Remarks to Reagan Administration Political Appointees

 

August 12, 1988

 

The Vice President. Let me salute our able Chief of Staff -- the President's -- who is here and who has spoken. And you know the way Ken Duberstein came into this thing and took over, and he's doing an outstanding job. I'm delighted to be sharing this podium with him. I want to pay my respects to the members of the President's Cabinet and to all of you.

 

I won't speak too long here today. I don't want to be like the speaker at the Democratic Convention who gave the nominating speech. The Washington Post reported that one delegate at that convention hit another one with his sign during that speech. Just before the guy that was hit passed out, he said, ``Hit me again; I can still hear him.'' [Laughter] So, I don't want to do that.

 

But I am happy to have this chance to speak to the senior appointees of this administration, including many in the President's Cabinet -- the field commanders, if you will, of the Reagan revolution. And more than most other Americans, you have a special understanding of the importance of the election that lies ahead. For the last 7\1/2\ years we've worked with the President to build a better America, and we've done just exactly that. To create literally a sea change in American Government and politics. And now, frankly, I am counting on you to help determine whether that change continues, whether it gets even better, whether we can build on the successes of this administration or whether the direction changes, whether it's totally reversed. And that is exactly what's at stake in the coming election.

 

Things are still moving forward. The revolution that you all helped engineer is getting better all the time, domestically and in foreign policy as well. Four years ago, the Mondale Democrats said -- and we all remember it, all of us who were here 4 years ago -- said that this economic expansion was fleeting, that disaster was around the corner. There was predictions over and over again that the young recovery then couldn't possibly continue. And here we are, 68 months into the greatest explosion of job growth in American history, and we're still going strong.

 

You know, we all know what will kill -- definitively kill -- this economic expansion that we've worked so hard to create, and that's the policies of those same Democrats I referred to -- the McGovern or Carter or Mondale Democrats, who were just itching to get back into the game, get their hands back on the levers that you now operate so ably. Given the chance, I am convinced that they would repeal the tax cuts that we've worked so hard to enact and defend, and that would defeat and simply bury this recovery.

 

You see, economic expansions don't die of old age; they die because of bad policies. And that's what this election -- really the critical thing that this election is all about. And I will readily concede that all the good things you've accomplished are not in focus in the minds of the electorate. Part of our job at our convention, and part of my job as the standard-bearer, and hopefully your job as surrogates, will be to get these good things in focus. Elections are normally determined by the state of the economy, and the state of the economy is A - 1.

 

I'm sure you've noticed that our opponents, at the convention at least, and certainly afterward, don't seem to want to talk about policy at all. They've declared that this election is about competence, not ideology -- as if good ideas and good execution were somehow inconsistent. As you've proven in these last 8 years, that simply isn't so. In the last 8 years, we've had some fantastic ideas: reducing tax rates so America could grow, cutting the interest rates so families could afford a home. You know, there's a lot of young people out there that don't remember that 10 days before the President and I were sworn in the prime rate of interest was 21\1/2\ percent. Fighting inflation so that a family could buy more with the dollar that they worked so hard to earn. And building a strong and secure America so that we would be in a position through that strength to negotiate reductions in nuclear arms and indeed to eliminate -- in the face of the skeptics -- eliminate an entire generation of nuclear weapons. Reforming the tax code to close off loopholes and open up opportunity. And aiding the cause of freedom around the world in order to give peace a chance.

 

I've been to a lot of different countries as Vice President, and I am absolutely convinced that it is only the United States of America that is steady enough and convinced enough and strong enough to offer the hope of freedom and democracies to those who would like to have it.

 

Did we come up with these ideas then to help one group over another? No. Did we embrace the ideas because we were out of touch with the concerns of real Americans? No. Just the opposite, as a matter of fact. We took hold of these ideas and put them into action because they work. They produce the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans.

 

Measure us by our performance. In the last 6 years, more than 17 million new jobs have been created -- good jobs, at good wages. And last year, three out of four jobs that were created were in the higher paying categories, where the average salary was $26,000. Only 2 percent were low-paying service jobs.

 

And measure us by our performance. Real family income is growing after it had fallen under the Democrats. The average American family, the one that's right in the middle, is now earning $5,000 a year more than it would be under the Democratic policies.

 

Measure us by our performance. Peace is breaking out all over the world. Earlier this week, on the same day, the headlines announced not one, but two cease-fires in very troubled areas of the world: one between Iran and Iraq and one between Angola, Cuba, and South Africa.

 

Our policies are working, and I want to build on those policies. With performance like that, it's no wonder that my opponent would have us believe that he supported these Republican policies all along. The other day, I referred to him, only semi-in jest, as the Stealth candidate -- [laughter] -- because no matter how much he jetted around the country, from place to place, no issues seemed to crop up on that radar screen.

 

We have a two-part mission in this election: to remind the American people what we've done, what we've accomplished, and then to convince them, given a chance, that there's going to be change as we move into a new decade, but that we can do even better. We must remind them that peace and economic growth are not blanketing our land by accident; they've not fallen out of the sky. But rather, they've grown from carefully cultivated seeds planted by the men and women in this room. And now the task is to plant where no flowers have bloomed before, to grow to heights previously unimagined. And we've got to keep this recovery going until every man and woman in this country benefit from this recovery.

 

And I have been very specific in offering new proposals for extending the Reagan revolution into the Bush era. I've proposed a cut in the capital gains rate to create new jobs by spurring the start of new business. It worked in 1978. It will work again now. It will raise revenues for the Federal Government, and I am convinced it will help people by creating more jobs.

 

I've proposed to slam the door on the deficit by using what I call a flexible freeze to rein in Federal spending and yet give the President some flexibility in how to allocate resources. And I'm asking the American people to instruct the Congress to give the President what 43 Governors have, and that's that line-item veto. It's time now, the Congress having failed, to give the executive branch a chance to do better in controlling spending.

 

And I've proposed a comprehensive child care plan for America's families, one which doesn't rely on the heavy and all-intrusive hand of government, but on free choice for parents. One which doesn't discriminate against families whose children are cared for by the neighbors or relatives or church centers or by the parents themselves at home, but preserves that diversity that makes our country so unique.

 

I've proposed merit schools and magnet schools to reward and encourage excellence in education. And I've proposed expanding educational assistance from Head Start for preschoolers to college savings bonds for college students. Education is the answer to our competitiveness. Education is the answer that will bring hope to those kids who really haven't had hope and opportunity before.

 

I've laid out a wide-ranging plan for cleaning up the environment and a comprehensive plan for reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. And I've spelled out in detail my vision of the steps we've got to take to see that we remain free and secure in the 1990's. In every one of these areas I've been specific for a very clear reason: Because the American people have a right to know where the candidates stand. And I believe if they do they will choose to continue and to improve on the work that you have so ably begun.

 

Leo Burnett, one of the finest advertising executives of all time, used to have a ten commandments on the art of plain talk. And one of his commandments was forget about image and concentrate on substance. Project what you are, not what you would like others to think that you are. And I take this commandment to heart. If we state in plain terms the case for low taxes and high opportunity, for a strong America and a peaceful world, I believe we'll have another Republican victory in November.

 

And that's where you all come in. As much as I travel and as hard as I campaign -- and campaign hard I will -- nobody can do it without the help of others. And I can't get my case out there to the American people who need to hear it all by myself. I need you, both to help the American people understand the record of these last 8 years -- all I want them to hear from you is what we have done and then, hopefully, what we can do in the future. And you know, when Cicero finished a speech, the people commented on how well he spoke. But when Demosthenes had spoken, the people cried out, ``When do we march?'' And I need you to help mobilize our troops out across this country. I need you to help ignite the souls and stir the hearts of the American people. And I need you to march to victory again in November.

 

You know, that victory isn't important just for political reasons. It is literally vital for the future of our country. And this election hinges on one crucial difference. My opponent sees the task ahead is how to manage the decline of this country. And I see it as how to open up further the golden promise of opportunity that is America. They all talk about this book out of Boston about America in decline. We are not in decline. That is too negative.

 

I've been proud to be a part of this administration, proud to serve this President. And now, on Thursday, I will be the standard-bearer of this party. And I'm asking you to take the hustings and to remember that you're not just political spokesmen, not just women out there spelling out what's been accomplished in the administration. You're messengers of hope for this new American revolution. And what's at stake is not just one election; what's at stake is a way of life. And if we can convince the American people of that, then I'm convinced that we will have the opportunity for the next 4 years to serve this, the greatest, freest, most wonderful country on the face of the Earth.

 

Thank you all. I need you. God bless you. Thank you very much.

 

The President. Thank you. Who's tending the store? [Applause] Thank you. Thank you all very much. Thank you, George. You know, each year at the State of the Union, I turn to my right and there's George Bush, and I say, ``Thank you, Mr. President.'' [Laughter] By next year, that should be a regular habit. [Laughter]

 

Well, I want to welcome all of you to the White House complex. White House complex -- that's what our opponents have after 8 years of being out of power. [Laughter] The incredible thing is that they still can't take a hint. [Laughter]

 

But really, the reason I asked you all here is because we've got 5 full months ahead of us, and we're going to continue to advance our policies and programs until we cross the finish line next January. Our agenda is still full. We want welfare reforms that create incentives for work, and a U.S.-Canada free trade agreement to create the world's greatest free trade area. We want a comprehensive antidrug bill that includes the death penalty for drug kingpins, a defense bill that supports the Strategic Defense Initiative, and effective new aid for the Nicaraguan freedom fighters so they can secure their own freedom and remove the threat of communism from the mainland of North America.

 

And as I said in the State of the Union, Congress had better obey the law and give us 13 appropriations bills as required and on time because if they try to send me up another one of those omnibus continuing resolution monstrosities, I won't sign it.

 

I'll be crisscrossing America this fall to lay out our record and what we stand for. I know that so many of you who are eager and able to do so will be doing the same. All of you deserve a share in the credit for what's been accomplished. You all are a part of a great and continuing success story. You can be proud of your service, and I'm proud of you.

 

You know, years ago, when the news first came out that I was running for Governor of California, someone asked my boss Jack Warner what he thought of the idea. And it's been reported to me that Warner said, ``No, no. Jimmy Stewart for Governor; Reagan for best friend.'' [Laughter]

 

Well, if I say so myself, all of you who answered the call to serve here were very well cast. In fact, I don't know a finer group of public servants anywhere. Our work is not over yet. But I've been meaning to ask you, and I'd like to hear your answer: Tell me, so far, has it been worth it? [Applause] Well, I feel just the same way.

 

And I want all of you to keep up your fine work. And to really appreciate what we've accomplished, all you need to do is look back at where we started. In 1981, when we took office, America was in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The only things going up were taxes, inflation, unemployment, and interest rates. The great irony was that the folks who nearly wrecked the economy had run for office saying the issue was competence. [Laughter] Well, just like this year, the other fellows promised competence, but that's not what they delivered. From 1977 to 1981, real family income dropped 7 percent. Not only couldn't working families get ahead, they could barely hold on. That's what the folks who talk about compassion inflicted on the American people. Since we've been in office, real family income has soared nearly 10 percent. I think there's an important lesson there that tells a lot about the difference between us and the other folks: They talk; we deliver.

 

They talk about jobs. We've delivered over 17\1/2\ million jobs in the last 68 months and raised employment to its highest level in history. They talk about economic growth. We've delivered the longest peacetime expansion on record -- over 5\1/2\ years of growth. They talk about peace and security. We've delivered a treaty that eliminates an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles. The Soviets are withdrawing from Afghanistan. Cease-fires have been agreed to in the Persian Gulf and in Angola. And freedom is on the march around the world. They talk about change. Well, we've delivered 8 years of steady change -- change for the better.

 

Back in 1980, when the American people saw that they'd gotten talk, not results, who did they call? Well, they called me and George, the malaise-busters. [Laughter] Well, since we've shown who talks and who delivers, there's no way that America will turn back now.

 

You know, there are only two things that the liberals don't understand: the things that change and the things that don't. [Laughter] The economy and technology -- these things change, and under us, they change for the better. But America's basic moral, spiritual, and family values -- they don't change.

 

What do the American people believe in? Teaching right from wrong, putting criminals behind bars and keeping them there -- [laughter] -- and promoting excellence in education, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, America's tradition of peace through strength, and upholding the Monroe Doctrine -- this is also what we believe in. And that's one reason why the American people are going to vote with us this November and why we're going to hold the White House with George Bush.

 

Now, in laying out our record in the months ahead, each of us can be a force for truth and a player in the national debate. The reason our record of success is important is because that's the proof that our philosophy works, that George Bush's policies work. The other folks talk; George Bush will deliver. The truth is that what we've achieved is just the beginning; the best is yet to come. If the people elect George Bush President so America continues the progrowth economic policies of the last 8 years, the next decade, believe me, will be known as the Roaring Nineties.

 

Some people may cast their vote this year to thank us for the last 8 years. But I expect that most people will vote for George Bush this year because, after voting for him once or twice before, they know that he's their guarantee that peace and prosperity today will be followed by more peace and prosperity tomorrow. And frankly, I don't think the American people want to gamble their future on a blind date. [Laughter]

 

After 8 years of working together, we know that George Bush will be a great President who will continue and expand what we have built together. I've often said that George Bush has been the best Vice President in history, but you can also see that being number two must have been a new experience for a man who was captain of the ball team, who started his own business, and who piloted his own plane. He's been a great Vice President, but I think George will be an even greater President.

 

So, thank you all, and God bless you all. And, George, would you step up here for a minute? I figured with the convention coming up in which you will be the standard-bearer and so forth you could probably use that gavel. And if not there, from experience I can tell you there will be a lot of meetings with congressional leadership in which you can use that. [Laughter]

 

The Vice President. Thank you very much.

 

Note: The Vice President spoke at 11:14 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.