Remarks and Excerpts of a News Conference Announcing the Selection of Senator Walter Mondale as the Vice Presidential Running Mate in New York City
I have two announcements to make. One is that I've decided to accept the nomination of President. And the other one is that I've asked to serve as my running mate—if the delegates will approve—Senator Walter Mondale from Minnesota.
This has been, as you can well imagine, one of the most difficult decisions that I've ever had to make. But I have absolutely no doubt that I have made the right decision.
During the process, which has lasted for about 30 days, I've actually changed my mind three times as I've learned more and more about the relationship that can exist between myself and the Vice Presidential nominee, as I've had a chance to get to know Senator Mondale personally, to study his past voting record, his qualifications, his capabilities, the acceptance that he enjoys among a wide range of Democrats, and have discerned a great compatibility between him on the major issues that face our nation and myself.
I've informed, this morning at 8:30, Senator Mondale of my preference. He was already awake when I called him, and he graciously agreed to run with me, and then immediately, I called the other five members of the U.S. Senate whom I have been carefully considering even in recent days of my own choice.
Every one of them was very gracious. They didn't indicate any overt disappointment. I'm sure they felt some disappointment, but they all pledged themselves to support me and whoever it was I chose. I did not tell the other five of my choice except that I had decided to choose someone else.
Q. One of your first criteria all week was that you would try to select the man who was best qualified to be President if you could not serve the full term. Precisely why do you think Walter Mondale fits that description?
Governor Carter. The fact is, I always said, even 18 months ago when it was an idle query, that my first responsibility would be to choose someone to run with me, if I was successful, who would be the best person to lead this country if something should happen to me. Without any inclination to derogate the qualities of the other men whom I also think would be successful in governing this country, I think Senator Mondale has a great feeling of understanding and comprehension and compassion for people who need services of government most.
I think he has demonstrated sound judgment in times of difficulty; I think he has the trust of a wide range of Democrats and those who have no party preference in our nation. He has a very clear concept of what the Presidency should be. And I think he also has prepared himself in a very satisfying way to me.
I've had a chance, beginning even more than a month ago, to talk with 30 or 40 people both in and out of government, whose judgments I trust Those who are advocates for consumer protection, for citizens' rights, for different special interest groups and for peer group members in the Senate itself. And their judgment, who know this man best, is that he will be superlatively qualified to lead our country.
Q. What sorts of duties would a Vice President Mondale have in a Carter Administration?
Governor Carter. Well, the first duty Senator Mondale will have will be to help win the election in the fall. I have to be frank in telling you that the relative duties that would be accepted by me and by Senator Mondale if we are elected will have to be evolved as we get to know one another better and as we discern each other's particular strengths and weaknesses and particular interests in matters of public importance.
I am determined, beyond what has ever been done in this country, to put major responsibilities on the Vice President if I'm elected President.
I can't give you now any better analysis than that, but I have discussed it enough with him to know that he and I will be searching for a way to let the Vice President be completely involved in our nation's affairs.
I would never keep military or security secrets from the Vice President. I feel completely compatible with Senator Mondale. I don't believe that there would ever be an occasion when there would be a constraint between him and me that would prevent full communication or expression of doubt or concern in a time of crisis or if an unforeseen circumstance evolved.
Q. [Not clear.]
Governor Carter. Will I advocate in the future having Presidential nominees being given a breathing spell or a time interval before they make their selection. Yes, I would.
I intend to recommend to the Democratic National Committee that in the future the convention has a right, following the nomination of a President, to adjourn or recess for a period of about 30 days, to give the nominee— once that person is identified—an opportunity to follow a similar procedure to the one that I just followed.
At the end of that period, the convention could either reconvene in its entirety—which I think would probably be ill-advised—or designate the authority to the Democratic National Committee itself, about 200 to 250 people, to confirm the choice of the Presidential nominee.
I think that ought to be an option. I believe it's been very good for me— and I believe for the country—to have had this time of careful consideration. And I would advocate the same procedure in the future.
Q. Besides Washington experience, what other strengths do you think Senator Mondale brings to the ticket to balance out your own weaknesses?
Governor Carter. I'll take two questions at once.
Q. There are reports this morning that you may approach the Catholic hierarchy on the abortion issue. Do you have any plans to make an initiative on that issue in the light of what's happened this week in Chicago and Cincinnati—and there's a report in New York that the Cardinal would not come.
Governor Carter. Well, Senator Mondale obviously represents an agricultural state in the North. I think he's been very deeply involved in matters concerning finance. He's on the Finance Committee, as you know, serving under Senator Russell Long. He's on the Budget Committee, serving along with Senator Muskie. I'm not sure, but I believe he's the only Senator who serves on both those committees.
And he's had a chance .to bridge the gap between those major committees involved in raising tax revenues and the very cautious and proper expenditure of revenues. He's been a strong advocate of social programs, particularly for the disadvantaged; for child abuse. And I remember very distinctly that when I was a governor and faced with determination of Title 4 aid funds and the evolution of revenue sharing, that Senator Mondale was the one with whom I worked most intimately. And I believe that's a similar circumstance with other governors.
So he has a broad range of experience, as an attorney general, as someone from a northern Midwestern state, in agriculture, in finance, in social programs, and a knowledge of Washington. As you know, he's also been, as other Senators, involved in making major decisions concerning international affairs with the very critical votes on aid to Israel and on the Cyprus question and many others, including Angola.
On the abortion issue, I personally would have favored a different wording than that in the Democratic Platform on the abortion issue.
I would have preferred wording that would stay within the bounds of the Supreme Court decision, whatever it might be now or in the future.
That we should do everything we can to minimize the need for abortions. That's been my position throughout the whole campaign.
I've spelled out my position as clearly as I can, and among those leaders in the church who have recently expressed displeasure, they've been acquainted with the Democratic Platform for the last 30 days. I did not have any input, I might say, personally or through my staff so far as I know with the adoption of this particular abortion plank.
I did not try to dominate the platform committee. There were some things with which I was concerned, but that happens not to have been one of them.
I'll do everything I can as a President, within the rules set down by the Supreme Court, to minimize the need for abortion. And I will be calling on other leaders in our nation, both secular and religious leaders, to help me pursue this goal. But I will be making myself available to leaders in the church, and I'll do everything I can to eliminate the displeasure that the people feel about the Democratic Party platform.
But I've expressed my position. It's very close to what the Democratic Party platform said. I would just have worded it differently.
Q. Governor, for the last 4 years you've been campaigning 18 to 20 hours a day, working very hard to get the nomination. But now you've picked a man who, a year ago, said that he did not want to run for President because he did not have the heart for a long campaign and did not want to involve himself in it. Isn't there an inconsistency there? Don't you feel a little uneasy about that?
Governor Carter. Senator Mondale pointed out, and outlined to me, the very complete and enthusiastic campaign that he conducted until his withdrawal. At this point, he said the main reason he withdrew is because he knew he could not win. The support that he hoped to achieve did not materialize, the elements of the Democratic Party that he hoped to inherit when Senator Kennedy withdrew did not come to him.
And he finally discovered, because of that failure of his own campaign as a candidate, and because of the difficulty of maintaining his Senate duties and conducting a full campaign, that in that choice he thought it would be better for him to withdraw and stay with his Senate duties.
I have investigated among people in Minnesota who know Senator Mondale best, his attitude toward campaigning itself, toward his degree of commitment to his work in the Senate. There's no doubt in my mind that he will work long hours, completely committed, and that he's perfectly determined to stick with a difficult assignment when there is an element of disappointment or discouragement there.
Q. [Not clear] . . . Senator McGovern . . . Do you feel you've had a full and frank discussion with Senator Mondale over any medical problems . . .
Governor Carter. The question is about Senator Mondale's health, am I satisfied about the problem that was identified there earlier.
In the last few days, I have had several very serious allegations made against some of the senators whom I was considering. I don't know of anything that would have been embarrassing, about any of the six. Senator Mondale has a slight problem with hypertension. We asked for, and received, a complete statement from his own medical doctor who gave us the exact readings of his blood pressure tests over an historical period.
We took that analysis and gave it to an independent physician—it happened to be the personal physician for Mr. Kirbo in Atlanta—he checked with a specialist in that field and said that was a normal problem for someone to have at Senator Mondale's age.
I think the diastolic pressure was up to a 100 and it was supposed to be about 85. That's the one that's under the line, I think it's diastolic, I'm not sure. And there is a very slight problem. Senator Mondale does take a very mild medication for it and since he's been taking the medication he has had no recurrence. And his doctor—not as a result of my consideration of him— has been to Washington to observe Senator Mondale even under times of stress, because he wanted to be sure that he didn't have an unforeseen difficulty, an undetected difficulty. And it proved to be of no concern.
After the question and answer session, Mr. Carter introduced Senator Mondale, and the Senator stated:
Permit me to say that no one could be honored more than Governor Carter honors me and Joan .this morning. To be selected as a Vice Presidential running mate at any time is a high honor and a great challenge. But particularly to be selected by this remarkable and good man who's brought so much hope and unity to this country, who will be elected President of the United States, but more importantly will be elected on principle and will bring this country together and put us on the road that we all want to go on—the road of principle and decency.
I've had a chance to come to know Governor Carter these past few weeks, and the people of America should know that he's an uncommon man, terribly gifted, committed, skilled, experienced, ready, but above all, a good man. And I'm proud and honored to be a part of this team.
Joan and I commit ourselves to Governor and Mrs. Carter, to the Democratic Party, but more than that, the people of America, to give all that we have to the election of this great man and to assist him in every way possible in what I know will be one of the greatest Presidencies in American history.
Governor, my children—our children—are coming up shortly, and they want you to know that each of them has already taken on an assignment.
Teddy will handle all the dirt bike riders in America.
My daughter will handle all the horse ladies and horsemen in America.
And my younger son, William, will handle all the football players, wrestlers, and lacrosse players.
Jimmy Carter, Remarks and Excerpts of a News Conference Announcing the Selection of Senator Walter Mondale as the Vice Presidential Running Mate in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347741