Remarks at a Presidential Campaign Rally for George Bush in Los Angeles, California

 

August 24, 1988

 

The Vice President. What a crowd! What a wonderful, enthusiastic crowd! For a minute, I thought we'd come to the welcoming ceremony for Wayne Gretzky. [Laughter] This is fantastic. I want to thank the Governor, the good Duke -- thank him for that introduction -- to urge, with all my heart, the overwhelming reelection of Pete Wilson. That's going to benefit all of us on the ticket.

 

And what a glittering array of stars, each and every one of you. I thank you. And Bob [Hope] -- those kind words about my dad -- thank you very much for that. But we're delighted to be here, Barbara and I. There's a danger -- you have President Reagan, Governor Deukmejian, and George Bush. Watch out -- overdose of charisma. That's not too good. [Laughter]

 

So -- but Mr. President, I was listening to your wonderful speech at the convention, and all I can say is, I am grateful for those most supportive words. And, yes, we are going to go out and ``Win one for the Gipper!'' And November -- that's the one it's going to be. And California is absolutely essential, so Barbara and I will be here. My running mate and his wife, Marilyn, will be here. And we are not going to overlook any single area in this all-important State. I came to ask for your help; with it, I am convinced we can win in November. There is a profound difference between me and my opponent in this election, a difference not only of policies but really of fundamental values. And I believe the two most important issues facing our country are jobs and peace. And that's what I will focus on if elected President, and that's what this election is all about -- jobs and peace.

 

In the last 6 years, we've created 17 million new jobs. Ninety percent of them are full-time. The majority are in higher paying categories. And we're not creating just good jobs and good wages; we're creating better jobs at better wages, and we intend to keep right on doing it. The President met with some of us earlier, and he reminded me that more Americans are at work today than ever before in the history of this country and a greater percentage of the work force is at work than any time in the history of this country. And they're making more money. And they're keeping more of it in their own pockets, where it belongs. And instead of spending it and sending it in to Uncle Sam -- I mean on April 15th -- we are going to keep those tax rates down and hold the line on taxes.

 

The Democrats, probably with that old Carter-Mondale misery index in mind, are running all around the country talking about this swiss-cheese economy. And as I said in New Orleans, that may be how it looks to the three blind mice, but that's not how it looks to the American people. And when they were in charge, it was all holes and no cheese at all. And now we're on the move.

 

And so, I have a program to build on what the Reagan-Bush administration has done: Start with urban and rural enterprise zones; cut the capital gains tax rate to help small businesses get started; keep Congress from regulating business to death; and slash the deficit with a flexible freeze on spending and a line-item veto for the President. There's a good five-point program for you.

 

All we have to do is keep the economy growing at the same rate and guarantee that everyone who wants a job has a job. But we'll never get it done if we return to those discredited policies of tax and spend. And as Governor, my opponent increased taxes so fast that his State was named ``Taxachusetts.'' You've seen the bumper stickers. [Laughter] And if he had -- this is a fact -- if he had increased Federal taxes at the same rate that he's done in Massachusetts, the average American family would be paying $2,300 more this year in income taxes alone.

 

Audience members. Booo!

 

The Vice President. We cannot afford that philosophy in the White House. And our opponents are trying to give America the same old line: the unemployment line. [Laughter] But, of course, if I'm going to be really fair about it, I have to admit that the Governor has created one new job. He has a third man on their ticket and --  --

 

Audience members. Yes!

 

The Vice President. But let me just repeat what I said on taxes. I promise you, if Congress tries to raise the taxes when I'm President -- and you know they will -- I'll say no. And if they try again, I'll stare them right in the eye and say, Read my lips: No new taxes! To the millions of Americans taking out a loan on that new car or a mortgage on their first house, I'm going to say we've cut inflation from double digits to 4 percent. And we've cut those interest rates in half. And I'm not going to let them take it away from you. And to the leaders of this expansion -- the women who helped create the new jobs and filled two out of every three of them -- I say you know better than anyone that equality begins with economic empowerment. You're gaining economic power, and I'm not going to let them take that away from you either. And to the older Americans, we're going to keep that Social Security Trust Fund sound. And we're not going to let them take that security away from the older Americans in this country either.

 

I am worried about foreign affairs and the national security of this country. I'm concerned about my opponent's approach to national security matters. If there's one thing that our President has proved beyond all doubt, it is that weakness and ambivalence tempt aggressors to start wars, and strength and clarity deter aggression and preserve the peace. And we've had a bipartisan consensus on this: Roosevelt, Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, President Ronald Reagan -- all of them understood this, formed a basis for our bipartisan consensus on foreign policy that has kept the peace for 40 years. And I think it is fair to ask whether my opponent understands that. And his policies place him far outside the bipartisan consensus, far out on the liberal leftwing. And that's where he is on these security issues.

 

Let me give you an example. He was the only Governor -- many were approached -- he was the only one to oppose and prevent construction of the groundwave emergency network in his State, a vital communications link, vital to our national deterrent and to the security of the United States of America. And he was the only one that opposed it. And thanks, I'd rather keep this --  -- 

 

Audience members. Booo!

 

The Vice President. I'd rather keep this country prepared. And so, we're going to have a debate on these fundamental, factual issues. When it comes to the land-based part of our triad, it's three positions -- no new MX, no midgetman, no flight testing of new missiles -- that add up to no modernization. And in this troubled world we're in, no modernization amounts to unilateral cuts. And so I ask: Is he discarding the mainstream, strategic doctrine of Democratic and Republican Presidents alike for 30 years? Is he saying we don't need it? And I want to know, and I believe the American people have a right to know, how we're approaching these defense matters. I will make you this pledge: I will keep our forces modern, and I will keep them strong. And I will keep America secure and at peace.

 

My opponent has called a SDI a fantasy. Let me tell you something. The appalling danger of nuclear missiles is no fantasy: It is a nightmare. And he would leave America totally defenseless against missiles, and I will not. I will go forward with the Strategic Defense Initiative and make a safer world for our children. No, I really believe that when it comes to our vital foreign policy and our national defense and, yes, our national intelligence, we cannot take another gamble. The American people gambled once on a moderate-sounding, liberal Governor making vague promises and then avoiding the issues, and we cannot make that mistake a decade later. We must have tough, experienced leadership and someone who's been there and someone you can trust. And I am that man. A lot of the campaign --  -- 

 

Audience members. We want Bush! We want Bush! We want Bush!

 

The Vice President. Today we're entering into a new era in American history: an era of growth and opportunity, an era -- we're strong and hopes are high. But the foundation of our pride -- the people's pride -- is values, old-fashioned American values like family and faith, patriotism, persistence, and really a belief in freedom.

 

And I just have to insert something here. Yesterday, my opponent came out swinging, and of all things -- the Pledge of Allegiance. And what is it about the Pledge of Allegiance that upsets him so much? The Democratic legislature -- now, listen to these facts -- the Democratic legislature in Massachusetts supports it. Ten years ago, they required teachers to lead the pledge, and that remains the law in Massachusetts today because the legislature overrode my opponent's veto by an overwhelming vote. I would have signed that bill. Any constitutional question that someone might raise should be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. And Governor Jim Thompson, who faced a similar choice, made the right choice: signed the same bill, and now it's law in Illinois.

 

And let's face it, my opponent was looking for a reason not to sign that bill. I would have looked for a reason to sign that legislation. It is very hard for me to imagine that the Founding Fathers -- Samuel Adams and John Adams and John Hancock -- would have objected to teachers leading students in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States. I just don't believe that was their concept when they wrote the Constitution of our great country.

 

Now, I've served with a great President, and this is no time to go in the opposite direction. This is the time to build on what we have done and to take this country forward. This is the time to offer hope to every American. Some haven't benefited by this, the longest recovery in history, but if we stay the course and keep this country moving ahead, everyone will benefit.

 

And let me be very, very clear about one last point. I have been very proud, very proud indeed, to serve as Vice President for President Ronald Reagan. And now it is my high honor to once again introduce him to you, his friends and strong supporters -- ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.

 

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

 

The President. Thank you. [Laughter] No. Thank you, Governor Deukmejian, Senator and Mrs. Wilson, and Barbara and Mr. Vice President. Well, now, wait a minute! You're already President of the Senate, so thank you, Mr. President. Now, you know, George, some people have been kind enough to say that I'm a great communicator. But after your speech to the convention, I'd say America has another great communicator. And he's going to be America's next President. And I must confess, I like your running mate, too. He has many more years of experience in dealing with national security issues than the head of the other ticket. He's the author of the Job Training Partnership Act, and thousands of Americans are working today because of that legislation. And he has the most important qualification of all for a copilot: He won't be trying to turn the plane in one direction while the pilot is flying it in the other.

 

Dan Quayle stands for the same principles George Bush and I stand for. We have a big job ahead of us this November. It was more than two decades ago that we first launched, right here in California, our crusade to restore America's freedom and its greatness. We Californians lit the spark here in our State. We nursed it and tended it until it grew into a flame and then into a great beacon fire that has illuminated our nation and inspired the world.

 

As this fire has grown brighter in the last 8 years; as we cut interest rates, as George told you, to half of what they were and inflation to a third of what it was; as we set America on the longest peacetime expansion in history and gave new vitality to America's promise of opportunity; as we restored America's reduction of -- well, I should say strength, not reduction -- I'm jumping ahead of myself here -- [laughter] -- and negotiated the first real reduction of U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles in world history; as we achieved all this, no one has been closer to my side and has contributed more to our success than George Bush.

 

And yet, my friends, I must tell you that everything George Bush and I have done these last 8 years, everything, could be lost faster than you can say furlough. [Laughter] I said in New Orleans that the convention our liberal opponents held in Atlanta was the biggest masquerade since last year's Mardi Gras. [Laughter] Our opponents adopted our rhetoric and our slogans, but every word was like a mask which hid the liberal face of their agenda. When they said opportunity, they meant subsidies. When they said reducing the deficit, they meant raising taxes. When they said strong defense, they meant cutting defense spending. And that's why I've just got to believe that when the American people say election day, they'll mean ``We want George Bush!''

 

Yes, hard as they tried to hide, the liberals gave themselves away when they said that if they're elected, the Reagan era will be over. Well, now, I'd like to ask you something. When George Bush and I took office 8 years ago, America was in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We turned that around and since our expansion began, we've created, as George told you, actually it's been now more than 17\1/2\ million jobs, reduced the unemployment rate to the lowest it's been in 14 years, and presided over the greatest flowering of new businesses and new technology in the history of the world. For every plant that closes in America today, every business that closes, six new ones are started. So, do you want this era to be over?

 

Audience members. No!

 

The President. Well, let me ask you another question. Between 1977 and 1981, the real income of the typical American family dropped by almost 7 percent. Think of what that means -- if somebody were just to cut your paycheck by that much today -- how much less you could buy at the grocery store, the clothes you couldn't get for your children, the books you couldn't buy for their education, and how you might have to cut back when your church or synagogue passes the collection plate each week. Yet that's just what happened under the last administration. Since 1981, the year we took office, real family income has soared almost 9 percent. Do you want this era to be over? [Applause]

 

During the last liberal administration, the Justice Department started to lose interest in narcotics cases. Each year they brought fewer cases, and convictions were down by almost half by their last year in office. Since George Bush and I got in there, Federal narcotics convictions have more than doubled. And while the number of drug users soared during the last administration, it's dropping now. And recently we got the best news of all: High school students have heard the plea of a certain lovely lady I know, and they are saying no to drugs. And that includes no to cocaine. Now, do you want this progress to be lost and this era to be over?

 

Audience members. No!

 

The President. Well, this year, the liberal opposition has fielded a three-headed ticket that doesn't know left from center. [Laughter] They talk about reaching for the center, but on issues like national defense, they've taken positions that only a McGovern could love. [Laughter] As former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger wrote recently, their ticket seems to believe that, in Secretary Schlesinger's words, ``the way to deter war is to be unprepared to respond.'' They would cut the B - 1 bomber, the MX missile, our Strategic Defense Initiative, as George told you, and two carrier battle groups.

 

Audience members. No!

 

The President. In fact, what they plan for the Navy is so bad, by the time they get through, Michael may have to row the boat ashore. [Laughter] He won't have any other choice.

 

Yes, my friends, when our liberal friends refuse to even whisper the ``L'' word and insist that ``this election is not about ideology; it's about competence,'' they're just acknowledging that where they want to take America, America doesn't want to go. They know, as well as you do, as well as our nation does, that the one issue, the only issue, that will matter after Inauguration Day is the issue of direction. Will we reelect peace and prosperity or will we play truth or consequences with trenchcoat liberals? [Laughter]

 

Throughout our history, whenever this great and blessed land has searched for true leadership, it has found it; and this year is no exception. I've worked more closely with George Bush these two terms than with any other member of the administration. I've seen him keep a cool head in hot crises. I've seen his leadership and vision. I've given him some of the most sensitive and difficult tasks that we've had, and he has never let me or the country down.

 

I once said that he is a great Vice President, but I know and I've seen that it didn't come easily. George Bush is a man of action, a man accustomed to command. The Vice Presidency doesn't fit easily on such a man. But George Bush is also a patriot. And so, he made it fit, and he served with a distinction no one has ever matched. Day in, day out, I've sought George Bush's counsel from the very first day of our administration. Believe me, no one is better prepared to lead America into the next decade and to the threshold of the next century, to continue the work that we've begun, to finish the task that is before us, than President George Bush.

 

There's one way, however, that I hope a Bush administration will be different. If it hadn't been for a Republican Senate in our first 6 years, we wouldn't have accomplished half of what we did. If we'd had one these last 2 years, we could have done much more. But today, with the other party in control of both Houses, we face a monkey-wrench Congress, determined to throw almost anything into the gears of government to gum up the works. I hope we can make sure that George Bush has more friends on Capitol Hill than he had on that Pacific Island where he was shot down. And there's no better way to start that than to return Pete Wilson to the United States Senate and to elect Republican congressional candidates to the House.

 

Should I remind you that the gerrymandering that has gone on, particularly in this State, with regard to congressional districts and State legislative districts has been such that in the last election more Californians voted for Republican congressional candidates than there were votes for the Democratic candidates. But the Democratic candidates outnumbered -- when they were elected -- the Republicans elected to that office because they have gerrymandered the district so, that a majority of Californians become a minority when it comes to counting by those districts.

 

Audience members. Booo!

 

The President. Nothing would please me more than for President Bush to have an Inauguration Day gift: a Republican Congress. [Applause] You know, it's time for that.

 

Yes, I had a Republican Senate, one House for 6 years. But in the last 56 years, only one Republican President has had a Republican Congress in both Houses, and that was for only 2 of his 8 years -- during the Eisenhower term. For 56 years, 52 of those years the House of Representatives has been held by the Democrats.

 

Audience members. Booo!

 

The President. Well, on that Inauguration Day -- it's coming -- I know I'll be thinking of the journey we Californians began two decades ago, a journey of rebirth for ourselves and our nation. As it has been so often since then, our choice this year is simple: the future or the past. Back to the past of inflation, humiliation, and malaise; or continue forward with George Bush on the road of hope, opportunity, and peace. We saw here in California a few years ago how quickly a liberal administration could undo years of our good work. Let's not let that happen again.

 

They say our State is close, but I have a hunch I know which way California will go in the end. Because the hope, opportunity, and peace that George Bush stands for are the same things that California stands for. Hope and opportunity in a land of peace. That's what I found when I first climbed on a train and headed here so many years ago. That's what California, like America, has been for so many millions through the years.

 

So, here's my last request to you. Put California in the Republican column this November. Send Pete Wilson back to the Senate. Send George Bush to the White House. And yes, I know I'm copying something that was just said here once before, but I don't mind saying it again: Go out and win one last one for the Gipper!

 

Thank you all. Thank you all, and God bless you.

 

Note: Vice President George Bush spoke at 12:43 p.m. in the Los Angeles Ballroom at the Century Plaza Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Wayne Gretzky, a member of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team; Gov. George Deukmejian; and Senator Pete Wilson.