Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks to Reporters on Returning From California

September 22, 1975

REPORTER. Mr. Ford, could you speak to us for just a moment please and tell us how you feel?

THE PRESIDENT. Can I have just a minute to look at all of you?

Q. Mr. President, what--

THE PRESIDENT. May I take just a minute. Obviously, Betty and I are delighted to be back here very safely, and we are most grateful that Mr. Vice President and Mrs. Rockefeller have met us. We have talked to our four children, and I guess they are kind of happy that we are back here all right.

But let me say most emphatically, I thank the Secret Service for doing a super job again.1 They really were tremendous in the things that they did that were necessary and essential. But equally, let me express my appreciation for the fine job that the San Francisco police force did. They were tremendous, and those that were associated with them, because they had the help o.f others.

1 The President was referring to an incident which occurred earlier in the day, following his interview with reporters at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, Calif. As he was leaving the hotel, an assailant in the crowd across the street fired a single shot at him. Sara lane Moore was taken into custody by Secret Service agents and local police. On December 16, 1975, in the Federal Court in San Francisco, she pleaded guilty to the charge of attempting to assassinate the President.

But the most important thing is that I don't think any person as President or any person in any other major political office ought to cower in the face of a limited number of people, out of 214 million Americans, who want to take the law into their own hands. The American people expect, and I approve of it-in fact, I think it is right--want a dialog between them and their President and their other public officials. And if we can't have that opportunity of talking with one another, seeing one another, shaking hands with one another, something has gone wrong in our society.

I don't think these individuals who want to destroy our society and tear up our fabric of relationships represent America. The American people are good people--Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and others. Under no circumstances will I, and I hope no others, capitulate to those that want to undercut what's all good in America. The American people are strong, they're good, and they will reflect the leadership that comes from the people in public office. And the leadership must likewise be strong and good. And I am confident, whether that leadership is Democratic or Republican, it will be good and it will be strong. That's the way America can give the leadership to the world that is essential in these crucial times.

It's wonderful to be home. It's good to see our family. It's good to see the Vice President and Mrs. Rockefeller, and it's, I think, important that we as a people don't capitulate to the wrong element, a limited number, an infinitesimal number of people who want to destroy everything that's best about America. I won't. I'm sure the Vice President won't. I am sure Democratic leaders won't. We're going to stand tall and strong in this confrontation with a limited number of people who don't represent all of us.

Note: The President spoke at 11:55 p.m. in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks to Reporters on Returning From California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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