Jimmy Carter photo

Robards, Kentucky Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fund-raising Luncheon.

July 21, 1980

It's hard to follow a speech by John ¥. Brown. It was just wonderful and a fine reminder to us of what we have, what we have to be thankful for in the past, present, and even more exciting, in the future.

It's also good to be with two friends. Dale and Margaret Ann took me in, in 1975, when I didn't have very many friends in Kentucky. I didn't have very many friends in the Nation, as a matter of fact. I came and spent the night here. I was hoping for a bed; I got a couch. [Laughter] But I think it was the best night's sleep and the best introduction to a wonderful family and to a wonderful community and to a wonderful State that I've ever had.

I'm honored that Dee Huddleston is here and Wendell Ford, Carroll Hubbard, and Carl Perkins, Lieutenant Governor Collins, and other distinguished elected officials of Kentucky. It shows your sound judgment in putting good Democrats in office and keeping them there to serve you and to serve our Nation well. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.

In a few minutes, after I leave here, I'm going to Dallas, Texas. John White, former commissioner of agriculture in Texas, is now our wonderful national party chairman. I've come here to Henderson not to raise money for my campaign, but to raise money for the Democratic National Committee, for Democrats in Kentucky and throughout the Nation, because I believe not only in our country and what it stands for but the complete compatibility between what has made America great and what the Democratic Party stands for.

We're a party that knows history. We're the oldest political party on Earth. We're a party with competence and also a party with compassion. We're a party that believes in peace. And I thank God that during this term of mine, we've not had a single young American lose his life in combat, and I pray God that when I go out of office in the White House, we'll keep that record intact.

A President has a lot of responsibilities-some of them quite burdensome; some, like this, very pleasant. But the most important single responsibility of a President, whether it was George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or now in this modern time, is to keep our Nation strong, and only through strength can we maintain peace.

Saturday night at the White House, we had a commemoration service for the 50th anniversary of the Veterans Administration. We looked back on the history of our Nation that night, from Colonial times all the way up through the Vietnam war. I thought back on the fact that my own father was in the First World War as a first lieutenant and the horrible devastation to the people who lived in the little town of Plains, when you walk down the street and see veterans there crippled permanently with poison gas, whose lungs wouldn't quite function. And of course, the Second World War, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, tore our Nation literally apart in the Vietnam war—it's been put back together. Watergate, a deep embarrassment to our country, to the Oval Office itself—our country has healed those wounds.

We have a responsibility in government at all levels to make sure that people of this country realize that those who are in office have one obligation, and one only—to those who put them in office and to maintaining not only our Nation's present and future but also preserving the principles of the past.

You have a special opportunity in Kentucky, in the future, for another aspect of our Nation's security; that is, energy security. We've become overly vulnerable to a heavy dependence on foreign oil. This year we will import $90 billion worth of oil from overseas. That's a lot of money, hard to understand. It amounts to $400 per man, woman, and child throughout the United States. I want to depend not on foreign oil at the end of a 12,000-mile uncertain pipeline into a doubtful area of the world, but in the future I want to depend on Kentucky coal.

There are no easy answers to any of the questions that confront me in the Oval Office or that confront you in your own lives, and we don't claim to cut corners or to find simplistic answers to difficult questions or easy ways to resolve insurmountable problems. But America, as John Y. pointed out, has always been willing and always been able, without fail when we've recognized an obstacle or a problem and when our country was united, not to fail. We have already cut back our importation of foreign oil in this short 3 1/2 years by 1 1/2 million barrels of oil every day, and we've just scratched the surface. We're beginning to broaden our effort-in the conservation, coal use, hydropower, solar power, geothermal, dependence on the integrity and the innovation of American free enterprise, American courage, American spirit, American competence-to resolve those questions.

The other point I want to make is that we've not abandoned our commitment to human beings. This Nation cares, our party cares about giving those among us who are afflicted in any way a helping hand, to remove permanent dependence on government, and to let each human being, regardless of race, religion, or color or past history, stand on one's own feet, make one's own decision, take what talent or abilities God might have given them, and use it in a beneficial way. That's a characteristic of our party-compassion, not dependence, belief in human beings.

Along with peace for our own country, we've not forgotten peace for others. In the Middle East, ancient enemies are now bargaining across the table, sometimes slowly, sometimes in a disappointing way. God only knows how difficult it has been to get those who have hated each other with a burning passion to sit down as potential friends, to search for peace together, an integral part in the future security of our Nation.

We've faced disappointments—the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the taking away of the freedom of people in a small country which harmed no one, a threat to no one, deeply religious, fiercely independent. The Soviets' attempts to subjugate them have been of deep concern to our country.

Our country has an ability to survive any challenge, and our country and our party is bound together in a common purpose. I don't have any doubt that together we'll prevail again, not only in those crucial issues that have made our Nation great now and greater in the future, but I have no doubt that in November we will have an ability together, as Democrats, to whip the Republicans right and left. That's what I'm committed to do. With your help, we will not fail.

Thank you very much. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. at the residence of Dale and Margaret Ann Sights. He was introduced by Gov. John Y. Brown of Kentucky.

In his opening remarks, the President referred to Senators Walter D. Huddleston and Wendell H. Ford, Representatives Carroll Hubbard, Jr., and Carl P. Perkins, and Lieutenant Governor Martha Layne Collins of Kentucky.

Prior to the luncheon, the President rode in a parade through Henderson, Ky.

Jimmy Carter, Robards, Kentucky Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fund-raising Luncheon. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250941

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