Jimmy Carter photo

New York, New York Remarks at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Victory Luncheon.

August 14, 1980

You're getting me in the mood for tonight. Thank you very much.

Speaker O'Neill, Majority Leader Byrd, Majority Leader Jim Wright, Jim Corman, Mayor Koch, Joan Mondale and the Mondale family, all of my [fiends who have been so remarkable in supporting me during this last 4 years and also, particularly, during the last 2 or 3 days:

In my judgment this has been one of the best Democratic conventions that I have ever seen, and I believe it's not just because I was nominated last night but because we've had a superb presiding officer who has kept things going upward, upward, upward all the way.

Everyone says we Democrats have put on a better show than the Republicans. It's probably because that ours is a convention that didn't have to suffer from the actors' strike. [Laughter] We're going to have some problems this year with actors, but I don't think too much. They're quick to learn, and they need to learn new lines.

I noticed some of the posters in the: convention that said, "What is parity and who is Giscard d'Estaing?" Fritz was pointing out to me just before I came over that if a catastrophe should befall our country and if the Democrats should lose in November, at the next economic summit conference people will have to walk around with labels on their chest saying, "Hello, my name is Helmut Schmidt. I am from Germany," and so forth. [Laughter] We're going to try to avoid that kind of embarrassment to our country by waging one of the most united, concerted, sharply defined campaigns in the history of this country.

The issues are deep between us. Our Nation will make a fundamental decision in November to set the course of this country for the rest of this century. Once that decision is made, the first week in November, it won't be possible to repeal it or to reverse it. The decision will affect the life of every person in this land and the lives of every person on Earth. We Democrats are ready for the fight. I am really looking forward to it.

This week has been stimulating to me and also very gratifying. I've had several telephone calls to and from Senator Ted Kennedy. We've kept a close, amicable, constructive relationship. There have been some differences between us on issues affecting our economy and affecting the progress of the campaign during this spring, but those issues have been resolved compatible with the principles of the Democratic Party and compatible with the procedures in the Democratic Party-open, thorough, public debate. And the judgment ultimately being made for the power of our party lies among the average, good, enlightened, working families of this Nation and those who reach out a hand, not for a handout, but for help upward to a better life, a more constructive life, a safer life, and a life that typifies the principles of the United States of America, which are exactly the same as the principles of the Democratic Party, which represents us and which we're going to represent so well in November with a great victory.

It's important for everyone in this room, including myself, to make sure the Nation knows what the Republicans stand for, or at least we're going to make them admit that they don't stand for much of anything that's valuable to the American people.

There's a unique character of the Presidency, and there's a unique character of responsibility among the majority Members of the House and the Senate. You have to be more responsible, you have to consider the results of your decisions. The minority party can be irresponsible, and they have well fulfilled that role. Vote after vote after vote in the Congress have been contrary to the best interests of this Nation, yielding on almost every instance to powerful special interest groups. And when those votes are analyzed there is no doubt in my mind that the sharp distinction between me and Governor Ronald Reagan will be mirrored accurately and to our benefit by the sharp distinction to be drawn by Democratic candidates for Congress who are going to be reelected, the new Democrats who are going to come to Congress to replace Republicans that ought not to be there, and we'll have a victory together in November.

This has not been an easy time for me or for the Democratic Congress or for our country. We've been tested, because we inherited in January of 1977 a mess, and we've been dealing with it ever since. We've made great progress. We've met the challenge of keeping our country at peace. We've dealt with that issue in the most complicated, complex, rapidly changing world that human beings have seen. And we've dealt with difficult issues like energy, which had been avoided, literally for generations. In spite of the efforts made by past leaders all the way since Harry Truman, those tough, difficult issues had not been successfully resolved.

Now we've been successful. In the last 3¼ years there's been a remarkable degree of harmony and support between me and the White House and the Congress on the Hill. That record has not been clearly described to the American people and has not yet been understood by the news media and those who listen to and watch the news media for a description of the economic and political health and achievements of our Nation. There has not been a President in modem history, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt and including Lyndon Baines Johnson, who has had a better record of support from the Democratic Congress than has Jimmy Carter, and I am deeply grateful to the Congress for that support.

And the decisions uniquely the responsibility of the President have been difficult. When the invasion of Afghanistan came, the world was watching. What would the United States do? We had all the options available to me, political options, economic options, military options. We responded forcefully and effectively. We've marshaled the support of 104 members of the United Nations to condemn Soviet aggression—and that condemnation still stands—and to demand that the Soviets withdraw their troops from Afghanistan-that demand still stands. And it's spread throughout the Moslem world and the less developed countries of the world, who were formerly allies and sometimes dependent upon, sometimes subservient to the Soviet Union. And we imposed a trade embargo, and we called for draft registration, and we asked the other nations to join us in stopping participation in the Moscow Olympics.

None of those decisions was easy. None of them was particularly politically popular, but the Democratic Congress stood staunch vote after vote and the Republican nominee and the Republican Members of Congress yielded to the temptation of weakness. They were against the boycott, against registration, against not going to the Olympics. But they underestimated American young people and they underestimated the American farmer, they underestimated American athletes, they underestimated American workers, and they underestimated the American public. And I believe that they'll see that that underestimation of the voters in November will bring grief and black wreaths to the Republican convention and campaign halls on the night of November 4.

Every 4 years the Republicans are tempted to put on overalls and start talking about jobs. [Laughter] But they've not changed underneath. Instead of talking about progress and fairness and equity and employment and a better, enlightened life for Americans, they talk about Reagan-Kemp-Roth, perhaps the most inflationary piece of legislation that's ever been introduced in the Congress for serious consideration. It is serious, because the Republicans have marshaled not only the voices of Members of Congress and the candidate behind it but the strength and the power of the Republican propaganda machine and the Republican convention platform.

It's not something to be taken lightly. It's a proposal that would be catastrophic if it was imposed. I'll talk about it a little more tonight.

But those are the kinds of things about which our Nation needs to be cautious and concerned and aware as they make a decision about 83 or 84 days from now. There is no way they could carry out those promises, and I'm determined that they won't have a chance to try.

The last point I want to make is this-because I have another speech to make this evening—I'll try to do a good job in expressing the perspective of our Nation as I uniquely can see it from the position of a President. But I believe that what we have done this last 3 1/2 years since we got the Republicans out of the Oval Office has been momentous, not only the addition of 9 million new jobs—a million for black people alone, a million more new jobs for those who speak Spanish in this country alone but for what we are prepared to do in the future.

We have laid a foundation or a basis for one of the brightest, most dynamic, successful, exciting decades in the history of our Nation. Americans' lives are going to be transformed for the better, because we now have an organizational structure in government and because we now have a better relationship between government and industry and because we now have the prospect of having more energy produced and more energy discovered and new kinds of energy produced and a new change in the homes and automobiles and the way of life of American people. All of this will be the most massive single opportunity to improve the economic health of our country with American labor and American brilliance and American knowledge and American innovation and American spirit and American competence and American unity that the world has ever seen. The prospect of that if understood clearly by the American public can transform the electorate and prove to you who are my partners that the election of a Democratic Congress and the election of a Democratic President will be not only one of the greatest achievements of all times, but will bring the greatest benefits of all times to Americans and to those about whom we care throughout the world.

It is going to be a great decade. And now let's all go to work, right? [Applause]

Note: The President spoke at 1: 52 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Plaza Hotel.

Jimmy Carter, New York, New York Remarks at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Victory Luncheon. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251728

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