Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at a Luncheon for Republican Candidates in Des Moines

October 24, 1974

Governor Bob Ray, Lieutenant Governor Neu, Dave Stanley,1 my former colleagues in the House, Wiley Mayne, Bill Scherle, all of the other fine Republican candidates, and all of you wonderful citizens of the great State of Iowa, thank you very, very much:

You know, when I saw this grand old ballroom, it brought back to my mind, anyhow, so many happy memories of Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman--some of you can remember it.

1 David M. Stanley was the Republican candidate for United States Senator from Iowa.

As a matter of fact, when my wife Betty and I used to go courting, we would go dancing to the music of those old big bands, as we called them. We had a problem, though. Betty had studied modern dance, and I was a former football player. [Laughter]

She was very polite, never really came right out and said I was a lousy dancer-she was much too kind for that--but she did have a rather interesting theory as to why I played center rather than quarterback. She said a center is one of the few positions on a football team where you don't have to move your feet. [Laughter]

Somehow, it seems very appropriate to me that we are holding this political gathering in this fine ballroom. You might, I guess, call this a Congressional square dance. Every 2 years we change partners. [Laughter]

And if you stop to think about it, really good dancers do have one thing in common with good Congressmen and good Senators--they have to know how to take the right steps. And when it comes to facing the very hard issues and the very difficult problems that we face at home and abroad today, there is only one step our good Republican candidates at this table don't know, and that is the sidestep.

It is my observation in watching your Republican delegation in Congress that they face the problems and they make an honest, conscientious, intelligent effort to solve them. I congratulate Bill Scherle, Wiley Mayne, H. R. Gross, and I congratulate some of those good candidates that you are going to elect on the Republican ticket to send a bigger Republican delegation to Congress next November 5.

You know, I have had this new office a relatively short period of time, something like 2½ months. I have found it somewhat difficult to shed some old habits. One of those habits over the last 26 years has been campaigning for fellow Republicans.

I don't know how many times I have been in various Congressional districts in Iowa, but I have always enjoyed it, and I have always been proud of it. I think it is the part of people when called upon to go out and stand up for, campaign for candidates that deserve support.

Now, while my job is different at the present time from what it has been in the past, the call to me is the exact same one. There is just a little major difference in the last 10 years. No one this year can accuse me of campaigning to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. [Laughter]

To be very honest, very frank about it, I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. In the last year, I have traveled all over our country, some 42 out of the 50 States, over 128,000 miles, and here is what I have found:

There is work to be done in America. That is why I am here, to seek your support for programs, for policies that I have proposed to the Congress, programs and policies which, in my judgment, will meet our country's pressing needs.

These are programs I have submitted to the Congress that would tackle affirmatively and effectively the problems of inflation, energy overuse, and peace abroad. I am here because I think the elections coming up in a relatively short period of time--12 days to be exact--that is what America's democracy is all about.

It is time for you and your fellow Iowans to speak up for those that you want in Washington to speak up for you, and you have an opportunity in this relatively short period of time to make a difference. You are here because you can make a contribution, but you have got 12 short days to spread your influence, your enthusiasm, your dedication, your conviction.

I think we all recognize there is no force so powerful as that very quiet decision that you and other Iowans and millions of other Americans make in the privacy of the voting booth. I think you here understand the power, and you in the past, because of your dedication and support, have used it wisely, and obviously, because you are here, you will use it wisely November 5.

But let me make a few observations, if I can, to maybe reach, invigorate some of the enthusiasm you have, the conviction that you really have.

.Your Governor, Bob Ray, is the living proof of your wise decision in three previous gubernatorial elections. As I travel around the country, I have an opportunity to see Governors--Democrats as well as Republicans--and I can say without any hesitation, reservation, or qualification, that you in Iowa have in Bob Ray one of the very, very best, and I congratulate you. He is a problemsolver, a man of action. He is the kind of Republican leader that I like. And he is the kind you need as your Governor for the next 4 years.

But, if I might, let's move from Des Moines to Washington. Dave Stanley is campaigning vigorously. He has crossed the State and recrossed it, and he is campaigning for one of the highest offices in our land. He is tireless, imaginative, experienced--a man committed to squeezing the last bit, the last bit of spending out of the taxpayer's dollar, so that you get a good return for the dollars you send to Washington, D.C. And I urge you as strongly as I can to send Dave Stanley to Washington.

On January 3, 1949, I had the privilege of being sworn in alongside of H. R. Gross. Let me make this prediction: The House of Representatives will never be the same without him. H. R. Gross has been the conscience of the House of Representatives for more than 25 years, and he has been a tremendous saver of the taxpayer's dollars. Believe me, he set a high standard. We need more people like H. R. Gross in the Washington scene in the House as well as in the Senate.

Bill Scherle and Wiley Mayne I served with, and I can give a personal testimonial about both of them. They worked with me, they were helpful, yet they could be independent. When they had deep convictions, they differed with me, and I respect them for it.

They are not rubber stamps for the Republican Party. They were not rubber stamps for me. But they make a tremendous, conscientious, effective--I think-intelligent effort to represent their respective districts. And I hope and trust that both Wiley Mayne and Bill Scherle are sent back with a sound, strong vote from their districts.

I have had the privilege of looking into the backgrounds and qualifications of your other Congressional candidates. I know one or two of them, but Jim Leach, Charley Grassley, Tom Riley, Charles Dick 2--they are out campaigning, and they need your help. And we need their kind of representation in the House of Representatives. I urge you, I implore you to give them the hand that will get you and, I think, us a victory on November 5.

2 Republican candidates for Congress from the First, Third, Second, and Fourth Districts of Iowa, respectively.

Let me be quite categorical and explain, as I see it, why we need tightfisted Members of the House and Senate to help us in this battle against inflation.

In every poll that I see, whether it is national or in Iowa, there is a clear indication that inflation is the one problem that transcends all others, and it is the one problem where the American people want some action by their Government-and for good reason.

Inflation means money stolen out of your pocketbook by a thief as real as a pickpocket. The rising cost of living is a problem which is not matched in magnitude nor equaled in its impact on our Nation's future.

I didn't come all this way out to Iowa to talk to you or tell you about a problem that you know as much about as I do or as any other politician does. I came out here to tell you that, in my judgment, we have got a program that will be an answer, and we want Members of the Congress sent down who are going to help us find those answers.

We searched very hard for the right answers. I think we have now a better understanding as a result of our various mini-summit and summit economic meetings. It is now time, as I look at it, not to point the finger of blame at just a few people or a few institutions. Most institutions--and, I think, most people-are involved in the inflationary process. But just as much responsibility, if not more so, for inflation today rests squarely on the Federal Government, the Congress in Washington, D.C. And that is where we better do something about it.

We came to some other conclusions in these various meetings that we had where business, labor, education, housing, economists contributed very significantly to the thoughts and the recommendations that we finally put together in a 31-point program package. But we came to some other conclusions.

There is no quick fix. There is no easy cure for the inflationary illness that we face. It is going to take some time, some patience, and just as importantly, some work.

You know, some of my political opposition have said that the plan I submitted was a marshmallow; it didn't ask for anybody to bite the bullet very hard. Well then, just a couple of days ago, I saw and then I read the anti-inflation program put forth by the opposition.
Well, if mine was a marshmallow, theirs was a lemon.

The second observation that we came to is that victory over inflation is going to require some short-term sacrifices to serve our long-term well-being in America. As I said, in the 31-point program to Congress and my daily dozen suggestions to the American people, the burden will have to be evenly distributed. It will not be borne if we implement the recommendations that I have proposed--the burden will not be borne by those least able to afford it.

The third point there must be--and this is where my former colleagues in the Congress and the prospective ones come into play--there must be a substantial cut in the amount of Federal spending this year as well as next year.

For the remainder of this year, I have urged the Congress to make a cut of about $5.5 billion, and next year we are going to hold the lid on unless the next Congress blows it off.

Now finally, we are in a very serious battle where national unity is every bit as important as it has been for the past national crises, whether they were from outside or from within.

If we do not march shoulder-to-shoulder together, we will fall by the wayside one-by-one.

I am determined to win this fight. I know that there have been some unhappy people with some of the suggestions I have made. Yes, I have made some power interests somewhat unhappy, but these are tough decisions I have to make and the Congress has to make and all of you have to make.

If we don't, nobody will. Unfortunately, the problem has waited too long to be tackled. Unfortunately, it will not go away.

Now, the first shot being fired in the war against inflation will come out of the ballot box November 5. And I implore you to have that a shot heard round the world, or at least around the country. And if it is, the country will be far better off.

You might ask yourself what can your vote accomplish? The answer is very simple: It can send to the Congress men and women who are not big spenders.

Look at the record. Look at the promises. We need men and women in Congress who can say no to programs and to policies and projects which are completely unnecessary at the present time--programs that we can get along without for the time being.

We don't need men and women in Congress who talk about halting inflation or cutting spending in their home States, their home Congressional district, and vote the opposite way in the Congress.

Let me add a personal postscript, if I might. Wiley Mayne, Bill Scherle, H. R. Gross--they talk like they vote. They are against big spending, and I can show you the record to prove it. That is why you ought to send them back there.

But I have a second postscript, if I might. Dave Stanley is a man who has the same dedication to saving, who has the same opposition to spending, and although I know his opponent and his record, I can assure you that Dave Stanley is a saver, and his opponent is a big, big spender.

Now, the next Congress needs Members who will, in my judgment, rise above short-term thinking Representatives who recognize that the red ink route that we have traveled for 19 out of the last 25 years is a losing game, losing from the point of view of our Nation's future.

Nobody benefits from inflation--not business, not labor, not the rich, not the poor, not the farmer, not anybody. It is the losing proposition across the board. Everybody gets hurt. Oh, I know it is easy to yield to that temptation to give people what some politicians think they want. But I remind you, a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have.

Despite some of the skeptics, the foundation of our economy in all 50 States is strong. It has been the most productive economy in the history of civilization. We have an abundance beyond the wildest imagination of our parents or our grandparents.

We are able to share, fortunately, our wealth with the poor of our own Nation as well as the poor of the world, but we must defend this economy from the attacks which would erode it.

Now, some of my friends in the opposition seem to think that what is needed to solve the problem is a veto-proof Congress. The fact of the matter is, it was a heavy Democratic majority over the years which helped to create most of the problems we face domestically.

Therefore, I think it is fair to say we do not need a Congress or we don't need to make a Congress immune from veto. We do need to make our Nation safe from inflation. What we need is not a veto-proof Congress. But let's take the affirmative: What we need is an inflation-proof Congress.

That is why you need--frankly, why I need--in Washington, Members of Congress who will join me in making some of these very hard decisions-decisions to cut spending, to cut the budget, to cut the redtape, and as I said before, to cut the mustard.

With that kind of teamwork, we can get the job done. With that kind of support, we will do what we promised--we will whip inflation, we will effect savings in energy, we will save our natural resources, we will be on our way to our 200th birthday in 1976 strong, stable, prosperous in a world at peace.

Some of my dear friends on the other side of the political aisle make promises at election time to be fiscal watchdogs and keepers of the Treasury, but we can see by the way they spend your money they have failed year after year after year.

Let me cite a statistic that proves it--the facts are there: The problems we face today were spawned over the last 42 years by programs and policies of the opposition party which has controlled the Congress of the United States, both the House and the Senate, 38 out of the last 42 years.

To make the point even more emphatic, they have controlled the House and the Senate in the national Congress the last 20 years consecutively.

Let me add this as a postscript: There is not a dime of money spent by a President that is not appropriated by the Congress. So, they are responsible for the excessive spending that has caused most of our inflation.

The question that I want you to ponder today is, are you, are we going to continue down that same path, that same road which produced the problems in the first place--problems of ever-rising prices, of piling more centralization of power in Washington, of undermining our foreign relations with handcuff restrictions on the policies of the President and the Secretary of State?

We have got to do better than that today. What happened in the past was largely the failure of a legislative dictatorship by a party so smug in its seniority and its power that it no longer responded to the true needs of the people.

I except the members of the leadership in the House and Senate of the Democratic Party. They have tried, they have sought to be helpful, at least to me as the President, and I can testify as to that, but their troops run wild.

Therefore, I urge you today, I urge all Americans to vote with your heads as well as your hearts, but most important, vote. Don't let that most precious liberty ever devised by man disappear because it was ignored. Pull the lever and cast your vote a week from Tuesday for candidates of the political party that brought peace to this country and stability to the world.

Cast your vote for the party that will, with a cooperative Congress, restore stability to America's economy and inject some commonsense into its Government.

With God's help and your hand we will go down that path together with confidence, understanding of the greatness that still lies before us. We can say honestly with conviction that we are proud to be Americans, proud of America.
Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:55 p.m. at the Val Air Ballroom.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at a Luncheon for Republican Candidates in Des Moines Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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