Jimmy Carter photo

Texarkana, U.S.A. Remarks at a Rally With Local Residents.

October 22, 1980

Governor Bill Clinton, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Governor George Nigh, Lieutenant Governor Bobby Freeman, Congressman Sam Hall, Congressman Beryl Anthony, other distinguished Democrats on this stage:

Hello, everybody from Arkansas. How you doing? [Cheers] Hello, everybody from Texas. How you doing? [Cheers] And as you know, we have people here from Oklahoma and from Louisiana as well.

This is a very important day for me, because I stand here on a spot which has historic memories for Democrats and for Southerners. I look across this square and I see a monument to the heroes of the Confederacy, and I think back in history about that. And I realize that not only did John Kennedy stand here where I am, with one foot in Texas and one in Arkansas, but that Lyndon Baines Johnson stood here, too. And I remember that it was you who put me on the road to the White House to represent the finest elements of the South and the entire region and the finest elements of the Democratic Party, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I was a farmer. My family have lived in this Nation more than 300 years. All of us have been farmers. I grew up on a farm as a boy during the depression years. My father or his father or none before him ever had a chance to finish high school, but I did. And the reason I did it was because we had a better life, because we had Democrats in the White House in Washington and a Democratic Congress that cared about human beings and believed in the alleviation of suffering and gave us a better chance than we would otherwise have had.

And I come from the part of the Nation, as you do, too, that believes in hard work, self-sacrifice, trust in our families, strong communities, a deep belief in God. And I pray that we never forget those values, which never change.

Today I want to talk to you just for a few minutes about the decision that you will be making on the 4th day of November. There is a great difference between myself and Governor Reagan. There's a great difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. But what we're talking about in this election, as the last days draw to a close, is the difference in the futures that we will have.

But as we plan for the years ahead, it's very important that we recognize the differences that do exist, because the Republicans would have you believe, in these last few days, that there's not much difference between us. On one side, we've got Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Lyndon Baines Johnson and what they mean to us in changing this Nation for the better. On the other side, we've got Herbert Hoover and we've got Richard Nixon and we've got Gerald Ford, and now we've got Ronald Reagan, the same tradition. And don't you forget it for a moment when you go to vote on election day.

And let's now talk about senior citizens for a moment. On the one side, you've got a party under Franklin Roosevelt that saw that it was not good for retired people to live on po' farms, as we called them in south Georgia, where they could no longer earn their own living. The Democrats wanted the senior citizens to have some decency in life and some security and some self-respect, so he proposed social security. The Republicans were against it.

Later on, we have seen my opponent, Governor Reagan, on four different occasions say he believes that social security program ought to be voluntary. A voluntary social security program would instantly face bankruptcy, and that would be the end of social security. And don't you forget this sharp difference that's going to be decided on November the 4th.

Let's talk about the working families of this country. Most people in this Nation have to work for a living. They're not rich, but they want to earn their own living.

I remember how it was, not too long ago, during the depression years: little boys and girls, not as big as my daughter Amy, who's now 13, working in sweatshops 113 hours a day and grown men and women slaving all day long from sunup to sundown, with no decent wage to buy their families something to eat and clothes to wear and shelter over their heads. And the Democrats proposed a minimum wage. It was only 25 cents an hour. The Republicans opposed it. Later, when I got my first job as a high school graduate, the minimum had been raised by the Democrats from 25 cents to 40 cents an hour. The Republicans were against it. The Republicans said the minimum wage was socialism, communism.

That's not ancient history, because let me tell you what Governor Reagan says about the minimum wage. He says that the minimum wage has caused more misery and more unemployment than anything in this Nation since the Great Depression—a difference that's very important when you make a decision on November the 4th if you care about working families.

Sometimes in our society we have changes take place: factories close down, move to another community; sometimes buying habits of people change and you no longer have people building buggies and other things, there's a shift to automobiles—temporary unemployment. Democrats know that during those times, Americans who want jobs don't draw a paycheck for a few weeks. So, the Democrats put forward the idea of unemployment compensation. It's paid for by the workers and employees. It's kind of an insurance program.

Governor Reagan says that unemployment compensation is a prepaid vacation for freeloaders. We're not talking about freeloaders. We're talking about people who want to work, who have been working, who've paid their own insurance, but want their families to eat, if they are temporarily unemployed.

Let's talk about Medicare. Medicare is a Democratic program put forward under Harry Truman, so that when you reach your retirement age, in addition to social security—and the payments are taken out of your social security, as you know-it provides health care for senior citizens. Democrats are very proud of this program. It was opposed by the Republicans. They thought it was socialism again.

And Ronald Reagan, who's running against me for President, said that he was against Medicare, that it was a program that would let the Government of the United States take over the medical system of this Nation and take away the freedom of our people. As the representative of the American Medical Association, he traveled all over this Nation trying to kill Medicare. A great difference is going to take place on election day depending on your decision.

I see this statue. I'm a southerner, and I'm proud of it. And I'm going to talk to you just a moment about something that's very important to southerners, and that's civil rights.

There was a time in our Nation, in our part of the country, when the laws were passed to prevent black people from having their constitutional rights or even the right to vote in an election. I look out over this audience, and I see black and white southerners here together, sharing a common life, better under the Democrats, rights guaranteed. The man responsible for that change was your neighbor from Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson. And when the civil rights legislation was passed, it made us proud. But Governor Ronald Reagan said that the civil rights legislation was bad legislation. Those are the kind of things that will be decided by you in 10 days from now, on November the 4th.

Let's talk about employment. In the last 3 1/2 years, as Lloyd Bentsen said, we've added almost 9 million new jobs in this Nation, in spite of OPEC oil prices and international problems that were created all over the world in the economy. In Texas alone, compared to the day I was inaugurated in 1977, there are 914,000 more people holding jobs today than there were 3¼ years ago, and in Arkansas 195,000 more people on the job than the day I was inaugurated President. That's the kind of record the Democrats have.

If you'll pardon me, let me mention Governor Reagan one more time, because we're looking to the future. He's for the so-called Reagan-Kemp-Roth tax program, a big giveaway program for rich people that'll saddle the Americans with enormous inflation. That's not just my opinion. President Ford, a Republican, who supports Reagan in this election, refuses to endorse that ridiculous tax proposal. Even the Wall Street Journal and Business Week said it won't work. And Mr. Reagan's own Vice-Presidential candidate, George Bush, said if the Reagan-Kemp-Roth proposal is put into effect, it'll cause a 30-percent inflation rate. As a matter of fact, George Bush said then it was "voodoo economics." That's the kind of approach that Democrats want to prevent, that's at stake with your jobs and with inflation in the future.

I want to mention a couple of other things. One is that the Democrats believe that our air ought to be pure and that our water ought to be clean and that the land God gave us over which to be stewards would still be productive and not spoiled by poisons. Scientists have searched for a solution to the pollution problem for a long time. Governor Reagan has found the solution. He says pollution's caused by trees. [Laughter] Well, that's a pretty sharp difference from what I believe, because not too long ago I signed a reforestation bill that will make provisions for this whole area through here to reseed our forests and to build more trees. And God's going to help us, right? [Cheers]

So, if you want to see the trees destroyed to control inflation [pollution], vote Republican. If you want to see the trees planted to make the air purer and deal with inflation [pollution] at its source, vote Democratic, a very good choice.

I know very clearly that this area here is interested in the production of energy. The small royalty owners are now being hurt by the new law passed under my administration. With the help of these men here, George Nigh in Oklahoma, the people in Louisiana, Lloyd Bentsen in Texas, all of you, we've now decided to change the law—it's already been done in the Senate, it'll be done soon—to exempt those small royalty owners from that tax.

We have a new energy policy that this country's never had before, one that's really serving well. Republicans in the long run have said, "Let's decontrol the price of oil and gas to increase the production of American energy." In 1956 a law was passed along those lines. I don't know the details. It was vetoed by President Eisenhower. But we knew that we had to address this in a way that would help the energy-producing States and also be fair to those who consume energy, in your State and around the Nation. So, we passed a new energy bill. It now provides that over a period of time, energy prices will be decontrolled. Already it's having great impact.

We've got more oil drillrigs running right now and gas drillrigs right now than ever before in history—3,164 as of midnight last night. And this year we'll have more oil wells and gas wells drilled in this country than in any year in history. You might be also interested in knowing that we're producing more coal this year than ever before in history.

On the other hand, we've got a Republican administration that wants to dismantle what we've done. Governor Reagan says the best approach to the energy problem is to repeal everything we've done, to dismantle the Department of Energy, and let the oil companies make all the decisions for our life in the future on energy. That's the decision you've got to make on November the 4th.

One other thing I want to say that's most important of all, more important than inflation, more important than how many jobs we've created in the last 3 1/2 years, and that is our defense capabilities and the preservation of peace.

Eight years before I became President, seven of those years expenditures for American defense went down. Under two Republican Presidents, the defense budget decreased by 37 percent. When I took over the Oval Office, the responsibilities of Commander in Chief, we began a steady, well-planned, sure increase every year, above and beyond inflation, to give us a strong defense. And as long as I'm in the White House, we'll have a strong defense, second to none on Earth in military equipment and in our Armed Forces personnel.

But at the same time, a President has to decide how to use that enormous power. You can't fly an airplane with just one wing, and having a tremendous defense establishment is just part of the job. That defense capability has got to be used to keep the peace. We've got to control nuclear weapons. Governor Reagan says, throw the nuclear weapons control treaty in the wastebasket. Let's start a nuclear arms race as a trump card to be played against the Soviet Union. We're trying to keep other nations around the world, like Libya and Iraq, from having atomic weapons. Our nonproliferation program is extremely important to every person who values life in this audience. Governor Reagan says that nonproliferation is none of our business.

Every President who's served in the Oval Office before me, Democrats and Republicans, have been faced with troubled times around the world, troubled places. Not a day has gone by that that wasn't the case. We've known that we had an enormous military structure in this country, but we've tried to deal with those problems peacefully.

Governor Reagan, on the other hand, when he's seen trouble spots around the world, is advocating sending in American military forces, in North Korea, in Ecuador, in Cuba, Cyprus, the Middle East, Rhodesia, Angola, Pakistan. Those trouble spots have been resolved diplomatically by other Presidents, but, while he still hoped to be President, he has said, "Let's send in American military forces."

These kinds of issues affect you and they affect me and they affect every person in this Nation and on Earth. I stand here needing your help. The issues are clearly drawn. A great deal is at stake, in your life, in the lives of those who live in the same home with you and those whom you love and who look to you for leadership. We've only got 10 days to go. It's going to be a close race in Louisiana. It's going to be a close race in Texas. It's going to be a close race in Arkansas. And we're behind right now, I would guess, in Oklahoma. And what you do the next 10 days will make a decision about what kind of nation we'll have in the years ahead.

Will we preserve the tradition of the Democratic Party? Will we have commitments made to a better life for working people of this land? Will we have older people having security in their declining years, give them a full, fruitful life, to honor them for what they've given this country? Will we have a better education for our children, better housing for our families, better jobs, better social security, better minimum wage? Will we have a strong defense? Will it be used for peace? These are the kinds of issues that face you, and the judgment is in your hands.

I would guess that most of you here are Democrats and will support me. But let me ask you to do this in the next 10 days: Get on the telephone, talk to those you see. There's no one in this audience that can't contact between now and election day 500 or 1,000 people, some of you maybe more, because the sound of your voice can be heard. If you'll help me, be partners in the future as you have been in the past, then we'll win on November the 4th; we'll stomp the Republicans and keep this Nation on the road to future progress.

Thank you very much. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 5:40 p.m. outside the United States Post Office Federal Building. The podium from which he spoke straddled the Arkansas-Texas State line.

Following his remarks, the President returned to the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Texarkana, U.S.A. Remarks at a Rally With Local Residents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251570

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