Jimmy Carter photo

Nashville, Tennessee Remarks at a State Democratic Party Rally.

October 26, 1978

Governor Blanton, Senator Jim Sasser, Congressman Jones, Congressman Gore, Administrator of the GSA Jay Solomon, Mayor Fulton, Speaker Ned McWherter, Lieutenant Governor Wilder I'd also like to recognize Mrs. Clifford Allen1 who is here; we think so much of her-members of the Tennessee supreme court, members of the State legislature, the Governor's cabinet, my friends from Tennessee:

1Wife of the U.S. Representative from Tennessee who died June 19.

Thank you very much for coming. Second only to Georgia in the primary, does anybody here know which State gave me the biggest margin of victory when I ran for President? [Applause] Right on. And I've come to thank you for that.

Not too long ago, the Congress and I restored full citizenship to President Jefferson Davis. And since Camp David, the Congress and the people of the country have done the same to me, and I want to thank you for that, too.

For any Democrat coming to Tennessee, and particularly coming to Nashville, is a homecoming, because Andrew Jackson, one of the greatest Presidents who ever lived, the father of our party, has made Tennessee a homecoming place for all Democrats.

He was a man of great courage. He was a man who was independent. He was a man who loved his home State. He was a man who founded the principles of our party, that said that those who hold public office have to put our faith, our confidence, our responsibility to the average, common, good American citizens who put us in office.

That was Andrew Jackson's commitment. That's the commitment of the Democratic Party today, and we're going to keep it that way.

There has been a time in the last few years when Tennessee strayed temporarily from the Democratic Party and from the principles of Andrew Jackson. But that time is gone. And in the last few years, we've seen a major shift back toward Democrats by Tennessee, and that's going to keep on the next 2 weeks.

Georgia, my own State, has always been close to Tennessee. We share a lot with you. When it snows in the north Georgia mountains and the northwestern part of our State, our State legislators have to come through Tennessee to get home to Atlanta to act as legislators. We've always kept those borders open, except one time when General Sherman crossed them on the way from Tennessee through Atlanta. But with that one exception, we bind ourselves to you.

We'll keep those lines open. And I'm proud to say that as Tennesseans, I consider you my brother, and I'm glad to be here as that, too.

In addition to Andrew Jackson, Tennessee has provided some great Democratic statesmen: James K. Polk, President of the United States; Cordell Hull, one of the greatest Secretaries of State our country has ever seen; Estes Kefauver, who ought to have been President of the United States.

Kefauver was a man who went throughout the country, standing on street corners, standing in factory shift lines early in the morning, shaking hands with the American citizens and saying, "What can I do for you if I'm the nominee of the Democratic Party?"

I believe he entered 13 primaries. He won 11 of them. He wasn't elected President, but he set a standard of campaigning that I followed very closely when in 1976 I entered 30 primaries and won a fairly good number of those— [laughter] which gave me an avenue to the White House.

I want to recognize, too, a great United States Senator who served at the same time, Senator Albert Gore, who's been an inspiration to a lot of southerners.

As you well know, when the South was going through those difficult days of changing from a segregated society to one where we gave all American citizens equal rights, regardless of color, Albert Gore, Estes Kefauver set a standard for the rest of us to follow. Their courage has made the southland a better place to live for blacks and whites. And I want to thank them for what they meant to me and to my own people.

I'll always remember the Democratic convention when Frank Clement made an inspiring address, and his son, Bob,2 has brought the same kind of approach to Democratic politics in this State. And he supported the Democratic nominees as a loyal Democrat should, in this same status with the same tradition as his father, Frank.

2 Tennessee public service commissioner and candidate for Governor during the State Democratic primary.

I can't come to Tennessee, especially Nashville, without mentioning Dick Fulton, a man who was in the Congress, who could have stayed there as long as he wanted to, who was doing a great job, but felt that he could do a better job and be closer to you if he came home as mayor of Nashville. And I hate to miss him in Washington, but I'm glad you've got him. And I'm very thankful that he's doing such a great job here as your mayor, and I want to make sure that everybody knows about that.

Some people said he came to Nashville to be closer to country music. [Laughter] But that's not true any more, because you can't get any closer to country music that originates in Nashville than you do in the White House when I turn my record player on or my radio on—that's the kind of music I really love.

And we've had a lot of great music performers from your city come to entertain us and many others in the White House since I've been President. The night before last, my wife and I were on the telephone talking to June Carter and also to her husband, as you know, about the unfortunate loss of Maybelle Carter. She set not only a standard in country music that's inspired Johnny Cash and many others as well as her own family, but she also set a standard of common, ordinary people who love one another, expressing their views, their hopes, their dreams, their fears to the world through music. And I want to thank you for her.

As June knows, I always claim kinship with her, particularly after I started running for office. And that family means a lot to me and to the rest of the country.

I just want to mention two other people. Al Bissell, a great mayor of Oakridge, has provided us with a standard of leadership at the municipal level, and I predict that his son, Keith, will do an equally good job as public service commissioner next year.

Jay Solomon, a Tennessean, came to Washington at my request. He didn't much want to come, but he's a great businessman from Chattanooga, and he took over as Administrator of the General Services Administration, the GSA. And he's done as much to let us know about waste and corruption in Government as anyone. He's fighting the battles for you to make the Federal Government be better, cleaner, more decent, more honest. He's the kind of fellow who issues the contracts now after he opens the bids. And I want to thank Tennessee for giving me Jay Solomon.

I've really come here today to get you to work hard for the nominees for Governor, United States Senate, State offices, and the U.S. Congress, whom you have already chosen in an open, tough, difficult, closely contested Democratic primary.

You've chosen a man to come to Washington with me 2 years ago, who's done an outstanding job already. And I want to express my deep thanks to you for sending Jim Sasser to Washington, who has already carved out for himself a position of leadership.

One of the most important responsibilities of any Senator is to pass the appropriations bills, deciding where money goes for every possible service the National Government provides. Jim Sasser just happens to be on the Appropriations Committee. Another important job, of course, is preparing the budget to cut down on deficits and to make sure the Congress toes the line when they spend your money. It just happens that Jim Sasser is on the Senate Budget Committee.

Another important job is to give government reorganization a chance to let us have a better government. We've passed now a very fine civil service reform law to put our good civil servants to work a little harder for you. It just happens that Jim Sasser is chairman of the Civil Service Reform Committee, and I want to thank Tennessee for giving me this strong ally and friend and supporter in Washington.

I've only got one complaint to make about Jim Sasser. He's a little too independent. [Laughter] When it comes down to deciding what I want him to do, compared to what Tennessee wants him to do, he always does what you want him to do.

Now I want to comment on one man who's had maybe a more difficult youth than I had. When I was 14 years old, because of the TVA and because of the REA, we got electricity and running water in the house I lived in. Jake Butcher didn't get it until he was 16 years old. [Laughter] He's a man who comes from humble beginnings. He's a man who exemplifies in my mind the true spirit of Tennessee. He's worked hard. He has cast his lot with the people of this State. He's a competent, successful businessman.

When I was Governor of Georgia, I spent about 25 percent of my time trying to bring industry into my State. I spent that time trying to revive the possibility of jobs for Georgians, to make sure we were a dynamic, growing State, to make sure the State government was run economically and efficiently as a business ought to be. And you have a true treasure coming up next year in Jake Butcher as your Governor. And I hope every one of you will help him.

I have particularly admired his. positive campaign. He has not run a negative campaign. He's pointed out to you how Tennessee could be a better State with good leadership. And he has got a particularly soft spot in his heart for senior citizens. If he's elected Governor—and I'm sure he will be—he's promised all those over 65 years old that you will not have to pay sales tax on food. That shows where he stands. That shows one of the things that he will do.

And now I want to mention a woman who, next January, is going to make Jim Sasser senior Senator from Tennessee-Jane Eskind.

In the Tennessee primary—and there's no other like it in the whole United States—you had nine candidates for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator. Nobody thought Jane Eskind had a chance. Jane Eskind thought she had a chance. She put her political future in your hands. And she came through on top.

The reason is that she's tough, competent, she knows government. She'll come with a clear eye and a clean-sweeping broom. She's cast her lot with the little people, the common, ordinary, good working people of Tennessee. And she'll bring to Washington the true spirit of Andrew Jackson. And I hope all of you will help her when November 7 comes.

I'll have to express my thanks as a peanut farmer to Ed Jones, the dean of the Tennessee congressional delegation and one of the leading members of the Congress in passing agricultural legislation for our country.

Albert Gore, Jr., fits in well with Tennessee. He's on the committee responsible for science and technology. And Tennessee, with a dynamic economy and a clear vision of the future, is certainly benefiting from his incumbency, and I'm sure he'll go back into office.

And you've got here in Nashville a man to fill some big shoes, your next Congressman, Bill Boner. Ron Arline will be the next Congressman; Gordon Ball, Margaret Francis. We've got the most wonderful Democratic slate you've ever had, and I hope you'll help me get all of them elected in 2 weeks, November 7, Tuesday after next. Will you do that for us? [Applause] Very good.

Now I'd like to say just a word about our Nation. Tennessee is the Volunteer State. You got that title and that reputation because you've always been willing and eager to defend our Nation when it was in trouble. And as your Governor pointed out, since I've been in office, we've not called on a single Tennessean nor a single American to lose a life or to shed blood in conflict in another country. And I want to keep that record as long as I'm in the White House.

Our Nation has taken the leadership in trying to preserve peace for our own people, in trying to bring peace to others. We are negotiating now to conclude a SALT treaty, to make sure that we lessen the threat of nuclear weapons for people in our own country and throughout the world. We are trying to negotiate, with some success already, peace in the Middle East, between Israel and Egypt. This is a difficult undertaking, and we need your help, your prayers, and your support.

We are trying to strengthen our ties with our own allies, to let NATO be stronger. We've got a strong defense, ever improving. We're the strongest nation on Earth militarily, and as long as I'm in the White House, we're going to stay number one in defense.

Tennesseans believe in hard work. So do I. When I was elected President, we had 10 million Americans, 10 million Americans who could not get a full-time job. We had 7 million Americans or more who couldn't get a job at all. But we put America back to work. We've had, since I've been in office, an increase of 6 million net new jobs for America, and we're going to keep on giving our people a chance to work for themselves and for our country.

We are trying to provide better education, better housing, better highways, a good agricultural program. With your Congressmen's help, we passed a farm bill about a year ago that's already improved farm income 25 percent. We've got the highest level of agricultural exports in the history of our country last year. This year, it's going to be even higher; next year, higher still.

We're trying also to make sure that we have a good energy program, and for the first time in the history of our Nation, we now have a good, sound energy policy that's going to be better in the future with your help.

[The day before] 3 yesterday, I signed a bill to deregulate the airline industry. We're trying to get Government's nose out of the business of the people of this country, and we've made good progress already. We've had a decrease in airline fares, a tremendous increase in the number of people who can now afford to fly in airplanes, and the profits of the airline industry have gone up. And by 1985, we will have eliminated a major Federal regulatory agency, the CAB, the Civil Aeronautics Board, because we've proven that the American free enterprise system can work if competition is put in and the consumers are protected. That's the kind of government we're trying to give you.

3 Printed in the transcript.

The Democratic Party has always been a party with a heart. We believe in people and giving our people a better chance to live. But we're also a party that knows how to manage government. When I was running for President in 1976 and you helped me so much, we had a Federal budget deficit of $66 billion. In 1 year, we cut it down to the fifties. We've now cut it down to the forties. By the end of next year, we'll have cut it in half, and we're going to keep on working until we have a balanced budget for the Federal Government and responsible to you.

At the same time, we've cut taxes. Better services, lower taxes, lower budget deficits, better management, zero-base budgeting—these are the kind of things that we believe are important.

We're cutting out corruption. I signed an ethics bill this morning to make public officials accountable for where their income is derived and how they spend the money and whether they are honest. This will go a long step forward.

And the next big undertaking is to control inflation in our Nation. For the last 10 years, the inflation rate in our country has averaged 6 1/2 percent. As I said the other night, the 3 years before I became President, it averaged 8 percent. And I want to ask your promise as the last thing today, will you help me with our anti-inflation program to control inflation in this country? Will you help me? [Applause] Right on.

Well, I want to close by saying this: You've shown your confidence in me as a Georgian, as a neighbor, as a southerner, as an American. The Presidency of the United States is not an easy job. But I feel at ease with it, in spite of the difficulties, in spite of the challenges, in spite of the promises that need to be kept, in spite of the problems that face me every day, because I cast my lot with you when I ran for President. I also stood on street corners, in factory shift lines, went through city halls and courthouses, met you on the street, shook hands, asked for your advice and your support.

That's where my strength comes from, from you. That's where the strength of Andrew Jackson came from, from you. And I hope to maintain your confidence in me and improve your confidence in the Federal Government by good management, by peace, by openness, by strength, and because you control me and your Government.

This is what the Democratic Party stands for also. And I hope on November 7 that all of you will do the best you can to elect the fine slate of Democratic officers and make the greatest nation on Earth even greater in the future. Thank you very much.

Are we going to win in November? [Applause] Right on. Are you going to work and help us win? [Applause] Right on.

Thank you very much. I love every one of you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:18 p.m. at Legislative Plaza.

Jimmy Carter, Nashville, Tennessee 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/243575

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