Jimmy Carter photo

Wilmington, Delaware Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

February 20, 1978

It's a real delight for me to come back to the first State in the Nation and to campaign and to express my appreciation to people who support the first United States Senator who had confidence in me. He's a man who's not afraid to take on a difficult task and even a hopeless task. He and Frank 1 came down to Atlanta, the first time I met Joe Biden, in 1974, to speak to a State Jaycee convention. And we had a chance to talk for several hours at the Governor's mansion.

I felt a little bit ill at ease. I thought that Joe should have been talking to my children instead of to me. [Laughter] He's about my oldest son's age. But I sat and listened to Joe for 2 or 3 hours that night, talking about his own campaign and the kind of people who helped him and the mechanism that he used in Delaware to win what apparently was a hopeless political battle. And he expressed to me then his deep confidence in the Delaware people and a sense that if he could reach them directly, even on a shoestring budget and without any substantial media advertising, that he felt that I could do the same on a nationwide basis.

I was so intrigued with Joe that I departed from my normal practice, which is to be polite and then withdraw, and I went to the Jaycee convention with him that night, and I listened to his speech. And he talked about the need for government to be competent. He talked about the need for government not to intrude itself into the free enterprise system. He talked about the need for tough business management of budgets, and he talked about the need to eliminate unnecessary paperwork. And he described to those Jaycees, who were quite conservative in Georgia, the essence of what our Nation was and could be.

That was at the time of greatest despair. It was a time of Watergate. It was a time when Vietnam was on the conscience and consciousness of every American. It was a time when the CIA revelations were just beginning, and it was a time when people had forgotten about lifting a banner high and arousing the spirit and the confidence and the dedication and the warmth and legitimate pride in what our Nation was when Delaware was the first State to start its evolution toward success.

I learned a lot from him then. And I didn't ask Joe Biden to do much more than to head up a national committee as an honorary title, which he did, and to help me in Delaware, which he did; for when I would go to Wisconsin and say, "What can I do in this city to explain my position," they would say, "Well, you don't have to explain your position. Joe Biden's already done it for you."

And when I would campaign through Pennsylvania in those tough days when Pennsylvania was the crucial primary, Joe Biden spent three times as many days and nights in Pennsylvania campaigning for me as I spent campaigning for myself.

Well, he's the kind of friend who is inspirational and staunch, and he's the kind of young man who represents the finest things in American life and in American politics, and he's the kind of young man who is independent almost to a fault. [Laughter] He makes up his own mind, and he makes up his mind according to what's best for Delaware, which in almost every single instance is what's best for our great country.

So, it is an honor for me to come here and congratulate you. This is the largest Democratic fundraising event in the history of Delaware, and I thank you for it.

I'd just like to say one more word, and that is that we are all in this campaign and we are all in the political arena together, whether we are in the White House or in the State senate. And we do face difficult problems—Mideast, the Horn of Africa, SALT, nonproliferation, the embarrassment of revelations which ought not to be part of our political system.

Sometimes we have too much unemployment, sometimes the inflation rate is higher than we would like. There's not always an equitable distribution of benefits in our country. But I think it's good for all of us to emphasize the positive aspects of American life.

Everyone in this room has been blessed with social prominence and with responsibility, the trust of our peers, perhaps even affluence, certainly a great deal of influence on the path of our State and our Nation in the months and years to come. People look to us for guidance and for inspiration, and I think it's incumbent on us not only to search out ways in which we might improve our country but also to emphasize the positive aspects of it in spite of temporary aberrations and in spite of the fact that we falter on occasion in making a steady, inexorable progress. We still live in the greatest nation on Earth, and I think we ought to emphasize that point as often as we can. Thank you very much.

1 Senator Biden's brother.

Note: The President spoke at 7:43 p.m. in the Gold Ballroom at the Hotel Dupont.

Jimmy Carter, Wilmington, Delaware Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244491

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives