Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at a Picnic Honoring Senator Robert Dole in Russell, Kansas

August 20, 1976

Thank you very, very much, Bob.

It is good to see Mayor Roger Williams coming back from Washington. He said he straightened everything out back in Washington. I don't have the same problem in Russell, Kansas. [Laughter]

It's great to be here with Governor Bennett, Lieutenant Governor Smith, my very good friend, your Senator, Jim Pearson, my long-time and very good friend, Keith Sebelius. It's just nice to be here in the great State of Kansas.

I know that you produce a tremendous amount of wheat. I know that you're a great cattle-producing State. I know that you make a significant contribution in the production of oil energy which we need so badly. But the thing that impresses me--and I think it's worth noting--the great State of Kansas produces some great statesmen.

You can run down the list from Dwight D. Eisenhower to All Landon to former Senator Frank Carlson to another fine Senator, Harry Darby. And as Bob Dole, said, I have been out in this part of Kansas on a number of occasions. I was out in Great Bend a year or so ago. I went to Dodge City and survived. [Laughter] But during the time that I served in the Congress of the United States, in the House, I got to know a great, great Congressman, he was a pretty big guy, Wynn Smith. And he was followed by Bob Dole, and now Keith Sebelius. What I'm really saying is you not only produce cattle and wheat and energy but, doggone it, you produce great people.

When I looked over the list of people that I wanted to be my teammate in the months ahead, for the first 75 days while we go through a tough campaign so we can have the privilege and the honor of winning November 2 and serving the American people for the next 4 years--Bob Dole was the guy.

Let me mention just one or two reasons why Bob makes a wonderful teammate. We have to bring Washington, D.C., and local government closer together. Bob Dole was your county prosecutor, or county attorney, for 6 or 8 years. He understands the problems of local communities and their relationship with the Federal Government. We have to establish a better relationship between State government and the Government in Washington. Bob Dole served in your State legislature, so he understands the problems of the statehouse and the State legislature.

Bob Dole served in the House of Representatives for 8 years in Washington, D.C., representing this great western part of the State of Kansas. So he understands all of your individual problems.

I will bet Bob could look around this group from Russell, Kansas, mention many, many, many by name, and could refresh your memories--and his--of how he helped you to do this or helped you do that. Bob is the kind of a person who has a personal contact with people.

Then, of course, he has done a superb job in the United States Senate. Bob served in the House of Representatives on the Committee on Agriculture. He served in the Senate on the Committee on Agriculture as well as the Committee on Finance. Those are two very, very key committees that involve not only the people of Russell, Kansas, but 49 other States.

Let me just talk for a minute about the input that Bob can have and why his part on the ticket is so essential.

First, we have got to find a way to give greater tax relief to the middle-income people of this country who have been shortchanged over the years. About a week ago the United States Senate was considering this tax bill that has been there for consideration for some time. Bob took the initiative, on a recommendation made by me, to take some real relief for middle-income taxpayers. He offered the amendment to increase the personal exemption for every taxpayer from $750 a person to $1,000.

But I've been talking to Bob about another problem that involves his Committee on Finance. It is extremely important. If we want to maintain the continuity of the family farm and the small family business, we have to increase the estate tax exemption from $60,000 to at least $150,000.

But then Bob, in addition to his responsibilities on the Committee on Finance, has been a stalwart friend of the farmer on the Committee on Agriculture. Bob has talked to me not once, but many times about the problems that agriculture faces, and he has been one of the most ardent and effective advocates.

Let me summarize to all of you right out here in the heartland of agriculture, in Russell, Kansas, what I said to the American people last night. The farmers of America must get a fair price in a free market. We want an expanded production, an increase in our exports. We want to be able as a humanitarian country to help feed the people around the world, because that's our responsibility. But let me add this: This administration will never make the hard work and the production of the American farmer a pawn in international diplomacy. Then one final comment--two words: This administration will have no embargoes, period.

But this great country, as I said last night, offers to the young an opportunity; to the old, certainty, happiness, and security; to the businessman, to the farmer, an opportunity to move ahead as your forefathers have done. I think every person that I look at who has children or grandchildren has worked hard, has sacrificed, has done all of the things for one single reason: We want to make a better America for the children and grandchildren that will follow us. That's our tradition; that's what we're going to do.

It's great to be in Russell. When I called Bob yesterday, I said, "Bob, I would like you to be on the team." He thought for a moment and then he said, "I have got to have one commitment." I said, "Well, don't hesitate too long." [Laughter] He said, "Will you come to Russell, Kansas, tomorrow?" I said "Yes."

So, here we are. I can't express my appreciation and gratitude adequately. I'm looking forward to an opportunity to say hello and shaking a good many hands. We'll stick with you. We need your help to keep America going to peace, prosperity, and trust for the next 4 years.

Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:34 p.m. on the Courthouse grounds in Senator Dole's hometown. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Roger Williams of Russell and Gov. Robert F. Bennett, Lt. Gov. Shelby Smith, and Representative Keith Sebelius of Kansas.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at a Picnic Honoring Senator Robert Dole in Russell, Kansas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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