Jimmy Carter photo

Seattle, Washington Remarks at a Rally With Area Residents.

November 03, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. How many of you believe we're going to whip the Republicans tomorrow? [Applause] Right. You don't know what it does to a man who's been campaigning since early this morning—I got up at 5 o'clock Washington time. When I asked Jody Powell, "Where do we spend the night?" he said, "Governor, this evening there ain't no tonight." We're going to leave here and fly back to Plains to vote. But I want to say that I thank you all for coming out. I love all of you. It's great to be here with so many Democrats, and particularly a man who has fought all his life—and still has a long time to fight—for all Americans, throughout all his career, and knows how to get things done for the United States of America and for the State of Washington, Warren G. Magnuson.

And I want to mention another man, too. In 1972 as the Governor of Georgia, I had one of the greatest honors of my life at the Democratic National Convention in Miami to nominate a man for President, a man who's done more in public life to keep our Nation strong and secure and at peace than anyone I know, Senator Scoop Jackson, my friend.

And I want to mention, too, your next Governor and my friend Jim McDermott. The only thing wrong with Jim McDermott is I have trouble with that first name. It kind of slips my mind on occasion. But I would like to say that all the Jims and all the Jimmys and all the Teds this year are working for a great Democratic victory tomorrow with your help.

You're blessed in this State with a fine Democratic delegation who will all be on the ticket tomorrow—Alan Swift, Don Bonker, Norman Dicks, Mike Lowry. This is a State, as you know, with a great future. You're the home of Boeing, the largest exporting corporation in America. You can really be proud of that. And your port is the closest one to China. It may be that you haven't yet realized the tremendous change that will take place in the life of all those in Oregon, Washington, California, and particularly throughout our Nation, when we see what will occur with the wonderful trade with China.

The normalization of relations with that great country has already meant that China is the number one buyer of American cotton. And lately we've signed a trade agreement between 6 and 9 million tons of American grain that will be shipped to China every year for the next 5 years, enough grain for 15 loaves of bread for every one of the 1 billion people who live in China. You've indeed got a wonderful future if you keep this wonderful Democratic ticket in office, and that includes me as well as the men behind me.

All of us are now working on the northwest fisheries bill to stock your salmon fisheries. In the past, one of the most important bills ever introduced for the fisheries industry, the American Fisheries Promotion Act, which will strengthen your industry and give our American fishermen greater rights within the 200-mile fishing zone than foreign fishermen have. We're going to pass that bill if I'm reelected, Maggie's reelected, the congressional delegation is sent back to Washington to represent you.

I've come here to the State of Washington many times in the last 4 years. As a matter of fact, I've been here twice as much since I've been in office as President as any previous President has ever been to see you—more than any Presidential candidate. It's because I love the State of Washington and because I've been so eager to work with you when you've made great progress or when you've faced great potential difficulties. I came here when Mt. St. Helens erupted and traveled that area with Warren Magnuson, went back to Washington, worked with him and your delegation, to make sure that we took care of this tremendous trial for the people of the State of Washington. And I'm very important to you in coming here as a candidate, because I represent, I believe, the image and the commitment and the ideals of the party down through the last half century that has meant so much to the lives of you and your families and those you love.

It's not a coincidence that I've come here on the last stop of my long campaign trail. I leave here tonight in a few minutes and fly back to Plains, Georgia. I'll arrive there just in time to vote in the morning, visit my mother who's in the hospital-she'll be out tomorrow—then we'll go back to Washington to listen to the returns. I've crossed a half a continent to be with you.

Let me tell you this in the utmost seriousness. The Republicans cannot beat us. There are not enough Republicans in this Nation to win an election. But the Democrats can beat ourselves. A low turnout by the working families of this Nation, a low turnout by the elderly citizens of this Nation, a low turnout by the teachers and students of this Nation, a low turnout by those who've been disabled and have been given a better life by the Democratic Party, a low turnout by those who share the ideals that have made you and me, together, partners in this election—those are the very things that can hurt us and put a Republican in the White House for the next 4 years. And after we wake up, Wednesday morning, and find that we've got a rightwing Republican leading this country, it's too late for us to decide we should have worked harder. You've been listening to this campaign for the last-more than a year, and you've heard the Republican candidate wrap himself in the mantle of the Democratic Party. It's not an accident. It happens every 4 years. It's happened that way all my life.

Have you ever heard a Republican candidate for President quote a Republican President?


THE PRESIDENT. And you never will. You never will. Republicans campaign the last few months as Democrats, but once they get in office, they govern like Republicans. And after 4 years of incumbency, a Republican President has not left anything to be remembered favorably and he's not said anything to be quoted in the future. Now, some of you watched the Republican convention. You heard Ronald Reagan quoting Franklin D. Roosevelt. It would have been inconceivable for Ronald Reagan to quote Herbert Hoover or Richard Nixon, right?


THE PRESIDENT. It's important for the people of Washington to think very seriously about the consequences of this election and the differences between us. No man who says that the New Deal was based on fascism has a right to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt. No man who opposes the minimum wage has a right to quote Harry Truman. And no man who opposed the limited test ban agreement, SALT I, the Vladivostok agreement, the antiballistic missile treaty, has the right to quote John Fitzgerald Kennedy. And no man who campaigned around this country as a full-time employee of the anti-Medicare lobby, calling that legislation socialism, has the right to quote Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Now, you can rewrite the lines in a movie script. You can change the advertising posture of a major corporation, but in the last 3 months of a campaign, you cannot change the lifetime commitment of a man dedicated to the most reactionary element of the Republican Party. Think in your own lives what has happened to you under Democrats. Think how they change just before an election. We recognize it now because we see it in person, but it's been that way for a long time. Let me read you what John Kennedy said about the Republicans in the campaign of 1960.

He said, "They're even beginning to say a few kind words about Franklin Roosevelt. Twenty years from now they might even speak a good word for Harry Truman. But I guarantee you that Harry Truman will not say a good word about Republicans." As you know, that prediction has come true, and now tonight I'd like to make a new prediction to you. I predict that 20 years from now Republican candidates for President will even be saying good things about Jimmy Carter's second term.

I'm proud to be a Democrat because I believe in the heritage and the mission of the Democratic Party. It's changed my life. It's changed the life of my mother. It changed the life of my father. The Democratic Party's given my children a better chance for a better life. I believe in the heritage and the mission of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I believe in the heritage and the mission of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I believe in the heritage and mission of Harry Truman. And I believe in the heritage and the mission of Lyndon Baines Johnson. And I believe also in the heritage and the mission of Hubert Humphrey. Every great advance, every single great advance in our Nation, in the private lives of our citizens, for the last half century, from collective bargaining to the minimum wage, from social security to Medicare—every single one of them has been made possible by Democrats, over the opposition of Republicans.

Ever since Franklin Roosevelt the pattern has been the same. Collective bargaining—Democrats supported it; Republicans opposed it. Social security—Democrats supported it; Republicans opposed it. Ronald Reagan said four times that social security should be voluntary, which would destroy it. In the debate last week he said that for a young person, social security was a bad investment. The minimum wage—Democrats supported it; Republicans opposed it. Ronald Reagan has suggested this year, proposed, that the minimum wage be repealed. Civil rights—the Democrats supported the Voting Rights bill, the Civil Rights Act. Ronald Reagan said it was bad legislation. Medicare—Democrats supported it; Republicans opposed it. I've described Ronald Reagan's support for the opposition, calling it socialized medicine. National health insurance, other moves in the future-Democrats support it; Republicans oppose it. Ronald Reagan says there will be no national health insurance if he becomes President.

We believe also in a strong defense. I'm a southerner. I'm a graduate of the Naval Academy, a submarine officer. I used to come to Seattle and tie up at your pier on my first submarine. When I got into the Oval Office, in 7 of the last 8 years under Republican administrations, we had had an actual reduction in the commitment of our Nation's budget funds for defense, a 37-percent reduction over a period of 8 years. Since then, with the help of Scoop Jackson, Warren Magnuson, and others, we've had a steady, planned increase in commitment, above and beyond inflation, for a strong defense. That's why our Nation has been strong. That's why we've been influential. And that's why tonight I can stand here and, for the first time in 50 years, make a statement that no other President has been able to make, and that is, for the last 4 years, since I have been in office, our Nation has not been at war, we have been at peace. And with your help—with your help we will keep this Nation strong and at peace.

I'm a father and I'm a grandfather and I know the tremendous power available at the fingertips of an American President. But as President, I'll always remember that the best weapon is one that's never fired in battle and the best soldier is one that never has to shed his blood or give his life in war.

All Presidents, Democratic and Republican, have had to face troubled times. There's never been a day since I've been in that office that there hasn't been a crisis somewhere in the world, armed conflict between other nations. I have had to make the judgment in each instance-what is the interest of my country? How can I protect those interests? How can I protect the honor of my Nation? How can protect our commitment to our allies? What is the degree of involvement? Can I resolve this problem diplomatically, politically, through persuasion, through the exercise of strength, without war? Those are the judgments that a President must make. If I handle those kinds of crises properly, with sound judgment, a sure strength, self-confidence, moderation, recognizing the ideals and commitments of the American people, then quite often you never know about the crisis that I faced for you. But if a President makes a misjudgment, any one of those crises can affect your life or perhaps the life of every person who lives on Earth.

I'm very much aware of the fact that the greatest commitment that I have is to prevent nuclear war. We must continue our progress in the careful, balanced, verifiable control of nuclear arms. This is the greatest overriding issue of this campaign. Governor Reagan has said—when asked about nuclear weapons or nuclear bombs for Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, his reply was, "That's none of our business."

It's very important that every American consider the consequences of that election. The election of 1980 is an election not just between two men, not just between two parties, but between two futures.

Let me talk very briefly in closing about the future that you and I together can have. In the next 4 years, we can build a nation at peace, peace not just for 4 years, but a nation with a commitment to peace so deep and a foundation so strong it'll last the rest of this century or beyond; a nation secure, secure in our military defense, yes, also secure in our energy needs; a nation of new technology, new tools, new factories, new industries that many of us have never even dreamed; a nation of new energy sources where American coal and American fuel derived from growing crops and from the Sun replace OPEC oil; a nation that stands for human rights and decency and self-respect for individual human beings, not just here but around the world.

These goals are not just dreams. They can and they must be our real agenda. As long as I'm President, working with you, that will be my commitment. But I need your help in a sacrificial way. With the election just hours away, it's now clearer than ever that the winner tomorrow will be either Governor Reagan or myself.

Tonight, I want to say a word directly to the Washingtonians who have been considering a vote for Congressman John Anderson. On many of the key issues, like energy conservation, equal rights for women, protecting our air and water, a better life for working people, the overriding issue of nuclear arms control, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to radical and other countries—on all these central issues, the young people, primarily, and others who support John Anderson, agree with me. But it would be a tragedy if a split among those of us committed to these goals results in handing over the White House to those who oppose all these goals. I know what I'm talking about, because in the adjacent state of Oregon last time, Gene McCarthy got 40,000 votes and Oregon went to the Republicans by 1,700.

Consider the consequences of a Republican victory. Think about it deeply. You might say, "Well, one vote can't make a difference." Or you might say, "I've come here tonight in the middle of the night. I've done enough for the Democratic Party because I'm going to go tomorrow and vote for the entire Democratic ticket." You might have even helped with the campaign or made a financial contribution. I tell you that's not enough, because the issue of this election is so close nationwide that what you do personally might be the difference between victory and defeat. It might be the difference between a good life for you and those you love and a challenge to the things in which you believe so deeply.

The other night I was in St. Louis talking about and listening to the people respond about Harry Truman. Remember the election in '48. If a few people had changed their votes, then Harry Truman would never have been reelected. Think about 1960 when John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were on our ticket. If 28,000 people in Texas had changed their vote and just a few thousand in Illinois had not voted, John Kennedy would never have served this Nation as President, Lyndon Johnson likely would never have been elected President; the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the great changes that have taken place for the betterment of your lives, might never have occurred.

Both those stories had a good ending, but think about another election in 1968 when the Democratic Party was divided. Some of the Gene McCarthy voters said, "Hubert Humphrey hasn't measured up to our 100-percent standard," and they didn't give him the support. A great man, a heart full of love, a great idealist, a great Democrat, never had a chance to serve this Nation as President. And what happened? The last Republican that this country has elected, Richard Nixon, was elected President, disgraced the White House, because Democrats, not Republicans, determined the outcome of that election.

So tomorrow, the issue's in your hands. Let's remember these events that I've just outlined to you. There's not a single person listening to my voice that can't contact at least 50 or 100 people between now and the time the polls close tomorrow. Let's remember in closing, the words of another Democrat—and this is the last thing I'll say to you. This is a Democrat who died in the midst of a campaign. He was a good, idealistic Democrat, never had a chance to serve as President. I don't know if he'd have been elected or not. His name was Robert Kennedy. This is what he said to his supporters in Los Angeles. He said, "I ask you to recognize the hard and difficult road to a better America. I ask you to vote for yourselves. The people must decide this election. For your sake and for the sake of your children, vote. Vote for yourselves."

Tomorrow vote for yourselves. Vote Democratic. Help us. God be with you.

Note: The President spoke at 11 p.m. at the Flightcraft Hangar at Boeing Field International Airport.

Jimmy Carter, Seattle, Washington 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/252215

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