Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks at a Carter/Mondale Fundraising Dinner in Cleveland, Ohio

May 29, 1980

As some of you may know, this is the fifth event I've had today in Ohio, and it's very nice to end an exciting day with a quiet little event, a few friends— [laughter] —particularly when they're Carter/Mondale Democrats, and particularly when you're led, as I am tonight, by that great poet and wonderful political organizer, Vince Marotta. [Laughter]

Bob Strauss and I were talking this afternoon on the way down here, and he was telling me what a tremendous job Vince has done for us ever since this campaign began. And he even admitted-and those of you who know Bob Strauss know that this was very difficult for him-that although we lack about 15 or 20 delegates now, and I know Ohio's going to put us over the top, he said, Bob Strauss said that if he had not been the campaign chairman and Vince Marotta had been the campaign chairman, we'd be over the top already. [Laughter]

I really enjoyed coming down the aisle and shaking hands with you. I saw a beautiful group of young ladies outside singing a beautiful song that I know you heard. The other night someone asked Rosalynn what was her favorite song. She said she agreed with John Kennedy: "Hail to the Chief" was right at the top. [Laughter] And I believe with your help, Rosalynn and I will be hearing it for the next 4 years, after 1980 has ended.

I'd like to talk to you very briefly tonight. I know you've had a long day and a long evening like I have, but I want to say a few things that are important to me in kind of a sober way from the viewpoint of the Oval Office, the highest elected office in the land, perhaps even in the world.

I just came from Olivet Baptist Church, a church that I had visited in 1976. I pointed out the history of this country going back 244 years, and Reverend Otis Moss pointed out that for 117 years, since the Emancipation Proclamation, the blacks and others have been waiting for full opportunities in this promised land. We pointed out that we hadn't yet reached the full promise of this great land of opportunity. But we're traveling the road together united, courageous, forceful, confident, filled with hope, because we've seen what we've accomplished in the past.

We do face now difficult challenges. A time of troubling change, not just in this country but particularly in other nations around the world. It's even a time of danger for Americans, citizens of a superpower, leaders of others who look to us for guidance, because we are on the cutting edge of the evolution of society in the finest possible way. We have never been afraid in a time of testing and trial and trouble much more severe than anything we face today.

In generations past, in years past, when Americans were united and when we saw a clear vision or a clear challenge, we have never failed to answer a difficult question; we have never failed to solve a troubling problem; we have never failed to overcome an apparently insurmountable obstacle.

Our Nation is the strongest on Earth, and our Nation is at peace, and we're trying to keep our Nation at peace through strength. And we're trying to extend the beneficial effects of our commitment to peace to other people. This was illustrated vividly at Camp David by Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat, two men leading nations hungry to end 30 years of war, when their young men and women have fallen in combat; nations that I have visited with tens of thousands of people on the street expressing their thanks, not to me personally, but to the United States of America. A nation not selfish; not divided; not trying to take advantage of other people; not trying to dominate other people, but trying to fulfill the full elements of world leadership.

Energy is a problem for us. I've talked about it several times today, and many times in the last 3 1/2 years. In April of 1977 I said the energy problems were the moral equivalent of war. I was not exaggerating. Some of the press made a lot of fun of that statement and said I exaggerated. We were anticipating then that by 1984 or 1985 world demand for oil would match the world supply of oil, and we had to prepare for it. That did not happen in 1983 or 1984, 1985. It happened in 1979. And for the first time Americans had to shape up to the fact that our natural resources blessed for us by God were not unlimited.

It's not been an easy thing for us, but we have responded well, as we've always responded in the past. In 1979 the only nation on Earth that met a goal of cutting back energy consumption by 5 percent was the United States of America. And this year, the first 5 months, we have reduced oil imports 12 percent, 1 million barrels of oil less per day than we were importing a year ago. And we've done it without sacrificing the quality of our lives, because we know that we have to conserve energy, and—this is the exciting thing about it, particularly for Ohio-we're going to produce more energy in our own country in the future. We've committed to do this.

The Congress is finally putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive energy policy. We've never had one before. And now we'll be developing energy in our own land; not just oil and natural gas but geothermal heat will be used; shale; solar power; and particularly coal, from Ohio. We've got the legislation on the books, signed into law, to finance this program: $227 billion during the next 10 years. And we're going to make synthetic fuels and solar power work. To give you the size of this program: If you take the total space program to put a man on the Moon and do everything else, the Marshall plan, which rebuilt Europe, plus the Interstate Highway System combined, the new energy program is bigger than all that put together.

And this will give us an excitement and a challenge and jobs and growth and a new life and new leadership for the entire world: a way to tap the tremendous natural and human resources of the greatest nation on Earth. And as we move into the future, we need not do it with doubt and trepidation and fear and concern and timidity, but with conviction and unity and courage and confidence.

It's typical of us. Your area of the country in particular is made up of different kinds of people who came here from almost every nation on Earth, priding ourselves that we are different one from another, but we come here, our ancestors came here, looking for a better life. And that search for a better life did not end the day we or our ancestors stepped off a boat on the east coast from Europe or wherever we came from—that search for a better opportunity, for more freedom, for better education, better housing, better health care, a better free enterprise system, better competition, better leadership, better democracy. Those challenges are still with us every day, and when we hear the evening news or on the radio or read the newspapers and we see about the debates or the differences of opinion or the temporary setbacks or the transient disappointments-they're nothing compared to the tremendous blessings that we Americans have in this Nation and also the tremendous ability that we have to overcome those differences and those debates and those disappointments and those temporary setbacks.

Look back in history over the generations. We ourselves and our mothers and fathers and our grandfathers have faced much more difficult questions or challenges than have we: the First World War, the Second World War, a divisive Vietnam war, Watergate, the greatest depression that the world has ever seen. When I grew up and many of you grew up, transforming social accommodation to eliminate racial discrimination and to minimize hatred among people who are of a different race—those things have not been easy. But we have triumphed, we've met the challenges; not in a dormant way, not just breaking even. But every time we've met one of those challenges and ended it, we have been stronger and we have benefited. And I'm thankful that in spite of a political season when every candidate is condemning our country for having failed and condemning our Government for having failed and condemning the President for having failed, the people have not lost the sound judgment and common sense and conviction and courage that's been the foundation for American success.

I'd like to say one other thing. There's a lot of comment in the news media about the fragmentation of our alliances—with Japan, with Australia, with New Zealand, with France and Germany, with Italy and Great Britain. That's a gross exaggeration. Our alliances in NATO have never been stronger than now; never been stronger than now since NATO was founded.

They are free people too; they're independent countries too; they have strong leadership too. And they have a right to their own opinion, and we don't have the ability nor the desire to dominate them. But when push comes to shove, when the difficult decisions are made, our allies are there, and they know we'll be there. And our potential adversaries know that we stand together.

If you have a globe at home, even a small grammar school or high school type globe, look at it. Put yourself in the position of the leader of the Soviet Union, and see how hard it is to get out to the open ocean. Look at your neighbors, and see if they're friendly like Canada and Mexico. See if you can trust your own allies to fight alongside you if they have a chance to escape. Assess how you would be if you had to keep massive troops and tanks in those allied countries just to assure yourself of the loyalties.

Look around the world at almost 3 million refugees; 900,000 people trying to escape from Afghanistan, not to Afghanistan. They didn't build the Berlin Wall to keep people out of East Germany. They built the Berlin Wall to keep people from escaping from East Germany. The Soviets have gone into Ethiopia. There are hundreds of thousands of people who love freedom and want a better chance in life who've escaped out of Ethiopia. Look at Kampuchea, a country dominated by the Vietnamese, financed by the Soviet Union. You don't see people trying to sneak into Kampuchea. Look at Cuba, completely dependent upon and dominated by the Soviet Union. You don't have boatloads of Americans trying to sneak into Cuba.

The fact is that those who came here when this country was being founded, and even 2 years or 20 years ago, knew what we were doing. We came to the greatest nation on Earth, because we saw an opportunity here not only for freedom but for the accommodation of change, and because we wanted our Government to match our spirit and to match our vision and to realize our dreams. And down through the years, Americans have never been disappointed. We've got the greatest nation on Earth, and it's going to be even greater in the future.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:31 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Cleveland Plaza Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Vincent G. Marotta, chairman of the board of Mr. Coffee, and dinner chairman.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks at a Carter/Mondale Fundraising Dinner in Cleveland, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251744

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives