Remarks at a Senate Campaign Rally for James Santini in Reno, Nevada

 

October 30, 1986

 

The President. Thank you all very much. And, Jim, thank you for that kind introduction. You know, I was once a drum major of a boys band in Dixon, Illinois, so I hope you'll forgive7E 7E me7E 7E if7E 7E I7E 7E thank 7E 7Ethe 7E 7ECarson7E 7E City High 7E 7ESchool7E 7E Senior7E 7E Band, the McQueen High School Band, the Edward C. Reed High School Marching Greater Band, and the Wooster High School Marching Colts. And special thanks to the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Wolf Pack Marching Band. Could I be mistaken, or do I hear Blue Thunder? I see the Wolf Pack has brought their thunder meter along. Well let's be sure to keep that hand going up all the way and let all of Nevada know how we feel. Now, I can't help but see the young people here in the audience. And I have a special message to you from my roommate. She said to tell you that when it comes to drugs, please -- for yourselves, for your families, for your future and your country -- just say no.

 

Well it's great to be here with all of you. It's really great to be here with my best friends Paul and Carol Laxalt. It's great to be here with Senator Chic Hecht. And let me ask you a favor: Will you send Barbara Vucanovich and Bob Ryan to Washington to join Chic Hecht and Jim Santini in making Nevada an all-Republican team in Washington? [Applause]

 

You know, there's one thing in this election. I've heard some people here, and they're talking about checks and balances and so forth in government. And they're a little mixed up. If you like what Chic Hecht has been doing up there -- and he's been doing like Paul Laxalt has been doing -- why should you send a Senator up there with him to cancel his vote? Send someone who will vote with him. And now, having been Governor myself for some time, I think I recognize good Governor material when I see it, and believe me, Patty Cafferata and her running mate, Joe Brown, are the very best. And I know that her running mate will do a good job in filling the shoes of Robert Cashell, who's the outgoing Lieutenant Governor.

 

It's wonderful to be here in Nevada. And, 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 where the real people are. Now, you probably know that I couldn't do this much traveling when Congress was in session, as Jim Santini will tell you. That's because some of those folks need watching. Now, I am not saying anything against the institution of the Congress; I respect it highly. But there are some people up there that -- well, those individuals, their approach to doing government business reminds me of the three fellows that came out of a building one day and 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 in there and flip the latch and get us in.'' And the second one said, ``You can't do that. They'll think we're stealing the car.'' And the third one said, ``Well, we 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 -- left it with negative growth, double-digit inflation, the highest rates since -- and get ready -- the highest rates since the Civil War. And so, in 1981 Jim and I cut government growth, slashed regulations, and cut income taxes almost 25 percent. Today we're enjoying one of the longest economic expansions in our history. The prime interest rate has fallen by two-thirds. Mortgage and auto loan rates are down. Inflation has plummeted from more than 12 percent when we got there to 1.8 percent. And we've created more than 11\1/2\ million new jobs in less than 4 years -- more jobs than Western Europe and Japan put together have created in 10 years. Of course, you know when we started that economic program for recovery and expansion there were a lot of criticism and a lot of people making fun and some of them downright angry. And yet I knew that the program was working when they stopped calling it Reaganomics.

 

Before I go any further, I want to give you some good news. Following last week's announcements showing gross national product -- that's the figure, GNP, that represents the country's economic growth -- and other indicators show our economy is gathering momentum. Just this morning we learned the trade deficit in September declined for the second month in a row and is down now 30 percent from its high. This is particularly good news for our manufacturing industries. We also learned new home sales in September were up over 10 percent. The stock market today went in a sharp upswing and is now almost touching the all-time high. I believe the economy is on a roll and think it's a sure bet that we're about to hit another jackpot. Now, we pulled the handle, and it came up jobs, jobs, jobs. 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 Santini nor I will be satisfied until this expansion reaches every sector of our economy and every home in America and until every American who wants a job has a job.

 

Now, 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 share tax plan had 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.

 

Audience. No way!

 

The President. You're right. You know, the truth is, those folks never met a tax they didn't like. And when it comes to spending your hard-earned money, they act like they've got your credit card in their pocket. And believe me, they never leave home without it. 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. Now, isn't it about time they started protecting the family budget instead of fattening the Federal budget?

 

Now the contrast between us and the leaders of the other party is just as apparent when it comes to judicial appointments. Now, you know the President appoints the Federal judges, but they have to be approved by the United States Senate. And since I began appointing Federal judges to be approved by the Republican Senate, the Federal judiciary has become tougher, much tougher, on criminals. Criminals are going to jail more often, and they're receiving longer sentences. But over and over the Democratic leadership has tried in the Senate to torpedo our choices for judges, and that is where Jim can make all the difference. Without him and the Republican majority in the Senate, we'll find liberals, like a certain fellow from Massachusetts, deciding who our judges are. Now, I bet that you'll agree: I'd rather have a Judiciary Committee headed, as it is now, by Senator Strom Thurmond than one headed by Teddy Kennedy any time. [Applause]

 

You know, this thing of partisan politics, right now I'm reminded of a story. Never mind, when you get to be my age, everything will remind you of a story. [Laughter] There was a Democratic fundraiser in a downtown hotel. And when the people were coming out of the fundraiser, there was a kid with some puppy dogs. And he was holding them up for sale, and he was saying, ``Buy a Democrat puppy. Buy a Democrat puppy.'' Two weeks later the Republicans held a fundraiser there. And when they came out, there was the same kid with the puppies saying, ``Buy a Republican pup. Buy a Republican puppy.'' Well, there was a newsman there who recognized him from 2 weeks before -- said, ``Hey, kid, wait a minute. Two weeks ago those were Democrat puppies. Now you're here selling them and saying they're Republican puppies. How come?'' And the kid says, ``Now they've got their eyes open.'' [Laughter]

 

But, ladies and gentlemen, we've come now to an issue that transcends in importance even all the other crucial matters I've mentioned: my most solemn duty as President, the safety of the American people and the security of these United States. And here, too, because of the support for men like Jim Santini, we've been able to restore America's strength. There's nothing I'm prouder of in this job than the 2 million young men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. Now, that same leadership that I've been criticizing has been busy every year trying to whack away and cut away on defense spending. Well, let me tell you: If we ever have to ask those 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 we can produce. And with Jim Santini's help, that's the way it's going to be. They're going to have that equipment. You know, because of our young men and women in uniform, things have really changed around the world. You know, 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.'' Today every nickel-and-dime dictator around the world knows that if he tangles with the United States of America he will have a price to pay. And one other thing I'm especially proud of: After 6 years of this administration, not 1 square inch of territory in the world has been lost to communism, and one small country, Grenada, has been freed from communist tyranny.

 

And finally, there's another special issue. We remain committed to our decision to move ahead with our Strategic Defense Initiative against ballistic missiles, SDI. Today we're dealing with the Soviet Union from a position of strength, and it was SDI that brought the Soviet Union to the bargaining table. And let me pledge to you: Our goal is to keep America strong, to save the West from mutual nuclear terror, to make ballistic missiles obsolete, and ultimately to eliminate them from the face of the Earth. SDI is America's insurance policy to protect us from accidents or some madman who might come along, as Hitler did or a Qadhafi, or just in case the Soviets don't keep their side of a bargain.

 

Their record on treaty violations is very clear. We can either bet on American technology to keep us safe or on Soviet promises. Each has its own track record. And I'll bet on American technology any time. Now, I knew there were those who had their doubts, but flying back from Iceland, I knew the American people would support firmness with the Soviet Union. So, I couldn't come here today without thanking each of you for that support. To you students, I have to confess I'm not a linguist, but I was very proud of one little foray I made into the use of a foreign language while we were in Iceland. I spoke Russian. I said to General Secretary Gorbachev, ``Dovorey no provorey.'' It means trust but verify.

 

That may tell you we never could have come this far without the support of people like Jim Santini. I remember back in 1981 when we needed all the help we could get to cut your taxes and get this economic expansion rolling. Jim was a Democrat back then, but despite threats from the liberal Democratic Party leadership, Jim Santini promised me his support. And Jim Santini is as good as his word. He came through with the votes. Just as over and over again, Jim Santini has come through for the great State of Nevada.

 

It's time we got some facts out about Jim's opponent. I don't think the seriously independent people of Nevada want as their Senator a tax-and-spend liberal who's against a balanced budget amendment. And I don't want anybody to think I'm taking this personally. But Jim's opponent voted against me more often than Teddy Kennedy, and that's saying something.

 

Now, I know I couldn't be speaking to a crowd like this without there being a number of Democrats and Independents present here in the audience. And I know these Democrats -- and I've seen them all across the country -- as hard-working, patriotic people whose support I've relied on during these past 6 years. But to those Nevada Democrats: I used to be a Democrat myself, just like Jim. And I must tell you from my heart that Jim Santini represents your views far better than the liberals who run the Democratic Party in Washington -- and, yes, right here in Nevada. So, I ask all Nevada Democrats whether just maybe they ought to join the Republican Party as Jim and I did. I know it isn't easy, but as Winston Churchill, that great British statesman -- when he was in the Parliament, Churchill changed parties and was criticized and maligned for doing so. And Churchill summed it all up. He said, ``Some men change principle for party, and others change party for principle.'' And even if you can't quite bring yourself to change parties, well, you can still send the liberals a message by voting for Jim Santini.

 

I have to tell you a little experience I had that sort of fits what I've seen happen to the party that Jim and I once belonged to and why I know that there must be some Democrats here -- because I've met them all across the country -- who know that they're out of step with the leadership. When I was that drum major, that I mentioned, in that band, we were taken to a little neighboring town to lead the Decoration Day parade. Well, the real leader, of course, was the marshal of the parade on a big white horse up in front. But we're going down the street. I'm pumping the baton, the band is playing. And he gallops back down the line of parade to see if everything's coming along all right. And pretty soon, I think the music is sounding fainter, and I sneaked a look over my shoulder. The man on the horse had gotten back just far enough to turn the band to the right, down an intersection where the parade was to go, and I was marching up the street all by myself. [Laughter] And that's an apt description of the Democratic Party. The membership of the party by the millions, long ago, has turned to the right, and they're still the leadership marching down the street.

 

You know, 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, who oppose our efforts to pursue a defense to protect us from attack by nuclear ballistic missiles? Or will you choose to give Jim and me a chance to finish the job?

 

Now, just to be sure where you stand, I thought I'd conduct an informal poll. And I want you to speak up loudly and let all America 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 Ted Kennedy controlling the confirmation of Federal court judges?

 

Audience. No-o-o!

 

The President. Do you want to return to policies that gave us a weak and vacillating America?

 

Audience. No-o-o!

 

The President. That's good to hear. [Laughter] Now, would you rather have, well, yes, would you rather have an America that is strong and proud and free?

 

Audience. Yes!

 

The President. Do you want Jim Santini as your Senator from the great State of Nevada? [Applause]

 

The President. You just made my day, and you didn't hurt Jim Santini's feelings at all. [Laughter]

 

My name will never appear on a ballot again, but if you'd like to --  --

 

Audience. No-o-o! Boo-o-o!

 

The President. Now, wait a minute! If you'd like to vote for me one more time, you can do so by voting for Jim Santini. But important as this election will be to me, it'll be even more important to you, especially to you young people, for it'll shape our nation's future. Every poll shows that the age group 18 to 24 gives us the highest percentage of people in support of what we're doing. [Applause] But, now, wait just a second. Every poll also shows just as clearly that it's that same age group that has the lowest voter turnout.

 

Audience. Boo-o-o!

 

The President. So, when you go out of here determined to vote, go out of here also ready to buttonhole your friends your own age and tell them to come to the polls with you and also cast their votes. You know, back at the beginning of World War II, as we entered that terrible war, General George C. Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, was asked if we had a secret weapon and, if so, what it might be? And George Marshall said: ``Yes, we do have a secret weapon. It's just the best blankety-blank kids in the world.'' Well, I think if George Marshall were here today he'd look at your generation and say, yes, you are the best blankety-blank kids in the world. Before leaving, I'd just like to say that people my age deeply believe that it's our duty to turn over to you young Americans the same freedom and opportunity that our parents and grandparents handed on to us. And those between my generation and yours who are here in this hall today -- they share that same feeling and make that same pledge. There have been times in, over recent years, when things have slipped, as they did a few years ago, and when it didn't seem as if we were going to turn over that kind of an America. But now it's back in stride, and it is there. And we're determined that when it's your turn that's the kind of America that we're going to hand to you. And when we look at you, when we see your openness, your enthusiasm for America and for life itself, it gives us heart.

 

So, when you go to the polls, win one for Jim Santini, win one for your future and for America's future -- yes, and win one for the Gipper!

 

Audience. Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

 

The President. Thank you very much. I've said thank you and God bless you, but I just have to add, if any of you've been wondering what does it feel like to hear you, I'll tell you: It's a very humbling experience, and I'll do my best to try to deserve all of it. Thank you very much.

 

Note: The President spoke at 2:44 p.m. in Lawlor Events Center Arena at the University of Nevada. He was introduced by Mr. Santini. Following his remarks, the President met with major donors to the Nevada State Republican Party at the university. He then traveled to Spokane, WA. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.