MR. KRAFT: Governor Carter, the next big crisis spot in the world may be Yugoslavia. President Tito is old and sick and there are divisions in his country. it's pretty certain that the Russians are gonna do everything they possibly can after Tito dies to force Yugoslavia back into the Soviet camp. But last Saturday you said, and this is a quote, "I would not go to war in Yugoslavia, even if the Soviet Union sent in troops." Doesn't that statement practically invite the Russians to intervene in Yugoslavia? Ah - doesn't it discourage Yugoslavs who might be tempted to resist? And wouldn't it have been wiser on your part to say nothing and to keep the Russians in the dark as President Ford did, and as I think every president has done since - since President Truman?
MR. CARTER: In the last two weeks, I've had a chance to talk to two men who have visited the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and China. One is Governor Avell- Averell Harriman, who visited the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and the other is James Schlesinger, whom I think you accompanied to China. I got a- a complete report back from those countries from these two distinguished - gentlemen. Mr. Harriman talked to the leaders in Yugoslavia, and I think it's accurate to say that there is no prospect in their opinion, of the Soviet Union invading Yugoslavia should Mr. Tito pass away. The present leadership there is is fairly uniform in - in their purpose, and I think it's a close-knit group, and I think it would be unwise for us to say that we will go to war in Yugoslavia if the Soviets should invade, which I think would be an extremely unlikely thing. I have maintained from the very beginning of my campaign, and this was a standard answer that I made in response to the Yugoslavian question, that I would never go to war or become militarily involved, in the internal affairs of another country unless our own security was direc- rectly threatened. And I don't believe that our security would be directly threatened if the Soviet Union went into Yugoslavia. I don't believe it will happen. I certainly hope it won't. I would take eh - the strongest possible measures short of actual military action there by our own troops, but I doubt that that would be an eventuality.
MR. KRAFT: One quick follow-up question. (GOVERNOR CARTER: Yes.) Did you clear the response you made with Secretary Schlesinger and Governor Harriman?
MR. CARTER: No, I did not.
MS. WALTERS: President Ford, your response.
MR. FORD: I firmly believe, Mr. Kraft, that it's unwise for a president to signal in advance what options he might exercise if any uhh - international problem arose. I think we all recall with some sadness that at the period of the nin- late nineteen forties, early nineteen fifties, there were some indications that the United States would not include South Korea in an area of defense. There are some who allege, I can't prove it true or untrue, that such a statement in effect invited the North Koreans to invade South Korea. It's a fact they did. But no president of the United States, in my opinion, should signal in advance to a prospective enemy, what his uhh - decision might be or what option he might exercise. It's far better for a person sitting in the White House who has a number of options to make certain that the other side, so to speak, doesn't know precisely what you're going to do. And therefore, that was the reason that I would not identify any particular course of action when I responded to a question a week or so ago.
MS. WALTERS: Thank you, Mr. Maynard, your question to President Ford, please.
MR. MAYNARD: Sir, this question concerns your administrative performance as president. The other day, General George Brown, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered his views on several sensitive subjects, among them Great Britain, one of this country's oldest allies. He said, and I quote him now, "Great Britain, it's a pathetic thing. It just makes you cry. They're no longer a world power. All they have are generals, admirals, and bands," end quote. Since General Brown's comments have caused this country embarrassment in the past, why is he still this nation's leading military officer?
MR. FORD: I have indicated to General Brown that the words that he used in that interview, in that particular case and in several others, were very ill advised. And General Brown has indicated his apology, his regrets, and I think that will, in this situation, settle the matter. It is tragic that the full transcript of that interview was not released and that there were excerpts, some of the excerpts, taken out of context. Not this one, however, that you bring up. General Brown has an exemply [sic] record of military performance. He served this nation with great, great skill and courage and bravery for thirty-five years. And I think it's the consensus of the people who are knowledgeable in the military field, that he is probably the outstanding military leader and strategist that we have in America today. Now he did use ill-advised words, but I think in the fact that he apologized, that he was reprimanded, does permit him to stay on and continue that kind of leadership that's we so badly need as we enter into negotiations under the SALT II agreement, or if we have operations that might be developing uh in the Middle East or southern Africa, in the Pacific, we need a man with that experience, that knowledge, that know-how, and I think, in light of the fact that he has apologized, would not have justified my asking for his resignation.
MS. WALTERS: Thank you. Governor Carter, your response.
MR. CARTER: Well, just briefly, I - I think this is the second time that General Brown has made a statement that - for which he did have to apologize. And I know that everybody makes mistakes. I think the first one was related to the unwarranted influence of American Jews on the media and in the Congress. This one concerned Great Britain. I think he said that Israel was a - a military burden on us and that Iran hoped to reestablish the Persian Empire. Ah - I'm not sure that I remembered earlier that President Ford had - had expressed his concern about the statement or apologized for it. This is something, though, that I think is indicative of the need among the American people to know how its commander-in-chief, the president, feels and - and - and I think the only criticism that I would have on - of Mr. Ford is that immediately when the statement was re - re - revealed, perhaps a - a statement from the president would have been a clarifying and a very beneficial thing.
MS. WALTERS: Mr. Nelson, your question now to Governor Carter.
MR. NELSON: Governor, despite the fact that you've been running for president a long time now, many Americans still seem to be uneasy about you. they don't feel that they know you or the people around you. And one problem seems to be that you haven't reached out to bring people of broad background or national experience into your campaign or your presidential plans. Most of the people around you on a day-to-day basis are the people you've kno- known in Georgia. Many of them are young and relatively inexperienced in national affairs. And doesn't this raise a serious question as to whether you would bring into a Carter administration uh people with the necessary background to run the federal government?
MR. CARTER: I don't believe it does. I began campaigning twenty-two months ago. At that time, nobody thought I had a chance to win. very few people knew who I was. I came from a tiny town, as you know, Plains, and didn't hold public office, didn't have very much money. And my first organization was just four or five people plus my wife and my children, my three sons and their wives. And we won the nomination by going out into the streets - barbershops, beauty parlors, restaurants, stores, in factory shift lines also in farmers' markets and livestock sale barns - and we talked a lot and we listened a lot and we learned from the American people. And we built up an awareness among the voters of this country, particularly those in whose primaries I entered - thirty of them, nobody's ever done that before - about who I was and what I stood for. Now we have a very, very wide-ranging group of advisers who help me prepare for these debates and who teach me about international economics, and foreign affairs, defense matters, health, education, welfare, government reorganization. I'd say, several hundred of them. And they're very fine and very highly qualified. The one major decision that I have made since acquiring the nomination, and I share this with President Ford, is the choice of a vice president.
I think this should be indicative of the kind of leaders I would choose to help me if I am elected. I chose Senator Walter Mondale. And the only criterion I ever put forward in my own mind was who among the several million people in this country would be the best person qualified to be president, if something should happen to me and to join me in being vice president if I should serve out my term. And I'm convinced now, more than I was when I got the nomination, that Walter Mondale was the right choice, And I believe this is a good indication of the kind of people I would choose in the future. Mr. Ford has had that same choice to make. I don't want to say anything critical of Senator Dole, but I've never heard Mr. Ford say that that was his prim- primary consideration - Who is the best person I could choose in this country to be president of the United States? I feel completely at ease knowing that someday Senator Mondale might very well be president. In the last five pres- vice presidential nominees, incumbents, three of them have become president. But I think this is indicative of what I would do.
MS. WALTERS: President Ford, your response, please.
MR. FORD: The Governor may not have heard my established criteria for the selection of a vice president, but it was a well-established criteria that the person I selected would be fully qualified to be president of the United States. And Senator Bob Dole is so qualified: sixteen years in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, uhh - very high responsibilities on important committees. I don't mean to be critical of Senator Mondale, but I was very, very surprised when I read that Senator Mondale made a very derogatory, very personal comment about General Brown after the news story that broke about General Brown. If my recollection is correct he indicated that General Brown was not qualified to be a sewer commissioner. I don't think that's a proper way to describe aayuh- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who has fought for his country for thirty-five years, and I'm sure the governor would agree with me on that. I think Senator Dole would show more good judgment and discretion than to so describe a heroic and brave and very outstanding leader of the military. So I think our selection of Bob Dole as vice president is based on merit. And if he should ever become the president of the United States, with his vast experience as member the House and a member of the Senate, as well as a vice president, I think he would do an outstanding job as president of the United States.
MS. WALTERS: Mr. Kraft, your question to President Ford.
MR. KRAFT: Mr. President, let me assure you then maybe some of the uh viewing audience that being on this panel hasn't been as it may seem, all torture and agony. one of the heartening things is that I and my colleagues have received literally hundreds and maybe even thousands of suggested questions from ordinary citizens all across the country who want answers.
MR. FORD: That's a tribute to their interest in this election.
MR. KRAFT: I'll give you that. Ahh - but, let me go on, because one main subject on the minds of all of them has been the environment. they're particularly curious about your record. People - people really wanna know why you vetoed the strip-mining bill. They wanna know why you worked against strong controls on auto emissions. They wanna know why you aren't doing anything about pollution of the Atlantic Ocean. they wanna know a-a bipartisan organization such as the National League of Conservation Voters says that when it comes to environmental issues, you are - and I'm quoting - "hopeless."
MR. FORD: Well, first, let me set the record straight. I vetoed the strip-mining bill, Mr. Kraft, because it was the overwhelming consensus of knowledgeable people that that strip-mining bill would have meant the loss of literally thousands of jobs, something around a hundred and forty thousand jabs. Number two, that strip-mining bill would've severely set back our need for more coal, and Governor Carter has said repeatedly that coal is the resource that we need to use more in the effort to become independent of the Arab oil supply. So, I vetoed it because of a loss of jobs and because it would've interfered with our energy independence program. The auto emissions - it was agreed by Leonard Woodcock, the head of the UAW, and by the heads of all of the automobile industry, we had labor and management together saying that those auto emission standards had to be modified. But let's talk about what the Ford administration has done in the field of environment. I have increased, as president, by over 60 percent the funding for water treatment plants in the United States, the federal contribution. I have fully funded the land and water conservation program; in fact, have recommended and the Congress approved a substantially increased land and water conservation program. I have added in the current year budget the funds for the National Park Service. For example, we proposed about $12 million to add between four and five hundred more employees for the National Park Service. And a month or so ago I did likewise say over the next ten years we should expand - double - this national parks, the wild wilderness areas, the scenic river areas. And then, of course, the - the final thing is that I have signed and approved of more scenic rivers, more wilderness areas, since I've been president than any other president in the history of the United States.
MS. WALTERS: Governor Carter.
MR. CARTER: Well, I might say that I think the League of Conservation Voters is absolutely right. This administration's record on environment is very bad. I think it's accurate to say that the strip-mining law which was passed twice by the Congress - and was only like two votes I believe of being overridden - would have been good for the country. The claim that it would have put hundred and forty thousand miners out of work is hard to believe, when at the time Mr. Ford vetoed it, the United Mine Workers was supporting the bill. And I don't think they would have supported the bill had they known that they would lose a hundred and forty thousand jobs. There's been a consistent policy on the part of this administration to lower or delay enforcement of air pollution standards and water pollution standards. And under both President Nixon and Ford, monies have been impounded that would've gone to cities and others to control water pollution.
We have no energy policy. We, I think, are the only developed nation in the world that has no comprehensive energy policy, to permit us to plan in an orderly way how to shift from increasing the scarce energy forms: oil, and have research and development concentrated on the increased use of coal, which I strongly favor. The research and development to be used primary to make the coal burning be clean. We need a heritage trust program, similar to the one we had in Georgia, to set aside additional lands that have geological and archeological importance, uh natural areas for enjoyment. the lands that Mr. Ford brags about having approved are in Alaska and they are enormous in in size. But as far as the accessibility of them by the American people, it's very far in the future. We've taken no strong position in the control of pollution of our oceans, and I would say the worst threat to the environment of all is nuclear proliferation. And this administration, having been in office now for two years or more, has still not taken strong and bold action to stop the proliferation of nuclear waste around the world, particularly plutonium. Those are some brief remarks about the failures of this administration. I would do the opposite in every respect.
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