Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Senator Mark N. Andrews in Grand Forks, North Dakota

 

October 17, 1986

 

The President. Thank you very much. And since the Constitution has something to say about what you've just been chanting, I'll assume that you're suggesting that I live 4 more years. [Laughter] Well, I thank all of you. And thank you, Senator Andrews, for that kind introduction, and special thanks to the University of North Dakota Marching Band and the other bands that are here today. You make beautiful music.

 

Before I -- incidentally, of course, all the signs, and some of them of welcome to me -- I was told when I was a pledge at Eureka College that Tau Kappa Epsilon was a fraternity for life, and I'm glad my fraters are here. But before I start my prepared remarks, I want to make one brief announcement. The danger of toxic wastes is perhaps the most pressing environmental problem confronting our country. And on my way here today, on Air Force One, I signed the Superfund legislation to accelerate the cleanup of the Nation's hazardous waste sites. The bill's financing has real concerns, but the health and safety of Americans is among the highest priorities of government, so we will not allow an interruption in the cleanup process.

 

It's great to be here with our congressional candidate, Syver Vinje, Public Service Commissioner Leo Reinbold, Labor Commissioner Ike Hagen -- this is what I call North Dakota's Republican A-Team. And now, I want to say hi to the students of Thompson High School. Sorry I couldn't accept your invitation, but I hope that this makes up for it. And also to the young astronauts who are here today. I just said goodbye yesterday to 10 of their number who are now on their way to the Soviet Union in an exchange with their young astronauts who will be coming here visiting our country.

 

I can't help but see all the young people who are here in the audience, and I have a special message to you from my roommate. [Laughter] It's the same message that Carl Eller [Former Minnesota Vikings football player] told you earlier: When it comes to drugs, please -- for yourselves, your families, for your future, and your country -- just say no. I want to tell you, Nancy and Carl have impressed me so much with that that the other day, even though it didn't have to do with drugs, why, I said no. [Laughter]

 

But it's wonderful to be here in North Dakota. You know, as I said to my staff when we were taking off in Air Force One, it's great to be out of Washington and back to where the real people are. I wish I could stay longer, but as you know, Congress is in session, and with Mark Andrews here with me, well, I don't think we should be leaving the rest of them alone too long. Now, I'm not reflecting on the Congress as an institution, but most of us must be aware that there are some elements there that need watching. I think I can describe them best by a story about three fellows that came out of a building, found they'd locked themselves out of their car. And one of them said, ``Get me a wire coathanger. I can straighten it out and I can get --  -- '' And the second one says, ``You can't do that, somebody will see us out here doing that and think we're stealing the car.'' And third one said, ``Well, we better do something pretty quick because it's starting to rain and the top's down.'' [Laughter]

 

It really is great to be back on the campaign trail. It almost feels like 1980 all over again. You know, President Clifford of the University of North Dakota has a favorite joke about North Dakota: ``In this State,'' he says, ``everything is backward. The rivers run north, and the Irish vote Republican.'' [Laughter] Well, this is one Irishman who's voting Republican in 1986. And I have to feel that the people of this State are going to do the same. They're going to send Mark Andrews back to Washington as United States Senator from the great State of North Dakota.

 

You know, believe me, we need Mark Andrews in the U.S. Senate to keep America on the track of growth, prosperity, and freedom. It's no secret that there are still some folks in Washington who want to put America full speed in reverse -- back to the days when big government, taxes, and inflation were destroying our economy, and military weakness made America a punching bag for nickel-and-dime dictators around the world. America used to wear a ``Kick Me'' sign around its neck. Well, we threw that sign away, and now it reads, ``Don't Tread on Me.'' You know, it's important to remember those days 5\1/2\ years ago, because the tax-and-spend crew is still lurking in the shadows, just waiting for a second chance. The liberal leadership of the Democratic Party hasn't changed, they're just itching to raise your taxes and rev up that inflationary money machine. The Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, spoke for them all last year when he said, and I quote, ``Should the American people pay through the nose by taxation? The answer is yes.'' Well, come November the American people will be going to the polls and saying loud and clear: ``Sorry, Tip, the answer is no.''

 

You know, the truth is, the liberal Democrat leaders never met a tax they didn't like. And when it comes to spending your hard-earned money, those liberals act like they've got your credit card in their pocket. And believe me, they never leave home without it. Well, you're the people who pay the taxes, and you know that we don't have a deficit because we're taxed too little, we have a deficit because Congress spends too much. It's about time that Congress took care of the Federal budget and left the family budget alone.

 

There's another issue that Mark Andrews and I feel strongly about, and I'll bet you do, too: that's keeping America strong and proud and peaceful and free. As you know, I just recently returned from my meeting with Mr. Gorbachev in Iceland. That meeting was a breakthrough in our discussions with the Soviets. We're no longer talking about arms control; we're talking about arms reductions, possibly, even the complete elimination of ballistic missiles from the face of the Earth. That's an historic turnaround for the Soviets, and it wouldn't have been possible without the firm support of the American people, whose hard work and support have enabled us to rebuild our military might. The American people know that the only way to negotiate for peace is from a position of strength. We're closer to real arms reductions than ever before, and it's because America today is once again strong and united. But one major obstacle remained in Iceland: Unfortunately, Mr. Gorbachev decided to make all of our progress hostage to his demand that we kill our Strategic Defense Initiative. Now, I had to remind him of my pledge to the American people on SDI: that in America when you give your word, you give your word -- and that stands up no matter what the time or place. SDI is our insurance policy to protect us from accidents or some madmen that might come along or some other country that develops ballistic missiles or in case the Soviets don't keep their side of the bargain.

 

You know, before World War II, the British were developing a new defense system; it was called radar. And without radar, it's possible that the Royal Air Force wouldn't have been able to beat back the Nazi air assault on England. If you'll recall -- you won't recall, you weren't here at the time, but those of us who do -- but you've perhaps read that when Winston Churchill acknowledged what that little band of fighter pilots had done from England, and to save England, and with the help of that radar, when he said, ``Never in the course of human events have so many owed so much to so few.'' Well, I couldn't help but think that giving up SDI would have been like Chamberlain giving up radar, as well as Czechoslovakia, at Munich -- a tragic blunder that might have spelled the end to freedom in Europe.

 

SDI is a purely defensive and purely peaceful technology. If the Soviets honestly want progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons, they have nothing to fear from SDI. The Soviets are hard bargainers. America must be even more patient and determined and united. And America must speak with one voice, saying loud and clear: We'll walk the extra mile for peace, but we'll never gamble with America's safety. And I hope you all realize that when he was saying no to this SDI, this was after I had told him we would sign a binding treaty right now, that if and when we had developed that system and it was practical, we would share it with them so that neither one of us ever had to be afraid of the other country. And still, they said no. So, I want to ask you a question: Can I count on your support to keep America strong and united and on the road to peace?

 

Audience. Yes! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

 

The President. I kind of thought you'd say that. You know, if I could interject something here: There's nothing that I'm prouder of than the 2 million young men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. They're some of the most splendid young people this nation has ever produced. And let me say this: If we must ever ask them to put their lives on the line for the United States of America, then they deserve at the same time the finest weapons and equipment money can buy. And I'm going to see that they get them. And it's because of the quality of the men and women in our Armed Forces, and the quality of the weapons that they carry in defense of this country that every nickel-and-dime dictator the world over knows that if it tangles with the United States of America, he will pay a price.

 

Yes, America is once again united in hope and strong in purpose. We've squashed inflation, cut the prime interest rate by more than two-thirds, and we're keeping the doors of the opportunity society wide open by cutting tax rates further and spurring on the economic expansion that has already created 11\1/2\ million new jobs in the last 46 months. This year more Americans are working than ever before, and we've reached the highest employment rate in the history of the United States. Now, I know you keep reading unemployment rates that are given, but let me just tell you a little something about how Washington, the bureaucracy works. The potential employment pool of the United States is considered to be everyone, male and female, in the United States from age 16 all the way up. And today 61.3 percent of that pool is employed here in the United States.

 

America is moving forward, but that doesn't mean that we don't recognize that some sectors of our country are not sharing fully in this expansion. I understand the problems facing the American energy industry in States like North Dakota. And I recognize that in the midst of bountiful harvests, American agriculture is going through a difficult transition. In Illinois and South Dakota, and today here in Grand Forks, whenever I get a chance, I've been meeting with farm leaders to talk about the problems facing American agriculture. As I've said to them, and as I say to you now: Government will stand by you during these hard times. And that's why this administration is providing more financial help to our America's farmers than the last five administrations all put together. And falling interest rates and inflation have been cutting production costs for farmers. The last thing farmers need is to return to the party that gave them grain embargoes, outrageous inflation, and 21\1/2\ percent interest rates.

 

Now, I know there are things in the farm bill that Mark doesn't like. And there are some things in it I don't like. But we both agree that government programs ought to be better targeted to the family farmers who need it most. Right now some subsidies operate to make rich farmers richer, and we're opposed to that. Mark and I have fought together against that aspect of the system, and in future years we'll renew that fight. Coming from rural America, I understand -- I'm not talking about Hollywood now, I was raised in Dixon, Illinois -- I understand farmers don't want to live on subsidies; they want free access to foreign markets and the chance to make a fair profit. And we're making sure that they get that chance. Imperfect as it is, this farm bill moves us in that direction.

 

And we say to our friends in the energy industry: We know your problems. But no problems, however great, are going to be solved by turning the United States Senate over to the kind of people who thought the way to solve the energy crisis was to ration gasoline, control the price of oil, and win votes by demagoging about ``obscene profits.'' The liberals who imposed that vindictive windfall profits tax in the heyday of Democratic power are not the friends of energy States like North Dakota.

 

Now, it's time to get the facts straight about Mark Andrews' opponent. North Dakota doesn't need a Senator who criticizes but doesn't offer any solutions. North Dakota doesn't need a Senator whose campaign is funded by ultraliberal, antimilitary crowd all over the nation who would give us a weaker America. The big spenders know that Mark's opponent will be their ally. And believe me, the last thing we need is another tax collector in the United States Senate. In Mark Andrews, North Dakota has a Senator who knows what it's like to meet a payroll. He is not a lifetime bureaucrat who doesn't know the difference between a cow and a combine. [Laughter] America and North Dakota need a Senator with experience and clout, a man of independence, strength, and proven leadership who fights and wins for North Dakota. We need Mark Andrews in the United States Senate.

 

Now, Mark's election could very well decide whether we keep control of the Senate or lose it to the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. And that's the difference between 2 more years of progress or 2 years of paralysis. I didn't seek reelection to be a 6-year President. There are too many exciting challenges still before us and too much business that still must be completed. I cannot, and I will not, have my hands tied by a Congress that is totally hostile to all that we're trying to do. You know, my name will never be on the ballot again, but don't think you can't vote for me. If you want to vote for me, vote for Mark Andrews, so that we can have a Republican Senate that will work with me instead of against me and be around after I'm gone.

 

Now, maybe you've noticed that I've been careful to refer to the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. And that's because I believe in going all across the country. There couldn't be a meeting like this without there being throughout this crowd a number of Democrats. Throughout the United States I know there are millions of patriotic Democrats who are totally out of step with the liberal leadership of their party today. And believe me, those of you who are here and are, or who once were and changed, as I did -- believe me, you're welcome. Come on over. I know how tough it is to break with tradition. I was acting like a Republican for 2 or 3 years before I got around to reregistering. I don't know. You just had a reluctance to do that. So, I can remember. And I remember, too, what Winston Churchill, as a member of the British Parliament, once said when he changed parties there. He said, ``Some men change principle for party and others change party for principle.''

 

All I'm asking the people of North Dakota is to remember that the Senator you elect will help determine your future, America's future. So, before I go let, me just conduct an informal poll. [Laughter] I won't mind if you speak up loudly so that all of America can hear. Do you want to go back to the days of big spending, high taxes, and runaway inflation?

 

Audience. No-o-o!

 

The President. Do you want a weak and vacillating America?

 

Audience. No-o-o!

 

The President. That's good to hear. [Laughter] Would you rather have low taxes, low inflation, and low interest rates?

 

Audience. Yes!

 

The President. Would you rather have an America that is strong and proud and free?

 

Audience. Yes!

 

The President. Do you want Mark Andrews as your Senator from the great State of North Dakota?

 

Audience. Yes!

 

The President. You just made my day. And do you know something? You didn't hurt Mark's feelings either.

 

Well, I'm so pleased to see and be able to talk to so many of you young people who are here today. Let me just finish by saying: You're what it's all about. People my age have in mind that our responsibility is to see that when it comes your turn to take over from us, we turn over to you the same freedom and the same great opportunity that the preceding generations turned over to us. And that's what we've sworn to do and are going to do for you. I have to tell you something else. Don't think I'm just trying to make friends with you. I've done that already. [Laughter] You know, back before in the beginning of World War II, General George Marshall was asked -- Commander of all our forces -- was asked what he thought was our secret weapon. And he said, ``Just the best blankety-blank kids in the world.'' Well, I've been seeing your generation all over this country -- on campuses like this and sometimes just in rallies and wherever and, as I told you before, in the military. And I think once again if General Marshall were here he'd say, ``The best blankety-blank kids in the world.''

 

God bless you all. Thank you.

 

Note: The President spoke at 12:36 p.m. in the Hyslop Sports Center at the University of North Dakota. Earlier, he attended a reception for major donors to Senator Andrews' reelection campaign. He also met with farm community leaders at the center. Following his remarks at the rally, the President went to Camp David, MD, for the weekend.