Jimmy Carter photo

Saginaw, Michigan Remarks at a Rally With Area Residents.

October 30, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. As you may know—


THE PRESIDENT. Amy's just fine.

As you may know, Plains, Georgia, has a lot in common with you. We are both very close to 1-75. I think I'll just move up and stay with you all for a while. So, if you want to see Amy in 1986, just get on 1-75 and come on down to Plains. We'll be there.

Let me say first of all, Senator Riegle, Senator Levin, Congressman Bob Traxler, who introduced me so well, Congressman Albosta, Congressman Dale Kildee, and all of you, my friends, it's a great pleasure to be with you. This has been a good Democratic day for me. I started out this morning with Polish Americans in Philadelphia, and just came from a tremendous rally in the garment district of New York. And I go from here to St. Louis, Missouri, and tonight I'll be in South Carolina, right, and tomorrow in Florida and Texas. And I'll wind up the last day of the campaign on the west coast, in California and in Oregon and Washington, and I'll be back in Plains to vote on Tuesday. And Tuesday, I want to tell you that I'll be looking to this area of Michigan and the State of Michigan and the Nation to give use a tremendous victory over the Republicans. Okay? [Applause]

This afternoon I want to talk to you about a few things that are quite serious to me and to you, to your families, to the people that you love, and to the nation about which you care so deeply. This is troubled times in many places of the world, and we've been faced with many very serious challenges in the last 4 years. But Democrats are builders, just as the people of Michigan and the workers of our automobile industry are builders. We have never been afraid to face change. We have never been afraid to face any question; we've never failed to answer it. We've never faced any challenge that we could not meet; we've never faced any problem we could not solve; we've never faced any obstacle we could not overcome. Americans are like that, we are builders. Democrats are builders. That's why you and I are Democrats. That's why we're going to win next week.

In recent weeks, I've had a chance to travel around this country to see what is going on in America. One of the things I've seen that has thrilled my heart: I've seen the best, the most durable, the safest, the most fuel-efficient automobiles in the world rolling off the assembly lines in Michigan. And they're going to replace those foreign cars on the market, and you can depend on that. And as you well know, they're built by the best automobile workers in the world, right?

We have faced rapidly changing times because last year, in 1979, the OPEC oil companies and countries increased the price of oil more than the oil prices had increased since it was first discovered in the 1800's. Our Nation changed its buying habits and very quickly the automobile industry of our country—the automobile workers, management—and government got together to plan for the future. The new cars now being assembled in this Nation are the highest quality of all. And, as you know, there are long waiting lists for the new model cars. This change has been a traumatic experience for some of us, for you and for me. As President, I have felt a personal responsibility to play a leading role in shaping the future of the automobile industry.

One of the things that we have done is to spell out the very clear new tax incentives to encourage reinvestment by saved tax monies into modern tools and plants so that the American workers can continue to be the most productive in the world. We've worked out a very good relationship now between the Environmental Protection Agency and the automobile industry, so that we could understand one another and work in harmony to continue the progress that has been made.

We've obviously had to deal with temporary unemployment. We have been true to the principles of the Democratic Party in making sure that unemployment compensation was paid to workers when they are unemployed because of a changed desire and the changing models. This is quite in contrast to my Republican opponent who says that unemployment compensation is a prepaid vacation for freeloaders.

Throughout this campaign, for the last 4 years, we have said that it's important for our Nation to be strong, vibrant, and dynamic in meeting inevitable change. We've had some tough and historic obstacles, but I promise you this, as long as I am President, the Government of the United States will play its rightful role in making American cars the cars of the future. I believe in that goal, and with your help, we'll carry it out.

We've backed up Chrysler when they needed help most. We've backed them up with $1 1/2 billion in sound loan guarantees. We've backed up a 100,000 Chrysler workers, and we've backed up a total of 250,000 other employees in the automobile industry in this Nation who depend upon Chrysler being a viable organization for their livelihood. And because we did, there's a K-car today, 40,000 back orders for it. Chrysler's building fuel-efficient automobiles, and Chrysler's building for the future.

Again there was a sharp difference shown between the basic philosophy of the Democratic Party, that I've just outlined to you, and the attitude of my own opponent who represents the Republican Party, who, when faced earlier this year with the question of guaranteed loans for Chrysler, said, and I quote him, "What's wrong with bankruptcy?"

I feel this direct responsibility to expedite the ITC determination about how imports are affecting the automobile industry, and after this election is over, I will continue my efforts along those lines. When I was in Venice in May, I met with the Japanese leaders there, their Foreign Minister, and I expressed the great concern that I had about alleged plans in Japan to expand their automobile capacity. They've now assured me and they have urged their manufacturers to exercise prudence and predict a decline in their exports to the United States in the final months of this year.

The last time I was in Michigan, I said I was going to talk to the Japanese about their automobile exports to this country. And I can announce today that I will be meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister soon after the election to discuss the automobile issue and a whole range of other issues of importance to their country and to our own.

It's good for you to remember—many of you are young—to remember what is so important about the basic philosophy of our two parties down through the years. I grew up as a young boy on a farm during the Depression years. I was born in 1924. And the Depression years saw a great change in our life. We faced a life of despair. We didn't have electricity on our farm. There was no guarantee of an equitable payment for hard work done.

The Democrats proposed the REA to put electricity on the farms. Republicans opposed it. The Democrats felt that there should be an end to sweatshops and that grown men and women should have a chance to earn enough with 'their honest labor to feed and to clothe and to house their family. So, the Democrats put forward the idea of a minimum wage, 25 cents an hour. The Republicans opposed it. Later the Democrats raised it.

When I finished high school, I got my first job—40 cents an hour. That increase from 25 cents to 40 cents was supported by the Democrats. The Republicans said it was socialism and the unwarranted injection of the government into the affairs of the private enterprise system. Later, of course, Roosevelt thought that the older people in our country ought to have some security in their old age. So, the Democrats put forward the idea of social security. The Republicans opposed it.

Years later, under a Democratic administration, it was proposed that we have Medicare to give our retired citizens some modicum of health care. The Republicans opposed it. Governor Reagan, as a matter of fact, got his start in political life working for the American Medical Association, traveling around this country speaking against Medicare, calling it socialized medicine and the injection of socialism into the system of our country.

The Government has a proper role to play in helping people have a better life. The Democratic government philosophy has always been that government ought to take people who want to work for themselves, stand on their own feet, have a better life, have self-respect, have better health care, have better education, and give them a boost to be more self-sufficient, to take whatever talent or ability God might have given that individual person and let that talent and ability be expanded. Education programs, public education has always been supported strongly by Democrats, as you well know.

There's a basic difference in philosophy that still permeates the consciousness of Americans on both parties and the two candidates running for President this year. I reject the negative approach. I know that the American people will reject it too. And I come today to you to offer you a choice, and the clearest possible choice, about our Nation's future.

For decades Walter Reuther and the United Automobile Workers stood with Harry Truman and with John Kennedy and with Lyndon Johnson. They fought for Medicare. They fought for national health insurance. Ronald Reagan called that socialism, again. He ridiculed Walter Reuther for proposing, and I quote, "socialized medicine." Governor Reagan can call this dream whatever he wants, but we're going to make it a reality.

This time we're going to make good on all the promises that Harry Truman and Walter Reuther and John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt were fighting for. This time we're going to realize our dream. With the help of those assembled behind me, who are serving in the Congress, we're going to reach that dream and make national health insurance a reality, because what it will do for us is to give us a chance to prevent disease. It'll give us a chance to control hospital costs. It'll give us a chance to emphasize at-home care and outpatient care, not the incarceration for long periods in a hospital as the only way to get adequate medical care. It'll give us catastrophic health insurance. If a family's wiped out financially by high medical costs, the insurance will help pay for it. It'll give special care to women, pregnant women and newborn babies during the first few months or years of their lives. This is the kind of thing that must be done.

On one side in this campaign you've got a Republican candidate who's turned his back on 40 years of commitment, his own party's commitment, to the equal rights amendment. Six predecessors of mine in the Oval Office have believed that there must be a guarantee for the rights of women, like the rights of men, inscribed in the Constitution of the United States. This is not a radical proposal. What it says, very simply, is this: that equality of rights cannot be abridged for women by the Federal Government or the government of any State. That's it. That's it in its totality, and that's what we mean when we say we're going to give equal rights.

On one side is a Republican candidate who's repeatedly called for sending American military forces to troublespots around the world. In 1975, Governor Reagan—
[Interruption from the audience.]

Okay, listen, and I'll talk. In 1975 Governor Reagan wanted to send American military forces to Ecuador and to Angola. In 1976 he said let's send military forces to Rhodesia and Cyprus. This year, so far, he's wanted to send American military forces to Cuba, to Pakistan, and the Middle East. On the other side, you've got an experienced Democratic administration which has strengthened our Nation's defenses. It's strengthened our Nation's alliances, and it's built a new and a fruitful relationship with one-fourth the total population of the world, in China, and doubled our trade in the meantime with the people of Taiwan.

We've been interested in having peace for ourselves, yes. But we have also used our peaceful influence to help other people around the world, including, of course, the Israelis and the Egyptians, and now we're trying to extend that peace to Israel's other neighbors. This is the kind of commitment that the Democrats have exemplified down through the ages.

On one side is a Republican candidate who's criticized our human rights policy as being against the best interests of the United States. When I spoke this morning to the Polish Americans, I had Mr. Walesa with me, the father of the labor leader in Poland, who has hammered out in that country a new approach and a new dream of the rights of Polish workers. And I told the Polish Americans this morning that as long as I'm President of our country, we will hold high the banner of human rights.

I've outlined to you a few issues that I think are very important, because there is a sharp distinction between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and between the two candidates who represent those parties this year. The other thing, though, is perhaps even more important of all: On one side, you've got a Republican candidate who says in this year, 1980, in a time of growing concern about nations like Iraq or Libya, terrorist nations, that they might be developing nuclear weapons, that nuclear proliferation, as Governor Reagan says, is none of our business.

On the other side, you've got a Democratic administration pledged to halting the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons to the nations that do not now have them, nations that might be highly unstable and irresponsible. That's the business not only of everyone in government in the United States but of every government and of every human being on Earth. The most important single commitment that a President can have is to keep our Nation strong, yes, but at peace, and to control the horrible possible blight of atomic weapons that threatens this world.

I mentioned to you the other night on television that one nuclear warhead on one of our major missiles has about 10 megatons of explosive power. I'd like to remind you again what that means. If you put 50 tons of TNT in every railroad car—50 tons—it would stretch 2,500 miles long and take a thousand diesel locomotives to move it. That's just one warhead, and we've got literally hundreds of equivalent warheads to that explosive power. To control that terrible destructive force has been the preeminent commitment of every President, Democratic or Republican, since Harry Truman.

Governor Reagan would abandon that commitment, a treaty negotiated under three Presidents—two Republicans and myself—over a 7-year period to have a balanced, controlled, confirmable agreement with the concept of lowering the arsenals in both nations. Governor Reagan said recently the one thing that's been missing from the nuclear arms negotiations is a nuclear arms race. I hope you'll remember that if you forget everything else I'll say this afternoon, because it is the most important single issue.

Two other points and then I'd like to be coming to a close. Two other points. On one side you've got a Republican Presidential candidate who said this year that the minimum wage has caused more unemployment and more misery than anything since the Great Depression. He's on record this year as favoring the abolition of the minimum wage. If he can't abolish it he plans to lower it by the backdoor route of a so-called subminimum wage for minority or other youth. That's what he proposed during the debate night before last. On the other side you've got a Democratic administration carrying on the tradition of strengthening the minimum wage, just as Democrats have supported and strengthened that commitment to the lowest paid, hard-working American families ever since Franklin Roosevelt. We know that the minimum wage has made a decent life possible for millions of Americans, and we Democrats know it's wrong to tell a 25- or a 35-yearold man or woman, a mother or father, that he or she can no longer have a job because it's been filled by someone much younger who's working for substandard wages. This is extremely important to me and to the working people of our country.

And finally, let me say that I'm a farmer. My people have lived in this country for a long time. All of my ancestors-my father, my grandfather, and others—have been farmers. One of the greatest commitments that I've made as President is to strengthen the life and the economy of farmers, ranchers in this Nation. Under my own administration, in spite of very severe blows, as you know, on a worldwide basis, we've had the highest gross income for farmers, the highest net income for farm families, the highest exports in history. As a matter of fact, this year, in spite of restraints on sales to the Soviet Union after they invaded Afghanistan, we will sell overseas to permanent customers $40 billion worth of American agricultural products, an $8 billion increase over last year, the largest single increase in history. And when we developed our farm program in 1977 we did it with the closest possible cooperation of farmers themselves and of organizations representing them.

If you've been listening to the Republican candidate, then you know he's trying to wrap himself in the mantle of great Democratic Presidents. But it happens every election year. Here's what Franklin Roosevelt said back in 1944 about how Republicans change their tune at election time. "The sole purpose of Republican oratory these days," he said, "seems to be to switch labels. Now, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I'm afraid in this case it's the most obvious, common, garden variety of fraud." And now the Republicans have the nerve to quote Franklin Roosevelt himself.

John Kennedy predicted it back in 1960, when he said of the Republicans, "They are even beginning to say a few kind words about Franklin Roosevelt. Twenty years from now, who knows. They might even speak a good word for Harry Truman. But he won't ever say a good word about them." [Laughter] As you know, that prediction came true. And I predict that 20 years from now Republican candidates will even be saying good things about Jimmy Carter's second term, if you will let me.

Well, in closing let me say that I've described the election of 1980 as the choice between two futures as quickly and as briefly as I can, covering a fairly broad range of issues. Here's what I see in the future that we are fighting for together. I see a nation strong and at peace. I see a nation secure in its pursuit of progress, equity, and justice for our people, a nation where everyone can have the dignity of a decent job, where new industries create a new generation of American buildings and vehicles that will house and move us in comfort on a lot less energy, and that energy coming from America, a nation where children are educated to their maximum potential, where the elderly are treated with the respect that they have earned, where families are intact, loving and secure. I have a vision of a nation free enough to attract and strong enough to welcome the deprived from other parts of the world as we have welcomed the Jews from Eastern Europe and the immigrants here from Germany and from Poland and from Italy and from other nations from which almost all of us have come, a nation of liberty and of justice and of compassion and of concern, a nation of confidence, a nation of commitment, a nation of unity, a nation of strength.

I need your help to make this vision a reality. Together you and I can make the greatest nation on Earth even greater in the future. That's my pledge. Will you help me? [Cheers] Thank you very much. I need you to work now. Okay? [Cheers]

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:34 p.m. in the Athletic Center gymnasium, Saginaw Valley State College, University Center.

Jimmy Carter, Saginaw, Michigan Remarks at a Rally With Area Residents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251844

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