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Winston-Salem, North Carolina Remarks to Residents of Forsyth County and the Surrounding Area.

October 09, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Jim, I particularly thank you for that wonderful introduction. It's a real pleasure for me to be here. There is no way that I could search the United States of America and find a better Democratic ticket to run with than here in North Carolina, the one you've put together, and I thank you for it.

My background, as you know, is the South. And my present is the South, and my future is the South as well, because I've never found any difference between what was best for this region compared to what is best for the entire United States.

But in the long time prior to 1976, the South was not given the opportunity to have one of our sons seek the highest office of this land successfully. When I began to campaign in 1976, many of my southern friends said, "Jimmy, it won't be possible because the last President who was a southerner who was elected was James K. Polk in 1844." But I came to North Carolina and asked you for your help; you gave it to me, and now I'm in the White House. I'm going to stay there 4 more years.

And I might have a few weaknesses, you know, but—

AUDIENCE. [Shouting] No!

THE PRESIDENT. Some people say I have. I agree with you, I think. [Laughter] But one of the things that gives me both enthusiasm and also confidence in North Carolina is to be on this same unity campaign with one of the finest, strongest, most distinguished Governors in the United States, Jim Hunt.

And I'd like to say just one special word on behalf of a man of great courage. I am the President, sometimes lonely, making in the Oval Office decisions that are not easy, because the questions that come to me can't be solved by you personally or within your own home or in a city hall or a county courthouse or a State legislature or the Governor's office. They're the most difficult questions of all. And for a President, eager for a strong nation, eager for a nation that uses its strength to stay at peace, I'm grateful to you that you let Jim [Bob] Morgan represent you and me and this Nation in the United States Senate-Bob Morgan. Bob Morgan is a great man.

Bob is a man who has been under attack, as you know, on your televisions, from outside forces spending hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars against a great North Carolinian. And I hope that you here in North Carolina will show those outside, rich, political, misguided Americans what you think of Bob Morgan.

In 1974—I was Governor—I came here to Winston-Salem at the request of a young man running for Congress. A lot of people said he didn't have a chance. I had confidence in him. He has assumed a major leadership role in the House of Representatives. He's grown every year politically in wisdom and judgment and in influence. He truly represents your best interests in our National Capital, and I'm very glad to come back here as President and express to you my pride in Steve Neal, who I hope you will keep there for a long, long time.

Well, I'm proud of all of them, but I'm going to be even prouder of the people of North Carolina on November the 4th when you vote the Democratic ticket back in office, from the White House all the way to the courthouse.

I think a lot of you know that North Carolina is my second home. My people came from Bertie County, North Carolina, and moved to Georgia. They moved down there about 10 years before the Revolution. They were tobacco farmers, and I think they surely grew some goobers as well. [Laughter] But my ties of kinship and friendship with you are very strong. And for generations I've shared also with you and other southerners certain convictions that are important to working people—a pride, almost a reverence, for hard work; a deep personal belief in God; a commitment to maintain strong families; a belief that we are stewards of a wonderful gift of the land; a belief that these principles are the bedrock of our society. And I pray to God that the people of the South and the people of this Nation will never lose their commitment to these enduring values.

I've come back home to the South to ask you to join with me in one of the most crucial campaigns in recent times. This is not just a contest between two men. It's not just a contest between Republicans and Democrats. It's a contest that will spell out for you, for your families, for those you love and for this Nation two different futures. The choice will affect how we respond and how we search for justice and compassion, how we meet the challenge of keeping America strong and using that strength to maintain peace, whether or not we'll have a strong economy, a growing economy, confidence in the future, whether we hold down inflation, whether we have fair taxes, whether we provide jobs for every American able to work and make sure that all those that are able to work will take a job if it's offered to them.

I know that America and the people, within 4 weeks from now, on November the 4th, will make the right choice. And I know the people of this country, like the people of North Carolina, are builders. I'd like to say just a word about that—builders.

I've seen the South suffer economically. I remember the days when the Congress was passing a minimum wage bill-25 cents an hour was what we wanted to have. The Democrats were supporting that legislation, the Republicans almost down the line were against it. And later, before I finished high school, the minimum wage was raised to 40 cents an hour. That's where I got my first job—40 cents. Democrats were for it; Republicans said that working people weren't worth 40 cents an hour.

I remember in the Depression years when Franklin Roosevelt said we need social security to give the elderly people a chance for self-respect and decency and security. Republicans were against it. And I remember in history-I lived on a farm—rural free delivery of mail. The Democrats were for it; the Republicans against it. And I remember the rural electrification program. I think the brightest day of my life, the best day of my life was when electricity got to our house. I was 13 or 14 years old, and the REA came in under Franklin Roosevelt. The Democrats were for it; Republicans were against it.

The man I run against represents the Republican Party, and he's said that the minimum wage has caused more suffering and hardship than the Great Depression. And I have a heartfelt concern about people that are temporarily out of work, and my opponent, Governor Reagan, says that unemployment compensation is just a paid vacation for freeloaders. This is a man that four times has said, "Let's let social security be voluntary," which would mean the end of that program. He's campaigned across this Nation against Medicare. It provides a little bit of health care for older people. These are the kinds of issues that are at stake in less than 4 weeks, and the decisions about those economic issues will affect your life.

We've now got a good energy base in this country, for the first time an energy policy that's making progress. We're saving energy now, having good conservation in our homes, automobiles, at work. We're producing more American energy. This year we'll dig more American oil and gas wells than any year in history. This year we'll produce more American coal than any year in history. And this day and every day in 1980, we are importing from foreign countries 2 million barrels of oil less than we did the first year I was in office. That's progress, thanks to you.

My opponent says, "Let's eliminate the windfall profits tax; let's abolish the Department of Energy; and let's let the oil companies be unleashed. to run the energy program for us." That's the kind of issue that will be decided on November the 4th.

With that energy base in place, we now have a chance to revitalize the American industrial program. We've got the greatest country on Earth economically. The American producers, the workers are the most productive on Earth. We've not been making as good progress in recent years as we ought to to increase production. We've got to have new tools and new factories to do it.

In recent days, I've been in some places that show what America can do now that we have an energy program in place. I was in a steelmill in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, a modern steelmill where the workers in that factory produce more steel per year per worker than in any factory on Earth. They're exporting their steel, about half of it, to the People's Republic of China. They can make steel, United States, using scrap metal, ship it halfway around the world, and sell it to China, cheaper than the Japanese can make it and just send it a few hundred miles over to their neighbors in China.

Not long ago, I was in the Atlanta airport, a vision of the future, a dynamic demonstration of what the South is now and will be in years to come. Not long ago, I was in a modern textile mill in Spartanburg, South Carolina—typical of what we've got throughout the South.

Jim Hunt pointed out that we've increased exports of American textiles to foreign countries for a change—$2 billion in the last 2 years—and at the same time, we have cut imports from foreign countries in textiles to our country. That's the kind of progress I'm talking about now and in the future.

One other example: Last week I was in Detroit, Michigan, and Flint, Michigan, and I saw rolling off those assembly lines the best built, best designed, safest, most durable automobiles in the world. And the next time you trade cars, I want you to go to an American dealer, take a look at them, give them a chance, because none can beat the cars we're making in this country now.

I've just come from East Tennessee. I'll save time by moving very quickly to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. No one who's come to this State and to this region can doubt that the economic and industrial progress that I've just outlined to you is taking here as well. I know that R. J. Reynolds has just announced a $1 billion plan to expand capacity and to improve productivity.

In every one of these places, your community and mine, east and west coast, I see the spirit of building something new and something good for the country that we love. I see the hope for better communities, the hope for working families to live a better life, for young people to enjoy their talents and the use of them even more than we have had a benefit to do in our own generation. I see the future of this country strong and secure and good. Don't let anyone tell you different. Don't let anyone tell you that this country is weak or washed up, that we don't have it in us to make this great country of ours even greater.

There are people, and you hear from them every night on television, who've given up on this country. They'll tell you that we have to change our priorities on job safety to let workers be endangered, on health care to abandon our elderly, on aid for schools, on a clean environment. They tell you that our military is second rate. This is one of the worst things you could say about a nation, because it creates in our own people the false sense of concern, and it expresses doubts which lessen the commitment to our alliances by those who depend on us in Europe, and it raises a false expectation among potential adversaries that our Nation might be vulnerable to a possible attack. Our Nation, militarily, is the strongest nation on Earth, and we'll never be second to any other country in military strength.

I don't want you to forget the important issues at stake. We don't want to do away with Medicare. We don't want to change and weaken social security. And also, my opponent, to get to agriculture, said that farm price supports, and I quote from him, "subsidize the inefficient." The Republican candidate has repeatedly suggested that programs such as welfare, education, mass transit, be turned over to the States and the local governments to pay for. He hasn't explained it, but if those suggestions were implemented, the impact would be much higher property taxes, State income taxes, State sales taxes, State business taxes in every part of the country.

North Carolina now receives, from your income tax dollars paid to Washington, $910 million a year in Federal aid for those programs. You'd have to raise State and local taxes by 99 percent, almost exactly twice, or $644 for every family of four. That's not my idea of how to help the people of North Carolina.

If that's not enough, he also wants a massive election year tax cut for the rich. Under the Reagan-Kemp-Roth proposal, a family making $200,000 a year would get 35 times as much benefits as a family making $20,000 a year. Only 10 percent of this ridiculous tax cut would go for job-producing investment. The rest of it would set off an inflationary whirlwind so severe that even President Ford, who supports Governor Reagan, says he could never support this tax program, and the Republican candidate for Vice President, George Bush, said it sounds like voodoo economics to him and would increase inflation rate over 30 percent.

Well, I don't want to make another longer list, but the point I'm trying to make to you is that in national security, economics, human affairs, local and State property taxes, respect for one another-these kinds of things are at stake.

The American people are not simpleminded; they've not given up on this country nor its values. I meet average Americans every day, and I can tell you that Americans throughout this country are ready to build again, not tear down. We're ready to continue the program to improve our armed services with the finest, best trained fighting men and women on Earth, remembering that the best weapon is one that's never fired in combat, and the best soldier is the one that never has to give his life or shed his blood on the field of battle.

And finally, let me say this: We're also ready to sustain our farm programs. The American farm family wants nothing more than stable agricultural programs with stable prices and orderly marketing. I'm committed to that, including, and especially including, a sound loan support program for tobacco.

I know that tobacco farmers are seriously concerned about the treatment of imported tobacco by the Customs Service. I share that concern, particularly over the report that leaf tobacco is being shredded overseas expressly for the purpose of circumventing our United States laws. I intend to see that the loophole that permits this practice is closed once and for all.

I'm directing the Department of Agriculture to determine what the quality of this imported tobacco is. And if it's determined, as a result of this information, that the necessary relief cannot be provided promptly under existing law and authority, I will propose to the Congress as soon as they reconvene that they promptly enact legislation granting me that authority. And I want to be sure that Bob Morgan and Steve Neal and the other Congressmen from North Carolina are up there to help me correct this deficiency in our law.

Two million farm families in this country, a lot of them in Georgia, depend on the tobacco industry, and I won't ever forget that.

Finally, let me say to you that we recognize that to rebuild our economy is important, it's going to take a while, but the Americans have never failed to do what we set to do as a goal. Think back in history. Some of you are even older than I am. You remember the days of the Great Depression. Our Nation was tested. Some of you remember even the First World War. Our Nation, democracy itself, was tested. Many of you remember the Second World War, the Korean war, the divisive Vietnam war that separated one from another among Americans. You remember the disgrace and embarrassment of Watergate. You remember the time when the South was struggling to overcome discrimination and separation of black from white and how we had to go through those tortuous years to change our way of life—one of the best things that ever happened to us. But this is an example of a few things that this country has faced in the past—in the past.

Nothing that we face now equals the difficulty or the trial or the tribulation or worry of those experiences. I won't even mention the War Between the States or the Revolutionary War, other times when our Nation's been tested. But you remember this: Whenever our Nation has been tested, with the American people unified we have never failed. We have never failed to answer any question, no matter how difficult. We've never failed to solve any problem, no matter how much effort it took. We've never failed to scale any obstacle, no matter how great. And we have never failed to set an example for the rest of the world. Our country has always been on the cutting edge of progress. We raise high the banner of human rights, freedom, a belief in the average human being, a belief in God, a commitment that our children will have a better life even than the one we have. Those are the kinds of concepts that have made this Nation great, and with your help and with the help of God in the years ahead, we'll make the greatest nation on Earth even greater.

Thank you very much. Work hard this next 4 weeks. God bless you.

I want the entire Nation to remember farmers and agriculture. And the Congress has passed a proclamation setting aside a special time for this country to pause, to thank God, and to remember what agriculture, what our land, what our stewardship means to this country, now and in the future. And I'm going to sit down at this table on my left now, surrounded by your fine North Carolina leaders, and sign this proclamation into law. And I want to make sure that we never forget we've got a tremendous responsibility to make the Earth clean and productive, to make sure that neighbors respect one another, to make sure we never lose our confidence and our faith and never forget to thank God who gave us all our blessings.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:19 p.m. at the grandstand area of the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds. Following his remarks, the President signed the joint resolution.

As enacted, H.J. Res. 560, a bill requesting the President to proclaim March 9, 1981, as National Agriculture Day, is Public Law 96416, approved October 9.

Jimmy Carter, Winston-Salem, North Carolina Remarks to Residents of Forsyth County and the Surrounding Area. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250866

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