Jimmy Carter photo

Minneapolis, Minnesota Remarks at a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Victory Rally.

October 21, 1978

Vice President Mondale, Senator Humphrey, Senator Anderson, Congressman Bruce Vento, Jim Oberstar, Rick Nolan, next Senator Bob Short—next Senator Bob Short—Chairman White, Chairman Scott, Mike Freeman, enthusiastic delegates of the DFL:

This has been a good week for me. In the first place, last Sunday, the Congress went home, which was a gracious blessing to the President. [Laughter]

I was amazed to see the stock market go down instead of up. [Laughter] My brother Billy has not been in the news all week. [Laughter] He has the only gas station listed in Fortune 500. [Laughter]

My daughter Amy had a birthday on the 19th, and she's gotten to be quite a young lady. She was 3 years old when I was elected Governor, and she's a very fine child. We get to see more of her now than we used to. She had John Travolta come and eat supper with us for one of her birthday presents.

She wanted to see both his movies and we wouldn't let her go because she's not old enough. Amy said, "Well, Daddy, I'd like to remind you that I'm a preteenager." And I said, "Amy, you've been a preteenager for a long time, ever since you were born." And she said, "Yes, but now I'm a double-digit preteenager." [Laughter] We don't let people use "double-digit" around the White House any more until we get inflation under control. That's what we're going to do next. [Laughter]

I've come here tonight to speak to you briefly about our country from the perspective of the President. When I think back on my own relatively brief political career, I think in a strange way my life has been centered around Minnesota.

Those of us who believe in our Nation, who believe in the highest principles of public service, who believe in politics in a decent and clean fashion, who have never been afraid to address difficult questions, look upon Minnesota as an example for the other states. And we look upon the dean, the founder of the DFL, Hubert Humphrey, as an idol throughout the country.

I've been to Minnesota twice before this since I've been President. The first time I stopped in Minneapolis and asked Senator Humphrey to ride with me on Air Force One when he returned back to Washington after a long, sustained treatment for his terminal illness.

On the way back to Washington, I asked him if he would visit Camp David with me. He said he had never been there. And so the following month, Senator Humphrey and I and his doctor spent the entire weekend alone at Camp David. I've never learned more in a briefer period of time in all my life about people, about Minnesota, about farmers, about older citizens, about poor people, about those who are black or brown or yellow, who can't speak English well.

I've never learned more about the proper interrelationship between our own country and others. He talked to me about some of the needs of repairing damage that had been done to our country by the Vietnam war, by the CIA revelations, by Watergate; how he traveled in many nations when he was Vice President.

We discussed together the dread that he felt as a major leader, that I felt as a Governor, a candidate for President, as President, every fall when the United Nations General Assembly convened, to know that the Nation that we loved would be the butt of every joke and the target of every attack by the small and the weak and the new nations of the world; and how we needed to repair the damage that had been done to our basic government structure.

He talked to me about his love for Israel, his long relationship with those in this country who support and strengthen and sustain that fine young democracy which has been plagued by war four times in 30 years. He knew President Sadat. He knew Prime Minister Begin. He knew the other leaders of Israel. He taught me about them, and we compared notes about what we knew.

And this entire weekend served to strengthen my commitments to make our Nation's Government more nearly meet the standards that Hubert Humphrey set in his own life, that he helped to establish in the DFL in Minnesota, that he helped to bring to Washington in a clean and a pure and a decent fashion.

And our Nation's better, as you well know, because he lived and because he served you and because he served me.

I believe that a government should be competent. I think it ought to be well organized. I think the Government should put its budget together in a careful way so that the taxpayers' money should not be wasted and so that there should be the utmost service rendered to those who need it for a given level of Government expenditures.

My own background is as a working person, a farmer; my training is as an engineer and a scientist. And I've tried to bring to the Government those principles, because you can't educate a child, you can't feed a hungry person, you can't build a home with waste and mismanagement and fraud. And for too long the people in our country have had a growing doubt about the ability of government to handle its own affairs.

And I think with the help of those on the stage with me tonight, particularly Fritz Mondale, we've made progress in that respect. I won't repeat what he's already said so well. But we've done a few additional things.

One was to recognize the quality of the civil servants of our country, people who believed in government, entered it at a very low wage, knew that they had one life to live on Earth, one career to contribute. They didn't ever get any glory or fame. They didn't ever hear a crowd applaud. They quite often were not recognized for what they achieved. They were often castigated or criticized when someone else made a mistake.

And now, after 95 years, we have reformed the civil service system to reward and encourage those who are competent and who do a good job, who contribute well; to identify those who don't do so well, who are not competent, who are not well motivated, perhaps lazy, so that they can be encouraged to do better, or transferred or discharged.

And we now have a civil service coming on that will let managers manage and make us proud once again of our Government. This is the kind of thing we've tried to bring to make government more competent.

I believe in the free enterprise system, and I particularly believe in the free, competitive part of it.

In the past, in our Government—too often in the past we've established regulatory commissions or passed laws ostensibly to protect consumers. But over a period of years of abuse and political pressure and intrigue, and intense focusing by special interest groups on those regulatory agencies, their purpose has been subverted. And instead of protecting the consumers against the regulated industry, they've turned and protected the regulated industry against consumers. We're trying to change that and I believe we can change it.

One quick example is the airline industry. We've got in the last few months a tremendous reduction in air fares, Formerly empty planes are now full. Traffic has gone up tremendously. Profits have gone up tremendously. And I'll predict that within the next few years the Civil Aeronautics Board will find that its existence is no longer needed. Consumers will benefit. Airlines will benefit. Our Nation will benefit as well.

So, competence in managing the Government is very good indeed.

Another thing that we need, of course, is a government that's compassionate, that understands the needs of others. And I think here is where Fritz Mondale has contributed to my own administration in a way that's brought credit to you and to those that I've mentioned already, particularly Senators Humphrey.

We also have a need to have a strong defense, a strong nation politically, a strong nation economically. We're not trying to use this strength to benefit ourselves at the expense of others. We are strong enough now not to have to depend on every cheap, tinhorn dictatorship in the world. We're supporting human rights. And as long as I'm in the White House, we'll continue to do so.

I don't believe there is a national leader on Earth who can now spend a full day without asking himself or herself, "How does my own administration, how does my own nation measure up in the opinion of our citizens or those around the world in protecting basic human rights?" And this applies not only in the totalitarian governments that will stay that way for many years in the future, but it applies to those countries, many, several at least in Latin America, that are now changing from a totalitarian dictatorship into a free and open democratic system.

This is a good trend. And I believe that we've now raised the banner whereby we can once again be proud that our Nation's Government stands for the same principles that the citizens have always espoused and which were the foundation for our Government and our Nation 200 years ago.

The last point I'd like to make is this: We have become, as Fritz Mondale said, a nation committed not only to peace for our own people, but a nation committed to peace for others. I thank God that since I've been President, not a single American soldier has shed blood in a foreign country. And I hope I leave office with that record.

We've become involved, at considerable political risk, in trying to negotiate peace in other parts of the world. Secretary Vance earlier this week was in South Africa, meeting there with leaders of four other Western nations—France, England, West Germany, Canada—to try to induce the South African Government to support peace, democracy, majority rule, one-person-one-vote principles in the nation of Namibia and also the nation of Rhodesia.

He left there to go to the Soviet Union, and he's now negotiating with Foreign Minister Gromyko and President Brezhnev, trying to bring back to me response to proposals that would secure an effective and adequate SALT agreement to remove the threat of nuclear weapons that endangers the lives of all those on Earth. And I need Wendy Anderson and I need the whole Democratic group to help me next year get it ratified.

Warren Christopher, the Deputy Secretary of State, is in Greece. We are trying to secure peace on the island of Cyprus and to eliminate the animosity that existed for several years between Greece and Turkey, our allies.

I've personally become involved, as you know, in trying to negotiate a peace in the Holy Land between Israel and Egypt. We had good success at Camp David. But we only formed a framework or an outline for peace. Many differences still exist.

I have found the last 2 weeks that it's much more difficult to negotiate the details of a peace treaty than it was a general outline of a peace treaty, And it's exceptionally difficult when the Prime Minister and President each are thousands of miles away, rather than just a few yards away from me and away from each other. But we are being persistent in this effort.

The Israeli delegation has now left to go back to Israel for a report to the Cabinet the first of next week, consultations with Prime Minister Begin, and to receive new instructions from their own country.

I met yesterday afternoon with Foreign Minister Dayan and Defense Minister Weizman. Last night, late, I met for 3 1/2 hours with the Israeli delegation to try to go into details of the differences that still remain between themselves and the Egyptians. This morning at 6:45 I was meeting with the Egyptian delegation-making good progress each time we met. But the outcome is not assured, and we still need the hopes and the prayers of the people of this country to realize a final peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in the next few weeks.

And I ask you to remember that in the past, the successes that we have achieved in all these areas of a troubled world have only been possible because I don't speak with an isolated, hollow voice. We have not tried to evolve foreign policy in a secret, closed closet.

We have put forward the principles of negotiation and a frank description of the problems so that you could become involved in assessing those problems and helping me to find solutions. Sometimes this has not been a popular nor an easy process. But there is no doubt that when Fritz Mondale or I meet with a foreign leader—Begin, Sadat, or others—they know that we don't speak idly, that we speak because the Congress gives us its backing and because the people of the United States, more than 200 million of you, are involved in the process as full partners.

So, I believe that our Government now has become more competent. It has not lost its attitude of compassion and concern. And we have become the epitome for many in our search for peace through strength.

My closing message to you tonight is this: You've made a great investment in the DFL. You've made a great investment in having an exemplary State government. You've made a great investment in sending distinguished leaders to Washington. And I urge you during the next 3 weeks to commit yourselves to an extra commitment, an extra effort, even sacrificial in nature, to overcome differences among you and to have the full Democratic slate elected in November, to give me strength to make our Nation even stronger.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:20 p.m. in the Minneapolis Auditorium Arena. In his opening remarks, he referred to John C. White, Democratic National Committee chairman, and Ulric Scott, State Democratic-Farmer-Labor chairman.

Jimmy Carter, Minneapolis, Minnesota Remarks at a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Victory Rally. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243473

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