Jimmy Carter photo

Portland, Oregon Remarks at a Rally With Area Residents.

November 03, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.

AUDIENCE [chanting]. "We want Jimmy!"

THE PRESIDENT. You've got me.

To Neil Goldschmidt, let me say first of all that I want you to express personally my deep thanks to Mrs. Wayne Morse, because anyone in this Nation who admires courage, who admires the ability of a man of great stature to express himself under difficult circumstances for the best interest of our Nation, that person must indeed appreciate the straightforward endorsement and support of the widow of a great man, Wayne Morse.

I'd like to say to Les AuCoin, who has been helpful to me from the very beginning, to Jim Weaver, to Ron Weiden, who'll be the next Congressman, and to Teddy Kulongoski, whom you're going to support for the U.S. Senate, right? [Applause]

But I'm very glad to come out here to Oregon tonight, because I remember very distinctly what happened here in 1975. I also am very deeply grateful to you for three members of my Cabinet whom you trained for me and let me use in Washington. We've never had a better Secretary of Agriculture than the man that you trained here and sent to Minnesota for a little fine tuning. Bob Bergland has been one who was a radical departure from what the Republicans have done in the past. They've always chosen some executive secretary or some lawyer who represented grain speculators or either processors of food who bought grain and products from farmers cheap during harvest season, and then sold it to consumers high after they manipulated the market. But Bob Bergland has put the farmer of America back in the driver's seat on marketing grain and helping make it possible for us to make all-time records of grain exports, a lot of it shipped from the west coast to China. China is now our number one customer of American cotton and, as you know, the next 5 years we'll be selling China between 6 and 9 million tons of grain from the United States, enough for 15 loaves of bread for every man, woman, and child in the billion people who live in China. That's the kind of Secretary of Agriculture you trained for me.

And of course, Cecil Andrus has been a great Secretary of Interior, a good Governor of Idaho, well-trained in Eugene, at the same high school, I understand, that Neil Goldschmidt attended himself. And there's no way to say too good a thing about Neil Goldschmidt, particularly with him sitting here. But you've made a great contribution to the Nation.

I might say also that Oregon is important to me because you've been innovators in energy conservation, in urban revitalization, in the conservation of our natural resources, and in standing up for the rights of women. As a matter of fact, Oregon is the only State that's ratified the equal rights amendment, not once, but twice.

Recently, when I've been in South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, I've reminded the people there the real meaning of the equal rights amendment. Our country for 200 years has tried to remove the legal impediments to equal opportunity for all people, and I've told them very frankly what the equal rights amendment means. It doesn't have anything to do with restrooms, doesn't have anything to do with drafting people, doesn't have anything to do with homosexuality. It just says very simply, as you well know, that equality of rights shall not be abridged by the Federal Government nor by any State government because a person is a woman or because of sex. That's all it says. All the equal rights amendment says, in effect, is neither the Federal Government nor the State government any longer will have a right to cheat women. We're going to stop that if I'm elected, but if Ronald Reagan's elected, we'll never have the equal rights amendment. We have got to have it. With your help, we'll do it.

Now, I'm also glad to come to Oregon because you're a State that loves trees. Now Ronald Reagan has provided a lot of opportunity for jokes about trees. I'm going to spare you tonight. I'm not going to tell a joke abut trees. But there's nothing funny about Ronald Reagan's candidacy, nor is there anything funny about what he stands for. You know that very well here in Oregon. And here in your State, you might very well hold the key to this election. All the poll results I've seen show that here in this State the issue is in doubt. The outcome of the election hangs in the balance, with just a few votes one way or the other making a difference. And that's why I've crossed this continent tonight, to make my last appearances here and a little bit later tonight in Seattle, before I fly back home to vote in Plains. I asked Jody Powell, my secretary, early this morning, "Where are we going to spend the night?" He said, "Mr. President, this night, there's not any tonight." So we'll be leaving, flying back home for that purpose.

I know you've been listening a lot to the campaign lately. It's been a highly publicized campaign. You've been listening to the Republican candidate, and you know now that he's trying to wrap himself in the mantle of great Democrats. If you've been listening to him the last 3 or 4 months, you would think that he's a very moderate, or maybe even a liberal Democrat. Let me ask you if you remember back in history. Have you ever heard a Republican candidate for President quoting a Republican President? [Shouts] You never heard it. Some of you watched the Republican Convention and heard the acceptance speech by Ronald Reagan. He quoted Franklin Roosevelt. Can you imagine him standing up there and quoting Herbert Hoover or Richard Nixon? [Shouts] It's ludicrous, isn't it? Because when Republicans are running for President, they deliberately try to mislead Democrats around this country about their true beliefs on issues that are important to the working people of this country, the farmers of this Nation, the elderly people of this Nation, those who've been deprived in life and given a better chance in life by Democrats.

This has been the case all down through history. As a matter of fact, as you know, when John Kennedy was running in 1960, he pointed this out very clearly. Let me quote what he said. "The Republicans are even beginning to say a few kind words about Franklin Roosevelt. Twenty years from now, they might even speak a good word for Harry Truman. But I guarantee you that Harry Truman will never say a good word about Republicans." Now I'm going to make a prediction to you tonight. I predict that 20 years from now, Republican candidates for President are even going to be saying good things about Jimmy Carter's second term.

We need to think about the consequences Wednesday morning, if the people of this Nation wake up and find that there will be in the White House for the next 4 years a rightwing Republican governing this Nation. Think about your own lives, think about the lives of your families, think about the lives of those that you love. Think about a man who says that the minimum wage has caused more misery and unemployment than anything since the Great Depression. Think about a man who started his political career campaigning around this Nation in 1961 against Medicare, calling it socialism. Think about a man who has been against the limited test ban treaty, a man who's been against the anti-ballistic missile treaty, the man who's been against the SALT I treaty, a man who's been against the treaty or agreement signed in Vladivostok under Gerald Ford, a man who's now against a limitation on nuclear arms treaty, SALT II, negotiated by me and two Republican Presidents over a period of 7 years, a man who has never supported a single one of these agreements that control nuclear weapons. Think about a man who said twice this year, when questioned about the possibility of third world nations, those who don't now have atomic weapons, getting them, like Pakistan, Iraq, and Libya, saying it's none of our business, it's none of the business of the American Government.

The consequences of this election are very dear and very important to all of you. Everything the Democratic Party has stood for in the last 50 years has been beneficial for the working people of this country, and in every instance, the Republicans have been against it. They've never changed. Collective bargaining for working people of this country—the Democrats supported it; Republicans were against it. Social security—the Democrats were for it; Republicans were against it. Minimum wage—the Democrats were for it; Republicans were against it. Civil rights, the Voting Rights Act—the Democrats were for it; Republicans were against it. Governor Ronald Reagan said about the Civil Rights Act, it's bad legislation. Medicare—Democrats were for it; Republicans were against it. And now national health insurance—another commitment that the Democratic Party has made to you. Equal rights amendment-Democrats are for it; Republicans are against it.

These are the kinds of things, in their totality and individually, that affect not just generalities about what's good or bad for a whole nation, but what's good or bad for you and your family—better education, better life, better working conditions, better environment, better economy.

I served in the Navy for 11 years. I'm a Naval Academy graduate, submarine officer. When I got to the Oval Office I was determined to strengthen our Nation's defense, because in the 8 years before I became President commitments for defense expenditures had gone down 37 percent. So I worked hard, along with the Democratic Congress, to repair that damage and to make our Nation strong. There's a reason for it. And you need not be frightened about the fact that our Nation is strong, because I'm able to say for the first time of any President in 50 years, for the last 4 years since I have been in office, our Nation has not been at war; we have been at peace.

And we've been at peace because we've kept our Nation strong and because we've addressed the difficult issues that affect our country with caution, with moderation, with determination, and with a calm assurance of our own strength. I'm a father, I'm also a grandfather. And as President, I'll always remember that the best weapon is one that's never fired in battle and the best soldier is one that never has to shed his blood on the field of battle.

It's good for you to remember, too, that in the loneliness of the Oval Office a President has to make many crucial decisions. I've not served a single day in the last 3 1/2 years that somewhere on Earth there hasn't been serious trouble, most often armed conflict. Many potential crises come to the man elected to serve this Nation as President. If that issue is handled properly, then the crisis perhaps passes without your ever knowing about it. But if a misjudgment is made, then the crisis becomes important and may affect your life or the lives of everyone who lives on Earth.

I'm proud that we've been able to extend peace not just for our own people but to others around the world. But my most important single commitment, the greatest commitment of this Nation, is to prevent nuclear war. We must continue our progress in careful, balanced, verifiable control of nuclear arms. That's the great overriding issue of this campaign. The greatest legacy we can leave our children is a world at peace. Peace is my passion, and with your support and for the next 4 years, peace is my pledge to you. I want to say just a word about our stewardship of air and water and land. Because we've made a commitment as Democrats, we've been able to have a strong and a viable nation, a carefully considered harvesting of our timber and other resources, the improvement of the quality of our land, and productivity—the highest productivity in the history of our country, the highest gross and net income increase of farmers, the highest exports in history. Our lakes and our rivers are cleaner than they were. The air is more fit to breathe. We've tripled our investment in solar energy. We've doubled the size of our national park system. We've strengthened the Endangered Species Act. We've created more wilderness areas than in any other administration.

By contrast, Governor Reagan scorns energy conservation. He dismisses solar energy as, quote, "exotic." He wants to weaken the Clean Air Act and undercut our efforts to promote health and safety in the workplace. Recently, someone said let's do away with OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Governor Reagan said, "Amen."

It's a clear choice. Only the Democrats will continue and strengthen that commitment to a decent environment. Only the Democrats recognize that we can have jobs for our people through our economic revitalization program without sacrificing the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The election of 1980 is a choice between two futures. Let me close my remarks by saying very briefly what kind of future you and I can have. In the next 4 years, together, we can build a nation at peace-a building of a peace for the future, not just 4 years, but for the rest of this century; a nation secure, secure in its defense, secure in its energy needs; a nation of new technology, new factories, new tools, whole new industries that we may not have even dreamed about yet; a nation of new energy sources where American coal and the production of American land replaces OPEC oil; a nation that stands for human rights and is not afraid to say so. These goals are not just idle dreams, they can and must be an agenda for the Democrats and for this Nation. And as long as I'm President, that's the agenda that we will follow.

I'm proud to be a Democrat. I believe in the heritage and the mission of the Democratic Party. Some of you here are as old as I am, and you remember how your lives were changed beneficially by the heritage and the mission of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by the heritage and the mission of Harry Truman, by the heritage and the mission of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, by the heritage and the mission of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and by the heritage and the mission of Hubert Humphrey.

Every great advance in our country for half a century, from collective bargaining to the minimum wage, from social security to Medicare, every single one of them has been made possible by the Democratic Party. Now, with the election just a few hours away, now it's clearer than ever to me that the winner tomorrow will be either myself or Ronald Reagan.

Tonight I want to say a word directly to those Oregonians who might still be considering a vote for John Anderson. On many of the key issues, on many of the key issues, I'm sure that you, young people in college and others, issues like energy conservation, equal rights for women, protecting our air and water and, above all, the overriding issue of nuclear arms control and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to countries that don't have them—on all these central issues, you and I are basically in agreement. It would be a tragedy if a split among those of us who are committed to these goals results in handing over the White House to those who oppose these directly. I know what I'm talking about, because here in Oregon in 1976 the Gene McCarthy candidacy got 40,000 votes, and as a result the Republicans won this State by just 1,700 votes. So, tonight I appeal to all those who support Mr. Anderson: Consider the consequences of a Ronald Reagan Republican victory. Vote for Fritz Mondale and me not just for his sake and mine, but for your own sake and for the sake of the goals and ideals that you and I share.

You might say that one person can't make a difference. Let me cast my vote as a protest or let me just relax because I'm sure other people will vote. It's been good of all of you to come out here tonight-late at night, yes. You may have been involved in other Democratic campaigns in the past. You may have even contributed money so those campaigns could be financed, through advertisement and through other efforts. But remember 1948 when just a few Democratic votes made a difference, and Harry Truman was reelected President. And think about 1960, when if 28,000 people in Texas had changed their vote and a few thousand in Illinois had not voted at all, John Kennedy would never have been elected President, and Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act that changed the social consciousness of this Nation might never have been recorded in history. Those stories ended well, but think also about 1968 when perhaps some of you did not support Hubert Humphrey, and we sat back and didn't give our full commitment to a man who would have been a great President of this Nation, and the last time this Nation elected a Republican President would never have happened. Richard Nixon would never have been President and disgraced our country in the Oval Office.

Think on those things. Think on those things.

I know tonight as you leave this place it's important for you to do everything you can to affect the outcome of this election. Don't just vote yourselves. There's no one here that can't get on the telephone tomorrow and call fifty or maybe a hundred people to urge them to go and vote, along with you, to support the principles and the ideals that have made our Democratic Party and made our Nation great. Let's remember what's happened in past elections as we approach the election tomorrow.

Let me just close my remarks by quoting another Democrat, an idealist, yes, a courageous young man, yes, a young man who was killed the last day he campaigned, who might have been President himself, Senator Robert Kennedy. This is what he said to a group of supporters in Los Angeles just before he died, and this will be the last thing I say to you. These are his words. "I ask you to recognize," he said, "the hard and the difficult road to a better America. I ask you to vote for yourselves. The people must decide this election. For your sake and for the sake of your children, vote. Vote for yourselves."

Thank you very much. I'm depending on you. Thank you very much. Work hard between now and tomorrow night. I need you. I need you. Let's win together.

Note: The President spoke at 9:27 p.m. at the Federal Express ramp at Portland International Airport. He was introduced by Secretary of Transportation Neil Goldschmidt.

Jimmy Carter, Portland, Oregon Remarks at a Rally With Area Residents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/252201

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