Remarks to Employees at a Rockwell International Facility in Palmdale, California

October 22, 1984

Governor Deukmejian, Senator Pete Wilson, our Congressmen here -- and one who must be a Congressman and join them in Washington, Bob Dornan, along with Carlos Moorhead, Bill Thomas, and the members of your State legislature, your county government, and your local officials, and all of you ladies and gentlemen:

Being here among friends and with professionals of Rockwell, Lockheed, and Northrop, and feeling your home State pride, reminds us once again of America's renewed spirit.

We're entering the home stretch of the campaign -- or didn't you know that? [Laughter] We've set our sights on victory. And I believe the election of 1984 will be a victory for us all -- for the future over the past, for progress over failure, for hope over despair, and, yes, for strength over weakness.

And what an airplane! You know, I have no complaints about Air Force One, but I was wondering, does Rockwell take trade-ins? [Laughter]

Let me congratulate Sam Iacobellis, the men and women of Rockwell, the subcontractors around the country, and the whole aerospace industry. You are doing a magnificent job. And I know there could be no better group of people working together than you -- the men and women of our aerospace team here in southern California.

The teamwork of the B - 1B is something to behold -- 5,200 suppliers and subcontractors, 55,000 workers nationwide, with 17,000 workers right here in California -- producing quality work ahead of schedule and under cost. Now, present company excepted, have you ever stopped to consider how quickly our problems would disappear if the Congress would give us quality work ahead of schedule and under cost? But as I say, I don't mean the Congressmen that are present here. They've been working on our side.

Yours is the work of peace. The B - 1B strategic bomber -- two-thirds the size of the aging B - 52, with twice the payload -- and I've learned since I've been here I was wrong about that; it's 2\1/2\ times the payload -- with one one-hundredth of the radar cross section, and with the most advanced electronic defense system in the world -- will keep America prepared for peace.

You know, those people who criticize and somehow think that in defending ourselves or having the weapons of defense that somehow that makes us warlike -- I don't know whether you know this, but up at Fairchild airbase, where I'm going, up in the State of Washington, there's a sign over the gate that says, ``Peace is our profession.''

I'm delighted that just last week, the first production model successfully completed its initial flight. The readiness, the capability and resolve of our Armed Forces are the greatest guarantees we have that our young people will never again see the ugly face of war. There have been four wars in my lifetime. None of them started because America was too strong.

Earlier this year, on Memorial Day, America laid to rest the Unknown Soldier of Vietnam. A grateful nation opened its heart in gratitude for the sacrifices of those who have served. And a week later, on Omaha Beach, on the 40th anniversary of D-day, I spoke of Private First Class Robert Zanatta of the 37th Engineers, who was on the first assault wave to hit that beach. And on a nearby lonely, windswept point, we met the boys of Pointe du Hoc, the American Rangers, who more than 40 years ago took the cliffs and helped to end a war. And, you know, it gives me great joy to tell you that one of the men I met -- one of those one-time boys of Pointe du Hoc -- 63 years old, on the day before I got there, with today's present Rangers, he climbed those cliffs again in 7 minutes just to see if he could do it.

But I made a pledge that day to always remember, to always be proud, and to always be prepared, so we may always be free. And I have no higher responsibility than to honor that pledge. No one, absolutely no one, should ever ask the sons and daughters of America to protect this land with less than the best equipment that we can provide.

If our sons and daughters can put their lives on the line to keep us free, then I believe it's immoral to give them anything less than all the tools, all the training and the equipment to do the job right. And it's up to us in this election to choose, and choose wisely, between a strong, safe America -- an America at peace -- or to slide back to the failed and dangerous policies of the past. There's no clearer issue in this campaign.

I don't question my opponent's patriotism and love of country. I only question his philosophy. He voted to delay or kill virtually every new strategic system -- the B - 1 bomber, the Trident submarine and Trident missile, the cruise missile, our ABM system, and the modernization of our ICBM force. And when it came to our conventional forces, the record was just as frightening, with votes to reduce U.S. ground forces overseas by 40 percent and to withdraw half of our military from Europe. When it came to aircraft, he voted to terminate the Navy's F - 14 program, the Marines' Harrier, the A - 7 for the Air National Guard, and to cut funds for the C - 5 transport.

If it were up to my opponent, I'm afraid Rockwell might still be building the B - 25 -- that is, if you were building anything at all. The truth is, if all his votes had prevailed, America would barely have any defense, any real means to protect the peace, any chance to preserve freedom. And we can't afford that kind of protection.

When my opponent joined the Carter-Mondale administration, he remained true to this record -- $25 billion in defense budget cuts, naval shipbuilding programs slashed by half, Trident programs slowed down, military pay kept so low that our people couldn't wait to leave the service and, as you know all too well, the B - 1 was cancelled.

Well, today candidate Mondale is promising more of the same. And when you add his promise of an $85 billion tax increase, you've got two promises that he's bound to keep.

Senator Glenn, a Democrat, summed it up pretty well: ``The Mondale record goes far beyond a simple disagreement over specific weapons programs. I think it reveals a fundamental lack of support for an adequate national defense.'' I couldn't agree more. Mr. Mondale made a career out of weakening America's Armed Forces. Well, as long as I'm in this job, we will not shortchange the security needs of America.

This hostility to a strong, secure America -- an America at the leading edge of technology -- was also demonstrated in his opposition to the space shuttle. He called it a horrible waste, a space extravaganza. My opponent was the acknowledged leader of the fraternity of pessimists in the Senate, voting time and again to delete funds for the shuttle and to reduce overall NASA funding.

Well, I believe there's never a time when we should stop dreaming and striving and moving forward. The footprints on the Moon reawakened us to mankind's boundless horizon and showed us that America's future can be determined by our dreams and by our visions. Together, we've opened new doors to discovery, opportunity, and progress.

The era of Apollo spawned communications, weather, navigation, and Earth resource satellites, and many new industries. America built a technological base second to none, and all the while, served the down-to-Earth needs of our people. And today, thanks to the work that you're doing here with the shuttle, we're pushing the frontiers of space back even farther, and we're going to keep on pushing.

As long as it's my watch -- if a horse cavalryman of the past can speak in naval terms -- we'll accept the challenge of space and keep battling for the future, for discovery, for new jobs and markets, and for knowledge. We have a promise to keep -- to ourselves and to our young. And let me say of our young people, they are a shining generation.

Traveling across the country and seeing our high school and college students has been a wonderful experience, as well as seeing those who have already taken their first steps out here into the working world. They're bright. They're creative. They're idealistic. They have faith in themselves, faith in the future, and faith in America. And we must do all we can to see that the world they inherit from us is a world full of decency and daring as the world in which we were born.

You know, last night I got shut off because I ran out of time on my 4-minute finale. And I'm so delighted to see these young people who are here because what I wanted to say is that between my generation and theirs -- there were a few of you in other generations in between -- but all of us of those generations, our responsibility -- we grew up in an America where we took it for granted that you could dream and make your dreams come true, if you set out to do that. And what we owe these young people -- and they are very special -- George Bush and I, as I said last night, have seen them all across this country -- what we owe them is to see that we turn over to them the same kind of America of hope and opportunity that our parents turned over to us. And that's what we're going to do.

To give our future a chance, we must keep moving forward in new frontiers in science, technology, and space. And to give peace a chance to grow and settle in, we must remain strong. And those who have no vision of the future have no business leading America. And those who believe a weaker America is a safer America have no business guiding the destiny of our nation.

In 1981 we went to work repairing the damage caused by wrong-headed thinking. And besides working to restore the strategic balance, we started to rebuild our conventional forces. And today every major commander in the field agrees that America's military forces have better people, who are better armed, better trained, better motivated, with better support behind them.

If we were to stop now in midstream, we'd send a signal of decline, lessened will, and weakness to friends and adversaries alike. If we were to return to the time when we modernized our defenses in fits and starts, each time losing the security we gained earlier, then we would never be certain of our security. We'd never be able to convince the Soviet leadership that it is in their interest to sit down and negotiate equitable arms reductions. And the American people know it.

It's always easy to argue for reductions in defense spending, just as it's easy to pretend that one can call the Soviet leaders, as my opponent has proposed, and persuade them in a moment to alter the course they've followed for decades. It's also nonsense, and the American people know it.

There is no quick, easy way. The solution is firmness and patience. The only sensible and safe route is to make sure that we're prepared to defend freedom and prepared for peace. And the American people know that, too.

From our earliest years, our Presidents have stressed the crucial role of preparedness in promoting peace and stability. George Washington said, ``There's nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet a foe.'' Harry Truman said, ``The will for peace without the strength for peace is of no avail.'' And John Kennedy said, ``The primary purpose of our arms is peace, not war. Our preparation against danger is our hope for safety.''

Now, my opponents can't stand it when I start talking about Harry Truman or J.F.K. -- I need to remind them that Harry Truman was the last Democrat I voted and campaigned for -- but of course they can't, because it just shows them how far the leadership today of the Democratic Party has strayed from the great strengths of the Democratic political tradition. And nowhere is the drift more evident than in their unwillingness to keep us prepared for peace. And I think the American people know that.

Four years ago, our nation chose the road of peace through strength -- a road built upon a realistic understanding of the world around us and the continuing faith in the American values. And 15 days from now, it will again be a time for choosing. We can be confident because we trust the American people.

And in view of some of the things that were said last night -- to those of you that saw that -- you hear about the bad relations that we now have between ourselves and the Soviet Union. Last year we sold them 23 million tons of grain, and our farmers benefited accordingly. And in the 4 years that we've been here, they haven't advanced by 1 square inch of territory anyplace in the world.

I know that I've been talking partisan politics, and I know that in a crowd like this there must be thousands of people who are Democrats. And I'm delighted, having been one for most of my life, because I know that all across this country there are millions of patriotic, dedicated Democrats who know they can no longer follow in the path of the leadership of their party, which has taken us down such strange paths, so foreign to what the leadership of the Democratic Party once believed.

Well, join us, and in a bipartisan way we'll make this country the way it should be. Thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:08 p.m. in Hangar 703 at the company's aircraft assembly complex. Prior to his remarks, the President was given a tour of the B - 1B assembly area at the complex.

Following his remarks, the President traveled to San Diego, CA.