Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks in Louisville, Kentucky

October 19, 1974

John Sherman Cooper, Thruston, Gene Snyder, Tim Lee Carter, Governor Nunn:

You know, all of them have been so nice and so great. They have said some awfully nice things. They all call me Mr. President now. If you only knew what they used to call me. But it is nice to have them a bit circumscribed--at least publicly. [Laughter]

But it is wonderful to be here, and the truth is, I have had a super day. I went to the great State of South Carolina, and we had four unbelievable, stupendous meetings. There were 5,000, 10,000, 12,000. They had a wonderful fundraising gathering--can you imagine--in the State of South Carolina. Then we went to the State of North Carolina, and they had an unbelievable airport gathering. And here tonight you have so many great people. I think it is indicative of the reaction of the American people to some things I will try to discuss later on.

Now it would be terribly remiss for me not to express my appreciation to Marlow Cook. I got into this situation where I find myself--not by any choosing of my own--but when I was nominated, it was Marlow Cook who said, "I want everything on the record. I want everything you have done, everything you have said laid out." And that is typical of Marlow. He wants it on the record.

And I expressed to him and expressed to the Senate committee and subsequently to the House committee the record as it was. This Administration is open, candid, forthright. It may not be popular in some respects because we have to call them as we see them.

But the thing that I admire most about Marlow Cook is that he is straightforward, he is honest, he is strong, he is dedicated, and he is a darned good Member of the United States Senate. He sort of follows in the pattern of John Sherman Cooper and Thruston Morton. We are a little different, you know. We all have a different style. I am not sure I could do as well as John or as well as Thruston.

But the truth is that the great State of Kentucky has a tradition of fine, fine Members of the United States Senate, and Marlow Cook follows in that pattern.

It was my good fortune to serve in the House of Representatives for almost 26 years, and during the time that you spend in a legislative body, you see Members of the House come and go. And you learn to pick out the ones that have class, that have capability, that have all of the attributes that are essential to make the right decision. Not that they always agree with me, but they have the capabilities of doing a superb job for the people that they represent, and every district is a shade different from other districts throughout the country.

.And I can assure you from my almost--well, more than a quarter of a century of service in the House of Representatives--the State of Kentucky couldn't be better represented in their respective districts than by Tim Lee Carter and Gene Snyder. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

As I was saying, we had a wonderful reception all day long, and I am just as enthusiastic tonight as I was at the first meeting at Spartanburg airport this morning, because of the response and the reaction that I find among the American people.

There has been a little criticism by some of the members of the news media that maybe I was getting out--to Kentucky and to South Carolina and to South Dakota and to Kansas and to Nebraska--they know where I am going for the next couple of weeks. They have by innuendo said, well, maybe I should sit and think in the Oval Office. Well, let me just put it this way: I think there are an awful lot of fine brains and good ideas out in Kentucky that might be more helpful than if I sat there and listened to a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

The first time I ran for Congress was back in 1948, and I remember a great Democrat, and I mean a great Democrat. All of the polls said he was going to lose. They predicted that he was not only going to lose but lose badly. As I recollect, one of our great newspapers in this country, early in the evening of that election, printed a headline that his opponent won.

Well, let me just say this: We have got the same kinds of polls that I am sure that he saw, and I don't believe those polls any more than he did. I happen to think that the American people want somebody from the White House to come out and fight for what they believe is right, regardless of what the polls say, and I intend to do what Harry Truman did.

Harry Truman had the strength and the will and the desire, and he thought he was right, and he went out and sold himself and his policies and his programs to the American people. He didn't sit around the Oval Office cogitating this and that. He wanted to find out what was in the minds of the American people, and those suggestions are pretty darned important.

And I intend to do the same thing, because I happen to think the policies we are pursuing abroad and the policies we are pursuing at home are right, and I intend to try and sell them to the American people. The last thing I am going to do is be barricaded in Washington, D.C., by people who don't want our point of view sold to the American people.

I may have a little trouble at home. I might say I got special dispensation from Betty to come here for Marlow Cook. She was here a few weeks ago, and she loved it. And you were all great to her, and she said give all of you her very, very best. She is doing great.

Now, what are the fundamental issues we face here, we face as a nation? I could go on in the foreign policy area, but the facts of life are we are moving ahead, we are making headway in foreign policy. This Administration is going to continue the policy of strength and peace, of negotiation rather than confrontation.

But let's talk about what the real facts of life are here at home. It has been alluded to by others before me. Some of our opponents are alleging, in fact are almost believing themselves, that they are going to end up with significant gains in the House and the Senate, and the net result is they will have a veto-proof Congress.

If I could take just a minute, let me illustrate what that means. But I have to go back just a little bit and point out, if I might, what your forefathers and what mine did.

When they sat down in the city of Philadelphia to draft a Constitution for the benefit of a new nation, a new nation which is now almost 200 years old, most of them had come from areas in Western Europe where they had been dominated and dictated to by a king or some other kind of dictatorial authority.

And they, after having fought for freedom, decided that they wanted a system of checks and balances. They wanted a strong President in the White House; they wanted a strong Congress heading the legislative branch; they wanted a strong judicial system headed by the Supreme Court.

But in the process of weaving that Constitution together, they determined that they wanted a system of checks and balances. They wanted a tripartite form of government with three coequal branches, one looking after the other two and vice versa.

And how blessed we have been, how fortunate this country has been because of that finely tuned system. No one person, no one part of our Government, no segment of our society has dominated. And the net result is that we have made progress maintaining our freedom, giving opportunity to people, and giving us material blessings beyond anything that has happened to any nation or to any people in the history of mankind.

But this system of checks and balances requires that everybody in each of the three branches has a part. But some of our opponents are looking at the prospects, they have looked at the polls--I don't agree with the polls, but that is immaterial--they look at the polls and they say, "Oh, boy, we have got a legislative dictatorship with a veto-proof Congress."

What does that mean to you and to your friends, your neighbors, your associates? A veto-proof Congress means a legislative dictatorship. Do you want a dictatorship in any one of the three branches of our form of government? Of course you don't. You want that same finely tuned balance that has made so much for all of us and those that are to follow.

A legislative dictatorship in this country is not good for America. And what does that mean that you have to do on November 5, or I should say between now and November 5? It means that you show your support financially, your support at the polls, your support by convincing others that a person like Marlow Cook is going to be reelected to the United States Senate because he is for you and he won't be a part of any legislative dictatorship.

He may listen to me; he doesn't always agree with me. He is going to be a representative of the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, and that is what you want, and that is why I am here to make sure that he is going to be reelected.

And the same holds true in the House of Representatives with Tim Lee Carter and Gene Snyder. I used to have to talk to both Gene and Tim Lee. Occasionally, I had a little difficulty with them. They didn't always do as I said or as I wanted, but they were independent; they were strong. They represented you, and I admired them for it, and I respected them.

But they are the kind of people that I think you in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky should have representing you, and they are the opposite of those that will bend with the individuals who talk about a veto-proof Congress and a legislative dictatorship.

But let me present the alternative. I can assure you, as I think Marlow said, that if you get a veto-proof Congress and the kind of people that will be elected on the other side of the aisle, I can tell you what will happen in the way of spending. Let me put it just as bluntly as I can. If you get a veto-proof Congress, boy, tighten your seat belts. You are going right through the roof of the United States Capitol as far as the Federal Treasury is concerned.

They have spent too much already, and if they get another 40 or 50 or 75 in the House of Representatives and another 7 or 8 in the United States Senate like they are talking about, the key to the Treasury will be thrown away and the money will pour out unbelievably. That is the record. I mean, we can lay it out.

And speaking of excessive Federal spending, let me talk about the second point. Ten days, eleven days ago, I submitted to the Congress and to the American people a 31-point program aimed with three basic objectives: one, to save energy; number two, to tighten the screws on inflation; and number three, to keep our economy moving in a healthy, constructive way, so that in the years ahead we would be able to compete overseas, we would be able to provide jobs at home, and that we would be strong and capable of meeting any competition anyplace else in the world.

I happen to think this was a sound, finely tuned program that calls upon the Congress to react favorably in a number of areas, and the American people to react.

I followed it up with a speech in Kansas City last Monday or Tuesday night, asking the American people to respond, to respond to what I call WIN--"Whip Inflation Now."

You can do something about it; the Congress can do something about it. One of the basic ingredients of that program is to hold the lid on Federal spending, and it has been said here tonight that the Congress in the last 25 years has had some 19 years of deficit spending. You couldn't run your family, your church, your business, your schools, with that kind of a record. And we can't win the battle against inflation with that kind of a record.

We have in the months ahead, between now and next June 30, to save about $5.4 billion. I can count on Marlow Cook; I can count on Tim Lee Carter; I can count on Gene Snyder. They will hold the lid, but if you elect their opponents, there is no hope, there is no prospect, there is no possibility. Their opponents will do just the opposite.

So, if you want your Government to set an example so that when I or others ask you to sacrifice just a bit, you ought to have people like Marlow and Gene and Tim Lee Carter in the Congress. I can't ask you in good conscience, I can't ask you with any degree of conscientiousness to help if Uncle Sam is going to just spend money, you know, like it was out of style.

So, l need some help in the Congress, because no money is spent by the Federal Government unless the Congress appropriates it--which brings up an interesting fact.

We think the Congress--the Government, I should say--has done a bad job in handling your tax money. Do you realize that 38 of the last 42 years, the opposition has controlled the Congress? So, if they have spent too much money, I think you can honestly say it is the opposition's responsibility, and they have controlled the Congress the last 20 years.

So, I would really think if the national debt is too high--$485 billion--if they spent much too much money, we can legitimately look at the opposition and say, "You control the Congress, you control expenditures, you are responsible."

What we need is not only Marlow and Gene and Tim Lee Carter but we need these other good candidates who are just as dedicated to fight for fiscal responsibility, not only because it is sound economically but because it is right in this battle that we face in trying to whip public enemy number one--inflation.

You know, I submitted, as I said a moment ago, 31 plans or programs or particulars for a winning battle against inflation. And I have heard some criticism about it. They have nitpicked here and they have nitpicked there, and so forth. Well, some of the critics remind me a little bit of Secretariat--they are running very fast, but not producing very much. [Laughter]

So, when we come right down to it, we have got some problems that have to be solved, and I happen to think the reelection of Marlow or reelection of Gene and Tim Lee--that is highly essential. But if we are going to win the battle against inflation, we have to accept and fight for and be dedicated to this kind of sound economics. It calls for a little sacrifice upon the part of every one of us. It calls upon us to be compassionate, because we are going through a traumatic experience that I suspect few of you had anything to do in creating. But the fact is that the United States can't afford to have double-digit inflation as we try to meet the challenges from abroad.

I am encouraged with what I hear and what I see, and I happen to think that the Congress, after it gets through this next election, will respond. If we don't, if we just abandon our responsibility, this kind of inflation will tear the fabric of our political society asunder. It will destroy what we have inherited from those that preceded us. It will completely knock out the capabilities of the United States to be the leader in the world in trying to solve the problems of peace, whether it is in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Greece and Turkey, whether it is in Western Europe, or Southeast Asia. If we don't have a strong economy at home, we can't go to the other countries with the firm hand and the respect that is so essential to get them to solve their problems wherever they might be in the world as a whole.

And I happen to have great faith in the kind of people that you have elected to statesmanship. I say John Sherman Cooper, who is going to be our Ambassador to East Germany, Thruston Morton, who was an Assistant Secretary of State as well as a Member of the Senate and Member of the House--they come from the Bluegrass, but they had a vision infinitely beyond that. And they know, as well as I do, that America at this moment has a responsibility as well as an opportunity to do things that no other nation in the free world side can do to help solve those problems in the Middle East, to negotiate the differences between two good allies--Greece and Turkey--to keep NATO together, to work in the vineyard in trying to achieve a responsible policy of detente with the Soviet Union, to open up new vistas in the Pacific with the People's Republic.

This country, if we are strong at home, can do these things. But we can't be strong at home if we don't have a Congress that is responsive, a Congress that will fight in the battle against inflation, a Congress that will give us the tools to keep our economy moving ahead as we travel that very narrow path between too much inflation and not enough stimulation to provide the jobs for those who are coming into the working market.

We need individuals who have the strength at home and the vision abroad. And I hope and trust, as I close a long but wonderful day, that I can see in this audience tonight in Louisville--I don't know how many are here, but it is a great audience--people who will not only do what you have done by being here but, between now and November 5, will maximize your effort, yes, to a degree for yourself; but I think everybody I see in this audience has a broader objective, to do what you can to help Kentucky and America.

We are the last and strongest fortress for the free world, and if we fail--and I happen to think that 1974 is sort of a testing ground--if we fail, all that we have inherited and all we stand for and all we hope to pass on to others could go down the drain.

So, you can do something. You have done it already, but you can do more. It is sort of a 24-hour-a-day job between now and November 5. I am confident as I have met many of you, as I have heard others, as I know this great Commonwealth that you and your associates will do what is needed and necessary for Marlow, because the Congress needs him, I need him, you need him. I hope you will do the same for Tim Lee and Gene and the others. That is good for America.

Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:28 p.m. at a Republican fundraising dinner in Freedom Hall.

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

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