Jimmy Carter photo

New York, New York Remarks at the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union Rally.

October 30, 1980

Thank you very much, my good friend, Chick Chaikin. I am proud to be in the heart of the greatest city on Earth, New York. I love New York and I love all of you. New York's heart is a big heart, and it's also a Democratic heart. Right? [Cheers] This is the State and the city that gave us Al Smith and the greatest President of the 20th century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the Governors like Herbert Lehmann and Averell Harriman, and United States Senators like Robert Wagner, Sr., and Robert Kennedy, and mayors like Robert Wagner, Jr., and Abe Beame. And I'm proud to be here with the inheritors of that great Democratic tradition, your courageous Governor, Hugh Carey, your outspoken, fighting mayor, Ed Koch—how am I doing, Ed?—your wise and your humane Lieutenant Governor, my friend Mario Cuomo, and your brilliant United States Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and your next United States Senator, Liz Holtzman.

Today we're together, we're determined, and we are united. And next Tuesday we're going to whip the Republicans like they've never been whipped before. It's up to you and me together to roll up a Democratic victory from Staten Island to Niagara Falls and all across this land. The lines are sharply drawn. The choice is crucial, and especially for New Yorkers. If you ride the bus or the subway, then you know how Governor Reagan used to pray every day that the Nation would never extend a helping hand to New York.

I'm sure the Lord heard that prayer, as he hears all prayers, but after due consideration and with a little help from below, he decided to answer some other prayers instead—that is, mine and yours, to revitalize New York. And that's what we've done together. Here's something else that Mr. Reagan said. Quote: "Real Americans," he said, "just plain don't like New York." All right, how many of you are real Americans? [Cheers] How many of you love New York? [Cheers] That's right. I've got real news for Mr. Reagan. There are some real Americans here on Seventh Avenue, from Manhattan and Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx and Staten Island, and from Georgia, who just plain don't like Republicans.

And here's something else that my Republican opponent said about our cities. Just a few months ago he said, and I quote again, "Urban aid programs are one of the biggest phonies that we have in this system." I disagree. I think urban aid programs are one of the biggest necessities we have in this system. In 1978, down in city hall, I stood with Hugh Carey, Ed Koch, Pat Moynihan, and I signed a bill granting $1.6 billion in loan guarantees for New York City. It hasn't cost our Nation a dime, because New York is a great city, growing, strong, prosperous, with a bright future ahead of all of you. Under the new Urban Development Action Grant program, New York has received more grants than any other city in the Nation. We've put $600 million into economic development for New York, for community development. We changed the formula that determines how much money is allotted. It was a tough fight, but we won it together. And the result is that the city is getting an extra $110 million a year, and now we're fighting to change the formula to give you that kind of benefit for your mass transit program.

But urban America is just one of the areas of crucial choice, and in just a few minutes, I'd like to outline for you a few key basic issues that separate me from my Republican opponent. On one side, you've got a Republican candidate who promises ideological loyalty tests for possible Federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court. On the other side, you've got a Democratic administration pledged to an independent qualified judiciary. I've been faithful to that pledge, as you know, for the last 4 years, and I will remain faithful to it if and when I'm called upon to appoint members of the United States Supreme Court.

Another basic issue. On one side is a Republican candidate who launched his political career as a traveling salesman for the anti-Medicare lobby. Now he says, and I quote, "I am firmly opposed to national health insurance." On the other side, you've got a Democratic administration committed to the enactment of national health insurance. And I'll work with Senator Kennedy, with Pat Moynihan, and your congressional delegation and other Democrats around this land to give the $200,000 burden a lift off the shoulders of New York that now costs you for Medicaid and make sure that the taxpayers of New York have the break that you deserve and that you will get under a Democratic administration.

And there's another basic issue I'd like to mention. On one side, you've got a Republican candidate who's turned his back on 40 years of support for the equal rights amendment. And on the other side, you've got a Democratic administration and a Democratic President who has pledged to fight for the rights of women, like the rights of men, and inscribe them in the Constitution of the United States with the equal rights amendment.

And there's another basic issue. On one side, you've got a Republican candidate who said this year—listen to this—that the minimum wage has caused more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression. He's on record this year as favoring the abolition of the minimum wage, and if he can't abolish it, then he wants to lower it by the backdoor route of a so-called subminimum wage for minority and other young people. That's what he proposed during the debate just this week. On the other side, you've got a Democratic administration that supports the minimum wage, just as Democrats have supported it against Republican opposition ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt first got it enacted, when it was only 25 cents an hour, and the Republicans were against giving working men and women 25 cents an hour for their hard labor.

We Democrats know that the minimum wage has given a decent life and made it possible for millions of Americans. We Democrats know that it's wrong to tell a 25- or 30-year-old mother or father that he or she can't have a job because it's been filled by someone who's being paid a special sub-minimum and sub-standard wage. We Democrats raised the minimum wage, not lowered it, and that's a basic difference between me and my Republican administration [opponent].

There is another basic difference. On one side, you've got a Republican candidate who says, and I quote again, "What needs to be done for the government is to repeal the energy legislation we've passed and turn the oil industry loose." And on the other side, you've got a Democratic administration that fought successfully for the windfall profits tax and for the massive new energy program that has already reduced our oil imports by one-third compared to what it was only 12 months ago.

Every drop of oil that we do not have to buy from OPEC increases our economic security and our national security. We must not allow our progress to be reversed by letting a Republican back in the White House.

Let me mention one other basic issue, and Governor Reagan says that this is the foundation of his economic program. On one side is a Republican candidate who bases his entire program on Reagan-Kemp-Roth—a massive tax cut for the rich huge increases in defense spending, and a balanced budget all at once. His own running mate, George Bush, said that this would cause a 30-percent inflation rate. He called it "voodoo economics."

Many of you read Business Week magazine. It's hardly a Democratic publication. And here's what Business Week said about Reagan-Kemp-Roth, the foundation for Governor Reagan's economic program. Business Week said it's completely irresponsible, it will touch off an inflationary explosion that would wreck this country and impoverish everyone on a fixed income. That's what Business Week thinks about Governor Reagan's economic program.

We Democrats know that unemployment is still too high, but in America today a higher percentage of our people have jobs than ever before in history. We've created almost 9 million new jobs, and 200,000 of those jobs are right here in the New York metropolitan area. Unemployment here is down 22 percent since the day I was inaugurated President.

Most of all, there's another basic issue that you ought to be reminded of every day, and that is that we Democrats dare to fight for peace, and the Republican candidate for President is utterly without any foreign policy experience. He has repeatedly called for us to send American military forces to intervene in trouble spots around the world. In 1975 he called for the use of American military forces in Ecuador in a fishing dispute; later, in Angola; in 1976, in Rhodesia and Cyprus. This year, so far, he's called for the use of American military forces in Cuba, in Pakistan, and in the Middle East. Let's make sure that we don't have to find out whether he'll call for the use of American military forces next year by sending him back to Hollywood and California, where the American military forces won't listen to his voice.

As you know, the American Democratic administration has kept this Nation strong and also kept this Nation at peace, and we have extended American peaceful inclinations and influence to other troubled areas around the world. That's what we did in the Middle East, where we helped bring a treaty of peace between Israel and Egypt, the first ever peace between Israel and one of her Arab neighbors.

The Democratic Party is committed, and I am committed, to a strong and secure Israel, an Israel safe from the threats of terrorism, an Israel that has a strong strategic partner in the United States. Let there be no mistake about it, the Democratic Party and this Democratic President have stood by Israel's side for 32 years, and we always will.

And there's something else we Democrats stand for, and that's basic human rights. America should always stand for human liberty and human dignity. As long as I'm President, we will hold high the banner of human rights.

Now, let me touch on one final basic issue, the most important issue of all. The Republican candidate says that the best approach to nuclear arms negotiations would be to threaten the possibility of an arms race. The possibility of a nuclear arms race is what the Republican candidate proposes. We Democrats disagree. We're committed to mutual and balanced controls on the terrible weapons of nuclear annihilation. I consider this to be the overriding issue of this campaign. The New York Times of February 1st, 1980, reported this about Governor Reagan and his attitude toward letting other nations have atomic bombs. Think for a moment what it would mean to us and to Israel and other peace-loving nations if Libya and other terrorist governments had the atomic bomb. All Presidents in the past have tried to prevent the extension of nuclear explosives from going to these kinds of nations. This is what the New York Times said: "Governor Reagan indicated today that he believes the United States should not stand in the way of countries developing their own nuclear weapons, saying, 'I just don't think it's any of our business.'"

Over the last 20 years, we've taken the first long step away from the nuclear precipice. We must stay on that road until the shadow of a nuclear holocaust is lifted from the people of this Earth. On issue after issue, the choice is clear, and the stakes for our country are very high. This is a tough race. It's going right down to the wire. The Republicans are out-spending us by millions of dollars.

Fritz Mondale and I are going to need the help of every one of you. New York is absolutely vital to our victory. For the sake of everything that we've done together in the past, for the sake of everything the Democratic Party has meant to you, to New York City, to New York State and this Nation, for the sake of everything we're pledged to do together in the future to give us a strong and peaceful nation, let's win a victory not just for Jimmy Carter and Fritz Mondale, but for the whole Democratic Party and the whole Democratic ticket and, most important of all, for the beliefs and the conviction and the ideals we share.

Will you help me next Tuesday? [Applause and cheers] Are we going to have a great victory next Tuesday? [Applause and cheers]

Thank you very much. God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:34 p.m. at the intersection of Thirty-Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue. He was introduced by Sol C. Chaikin, president of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union.

Jimmy Carter, New York, New York Remarks at the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union Rally. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251838

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