Remarks at a Meeting With Reagan-Bush Campaign Leadership Groups

October 30, 1984

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

The President. Thank you. You know what I've been saying out on the road at the rallies when they say that? You talked me into it. [Laughter]

Audience member. God bless you, President! God bless you, President!

The President. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Well, Dixy Lee Ray, and Mike Sotirhos, Tirso del Junco, Legree Daniels, Dick Fox, and all of you ladies and gentlemen: Thank you, and welcome to the White House.

I think our meeting today reflects what could be the beginnings of a new phenomenon observers have been noticing -- that is, if everything turns our right -- an historic electoral realignment. And to the degree that's happening around the country, much of the credit goes to people of courage and leadership, like all of you.

For longer than any of us can remember, the Democratic Party has held the allegiance of a large number of Americans who were not well-served by the policies of that party. Yet voting habits are hard to change. I know; I was a Democrat myself for most of my adult life.

I've been all over the country in these last few months, and I'd like to make a little prediction for you today. I believe that next Tuesday we'll see a large number of voters joining our Republican ranks for the first time.

Now this is no mere political cycle, nor has it anything to do with the personalities of the candidates. We're attracting the support of people who have never voted with us before not because they're deserting the Democratic Party, but because the Democratic Party has deserted them.

For far too long now, the other party has taken for granted many of those who have faithfully given their support. Big city machines kept in power by organized voting groups were key to Democratic victories over the years; yet did these people find their lives improved by their unquestioned loyalty to the party? It's no mere coincidence that the most blighted areas of the country, places of desperation, are areas that have been political strongholds of the other party for many years.

Their policies are tax, tax, spend, spend, and no friend to those who want to improve their well-being. What the less fortunate need is not pity, but opportunity; not handouts, but jobs. That's the Republican program: more opportunity, more jobs, more take-home pay, a better future -- with all of us going forward together.

The leadership of the other party gave us economic decline and high inflation. We've cut inflation by nearly two-thirds and have set in motion an economic expansion that will make everyone better off. Over 6 million new jobs have been created and nearly 900,000 new businesses have been incorporated -- this latter figure in just the last 18 months.

And we offer innovative approaches to help the less fortunate. We've done our best to enact enterprise zone legislation which would channel resources and the creative energy of the private sector to those depressed areas that need it the most. The same politicians who so frequently use the word ``compassion'' have fought this idea and bottled it up in the House of Representatives.

I challenge my opponent to prove his leadership and convince the members of his party -- Tip O'Neill, particularly -- to give this idea a chance to help those in need.

Today we're part of a coalition of people who share some values that are traditional to America. Whether our forefathers and mothers came here from a Latin country, or from Africa, or from Asia, or from Europe -- in my case, I guess it's Europe, Ireland and England -- we hold dear those ideas that brought our forebears here. We're bound together by a love of family and neighborhood and a respect for God. We believe in hard work and peace through strength. And these are not Republican values, these are American.

Our opponents don't seem to see things this way. They view our country not as people of varied backgrounds who share common values and aspirations; instead, they see us as warring factions and interest groups. They try to divide us, using envy, and playing people off against each other by telling us we're competing for a piece of a pie that is ever getting smaller. Well, that's not our way. We don't see people as members of this group or that; we see them as Americans, with all the rights and opportunities that go with being American.

And about that pie -- we also believe that we should work together to make a bigger pie, so everyone can have a bigger slice.

We still believe in the dream that brought people here from every corner of the Earth. Today we're reaching out as never before to people from every background to draw them into our coalition for progress. Our message to America is clear and direct: The Grand Old Party now stands for the Great Opportunity Party. And there's plenty of room for everyone. We aren't writing any group off or taking any group for granted. We're asking all of you to come walk with us down a path of hope and opportunity.

And I want to thank you all for being here today. I know Paul Laxalt and Margaret Hance, who've been doing a terrific job, will agree that the one thing that can defeat us is complacency. So, please, don't get over-confident. Let's remember the lesson that President Dewey taught us. [Laughter] On election day, make sure everyone gets out to vote. But I thank you again from the bottom of my heart for all you've done. And God bless you all.

Mr. Rollins. Mr. President -- --

Audience member. [Inaudible]

Mr. Rollins. Mr. President -- --

Audience member. [Inaudible]

Audience member. You deserve a noble praise, even though you are -- [inaudible] -- because all economists said that you were wrong. They must give you noble praise for making the economy look so better.

Audience member. Right!

Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we have some great Americans who are former professional athletes -- who've been part of the Athletes for Reagan-Bush and who've been traveling this country on your behalf -- to present you a little award this morning.

We have Rosey Grier, Ernie Green, Don Newcomb, Floyd Patterson, and Willie Mays are here today with us.

Mr. Mays. Mr. President, do you mind stepping up, sir? [Laughter] I'm asking peacefully. [Laughter]

Well, anyway, when I first came to New York City they gave me a name. They called me the ``Say-Hey Kid.'' And I'd like to present a shirt to you. It says, ``Win One for the Gipper.'' And I think everybody -- [applause] -- --

The President. Thank you very much. Thank you.

A moment ago, someone said something over here about the prognostications of some of the economists with regard to the recovery. And they didn't seem to be predicting it very enthusiastically. Well, having gotten a degree in economics myself, I'm the first that's able to say: There are too many economists in the world -- [laughter] -- that have got a Phi Beta Kappa key at one end of their watch chain and no watch on the other. [Laughter]

I've got to go back to work.

Note: The President spoke at 11:04 a.m. in the East Room at the White House to campaign workers and officials.

Edward J. Rollins, Jr., is Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison.