing of a strategic responsibility, the rooting out of religious discrimination which we now see raising its ugly head on the horizons in this country. Those kinds of things are important to everyone. And what happens in Florida could very well made the difference. What happens with you could very well make the difference.

In closing, let me say that I'm grateful to you. The President's job is a tough job. As Lawton pointed out, a lot of times the questions that come to my desk are difficult ones. But I don't feel lonely because in the past, now, and in the future, I'll have the partnership of people like you whose sound judgment helps me to make the right decisions, whose interest helps to guide me to matters that I might very well overlook, but who share with me a commitment to make the most beautiful, the greatest nation on Earth even better in the future. Let's do it together. We'll work hard.

Note: The President spoke at 12:40 p.m. in the Galeria Ballroom at the Sheraton River House.

Jimmy Carter, Miami, Florida Remarks at a Reception With Dade County Democrats. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251473

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