Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks to Democratic Leaders From Downstate Illinois in Springfield, Illinois

September 22, 1980

How many of you believe the Democrats are going to whip the Republicans in Illinois— [applause] —and all over this country? I believe this is going to be true.

I came here for a couple of reasons. I wanted to associate myself politically with Alan Dixon and with the Springfield Redbirds—I figured that would help me all through this country—and secondly, to be with my good friends behind me on the platform. David 1 rode in with me from Washington this morning on the plane. He's going to make a wonderful new Democratic Congressman, and I look forward to being with him in January. And Roland Burris and Jerry Consentino, Todd Renfrow, and Speaker Redmond-all of you have an eager ally in me in bringing that victory to Democrats at the local, State, and of course, the Federal level in November.

I'm not going to talk very long to you, because I want to shake hands with as many as possible. But I would like to say this: This is a year of crucial decision for our country, and as we approach November the 4th, it's important for us to remember two things. One is the character of the Presidency itself. It's the most important elective office in the world. It's the kind of position that can arouse the hopes and inspiration and confidence and progress of our Nation or have the opposite effect, as we've seen in recent years under previous administrations.

There's a place in the Oval Office where decisions are made that are very difficult. There are no easy answers to questions that arise in the Oval Office at the White House. If the questions can be answered easily, then the answers come in a private person's life or within a home or in a county courthouse or city hall or at the State legislature or in the Governor's office. If the answers don't come to any of those places, they arrive in the Oval Office for me and the Members of Congress to try to address. It's a major, heavy responsibility, but an exciting opportunity to see our Nation grow and prosper and to stay at peace.

Advisers help: I doubt if there's ever been a better Cabinet than the one I've put together, from Ed Muskie, Harold Brown on down. This is very important to a President. But I have found that the most difficult decisions and the ones that are most important are the ones where your advisers are split almost 50-50. And in that condition, the President, and no one else, has to make that tough decision, deal with that crisis, hopefully so that the crisis that I have on my desk is never even known by you, because a crisis managed well is not catastrophic to our Nation. A crisis that is not handled well can become a crisis for the entire world.

So, the nature of the Presidency itself is important for us to remember during this election year. And the second point I want to make is this: The future of our Nation is at stake. I doubt if there's ever been a sharper difference between two major candidates than between myself and the Republican nominee. The only possible exception that I can remember was when Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson earlier in the sixties, 1964. Now that choice is not only between a candidate, a party, but also between the two futures that our Nation faces.

We've made a lot of progress in this last 3 1/2 years. We've added 8 1/2 million more jobs. We have more agricultural exports this year than ever before in history. We set a world's record in '79, a world's record in '78, a world's record in '77. This year we have increased agricultural exports, even in spite of the restraint on Soviet sales, by 8 million tons—$8 billion, $40 billion in exports this year. And I see your State playing the major role in our Nation's progress and prosperity in the future, with the rich land that God has given you and the enormous supplies of coal, for instance. We have an opportunity to address our energy problems, but also give the families of this Nation confidence in the future.

We've kept our country at peace, through strength. As long as I'm in the White House, our country will stay militarily strong, and my top responsibility will be the security of this country and peace for all Americans.

And finally let me say this: There is no way for a President to be elected in this country without help from people like you. I've got confidence in what you can do. I've studied the election results many years back, and I've always seen the crucial nature of Illinois in the outcome of an election and also the closeness with which the decision is made in your State.

This meeting with me this morning, I hope, will be constructive for our country. It's certainly an exciting thing for me to be with you. And I believe that together, you and I will see new Democratic Congressmen and women, a new Democratic Senator from this State to Washington, and the reelection of Fritz Mondale and me, to give our Nation a better future with a Democratic administration that has confidence in people, confidence in our Nation, confidence in the peace process, and confidence in even a better prosperity for the greatest country on Earth in the years ahead.

Thank you very much. God bless you.

1 David Robinson, Democratic candidate for Congress from the 20th Congressional District of Illinois.

Note: The President spoke at 10:57 a.m. in the auditorium of Logan Hall at the Lincoln Land Community College.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks to Democratic Leaders From Downstate Illinois in Springfield, Illinois Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251524

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives