Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks in St. Louis, Missouri

October 16, 1976

Governor Bond, Lieutenant Governor Phelps, Gene McNary, distinguished guests, all of you wonderful people from Missouri:

I love you, and I won't let you down.

This is a tremendous gathering, and it's a wonderful experience to come to Missouri after a super day. We started early, and to have this kind of a turnout in this great State really gives us the kind of a lift and will continue the kind of momentum that will give us the victory in Missouri and in the United States on November 2.

You have been introduced to all of these real superstars on the platform with me. They have been out working just as I have from Joliet to Alton to St. Louis, and let me express to each and every one of them my deep gratitude and great appreciation. It's the kind of inspiration to me that makes this job ever so much easier. They are wonderful people, and I thank them very, very much.

You know, it's great to be in St. Louis, the "Show Me State" of Missouri. In case you hadn't noticed, this is what my opponent calls "hiding out in the White House." [Laughter] In the last 10 days, I have "hidden out" in California, in Oklahoma, in Texas, in New York, New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois, and now to come to Missouri. It's a great, great week, and I love you.

We are not only going to win in Missouri, we are going to win that election November 2. But that not only goes for the Ford-Dole ticket but also for your great Governor, Kit Bond. Kit Bond is the kind of a Governor that you should be very, very proud of.

What has he done for the State of Missouri? He's restored honesty and integrity, he has balanced your budget without any new taxes, and he has increased jobs in the State of Missouri. Boy, if I was in Missouri, I'd be proud of him, and I'd want him to be your Governor again, and so should you. And let me say we can't wait to get Jack Danforth down to the United States Senate, so send him there November 2.

But the State of Missouri also has a wonderful opportunity to send some additional, strengthening Members of the House of Representatives--Bob Snyder, Joe Frappier, Joe Badaracco, Bob Witherspoon--send them down, give us some help. They need your support, and we need them in the House of Representatives.

As I said, we started in Joliet awfully early this morning. Betty and I have had a wonderful welcome every place we've been, and the culmination here just is an inspiration. I've come here to ask for your support, your vote on November 2, so we can carry Missouri. Can I have that support?

In the last 2 years that I've had the honor and the privilege to be your President, we've had a record that I think is one of performance. It's a record of restoring honesty and confidence and trustworthiness in the White House. It's a record of turning the economy around from the worst recession in the last 40 years to an economy that's moving forward. And with the kind of programs that we believe in, we are implementing, we are going to have a solid, prosperous economy for the next 4 years, kicking off the next century of America's progress and pride.

But then in the last 2 years we've established peace. Because we are militarily strong, because we are diplomatically skillful, America is at peace. And I can say with great pride that not a single young American is fighting and dying on any foreign soil tonight, and that's good for America.

So on the basis of 2 years of trust, prosperity, peace, a record of performance, let's take a look at what Mr. Jimmy Carter wants to offer. [Crowd response] Right on; right on. [Laughter]

Jimmy Carter wants to be President so badly that he will say anything to anybody anywhere, and that's not the kind of a President we want of the United States of America. When Jimmy Carter goes to California, he tries to sound like Cesar Chavez. When Jimmy Carter goes to Chicago, he tries to sound like Mayor Daley. When Jimmy Carter goes to New York, he tries to sound like Bella Abzug. But when he goes to Illinois or Missouri, he just says, "I am a little old peanut farmer." [Laughter] But the truth is that Jimmy Carter wavers, Jimmy Carter wanders, Jimmy Carter wiggles a little bit. Jimmy Carter waffles an awful lot. [Laughter]

I think you want the record of performance of Jerry Ford against those promises of Jimmy Carter. Let's talk about taxes. I'm real happy to be in a State that's so ably governed as the State of Missouri under Kit Bond. Kit Bond, as I said a moment ago, has balanced your budget without any increase in taxes.

But let's talk about Federal taxes. The best tax reform that I know is tax reduction. The record shows that the middle-income taxpayers have gotten shortchanged in the last 10 years. I recommended to the Congress in January of this year that we give a tax reduction to the middle-income taxpayers by increasing the personal exemption from $750 to $1,000. That's the way to give relief to those hard-working, law-abiding, fine, decent people who are in the middle-income brackets, and I am going to pressure the Congress to give that tax relief. If they don't do it next year, we will do it the next year. That's what we've got to give to those taxpayers who work hard, obey the laws, and do what is right for this great country. That's my record.

Now, what does Jimmy Carter want to do? A few weeks ago he had an interview with the Associated Press--I almost said another interview--[laughter]but he had this interview with the Associated Press, and he said that he would be in favor of increasing taxes for all people of medium income or above. That means that 50 percent of the taxpayers of this country would get a tax increase. [Crowd response] Boy, I like that reaction. Jerry Ford wants to give you tax relief. Jimmy Carter wants to increase your taxes. Who do you want for President? [Crowd response] Keep it going. Keep it going.

All right. Let's talk about another subject. I have tried to keep the lid on Federal spending so that we could get our house in order. Jimmy Carter embraces-in fact, he wrote the Democratic Party platform that calls for 60 new programs, a minimum annual additional cost of $100 billion, maybe as high as $200 billion more. Jimmy Carter wants to spend and spend and tax and tax, and add to those inflationary costs every day.

Now, Jimmy Carter says he is going to do something about reorganizing the Federal Government. Well, you know you have to look at what somebody has done to see what they might do. So, let's look at Jimmy Carter's record. Old Al Smith used to say, "Let's look at the record." So, we take a look at Jimmy Carter's Governorship of the State of Georgia. When he was Governor of Georgia, he increased the number of employees by over 25 percent; he increased the spending in the State of Georgia by more than 50 percent; he added to the bonded indebtedness by over $200 million.

I will just say this: If that's an example of how he is going to run your Federal Government, I don't think you want Jimmy Carter for the next 4 years.

We all know that the United States is strong militarily. We have an Army, a Navy, an Air Force, Marine Corps, number one, and because they are, they keep the peace for the United States. They keep the peace, and we're respected by our adversaries as well as our allies.

What does Jimmy Carter want to do about the Defense Department? He wants to gut it. He wants to cut it by $15 billion a year. Jimmy Carter talks about being strong, and then wants to destroy the capability of our military forces to meet the challenge, to keep the peace, to deter aggression.

There is a great, great American President, Teddy Roosevelt. You know what Teddy Roosevelt one time said: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Jimmy Carter, who wants to gut the Defense Department, he talks loudly and carries a flyswatter. [Laughter]

Last week, Jimmy Carter said that America is not respected any more. In the first place, it's not true. The United States of America, your country and my country, we are respected; we are loved by people all over this world. The leaders of one country after another say that the United States today is the most trusted ally and the most respected adversary. I don't like a candidate for the Presidency saying that your country and my country is not respected. That's slander as far as the United States of America is concerned.

And so I say to you, we should be proud of America. We should look with faith and trust in a government that's given freedom to so many people for so long a time, a country that has given so much opportunity, a country we love, we respect and admire.

And I would love the opportunity to be your President for the next 4 years. We want to carry Missouri. We are going to win the election.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:06 p.m. at the Northwest Plaza. In his opening remarks, he referred to Lt. Gov. William C. Phelps of Missouri and Gene McNary, chairman of the Missouri President Ford Committee.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks in St. Louis, Missouri Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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