Remarks at a "Victory '84" Fundraising Dinner in Houston, Texas

October 2, 1984

The President. Thank you, Bill and Rita, thank you very much. You've made me very proud, indeed. Jack Rains, our dinner chairman; our other Governors -- Governor Shivers, Governor Connally -- Mr. Vice President and Barbara; Nancy; and Senator-to-be very shortly, Phil Gramm; Mrs. Tower; you ladies and gentlemen:

I'm sorry, as you all are, that John had to be in Washington tonight -- he's helping keep the Government running. [Laughter] Come to think of it, I may be doubly sorry. [Laughter]

It's always wonderful to visit you folks, but I must admit, Texas has really been outdoing itself lately. A member of my staff told me that when he was in Dallas, he got in a cab and asked to be taken to the convention. And Dallas was kind of strange to him, and the cabdriver asked him, ``Well, where's it being held?'' Well, he didn't exactly know how to tell him where it was being held, so he said, ``Well, it's a place, you know, there's a whole lot of people, and they're shouting and stomping and waving flags and having a heck of a time.'' And the cabdriver turned around and said, ``Buddy, you're just describing the whole State of Texas.'' [Laughter]

I've covered a good deal of territory since we started this campaign year, and everywhere I go I see the same kind of spirit, confidence, and pride. America has left uncertainty behind, along with inflation, stagnation, and weakness. And on November 6th we're going to leave behind, once and for all, those politicians who gave us economic decline and national malaise.

In 1980 we promised the American people a new beginning. Our opponents and their economic gurus were saying that it couldn't be done even before we got started. And they were right. If we'd stuck to their policy, it couldn't have been done.

Instead, we set out on an entirely new path. Our goal was a fundamental change of direction. Instead of taxing away more and more of the working people's earnings, as was the case between 1976 and '81, we gave the people a 25-percent across-the-board cut in their tax rates.

Instead of throwing up our hands and claiming the growth in Federal spending was beyond control, we cut the growth rate in Federal spending by more than 50 percent.

Instead of centralizing more and more power in Washington, we've turned back programs to the States in the form of block grants. Sixty-two categorical Federal grants have been put into 10 block grants. And that reduced our own administrative overhead for managing them from 3,000 employees to 600. And it also reduced the number of pages of regulations for all of them from 885 pages to 30 pages. Instead of smothering our most productive citizens with redtape, we've trimmed away useless and counterproductive regulations, as you can see.

And, yes, instead of increasing the number of Federal employees, we've nearly 75,000 fewer nondefense Federal employees than there were 3 years ago.

Our aim has been to unleash the most productive power the world has ever known, the genius and energy of the American people. Our opponents, who had their chance to prove their stuff and failed miserably, placed their faith in Washington programs, high taxes, Federal bureaucracy, and government mandates. Well, we place our faith in the people. Our efforts are aimed not at harnessing the American people -- leaving the politicians holding the reins -- but, instead, on freeing them. And they haven't let us down.

There's a new spirit of teamwork alive in America. Management, labor, and State and local government have figured out that we're all on the same team, the American team. And isn't it good to see America, instead of punting on third down, scoring touchdowns again?

Those who are striving to divide America against itself by appealing to envy are finding out that Americans are too good to turn against each other. By working together, we're building a stronger and more vibrant America in which everyone will be better off.

After several years of decline, productivity is rising again. Real weekly earnings in the last 2 years have increased by 3.2 percent. But in 1979 and '80, in just those 2 years, they actually fell by 8.8 percent, the worst drop since World War II. You tell me whose policies are more fair to the working people of America.

Small business opportunities are exploding, and a whole new class of entrepreneurs, representing a cross section of our people, is emerging. In what Europe is calling the American miracle, almost 7 million new jobs have been created. Auto sales are up, interest rates are on the way down, and growth is robust and inflation is low.

The predictions of the so-called economic experts have been wrong, wrong, wrong.

The question we have to ask is: Does anyone really want to go back to the policies of the past?

Audience. No!

The President. Well, things are going so well, our opponents in this election don't seem to know what to talk about. So, they've decided to offer the voters a bold new idea. And what is this new proposal? Raise your taxes. [Laughter] Isn't that novel? [Laughter] Now, about the only difference between today and 12 years ago is that back then George McGovern's big idea was to give everybody a thousand dollars. [Laughter] Today they want to tax more than that away from you -- and then some.

Raising taxes will accomplish nothing but cutting the legs out from under economic growth. Is there any wonder why increasing the tax load is about as popular with the American people as a skunk at a lawn party? [Laughter]

The difference between the two parties is as clear in this election -- or more clear than at any time in the last 50 years. We Republicans offer more growth, lower tax rates, and a stronger America. Our opponents are still wed to the policies of lower expectations, bigger government, and higher taxes.

In foreign policy, the differences are just as great. Both the political parties want to reach arms control agreements with the Soviet Union. The difference lies in the fact that we believe it's best to negotiate with America's adversaries from a position of strength, as you've been told. And our opponents, as Vice President Bush has observed, keep mistaking weakness for peace.

And having mentioned George -- and believe me, I am deeply grateful for what I've sat here and heard him say, but I'm grateful for more than that -- let me just tell you that Texas couldn't have given a President a better Vice President than George Bush. He is in every sense of the word an invaluable part of our administration, and we thank you for lending him to us.

You know something? After a few years, George has been in more than 50 countries. He's been a part of every decision that we've made. I can't tell jokes about Vice Presidents anymore. [Laughter]

You've loaned me another great Texan: Jim Baker. This local boy keeps things running smoothly at the White House, and I rely on him as Chief of Staff and my right-hand man. And of course, this is nothing new. Americans have been relying on Texans since about 1845.

All of us, like you, believe that we must be firm in our commitments and firm in our resolve to protect American interests. Almost a year ago, I was faced with a tough decision. Communist thugs had just murdered Maurice Bishop and other leaders of the Government of Grenada. The lives of numbers of American medical students were in jeopardy. The governments of nearby island democracies, with little military protection of their own, asked for our help. We took action, and yet it took weeks for certain would-be American leaders to decide whether our action had been justified or not.

Even after seeing the overwhelming display of gratitude from the people of Grenada, there were those who cast aspersions on what we did there, suggesting that it was in some way akin to what the Soviet Union was doing in Afghanistan. Well, I've had some time to reflect on what happened in Grenada, and I can tell you we have no apologies. Our military personnel acted in the finest tradition of our country. They are, truly, heroes -- every one of them.

Four years ago, our adversaries and even our friends were counting us out. Defeatism was the order of the day. Well, America is back, and we are rebuilding our defenses. And we have again assumed our role as the leading force for freedom in the world. We have a forceful and articulate individual, Jeane Kirkpatrick, representing us in the United Nations.

When we came to Washington, we faced a near crisis in Central America, a crisis that could, over time, have resulted in a direct threat to our southern border. Despite the roadblocks thrown in our way by some liberals in the House of Representatives, we've prevented what might have become or mushroomed into a major catastrophe in Central America. The danger isn't gone, but I'm proud to say not 1 square inch of territory has been lost to Communist aggression in the world in these last 3\1/2\ years.

It's vital that we make certain the voters understand how important it is to elect a Congress which will support our efforts to keep America growing and building, to keep America strong and proud. Now, there's some fine people running for the House here in Texas, and I know you're putting out the maximum effort to get them elected. I understand that your voter registration efforts have been tremendous. Senator Tower and so many others of you are doing a fantastic job. And let's make certain that on election day the voters send Phil Gramm to the United States Senate.

Phil has proven himself a courageous representative of the values in which we so fervently believe. Never before, I believe, in our Governor's [government's]\1\ (FOOTNOTE) history has someone decided, having just been elected to office, that he could no longer follow the dictates of the leadership of that party, and he changed. But he did more than that. He then resigned and returned to the voters who had sent him there as a member of one party and said, ``Look, you can register your approval or disapproval of what I've done; you'll have to vote on me again in a special election.'' And they sent him back to Washington, as they should.

(FOOTNOTE) \1\White House correction.

Winston Churchill once said, when he changed parties in his country, he said, ``Some men change principle for party, and some men change party for principle.'' Phil has proven himself a courageous representative of -- in all of this, as I say, in what we fervently believe.

Well, those values are attracting millions to our cause. We're reaching out to rank-and-file Democrats and Independents, asking them to come with us and walk down this new path of hope and opportunity. I know there are many here tonight. I'm very proud to know that you would come here. There was a certain sacrifice at the box office for you to do so. But to have you here -- and I just want to say to all of you, having been a Democrat most of my life myself and found that there came a day when I could no longer follow the policies of the leadership of that party, I know that throughout this country there are millions of rank-and-file, patriotic Democrats who love this country, who want the same things that we want for the country, and yet who find themselves unable to bless the decisions of the policymakers at the head of their own party today. Come with us on this particular march, and we'll truly have a bipartisan victory that will set this country to going forward again, with your help.

The great strength of our cause reflects our devotion to values that are so dear to the American people: respect for work; love of family, neighborhood, and country; and faith in God. And if all of us remain true to these values, nothing can hold America back.

Between now and November 6th, don't let up. I know that I can count on all of you.

I have to, though, say something a little nonpolitical in concluding here. I've been saying it all day throughout your State. And I've been saying it in other States, too. I don't know of anything in these 4 years that has made me more proud than the young men and women that are wearing our uniform today. You know, I've told them sometimes, and reminded them and -- --

Q. [Inaudible] -- I want to give this to the President, please. This is my dream.\2\ (FOOTNOTE)

(FOOTNOTE) \2\A woman later identified as Felicia Ughanze, of Nigeria, was attempting to hand the President a letter describing difficulties she and her husband were having with immigration procedures. A Secret Service agent accepted the letter, and the President later asked an assistant to look into the problem.

The President. What?

Q. My dream for 10 years -- --

The President. Your dream for 10 years?

Q. Yes.

The President. To what?

Q. [Inaudible] -- President Reagan, and this is for him.

The President. You what? Yes, take it and give it -- yes. They will give it to me. They'll see that I get it. Ma'am, they'll see that I get it. Honest, they will. And thank you very much.

Q. Thank you, America.

The President. Thank you. And if you couldn't hear, she said, ``Thank you, America.''

And now -- if I can, now, let me just go back to those young men and women that I was telling you about. I know sometimes you're going to see them on the street in the uniform and so forth. If you haven't thought about it before, maybe you kind of smile and say hello and even shake their hands. You'll feel real good after you've done it. And I know how good they'll feel. They're what George Marshall said of their grandfathers. Back in World War II, when somebody asked George Marshall what was the secret of our success, what was our secret weapon, and General George Marshall said, ``The best damned kids in the world.'' And that's what we have again.

Now, about those polls, don't get carried away. President Dewey told me -- [laughter] -- that we should get out the vote. [Laughter] So, all of you, do what you're doing, and God bless you, and thank you for what you have done.

Note: The President spoke at 9:21 p.m. at the Albert Thomas Convention Center. He was introduced by former Gov. William Clements of Texas. Earlier in the evening, the President attended a reception for the dinner organizers at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he remained overnight.

The following day, the President returned to Washington, DC.