Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks in Cleveland, Ohio

October 22, 1974

Bob Taft, Ralph Perk, distinguished members of the official family in the great State of Ohio, and candidates, and ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great privilege and a very high honor for me to have an opportunity to be back in Cleveland.

In talking to Bud, it brought back some very great memories. A good many years ago, longer than I would like to remember, I had my first opportunity of meeting Bud Humphrey.1 He was an aspiring football player at Yale University, and I was a young and not very competent football coach. But Bud made it then, and he has made it since.

I also had the privilege in those days, a good many years ago, of coaching Bob Taft and Bud Brown and working with Del Latta. It is just nice to be here with old friends that have done so well and contributed so much. And I thank you very, very much, Bud and Bob, Bill [Bud] and Del.

You know, when I was down at Ohio State about a month ago--and they were so kind to ask a Michigander to make a commencement address and were so kind to make available two tickets to the Michigan-Ohio State game--I thought it was wonderful. And I went back to Washington, and I had my daily meeting the next morning with Henry Kissinger--we usually discuss things for about an hour every morning--and I found that Henry is a great football enthusiast. And I said to Henry, the people at Ohio State had been generous and invited me and given me two tickets to come out to that classic game between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines, and I said, "Henry, would you not like to join me?"
And he said, "Well, what time is it, or what is the date?"

And I gave him the date. He looked sorely disappointed. He said, "The Japanese have invited you to a Presidential visit to Japan during that period of time."

And I looked at Henry, and I said, "That is the first mistake you have ever made." [Laughter]

Let me thank Jack Dwyer and Tim Timkins2 and all of you for participating in this affair and the many others that you have on behalf of the Republican Party and its candidates. Those who head these meetings and work to make them successful seldom get the recognition that they deserve.

Let me say from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply grateful, as all the rest of us are, for what you have done, Jack. Thank you, and you, too, Tim.

Before I get into some substance, I would like to thank Virginia Coy 3 for creating this wonderful button. It says, as I am sure all of you know, "President Gerald Ford, Model A-1 Ford."

Thank you, Virginia. That is very kind.

Some of us here are old enough to remember what a Model A Ford was. As I recall, it was brand new. It was economical. It was dependable. It was uncomplicated. And it got us where we wanted to go. And that is exactly the kind of Ford I would like to be.

And to you, Virginia and Frank, I express my deep appreciation and gratitude.

As I intimated, I am no stranger to Ohio. I think the first two times I came to Ohio was down in Columbus. We were lucky once and were badly beaten the second time, but the people were friendly and very kind.

I have been to Cleveland several times in recent years. In fact, I was here in this very hotel--and perhaps in this same room--just a few months ago.

Now, all of you in Ohio have a great reputation for being honest and very frank--direct is another way of saying it--but I never knew how honest and direct Ohioans were until that last visit. After making my remarks that night, I was invited to a reception in another part of town. And at the reception a very sweet, wonderfully thoughtful grandmother came up to me, put her gloved hand in mine and said, "I heard you gave a speech here in Cleveland tonight."

And trying to be a little modest, I said, "Oh, it was nothing." And she said, "That is exactly what I heard." [Laughter]

Well, such a warm and personal touch is, of course, what we all like to hear, but I am deeply grateful on this occasion for Bud's introduction. As I said, our friendship goes back a long, long time, and I appreciate, Bud, your very kind and your very thoughtful remarks here tonight.

From my experiences going back to the 1930's when I first got interested in collegiate athletics, but also interested in politics, I found that people from Ohio had a very emphatic way, a reputation for carrying the ball and winning. I think that is indicative of the kind of Congressional team you have in Washington.

You cannot argue with the scoreboard. Your Congressional delegation on the Republican side of the aisle is outstanding, and I hope and trust that you in Ohio will keep that strong, affirmative, dedicated team in Washington representing all of you on November 5.

I am told that the prospects in the political arena, as Kent McGough4 has said, are good for the retention of your circumstances in the State legislature, that you have a good chance to win the statehouse, and of course, Kent's report concerning the Governorship is very encouraging.

Oh, I know that some of the pollsters and the speculators in the political arena are saying that Jim Rhodes does not have a chance. Well, I have known Jim Rhodes a long, long time. I count on him. I count on him as a winner, not as a loser. And that is important from the point of view of the State of Ohio, and I trust that every one of you will make a maximum effort between now and November 5 to make sure that Jim is a winner.

You know, it is pretty hard to get candidates of proven experience in conducting the high office of Governor. It is very difficult to find individuals who have experience and capability who will carry on.

Now, you know I am a sports fan--a has-been, but a sports fan. At the same time, I like politics. As I read the sports page and look at what is possibly the result here in the State of Ohio, I can't help but think that Jim Rhodes is the Cornelius Greene5 of politics. Jim also knows how to carry the ball and score. So, let's have Jim as your next Governor in January 1975.

It has been my experience over a period of time when I was in Congress, when I was Vice President, and more recently as President, to get to know Ralph Perk. As one travels as I do from one city to another, as I sit in meetings with mayors from all over the country, it is my honest observation that Ralph Perk has done a superb job as the mayor of this great community. He ranks at the very top as a mayor of a big city, and it is my judgment that that is the kind of a person you want in the United States Senate to represent you for the next 6 years. Ralph, I hope you win.

I said a few moments ago that your Congressional delegation was outstanding on our side of the aisle. Let me repeat it. They are the kind of people that I have worked with as minority leader, as Vice President, and more recently, as President.

I think your delegation's quality, your delegation's capability is exemplified by the high standards that Bob Taft himself represents. Bob Taft, first in the House, more recently in the Senate, has done the kind of a job that is in the great tradition. of the Taft family. And Bob, I know you are not a candidate, but you certainly are the kind of a person that I would want representing me in the United States Senate, and I congratulate you.

Of course, Chuck Mosher, over here, I have known all the time he was in the House, does a superb job; Bill Stanton, sitting next to him; two of the fine, fine, outstanding Members of the House of Representatives. I know because I worked with them on a day-to-day basis. I have to concede they did not always agree with me, but I will also confess I am not always right. And I can assure you that when they take a position, whether it is with me or against me, I respect their judgment. And you--and I say this from the very bottom of my heart--Chuck Mosher and Bill Stanton are the kind of Representatives that I know do a first-class job for their constituency, and believe me, you need them back in the House of Representatives.

Then, in the great delegation that you have in the House there is Del Latta, Sam Devine, Don Clancy, John Ashbrook, Bill Harsha, Bud Brown, Chuck Whalen, Chalmers Wylie, Clarence Miller, Ralph Regula, and Tenny Guyer. It is an outstanding group. It is big in numbers but strong in character and responsibility. The State of Ohio should be proud of every one of them.

But I think it is important if you make your effort to increase the numbers, and in the Cleveland area you do have some excellent candidates. Kent has introduced them. There is George Mastics, Bill Franz, Bill Mack, Bob Franz.6 I am convinced with a little extra effort you can help add to the quality as well as the quantity in the Ohio delegation in the House of Representatives.

I am pleased to have a telegram that was delivered to me out in Oklahoma City this morning. I was out there making a plea to reelect a great United States Senator, George [Henry] Bellmon. But on the way I got a telegram from my very dear friend, Bill Minshall. I will paraphrase it, and I will paraphrase it with some interpolation on my own.

What Bill says is he endorses, supports every Republican candidate on the ticket and he specifically speaks of those candidates for the House of Representatives. I hope Bill's good, sound advice will be supported as the voters go to the polls this coming November 5. Bill--I am sorry he is leaving--he was a dear friend and a darned good Member of the House. But it is my judgment that George Mastics will be an outstanding successor to Bill Minshall.

I never had the privilege of serving in the State legislature. Whether it was right or wrong, I ran for Congress in the first instance. But I have learned, over Republican candidates for Congress from the 23d, 22d, 21st, and 20th Districts of Ohio, respectively. a period of time, to have nothing but respect and admiration for those who make the laws in a great State like Ohio or Michigan.

Of course, here in this area, you have some fine members of the State legislature, Or candidates for those positions of responsibility--Tom Corts, Paul Maria, Charlie Bolton. And every time I hear that name or read it, my mind goes back to the great experiences I had in the House of serving with Frances Bolton, Ollie Bolton.7 It would be great to have another Bolton starting up the political ladder. And I certainly hope that Charlie is successful on November 5.

Of course, it is an observation that I can make as an outsider coming in, even though I have been here many times for a good many reasons over a long period of time, that the people in Ohio are responsive to the needs--the needs of the hour, the day, the time, the year. The people that you have sent to Congress that I have known are problemsolvers, and you ought to be proud of the job they have done and what they can do for you in the future.

I have been told by some of my friends in the press that lately my speeches have gotten a little partisan--well, that I am using the word "Republican" too frequently. The truth is they are right. I intend to do more of it, because I happen to think our party has the best candidates, and I am proud of the party and its candidates.

As a matter of fact, I think I am a little restrained, at least relatively so. They may not have seen anything yet as we go in the next 2 weeks, because the issues are very, very important and the quality of the candidates are vital.

Speaking of being restrained, there is a great quotation from an English parliamentarian by the name of Edmund Burke. And let me use it if I might. "There is, however, a limit at which forebearance ceases to be a virtue." We are close to that point. [Laughter]

I think it is important that the public know precisely what I am saying so there is no danger whatsoever of any misunderstanding. The message is simply this--it is very concise, I think it is very proper, and that message is this: Inflation is the chief problem we face in this country and throughout the free world. Rising prices in America cannot and will not be stopped by a free-spending Congress.

It is just that simple. This Congress that we have had for the last 2 years has been controlled by the Democratic Party just as it has been for 38 out of the last 42 years and for the last 20 years consecutively.

Now, some elements of the Democratic Party are not satisfied with the domination and the control they have had 38 out of 42 years, the last 20 years consecutively. They want complete and total domination. They want--and they have said so openly--they want to elect what they call a veto-proof Congress, one where the numbers are so overwhelming that they can override any Presidential veto.

It is my honest judgment that that kind of numerical control would be tantamount to a legislative dictatorship, and I don't think a legislative dictatorship coincides with our great history, our great traditions, our Constitution.

If that happens, ladies and gentlemen, let me put it this way: Buckle your seat belts. It is going to make the inflation rate look like it is tied to a Moon shot, because Federal spending will go out of sight. It will be far beyond anything that has happened in the past.

Those of us like Chuck Mosher and Bill Stanton and Bob Taft, who have served in the House as well as in the Senate, know that the inevitable tendency, the almost irreversible direction of a Congress dominated by the free spenders on the Democratic side, will mean more and more and more spending. And that is not the way to control inflation.

I think it is interesting to note that a recent Gallup poll indicates that a majority of the American people blame big government, big government spending, for the rampant inflation, the double-digit inflation we have had in recent months. And I happen to agree that big government, big government spending is a basic cause of the inflation spiral that is plaguing us at this moment.

Inflation, as I see it, is public enemy number one. But one point of view that I think is often overlooked, every penny, every dollar that is spent by the Federal Government, is appropriated by the Congress.

A President can't spend a nickel that Congress has not appropriated, and so, as we look at the control of the Congress for the last 42 years--38 out of the last 42 controlled by the opposition--if we have spent too much, the blame has to inevitably rest with those who had the control.

Now if that is true, and I think it is, I would like to challenge the American people tonight to follow through with their belief that Government spending is a basic cause of inflation. And I would like to urge those who feel that way to make their votes consistent with their views--to elect a Congress, men and women, who are committed to curbing Federal spending and thereby checking inflation.

To quote Edmund Burke once again, and I quote as follows: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

And I think that forewarning is most applicable today, because every poll you read and every political pundit who writes is saying there is a great apathy throughout the country, that people are disgusted and discouraged about politics, and therefore they are not going to vote.

Yes, I have been told from various sources that this apathy even extends in the great State of Ohio. People are not going to vote. They are disgusted; they are discouraged; they are turned off by politics; they are going to sit this one out.

Frankly, I don't believe it. That kind of attitude--it is akin to setting fire to your house to keep warm. That is not the way to change things. That is not the way to reverse the situation.

And so I, with as much sincerity as I can, urge Republicans in Ohio, and actually in the rest of the country, to vote November 5 like you have never voted before. I don't mean more than once. [Laughter] But at least once, and to get many others to do the same.

Confound the doomsayers. Fool the pessimists, the pollsters who are putting out this propaganda. And I respectfully urge you to work as you have never worked before for the candidates that deserve your support. Work on those thoughtful Independents and some of the wise Democrats who believe as you do. At least they are open-minded enough to be convinced by the views and the recommendations that you personally hold.

Work, if you might, at preserving the two-party system, this system which has provided so much in the way of freedom and opportunity and material blessings for all of those that preceded us and 213 million people today--no other nation has been so blessed as we.

I think it is perfectly obvious, as we look at the voting patterns in the last few months, that apathy is a chief villain. Some people think it has just happened this year, but as you look back--and my good friend Ray Bliss knows it probably better than I--some of these statistics show that this apathy has been much, much too evident, even since 1960. And let me quote a statistic or two that shows how bad it has been and how evil it might be in 1974.

Take the national percentages of votes cast in Congressional off-year elections like the one coming up. Based on the total number of eligible voters, only 46.3 percent turned out to cast ballots in 1962. Unbelievable! Only 45.6 percent took the time to do so in 1966. And the percentage of eligibles who voted in the last off-year election, 1970, was even lower---43.8 percent.

On the basis of these figures, one computer program suggests that only 42.7 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots for Congressional races and candidates 2 weeks from today. I think we ought to be ashamed. Think of those who have given so much over the recent two or three decades to save the opportunity for us to vote, to participate in free elections--and to find that some 42 percent are going to participate 2 weeks from today!

If that happens--and I trust it won't--it means that the composition of the next Congress that will be sworn in January 3, 1975, will be decided by slightly more than 4 out of every 10 voters. In short, the majority would let the minority decide.

What really concerns me even to a greater degree is the inclination of the American people to consider politics something they would rather not be involved in. Obviously, I think that is wrong. Let's not make politics a spectator sport. If you can get 85,000 people to come out on a Saturday to watch Ohio State win--and they always do--why can't we get 5 million voters to the polls in the State of Ohio on November 5? I think you can.

The sad fact is that in America, one of our fellow citizens in thirty has anything to do with politics. Now, that obviously does not include all of you, because you are interested, you participate in one way or another. You contribute, you work, you help in every way you can with the party. But one person out of every thirty in this great country has anything to do with the political system, and yet it is that part of our system--politics--which makes our government good or bad.

The selection of candidates, working in a campaign, researching the issues, raising or helping to contribute for the election of good candidates or even running for office--those should be honorable things. Those should be something that people want to do that feel an obligation to do.

I think what this Nation needs, less than 2 years from now, before the celebration of our 200th anniversary, is not less, but more citizen participation in politics.

Oh, I know, it is frequently written and more often said that politics is a dirty word which should be eliminated from government. Let me remind you, from the viewpoint of one who has been in it 26 years, that politics is government-government in action. And there is nothing wrong with this political system of ours that a massive injection of citizen involvement will not cure.

Having spent almost a quarter of a century on Capitol Hill as a Member of the House--and I am proud of it--I am convinced of the importance of getting out and away from Washington to find what the people of this great country beyond the Potomac are thinking and are concerned about. And that is why I am here tonight.

Now, I have had a lot of advice from people who say I should sit in the Oval Office and contemplate and listen to advisers who, in the main, send things into the office, and to a substantial degree they are pretty much permanent residents of Washington, D.C.

I don't think that is the role of a President. In the first place, as I travel, I find that I get a tremendous amount of beneficial input from people, whether it is in Oklahoma City, whether it is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or whether it is in Cleveland, Ohio.

Your views are important to me--as vital, as critical as the views I get from those who are in Government in Washington. And to sit there and be shielded, to be barricaded, in my judgment is not what a President ought to do. And in addition, a President ought to be out trying to sell what he, at least, believes is the right course of action for our policies, whether they are those policies involving our problems at home or our problems abroad.

We have just 14 days, and we have got some very critical decisions to make. You can have an impact, not just on a 1-day basis but for another 24 months, on the kind of Government you are going to have.

You want Senators and Representatives who won't go over the hill in the battle against inflation. You want Members in the United States Senate and in the House of Representatives who will cut redtape, who will cut the budget, and more importantly, cut the mustard.

Yes, Congressional elections are what our elections are all about in America-certainly this year. Every 2 years in the House and every 6 years in the United States Senate, these Members go before you to have their record looked at, analyzed, compared to the promises made by those who are challenging them.

I happen to think, after knowing intimately the records of our candidates, that ours deserve your full, unequivocal, unhesitating support. And it would please me tremendously to see a tremendous Republican 'victory in the great State of Ohio.

There is one thing we cannot forget. There is no weapon so mighty, no force so powerful as the quiet, symbolic voice of the American citizen spoken in the privacy of the voting booth on election day. And that voice is not only heeded but heard, heard by your elected officials, and they won't forget it in the next few years.

I hope that you will send a message to the Congress. You represent the consumer, the working man and woman, the housewife, the plain citizen. Tell them that you are sick and tired of rising prices, that you want something done about it.

Let the Congress know that you want some affirmative action on what I think was a sound, constructive, 31-point program for the controlling of inflation on the one hand and a stimulant in a constructive way for our economy on the other.

Yes, we can whip inflation. We can keep the economy moving. We can save energy. But Congress has to act. And so far, their performance, controlled by the opposition, has been minimal.

I happen to think what this country needs is a responsive and responsible House as well as Senate. We need men and women who will, in the words of one television commentator, praise the Lord and pass the legislation.

Let me conclude with one final plea. I came to Washington in January of 1949--young, enthusiastic, stimulated by what had transpired in the previous 2 years. We had a Democratic President, Harry Truman, and the previous 2 years, we had had a Republican Congress, the so-called 80th Congress.

And that Democratic President and that Republican Congress, seeing the evils and failures of the twenties and thirties in the handling of foreign policy in this country, decided that on a bipartisan basis we ought to forget partisanship and move in foreign policy for the country, regardless of your party affiliation.

We had the Marshall Plan. We had foreign aid. We had decisions made by President Truman supported by a Republican Congress. And we laid the foundation, the groundwork for a quarter of a century or more of, I think, constructive foreign policy.

This last Congress, despite the leadership of the Democrats as well as the Republicans, started to tear apart this bipartisanship. We have a Republican President and a Democratic Congress, and I fear that if this destruction of a bipartisan foreign policy goes on, our leadership in this country--as a country at the head of the free world, trying to avoid and avert a catastrophic situation--if this bipartisanship is destroyed by one roadblock, one hindrance, one limitation after another, no President, me or anyone that follows me, can do a job for peace--a job for peace.

We need a Congress that will stand up and go shoulder-to-shoulder with the President who wants to find and keep peace in the Middle East, who wants to find the key to the problems between the Greeks and the Turks over Cyprus, a President who wants to see that the Mediterranean is free of Soviet domination.

Teamwork between the Congress and the President can insure this kind of success whether it is making NATO stronger, making Western Europe a bastion of strength economically, diplomatically.

Yes, we need the kind of cooperation in the Congress to make sure that we do what is right in Latin America, that we try to help Africa to become an emerging continent, raising the levels that are so essential for them as well as for others.

We need the kind of cooperation between the Congress and the President to see that the Pacific does not have another kind of conflagration that lasted for 10 years in Vietnam.

I am worried. This last Congress, in my judgment, despite the leadership on both sides of the aisle, began to tear apart that cooperation between a President and the Congress. I happen to think if you work, if you do what you can, we can have a Congress in the next 2 years that will stand with the President who wants the peace, who believes we have a unique opportunity in this time in history to build for peace, not for a year but for longer.

Now, I ask for your help. I ask for your support--not just for me, not for the Republican Party, but for the country and millions and millions of people all over the world.

Thank you very much.

1 Gilbert W. (Bud) Humphrey was chairman of the dinner.

2 John J. Dwyer was chairman of the Cuyahoga/Lake Counties Republican Finance Committee, and Tim Timkins was chairman of the Ohio Republican Finance Committee.

3 Wife of Francis A. Coy, chairman and chief executive officer of the May Department Stores Co.

4 Chairman of the Ohio State Republican Committee.

5 Quarterback of the Ohio State University football team.

6 Republican candidates for Congress from the 23d, 22d, 21st, and 20th Districts of Ohio, respectively.

7 Frances P. Bolton was United States Representative from Ohio 1940 69, and her son, Oliver P. Bolton, was United States Representative from Ohio 1953-57 and 1963-65.

Note: The President spoke at 8:40 p.m. at a dinner for Republican candidates in the Gold Room at the Sheraton-Cleveland Hotel.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks in Cleveland, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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