Jimmy Carter photo

Rochester, Minnesota Remarks at the Rochester Municipal Airport.

October 21, 1978

Senator Anderson, Governor Perpich, Mayor Smekta, Chairman Scott, National Chairman John White, Congressman Oberstar, Congressman Nolan, next Senator Bob Short, Congressman Mike Freeman, in the future, and Gerry Sikorski:

Thank you very much for welcoming me here.

I've been wondering where Fritz Mondale was, and I should have guessed he was in Minnesota. [Laughter]

This is the first time that he and I have ever been together on a campaign trip since the election, and it's no accident. Not only is Minnesota his home, but we consider the elections this year in your State to be unequaled in importance in the entire Nation.

I particularly want to thank Gerry Sikorski and your fine mayor for being present to welcome us. I felt surely they'd be in Poland or either in Rome today, one or the other. [Laughter] But I think all of us recognize the tremendous resurgence or surgence of Poles throughout the world; that I predict that next January, when the new Congress is sworn in, that there will be a fine young Polish American Congressman from the First District of Minnesota.

I'm very grateful and somewhat sobered to come back to your State. As a Governor for 4 years who served with Wendy Anderson, as a Democrat throughout my life, as someone who has been interested in government earmarked by honesty and decency and openness and responsibility and character and truthfulness and compassion, I think I can say as a Georgian, as an American, as President, that your State and the Democrats in it have long exemplified those attributes above and beyond any other State party in our country. And I want to thank you for it.

There are a lot of reasons. One is that there's an ease with which Minnesotans can participate in government. And as I said many times during the campaign, I think government ought to be as good and honest and decent and truthful and compassionate and competent and as filled with love as the people of this country. But you have another reason, as well.

The last time I came to your State, it was not a happy occasion. I came here to pay the Nation's last tribute to a man who exemplified more than anyone I have ever known what is good about politics, about government, about public service, and about our country.

Hubert Humphrey was a man who was an inspiration to me and, I'm sure, to all of you. He was courageous, he was a fighter. He never backed down in the face of difficulty or a severe challenge or an obstacle. He never was afraid to show emotion. No one ever doubted that his heart was big, because he was genuinely concerned about a person who was black or who could not speak English well or who was poor or who was a Native American or someone who didn't have a job or didn't have a home or had a small farm deeply in debt or didn't have a friend or was struggling to get started in a profession or politics. Everybody knew that there was one man in this Nation to whom they could turn, not just for sympathy, because he was not just a sympathetic type person. But he considered that unfortunate American to be as good as he was, and he wanted to give that person a chance to prove it in a society, in a system that he cherished and loved so much.

I remember the difficult days in the South in 1964 when he was running for Vice President. Democrats were fairly scarce in Georgia. Muriel Humphrey came to Georgia to campaign with my mother, Lillian, and my wife, Rosalynn. Bob Short, who will be your next Senator, was there running the nationwide campaign for Hubert Humphrey to be Vice President—a close friend, a loyal friend who came into the South to say, "We've got a man from Minnesota in whom you can have trust."

This was a fine demonstration of leadership, and of course, our Nation's loss came when Hubert Humphrey was not elected President in 1968 because the Democratic Party was divided. And because the Democratic Party could not heal its wounds after the 1968 convention in Chicago, Hubert Humphrey was not elected President. And Richard Nixon was elected President. That should have taught Democrats a lesson.

People are different. Fritz Mondale is different from me. You've got candidates running for Congress, some from the northern part of Minnesota who might be quite conservative on some issues, some from the cities who might be identified as quite liberal. The U.S. Senate candidates are different from one another, but there's a basic underlying commitment of the Democratic Party that does not change. And as President I have stood there in the White House with Fritz Mondale many times and recognized that only because of party loyalty and a common purpose and a common commitment and common ideals and common beliefs, could we prevail. And the Democratic candidates and the Democratic Members of Congress from the South or the West or the North, in a time of trial for our country, domestic or foreign trials, have a tendency to stand together.

And I would like to urge you, if I don't do anything else while I'm here, to remember Hubert Humphrey, to remember what happened to him when our party was divided, to remember what he stood for, to remember his friends and commit yourselves now to give the Democratic candidates a tremendous victory on November 7. That's what I want you to do. Will you do it? Will you do it? [Applause] Very good.

We still enjoy Hubert Humphrey's legacy. The Humphrey-Hawkins bill will give us a chance on the one side to put Americans to work. We've had remarkable success in the last 20 months. The unemployment rate in Minnesota has been cut to less than half what it was. You've got an unbelievably low unemployment rate. But the Humphrey-Hawkins bill is now ready to reach out, to give other people who are hard to employ, the last ones hired, the first ones fired, a decent chance in life. And at the same time it commits us to careful planning for the future, not just to control unemployment but to control inflation, to work together with the Congress, the President, Governors, mayors, employers, workers, farmers, to say, "What can we do to bring down both unemployment and also inflation at the same time and engender in our country a better use of the tremendous resources, human and natural resources that God gave us?"

I want particularly to mention today, Senator Wendell Anderson. He and I were elected Governor together. We served together for 4 years, a bright, young, shining star among the 50 Governors of our Nation. But it's remarkable what he has accomplished since he's been in the Senate.

The problems that I face are broad. Energy has been one of the most difficult, challenging, complicated, confusing issues we ever faced. We've never had an energy policy before. Wendy Anderson just happens to serve on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And he was one of those in the Senate who was able, working with Scoop Jackson and others, to come forth with a proposal that the Congress ultimately accepted.

I inherited 20 months ago a budget deficit of $66 billion. I believe Democrats ought to be fiscally responsible. I don't think we ought to waste money. I think we ought to manage the Government well. I think we ought to be efficient, because you've never educated a child, you've never fed a hungry person, you've never built a house or a road with waste and inefficiency. Wendy Anderson just happens to serve on the Senate Budget Committee, and we have already been able, in 2 years, to cut the budget deficit of the United States by more than $28 billion. And it's still on the way down, and I need Wendy Anderson to help me get it down.

I'm not going to go down a whole list of things he's done, because that would take too much time. But I would like to say this: I believe that our country has now and always must have the strongest defense capability on Earth. Wendy Anderson just happens to serve on the defense committee in the Senate, the Armed Services Committee. And he, along with me next year, is committed to bringing to our Nation a new SALT agreement hammered out with the Soviets, protecting our interests, to be another major step in eliminating the threat of nuclear war, not only for our own country and the whole world. And I need Wendy Anderson in Washington to help me get that SALT agreement ratified by the Senate.

Rudy Perpich has been a good heir to the Governorship of your great State. I think he's brought a new tone to Minnesota politics which is very valuable. He's shown already that he knows how to cut taxes. He's pledged himself to cut taxes even more in a responsible way, not in a ridiculous way.

He's a tough Iron Ranger who knows how to fight against waste. He believes in a better education for children. He wants to take care of the health of Minnesotans, not just in Rochester, which has the greatest medical center on Earth, but throughout his State as well. And he's proven that he has the ability to understand just common, ordinary, everyday, good people. He's one of us. He's one of you. And I hope you'll give him your support.

And I'd like to mention one other person before I close, who's a fine young candidate, who stayed home today from Rome to be with me. And that's Gerry Sikorski.

He was born in a rural community like I was. His family knows what it means to live under a Republican administration, because they lost their farm during the great Hoover Depression. Gerry's father worked on a railroad yard for 40 years. His family knows what it means to be poor, to struggle, to have difficulties and to overcome them.

This young man went to college because of his father's hard work. He graduated near the top of his class and, as you know, has been the attorney for a township, which gives him a good insight into the quality of life, not only in rural areas, not only in the life of a poor family, but also, he knows what makes a city great.

This district needs a Democratic Congressman. And I hope that you will help me, and I hope that you will help our Nation, and I hope that you will help yourselves by sending Gerry Sikorski to the Congress with a great victory on November 7.

I've observed Hubert Humphrey and Muriel Humphrey, Wendy Anderson, your congressional delegation. I can tell you that Minnesota does not send rubberstamps to Congress. You keep the congressional delegation toes to the fire. And whenever there's a conflict in Wendy Anderson's mind between what the President wants and what the people of Minnesota want, he listens to the voices back borne. And that's the way it ought to be.

But I'm thankful that in the White House, I've got a man who's a full partner with me, who does the best he can, almost always successfully, to be sure that the President wants what the Minnesota people want—and that's Fritz Mondale.

I think I can say without anyone disputing this that there has never been in the history of the United States a closer and more valuable partnership between the President of our country and the Vice President of our country, than between Jimmy Carter and Fritz Mondale. And I'm thankful for that.

There are no decisions which I make in which he is not involved. He is my foremost adviser, my closest confidant. He's the man to whom I turn when I have a problem or have trouble or a difficulty that I can't resolve. He knows this country well. He knows the Members of Congress. His ideals, his standards, his integrity is absolutely impeccable, and you know that. But I would like to thank you for training a man and giving to me a man to serve as Vice President with the qualities that Fritz Mondale has brought to my administration. Thank you very much.

Of course he helps me in domestic affairs, presiding over the Senate. But when I got in trouble at Camp David a few weeks ago, and it became obvious to me that the situation was hopeless and that both the Egyptians and the Israelis were ready to leave and go home, I put in a call to Fritz Mondale.

I said, "Fritz, what are your plans for the day?" And he said, "I have three States to visit. My promises have already been made." And I said, "I would like for you to cancel that trip and come to Camp David," which he did. And it doubled the ability that I had to deal effectively with Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat, because I never had any doubt that when Fritz Mondale was talking to President Sadat or to Prime Minister Begin or their delegations, that he spoke with the same authority and the same voice as though I was there myself.

But the most important thing was that there was no doubt in the minds of Sadat and Begin that when Fritz Mondale spoke, he was speaking for the President of the United States. And we are indeed fortunate in this country to have a man like him as Vice President. I sincerely hope that you will not tell him what I said about him. [Laughter]

Let me close by saying this: It's no accident, as I said earlier, that Fritz and I have come together here. This is the most important State in the Nation for elections this year. You've come here to see a President. You've come here because you're interested in government. But your coming here is not enough.

I would like for every one of you when you leave here to resolve in your own heart to make a contribution to your country by sending to Washington two Democratic United States Senators, eight Democratic Members of Congress, and keeping in office a fine Democratic Governor and his administration.

You believe that all of us when we get in office should do a good job. But the responsibility is also on your shoulder. And I have seen many fine candidates lose an election—that close—because their best friends, allies, neighbors, relatives, supporters took an election for granted or were not willing to invest a tiny bit of one's own character and ability and finances in a successful campaign.

There is no one here that can't go home, no matter how old or young you might be, and become a campaign manager for the candidates that you admire so much. Organize your own home, your own block, your own community, and let's make November 7 be a tremendous victory for the Democratic Party and for our Nation.

We've got the greatest nation on Earth. If you work hard enough between now and November, then in the future it can be even greater than it already is.

Thank you very much. You do your part; I'll do mine.

Note: The President spoke at 4:23 p.m. In his opening remarks, he referred to Ulric Scott, State Democratic-Farmer-Labor chairman, and John C. White, Democratic National Committee chairman.

Jimmy Carter, Rochester, Minnesota Remarks at the Rochester Municipal Airport. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243445

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