The President's News Conference
GOOD MORNING. Won't you all please sit down. I am ready for the first question.
[1.] REPORTER. Mr. President, Time magazine has published a poll to the effect that Jimmy Carter would defeat you if the election were held today, by a fairly substantial margin. In light of that and your rather convincing defeat in Texas to Mr. Reagan on Saturday, do you feel that Indiana's primary on Tuesday is absolutely crucial for you to stop any momentum that Mr. Reagan might be generating right now?
THE PRESIDENT. We have always considered the Indiana primary a very important primary. As you well know, I have been in Indiana twice; my wife has been here on one occasion. We have a first-class organization. We have the support of the Governor. We have the support of many public officials as well as many, many volunteers, which is an indication of how important we feel the Indiana primary is.
I think any apathy on behalf of my candidacy will have been gone as a result of the situation in Texas. So we think the situation is crucial, and we are making a maximum effort here in Indiana.
Q. Would you care to comment on the Time magazine poll?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the final poll comes in November, and there will be ups and downs. And I'm sure, just as soon as some of these issues are laid before Governor Carter, we will find some erosion of his support. Some of the positions that he was forced to take in the last few days, I think will have some adverse impact on his popularity. But the final test comes in November.
THE PRESIDENT'S DELEGATE SUPPORT
[2.] Q. Mr. President, you have said you expect to win in Kansas City. But after Mr. Reagan swept all 96 delegates in Texas, will you have enough delegates to lock up the nomination before you get to the convention, or will your getting the nomination depend on the uncommitted delegates in Kansas City?
THE PRESIDENT. We certainly hope, and I personally believe, when we get to Kansas City we will have a sufficient number of delegates to win the nomination.
Q. On the first ballot?
THE PRESIDENT. We believe so.
Q. And is that predicated or will you have it locked up before California, or does it depend on California?
THE PRESIDENT. We will make that judgment when we get down to the last primary.
ALABAMA, GEORGIA, AND INDIANA PRIMARY ELECTIONS
[3.] Q. Mr. President, you are on a couple other State primary ballots tomorrow, in addition to Indiana. How do you evaluate your chances for victory in the other two, in addition to Indiana, and what would be the impact of your candidacy if you lost all three in one day?
THE PRESIDENT. We certainly would be very disappointed, but we don't think we are going to lose all three. We think our chances are very good here in Indiana, for the reasons that I have given: We have the full backing of the Governor and many public officials; we have a great volunteer organization, and I think any apathy has gone as far as my candidacy is concerned. So, we think Indiana will do very well by us. And the other two States, why, we certainly are underdogs in both Alabama and Georgia, but we are going to make, as we have in the past, a real sincere and very maximum effort in the time that is allowed. After all, I do have to be President, and that takes a lot of time, so we can't campaign as much as my opponent does in the primaries.
Q. Do you rate your chances in Alabama and Georgia as under those in Indiana?
THE PRESIDENT. As I said, we believe the opportunities here in Indiana are very good. In Alabama and Georgia--yes, we are underdogs, so there is a difference in the two situations.
FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
[4.] Q. Mr. President, with the compromise bill reconstituting the Federal Election Commission out of conference and pending in Congress this week, have you had a chance to review it, and can you confirm a report that you will sign it if it passes as it came out of conference?
THE PRESIDENT. As you know, I strongly recommended that the Congress only approve the necessary defects in the basic law to perfect the constitutional questions raised by the Supreme Court. If Congress had done that promptly, the whole matter would have been resolved a good many weeks ago.
When that bill gets down to the White House, the Oval Office, I will give it very careful, very precise analysis. But at this moment, I can't make any categorical statement as to whether or not I will sign it. Congress, as of this moment, has not yet approved even this so-called compromise bill. So, when they finish their work, after almost 90 days of inaction, then I will make a judgment as quickly as possible.
[5.] Q. Mr. President, yesterday Governor Carter said that the South Korean Government was a dictatorship and has repressed and called for the gradual withdrawal of troops there and withdrawal of atomic weapons. What is your view on that?
THE PRESIDENT. The South Korean Government is a very important part of our overall Pacific strategy. I think to make any judgment of that kind by Governor Carter, who hasn't had the benefit of the detailed briefings and the detailed recommendations of our top military leaders, I think his judgment at this point is not a very solid one.
We have a good program, a good military relationship with the South Korean Government, and as far as I am concerned, we're going to keep them strong because they are a part of our overall strategy for the Pacific.
[6.] Q. Mr. President, continuing with Mr. Carter, at a news conference here yesterday, he accused you of weakness as a President. He said that Reagan had pushed you around in the campaign, and you had backed off on issues to accommodate his political pressure. How would you react to those charges?
THE PRESIDENT. That's a very inaccurate charge. There's an old Michigan saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Let me make an observation how Governor Carter has really been pushed around.
For example, when he raised the question of ethnic purity, I think within 24 hours he made a flip-flop. And then, up until that situation arose, why, he had been opposed to the so-called Humphrey-Hawkins bill. And again, within 24 to 48 hours, he came out and endorsed the Humphrey-Hawkins bill.
So, I think his flexibility in this campaign is pretty well recognized. The minute any of his Democratic opponents hit him on something, he backtracks and takes another position. I know of no position that I have taken from the very beginning to now, where I have changed my basic policy or program based on any campaign rhetoric of Governor Reagan.
THE PRESIDENT'S RECORD
[7.] Q. Mr. President, yesterday Senator Barry Goldwater said that on a scale of conservatism there might not be 2 percent worth of difference between you and Ronald Reagan. In light of that and the very conservative nature of Indiana Republicans, what is the choice that you offer over Governor Reagan tomorrow?
THE PRESIDENT. There is a very basic choice. A person who has had some experience on a very important job, such as being President of the United States, is a very vital factor. When individuals have to go to the polls and make a decision between somebody who knows the job, who has done a good job, whose policies both domestically and internationally have been successful--and when you look at the record that I offer where we have cut inflation by 75 percent in the 20 months that I have been President; where we now have employed in this country 86,700,000 people--an all-time record; when you look at the fact that I have restored integrity and public confidence in the White House--this is a record based on experience and success, and I don't think the voters are going to trade that for campaign rhetoric, which is what my opponent has basically based his campaign on.
PANAMA CANAL AS A CAMPAIGN ISSUE
[8.] Q. Mr. President, from the questions you receive around the country at Republican forums, it's apparent that Governor Reagan is controlling the issues in this campaign. In your post-mortem on Sunday, when you met with your campaign leaders, I wonder if you can tell us if you have devised any kind of strategy to perhaps take the offensive instead of always reacting to the charges from the former Governor?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think there will be any basic change, Aldo [Aldo B. Beckman, Chicago Tribune Press Service], in our campaign program, between now and Kansas City. We always recognized it was going to be a very hard contest and it would probably get more heated as the campaign went on, but we have had some help and assistance just within the last 24 to 48 hours.
For example, on "Meet the Press" Sunday, Senator Barry Goldwater came out very forthrightly on my behalf as far as my policy on the Panama Canal is concerned. And this kind of assistance, I think, helps to undercut the validity and the credibility of Governor Reagan's various charges.
And again, I would like to quote from the "Meet the Press" program on which Senator Goldwater appeared. And when he was asked this question on the Panama Canal--the question is as follows: "On the Panama Canal, who is right on that? Whose position do you support? Ford's or Reagan's?" And Senator Goldwater said the following: "I have to support Ford's position on it, and I think Reagan would, too, if he knew more about it."
RONALD REAGAN'S DELEGATE SUPPORT
[9.] Q. Mr. President, if you should lose the three on Tuesday, which you don't expect to do, Governor Reagan would have more delegates than you have, I believe.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'm not going to speculate on something I don't think is going to take place.
THE PRESIDENT'S CAMPAIGN EXPENSES
[10.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Paul Laxalt, the Citizens for Reagan chairman, this morning, underscored what he called the inequities of the Federal election law, saying they favor you, especially in air travel. He cited some $600,000.
And Governor Reagan this morning at a news conference raised the question on the propriety of campaigning on the one hand and holding a revenue sharing meeting at the same time, this close to a primary. Will your expense report show this trip as political or nonpolitical?
THE PRESIDENT. The expenses of this trip will be paid entirely by the President Ford Committee, and the expenses that we pay to the Federal Government will be a matter of public record. And the arrangement for the full payment of this trip coincide precisely with the Federal Election Commission's reports and regulations.
Now that we're talking about full disclosure and who owes how much to the Federal Government, let me raise a question concerning Governor Reagan. I refer here to 1975 income tax payments.
I have fully told the public what I paid, which was 42 percent of the income that I earned in 1975. It's a matter of public record. The press knows it; it's been printed. As far as I know, Governor Reagan has not made public any of his 1975 income tax payments. He has not disclosed it to the press or to the public, and I suggest respectfully that he do the same on this disclosure as we're doing, as far as paying the Government for this particular trip, which is total.
Q. I think the issue was that other candidates have to pay for their expenses and air travel reservations in advance, and this being one of the inequities they cite.
THE PRESIDENT. We are paying precisely according to the regulations of the Federal Election Commission, and we pay in toto, and we are doing it as required by the Federal Election Commission. We have to go by their rules and regulations.
THE PRESIDENT'S SUPPORT OF REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
[11.] Q. Mr. President, should you somehow lose the nomination in Kansas City, would you be able to support the nominee?
THE PRESIDENT. I have traditionally supported the Republican candidate for the Presidency. I supported Senator Goldwater in 1964.
Q. So, that's a yes?
THE PRESIDENT. I have traditionally supported and I would expect to support the Republican nominee.
Q. Along the same lines--
THE PRESIDENT. I don't expect to lose, however, in Kansas City. [Laughter] I wish I could get the same comment from my opponent, who I expect to lose in Kansas City. [Laughter]
POSSIBILITY OF THE PRESIDENT ACCEPTING VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION
[12.] Q. Would you consider accepting the number two spot on the ticket, should you lose?
THE PRESIDENT. Of course not.
Q. Of course not?
THE PRESIDENT. Of course not.
Q. Why is that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that, first, I anticipate winning in Kansas City and I, therefore, don't anticipate any opportunity to serve as Vice President. I have had that experience, which was helpful in the job that I'm now doing as President. And since I expect to win in Kansas City, I don't think that option will be open to me.
[13.] Q. Mr. President, Ronald Reagan says your claims that the state of the economy is good are false. He says the country is $95 billion more in debt than it was a year ago and goes further into debt at the rate of $2 billion a week. Can any President really get the Nation out of debt?
THE PRESIDENT. I believe that the policies that I have of restraining the growth of Federal spending, cutting that growth in Federal spending by better than 50 percent and, at the same time, saving, if the Congress goes along with my budget that I have submitted, we can have a balanced budget by fiscal year 1979. And the Governor's accusations about the economy are totally without foundation.
We have taken this economy from a year ago--where we were in the midst of the worst economic recession for the last 40 years--and by the Ford administration doing the right thing, we have now cut the rate of inflation by 75 percent. For the first 3 months of this year, the rate of inflation is under 3 percent. And we have regained 2,600,000 jobs throughout the United States in the last 12 months. Furthermore, for the month of March, we have the most people gainfully employed in this country--86,700,000 people.
I should think Governor Reagan would applaud this kind of healthy economy instead of trying to scare people as he apparently is trying to do. The economy is sound, it is getting better and is getting better. And the way he talks, he seems to invite economic difficulties, and I think that's the wrong approach.
DIVISIONS IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
[14.] Q. Mr. President, in the last 48 hours or so you have indicated that you think Ronald Reagan has been rash with some of the issues, and you have accused him outwardly of distorting some of the figures. There was a time when your campaign people were accusing Reagan of taking the campaign to the point where it would be divisive for the Republican Party. Do you worry that you are now taking the campaign to a point where it would hurt the party's chances in November?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think so. But when accusations are made without foundation or there is a distortion of statistics, I think it is my obligation to the American people to tell the truth and to explain what the facts are in the total context.
So, it has not been a personal attack. It has just been an attempt by me to set the record straight, which is an obligation of the President of the United States.
Q. Is it serious to accuse Mr. Reagan of being rash or distorting issues? Do you worry about that hurting the Republican Party?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think the Republican voters, once they have heard the facts, will think that what I am saying is divisive.
SECRETARY OF STATE KISSINGER
[15.] Q. Mr. President, one of the lessons being drawn from the Texas results is that the voters there tend to believe what your opponent has been saying about Secretary of State Kissinger and his view that second place is satisfactory for America militarily.
What are you doing to determine if that is indeed the way they feel, and what would Dr. Kissinger's position be if it is indeed an influencing factor?
THE PRESIDENT. Dr. Kissinger has always said to me that at any time that I felt that his staying on as Secretary of State was a political liability, he would be glad to step aside. That is a matter of public record. But again, if I might refer to my good friend and, I think, outstanding statesman in the United States Senate, Barry Goldwater, let me quote what Barry Goldwater said yesterday about the Secretary of State.
Here is what he said on "Meet the Press": "I think the Secretary of State can be said to be doing a good job." I respect Barry Goldwater, and it's my judgment that the Secretary of State has done a good job, and I'm glad that Senator Goldwater agrees with me.
Q. The question really is: Do the voters agree at this point?
THE PRESIDENT. I think they will. I think they do.
Q. How about tomorrow here in Indiana?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will wait and see.
[16.] Q. Mr. Ford, you have praised yourself in several months, in recent months at least, for reducing unemployment and also for reducing inflation. But the fact remains that in a number of large, inner-city urban areas, a large percentage of minority and poor people remain unemployed and probably will remain unemployed despite the expansion of the economy.
My question to you is, given this fact and the fact that the current comprehensive employment training programs and summer youth employment programs are not absorbing a lot of people who would like to have jobs, don't you think it is time for the Federal Government to step in and, on a limited basis, perhaps, have maybe an economic Marshall plan?
THE PRESIDENT. Every year since I have been President, I have recommended the full funding of what we call the summer youth program, which is primarily aimed at helping to give summer jobs to the youth in our major metropolitan areas.
This is a program which costs about $450 million a year. I recommended it every year, and I have proposed it for this coming summer. In addition, as our economy improves, we are going to get more job opportunities for the youth in our major metropolitan areas, including minority youth.
But, in addition, I have recommended the full funding of what we call the CETA program, which helps to train young people as wall as others to get better jobs or to get jobs in the first instance. That program, plus the summer youth program, plus some of the other programs that we utilize to help cities with their own problems, I think, will be helpful in trying to get the problem that you raise--which is a very legitimate one--solved by this Government.
Q. But the fact remains that there would be a large percentage, literally millions of people in the inner-city areas who would still not have jobs. And I would like to know, as a Republican candidate for the Presidency, do you have any specific programs in mind that would solve this aspect of the problem?
THE PRESIDENT. We have the program of getting the total economy back where it's prosperous, better than it ever has. And five out of the six jobs in this country are in the private sector. And that is where the best job opportunity is for young people, including those in major metropolitan areas.
So, with the summer youth program, with the CETA program and the other programs we have, we think we can solve that problem, and I believe we will.
POLLUTION CONTROL AND THE ECONOMY
[17.] Q. Mr. President, given the upturn in the economy and corporate earnings and profits increasing, does the administration expect to take a more forceful approach in seeking air and water pollution compliance as to purchase of expensive pollution control devices and implementation of these programs?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the EPA has the responsibility in that area for clean air and clean water. I believe that their program is basically sound. In some instances, they have gone too far. And I think up in Indiana, as I recall, in the Gary area, they were too rigid, and they required that several of the plants of one of the major steel industries up there close. I think in retrospect that was a bit too arbitrary.
So, I think the EPA has to have a balance in the way it approaches the responsibilities that it has. Sometimes they are too tough. On some occasions, I think they may have been too lenient. But that is the responsibility of the EPA. And I personally feel that we have to establish a balance between what is attainable in clean air and clean water and, at the same time, continue our economic prosperity.
Q. Would too much forcefulness in applying this create some reverse economic problems?
THE PRESIDENT. Well obviously, up in the Gary area, when they forced the closing of several steel plants, it did have an adverse economic impact on that particular community. Whether that was totally arbitrary or not, I'm not the best judge of it. But obviously the closing of those several plants had an adverse economic effect on that area.
DEMOCRATIC CROSSOVER VOTE IN PRIMARY ELECTIONS
[18.] Q. Good morning, sir. Some of your aides tell me you're not too pleased about one aspect of the Texas primary, possibly several aspects, but particularly the fact that Democrats crossed over, that you don't feel Democrats should be selecting a Republican Presidential nominee.
THE PRESIDENT. We, of course, believe that Republicans ought to be the major factor in the selection of a Republican candidate for the Presidency. On the other hand, any Democrat who's philosophically in tune with my philosophy, I welcome as a supporter, whether it's in the primary or whether it's in the general election. But the basic responsibility of Republicans is to support their nominee for the convention in Kansas City.
Q. I gather then that you are not terribly distraught at the idea of large crossover votes as long as you get them? Is that correct?
THE PRESIDENT. That's a very practical way to approach it. [Laughter]
EMPLOYMENT AND SCHOLARSHIPS FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE STUDENTS
[19.] Q. Mr. President, this is not on the election, but I trust you enough to give you my vote tomorrow.
THE PRESIDENT. We thank you very much.
Q. The reason I want to ask you this question is because this is a field that I am interested in because I work with international young people who come to our country to get an education. Now, we have had problems here in Indiana. Many of these young people come on their own, and they want a job, to work. Many of them cannot get permission from the immigration [Immigration and Naturalization Service] to work, which makes it very hard on them even if they do have a job available.
And I wonder, sir, if you might be able to give us directions in what we can do to help these friends, because, you see, this is going to help promote good international relations for us when they get back home. So, that's why I am interested in this.
THE PRESIDENT. I'm a very strong supporter of the student exchange program
where young Americans go abroad and spend a summer and, in some cases, a year in many, many foreign countries. And I'm a strong supporter of foreign students coming to the United States, whether it's for 3 months or 12 mouths.
But we do run into a practical problem. The practical problem is we have unemployment at the national average of about 7.5 percent today. And it does raise the question whether these foreign students coming here take a job away from an American who wants a job to raise his family or to get his education.
And I believe that the Immigration and Naturalization Service has to be very discreet. In some areas of the country where unemployment is not serious, some cities such as those in some instances in Texas, I see no reason why there can't be flexibility and young people would have the opportunity to work.
But in some areas of very high unemployment, unemployment of Americans, I think the Immigration and Naturalization Service has to take a somewhat different point of view because, basically, we have to be concerned about jobs for Americans.
So, it has to be on a selective basis and, if so, I think it can be handled appropriately. I agree with you entirely that these young Europeans or others coming to this country for an education, a living experience with American families, may go back in most instances and are good will ambassadors for the United States.
I strongly believe in the program, but there has to be a balance when it comes to them getting jobs, competing with Americans who also need a job.
Q. I see. One other question: Is there any provision in the United States Government which offers scholarship aid to international students who want to come to our country to study?
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes, the Fulbright program and related programs are aimed precisely at trying to get foreign students to come to the United States on a scholarship basis. And that program or those programs have been very, very successful. As a matter of fact, a number of the heads of government around the world today in one way or another have come to the United States and studied and gone back to their country and become leaders in their own individual country. And they did come here in many instances on the basis of scholarships.
Q. Thank you very much, and good luck tomorrow.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you.
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT GRANT TO GEORGIA
[20.] Q. Mr. President, Governor Reagan has accused you of taking unfair advantage of your incumbency by dealing out Federal grants, at fortuitous times, in advance of primaries. Yesterday, the Associated Press quoted your Interior Secretary, Thomas Kleppe, as acknowledging that at least part of the reason for awarding a $1 million grant to Georgia for a river reclamation project was the upcoming primary there tomorrow. What's your reaction to this sort of candor?
THE PRESIDENT. I had no foreknowledge of what the Secretary of the Interior was going to do. I did know from a previous trip to Atlanta, Georgia that the people of Georgia were very interested in a reclamation or park beautification program on the Chattahoochee River. They have been working with the Department of Interior for a long period of time in trying to preserve the shorelines of that river in the metropolitan area of Atlanta.
The Secretary of Interior made that decision himself. I'm sure it was meritorious, but if he made it in the last 24 hours, I think it won't be harmful. But I don't know how beneficial it will be.
Q. Do you plan to speak with him about his timing either to commend him or--
THE PRESIDENT. I think a Cabinet officer can handle those kind of matters himself, and I have no intention of contacting him concerning this very meritorious award. The money came out of the Land and Water Conservation Act. It's a preservation of a very historic area in the Atlanta area, and I think it's a good decision. But you will have to ask him or get any question answered by him as to why he did it in the last 48 hours.
Q. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you all very much. Good to be in Indiana.
Note: President Ford's thirty-second news conference began at 11 a.m. in the Arabian Ballroom at the Murat Shrine Temple, Indianapolis, Ind.
Gerald R. Ford, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/257914