Remarks to Supporters at the Railroad Depot in Plains, Georgia
Thank you everybody. If there's anyone who has not yet voted, you're excused to go vote, and then come back.
I've been on the phone a lot today, talking to people around the nation who report that in every part of our country the voter turnout is tremendous. [applause]
And as you know, when this has happened in the primary weeks, those long, sometimes lonesome but always exciting Tuesdays, we always came in on top, and I think we have a good chance to come in on top tonight [applause]
How many of you have been to another state to campaign for me this year? [applause]
I recognized you all around the crowd as I came up the sidewalk. We've had 500 Georgians almost every day since the fall campaign began, going as far away as Montana and New Mexico, and up into Illinois—I know I shouldn't have started—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont But I think those are exciting trips and ones that get a great deal of publicity and visibility, but it means just as much to me, as you know, to have you here in Plains, helping to run the headquarters and getting out the vote in your own communities and around surrounding states. This is the last day of a long effort on my part and on your part which has been very exciting to me.
We haven't had any serious disappointments. I think, win or lose tonight— and I think we have a good chance to win—we've made political history. Having come from a town the size of Plains and not holding public office, just having my wife and my sons and other members of my family and volunteers who campaigned all over the country.
We've never felt, nor have we acted, as though we were better than anyone else. We've put ourselves on the same plane, on the same level, with the same understanding as other hundreds of millions of Americans around this country. And you've added a great deal to the reputation and the image and the closeness that's been so rewarding to me politically. By letting others know that we have warm and open hearts, a sense of hope in times when many of us have been discouraged, and a sense that this country, in spite of serious disappointments in recent years, still has within its heart an inclination toward, and a capability for, excellence and greatness.
We know that our financial or political or economic or social status doesn't amount to much. What matters is what we are within ourselves, how well we can exemplify those virtues of unselfishness and dedication, patriotism, hope, a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood with our fellow human beings. And a vision of how we can make our lives better as free people in the greatest country on earth.
As we've been down through the long primary season, beginning the 19th of January with the caucuses in Iowa, and we surprised a lot of people, and in New Hampshire, the first primary, when we surprised a lot of people. Sometimes the same ones. And then quite often the same ones were surprised in Florida and the same ones were surprised in North Carolina and the same ones were surprised in Illinois and again in Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and many other states.
But I think the thing that has been the cause for the surprise has been the intense dedication and hard work of so many different people. Quite often the eyes of the television camera and the attention of the newswriters were on me. But the campaign was being won by my family and by you. And this was kind of a secret weapon that we've had to bring us victories when quite often defeat was predicted for us.
I don't know what the voters will do today. This is the only poll that counts. I feel good about it, as you know. But I hope that sense of closeness among American people, spread from me to all of you and throughout the country, will be the basis for my own administration if I am the next President. You've never disappointed me. You've always made me proud. You've made me feel more rested when I was tired. And you've encouraged me when we've had temporary setbacks. And you've corrected me when I've made a mistake. But you've never lost faith in me. And I just want to be sure that when I am President that I'll serve in such a way that you'll never be disappointed, that you'll always be proud of me. That's my pledge to you.
I just want to make one more comment. We all want to win. And as I said earlier, we have an excellent chance to come in first. But no matter what the outcome of the election might be tonight, I hope that we don't lose our dedication and our high aspirations and goals and our love for one another and our pride in our own country. And if I should not be President, I hope that you will join with me in making our country great just the way we feel within our own hearts our country ought to be.
But I think that because of your own help to me, and what we stand for and the humility that we can hope to maintain, that tonight when I come back to address many of you again, I'll come back as the Presidentelect of the United States.
Thank you all.
NOTE: Remarks were delivered at about 5 pm.
Jimmy Carter, Remarks to Supporters at the Railroad Depot in Plains, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347597