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Text Of Ford Speech

August 17, 1988

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Here is a transcript of the speech by former President Gerald R. Ford to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night.

Thank you, Secretary of Transportation Bill Coleman. Betty and I are deeply grateful for your many, many kindnesses, your loyal support and we are most appreciative of your warm and generous introduction.

Let me say that both Betty and I treasure and cherish our friendship with you and Lovida.

During my 40 years of public service, I have been very fortunate and very blessed to have a wise and courageous partner. She’s been a wonderful mother of four great, great children. And naturally I’m very proud of the help and inspiration she has given to so many Americans.

It’s an honor for me to introduce to you my loving wife, Betty Ford.

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(Betty Ford’s remarks: I’m delighted to be here with Jerry, to help him send George and Barbara Bush on to a Republican victory and to the White House, where they belong.)

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(Gerald Ford then resumes his remarks.)

My fellow Americans, my fellow Republicans. This is my 10th Republican National Convention. And, God willing, not my last.

Thank you for inviting me to share in your nomination of my friend and colleague in so many difficult days and tough campaigns, the next president of the United States, George Bush.

And may I say with equal emphasis, I endorse and support Dan Quayle as the next vice president of the United States.

Last month, together with a few thousand other diehard television fans, I watched the Democrats’ miniseries in Atlanta.

I applaud and I salute the tremendous strides that the Dukakis family has taken to achieve the American dream. I applaud and I salute Rev. Jesse Jackson for his talents and personal achievements and for showing millions of black citizens that the American dream can be more than a dream.

But my applause stopped short when I saw the Democrats claiming that they have somehow become the party of the American dream.

Let’s set the record straight. We are one nation, under God, and we have only one American dream that unites and belongs to all of us. No party, no politician has a patent on that dream.

It doesn’t matter what state you come from or where your ancestors came from or which party you prefer, the American dream belongs to you.

Except for the native American Indians, we are all of us immigrants to this blessed land; some came by sailing ships, slave ships and steamships; some came outcast and oppressed, work-hungry and war-weary, boat people and jet people, and we are all proud custodians of the American dream.

The American dream belongs to you and nobody can take it away from you. The work of this crucial 1988 campaign is to advance that dream by realistic progress, not by promises; by continuing leadership that has brought America closer to peace in the world and full prosperity at home.

The task before us as Republicans is to show that we stand for something. We stand for individual freedom, for equal justice and opportunity, and for safety at home and peace in the world. We believe that government exists to serve not only the worthy causes of all minorities but also to safeguard the rights and legitimate interests of the majority.

We believe that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

Do we really want to go back to the days of spend and spend, tax and tax - a government in Washington with its head in the clouds and its hand in your pocket?

I can put it no plainer than this: This year’s Democratic ticket is a tax increase on its way to happen.

Under President Reagan we’ve cut, cut taxes, kept inflation under control and come as close to full employment as we are likely to get in peacetime. And we are in peacetime. That’s performance, not promises.

Can we continue this performance with George Bush in the White House and more Republicans in the Congress? You bet we will.

We Republicans stand for more, not less, individual freedom. Fewer bureaucrats bungling up the works. More freedom to keep what we’ve worked for, freedom from the cruel head tax of inflation.

Do we really want to go back to all the Democrat economic misery from 1977 to 1981? Interest rates 21 percent. Inflation 13 percent.

No, not even the professional Democrats want to go back to such economic misery. They claim they’ve seen the light, changed their ways, and want us to believe that this campaign is not about ideology, but about competence.

Competence? When you look at the competence of the two or three gentlemen who now speak for the Democrats, where is their experience in foreign affairs? Only Reverend Jackson has shown much interest in it.

I have to admit that my friend Lloyd Bentsen - we came to the Congress together in 1948 - is pretty solid on defense matters. But his partners can’t seem to get their act together.

I wish you lots and lots of luck, Lloyd, you’re going to need it.

Governor Dukakis says you’ll be the kind of vice president who will march into the Oval Office and tell him: ″Mr. President, that is a perfectly ridiculous policy.″ Lloyd, with all the differences between the Democratic leaders, why wait? Speak up now.

When Governor Dukakis says he’ll cut back on American military strength that has brought the Soviets to the negotiating table for the reduction of nuclear weapons, Lloyd, educate him now - not later.

Tell him now how jobs are created, who really creates them in America. The private sector - not government. It may be your only chance. Don’t wait, Lloyd, speak up now.

Now, some other speaker at the Democratic Convention - I don’t remember his name - asked the rhetorical question: ″Where was George?″

A fair question - deserves a fair answer. I know the answer.

I know where George Bush was during the Second World War. George was there.

We were both out there in the Pacific Ocean fighting to win it. I was on an aircraft carrier and George was flying fighter planes off another, courageously winning the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals in combat.

I know where George Bush was in 1966. I flew down to Texas, campaigned for him. He won. When George came to the House of Representatives as a freshman congressman, I was the new House Republican leader.

I was so impressed with the integrity and ability of George Bush I saw to it that he was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means, a very rare honor for a freshman.

Now that’s not the committee of Congress that spends your money; that’s the one that worries how to find it. So George learned all about taxes and budgets in a hard school, and we know where George Bush stands on that issue.

I know where George Bush was in 1971 and ’72. He was at the United Nations, battling once more for his country, working for peace. George was there speaking up loud and clear for the United States of America.

I know where George Bush was in 1973 and ’74. I was vice president and he was chairman of the Republican National Committee, during one of the most difficult periods in our party’s history.

George was there. He came out of this character-testing without a mark on him and with a profound understanding of our national political process from the courthouse to the statehouse to the White House.

When I asked George to be our representative in the People’s Republic of China, he recommended as his successor the first woman national chairman of either party in our history - Mary Louise Smith of Iowa. So we also know where George Bush stands on equal opportunity for women.

I know where George was on Dec. 1, 1975. He and Barbara greeted Betty and me in Beijing on a critical state visit. I learned first hand how the Bushes had won the affection of the Chinese people as well as the respect of the Chinese leadership during the internal struggles that followed the death of Chairman Mao.

I know where George was during my last year as president. I brought him home to be my director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA had been wracked by serious charges. Its dedicated people were demoralized; George Bush took charge fast. His leadership put this essential agency firmly onto a responsible new course.

And where was, and where was George Bush in all the years between? Right where most other Americans were, making a living, raising a loving family, meeting a payroll, helping his community, paying his taxes and his debts. I ask you, what’s wrong with those credentials?

I know, we all know, where George Bush has been for the last eight years. In 1980, he was running for president. He finished second for our nomination, but became the winner’s choice for vice presidency. And that was one of President Reagan’s best decisions.

Now, I know a thing or two about the vice presidency. It’s not an easy job. Thomas Jefferson called it ″a splendid misery.″ But like most of life’s challenges, you can learn a lot from being vice president.

I held that office eight months; George Bush for eight years. We carried out our constitutional chores with loyalty to the presidency and trust in the American people. For that superb job, George Bush, I salute you. And the American people salute you.

So where was George? For 45 years, George Bush has been at the center of the action in the service of this great republic.

I’ll be damned if I will stand and let anyone with a smirk and a sneer discredit the honor, service, accountability and competence of George Bush.

If the three Democratic standard-bearers in this campaign think it is about competence, let any one of them - or all three of them put together - top the demonstrated competence of George Bush.

If our fellow countrymen think this campaign is about change, let them think long and hard about what they got the last time they voted for change with Democrats without experience. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

We Republicans, we Republicans are not perfect. We make mistakes, some of them lulus. But we stand for something. Our candidate, George Bush, stands for something. He’s been there.

My fellow citizens, I’m going to work my heart out to make George Bush the next president of the United States. George Bush was there when I needed him. George Bush was there when America needed him.

And I know where George Bush will be in 1989 - right there in the White House where we all need him.

Thank you and God bless you.

End Ford Text - 4 Takes

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