Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at a Republican National Committee Dinner in New York City

October 12, 1976

Nelson, Senator Jack Javits, Senator lira Buckley, Governor Wilson, Attorney General Lefkowitz, distinguished Members of Congress, Mary Louise, Dick Rosenbaum, Gus Levy, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
That concludes my remarks. Thank you very much. [Laughter]

Obviously, Nelson, I am deeply grateful for your more than generous comments, and as I will say in a moment, there is no way that I can adequately express my appreciation for the superb job that you have done in the last 2 years.

I talked to Betty just before I came down--and Nelson is one of her favorites, as Happy1 is one of mine--[laughter]--and she said to give you her very best and to extend to all of you her deepest gratitude and appreciation. She wanted to be here, but in the last 5 days she has been in California, the State of Washington, Colorado, Buffalo, New York, and she is going out to four States in the next few days. So, she asked me if you would think she was here in spirit if not in person, and she is, and said to say hello to all of you.

1 Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller.

But I do want to pay particular attention to the 13 all-American representatives of the various ethnic groups here, the some 23 nations, as I understand it, and I am deeply grateful for their support, their dedication, and their understanding. Thank you very, very much.

Nelson, it's good to be hiding out in the White House here in New York. [Laughter] I spent last week hiding out in the White House in California, Oklahoma, and Texas. I plan to spend the rest of the week in the White House in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. What I'm actually doing is playing hide and seek. I'm looking all over, trying to find the candidate who used to run around the country saying, "I will never lie to you." [Laughter] I might say, parenthetically, he seems to have disappeared. [Laughter]

But wherever I go, I do hear good things about another former Governor. I hear that he is one of the most enthusiastic, one of the most effective, one of the most energetic campaigners for the Republican cause in this crucial 1976 election. I hear he describes what we have accomplished in my 26 months as President a whole lot better than I do. He is Nelson Rockefeller, and his middle name is loyalty. Thank you.

In politics you can have charisma, you can have eloquence, you can have leadership, you can have character, you can have experience, and Nelson has all of these things. Believe me, though, the one thing that you really look for in this political arena most of all is loyalty, and Nelson has it. And I thank you very much.

If I might, I would like to add a very special comment, Nelson, not only for what you have done as Vice President, not only for what you have done for my candidacy and what you are doing in this campaign but what you have done for our country all of your public life. Nobody will ever surpass the dedication, devotion that has been demonstrated on behalf of his country over the years by our Vice President. And I think not only you here tonight but the people in the great Empire State and all of us in the other 49 States are deeply grateful for this wonderful public servant, whom I have gotten to know and love and trust, and who I think is super.

Now I would like to express my gratitude to your great State chairman, Dick Rosenbaum, who has a subtle way of suggesting that maybe certain things ought to happen--look at him blush. [Laughter] Well, we will do our best, Dick, to repay you for the first-class job you did in Kansas City.

Needless to say, I have been gratified and deeply impressed by what I have heard and seen here in New York today. I am no judge of how big the crowds are or how enthusiastic the people are because I have never had the privilege of being a candidate in New York State before. But I can tell warmth in the eyes of people, and I can tell by the way they look and feel and speak and yell and get together. We had a great day in Brooklyn today, and I want to thank everybody for it.

As Nelson said, the people of New York City are sorting out some of the most difficult financial problems any city in this country has ever faced. I know it has not been easy for New York City to pull through these financial problems.

During our travels through Brooklyn, Flatbush, I had an opportunity to talk to Senator Javits and Senator Buckley, and I told them as follows: As New York City continues to meet its responsibilities--and I commend them and congratulate them--I strongly favor the continuation of Federal cash-flow assistance. It's good for the city, and it's good for the country.

I also added another little comment. I told them I support the rebuilding of the West Side Highway. About 35 or 40 years ago I was courting a very nice girl, and I used to come down from New Haven, and I used to ride and drive on that highway then. It was old and broken down then, and it should have been replaced a long time ago. As soon as the environmental impact statement is ready, we will go ahead. And the second--now this is the good news--I think we sort of put a fire under them. They expect to have that all done in the next 30 days, and you will get the go-ahead signal.

But let me take just a few minutes. When I was here on the Fourth of July to see the Tall Ships, more beautiful sails came to this city, I think, than ever in the .history of any city or any nation. There was promise, conviction, and hometown pride. It was clearly demonstrated by anybody who came to the city on that occasion. And that new spirit--as we flew over in the helicopter or in our aircraft--that new spirit was demonstrated. It was hard earned, and it was well deserved, and I congratulate you all.

Now, it's been 8 weeks since Kansas City. We've come a long, long way, baby. [Laughter] We have the facts, we have the issues, we've got the momentum, and we have got 3 more weeks to go to win a great victory for the American people.

I said in Kansas City that we wouldn't concede a single State, we wouldn't concede a single vote; we would campaign from the snowy banks of Minnesota to the sandy plains of Georgia. And we have, and we are going to win on November 2.

I have a firm commitment from Dick Rosenbaum and Nelson and Jack Javits and Jim Buckley that we are going to carry New York with its 41 electoral votes. And I have made a firm commitment to Jim Buckley: We are going to help him get reelected to the United States Senate from the State of New York.

It would be very helpful in the next 2 years if we could have a good number of additional Republican Members of the House of Representatives who would stand tall and strong when the tough issues come down--people like Jack Wydler2 and the others--so do your best in that regard.

2 John W Wydler, Republican congressional candidate from New York.

I also told you in Kansas City that I was ready and eager to debate Mr. Carter face to face on the real issues. I still am--[laughter]--if I can ever pin him down. We've heard a lot of double-talk from Mr. Carter, a lot of make-believe mathematics, a lot of fuzzy and contradictory policy proposals. I still don't know where Mr. Carter stands on most issues, and I don't think he does.

One thing is pretty clear: Mr. Carter wants to be President, whatever he has to say to get there. I can sympathize. I understand it when he says he will have to take a few years to study national and international problems and get all of the facts. Let's give Mr. Carter a few more years to prepare himself-[laughter]--but not on the taxpayer's money.

You know what I will do, because you know what I have done for the past 26 months. You know where we were then, and you know where we are today-peace, recovering from a recession, rebuilding pride in America in its 200th anniversary. You know what I have done as President, despite the partisan obstructionism of a Congress stacked 2 to 1 against me.

We heard before the convention that our party was sick, our party was dying. Now we hear the voters are overcome with apathy and really don't care who wins. I don't believe that. I just don't believe that. The American people do care, they have a clear choice, and our job is to get them to the polls to register their choice for our country.

Make no mistake--this election will decide the direction America is going to take in its third century of independence. Mr. Carter may be deficient in details, but the general direction of his philosophy is very, very plain. It's the same direction which his party has been leading this country for the last 44 years. Don't forget that his party controlled the Congress and wrote all the laws in 40 out of the last 44 years. That's really what's basically wrong in Washington today.

Mr. Carter wants more Federal Government; I want less. Mr. Carter wants higher Federal taxes for middle-income taxpayers; I want lower taxes for everybody, especially the overburdened, shortchanged man in the middle. Mr. Carter wants less defense insurance; I want the strongest and the best military capability science that money can provide. We can't do less than that. Mr. Carter wants to reduce our commitments to our long and steadfast allies; I want to maintain America's world leadership for peace.

These are real, fundamental differences, serious choices to be made by the people throughout this country. Mr. Carter, in his party's platform, chartered one course for this country. No matter how he zigzags, there's no doubt where he wants to go. The direction Mr. Carter would take us is the same one that brought us heavy inflation, a tax load that kills initiative and slows economic expansion, a slowdown in research and development, and oppressive interference by a know-it-all Federal Government.

I stand totally for a different direction. This year, my budget reduced--as Jack and Jim and Jack Wydler know--reduced the rate of government growth by 50 percent, or one-half. Congress exceeded it by more than $18 billion. But I still mean to submit--and we can with the right Congress in the next 2 years-I still mean to submit a balanced Federal budget by 1978.

It doesn't seem like much, but I think it is an encouraging trend: In the 2 years that I have been there, we have reduced a proposed increase in Federal employees by 40,000--a projected increase--and we have actually reduced the number of employees in the civilian side of the Federal Government by 11,000. That is something that we can do, have done, and will do in the months ahead beyond these 11,000.

My 60 vetoes saved the American taxpayer $9 1/2 billion. Mr. Carter constantly criticizes those vetoes, and yet he castigates us for having too big a deficit. I'm not sure how you can have it both ways. If his party's Congress, I might add parenthetically, had not overridden 12 of the vetoes that I made, we would have saved an additional $16 billion more.

When I say that I stand for smaller government, and my performance proves it--on the other hand, Mr. Carter says he is for reforming and reorganizing the bureaucracy, but his performance tells a far different story. And I respectfully suggest you ask the taxpayers of Georgia. They don't tell the same story.

What do you think you will get from a Democratic President and another 2 to 1 Democratic Congress? One thing you will certainly get is more spending and bigger deficits. Another thing you will get is more runaway inflation. One thing you won't get is lower Federal taxes. Another thing you won't get is less Federal Government.

So, the choice before our country is very clear. You know where I stand, and I am proud of it. I have campaigned here ever since 1948 on the principle that a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have.

About 10 days ago, early in the morning in Washington, I got a call from a very courageous leader of Government, one of our dear and respected allies. Prime Minister Callaghan called and said--and I quote from a speech that he made because, as many of you know, they have had serious difficulties, not only more recently but over the years--and I read some of the excerpts from a speech that Jim Callaghan gave that I think are worth repeating here on this occasion.

Jim Callaghan courageously said, and I quote, "We have lived for too long on borrowed time, borrowed money and even borrowed ideas, nor will we succeed if we use confetti money to pay ourselves more than we produce." Then the Prime Minister continued in his speech before his Labor convention of his own political party. He went on to say, "Each time we did this, the twin evils of unemployment and inflation have hit hardest those least able to stand them--the poor, the old and the sick."

I think that all Americans should learn a lesson from this courageous public leader in Great Britain and his very plain and straightforward talk to his fellow Members of the Parliament. I think the current crisis in Great Britain tells us more than any words can about the danger of too much government, too much spending on borrowed money. The British pound has sunk to its lowest level in history. Inflation has been running over 25 percent. Government spending now accounts for 60 percent of the entire British economy.

As Republicans, we are not motivated by the love of government power but the fear of it, and we should be. We speak for those who work hard, pay their taxes, obey the laws, and have the right to enjoy their own God-given liberty. We are totally committed to a policy of peace through strength in a world where freedom is still threatened by aggressive adversaries. The United States of America must remain number one, and we will, for our protection and for freedom around the world.

I know how deeply all of you are devoted to the principles that we have been talking about--Nelson and myself and others--and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Gus, and all of you, for your steadfast support.

But there is one more effort that I would like to ask of you. Republicans alone cannot win this election. The principles we hold are just as dear to millions of our friends and neighbors who prefer to be Democrats or Independents. Between now and November 2, I hope that every Republican will persuade just one Independent and one Democrat, two concerned citizens who feel as we do about the direction this country must take, to go to the polls and vote their true conviction regardless of party label.

If you do this, person to person and friend to friend, we can and we will win a great victory for the American people and the principles that we all espouse, regardless of how the label is after our registration.

The only way is to go forward together. There is no way we can lose except by resting before the last poll closes. And together, not as partisans but as a proud American, we will get America off to a great start on our third century of this freedom in the greatest country in the history of mankind.
Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:45 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the New York Hilton Hotel. He was introduced by Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller.

In his opening remarks, the President referred to Governor Malcolm Wilson of New York 1974-75, Louis J. Lefkowitz, attorney general of New York, Mary Louise Smith, Republican National Committee chairman, Richard Rosenbaum, chairman of the New York State President Ford Committee, and Gus Levy, chairman of the dinner.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at a Republican National Committee Dinner in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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