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76-10-6pbs part 2

The First Carter-Ford Presidential Debate: September 23, 1976

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Only the last few days with the election approaching, has Mr. Ford taken any interest in a nonproliferation movement. I advocated last May in a speech at the United Nations that we move immediately as a nation to declare a complete moratorium on the testing of all nuclear devices, both weapons and peaceful devices; that we not ship any more atomic fuel to a country that refuses to comply with strict controls over the waste which can be reprocessed into explosives. I've also advocated that we stop the sale by Germany and France of - processing plants for Pakistan and Brazil. Mr. Ford hasn't moved on this. We also need to provide an adequate supply of enriched uranium. Mr. Ford, again, under pressure from the atomic energy lobby, has insisted that this reprocessing or rather re-en- enrichment be done by private industry and not by the existing - government - plants. This kind of confusion and absence of leadership has let us drift now for two years with a constantly increasing threat of atomic weapons throughout the world. We now have five nations that have atomic bombs that we know about. If we continue under Mr. Ford's policy by 1985 or '90 we'll have twenty nations that have the capability of exploding atomic weapons. This has got to be stopped. That is one of the major challenges and major undertakings that I will assume as the next president. MS. FREDERICK: Mr. Valeriani, a question for Governor Carter.

(1:32) MR. VALERIANI: Governor Carter, earlier tonight you said America is not strong any more; America is not respected any more. And I feel that I must ask you: Do you really believe that the United States is not the strongest country in the world, do you really believe that the United States is not the most respected country in the world? Or is that just campaign rhetoric? MR. CARTER: No, it's not just campaign rhetoric. I think that militarily we are as strong as any nation on earth. I think we got to stay that way and continue to increase our capabilities to meet any potential threat. But as far as strength derived from commitment to principles, as far as strength derived from the unity within our country, as far as strength derived from the people, the Congress, the secretary of state, the president, sharing in the evolution and carrying-out of a foreign policy, as far as strength derived from the respect of our own allies and friends, their assurance that we will be staunch in our commitment, that we will not deviate and that we'll give them adequate attention, as far as - as strength derived from doing what's right - caring for the poor, providing food, becoming the breadbasket of the world instead of the arms merchant of the world - in those respects, we're not strong. Also, we'll never be strong again overseas, unless we're strong at home. And with our economy in such terrible disarray and getting worse by the month. We've got five-hundred thousand more Americans unemployed today than we had three months ago. We've got two and a half million more Americans out of work now than we had when Mr. Ford took office. This kind of deterioration in our economic strength is bound to weaken us around the world. And we not only have problems at home but we export those problems overseas. So as far as the respect of our own people toward our own government, as far as participating in the shaping of - concepts and commitments, as far as the trust of our country among the nations of the world, as far as dependence of our country in meeting the needs and obligations that we've expressed to our allies, as far as the respect of our country - even among our potential adversaries - we are weak. Potentially we're strong. Under this administration that strength has not been realized.

(3:44) MS. FREDERICK: President Ford. MR. FORD: Governor Carter - brags about the unemployment during Democratic administrations and condemns the unemployment at the present time. I must remind him that we're at peace and during the period that he brags about unemployment being low, the United States was at war. Now let me correct one other comment that - Governor Carter has made. I have recommended to the Congress that we develop the uranium enrichment plant at Portsmouth, Ohio, which is a publicly owned - U.S. government facility and have indicated that the private program which would follow on in Alabama is one that may or may not uhh - be constructed. But I am committed to the one at Portsmouth, Ohio. The governor also talks about morality in foreign policy. The foreign policy of the United States meets the highest standards of morality. What is more moral than peace, and the United States is at peace today? What is more moral in foreign policy than for the administration to take the lead in the World Food Conference in Rome in 1974 when the United States committed six million metric tons of food - over 60 percent of the food committed for the disadvantaged and underdeveloped nations of the world? The Ford administration wants to eradicate hunger and disease in our underdeveloped countries throughout the world. What is more moral than for the United States under the Ford administration to take the lead in southern Africa, in the Middle East? Those are initiatives in foreign policy which are of the highest moral standard and that is indicative of the foreign policy of this country. MS. FREDERICK: Mr. Frankel, a question for President Ford.

(5:54) MR. FRANKEL: Mr. President, can we stick with morality? - for a lot of people it seems to cover - a bunch of sins. - Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger used to tell us that instead of morality we had to worry in the - in the world about living and letting live all kinds of governments that we really don't like. North and South Korean dictators, Chilean fascists, - Chinese Communists, Iranian emperors and so on. They said the only way to get by in a wicked world was to treat others on the basis of how they treated us and not how they treated their own people. But more recently, uhh - we seemed to've taken a different tack. Uhh - we've seemed to have decided that it - that it is part of our business to tell the Rhodesians, for instance, that the way they're treating their own black people is wrong and they've got to change their government and we've put pressure an them. We were rather liberal in our advice to the Italians as to how to vote. Umm - is this a new Ford foreign policy in the making? Can we expect that you are now going to turn to South Africa and force them to change their governments, to intervene in similar ways to end the bloodshed, as you called it, say, in Chile or Chilean prisons, and throw our weight around for the - for the values that - that we hold dear in the world? MR. FORD: I believe that - our foreign policy must express the highest standards of morality. And the initiatives that we took in southern Africa are the best examples of what this administration is doing and will continue to do in the next four years. If the United States had not moved when we did in southern Africa, there's no doubt there would have been an acceleration of bloodshed in that tragic part of the world. If we had not taken our initiative, it's very, very possible that - the government of Rhodesia would have been overrun and that the Soviet Union and the Cubans would have dominated - southern Africa. So the United States, seeking to preserve the principle of self-determination, to eliminate the possibility of bloodshed, to protect the rights of the minority as we insisted upon the rights of the majority, - I believe followed the good conscience of the American people in foreign policy. And I believe that we used our skill. Secretary of State Kissinger has done a superb job in working with the black African nations, the so-called front-line nations. He has done a superb job in getting the prime minister of South Africa, Mr. Vorster, to agree that the time had come for a solution to the problem of Rhodesia. Secretary Kissinger, in his meeting with - Prime Minister Smith of Rhodesia, was able to convince him that it was in the best interests of whites as well as blacks in Rhodesia to find an answer for a transitional government and then a majority government. This is a perfect example of the kind of leadership that the United States, under this administration, has taken. And I can assure you that this administration will follow that high moral principle in our future efforts in foreign policy, including our efforts in the Middle East where it is vitally important because the Middle East is the crossroads of the world. There've been more disputes in its area where there's more volatility than any other place in the world. But because Arab nations and the Israelis trust the United States, we were able to take the lead in the Sinai II Agreement. And I can assure you that the United States will have the leadership role in moving toward a comprehensive settlement of the Middle Eastern problems, I hope and trust as soon as possible. And we will do it with the highest moral principles.

(10:15) MR. FRANKEL: Mr. President, just clarify one point: There are lots of majorities in the world that feel they're being pushed around by minority governments. And are you saying they can now expect to look to us for not just good cheer but throwing our weight on their side - in South Africa, or on Taiwan, or in Chile, - to help change their governments, as in Rhodesia? MR. FORD: I would hope that as we move to one area of the world from another - and the United States must not spread itself too thinly - that was one of the problems that helped to create the circumstances in Vietnam - but as we as a nation find that we are asked by the various parties, either one nation against another or individuals within a nation, that the United States will take the leadership and try to resolve the differences. Let me take - South Korea as an example. I have personally told President Pack that the United States does not condone the kind of repressive measures that he has taken in that country. But I think in all fairness and equity we have to recognize the problem that South Korea has. On the north they have North Korea with five hundred thousand well-trained, well-equipped troops - they are supported by the People's Republic of China; they are supported by the Soviet Union. South Korea faces a very delicate situation. Now the United States, in this case, this administration, has recommended a year ago and we have reiterated it again this year, that the United States, South Korea, North Korea and the - People's Republic of China sit down at a conference table to resolve the problems of the Korean peninsula. This is a leadership role that the United States under this administration is carrying out, and if we do it, and I think the opportunities and the possibilities are getting better, we will have solved many of the internal domestic problems that exist in South Korea at the present time.

(12:36) MS. FREDERICK: Governor Carter. MR. CARTER: I notice that Mr. Ford didn't comment on the - prisons in Chile. This is an - a typical example, maybe of many others, where this administration overthrew an elected government and helped to establish a military dictatorship. This has not been an ancient history story. Last year under Mr. Ford, of all the Food for Peace that went to South America, 85 percent went to the military dictatorship in Chile. Another point I wanna make is this. He says we have to move from one area of the world to another. That's one of the problems with this administration's so-called shuttle diplomacy. While the secretary of state's in one country, there are almost a hundred and fifty others that are wondering what we're gonna do next, what will be the next secret agreement. We don't have a comprehensive understandable foreign policy that deals with world problems or even regional problems. Another thing that concerned me was what Mr. Ford said about unemployment, that - insinuating that under Johnson and Kennedy that unemployment could only be held down when this country is at war. Karl Marx said that the free enterprise system in a democracy can only continue to exist when they are at war or preparing far war. Karl Marx was the grandfather of Communism. I don't agree with that statement. I hope Mr. Ford doesn't either. He has put pressure on the Congress - and I don't believe Mr. Ford would even deny this - to hold up on nonproliferation legislation until the Congress agreed for an $8 billion program for private industry to start producing enriched uranium. And the last thing I wanna make is this. He talks about peace and I'm thankful for peace. We were peaceful when Mr. Ford went into office. But he and Mr. Kissinger and others tried to start a new Vietnam in Angola, and it was only the outcry of the American people and the Congress when their secret deal was discovered that prevented our involvement in that conflagration which was taking place there. MS. FREDERICK: Gentlemen, I'm sorry we do not have time enough for two complete sequences of questions. We now have only twelve minutes left. Therefore, I would like to ask for shorter questions and shorter answers. And we also will drop the follow-up question. Each candidate may still respond, of course, to the other's answer. Mr. Trewhitt, a question for Governor Carter.

(15:14) MR. TREWHITT: Governor Carter, before this event the most communications I received concerned Panama. Is - would you as president be prepared to sign a treaty which at a fixed date yielded administrative and economic control of the Canal Zone and shared defense, which, as I understand it, is the position the United States took in 1974? MR. CARTER: Well, here again, the Panamanian question is one that's been confused by Mr. Ford. He had directed his diplomatic relation representative to yield to the Panamanians full sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone at the end of a certain period of time. When Mr. Reagan raised this - question in Florida - Mr. Ford not only disavowed his instructions, but he also even dropped, parenthetically, the use of the word "detente." I would never give up complete control or practical control of the Panama Canal Zone, but I would continue to negotiate with the Panamanians. When the original treaty was signed back in the early 1900s, when Theodore Roosevelt was president, Panama retained sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone. We retained control as though we had sovereignty. Now I would be willing to go ahead with negotiations. I believe that we could share more fully responsibilities for the Panama Canal Zone with Panama. I would be willing to continue to raise the payment for shipment of goods through the Panama Canal Zone. I might even be willing to reduce to some degree our military emplacements in the Panama Canal Zone, but I would not relinquish practical control of the Panama Canal Zone any time in the foreseeable future.

(17:04) MS. FREDERICK: President Ford. MR. FORD: The United States must and will maintain complete access to the Panama Canal. The United States must maintain a defense capability of the Panama Canal. And the United States will maintain our national security interest in the Panama Canal. The negotiations far the Panama Canal started under President Johnson and have continued up to the present time. I believe those negotiations should continue. But there are certain guidelines that must be followed, and I've just defined them. Let me take just a minute to comment on something that Governor Carter said. On nonproliferation, in May of l975, I called for a conference of - nuclear suppliers. That conference has met six times. In May of this year, Governor Carter took the first initiative, approximately twelve months after I had taken my initiative a year ago. MS. FREDERICK: Mr. Valeriani, a question for President Ford.

(18:16) MR. VALERIANI: Mr. President, the Government Accounting Office has just put out a report suggesting that you shot from the hip in the Mayaguez rescue mission and that you ignored diplomatic messages saying that a peaceful solution was in prospect. Why didn't you do more diplomatically at the time; and a related question: Did the White House try to prevent the release of that report? MR. FORD: The White House did not - prevent the release of that report. On July twelfth of this year, we gave full permission for the release of that report. I was very disappointed in the fact that the - GAO released that report because I think it interjected political partisan politics at the present time. But let me comment on the report. Somebody who sits in Washington, D.C., eighteen months after the Mayaguez incident, can be a very good grandstand quarterback. And let me make another observation. This morning, I got a call from the skipper of the Mayaguez. He was furious because he told me that it was the action of me, President Ford, that saved the lives of the crew of the Mayaguez. And I can assure you that if we had not taken the strong and forceful action that we did, we would have been - criticized very, very - severely for sitting back and not moving. Captain Miller is thankful. The crew is thankful. We did the right thing. It seems to me that those who sit in Washington eighteen months after the incident are not the best judges of the decision-making process that had to be made by the National Security Council and by myself at the time the incident was developing in the Pacific. Let me assure you that we made every possible overture to the People's Republic of China and through them to the Cambodian Government. We made - diplomatic - protests to the Cambodian government through the United Nations. Every possible diplomatic means was utilized. But at the same time, I had a responsibility, and so did the National Security Coun- Council, to meet the problem at hand. And we handled it responsibly and I think Captain Miller's testimony to that effect is the best evidence.

(20:51) MS. FREDERICK: Governor Carter. MR. CARTER: Well, I'm reluctant to comment on the recent report - I haven't read it. I think the American people have only one - requirement - that the facts about Mayaguez be given to them accurately and completely. Mr. Ford has been there for eighteen months. He had the facts that were released today immediately after the Mayaguez incident. I understand that the report today is accurate. Mr. Ford has said, I believe, that it was accurate, and that the White House made no attempt to block the issuing of that report. I don't know if that's exactly accurate or not. I understand that both the - the - Department of State and the Defense Department have approved the accuracy of today's report, or yesterday's report, and also the National Security Agency. I don't know what was right, or what was wrong, or what was done. The only thing I believe is that whatever the - the knowledge was that Mr. Ford had should have been given to the American people eighteen months ago, immediately after the Mayaguez - incident occurred. This is - what the American people want. When something happens that endangers our security, or when something happens that threatens our stature in the world, or when American people are endangered by the actions of a foreign country, - just forty sailors on the Mayaguez, we obviously have to move aggressively and quickly to rescue them. But then after the immediate action is taken, I believe the president has an obligation to tell the American people the truth and not wait eighteen months later for the report to be issued. MS. FREDERICK: Gentlemen, at this time we have time for only two very short questions. Mr. Frankel, a question for Governor Carter.

(22:49) MR. FRANKEL: Governor Carter, if the price of - gaining influence among the Arabs is closing our eyes a little bit to their boycott against Israel, how would you handle that? MR. CARTER: I believe that the boycott of American businesses by the Arab countries because those businesses trade with Israel or because they have American Jews who are owners or directors in the company is an absolute disgrace. This is the first time that I've - remember in the history of our country when we've let a foreign country circumvent or change our Bill of Rights. I'll do everything I can as president to stop the boycott of American businesses by the Arab countries. It's not a matter of diplomacy or trade with me. It's a matter of morality. And I don't believe that Arab countries will pursue it when we have a strong president who will protect the integrity of our country, the commitment of our Constitution and Bill of Rights and protect people in this country who happen to be Jews. It may later be Catholics; it may be - later be Baptists who are threatened by some foreign country. But we ought to stand staunch. And I think it's a disgrace that so far Mr. Ford's administration has blocked the passage of legislation that would've revealed by law every instance of the boycott and it would've prevented the boycott from continuing.

(24:22) MS. FREDERICK: President Ford. MR. FORD: Again Governor Carter is inaccurate. The Arab boycott action was first taken in 1952. And in November of 1975 I was the first president to order the executive branch to take action, affirmative action, through the Department of Commerce and other cabinet departments, to make certain that no American businessman or business organization should discriminate against Jews because of an Arab boycott. And I might add that - my administration - and I'm very proud of it - is the first administration that has taken an antitrust action against companies in this country that have allegedly cooperated with the Arab boycott. Just on Monday of this week I signed a tax bill that included an amendment that would prevent companies in the United States from taking a tax deduction if they have in any way whatsoever cooperated with the Arab boycott. And last week when we were trying to get the Export Administration Act through the Congress - necessary legislation - my administration went to Capitol Hill and tried to convince the House and the Senate that we should have an amendment on that legislation which would take strong and effective action against those who - participate or cooperate with the Arab boycott. One other point. Because the Congress failed to act, I am going to announce tomorrow that the Department of Commerce will disclose those companies that have - participated in the Arab boycott. This is something that we can do; the Congress failed to do it, and we intend to do it. MS. FREDERICK: Mr. Trewhitt, a very brief question for President Ford.

(26:37) MR. TREWHITT: Mr. President, if you get the accounting of missing in action you want from North Vietnam - or from Vietnam, I'm sorry, now would you then be prepared to reopen negotiations for restoration of relations with that country? MR. FORD: Let me restate - our policy. As long as Vietnam, North Vietnam, does not give us a full and complete accounting of our missing in action, I will never - go along with the admission of Vietnam to the United Nations. If they do give us a bona fide, complete - accounting of the eight hundred MIA's, then I believe that the United States should begin negotiations for the - admission of Vietnam to the United Nations. But not until they have given us the full accounting of our MIAs.

(27:27) MS. FREDERICK: Governor Carter. MR. CARTER: One of the - most embarrassing - failures of the Ford administration, and one that touches specifically on human rights, is his refusal to appoint a presidential commission to go to Vietnam, to go to Laos, to go to Cambodia and try to trade for the release of information about those who are missing in action in those wars. This is what the families of MIAs want. So far, Mr. Ford has not done it. We've had several fragmentary efforts by members of the Congress and by - by private citizens. Several months ago the Vietnam government said, "We are ready to sit down and negotiate for release of information on MIAs. So far, Mr. Ford has not responded. I would never normalize relationships with Vietnam, nor permit them to join the United Nations until they've taken this action. But that's not enough. We need to have an active and aggressive action on the part of the president, the leader of his country, to seek out every possible way to get that information which has kept the MIA families in despair and doubt, and Mr. Ford has just not done it. MS. FREDERICK: Thank you Governor Carter. That completes the questioning for this evening. Each candidate now has up to three minutes for a closing statement. It was determined by the toss of a coin that Governor Carter would take the first question, and he now goes first with his closing remarks. Governor Carter.

(29:04) MR. CARTER: The purpose of this debate and the outcome of the election will determine three basic things: Leadership, upholding the principles of our country, and proper priorities and commitments for the future. This election will also determine what kind of world we leave our children. Will it be a nightmare world threatened with the proliferation of atomic bombs, not just in five major countries but dozens of smaller countries that have been permitted to develop atomic weapons because of a failure of our top leadership to stop proliferation? Will we have a world of hunger and - and hatred, and will we be living in an armed camp stripped of our friendship and allies hiding behind a tight defense that's been drawn in around us because we are fearful of the outside world? Will we have a government of secrecy that excludes the American people from participation in making basic decisions and therefore covers up mistakes and makes it possible for our government - our government - to depart from the principles of our Constitution and Bill of Rights? Or will we have a world of peace with the threat of atomic weapons eliminated, with full trade, with our people at work, inflation controlled, openness in government, our people proud once again, Congress, citizens, president, secretary of state working in harmony and unity toward a common future? Or world where people have enough to eat and a world where we care about those who don't? Can we become a breadbasket of the world instead of the arms merchant of the world? I believe we can and we ought to. Now we've been hurt in recent years in this country. In the aftermath of Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, Pakistan, Angola, Watergate, CIA, we've been hurt. Our people feel that we've lost something precious. That's not necessary. I wanna see our nation - return to a posture and an image and a standard to make us proud once again. I remember the world with NATO, and the world of Point Four, and the world of the Marshall Plan, and the world of the Peace Corps. Why can't we have that once again? We ought to be a beacon for nations who search for peace and who search for freedom, who search for individual liberty, who search for basic human rights. We haven't been lately. We can be once again. We'll never have that world leadership until we are strong at home, and we can have that strength if we return to the basic principles. It ought not to be a strength of bombast and threats. It ought to be a quiet strength based on the integrity of our people, the vision of the Constitution, an in- innate strong will and purpose that God's given us in the greatest nation on earth - the United States.

(32:25) MS. FREDERICK: President Ford. MR. FORD: As we have seen tonight, foreign policy and defense policy are difficult and complex issues. We can debate methods, we can debate one decision or another, but there are two things which cannot be debated - experience and results. In the last two years, I have made policy decisions involving - long-range difficulties and policies and made day-to-day judgments not only as president of the United States but as the leader of the free world What is the result of that leadership? America is strong. America is free. America is respected. Not a single young American today is fighting or dying on any foreign battlefield. America is at peace and with freedom. Thank you, and good night. MS. FREDERICK: Thank you, President Ford. Thank you, Governor Carter. I also want to thank our questioners and the audience here this evening. The third and final debate between President Ford and Governor Carter will take place on October the twenty-second at nine-thirty P.M. Eastern daylight time on the campus of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The subject matter will cover all issues. These debates are sponsored by the League of Women Voters Education Fund to help voters become better informed on the issues and to generate greater voter turnout in the November election. Now, from the Palace of Fine Arts Theater in San Francisco, good night.