Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Senator James T. Broyhill in Charlotte, North Carolina

 

October 28, 1986

 

The President. Thank you all. And before I get into my remarks here -- I've just learned upon arrival that many of our friends in South Carolina are with us today by way of radio and television, so if you'll permit me, I'd just like to extend my best wishes to two outstanding Congressmen, the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, Carroll Campbell and Tommy Harnett.

 

But thanks, all of you. My heartfelt thanks to some bands that make beautiful music: the Bessemer City Yellowjackets, the Ashbrook Green Wave, the Hunter House Huskies, the Olympic Trojans, and the Lincolnton Wolf Pack.

 

But thank you, Jim, for that kind introduction. And I want you and every one here to know what an honor it is to share this platform with so many of North Carolina's finest public officials devoted to their State and Nation -- my friends, Governor Jim Martin and Congressmen Alex McMillan and Bill Hendon. And since you and I both need Alex McMillan in Washington, could I ask the people of this congressional district a favor? On November 4th, send him back -- send them both back. And I violated protocol there in the order of reading them off, but also Senator Jesse Helms.

 

I can't help but see the young people here in the audience, and I have a special message to you from my roommate. [Laughter] She said to tell you when it comes to drugs, please -- for yourselves, for your families, for your future and your country -- just say no.

 

Well, it's wonderful to be here in North Carolina. You know, as I often say to my staff when we're taking off in Air Force One, it's great to get out of Washington and get back to where the real people are. You probably know I couldn't do this much traveling when Congress was in session, as Jim Broyhill will tell you. That's because some of those folks need watching. [Laughter] I'm not talking against the institution of the Congress; I believe in it. I'm just talking about some individuals there and their approach to government. They remind me of three fellows that came out of a building and found they'd locked themselves out of their car. And one of them said, ``Get me a wire coathanger, and I can straighten it out, and I can get in and trip the handle and get us in.'' And the second one said, ``You can't do that. People will think we're stealing the car.'' And the third one said, ``Well, we'd better do something pretty quick, because it's starting to rain and the top's down.'' [Laughter]

 

But that story says so much about how the tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend policies left our country just a few short years ago: negative growth, double-digit inflation, the highest interest rates since -- get ready -- the War Between the States. And so, as part of that 1980 cleanup crew for the worst economic mess since the Great Depression, Jim Broyhill and I headed for Washington. We cut government growth, slashed regulations, and cut income taxes almost 25 percent. Today we're enjoying one of the longest economic recoveries -- expansions, I should say, not recovery anymore, in history, creating over 11\1/2\ million new jobs in the last 47 months. That's more jobs than Western Europe and Japan combined have created in the past 10 years. Inflation has plummeted from more than 12 percent to 1.8 percent. The prime interest rate has fallen by two-thirds. Mortgage and auto loans are down. And, you know, all of those people that didn't like it and were making fun of it and criticizing me and so forth -- I could tell it was succeeding when they stopped calling it Reaganomics.

 

Now, just days ago we learned that the figure that represents the country's economic growth, the gross national product, and some other indications show our economy gathering momentum for even more growth, higher take-home pay, and more new jobs. In short, we're headed for a second boom. And I'm determined to see that those who still are not sharing fully in our nation's prosperity do so. And I give you my pledge: Neither Jim nor I will be satisfied, nor these others here on the platform, until this expansion reaches every sector of our economy and until every American who wants a job gets one.

 

To broaden our expansion, I signed into law last week the most sweeping reform of the tax code in our nation's history. For more than 80 percent of Americans, it means a top tax rate of 15 percent or less, and that's why I call it Tax Cut II. But wouldn't you know it, even before this fair tax plan reached my desk, the Democratic leadership in Congress was saying that they wanted to break faith with the American people and turn tax reform into a tax hike. Now, you know, the truth is those folks never met a tax they didn't like. [Laughter] When it comes to spending your hard-earned money, they act like they've got your credit card in their pockets. And believe me, they never leave home without it. [Laughter] The American people know the truth: We don't have a deficit because we're taxed too little; we have a deficit because Congress spends too much. Isn't it about time that they start protecting the family budget instead of fattening the Federal budget? [Applause]

 

The contrast between us and the leaders of the other party is just as apparent when it comes to judicial appointments. Maybe some of the younger people, particularly, don't know that while I appoint the Federal judges, they have to be approved by the United States Senate. And since I've begun appointing Federal judges to be approved by people like Jim Broyhill in the Republican Senate, the Federal judiciary has become tougher, much tougher, on criminals. Criminals are going to jail more often and receiving longer sentences. Over and over, the Democratic leadership has tried in the Senate to torpedo our choices for judges. And that's where Jim Broyhill can make all the difference. Without him and the Republican majority in the Senate, we'll find liberals like Joe Biden and a certain fellow from Massachusetts deciding who our judges are. And I'll bet you'll agree: I'd rather have a Judiciary Committee headed by Strom Thurmond than one run by Joe Biden or Ted Kennedy. [Applause] And for that matter, I'd rather have an Agriculture Committee chaired by Jesse Helms than by a Senator who doesn't know the problems of the farmers in this part of the country.

 

You know, as I say, I'm talking about just some Members up there on the Hill that cause all of these problems. They remind me of a time when the Democrats were holding a fundraiser in a downtown hotel. And when they came out of the fundraiser, there was a kid there with some puppies. And he was trying to sell them as the people came out. He was saying, ``Buy a Democrat puppy. Buy a Democrat puppy.'' Well, 2 weeks later the Republicans were holding a fundraiser in the same hotel. And as they were coming out, here was the same kid with the same puppies. And he was saying, ``Buy a Republican puppy. Buy a Republican puppy.'' And a newspaperman who'd been there the 2 weeks before recognized him, and he said, ``Hey, wait a minute. You were here 2 weeks ago, and you were selling those as Democrat puppies. Now you say they're Republican puppies. How come?'' And the kid said, ``Well, now their eyes are open.'' [Laughter]

 

But, ladies and gentlemen, we've come now to an issue that transcends in importance even all the other crucial matters that I've mentioned: my most solemn duty as President, the safety of the American people and the security of these United States. Here, too, because of the support of men like Jim Broyhill, we've been able to restore America's strength. There's nothing I'm prouder of than the 2 million young men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. And with all those who would hack away at the budget for the Defense Department, let me tell you: If we must ever ask these young people to put their lives on the line for the United States of America, then they deserve to have the finest weapons and equipment that money can buy and Jim Broyhill's help. We're going to see they get them.

 

You know, because of our young men and women in uniform, things really have changed around the world. You know, America used to wear a ``Kick Me'' sign around its neck. Well, we threw that sign away. Now it reads, ``Don't Tread on Me.'' Today every nickel-and-dime dictator around the world knows that if he tangles with the United States of America, he'll have to pay a price. One other thing I'm especially proud of: After 6 years of this administration, not 1 square inch of territory has been lost to communism, and one small country, Grenada, has been set free.

 

And finally, there's another special accomplishment. We must never forget that it was our decision, as Jim has told you, to move ahead with SDI, that's Strategic Defense Initiative against ballistic missiles -- that brought the Soviet Union to the bargaining table. Today we're dealing with the Soviet Union from a position of strength, as Jim said. And let me pledge to you today: Our goal is to save the West from mutual nuclear terror, to make ballistic missiles obsolete, and ultimately to eliminate them from the face of the Earth. In Iceland we came closer to real arms reduction than ever before, but Mr. Gorbachev decided to make progress hostage to demands that we kill SDI. Well, I had to remind him that SDI is America's insurance policy to protect us from accidents or some madman who might come along, like Hitler did, or just in case the Soviets don't keep their side of the bargain. And I had to remind Mr. Gorbachev of my pledge to the American people to never abandon SDI and that in America when you give your word, you keep your word. So, that's what I tried to do in Iceland -- was keep my word.

 

What we need in Washington is a Congress that won't give away at the conference table what we refused to surrender at the negotiating table in Reykjavik, Iceland. Now, no responsible President should rely solely on a piece of paper for his country's safety. To those of you who might like some heavy reading, a friend of mine and a great student of history, Larry Beilenson, authored a book some years ago called ``The Treaty Trap.'' He had done exhaustive research on the history of treaties going back thousands of years. And he had found that no country which ever put its faith in the paper of a treaty and let its hardware go away ever stayed around very long to add more pages to history. So, no responsible President should rely solely on a piece of paper for his country's safety. The record of Soviet treaty violation is clear. We can either bet on American technology to keep us safe or on Soviet promises. Each has its own track record. I'll bet on American technology any day.

 

Now, we can --  --

 

Audience member. We love you, Mr. President!

 

The President. Thank you. Well, I love all of you. In a crowd like this, in this place, there must be a number of Democrats.

 

Audience. No-o-o!

 

The President. Yes, yes. Now, wait a minute -- yes. Hear me out. I want you to know that during these past 6 years as President I've relied again and again upon the support of Democrats like those who would be here in this gathering, and I thank them. Now, as you may know, I used to be a Democrat myself until I learned that the liberal leadership of that party had become completely out of step with millions of hard-working and patriotic men and women who make up the Democratic Party across this country. I know how tough it can be to break with tradition, but remember what Winston Churchill said -- a Member of Parliament in England, and he changed parties. And he was roundly criticized. His reply was, ``Some men change principle for party, and some others change party for principle.''

 

With all these bands around, I have to tell you a little thing that helps illustrate this. I was the drum major of a boys band in Dixon, Illinois, when we were invited to lead the parade in a nearby town on Decoration Day. And the marshal of the parade on a big white horse was up in front, but then he turned and galloped back down the parade to see that everything was coming along all right. And I was out in front pumping my baton, and the band was playing, and we were marching down the street. And suddenly I began to think the music was sounding fainter and fainter. [Laughter] And I turned around, took a look. It seems he had ridden back up just in time to turn the band down the street to the right -- [laughter] -- and I, like the Democratic leaders of today, was going down the street all by myself.

 

Here in North Carolina, the choice couldn't be any clearer. To begin with, Jim Broyhill led the fight for our historic tax cut of 1981. Indeed, after we'd achieved the final victory, I invited him into the Oval Office for a private meeting. What I wanted to do was express my thanks. Here in North Carolina alone, the tax cuts and other measures that Jim Broyhill helped to enact have led to the creation of countless more jobs. Now, that's Jim Broyhill's record. He's actually cut your taxes and helped create new jobs. And then there's Jim's opponent. He [Terry Sanford] has a long, long record of doing pretty much the opposite. He was raising your taxes back when I was still making motion pictures. [Laughter]

 

And if I could interject something here: One position taken by Jim's opponent really touched my temperature control. As Commander in Chief, every day I see the threats posed by terrorists and strongmen to our men and women in uniform. Then I learn that Jim's opponent has stated that in foreign policy America behaves like a bullyboy in the schoolyard. Imagine that, Jim's opponent still believes in blaming America first. Well, I don't believe the people of this great State want a Senator like that.

 

Audience. No-o-o!

 

The President. I believe you want a Senator like Jim Broyhill, a Senator who believes in peace through strength. And this, then, is what it comes down to. In Jim's opponent you have a man who would vote to raise your taxes, vote to weaken our defenses, and vote to blame America first. But in Jim Broyhill you have a Senator with more than two decades of experience at getting things done for the people of North Carolina; a Senator who believes, as I say, in peace through strength, who led the fight to cut your taxes and create new jobs; and a Senator who believes in the goodness and decency of the American people and in the greatness of our nation. The truth is, the best man for the job is already on the job. Ladies and gentlemen, the eyes of America are on you and your great State. Will you choose the Democratic leaders who in 1980 weakened our nation and nearly brought our economy to its knees, who raised your taxes and have announced their plans to do so again, and who opposed efforts to build a defense to protect us from attack by nuclear ballistic missiles? Or will you choose to give the cleanup crew of 1980 a chance to finish the job?

 

You know, my name will never appear on a ballot again, but if you'd like to vote for me one more time, you can do so by voting for Jim Broyhill. But important as this election will be to me, it'll be even more important to you, and especially to all you young people, for it'll shape our nation's future. Every poll shows that the age group between 18 and 24 gives us and what we're doing the highest support of any age group. But now -- wait a minute, there's more -- every poll shows just as clearly that it's that same age group, 18 to 24, that has the lowest voter turnout. So, to you young people who are in that group: Exercise your sacred right as an American, participate in shaping history itself by going to the polls and casting your vote. Can I count on you? [Applause]

 

But having said that, I'd want to say I'm so pleased that so many of you are here, and even these much younger than that group who are here that I'm looking at. Because, you know, at the beginning of World War II, as we entered that terrible war, someone asked the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall, if the United States had a secret weapon, and if so, what was it. And General Marshall said, ``Yes, we have a secret weapon. It's the best blankety-blank kids in the world.'' And I've been all over the country, and I've seen your fellows of your generation. And I want to tell you if General Marshall was around today he'd say, once again, you are the best blankety-blank kids in the world.

 

In reality, even to the youngest of you here, you're what this election is all about. The people of my age, and those generations between mine and yours -- sometimes we've slowed down and let things get out of hand in this country. And then we've brought them back into line, because we have a sacred trust, and we have a pledge that we have to make. And that is that when it's your turn to take over the country that we will be able to turn over to you the same kind of country of opportunity and freedom and strength that was turned over to us by our parents and grandparents. And when we look at you, when we see your openness, your enthusiasm for America and for life itself, it gives us heart to continue keeping that pledge to you. My friends, in casting your vote for Jim Broyhill, you'll be winning one for yourselves, you'll be winning one for North Carolina, and you'll be winning one for America. And will you forgive me if I say, you'll be winning one for the Gipper! Thank you all. God bless you all.

 

Note: The President spoke at 5:16 p.m. in the Thurston Aviation Hangar at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. He was introduced by Senator Broyhill. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.