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Milwaukee, Wisconsin Remarks at a Reception for Representative Clement J. Zablocki.

March 31, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. Father Raynor and Chairman Clem Zablocki, distinguished alumni and fiends of Marquette University:

It's a great honor for me to be here. The last time I was at Marquette, I had achieved some degree of fame or notoriety during the campaign. And I will always remember that a large group of students were banging on the walls and pounding on the door, demanding the right to come into the auditorium, which was already very crowded. This was quite a remarkable change from the earlier part of my campaign. [Laughter]

And because of the dramatic difference that occurred here at Marquette, I'll always remember with a great deal of gratification and friendship the attitude that your students expressed toward me.

You're honoring a very fine statesman, a man who is the chairman of one of the most important committees in the Congress.

When I was growing up as a Georgia young man, we almost took for granted that the chairmen of the important committees were southerners. [Laughter] But I noticed that the Banking Committee, which is one of the most important of all, is headed by Henry Reuss, and the committee that has control of all the foreign affairs, the House International Relations Committee, is headed by Ciera Zablocki, both from this community.

I don't know what is the basis for this remarkable achievement. Obviously, sound judgment on the part of the voters, but maybe it's something in the Milwaukee beer that— [laughter]

Clem and I have a good partnership when important matters arise. He's one of the very few leaders in Congress to whom I have to turn with increasing frequency, because his sound judgment and his awareness of not only parochial but national and international affairs is a great reservoir of advice and counsel and strength for me.

I've called on Clem also, because of his remarkable rapport with different people around the world, to represent me in important affairs. When Mrs. Meir died, I asked Clem to go to Israel to represent me. And with the investiture of Pope John Paul II, Clem, without too much urging on my part— [laughter] —agreed to go and make a great sacrifice to represent me there. It was a glorious event.

Clem has an achievement that I can't claim. He is the only person that I know personally who has played poker with my mother and won. [Laughter] Every time I see my mother, she says, "You have got to get that man Clem Zablocki back to play poker with me. I cannot stand to ruin my reputation by being a permanent loser."

THE PRESIDENT. $2.65—Mother will never forget it. [Laughter]

But I might also say that when we have important international events that take place, Clem is there. He's one of the top congressional advisers to our own negotiating team trying to hammer out the terms of a strategic arms limitation agreement with the Soviet Union. And I think this is the kind of role that Clem Zablocki plays in a very quiet and modest and unpublicized way, that the people in this room, who love him and admire him, ought to know about.

When I had extreme difficulty the last 18 months in arranging the basis for negotiating the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Clem Zablocki could always give me a sense of the Congress. And immediately after the signing ceremony Monday, I met with a tiny group of key congressional advisers. Clem Zablocki was obviously at the top of the list, to tell him the terms of the treaty, the agreements that had been consummated, and to ask his counsel on how to proceed in the future. And now, of course, the honoring of American commitments in the House of Representatives is in the hands of Clem Zablocki, and I'm proud of it.

In many ways, a university is measured by the quality of its alumni. Marquette is a remarkable university because of many reasons. That's obviously one of them. I know that sometimes there are disappointments in things like the NCAA playoffs— [laughter] —which I will not mention tonight. But if the NCAA included as an athletic event the production of remarkable and distinguished alumni, Clem Zablocki alone would still have Marquette in the finals. And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for producing such a great statesman and a personal friend. And I want to express my admiration for your sound judgment in choosing him the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

Thank you very much for letting me be part of it.

Note: The President spoke at 7:16 p.m. at the Milwaukee Performing Arts Center. He was introduced by Father John P. Raynor, S.J., president of Marquette University, whose alumni association sponsored the event.

Jimmy Carter, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Remarks at a Reception for Representative Clement J. Zablocki. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249513

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