Jimmy Carter photo

New Orleans, Louisiana Remarks at a Rally With Local Residents.

October 21, 1980

Mayor Morial, who has done so much to keep this beautiful and ancient and precious city, with a very calm and strong leadership, moving into the 1980's and toward the 21st century, with progress and determination and confidence and, at the same time, preserving the special heritage which has always been greatest for those who live in New Orleans, you have a good partner in Moon Landrieu. As a matter of fact, that partnership is so close that I have to guard the other cities' interests, as Moon and your own Mayor Morial plan for the future. So, Moon, be nice to the other cities. Keep what you want for New Orleans. Let the rest of them have a chance. What bothers me is that Russell Long gives him advice on what to do. [Laughter]

And I might say that I have a secret-but not so secret—love affair with a certain woman in New Orleans, and that's Lindy Boggs. She has the special qualities of a southern woman—beautiful, strong, idealistic, deeply committed-which all of us admire. And I first fell for her, I have to say, when she managed the 1976 Democratic Convention so well and chose the same nominee that I was supporting myself.

And I'm also very proud to have as my Louisiana State chairman a man who led this State with good humor, with courage, with confidence, with the utmost in fashion in clothes, with a certain debonair attitude, and who came out of office with the highest support, I guess, that any Governor ever left office with. And also, I'm very proud to have him supporting me. I would much rather have Edwin Edwards leading my campaign than to be in Governor Reagan's shoes with the Republican Governor leading his. That gives me great confidence in the future.

So, I don't want the people of Louisiana to let me down. I don't want the people of Louisiana to let Fritz Mondale down, and I don't want the people of Louisiana to let Governor Edwin Edwards down either.

We've got some good people in our Cabinet from Louisiana, in addition to Moon Landrieu. Ray Marshall, as you know, is from Oak Grove, Louisiana. Jack Watson, my Chief of Staff, is from Shreveport, Louisiana. And I'm very grateful to come down here on this same historic site that I believe turned the tide not only in Louisiana in 1976 in the general election, but also gave the Nation a new belief which just narrowly came to pass, that I could be elected President of the United States.

As Lindy Boggs pointed out, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are the two founders of the Democratic Party. Thomas Jefferson did a lot of great things, but the Louisiana Purchase is by far the wisest decision that he or any other President ever made. And I'm very glad that you mentioned Aridy Jackson, too, who fought the British here, in Louisiana, in New Orleans, and beat them so bad that no foreign invader has ever dared come to this place since then, unless you might call Admiral Farragut and Ben Butler invaders from a foreign country.

But now that we've got our Nation all back together, we southerners know that although no southern President has served, from the Deep South, since 1844 when James Polk was elected, we're going to keep the hands on the reins in Washington, with southerners who brought our Nation together in a unified way and have a better future for us all.

When I came here in 1976, I made a few promises to you. First of all, I promised that the extremely high unemployment rate that prevailed in many parts of our land would be brought down. We've added in the last 4 years 8 1/2 million new jobs in this country, a record never before achieved by any President who's served in the White House in time of peace or war.

We promised, also, the elderly citizens of New Orleans, of Louisiana, and this country, that we would make sure that the prospective bankruptcy of the social security system was corrected. And with the help of Russell Long, Bennett Johnston, Gillis Long, and other members of your delegation, we have now got social security back on a sound basis, and we're going to keep it that way as long as a Democrat serves in the White House.

At the urging then of Bennett Johnston and Russell Long—they told me to mention that we were going to get a north. south highway started. I didn't know what I was talking about, but I promised it, and the 1-49 connector is now underway to being a reality. And let me point out to you that this list of things would not be complete in Louisiana if I didn't say that I promised also to pass a law through Congress, if they would cooperate, to decontrol the prices of oil and natural gas.

We moved too fast for some; we didn't move fast enough for others. But that new law had never been passable since the days of Harry Truman, under Democrats or Republicans. And now we're seeing rich dividends, because this year in the United States of America, we'll have more oil wells, more gas wells drilled than any year in the history of this land.

And I might also point it out to you-and it affects your community very deeply—and this may be a surprise: The United States of America will produce more coal in 1980 than any other year in history. And the only thing that keeps us from tripling coal production is that we don't have the port facilities and the transportation facilities to load American coal to replace OPEC oil on the energy markets of the world. I see a real need to improve the channels and to improve the loading facilities in great ports like New Orleans, which will let you be one of the coal shipping centers of this land.

I might point out that for Louisiana farmers and for others around this land we set world records in grain exports in 1977. We set new world records in 1978. We set new world records in 1979. And in 1980, in spite of restraints on shipments of grain to the Soviet Union, with new markets in China, Mexico, and other places, we'll have $40 billion of American agricultural exports going overseas—a lot of it through New Orleans. This is $8 billion more than last year; a new world's record and the biggest increase in any year in the history of our country.

And now, I'd like to close my remarks by saying just a few things about what are involved in your decisions to be made on November the 4th.

I grew up, like many of you, during the Great Depression. I lived on a farm in south Georgia. My father and his father and others before him had never had a chance to finish high school. We didn't have electricity on our farm; we didn't have running water inside the house. And we turned to Franklin Roosevelt and to other great Democratic leaders to help us have a better life.

Franklin Roosevelt proposed the REA; the Republicans opposed it. Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats proposed that our senior citizens would have social security; the Republicans opposed it. Many people were working in sweatshops, little children 9, 10 years old, boys and girls working in sweatshops all day. The Democrats proposed a minimum wage to give working people in this Nation a chance to live a decent life, to meet the needs of their family, and to have some self-dignity—25 cents an hour. The Republicans opposed it.

My first job when I finished high school in 1941 was at the minimum wage. It had been increased by the Democrats from 25 cents to 40 cents an hour. The Republicans opposed that increase. This is the kind of record that was set during those years when I was a young man growing up.

Later, Harry Truman said we ought to have Medicare to give older people a chance for some health insurance when they reached their retirement age. The Republicans, of course, opposed it. My opponent in this election got started with his public career campaigning around this Nation against Medicare. He has said that the minimum wage has caused more misery and more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression. And he has said unemployment compensation for families who are temporarily out of work is just a prepaid vacation for freeloaders.

The differences that historically have been the case between Democrats and Republicans to give the poor, the elderly, the children, the sick, the working families, the farmers a better chance in life—those differences between our two parties still prevail. Major issues are at stake on November the 4th. Those decisions cannot be made by candidates. I'll be working day and night, political leaders on this stage will be helping me, but the issue is in your hands.

There is no way that Republican voters can carry New Orleans or Louisiana on November the 4th. The only possibility for a Republican victory here is a Democratic Party that's divided, which we do not have—it's united now—and [if] Democrats who believe that their families and themselves and those they love ought to have a surer, more secure, more peaceful, more prosperous life in the future, don't work between now and November the 4th and get your friends and neighbors to go out and vote.

If you will help me, if you will dedicate yourselves to the principles that have made our party and our Nation strong, if you'll remember the heritage of Louisiana and what's given you a better life and will give your children an even better life, then there's no doubt in my mind that with your help, as partners, we will have a tremendous victory, we'll keep a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, with your help, in the White House for the next 4 years.
Thank you very much. I love you all.

Note: The President spoke at 7:17 p.m. from the stage in Jackson Square.

Jimmy Carter, New Orleans, Louisiana Remarks at a Rally With Local Residents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251497

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