Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Reception in Des Moines

August 18, 1975

Thank you very much, Bob Ray. Chuck Grassley, Mary Louise Smith, John McDonald, Margaret McDonald--these Scotsmen seem to predominate around here--Bill Goodrich, Tom Stoner, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen-and l have to add a postscript--your new Miss Iowa is a most attractive young lady:

Well, it is nice to be here on this occasion, but I must say, it has been a wonderful opportunity to come back to Des Moines. I have a great fondness for the people here, people in Iowa, and I thank you not only for the warm reception at the State fair this afternoon but for the great reception here tonight. I want you to know I appreciate it.

You know, I have been looking forward to this evening and particularly the entertainment part of the program that follows this speech. I understand that Governor Bob Ray and Attorney General Dick Turner are going to sing a duet together. It will be their favorite song, "Come Josephine In My Flying Machine." [Laughter]

But I am really so encouraged to be here tonight to enjoy your wonderful hospitality and especially ask for your help next year in making it a banner year for the Republican Party in Iowa, as well as across the country.

Without question, 1976 offers a great, great opportunity for the Republican Party to prove once and for all to the skeptics that it has the strength to survive setbacks, the resolution to rouse the Nation's greatness, and the will to win elections. We can do it, and we're going to do it.

I think it is obvious to all of you the fondness that I have for Bob Ray, who is nearly a year into his fourth term and who is also serving with great distinction as the chairman of the National Governors' Conference. He has done a magnificent, a superior job of putting across what I think is the most important thing--the commonsense philosophy of the Republican Party--and making it work here in your great State of Iowa.

His successful administration--not one, but several--is a testament to the effectiveness of both his leadership and the sound Republican approach he has brought to government here in your State.

And I must say I thank you very, very deeply for giving us Mary Louise Smith, who is doing an outstanding job as Republican National Chairman. As you know, the Iowa State slogan is "Iowa is a place to grow." Mary Louise has definitely applied this philosophy, this thinking to the Republican Party nationally, and we are seeing some results. And I thank you and congratulate you, Mary Louise.

And in Chuck Grassicy, you have a fine new younger Member of the House of Representatives. He may be outnumbered--what is it, 5 to 1, Chuck? [Laughter] Not always, because votes do count in the House, but when you put it on another scale, I'd rather have quality than quantity.

Chuck has impressed me as well as his colleagues in the House of Representatives, and after spending 25 years in the House, I have a feel for the kind of people that will grow and become more and more effective. And it would be my judgment that Chuck fits that pattern. He started well, he will do better and better every year. Just give him some help here in Iowa. We could use those votes, too.

I visited every State in the Union in the last 10 years since I became first the minority leader of the House and then Vice President and now President, so I know State organizations, I know the kind of people that back State organizations. And I think here in Iowa you have a good State organization. And I wish to congratulate those who have been giving you the leadership and those who will now take over and continue that leadership. You are fortunate in Iowa, and I congratulate you, John, and those who have worked with you, Charlie.

Now, if we are to capitalize on the opportunities ahead of us, we must, in my judgment, reach out to that great, great American majority that does the Nation's work, pays the Nation's bills, provides for the Nation's defense, and obeys the Nation's laws. That is the group that we believe ought to be in the Republican Party.

You know, no matter the color of their skin, the religion they profess, the politics they vote, these solid, solid Americans who make up this vast Midwest heartland of the Republican Party's natural constituency--I could feel that out there at the State fair today--they are the people to whom we must tell our story over and over and over again, this year and next year.

Once again in our party's history, our principles and our goals match the beliefs and, I happen to think, the aspirations of a majority of the American people.

Republicans have always believed that too much government spending has been the primary cause of inflation, and I have a feeling, as I travel around the country, that on a daily basis more and more Americans agree with that principle.

Aren't we fortunate that these people who are getting this new approach, this new attitude, look to the Republican Party as their only hope. That is one reason I have been vetoing some of the bills that compel excessive Federal spending.

And quite frankly, I'll keep on doing it as long as the Congress keeps sending down to the White House these "budget-busters" to me. But let me put it this way: They stop, I stop. It is just as simple as that. [Laughter]

Our Republicans, as you know, have always believed in a strong, effective, ready, national defense program. Today, most Americans are convinced that a strong defense is the best guarantee of peace in the world, and I will do everything in my personal power to see that Congress appropriates sufficient funds to make sure that the United States, our country, always has a military capability second to none.

Republicans have always believed that personal initiative and private enterprise-not a meddling, muscle-bound Government, a Federal Government--are what made this Nation great.

Today, more and more Americans, as I see people from the 50 States, are reaffirming that view. They want personal initiative and private enterprise to be rewarded. Hard work and diligence are the foundation in many respects in any endeavor that we undertake. Frankly, that is one reason why I am trying to free American business from the shackles of government overregulation, why we, on a daily basis, in the White House are seeking to free the individual citizen from the pressures of a faceless bureaucracy, insensitive to personal differences and personal desires. I think Republicans have always believed that local control over local problems is better than turning to Washington for every single solitary solution.

Today, after nearly 40 years of seeing reruns of "Washington Knows Best," in the halls of the Congress and elsewhere, the American people are ready for a fresh start. And we are going to give it to them.

That is why I have proposed what we call a new agenda for America's future. And I ask the American people through what we hope to do in a series of community meetings around the country, I ask the American people to help me write that new agenda.

There is a message I think we have to get across to our fellow citizens, a message that says loud, that says clearly, "Republican government is commonsense government; it is the most effective government." A message that says, "Republicans stand for and work for the very same things that the majority of Americans believe in." And finally, a message that says, "We can win the elections of 1976 from the courthouse right here in Des Moines to the White House in Washington. Let's do it!"

If we broaden our party, bringing in to join us those who have a philosophical agreement with us--and I think we must--opening our door wide to all Americans rather than opening it just a crack for a few, if we work together for a common victory, as we must, rather than working against each other for sure defeat, I am convinced that 1976 can be a great election year for all of us.

Together, you know, there is so much that we can do for our party, for the American people, but primarily for our country. Let's get to work. Let's get it done. Let's make sure 1976 is a banner year. And let's make sure, let's make certain that that banner says, "Republican."

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:14 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. In his opening remarks, he referred to John McDonald, chairman, Tom Stoner, chairman-elect, and Margaret McDonald, cochairman, Iowa Republican State Central Committee; and Bill Goodrich, chairman, Iowa Republican State Finance Committee.

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

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