HOUSTON -- Gerald Ford predicts the economy will improve by the middle of the year if President Reagan sticks to his economic program and does not 'flip-flop like his predecessors.'
'We're on the right track,' the former president said in a speech Tuesday night to 500 members of the Houston Republican Club, 'I hope and trust the president is strong and insistent and won't flip-flop like his predecessors.'
'Although the economy situation looks dark, by the spring or summer economic trends will turn around. The black cloud of doom will break up and the sun will begin to shine.'
Ford repeatedly blamed his own successor, Jimmy Carter, for the country's economic woes.
Ford said he had inflation and interest rates under 6 percent by the time Carter took office. When Reagan was elected, he said, inflation exceeded 13 percent and the prime interest rate had hit 21 percent.
'He (Carter) screwed it up real bad,' Ford said.
Ford said unless unemployment and other aspects of the economy moderate, incumbents -- especially those in Northern states -- will have a hard time getting re-elected in November.
'But if the economy improves, Republicans will do reasonably well,' he said.