1980 Presidential Candidate Debate: Governor Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter – 10/28/80
Above is the video of the complete debate. Below is the 9th part of the transcript that deals with the closing statements of both candidates. This segment begins at 1:28 minute mark.
October 28, 1980
The Carter-Reagan Presidential Debate
MR. SMITH: Gentlemen, each of you now has three minutes for a closing statement. President Carter, you’re first.
MR. CARTER: First of all, I’d like to thank the League of Women Voters for making this debate possible. I think it’s been a very constructive debate and I hope it’s helped to acquaint the American people with the sharp differences between myself and Governor Reagan. Also, I want to thank the people of Cleveland and Ohio for being such hospitable hosts during these last few hours in my life. I’ve been President now for almost four years. I’ve had to make thousands of decisions, and each one of those decisions has been a learning process. I’ve seen the strength of my nation, and I’ve seen the crises it approached in a tentative way. And I’ve had to deal with those crises as best I could. As I’ve studied the record between myself and Governor Reagan, I’ve been impressed with the stark differences that exist between us. I think the result of this debate indicates that that fact is true. I consider myself in the mainstream of my party. I consider myself in the mainstream even of the bipartisan list of Presidents who served before me. The United States must be a nation strong; the United States must be a nation secure. We must have a society that’s just and fair. And we must extend the benefits of our own commitment to peace, to create a peaceful world. I believe that since I’ve been in office, there have been six or eight areas of combat evolved in other parts of the world. In each case, I alone have had to determine the interests of my country and the degree of involvement of my country. I’ve done that with moderation, with care, with thoughtfulness; sometimes consulting experts. But, I’ve learned in this last three and a half years that when an issue is extremely difficult, when the call is very close, the chances are the experts will be divided almost 50-50. And the final judgment about the future of the nation – war, peace, involvement, reticence, thoughtfulness, care, consideration, concern – has to be made by the man in the Oval Office. It’s a lonely job, but with the involvement of the American people in the process, with an open Government, the job is a very gratifying one. The American people now are facing, next Tuesday, a lonely decision. Those listening to my voice will have to make a judgment about the future of this country. And I think they ought to remember that one vote can make a lot of difference. If one vote per precinct had changed in 1960, John Kennedy would never have been President of this nation. And if a few more people had gone to the polls and voted in 1968, Hubert Humphrey would have been President; Richard Nixon would not. There is a partnership involved in our nation. To stay strong, to stay at peace, to raise high the banner of human rights, to set an example for the rest of the world, to let our deep beliefs and commitments be felt by others in other nations, is my plan for the future. I ask the American people to join me in this partnership.
MR. SMITH: Governor Reagan?
MR. REAGAN: Yes, I would like to add my words of thanks, too, to the ladies of the League of Women Voters for making these debates possible. I’m sorry that we couldn’t persuade the bringing in of the third candidate, so that he could have been seen also in these debates. But still, it’s good that at least once, all three of us were heard by the people of this country. Next Tuesday is Election Day. Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have. This country doesn’t have to be in the shape that it is in. We do not have to go on sharing in scarcity with the country getting worse off, with unemployment growing. We talk about the unemployment lines. If all of the unemployed today were in a single line allowing two feet for each of them, that line would reach from New York City to Los Angeles, California. All of this can be cured and all of it can be solved. I have not had the experience the President has had in holding that office, but I think in being Governor of California, the most populous state in the Union – if it were a nation, it would be the seventh-ranking economic power in the world – I, too, had some lonely moments and decisions to make. I know that the economic program that I have proposed for this nation in the next few years can resolve many of the problems that trouble us today. I know because we did it there. We cut the cost – the increased cost of government – in half over the eight years. We returned $5.7 billion in tax rebates, credits and cuts to our people. We, as I have said earlier, fell below the national average in inflation when we did that. And I know that we did give back authority and autonomy to the people. I would like to have a crusade today, and I would like to lead that crusade with your help. And it would be one to take Government off the backs of the great people of this country, and turn you loose again to do those things that I know you can do so well, because you did them and made this country great. Thank you.