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Skokie, Illinois Remarks at a "Get Out the Vote" Rally.

November 02, 1978

Senator Stevenson, Congressman Mikva, Alex Seith, Mike Bakalis, distinguished Democrats who will be elected Tuesday ii you will help them, supporters of one of the finest Congressmen I have ever known.

I'm glad to be back in the 10th District. I might say that every aspect of a President's life is not pleasant. It's not easy. Sometimes decisions have to be approached with a great deal of trepidation and caution. Sometimes there are discouragements. Since the Camp David negotiations began, I've not taken any time off. I've been working on the weekends and also during the week.

One good thing about a President is that I can set priorities for myself. I can do what I think is the most important thing for the Nation that I love. And the most important thing to me at this moment is to see Abner Mikva return to Congress next year.

It's not an accident that many knowledgeable and distinguished Democrats come into this district to add their voice of support for Congressman Mikva. We all want to have a better nation. We all want to meet our responsibilities of public office.

It's an exciting thing to come tonight to see democracy in action, to see dedicated Americans who are willing to fight to have a nation that's even greater than it is. And it's an inspiration to me as President to be in a rally with this degree of enthusiasm and fervor and commitment and support and success that's going to be demonstrated next Tuesday night.

We've got a candidate for the United State Senate here, whom I've known for several years. When the Democratic Party has met in its annual conventions or its midterm conventions, we have chosen a man from Illinois, who was not well known even in his own State, to come and give us advice and counsel in shaping the policies and the goals and ambitions of our party in foreign affairs. And I'm very grateful to have a man here with me tonight who intends not only to continue using his great knowledge and ability and influence to have a better success in dealing with other countries but who has pledged himself to cut the deficit every year, to cut taxes—and he will—to have fiscal responsibility in his administration as U.S. Senator, and who's casting his own future on a door-to-door campaign for the Senate, and one whom my mother, Lillian, loves—Alex Seith.

My mother has been into Illinois twice to campaign with Alex. The first time she pronounced his name wrong. [Laughter] And she couldn't remember how to say it, and she finally remembered that Seith reminded her of Jimmy's teeth, and she got it right from then on. [Laughter]

From that point on, his fortune has turned. And he has surprised and startled the political world throughout our country by the success of his campaign, because he's been sound, firm, strong, consistent and because he's cast his lot, not with powerful political figures, but with people on street corners and in their homes, when he's gone door to door to let you know what a United States Senator can be who cares about you and who will be a very fine partner for Adlai Stevenson.

There's also a young man that I've learned to respect, admire, and even love, a young man who comes from a family of immigrants, Greek immigrants, who came here believing in the future of our Nation, who knows what it means to work hard for a chance in life, who, through superb dedication, confidence, and ability and, above all, an understanding and a compassion for the average people of Illinois in particular, has come from nowhere in politics, who has never been ahead in any poll conducted before election night, who has never lost an election, and who will win next Tuesday night for Governor-Mike Bakalis.

I'd like to talk to you very quietly for a few minutes about some thoughts that are on my mind.

Four days before the election in 1960, the people of the Nation went to the polls to vote, and the outcome of that election hung on the results in Illinois. It was very close. John Kennedy was elected President of our country. In that election twothirds of the American people went to the polls to vote. In recent elections and the predictions for next Tuesday night, twothirds of the American people will not vote.

We've seen poll results—I have, as President, the last few days—that show that the Democrats on a nationwide basis have a substantial advantage over Republican candidates, on an average. That's all voters. But among those who are likely to go to the polls and vote, the Democratic advantage is slashed in half.

There have been a lot of upsets in elections in our country, particularly the last 3 or 4 years. Issues are difficult, complicated. Public opinion is volatile. People have a distrust of candidates. They think they promise too much or won't do a good job when they're in office or might lose touch with voters.

The outcome of the election next Tuesday night will depend upon how many supporters go to the polls and vote. This is the first time that Abner Mikva has ever been ahead in the polls, and, as you know, he has won by the narrowest margin time after time.

I came this afternoon from Flint, Michigan. Two years ago, the night before the election, I met Fritz Mondale—we had been campaigning independently, but we met together in Flint, Michigan, late at night, both tired, to try to convince the Michigan people to vote for us. And I recall then that in the primary in Michigan, where 50 delegates' votes hung in the balance, I carried that State by less than 2,000 votes, not even 1 vote per precinct.

Last election, 2 years ago, Abner Mikva was elected to the Congress by 201 votes, much less than 1 vote per precinct. It is important that those who have confidence in him care enough about our Nation to invest your own time and energy and effort in determining the outcome of the election.

It would be a devastating blow and a tragedy for the 10th District of Michigan—of Illinois— [laughter] —for the State of Illinois, and for the United States if Abner Mikva is defeated. Will you work hard with all your effort the next 4 days to get other people to vote, to vote yourself, to have elected the finest Congressman that we could possibly return to Washington—Abner Mikva? Will you do that? [Applause] Good deal.

I want to ask you a couple more questions. Take your coats off and roll up your sleeves. Let's get to work. I want to ask you a few questions. I want to ask you a few questions, and I'll be very brief.

When I was elected President, there were 10 million people in this country who were looking for jobs, who couldn't find a full-time job. Since then, with Democratic leadership depending on you for your support and advice and counsel and criticism, we have had a .net increase of 6 1/2 million jobs in this country. We've already cut the unemployment rate 25 percent. We've got a long way to go. Do you care enough about your Nation to work hard between now and November 7 to elect Congressman Mikva, so that he can help me put America back to work? [Applause] Good deal.

Jobs are important, but we also have very serious problems that we have not yet solved with inflation. I have spelled out to the Congress, to the American people, indeed, to the world, a commitment on my part to make sure that we get inflation under control.

I inherited a Federal deficit of over $66 billion. I'm now preparing next year's budget, and I will have cut the deficit more than 50 percent in 2 years.

We're trying to eliminate waste, corruption in government. We're trying to add service and dedication and hard work to the civil service system. We're trying to open government so you'll know what is going on.

The Congress has passed an excellent ethics bill that will require everyone who holds a high position in the executive branch of Government, every Member of Congress, every Federal judge to reveal net worth, the source of income, so that it will remove all temptation to violate the confidence that you place in them.

We're trying to make our government efficient and effective. You can't educate a child with waste and inefficiency. You can't feed a hungry person with waste and inefficiency. These are the kinds of things that we're trying to do to get compassion, on the one hand, and competence, on the other, blended in together.

I need all the help I can get. Do you care enough about your country between now and next Tuesday to work hard to elect Abner Mikva to help me get inflation under control? [Applause] Good deal.

Ever since I've been in office, we've been building housing units at the rate of over 2 million per year, a very fine achievement. In addition to that, yesterday I signed into law the finest pair of education bills that have ever been passed in our country, to help from kindergarten, elementary, secondary schools, college-over $12 billion to give young people a better education in our Nation. We are not cutting back on good services for the American people.

So, we're cutting the deficit; we're giving better services; we're also cutting taxes. Last year we cut income taxes $8 billion. This year we're cutting taxes $20 billion more. That's a good combination-lower deficits, better services, lower taxes. I need your help to keep Abner Mikva in Congress. Will you work between now and next Tuesday to keep him there to help me carry on this program economically? [Applause]

I just want to ask you one more question. Alex Seith, Mike Bakalis, Abner Mikva, as well as your incumbent Senator, Adlai Stevenson, would help me to form and to keep an outstanding Democratic team, a team of elected officials, responsible to you, to make our Nation as great as possible.

We now have the strongest nation on Earth—militarily, economically, politically.

Our political system has been damaged in the last few years. Think back 3 years ago. There was a great alienation of American people from government. We had been embarrassed by a war in Vietnam. We had been embarrassed by the revelations of Watergate. We had been embarrassed by knowledge that our own CIA had violated the law.

There was a general distrust of the American Government. Every fall, I dreaded to see the United Nations General Assembly meet, because I knew that the United States, the country that I loved, would be the butt of every joke, the target of every attack by two-thirds of the nations on Earth.

Farmers were facing another depression. Workers were discouraged.

These kinds of things had created in our own Nation's image a reasonable doubt among people of our country. We were attaching ourselves to every totalitarian government and tinhorn dictatorship possible, with almost no attention to the preservation and enhancement of basic human rights.

We now have the strongest military defense capability on Earth. We're going to stay number one. But we use it not to abuse other people, not to be a bully; we use this strength, combined with our economic strength and combined with our political and moral and ethical strength, to show the rest of the world that our Nation is honest, our Nation is competent, our Nation is decent.

And we have reraised the banner of human rights. And as long as I'm President, our country will be in the forefront and will be known by every nation on Earth as a people who stand and will protect and will enhance basic human rights everywhere on Earth. And you can depend on that.

For about 2,500 years the Middle East has been torn by distrust, by hatred, and by war. Finally, about a year ago, there was a move made by President Anwar Sadat to bring peace between Israel and Egypt. A very courageous Prime Minister Begin welcomed him there and exchanged visits.

But as you know, the peace talks broke down, and I invited both men to come to Camp David. They came, not because of me, not because of my influence with them, not because of my personal characteristics, not even because I was President of the United States, but they came because they realized that when I spoke to them either publicly or in private, that I did not speak with a hollow voice, that the Mideast issues for the first time had been openly debated. The American people had been involved in the debate. The Congress was part of a democratic team committed to peace in the Middle East. And they came trusting our Nation. We had good luck at Camp David as a first major step.

This morning I met with Prime Minister Begin. Cy Vance, Secretary of State, spent all day with him. Yesterday he was with the Egyptians and the Israelis. And I believe that our Nation's influence now, our integrity, and our influence is strong and sound and dependable enough so that working with them—courageous leaders-with your backing and involvement, we can finally bring peace to the Mideast. It's what I want.

And I want to ask you this question in closing: Do you care enough about world peace to invest part of your life—at least 4 days of your life—in electing candidates that you know will help and strengthen me as I try to represent you well in international affairs, to keep our Nation strong, firm, dynamic, trusted, and a major element for peace? Will you do that for me? [Applause] Very good.

It's good of you to come. It's good of you to applaud.

I would like to ask you to do something specific that's very easy. I would like for you to promise me that between now and Tuesday, that each one of you will contact at least 50 other people and get a promise from them that they will go to the polls Tuesday and vote—preferably for the Democratic ticket, but at least vote. Every one that will—think about it awhile; don't lie to your own President. [Laughter] But if you will promise to get 50 people to vote between now and Tuesday, would you please stand? [Applause] Thank you very much. You have made my trip worthwhile.
Good luck. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7: 43 p.m. in the Niles East High School gymnasium.

Earlier in the evening, the President attended a fundraising reception for Representative Mikva at the Newton Minow residence.

Following his remarks at the rally, the President proceeded to the home of Mayor Michael A. Bilandic of Chicago, where he spent the night.

Jimmy Carter, Skokie, Illinois Remarks at a "Get Out the Vote" Rally. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243847

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