Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks in Atlanta at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner

November 14, 1975

Thank you very, very much, Mack.

And may I say at the very outset how grateful I am for your hospitality and the superb job that you do as a State chairman of this great State. All of us who represent the Republican Party in office are deeply grateful for the great job that you have done and the superb organization that you have. And the fine support is obvious here. Thank you very, very much.

To Nora Allen, Nolan Murrah, Bo Callaway, Ben Blackburn, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, let me express my deepest appreciation for the warm welcome and the great day that we have had in Atlanta. I can't thank you deeply enough for this tremendous dinner and the wonderful people that I have seen and the kind of organization that I know you have. Thank you very, very much.

May I very strongly acknowledge an outstanding Republican sitting out there in the audience. He is an old and very, very dear friend, one of your number one citizens from the great State of Georgia. And while he is no longer Secretary of the Army, there is no doubt that Bo Callaway still knows how to fight.

Bo, I thank you for your unselfish dedication, and I congratulate you for your long and magnificent record, your tremendous dedication to public service. Your State and our country is better of[ for the things you have done for all of us. And we thank you.

It really is a pleasure to be in your great State again, particularly at this time of the year. I hear rumors that some of you may be going to the Georgia-Auburn game in Athens tomorrow. Somebody even suggested that as a football fan myself, I might make a prediction or two as to who the winner might be. [Laughter]

All I can say to that is, "No way." I might make my own breakfast in the morning, but I am not about to cook my own goose tonight. [Laughter]

Frankly, I have come to Atlanta tonight with a heartfelt conviction. The Republicans of Georgia may be outnumbered, but you are big and strong in spirit, and that counts an awful lot.

Your spirit is going to make some history in 1976. The Bicentennial year, I predict, will be a Republican year. A great comeback in Georgia can be the great comeback for all America. Georgia needs Republicans, and Republicans need Georgia.

The tenacity of the Peach State is America's tenacity, your comeback is America's comeback, and your pride is America's pride. Georgia is not only the Peach State, it is a "Can Do State." There are some of this population we have in America who follow the defeatist philosophies of can't do or won't do. They say America has had its best days, that there will be no more quality for life, that our moral values are out of date, that our economy is bogged down in the swamps, and that we will never again see the sun shine.

To those who voice such self-fulfilling prophecy of gloom and doom for this country, I say that you had better come down to Georgia and taste the sweetness of peaches and learn about real folks and real life.

Actually, this State and the rest of the South are justifiably proud of great breakthroughs. Your excellent educational institutions, your thriving industries, your productive agricultural activities demonstrate what Americans can do. The South has moved from a basic agricultural economy to a modern industrial society which manufactures much of America's total output. More and more people are moving, for good reason, into the South. You are growing far more rapidly than any other region of our country.

I want to see the Republican Party grow with you. Just as the South came back, Republicans can come back everywhere, and especially in Georgia..You can be missionaries of a great Republican revival in every one of the 159 counties in the great State of Georgia.

Let there be no misunderstanding where I stand. I did not take the sacred oath of office for the Presidency to preside over the decline and fall of the United States of America. I totally and categorically reject the scenarios of pessimism, and I am certain all of you totally agree with my views.

Instead, I look to a future built on a proud past. I see an America whose citizens have the highest standard of living in the world and who live in peace at home and with all nations.

I see an America where we live longer because killer diseases have been conquered, where the quality of life is enhanced, where we develop stronger and stronger moral and spiritual qualities, and where we enjoy the widest opportunities, limited only by individual initiative and capability.

To make this vision come true which I think we all must have, we must return government to sound, responsible Republican principles. And with your help and the help of millions like you in 49 other States, we will. We must elect to your State and local offices and to the Congress responsible and responsive Republican candidates who believe as we do.

The battlelines for 1976 are being drawn between opposing forces: between those who believe in fiscal responsibility and those who believe every problem will go away if we just throw enough tax money at it; between those who believe in a strong national defense as the best insurance for peace and those who would spend your tax money instead for every controversial social experiment; between those who believe in local control over local problems and those who believe Uncle Sam should solve each and every problem; between those who believe that American business should be unshackled from government overregulation so it can expand and create jobs and those who believe that Federal papershufflers know what is best for America and American business.

I know which side Georgians will take.

Nineteen seventy-six is more than an election year--it is a year, a vital year of decision for all Americans. It is the Republican Party's golden opportunity to prove that with the help of our many friends that we have the strength to survive setbacks, the resolution to rouse the Nation's greatness, and the will to win elections. We can do it, and we will do it.

We must build a party that works year round, not just at election time. We must concentrate on winning elections, not just arguments. We must attract good candidates, welcoming all who are uncomfortable in other political pastures.

I recently proposed to the Congress a reduction of $28 billion in your Federal income taxes and a corresponding cut of $28 billion in the growth of Federal spending, but the Democratic-dominated Congress tells me that it can't be done. I say it can, it must, and it is up to them to do it this year.

The American Revolution started with the Boston Tea Party that protested taxation without representation. I say to the taxpayers of Georgia today, if your Democratic Congressmen won't do anything about your taxation, maybe you had better do something about your representation. If this Congress won't do the job, let's elect a Republican Congress that will.

This month, just a few days ago, we almost won a governorship of the great State of Mississippi. We came close enough to show that Mississippi has a two-party system. Let's make every State a two-party State--even Massachusetts. [Laughter]

You and I know that America's vitality and prosperity has been sapped by the irresponsible spending of recent Congresses. This Congress is controlled 2 to 1 by Democrats. In fact, Congress has been dominated by Democrats for 38 out the last 42 years. That's long enough.

For 33 out of the last 38 years there have been deficits which have run up the cost of living and run down the value of your dollars. Under the Democratic spenders, Congress did achieve some historic firsts. For the first time in history, the Federal budget topped $100 billion--that was 1962. It doubled to $200 billion 8 years later. It will more than double again to $423 billion this coming fiscal year unless we put a stop to it.

Let me emphasize that the $28 billion reduction in taxes, which I proposed, must be accompanied by equally substantial cuts in the growth of Federal spending. This means the spending ceiling must be $395 billion. And this is fully adequate to meet both our needs at home as well as abroad.

The big spenders in the Congress don't like my vetoes. But these vetoes have already saved our taxpayers some $6 1/2 billion. And I will continue to veto unwise and unnecessary spending bills again and again and again and again--as long as it saves your money and America's future. If the State of Georgia can control its budget, there is no darn reason why the United States can't do the same thing.

What concerns me most is the growth of government without consent, the increasing encroachment of government into our lives and into our pockets. And let me emphasize one special point: A government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have.

The time has come for a new rebel yell--a whole nation of rebels yelling--a whole nation of rebels yelling no, no to big government. But it is not enough just to be against big government. We must be for, we must favor good government.

And I am concerned about the rate of unemployment in Georgia. We need new capital investment--that is, what the economists call capital investment. But I would rather call it job creation. We need to restore confidence. We need to stimulate business and industry. My Administration is devoted to the full revival of America's great economic strength at home and in the markets of the world.

While our economy is reviving, I want to bolster our efforts through cooperation with other industrialized democracies. And I want to join with these nations in working toward sustained international prosperity.

Tomorrow I will begin a 3-day meeting with the leaders of Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and West Germany to seek those ends. These countries look to America for leadership. The United States is reducing its rate of inflation and moving vigorously out of the recession. But we must work with others to prevent future problems.

In charting the course for future international economic progress, our leadership is just as important as it is in building mutual, military security. This Nation, fortunately, was instrumental in conceiving and developing alliances to safeguard peace. We will also lead the way toward a sound, common economic future.

There are new challenges: recession, inflation, higher oil prices, under-utilized human and material resources. Americans can meet these challenges most effectively in close collaboration with our friends. The industrialized democracies share problems, but we also share great opportunities. The cohesion and the vitality of the industrial democracies can improve the well-being of our peoples in the world economy.

Our goals for recovery include economic growth among all the major industrialized countries with strong expansion accompanied by high levels of employment, a reduction in inflation, and the increase of trade throughout the world.

In trade, the assembled nations that I have mentioned along with many others must provide needed impetus to multilateral negotiations now underway in Geneva. We will also work energetically to improve the international monetary system. An objective of great, great importance is improved energy conservation and the development of alternative sources. This would enable us to reduce dependence on other nations and lessen our vulnerability to arbitrarily set prices or the disruption of our oil sources.

The societies of the industrialized democracies have an underlying strength deeply rooted in our cultures and the character of our peoples. We must now reinvigorate that unity to achieve a better future for all of our peoples.

The summit in Paris demonstrates America's determination to work with other industrialized democracies. This meeting will permit participants to better understand mutual problems and the policies used to deal with them. It will enable us to agree on goals and objectives reflecting our common interests. Our joint efforts will reinforce one another and benefit the United States. And it will be a great opportunity for all of us to help all of our people. And I am looking forward to the opportunity.

Just as world stability is based upon economic strength, it also depends upon our military strength. And you in Georgia have a great stake in this.

During a quarter of a century in the Congress and in my service as Vice President and President, I have fought to preserve America's defense as the cornerstone of freedom. It has long been my conviction that politics should stop at the water's edge in matters of foreign policy and national defense. America retained its status in this great world in which we live largely because of wide bipartisan support to this view.

We know from experience and history that weakness invites war--military strength is the only certain foundation for peace. America must preserve its vital alliances and first-rate defense capabilities.

As long as I am President, there will never be any weakness in the Administration's commitment to military power, a power second to none. I can assure you this policy has not changed and it will not change.

I am deeply concerned by the tendency of the Congress to spend for less essential items at the expense of defense. I refer specifically to a cut of over $7 billion in the new defense budget which I sent to the Congress in January of this year. This could weaken our hand at a time when we want no potential adversary to misjudge our resolve. It is the duty of the Senate to restore those funds that the Defense Department regards as essential and vital to our national security.

Our defenses, however, are only as good as our intelligence services. History tells how the city of Savannah, how it fell during the American Revolution because of the superiority of British intelligence. Courage alone could not save Savannah when the brave Georgians were taken by surprise.

Intelligence operations today are much more sophisticated. We must protect the rights of American citizens to cherished liberties, but we must also guard against foreign espionage. I will cooperate with the Congress, as I have, as it responsibly investigates the intelligence agencies to develop any legislation that may be necessary to preclude future abuses. But I will do everything in my power to assure that vital information does not fall into the hands of potentially hostile forces.

I will not stand idly by while our essential intelligence services are unilaterally dismantled in a world where the agencies of other nations work totally in secrecy and with unlimited resources.

Next November, the American people will provide some resounding answers to the questions raised tonight. You and many others will say no to defense cuts, no to runaway spending, no to stifling controls, no to overregulation, and no to the discredited idea that every question must be answered by expensive government programs.

But you and many, many others like you will say yes to the responsible Republican proposals, the responsible Republican solutions, and say yes to the Republican ticket.

Like all of you and like millions like us throughout the country, we believe in America, in the wealth of our natural resources, in the goodness, the ingenuity, and the honesty and the self-reliance of our people. In 1783, our first President, George Washington, wrote to America's Governors saying, and I quote: "There is an option still left to the United States of America, that it is in their choice and depends upon their conduct, whether they will be respectable and prosperous or contemptible and miserable as a Nation."

We made that choice nearly 200 years ago. We will make it again in 1976.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:38 p.m. in the Hall of Nations Ballroom at the Marriott Motor Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Mack Mattingly, Georgia State Republican chairman, and Nora Allen and William Nolan Murrah, Jr., Republican national committeemen.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks in Atlanta at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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