Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks at a Reception for Civic and Community Leaders in Perth Amboy, New Jersey

September 09, 1980

Let me express my thanks both to Bill Bradley and to Eddie Patten for those fine introductions.

Washington's not going to be the same without Congressman Eddie Patten there. For 18 years he's served this area and our Nation so well that I can't pass by an opportunity to say that on behalf of 240 million Americans we express our deep thanks to him for what he's meant and still will mean in the future to our great country.

And I also want to thank a bright and shining new star in the political firmament of our country, and that's Bill Bradley. He has a wonderful future. I know for a fact that he works more than 2 hours a day. [Laughter]

As a matter of fact, it seems that the most popular job around New Jersey is not Bill Bradley's. I'd like to remind you that there are only 54 days left for the Presidential election campaign, and then you can devote yourself to the serious political task in New Jersey, and that's choosing a new Governor. [Laughter] I'm told that the next Governor of New Jersey might very well be in this room. But I was told that the room was not big enough to hold all the candidates so— [laughter] —Brendan Byrne said they've already decided, the Democratic chairman, Chairman Coffee back here, has said that there won't be room enough on the ballot for names, you'll just have to be given numbers as you qualify to run for Governor.

I'm very grateful that you would come here and meet me. I recognize that this audience, as Brendan Byrne has pointed out, comprises the leadership of New Jersey. And I have no doubt that when the election returns come in on November the 4th that the Democrats who are running for reelection to the Congress and Fritz Mondale and myself will have a tremendous victory racked up in your wonderful State.

I came here 2 or 3 years ago when Brendan Byrne didn't look too well in the public opinion polls. His election after that fairly dismal start for reelection has been an inspiration to me this year. I came here to help him, and my heart was in it. I look on Brendan Byrne as being a Governor in the same mold as Hughes, Woodrow Wilson, and others who have brought credit to this State and to the Nation—a man of great personal courage who has represented your State so well and also a man who's a personal friend of mine.

I'm not going to make a speech to you this morning—this afternoon now. I would like to say that I was able to visit one of the technological achievements of our country, located here in Perth Amboy. The Raritan River Steel Plant is indeed a credit to you, to the foresight of your leadership, and also a forerunner of what will be a tremendous achievement in our country as we revitalize American industry.

At the first of this century, as you know, we were in the leadership in the entire world—in modern technological advancement in the production of steel and also in our other basic industries. We have suffered since then in some ways. Of course, we still have the greatest nation on Earth.

The American worker, at this moment, is the most productive worker in the world. Our productivity per person has not been increasing as rapidly as some of the other nations on Earth, particularly those that were destroyed by us in the Second World War—like Japan and West Germany. But we now have reached a point in the evolutionary development of our country when we have a tremendous and exciting opportunity looking to the years ahead.

Three or four years ago there was a dismal feeling in this country that we could not possibly deal with the complexities of a rapidly growing crisis in energy. We were at the political mercy and the economic mercy of the OPEC oil-producing nations. And when I made a speech in April of 1977, saying that the energy crisis was the moral equivalent of war, a lot of the press and a lot of the people in this country discounted it as an idle threat designed for political purposes. It's proven to be true.

But in that 3-year period, the Congress has courageously addressed this issue that we've now prepared ourselves to save energy in this country—to stop wasting energy, to have strong conservation commitments individually and collectively, at the same time produce more energy for America. This will mean that we have an opportunity now to have a brighter, more exciting ability to capitalize on America's natural resources and our human resources.
The OPEC nations, the Arab countries all put together, have about 6 percent of the world's total energy reserves—6 percent. The United States has 24 percent, and ours is not just oil and natural gas alone; ours is oil and natural gas, but it's also a broad range of energy reserve supplies that we've not yet even considered an adequate way to tap. This is why we now face the opportunity to rebuild the American industrial system, to care for communities where changes take place and lives are disrupted, to retrain human beings to go back on the job in new and exciting and innovative kinds of opportunities; at the same time to have deep research in technology and research and development, to revitalize our transportation system, to build our ports, to increase our exports.

At the steelplant, the Raritan River Steel Plant, I was told that 50 percent of the total production is going to the People's Republic of China. This is a nation of about a billion people. One-fourth of the human beings on Earth live in the People's Republic of China. Two years ago we had no diplomatic relationships and no trade relationships with China at all. We have, through good sound judgments made by myself and the Congress and supported by the American people, opened up this opportunity for a new relationship of great benefit to us all. That cannot be endangered. We have got to keep those ties of friendship and trade and export to give Americans ourselves a better life.

I'm very grateful that I've had a chance to come here to New Jersey today to open the campaign. I would like to say one other thing. You all are vitally committed, loyal, and effective Democrats. We've been through a tough primary season. Senator Kennedy was a formidable opponent. I still have the political scars to prove that statement is true. But since the convention has been over, Senator Kennedy and his supporters have rallied generously and effectively to reunite the country. I couldn't have a better proof of that than the man who's traveling with me this morning, and that's Jerry Doherty.

Jerry Doherty is a long-time friend of the Kennedy family. In 1976, when I ran for President, he volunteered to help me in New York State, and although we didn't have very good prospects at the beginning, we carried New York State because of his leadership and his sensitivity and his knowledge about politics. Now he'll be helping us in New Jersey.

And I'd like to introduce to you Jerry Doherty, a good friend of Senator Kennedy, a good friend of mine, a good friend of yours, and one of the finest political and most knowledgeable and effective people I have ever worked with. Jerry Doherty, would you raise your hand?

We've got a lot of work carved out for us. A disunited or divided Democratic Party, which we did face several weeks ago, was catastrophic for us and for our Nation in 1968, when Democrats either took for granted or did not support the candidacy of Hubert Humphrey. It was a personal calamity for all of us and also a deep embarrassment and a calamity for our Nation in later months. We don't want the same thing to happen. We need to have a secure nation, a strong defense, jobs, a good secure energy policy, a strong full-employment economy, a united society, free of discrimination, compassion for the sick, the elderly, and the poor, and where workers have a right to organize and to work safely. And, as you know, we've just seen that wonderful thing happen in Poland, and we're very proud of that.

As a matter of fact, this is a time in our country's history, too, when a lot of people are claiming their ancestors came from Poland, and I'm not sure they did- [laughter] —but it's a bright and shining day for the workers of the world to see this tremendous demonstration of courage.

Finally, let me say this: We've got a lot at stake. We're making a choice, as we did in 1968, between two futures for America. I can't win without you, but with you we'll win together.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:27 p.m. at the Olive Street Community Center.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks at a Reception for Civic and Community Leaders in Perth Amboy, New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250799

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