Roswell, Georgia Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraising Reception.
I've just made a quick decision to come home more often.
Governor Busbee, Senator Talmadge, Senator Nunn, distinguished members of the Georgia congressional delegation, members of the State legislature and other State officials, a lot of visitors from surrounding States—from Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee—we make all of you honorary Georgians for tonight:
I am amazed, and that's a truthful statement. I asked Charlie who was going to be here tonight. He said, "Well, I'm just having a few kinfolks drop by." Carol Channing—I'd like for her to be my kinfolks. Isn't she great?
I asked him if I could spend the night with him. He said, "I'm sorry, Mr. President, but all the rooms are taken. You'll have to find some other place to stay." So, since I'm not in a hurry to go anywhere else, I'd like to speak for about 3 or 4 minutes to you, my friends, and then if you would give me your time, I would like to stand right in front of this microphone and shake hands with every single one of you and thank you personally for being my friends and meaning so much to me and to my family for this country.
It is good to come home. As I said over at Sissy's house a few minutes ago, there's only one place I'd rather be the next 4 years than in Georgia— [laughter] —and with friends like you I'm going to be there. But after that, back to Georgia for me.
I just had two thoughts that I wanted to express to the people whom I addressed today. One is about the Presidency itself, and the other one is about the future of our country. And I'll be very brief.
There is no more important elective office in the world than the one I hold, than the one for which you're responsible that I was elected. Many of you had confidence in me when I didn't have many friends, when people outside my home State and outside the South had no idea who Jimmy Carter was. But you contributed money, you went to foreign States and made them home States for me. And you made it possible for me to serve in this office which Americans revere and which the entire world looks to as a source of a better life for them.
When our Nation is strong, the world is more secure. When our Nation is at peace, that peace can be expanded to benefit others. When our Nation is prosperous, the rest of the world is better off. When our education system and our research and development pays rich dividends with new ideas and new thoughts and new products, the whole world benefits from it. And when our Nation raises high the banner of human rights, the breath of freedom is expanded in the hearts of those who haven't known it in the past. And when they see us with a democratic system working, as it is now in this election season, it makes the attractions of democracy and freedom even more valuable to others. So, what happens in my office in Washington does indeed not only affect us but affect the world.
The job's a difficult one even though it's exciting and gratifying. It's filled with history, the history of Presidents who've suffered much worse than have I from castigations and criticisms and disappointments or from trials that affect our Nation. A lot of people think this is tough times. When I sit in that White House or walk down the hall and see those portraits or read those history books, I thank God has blessed us in this generation and in this administration.
We're a nation that's steadily growing stronger militarily. It's part of my upbringing, part of my training, because as you know, my own background is as a professional military officer. My father or none of his ancestors so far as I know for 300 years ever had a chance to finish high school—I finished high school—and from the time I was 5 years old my daddy wanted me to go and get an education. During depression years it was doubtful that the family could afford it. Later it turned out that they could have. So, I always wanted to go to Annapolis. And I got the training as an officer to keep our country strong, because I believe that the reason we have been at peace for these last 4 years and the reason we're going to be at peace for the next 4 years is because our Nation is militarily strong.
The best weapon is one that's never fired, and the best soldier is one that's never killed. And for our own people and our allies and our potential adversaries to know how strong America is is the best guarantee that America can stay at peace.
There are not any easy decisions that come to the Oval Office. As I said before, tonight, if the decisions are easy, if the questions can be answered, they're answered before they get to me. They're answered in a family's home or in a county courthouse or a city hall or in a State legislature or the Governor's office. If they are so difficult and so sharply divided that they can't be answered there, they arrive on my desk, and I share those responsibilities with the Members of Congress and with others and try to make the right decisions. And I've found from experience that the most difficult questions, the ones most controversial, the ones most vital to our Nation's future, are the ones on which my own advisers are split almost exactly fifty-fifty—so I'm the one that has to make those decisions.
And the reason I outline this to you is because I believe when I make a sound judgment it's because I remember my upbringing. I remember the principles that I learned in Sunday school and church and listening to my daddy and working in the field, serving on the school board in Sumter County when we were trying to wrestle with the problem of black versus white, to make it black plus white in a better future. Those were tough times, and we weathered those tough times. And now we've got a brighter, better Southland, because we had the courage—it came slow—we had the courage to address that issue and prepare for a better future. So, my background and my upbringing, what you all taught me, has stood me in good stead and I'm grateful to you.
Now our country has made some good decisions. When I went into office we didn't have an energy policy. The 3 years before I became President we increased oil that we bought from overseas 44 percent in 3 years. Since I've been in office it's decreased 24 percent. We've got more oil drilling rigs, natural gas drilling rigs running this year than any other year in the history of our country. And at the same time people are beginning to be more conscious of conservation and saving what God gave us, and we are producing more coal in the United States this year than any other year in history, and we're learning now how to produce gasohol from growing crops and trees and waste products. And we're using solar power. Ten times more homes use solar power now than they did just 4 years ago.
And we're increasing trade overseas so that the things we produce in this country can be sold. The trade with Mexico, for instance, has tripled in the last 4 years, and we now have a fourth of the people on Earth, in China, that were formerly our enemies; now they are ready customers. I visited a little steelplant in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, last week. Half of their product goes to China, and they are now making steel and shipping it halfway around the world cheaper than Japan can make steel and ship it a few hundred miles.
What we have is a nation so strong and so blessed, and having made tough decisions on energy, we've built a foundation for a future that can be bright with hope and achievement and more freedom and more beneficial influence. And God's given us blessings that not many people yet realize. D. W. Brooks realizes it. But OPEC oil doesn't stand a comparison with United States soil. In the future that blessing will let us use our influence throughout the world in a very beneficial way, and at the same time, benefit us.
So, we can count our blessings, we look to the future with confidence, we can have a better government, more trust, more decency, more honesty, more openness, more communication with the people, more soundness, and we can pull our Nation together. That's what I want to see, so that you and I together in the years ahead can make the greatest nation on Earth even greater.
God bless you and thank you again.
One thing—postscript. There are about five or six hundred people here and some of you have a long way to go. I'm going to spend the night at the Governor's Mansion with George Busbee, so I don't have very far to go. As I look around the faces, I see people that I could spend a half an hour talking to about: "Do you remember so and so," and sometimes I'd say, "No, I don't remember it at all." [Laughter] But I won't have time to have a conversation with each one of you, so just to make sure that the line's not too long on you all, let's just let me shake hands, say God bless you and thank you, and then let me shake hands with the next one. It's not because I don't want to talk to you, I just want to get through tonight.
Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 8:28 p.m. outside the home of Charles Kirbo.
Following the reception, the President went to the Governor's Residence in Atlanta, where he stayed overnight.
Jimmy Carter, Roswell, Georgia Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraising Reception. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251125