Remarks at a Columbus
Day Dinner in
The President. Thank you, Governor Kean, and thank you all very much. And let me offer my
special thanks to John Renna, the Italian-Americans
that was almost 500 years ago, and few people could imagine where we would be
today. Tonight, for example, we're eating a delicious hot meal, sitting on top
of an ice-skating rink, listening to a speech by the President -- this could
only happen in
I also want to give special mention to my friend, Pete Dawkins. He's athlete,
scholar, soldier, and businessman. Running for the United States Senate, he
shares our values. He has a record of leadership. And
You know, with this great reception you've given me, it's hard to believe that once upon a time to be a Republican around here felt a little like Gary Cooper in ``High Noon'' -- [laughter] -- outnumbered in a big way. But I remember the story of a fellow who was running for office as a Republican once in a rural area. And he stopped in at a farm and thought he'd do a little door-to-door campaigning. And when the farmer heard he was a Republican, his jaw dropped, and he said, ``Wait right here till I get Ma. She's never seen a Republican.'' [Laughter] So, he got her. But while he was going for her, the candidate was looking around, figured he'd make a little speech, and he was looking for something he could use as a platform. And the only thing he could find was a pile of that stuff that Bess Truman took 35 years trying to get Harry to call fertilizer. [Laughter]
So, he got up on the mound, and there they were, and he gave his speech. And at the end of it, the farmer said, ``That's the first time I ever heard a Republican speech.'' And the candidate said, ``That's the first time I've ever given a Republican speech from a Democratic platform.'' [Laughter]
Well, all that, as they say, is history -- or should I say ancient history, which at my age is a subject that I'm regarded as an expert in. You know, for a short time I was also regarded as an expert in economics. They named an economic policy after me. It was a thing that we had started 8 years ago, and they were making fun of it, and so they called the program Reaganomics. And then it became clear that the program was working beyond anyone's expectations. The funny thing is that they stopped calling it Reaganomics.
you know, we are now in the longest peacetime expansion ever recorded. We are
now in the 71st month of growth. And since the recovery began, the unemployment
rate in the
with regard to the Federal budget deficit and all the campaign rhetoric, I
think our critics ought to read article I, sections 8 and 9 of the
Constitution. Congress passes the budget each year; I don't. The President of
Well, you see, our program has helped middle-income families make their paychecks go further. The drop in interest rates has made homeownership more affordable. The drop in inflation has protected the savings of the citizens and has helped those who live on fixed incomes. And our tax reductions and indexing have guaranteed that a family's purchasing power will not be eroded by tax-bracket creep.
think it's important to note that today when hard-working people like you put
in long days to provide for your family, to give them a better future, the
Government lets you keep more of what you've earned instead of confiscating it
through higher taxes and runaway inflation. But back in
Of course, the liberals still don't understand how we were able to get rid of their economic crisis, their ``malaise'' -- remember that word from back 8 years ago -- their inflation, their gas lines, and turn this economy around. So, in this campaign they're treating the good times as if they're a given, as if they just automatically happen. Their message is: You can take prosperity for granted. It's time for a change, so take a chance on us. Well, you know, that's sort of like someone telling you that if you've stored up all the cold beer you could want, now it's time to unplug the refrigerator. [Laughter] But whether it's a well-stocked refrigerator or our progrowth economic policies, you can't unplug what's working and expect things to stay the same.
there's another point I want to make here. What we've done with the economy is
very important, and we must make sure that it continues. But our special
strength as a nation, as you all know so well, is that, yes, we can march into
the future, leading the world into a new age of growth, technology, and
innovation; but we can do so without leaving behind the vital moral foundation,
the basic values of faith and family that make ours a great nation and on which
all that we've accomplished has been built. Yes, the family is the bedrock of
this nation. But it's also the engine that gives our country life; it is the
reason that we produce. It's for our families that we work and labor so that we
can join together around the dinner table, bring our children up the right way,
care for our parents, and reach out to those less fortunate. It's the power of
the family that holds the Nation together, that gives
as I've said before, there really are only two things the liberals don't
understand: the things that change, and the things that don't. The economy,
technology -- these things change, and under us for the better. But
For example, some liberal organizations believe that separation of church and state requires ending the Catholic Church's tax exemption, or removing the words ``under God'' from the Pledge of Allegiance. Is that what you believe?
Audience members. No!
The President. They favor the right to retail what they call nonobscene child pornography and think we should repeal the criminal penalties for selling marijuana. Is that what you believe?
Audience members. No!
The President. They think tuition tax credits for children in parochial schools are unconstitutional, that prostitution should be legalized, but the children should be denied the right to begin their schoolday by joining with their classmates in a voluntary prayer. Is that what you believe?
Audience members. No!
The President. No, that's not what we,
or most Americans, believe. And with outstanding judges like Anthony Kennedy,
Sandra Day O'Connor, and Antonin Scalia,
we're showing that, despite what the liberals may think,
Now, I'm not saying that all or even most liberals agree with all of these far-out views. But these issues, and there are other examples, raise an important question. You recall a few years back, political figures had to disassociate themselves from groups on the right with crackpot, far-out views. Well, isn't it now time for responsible people to do the same thing with far-out groups on the left? [Applause]
Let me take a moment to tell you something I've never said before. You know I'm a former Democrat. And it's often said that the once-proud Democratic Party of F.D.R. and Harry Truman is dead and gone; that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the left; that the departure from the mainstream that we began to see at their 1968 convention now defines the party at the national level, especially the liberal leadership in Congress. But there's something you should know.
The party of F.D.R. and Harry Truman couldn't be killed. The party that represents people like you and me, that represents the majority of Americans -- this party hasn't disappeared. The fact is we're stronger than ever. You see, the secret is that when the left took over the Democratic Party, we took over the Republican Party. We made the Republican Party into the party of working people; the family; the neighborhood; the defense of freedom; and, yes, the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance to ``one nation under God.'' So, you see, the party that so many of us grew up with still exists, except that today it's called the Republican Party. And I'm asking all of you to come home and join me.
You know, I cast my first vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. And his platform then was to cut Federal spending by 25 percent, to restore authority and autonomy to the local communities and States from which it had been unjustly seized by the Federal Government, to eliminate useless boards and commissions. Well, now, which party does that represent today? That has to be our party. Those are the things we've been doing and trying to do.
the liberals may try to mouth some of our words, but they often mean something
very different. When they talk about ``family,'' they mean ``Big Brother'' in
One of the liberal congressional staff members behind the bill was asked by a reporter if this was true -- that grandmothers would have to get Federal licenses to take care of their own grandchildren. And the reply came, Yes, of course, it's true. After all -- and here's the quote: ``How else can you design a program that receives Federal funds?'' Licensing grandmothers -- can you believe it? Next thing you know, they'll say that grilling sausages is an environmental hazard. [Laughter]
What, in fact, is the big news of the 1988 campaign: that this campaign is developing on the issues, and the American people are finding out what I said some time back -- that the policies of the opposition can be characterized as liberal, liberal, liberal! And the darnedest thing about the liberals is no matter how many times you defeat them they just can't take the hint. [Laughter]
know, I'm reminded of a story. Yes, it's one of my stories. It's about a man
who aspired to an opera career, and he got a job in pictures, acting in motion
He was invited to sing at La Scala, the very spiritual fountainhead of opera. They were doing ``Pagliacci.'' And he, in his part, sang the beautiful aria ``Vesti la Giubba.'' When he finished singing, the applause from the orchestra seats and the balconies and the galleries was so sustained and so thunderous that they couldn't continue the opera until he stepped back and repeated the aria as an encore. And again, the same sustained and thunderous applause. And again, he sang ``Vesti la Giubba.''
And finally, he motioned for quiet. And he tried to tell them how much this welcome meant to him in this, his first appearance in opera. But he said, ``I have sung `Vesti la Giubba' nine times now. My voice is gone. I cannot do it again.'' And a voice from the balcony said, ``You'll do it till you get it right.'' [Laughter]
today, as we think about
think many of you know that we recently marked the 50th anniversary of the
But the liberals would break faith with anti-Communist freedom fighters. They oppose a strategic defense against nuclear missiles. They would cancel essential defense systems and receive nothing in return. They're against the B - 1 bomber, and they would wipe out two carrier battle groups with their proposal. And even when they say they now favor weapons like the new Trident missile and the Stealth bomber, listen closely, and you hear them whisper that it's just in theory that they favor these systems; they're not prepared to deploy them.
Well, but in a dangerous world, weapons that don't exist don't count. Let's remember, the Soviets did business because they saw that we meant business. But today there are those who have forgotten the ancient principle of peace through strength. And their innocence and naivete would put in question all that we've achieved since Vice President Bush and I took office, all the progress toward ending the twin evils of totalitarianism and nuclear terror.
know, when I see our tanks I think of the defense of the free world. Of course,
other people now look at our tanks and think of what a
over the last 8 years,
there's one last issue, yes, more important than even all the other crucial
matters we've already discussed. Ladies and gentlemen, just a few years ago, I
wonder how many of us could really have believed then that so many of our
fondest dreams for
What a great moment we have before us, and, oh, how future generations will dishonor us if now, in a moment of sudden folly, we throw it all away. So, let's go forth then, you and I, to tell the American people what is really at stake: the fate of generations to come, a hopeful vision of a world of freedom and a bountiful future of reverence and peace for our children and the children of all the world.
So, yes, some say that it's time for a change. But, ladies and gentlemen, let us remember, we are the change. We started it 8 years ago. They'd had almost 50 years of their policy. We're going to continue it and extend -- our policy, I mean -- extend that to Congress, if you do the right thing at the polls on November 8th. Now is a time for action, not complacency. It's a time to keep the progress moving, not to sit tight or slip backwards. I think George Bush had it right at the convention: If you have to change horses in midstream, doesn't it make sense to get on one that's going the same direction you are?
Now, before I quit, I'm going to do something. It's become a hobby of mine. I've been collecting stories, jokes, that I can absolutely prove are created by the people of the Soviet Union among themselves and that they tell to each other, and they reveal a great sense of humor and also a little cynicism about how things are there. I've got quite a collection now, and I even told two of them to Gorbachev and got a laugh. There are several others I wouldn't tell him. But I'd just like to close by telling you one that I did tell him, and he laughed at.
know, less than one family out of seven in the
He was late getting to the Kremlin. There was his limousine and driver waiting. He told the driver to get in the back seat. He'd drive. And down the road he went. They passed two motorcycle cops. One took out after him. And pretty soon he's back with his buddy. And his buddy says, ``Well, did you give him a ticket?'' And he said, ``No.'' Well, he said, ``Why not?'' ``Oh,'' he said, ``too important.'' Well, he said, ``We're told to give anybody a ticket, no matter who it is.'' ``Oh,'' he said, ``no, no. This one was -- I couldn't.'' Well, he said, ``Who was it?'' He said, ``I couldn't recognize him, but his driver was Gorbachev.'' [Laughter]
Well, thank you all very much. You're sending me out of here, I think, 3 inches taller than I came. God bless you all. Thank you.
Note: The President
spoke at in the