Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in Portland

September 04, 1975

Dave, Bob Packwood, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I am sure it is very, very obvious that it is a great privilege and pleasure for me to be here tonight in Portland for this tremendous gathering of many, many Republicans--and, I add, a few that I know of, very special friends--and your most warm welcome is greatly appreciated. Your enthusiasm and commitment is most encouraging.

I added in the previous sentence some very close and very dear friends of mine who are here. I was delighted to see one of my former colleagues. She was on the other side of the aisle. We had a few differences, but we had infinitely more agreements. And, Edith Green, I thank you for coming, and I am most grateful for your presence.

In Edith Green's area of outstanding expertise--education--I don't think there was a Member of the House or Senate, Democrat or Republican, who was more knowledgeable and more articulate than she with ideas and, I think, thoughts, programs that would have been so important for education. And I thank you again for being here, Edith.

I do want to make a donation, if it is proper. Last year when I was here and had a very full day, I participated in an auction for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I donated a pair of cufflinks, and I am told they went for a reasonably high price--obviously, for a good cause. But unfortunately, I will not be able to be here for that occasion when the meeting is held in 1975. But if I might, I would like to give to Dave Green for transmittal to Don Ellis a pair of cufflinks, and I wish you well and hope you do as well in 1975. [Laughter]

I appreciated Jack Faust's comments about our golden retriever, Liberty. [Laughter] I had a confidential talk with Liberty when she returned from Oregon. I can only say we are anticipating on or about September 14-16 a wholesome litter of golden retriever puppies. I feel somewhat obligated to let the Republican Party of Oregon suggest a name for the one out of the litter that we keep. So, it is up to you to make some determination in that regard. [Laughter]

I was pleased that Dave Green mentioned something that I wanted to speak about, which is the historic meeting of the Northwest Compact, which, as I have perceived it from Washington, has effectively coordinated the work and enhanced the influence of Republicans of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. I think this is a concept that can be immeasurably helpful in pulling together geographical areas where you have a high identity of interests and a community of spirit. And I commend the Republicans in this State for putting together this 2-year plan for the party's activity and its strategy.

One thing that I have noticed in some of the travels that I have made most recently--last Saturday I was fortunate to attend in the State of Maine a Republican gathering where we saw the visible evidence of a revitalization of the Republican Party in that great State. And later in the day I participated in somewhat comparable activities in the State of Rhode Island on behalf of the Republican Party.

In both cases we had new, young, vigorous chairmen. In both cases we had a unification of ideologies where we could honestly say that the party, its people were going to be pulling together for what is in the best interest primarily of their State and the country but also in the best interests of the ideologies which we believe in. And it is my feeling, as I have had the opportunity of being in the State of Washington earlier today and here in Oregon tonight, that your party organization, your leadership is doing precisely the same thing. I compliment you and congratulate you for this effort.

This dinner tonight, I think, exemplifies what can be done as we face some very crucial issues and tremendous challenges between now and November of 1976.

The thing that I have noticed in the last 12, 14 hours, that in the West there is still that tremendous pioneering spirit, a spirit of independence that is invigorating and tremendously refreshing. Two men certainly reflect this tradition of independence, and I refer specifically to Mark Hatfield, who is not here now but who has been with me a good share of the day, and Bob Packwood. Both are a tremendous credit to this great State which they represent so exceedingly well in the United States Senate.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege and pleasure of getting to know both of them quite well. If I have learned anything in the 25 years in the House of Representatives, it is the capability of analyzing people who have quality, dedication, integrity, forthrightness. And those characteristics which I think are invaluable in serving your State--both Bob and Mark have that to the overflowing. And I thank Bob, and I will thank Mark later for their contribution, not only to your State but to what, I believe, is in the best interest of our country. Thank you very much, Bob.

I am a firm believer that party organization, party leadership is highly important, particularly in a national election year. I made a commitment about a year ago--I spoke to the Midwest Republican Party organization in the State of Illinois. They had all of the people from my part of the country there for one of these get-togethers over a weekend, and I made a commitment then that in 1976 I thought the Presidential candidate ought to work with and not be separated from the national Republican organization and the respective State organizations.

And I felt that such a commitment was not only right on a chart but it was right if we were going to get and have available the kind of leadership that is necessary in every State. I happen to think in Dave Green you have that kind of leadership here in your great State, and therefore, I can assure you that I and those that work with me will work with you in the State organizations, in the national organization, in a Republican victory in 1976.

One of the characteristics that I have noticed about Dave is that he has a feeling that we ought to, as a party, appeal to the independent voter. It is my impression that this has paid off and will produce greater dividends in the months ahead.

As a matter of fact, in your State you have sort of a tradition of independence. If I might, I would like to make a specific appeal to them. I think it is important.

The independent voters, as I look at them and listen to them--they want a sound and very prosperous national economy without recession or inflation and so do we as Republicans.

The independent voters want jobs for those who can work and help for those who cannot. We as Republicans believe precisely the same way.

The independent voter wants his country to achieve energy independence and an environment of high quality. We as Republicans have that same thrust and that same belief.

The independent voter wants a good education, good housing, good health care, and good food for his family at prices that he can afford. We as Republicans have an identical view.

The independent voter--and there are many of them, some in more States than others--but in most States they are really the margin between victory and defeat.

The independent voter wants the scales of justice to balance the rights of the criminal defendant with the rights of a law-abiding society and so do we.

Our friends the independent voter wants America's national defense second to none. They recognize, as we do, that this is the best way to ensure peace.

If I might say parenthetically at this point, within the last 24 or 48 hours, a giant step, in my opinion, has been taken for peace with the successful negotiations between Israel and Egypt. This negotiation, which has literally gone on for months but culminated in the last several weeks, was successful because of the patience, the direction, and the leadership of the Secretary of State of the United States, Henry Kissinger.

I know some questions have been raised--and questions should be raised in a situation like this--but when you analyze what the alternative was to a settlement, the alternative was almost inevitable war in 6 to 8 months.

By taking some risks that I think are manageable, we have gambled for peace in the most volatile, most difficult, complex, controversial area in the globe. I believe that the Congress of the United States, after they have looked at the alternatives which, in my judgment, were an invitation to conflict and see what has been done with our leadership, the Congress will support a gamble for peace.

It is in our best interests in every way that I can see it. I believe that most Americans--Republicans, Independents, or Democrats--will support our leadership, our forthright efforts to bring two nations together that have literally been apart, fighting, disagreeing. And this is the kind of leadership that I think is important, not only in this case but in others, to lead us down a firm, constructive road of peace, not only in that area of the world but elsewhere.

Now, the independent voter wants relief from higher and higher taxes, from more and more Federal programs, and from bigger and bigger budget deficits. This has been the record of the Republican Party for all of my lifetime, and I think it will be our program and policies in the months ahead.

Every time I think of more and more Federal programs, bigger and bigger Federal budgets with the inevitable deficits that they place, I am reminded of several incidents on the floor of the House of Representatives where there were those in the House of Representatives who thought every time we had a problem the answer was another program with more Federal spending. That was the inevitable conclusion that many people came to.

One day I was sitting there talking to one of my associates or colleagues in the House of Representatives. And after we had gone through this sort of inevitable schedule that seems to come up all the time when there is a problem and we have to have solutions, I thought to myself--and the person who was debating and speaking and proposing this program was a fine person; I am not disagreeing with his motives--but I thought to myself, don't those he represents understand that a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have?
Even more importantly, the independent voter wants America to get moving on the myriad problems facing it, moving confidently toward the future, and so do we.

There is one thing that my 25 years of public service have taught me, and it is this: A successful blend of personal initiative, private enterprise, and public service will come closer to solving our problems and realizing our country's great potential than will reliance on the massive, muscle-bound bureaucracy of government by itself.

For far, far too long, too many Americans have relied too much on the Federal Government in our great Capital to meet their needs, grant their wishes, and solve their problems. We have already lost too much of the enterprise and the initiative and self-reliance which made America the hardiest of people in this the greatest of nations. As Abraham Lincoln so well put it, "The role of the national Government is to help people who cannot help themselves."

I think it is time we began to look elsewhere for the solution to too many of our problems--to our State capitals and our county seats and our town councils, to our offices, our shops, our factories, and our farms, to our homes, to our schools, and to our churches of America, and then--I put with emphasis--to ourselves.

That is where the real power and the real potential of America resides. That is where to find the creative genius, the knack for problemsolving, the pioneering spirit, the Yankee ingenuity for which this country is so well known.

I firmly believe that if each of us shoulder more of life's responsibilities, taking a very personal interest to match the personal stake we have in the life and the success of this Nation, we can truly make it a fresh start on America's problems and develop some new solutions even as we celebrate our 200th birthday.

Thank you and good night.

Note: The President spoke at 7:47 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Sheraton-Portland Motor Inn. In his remarks, he referred to Dave Green, Oregon State Republican chairman, Don A. Ellis, chairman of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry board of trustees, and Jack Faust, master of ceremonies for the dinner.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in Portland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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