Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks Upon Departure for the Presidential Campaign Debate in Williamsburg, Virginia

October 22, 1976

Let me thank the Suitland and St. John's bands. I think they have done a great, great job. I like the way they play that last song. It's the Michigan Victor's Song, and that's what is going to happen November 2.

Obviously, I am overwhelmed by the wonderful turnout here this morning. I thank you all for coming. I'm deeply grateful for your support. And let me say without any hesitation or reservation, we're going to win November 2, and we won't let you down.

This has been a long campaign. But political campaigns--and I have been through 14 of them--are very, very similar to athletic contests. You will often find in football or baseball that one team will appear to be outclassed, will start from behind, but because they work together, because they feel they have the right approach, the right plans, the right programs, and because they never give up, they win in the last quarter or the ninth inning.

Which reminds me that out in Kansas City, all of the polls indicated we were some 33 points behind. That would seem to be almost an insurmountable lead to overcome. We figured it out mathematically, and between that date and November 2, it meant we had to change approximately 150,000 to 200,000 people as to how they were going to vote between that date and Election Day. But a certain phenomena took place. The American people decided we had a good convention, we had a good platform, we were pulling together, and we had the right vision and the right programs for the American people. The net result was the polls began to show very, very quickly that we were gaining in a phenomenal way, and right today the polls are so close that I think we have an excellent opportunity to pull the political surprise of the century and to come back and win.

As I look at the next 12 or 13 days--and that's all that's left--what we do between now and then will make the difference in the direction this country is going to go in the next 4 years, building a foundation for the next century of American history.

If we go the way that our platform calls for, the way I believe and Bob Dole believes, we can keep the peace that has been achieved through the strength of our military capability and our diplomatic skill. We can enlarge the opportunities for economic progress so that we can honestly say that there will be a job for every American who wants a job. There will be a home in a decent neighborhood for every person or couple that wants to work and save and buy a home. It's the direction of security on the streets for our young as well as our old, against crime in America. It means giving to the American people the best medical care available at affordable prices. It means greater opportunities for recreation in the wonderful, scenic places we have all over America. It means that the American people can live in a society where there has been healing, not division; where we can disagree without being disagreeable; where we can look forward in the next 4 years and far beyond to a quality of life, peace abroad and peace at home, with prosperity for all. That's the direction we want to go, and that's what is going to win November 2.

So, I thank you all for being here. We will be out there working every day from now until November 2. And when the polls close on that fateful day, I want to be able to say, and I know each one of you wish to be able to say, that you made a maximum effort to see to it that the direction of America is the right direction for the next 4 years.

Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:02 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks Upon Departure for the Presidential Campaign Debate in Williamsburg, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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