An Exclusive Interview with President Gerald Ford
Who do I call you Jim guess or he would think the place is and I'm California I'm Jim Cooper and this is a special interview for public television with the president of the United States. President Ford welcome to California and welcome to public television Chamas nice to be here. Mr. President I'd like to start in with some of the comments that you made today before the California Peace Officers Association. You said you were opposed to the registration of guns and gun owners. You say the way to reduce criminal use of handguns is to oppose mandatory sentences for gun crimes. This is a very heated and controversial question and I wonder if you'd enlarge a bit on your position on registration of handguns.
We have found that where in certain localities such as New York City where they have the Sullivan model which bent has been in effect for a good many years the requirement that guns or gun owners be registered there has had no affective impact on the illegal use of guns and in other instances throughout the country where reasonably similar experiments have been tried. The impact is no more effective. Now it seems to me that we should focus in on the individual who uses the gun for any illegal purpose and why should we interfere with who or other rights of the gun collector or the individual who wants to use a gun for legal hunting reasons. The total effort in my honest judgement and I'm not a gun owner so I don't have any built in prejudice. Is to put all of the pressure we can through legal constitutional means at the individual who takes a gun and commits a crime. That's the focus of attention.
But you support the prohibition of so-called Saturday Night Special.
Yes these imported cheap handguns that no gun collector would bother to have nor any legitimate gun owner would want to buy. These are lethal weapons that ought to be gotten rid of by any and all means.
Mr. President what do you regard as the top two or three issues upon which voters will decide the outcome of this 1976 presidential election.
I think it's whether or not the record that I have had for the last 22 months is the kind of a record that the American people want for the next four years. We took office back in August of 1974 under the most difficult circumstances. We were in the situation where the economy was about to deteriorate very badly inflation was 12 percent or higher. Jobs were starting to fall off unemployment was growing. We've turned the economy around. We haven't gotten unemployment down to where we want it. We've made successful efforts in beating the battle against inflation but we have taken the right steps and the net result is that we're on the surging uprise of a healthy economy. And when you turn to the question of peace I achieved it. We have it and we're going to maintain it. And I think we've done a good job in restoring public confidence in the White House itself. If the American people want that kind of progress they ought to support me because it's actual and factual. It's not predicated on promises by someone who hadn't been through the battle.
One of the most critical domestic problems I'm sure you're aware is the shortage of low and moderate cost housing. Some estimates say that 75 percent of all Americans are now priced out of the housing market. What is your administration doing about this.
We have a many pronged attack on that Jim. For the people who are in the lowest income brackets we have a number of programs such as public housing 235 236 and what we call Section 8 programs. But that doesn't help the middle income group. And that's where the real problem is today. We're trying to reduce interest rates and interest costs are a very significant part of any purchase buy a home. We're trying to reduce inflation and inflation itself as had an adverse impact on the cost of homes. We're trying to make money more available and our savings and loans and other loaning institutions now do have enough money to loan to people. We're trying to cut down construction costs and a combination of all of these three or four efforts I think will help to stabilize the cost of the home to the middle income people and that's where the major problem is.
You've indicated the matter of a Supreme Court challenge on school busing in Boston is up to the U.S. attorney general.
Can you give your views a little bit more deeply and with him for 10 to 12 years ever since the basic decision the so-called Brown decision. I have said that quality education is not achieved by court ordered forced busing to achieve racial balance. The court has said that bussing by court order is the remedy that they think will achieve quality education and at the same time do away with segregation. I'm against segregation but I'm also more interested in how we achieve by proper means and methods of quality education. And there is very little evidence of all of the instances that the court has imposed forced busing that quality education has been achieved. So my feeling is that the courts ought to try another remedy or a better remedy. And the attorney general is looking at. The possibility of the Department of Justice of intervening in one of the suits they haven't made a decision whether they will or if so which court proceeding. But it seems to me that the court ought to define more precisely how we can prevent segregation and at the same time improve quality education. And that's the whole thrust of any action that would be taken.
Then you would like to see a Supreme Court test of this.
If the appropriate case can be found where we can preserve Constitutional rights on the one hand and at the same time use a better remedy for the achievement of quality education.
Will you comment on your reasons for postponing the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union.
Well it was a combination of things Jim. Number one that's a complicated treaty and the time of the president does get jammed up a bit. So the technical people were examining in more detail all of the aspects or ramifications of it. We are planning to sign that in a joint signing with the Soviet Union sometime in the very near future. It's an excellent treaty and I'm proud of the fact that I'm the first president among the last six who have been able to get a breakthrough with an on site inspection in the Soviet Union of nuclear explosions. This is a tremendous advantage to rise because it gives us far greater certainty of verification. So it's a good trade. We achieved it and we're going to sign it.
Is there any honest cause for concern that the United States has really moved into number two position behind Russia on the question of military preparedness.
There is no reason whatsoever for that allegation. There isn't a top military leader in the United States no member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Who agrees that the United States is number two. We have a problem. I mean our unsurpassed capability in the years ahead. And that's why I have recommended in January of last year in January of this year the increases in the military budgets not for what we do this year. Our capability to carry out our military missions in 1976 but to make certain that in the next three or five years the United States has an equal capability to carry out our responsibilities.
Mr. President you've repeatedly exercised the presidential veto over the current Congress I think that's pretty well known.
Do you feel this has been a serious drawback in getting the cooperation you need from the Congress in passage of your various programs Jim is then just the reverse the fact that I vetoed 49 bills 42 have been sustained by the help of the individuals in the House and the Senate who have stood up with me. I find that the Democratic leadership in the Congress is much more respectful and much more cooperative because they have found that I am tough and I will not give up. Go ahead to some of these big spending bills that they wanted to ram down the throat of the president and through the White House and the net result of being tough has resulted in greater cooperation and a lot more help and assistance.
I think you're saying you're but you're ready willing and able to use the veto again if you think it's him if they send any more of those budget busting bills.
I'll veto them again and again and again.
This is a question of concern to many people particularly in the Southwest region there have been reports of as many as 600 American citizens being held in Mexican prisons and that many of these are being mistreated or illegally detained in these Mexican jails. What is your administration doing about this problem.
The attorney general Mr. Ed Levy has been in direct consultation with the proper authorities in the government of Mexico. I'm disturbed about it. We're doing everything with everything we can to make certain that no Americans are illegally held or improperly treated. I can assure you that we're being very firm in this regard and the attorney general has personal cognizance of it.
Do you feel are some progress in this direction. Yes I think there is. Your administration has approved the sending of nuclear reactors to the government of South Africa. Would you clarify your rationale for this and how it affects the US policy in all of Africa.
Well the United States government. Has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. We are a full partner and a cooperator in the group that we call the producers of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. And that group has very rigid requirements as to how the reception and country or the buying country will operate the facility. And we are probably the toughest of all the nations that produces capability in selling to other nations as long as the South Africans or any other purchaser live up to these limits the safeguards. I think it's a very proper sale. Now some of the other nuclear producing countries have not done as well as we in ensuring the safeguards when the sales are made and we're making a massive effort to try and work the producing nations in a more responsible posture so that these safeguards will be. Maintained in the future now the sail to the South African government for peaceful energy purposes has no adverse impact on what we're trying to do as a nation in our relations in the rest of southern Africa.
Then the policy for majority rule still stands and will be affected by this.
I want to expand what you just said there because there is a misunderstanding.
The United States policy for years in Africa has been one of self-determination of majority rule. But the most important point is the full guarantee of minority rights. And we will insist upon the latter as a part of the overall package plus our total thrust in South. South Africa is aimed at preventing any outside forces Soviet Union or Cuba from being a dominant force in southern Africa. And we're being successful after the setback in Angola.
We only have a couple of minutes left Mr. President but could you clarify your position on negotiating a new treaty in the Panama Canal and explain why it's important to U.S. interests.
Starting back in 1965 former President Johnson and this she hated the negotiations. They were followed by negotiations by President Nixon carried on by me for the purpose of making sure that the long range interests of the United States are fully protected. The national security interests of the United States are protected and they can be protected by a 30 to 50 year treaty Plus the Garantie that the United States national interest or national security interest is protected. Those negotiations. I think if properly handled and we intend to handle them in a firm but fair way will protect our interests and normal American has any need in my judgment to be apprehensive about I suppose now that we have dealt with all these questions we might ask you this serious question if you care to make any predictions about the football team in Michigan.
Well I've talked to Beauchesne black lawyer the Michigan coach who was a strong supporter of mine in the Michigan primary and two days after he was campaigning with me went into the hospital for a very serious heart of heart operation.
But I talked to him just before coming out here and I said Beau how do you feel and he said Good. He said How's your ball team going to be said will be in there trying again to beat Ohio State come out to the Rose Bowl and. Do our best out here.
A final question how's your health bearing up under all this campaign I thrive on it Jim.
I love it and I enjoy meeting people and I am proud of the record that I've made and I want to convince the American people that it justifies four more years.
Well our time is up now Mr. President I wish to thank you for making the time available for this interview and for public television.
Thank you Jim. Good luck to public television. I support it.
In a speech before the California Peace Officers Association in Anaheim President Ford spoke out strongly on the subject of crime in the nation. Following are some excerpts from that speech.
Consider the very real concern of so many Americans about the problems of crime. Let us start with the great preamble of our Constitution which seeks to insure domestic tranquility law makes human society possible. It pledges safety to every member so that the company of fellow human beings can be a blessing instead of a threat. Do we provide that domestic tranquility which the Constitution seeks. If we take the crime rates as an indication the answer has to be No. Violent crimes on our streets and in our homes makes fear pervasive. They strike at the roots of our community like they make citizens fear one another.
The time has come for society to act in its own self-defense as a first important step. I strongly favor the use of the death penalty in the federal criminal system in accordance with proper constitutional standards.
The death penalty in certain circumstances should be imposed upon the conviction of sabotage murder. Espionage and treason.
And I think most Americans support that approach to a.
It'll be in murders involving substantial danger to the national security or when the defendant is a cold blooded hired killer. The use of capital punishment is fully justified. The harsh fact is that past 70 and permissiveness invite crime and that the certainty of punishment prevents crime. I mean positive swift and just punishment. We all recognize the criminal justice system need not be vindictive to be effective. As president I will give no comfort to those who make false allegations of police brutality. I will not excuse the real deal or brutality that exists in America today. The brutality of hoodlums in the streets of our cities throughout the United States. Millions and millions of our citizens including the elderly and the poor lock themselves in their homes fearing violence. I would instead lock up the criminals who make them afraid it'll. A recent study in one major metropolitan area recently showed that within one single year more than 200 burglaries 60 rapes and 14 murders were committed by only 10 individuals. A great many serious crimes are committed by repeaters you know that probably better than I. Such criminals tried and convicted. Must be removed from our society for a very definite and specific time will.
A law abiding majority in America has its rights and those rights should be given full weight on the scales of justice in America with very few exceptions. I strongly advocate mandatory minimum sentences for individuals who commit crimes or and are offenses involving the use of a dangerous weapon or who commit such grave offenses as aircraft hijacking kidnapping and dealing in hard drugs and for repeated offenders who commit federal crimes that harm or endanger others. The way to reduce criminal use of handguns is not to disarm law abiding citizens. I'm totally opposed to the registration of guns or gun owners to A.
The way to reduce criminal use of handguns is to impose mandatory sentences for gun crimes to prohibit the manufacture and sale of Saturday Night Specials and to concentrate our resources for enforcement in high crime areas. Last July I recommended to the Congress as my good friend Chuck wakens knows a bill to achieve these objectives and I urge and strongly advocate action by the Congress to act immediately and without harassing the lawful gun owner. Another important cause of the violent crime that plagues Americans and makes a major con contributor to the soaring crime rate is drug abuse. The time has come to step up our fight sharpen the weapons in our arsenal and launch a new era of far more aggressive attack. Against this insidious enemy. The cost of drug abuse to this nation is absolutely staggering. Every year more than 5000 Americans die from direct drug related causes every year. More than one hundred seventy thousand injuries can be directly traced to drugs. Every year the problem of drug abuse adds up to costs of something like 17 billion dollars significantly. The greatest bulk of this 17 billion dollar is money lost through crime. Law enforcement officials estimate that up to one half of the robberies muggings burglaries and other forms of property crimes are committed by attics to support their expensive and debilitating habit. It's a real tragedy. And I pledge to you today that I will spare no effort to crush the menace of drug abuse. Clearly as we look at the picture today our first defense must be directed at our own borders to clamp down on the illegal flow of drugs from foreign sources. Since today 80 to 90 percent of the current flow of heroin comes across the Mexican border. We must expand our crackdown in that area and we will.
The owner will not recycle the added activity that the federal government is undertaking in this area. But I can assure each and every one of you that it is being directed right from the White House. Our efforts however must not stop there. We must accelerate our law enforcement efforts throughout our own country. Despite all the rhetoric of recent years I do not believe that we have yet succeeded in making it tough enough for drug traffickers. The people who traffic in hard drugs are nothing less than merchants of death and should be put and I me put behind bars for a long long long time.
Thank you. Thank you.
Justice Department studies show that more than a quarter of those convicted of narcotic trafficking do not spend a single day in jail. The extraordinary laxity that sometimes exists was illustrated recently in a case when law enforcement officers arrested 31 people most of whom were major violators responsible for a very large shipment of heroin into the United States. Nineteen of those arrested were immediately freed on a $500 personal recognizance bond even though there are offenses were punishable by 15 years in jail. All but two of the 19 had long long arrest records and one was on parole for a narcotics offense.
This is unforgivable and completely indefensible.
We have to close legal loopholes that permit traffickers to escape the federal penitentiary. Those who live off the misery of others must pay the price and the higher the price the better. As this president sees it above all we must always remember that law enforcement alone cannot win the war on crime. The combined efforts of the federal government state and local authorities will be of little use unless the American people rally to fight the scorch of crime within their own communities. I'm particularly encouraged by these citizen coalitions against crime that are cropping up all over the United States here as another law enforcement area. California is in the forefront. The 50000 volunteers in the neighborhood watch program in the city of Los Angeles have been able to cut crime substantially in Valeo not a single member of the city's home Alert program had their homes burglarized during all of 1975.
We Americans have always known that life will be better for our children than it was for us because life for us has been better than it was for our parents and our grandparents. But do I see ahead for this wonderful country. I see a strong and confident America secure in a strength that cannot alone be counted in megatons and a nation rejoicing in riches that cannot be eroded by inflation or by taxation. I see an America where life is valued for its quality as well as its comfort where the individual is inviolate in his constitutional rights where the government serves and the people rule.
Thank you very much.
I have been a public affairs program for public television presenting an exclusive interview with President for some included where portions of the address to the California Peace Officers Association convention.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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- Jim Cooper interviews President Gerald Ford to discuss such topics as gun registries, increasing home ownership, Boston school bussing and court-ordered racial integration, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union, U.S. military preparedness, and the U.S. providing nuclear reactors to South Africa. The second half of the episode provides excerpts from President Ford's recent speech.
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- Copyright 1978 KOCE-TV Channel 50 Coast Community College District
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Director: Greene, Gary
Guest: Ford, Gerald
Host: Cooper, Jim
Producer: Greene, Gary
Producing Organization: New Mexico PBS
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Identifier: AACIP_0056 (AACIP 2011 Label #)
Format: 3/4 inch videotape: U-matic
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- Chicago: “An Exclusive Interview with President Gerald Ford,” 1976-05-25, PBS SoCaL, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 22, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_221-94vhj11d.
- MLA: “An Exclusive Interview with President Gerald Ford.” 1976-05-25. PBS SoCaL, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 22, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_221-94vhj11d>.
- APA: An Exclusive Interview with President Gerald Ford. Boston, MA: PBS SoCaL, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_221-94vhj11d