Presidential Campaign and Candidates








I am a candidate for President of the United States.


The greatness of America has always been written in the confidence of her people as they summon the will to shape their future. Throughout our history, days of trouble have turned to years of pride through a renaissance of the American spirit. Once again America knows days of trouble. Once again we will recover in pride. But only if we are honest enough to admit our peril.


America has lost its margin for error. Our superiority in strategic arms used to give us the benefit of the doubt; but that superiority is gone. Our abundance in energy used to give us the luxury of time; but that abundance is gone. Our advantage in productivity used to give us certainty in the dollar; but that advantage is gone. Our confidence in the future used to give us the freedom to lead; but that confidence is gone.


I repeat: America has lost its margin for error. We can't afford to wait. We can't afford to guess. We can't afford to be wrong.


So both reality and instinct tell us that the time has come for our country to find it greatness again...quickly. That will take still another renaissance of the American spirit. And it will take a President who can unite our people -- a President who knows Washington well enough to change Washington -- a President who can chart a course -- and, above all, a President who can launch a new generation of confidence.


I have been privileged to serve Tennessee and my Party in the Senate. It has been a testing challenge to seek legislative consensus during trauma, indecision and self-doubt. They have been trying and difficult years as America has continually fallen short of its heritage.


But only one office can make America true to its heritage again. And the choice we make may be more important than any we have made before. Our margin for error is gone; we cannot afford to be wrong. It is obvious that one of five men will be our next President:


 -- Surely we know that we cannot withstand still more Washington inexperience.

 -- Surely we know that government by ideological reflex, left or right, will not bring the unity we need.

 -- Surely we know that a President cannot govern without trust and that trust never comes from bluster.

 -- Surely we know that we need a leader for tomorrow if the goal is a new generation of confidence.


So I offer myself for the job with humility, but as well with the personal certainty that I am ready.


America needs a President who will face up to the realities of a Soviet foreign policy that probes every weakness and fills every vacuum -– a President to insist on defenses strong enough through the next generation to give us the confidence to stand tall again. I am ready to be that President.

Washington needs a President who can bring unity and action in this city and in this Congress -- to curb useless regulation and spending, to assure energy independence, to help our people cope with inflation, and to set in motion a long-range and certain program of tax relief to cut inflation and assure a generation of economic resurgence. I am ready to be that President.

Our people need a President articulate enough to chart the future, tough enough to take a stand, honest enough to be believed, compassionate enough to care, young enough to lead, and experienced enough to get others to follow. I am ready to be that President.


And the Republican Party needs a President who can win -- in the South and in the North -- on the farms and in the cities -- with the whites and with the blacks -- with the old and with the young -- and having won can nurture the national unity needed to govern with purpose and launch a new generation of confidence. I am ready to be that President.


In the days and weeks ahead I will share the specifics of this agenda for America’s recovery. But unlike others in the past, I will not deal in promises. I do not ask you to trust me; I ask you to judge me.

Promises are cheap; America needs performance. Judge me. Judge my Senate service. Judge the campaign that starts today. Judge me now as you judged me on Watergate in this very room.


As you do so in the upcoming SALT treaty debate, take the time as well to judge President Carter who negotiated it and Senator Kennedy who supports it. They may be on the right political side. But they are short-sighted and they are wrong.


Approval of this treaty with its acceptance of Soviet strategic superiority could guarantee to the Soviet Union the margin for error that used to be ours. If we ratify the treaty we will be saying to the Soviets: “We’re willing to accept an unequal treaty. We just hope you will abide by it." If we defeat the treaty we will be saying: We intend to be the masters of our own fate again. And we have the confidence to negotiate a new SALT treaty that is safe for this country under a new President who will be safe for this country."


I don’t honestly know whether I can beat both Jimmy Carter and Teddy Kennedy on this treaty this November. It is very close. But I guarantee you that I’ll beat either Jimmy Carter or Teddy Kennedy in the voting booth next November.


Watch me. Judge me. Then come with me. Let's reach for the future and make it ours.

Source:  Baker Committee Press Release

           The Howard H. Baker, Jr. Papers, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 


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