Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Louisville, Kentucky

October 7, 1984

The President. Thank you all very much. This certainly is a -- [applause]. Every shelf is full.

Well, it's great to be back in Kentucky and back in the land of pioneer spirit and pride, and back here with Gene Snyder, and Hal Rogers, Larry Hopkins, and a man we need in the Senate -- please send him there -- Mitch O'Connell. McConnell. [Applause] McConnell. I must have been thinking of the Archbishop. I said O'Connell. McConnell. [Laughter]

But now, in the next few days, we'll probably see all kinds of polls and commentary saying this and that about the little argument that I've just finished -- [laughter] -- here tonight. [Laughter]

But I don't know. Let me ask you a question or two. In this debate, I really wanted to show that just maybe government is big enough already. I don't know whether I got that across. [Applause] And I know I said it, but I don't know whether it registered or not, that the American people aren't overtaxed, the Government's overfed. [Applause]

But let us all here -- whether we said it before or not -- agree that America must leave behind the failed policies of the past and go forward with opportunity and the bright promise of the future. I'll be happy if we come away with just those ideas.

We only have 4 weeks left, but the choice is as clear as any that America's faced in the last 50 years.

Audience. 4 more years!

The President. Will we go forward with the faith and courage to make America stronger, to offer hope and opportunity to all our people, including those who still are not back on their feet, as we heard so many times tonight? Or will we go back to the policies of soaring taxation and spending that weakened our economy, snuffed out so many opportunities, and threw so many millions into the cold embrace of genuine hardship?

Audience. No!

The President. Well, we've already seen what happens when we follow the policies that our opponents have so faithfully promised to restore -- the failed policies of tax-and-tax and spend-and-spend. We saw this once proud nation of ours, a few years ago, staggered by a steady erosion of economic growth. And I don't care what was said tonight or out on the road in the campaign trail, this country was in an economic mess of enormous proportions in 1980.

They talk about fairness, but what could be more unfair than that punishing inflation that could take people down through the brackets of poverty simply by raising the prices of things and lowering the value of the money that they had?

We saw those interest rates, as I mentioned in the debate -- 21\1/2\ percent. And that closed down the housing industry, that closed down the automobile industry, both of which are dependent on credit buying, mortgage buying.

Then we saw the rising unemployment. And I don't care what they say, 107 million employed is a lot bigger than 99 million employed. And that's the difference between now and 1980.

Now, I didn't get a chance to reply tonight to all of those frequent references to an arms race. Well, you know, there was a cartoon back when we first started the rebuilding of the military that said it all for me. It was a picture of a couple of Russian generals talking to each other, and one of them said, ``I liked it better when we were the only ones in the arms race.'' [Laughter] We're going to get them back to the table to talk disarmament. I don't mean arms limitations.

You know, some of the previous treaties that we've had I know were in good faith and all that, but all they did was set the rules for the continued arms race. When I got there, found out that SALT II, from the time that it was signed until I arrived in Washington -- an expert in the field gave me the information that under the signing of SALT II, without breaking the treaty, the Soviet Union had added to their nuclear arsenal the equivalent of the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima. They had added that every 11 minutes in the years since the treaty had been signed.

Well, that isn't what we want. And I had the pleasure of telling Mr. Gromyko the other day that any time they're ready -- [applause]. We're the only two that can destroy the world. Our two nations are the only two that can save it. And I told him that I'd like to start down the road with them, not to just arms limitation, but to the total elimination of all nuclear weapons in the world.

But I have a feeling, looking at all of you, that you agree with me about something else that's happened in these last few years, and that is that there's a whole different appreciation for the family in America -- the bedrock values of our neighborhoods, the fact that our crime rates are coming down, the fact that now our schools in this last year have suddenly turned a corner and for the first time in 20 years we see the college entrance exams -- the scores going up, instead of the steady decline that we knew. And it didn't come from any multibillion-dollar Federal program.

Yes, we appointed a commission, the best people we could find, and said, ``Come back and tell us, what should we do about education in this country?'' They did. And we passed it on to you, to the people in the communities, the people in the school districts, to the teachers and the parents and the students. And all over the United States it's happening. There are now the compulsory courses in math and science that have been abandoned in so many places -- there are the added requirements for graduation. And the whole picture is looking up, to the place that the other day there was a poll taken about how people felt about their schools, and for the first time in about a decade the American people said they were very happy about their schools.

The things that were going on before we got here -- and they talk about fairness. Well, I have to say, at least that I can say for the things that they were doing -- they were fair. They didn't discriminate; they made everybody miserable. Now, since we're not going to raise the taxes, I didn't get a chance to give the figures tonight, but we have cost out what his proposed tax increase would do. It would raise the tax for every household in the United States by more than $1,800 a year, about $157 a month, and I just don't think we ought to let him do that to America.

Audience. No!

The President. So, we'll keep him reminded of that. We'll keep the people reminded of it. And you know, I can't help but think about this America here and what it's doing. We all watched the Olympics, and we saw our athletes go for the gold. Well, there are two teams in America today. There's the Washington tax increase team and the grassroots opportunity team. Now, making the economy bear the burden of our opponents tax hike would be like having some of those Olympic swimmers -- their coach telling them that they had to swim while carrying an anvil -- [laughter] -- or a runner would sprint with a ball and chain. [Laughter] And that's what Coach Tax Hike and his tax increase team want to do -- [laughter] -- and they kicked off their campaign with that call this year. And they said it was a kickoff -- I think it was a fumble. [Laughter]

We want to bring your tax rates further down, and not up. We want to create opportunities for all Americans, women and men, young and old, by controlling the size of government and giving you new incentives to work and invest and save.

And come November, the American people are going to decide which team is America's team and, come November, I just can't help but believe the American people are going to tell ``Coach Tax Hike'' and the whole tax increase team to head for the showers.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Thank you. All right. Well, I didn't really feel that way, but since you insist, okay. [Laughter]

Well, tonight I had a chance to talk a little bit about my past as a Democrat. And I can't help but believe that in this particular place, there must be many of you here who either were or still are, but you're here because you have found it difficult to follow the leadership of your party and the course that it's been taking since those days back there in the days of the Harry Trumans and so forth.

Well, to all of you, you who knew the part of F.D.R. and Harry Truman and J.F.K. and that tradition, let us say to you -- and I do know how you feel, because I was there myself once -- walk with us down this new path of opportunity, and we'll save this country in a bipartisan way.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. You know, I'm so delighted to see you young people here, and it's true all over the country, because, you know, you're what this election is all about.

There are some of us here who are old enough to remember an America in which there was no ceiling. Any individual -- you were free to fly as high and as far as your own ability and energy and determination would take you, without being penalized for the effort. And then we came to a period of years in which government started encroaching on everyone. And the last 4 years before we got here, they were telling us that we suffered from a malaise, that it was our fault, that we had to give up the idea of having some of the things we used to have, that there were eras of limits. Don't you believe it.

You young people, this is what it's all about. We're going to keep on going the path -- he kept saying he didn't know what we were going to do. We're going to keep on doing what we've been doing for the last 4 years. And then you, you young people are going to start out life in the same kind of an America that we knew and that we started out life in. That's what it's all about.

So, I don't have anything else -- --

Audience. Nancy!

The President. I don't have anything else other than to say one last thing that I just -- I like to mention once in awhile. And that is, that if there's one thing that I'm really proud of in these 4 years, it has been those young men and women of ours who wear our uniforms -- our soldiers.

I'm going to quote someone, and I have to use a naughty word in doing it. But you'll forgive me for it. I think it belongs in the quote. Back in World War II, someone asked General George Marshall, the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, asked him what was our secret, what was our secret weapon. And General George Marshall said, ``The best damn kids in the world.'' Well, today -- [applause]. Those young people in uniform today are the grandsons and daughters of those World War II veterans. And I can say, after seeing them firsthand, after seeing what they did in Grenada -- and it was so wonderful -- when they pulled out, there weren't any signs written on the walls, ``Yankee go home.'' The signs were, ``God bless America.''

And so, I just know once again I can say what George Marshall did: You bet, we've got the best damn kids in the world.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Good night. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 10:52 p.m. in the Atrium of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Following his remarks, the President went to his suite at the hotel, where he remained overnight.

The following day the President traveled to Charlotte, NC.

As printed above, the remarks follow the White House press release.