July 24, 1986
I want you to know that the fellow you see standing before you today considers himself one lucky man. I've been able to visit South Carolina twice in 2 months now. [Laughter] And since South Carolina and I seem to have something going, would you mind if I try to make this a regular thing? [Applause] All right. Strom [Thurmond], I thank you for all those kind words, and it's a great honor and pleasure for me to be here with those who have been introduced at this table.
One of the pleasures about coming here is that I get to tell stories that folks up in Washington don't always understand, stories that might involve, for example, a little southern humor. You know, there's one about a Yankee and a southerner -- since I come from the West, you see, this is not like telling an ethnic story. I can tell it without getting in trouble with either side. But it seems these two were driving along Interstate 20 just outside Columbia when they had a little accident. And they both pulled their cars over and got out. And sure enough, they started to argue about whose fault it was. And then the southerner noticed that the Yankee looked a little pale, went to his trunk and pulled out a bottle that looked potent and says, ``Here, you have a swallow of this. I think it will steady your nerves.'' The Yankee took one swig, and it did calm him right down. So, he took another, and then two or three more. And finally, he stopped and said, ``Say, aren't you going to have some?'' "No,'' the southerner answered, "I think I'll just stand here and wait for the police.'' [Laughter]
Now, I've come to Columbia on serious business, but first I want you to know that these last couple of days we've been doing the kind of thing that I like best: getting away from Washington and getting out among the American people. As Don Regan [Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff] said to me when we got on the plane yesterday, he said, ``Leaving the beltway; now we're going out where the real people are.'' Well, yesterday it was Texas and Florida, and Senator Paula Hawkins there. And today, it's a land of mountains and plains and broad, sandy beaches; of people who look to the future with confidence and to the past with pride. Texas and Florida were just grand, and yet nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina. And I know I shouldn't say this, but I ain't whistlin' Dixie. [Laughter]
Yours is a State with a long and vivid history, but no part of that history is more exciting than the present. Attracting industry from around the world, South Carolina is undergoing an expansion. From the mountain country of Greenville and Spartanburg to the port city of Charleston to the capital here in Columbia, your economy is becoming richly varied and diverse. In education scores are going up. And South Carolina, always renowned for its past, has become famous, as well, as a State of opportunity, a State of the future.
Even when times were tough, you show your mettle. And today South Carolina's farmers are suffering from drought, as are farmers throughout the Southeast. The drought is reaching tragic proportions. The drought is one of the worst of the century, and I want you to know that our administration stands ready to help. I've sent a Federal team to South Carolina and other States to assess the situation. I've directed Secretary of Agriculture Lyng to provide farmers affected by the drought with emergency assistance. He'll hold a press conference in Washington today to describe the details of the help that we're going to provide here in South Carolina and in those other States.
You should know as well that help of an immediate kind has already begun to arrive. We directed Air Force planes to take part in Operation Haylift, flying in forage donated by farmers in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. And that is pretty typical of this land of ours, isn't it? I believe there was a time in your past when that kind of help went the other way -- from this State. In addition, private railroad lines and truckers have begun donating transportation in growing numbers, bringing in still more of the hay that's so badly needed. Just moments ago I was at the airport where some of that hay is, as you've been told, being airlifted in. On the faces of those South Carolina farmers -- what dignity and what determination, to stick it out until better days. I said in Texas yesterday that it isn't just patriotism that's back in style, it's words like hope and vision and future. And today I'd like to add a new word: together. Americans are together again, helping each other as we used to. Indeed, recently there was an article in a Washington paper that suggested the ``me'' decade of the seventies has been replaced by the ``we'' decade of the eighties. And nowhere is that truer than here in South Carolina. My friends, in good times and bad, you've been doing America proud.
And now it's only right for me to recognize some of the South Carolinians who make this State so great. Permit me to begin with a man who's held statewide office in South Carolina since before most South Carolinians were born. He has a special place in my heart because he's one of the few people in Washington who calls me Junior -- [laughter] -- the senior Senator from South Carolina, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and one of the preeminent figures in the life of our nation -- Strom Thurmond.
There is Congressman Floyd Spence, who is an outstanding member of the South Carolina delegation in Washington. There's State Senator Arthur Ravenel, running for Congress down in the First District. There's Bill Workman, mayor of Greenville and candidate for Congress in the Fourth District. And there's Henry McMaster, your nominee for the United States Senate. And to give you some idea of how much I value Henry, he was my appointee for U.S. Attorney here in South Carolina. And Henry proved instrumental in our drug enforcement effort. In fact, his Operation Jackpot was one of the first major breakthroughs in our war on drugs. Now Henry's in a contest that will help determine whether Republicans retain control of the Senate or lose it to the other party.
And could I give you an answer to -- sometimes people bring up, in all this great system of ours, which is replete with checks and balances, I've heard people at times suggest that, well, isn't that one of them to have a Senator from one party and a Senator from the other? No. If you like what Strom Thurmond's doing, why should you send a Senator up there to cancel his vote? And if you want to know how important that is, ask yourself: Who would you rather see as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when it comes time to appoint Federal judges -- Strom Thurmond or a liberal like Joseph Biden or Ted Kennedy? Henry McMaster's race could make just that difference. We're that close with regard to holding our majority. And I know you want to join me in showing Henry that he has our heartfelt support. [Applause]
And getting to that serious business I mentioned, I think you know that I've come here today to say a few words about the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. And I believe you have a pretty good idea that while they've served in the Congress these two men have earned reputations as leaders on Capitol Hill and effective Representatives of the people of this great State. But you know, I've been up there in Washington with them, sharing the same enthusiasms, braving the same battles. I've worked with them. I've seen them under pressure. I've come to know how they think and feel about America. And I just have to tell you no Members of the Congress have ever impressed me more than Congressman Carroll Campbell and Congressman Tommy Hartnett. And by the way, as I glance over there at Carroll and Tommy, I can't help thinking of the phrase the newspapers are using to describe them. And I have a feeling that everyone here will agree with me when I say the newspapers are right: Carroll Campbell and Tommy Hartnett are more than a good ticket; they're the ``dream ticket.''
But in telling you about Carroll and Tommy, permit me to describe what all three of us have been working so hard up in Washington to accomplish. First, there's the economy. Back in the years when we were first elected, the American economy was in the worst mess since the Great Depression. Taxes were rising. Inflation stood in double digits. Interest rates were soaring at the highest levels in more than a century. Unemployment was high and rising. And growth in our economy had ground to a virtual halt. Those who believed in big government blamed the people. Carroll, Tommy, and I believed in you, the people. We blamed big government, not you.
To get big government off your backs and out of your pockets, we slowed government growth; we slashed needless regulations and enacted across-the-board personal income tax cut of nearly 25 percent. Then we indexed taxes, making it impossible for inflation to push you into higher tax brackets anymore. Critics dubbed this plan, as you've been told, Reaganomics and predicted economic ruin. They seemed to say, ``Just wait, the sky will fall.'' Well, something fell all right, but it happened to be interest rates and inflation. And today inflation has fallen from more than 12 percent to under 2. And for the last few months it has been less than zero, while the prime rate of interest has plummeted from more than 20 percent to about 8 percent. We've seen 3\1/2\ years of economic growth. We've seen the creation of more than 10 million new jobs. That's more new jobs than Western Europe and Japan put together have created in the last 10 years. And thanks in large measure to our decontrol of oil, we've seen energy prices tumble, including the price you pay for gas. And isn't it good to pull into the station today and watch the gallons on the pump add up faster than the dollars? Well, you know, all of those things -- I could tell it was working, the whole idea, when they stopped calling it Reaganomics. [Laughter]
But in the midst of this expansion, certain sectors of our economy have lagged behind -- for instance, farming and industries that are sensitive to imports. I pledge to you that I will not rest until every area of our country and every sector of our economy shares in the national prosperity. Now, sometimes Carroll and Tommy and I differ on how to help those hardest hit, but we agree they must be helped. And I assure you, we're in complete accord on our fundamental approach: not more government, more economic growth.
Today Carroll and Tommy are helping with the effort to promote growth by giving our nation comprehensive tax reform, a reform that would enable some 8 out of 10 Americans to pay taxes of 15 percent or less and make the entire system simpler and fairer. Now, I think you already know what I mean when I say the tax code needs to be cleaned up. But if you'll permit me, I'd like you to listen to something. I want to read from the Internal Revenue Code. This is just one sentence at the end of one provision, the last sentence of section 509A of the code: ``For purposes of paragraph 3, an organization described in paragraph 2 shall be deemed to include an organization described in section 501C 4, 5, or 6 which would be described in paragraph 2 if it were an organization described in section 501G 3.'' [Laughter]
Now we have the opportunity to scrap this tax code that's smothering us with high taxes and endless complexities and replace it with one that actually promotes fairness and economic growth. Now, I realize in the tax reform package it doesn't get after these things within that program, such as I've just read. We started out in 1913 with 16 words in the amendment that created the income tax. Today it takes a shelf 57 feet long to hold all the books of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations and so forth pertaining to that tax. Now, as I say, doing away with the 57 feet of books isn't contained in the program. But that tax reform program will make it possible for us to get in there and start weeding out and thinning out things like this, so that April 15th won't be the miserable day that it is for all of us right now. As I said recently in Alabama, the American people need only consider the prospect to say to themselves, ``Hot darn!'' That's all I'm allowed to say. You know what I mean. [Laughter]
In addition to taking part in this economic restoration, Carroll and Tommy have lent unstinting and stalwart support to the rebuilding of our nation's defenses. With their help, we've taken the Navy from fewer than 480 battle-ready ships to more than 540 -- well on the way to our goal of 600. We've provided new and better equipment throughout the services. And we've seen morale among our men and women in uniform surge as we've given them the pay and the training that they deserve. You know, of all the things that go with this job, I'm more proud of the young men and women in uniform in our country today than of anything else. You might be interested to know that they have the highest level of intelligence ever in the history of our military. We have the highest percentage of high school graduates than ever in the history of the military; even when, in those times of stress, we've resorted to the draft. Here we are with an all volunteer military, and they have reached that high level.
You know, you in South Carolina have always treated the Armed Services with esteem, even when other regions in the country thought it was somehow unstylish or old-fashioned. And isn't it good to have the entire Nation join you once again in treating our men and women in uniform with respect? I get letters from them every once in a while, and I don't even bother to put them in a file. I put them in the drawer of my desk so I can keep looking at them every once in a while. One youngster with the marine -- or with the submarine division -- and he wrote me. And his one line that closed it -- he said, ``We might not be the biggest navy in the world anymore; we're just the best.'' Something else, I just have to believe it will be one long stretch before any nickel-and-dime dictator or terrorist chooses to tangle with the United States of America.
And now, I served as a Governor myself for 8 years, and I can tell you that the experience your next Governor has gained up in Washington will serve him well -- very well -- here in South Carolina. Through four terms in Congress, Carroll has demonstrated his belief in lean and efficient government. And you can be sure he'll carry that belief with him from Washington to Columbia. Through four terms, Carroll has shown his dedication to economic growth, again. He'll carry that dedication from Washington to Columbia, keeping taxes low; attracting new businesses and industry; and providing new incentives to work, save, and invest. In the Congress, Carroll has come to understand the importance of education to all that we as a nation hope to achieve, especially to economic growth. And so it is that here in South Carolina Carroll has made excellence in education a centerpiece in this gubernatorial campaign. And in supporting tax reform in the Congress, Carroll has manifested a willingness to take sweeping and dramatic action, a willingness he can put to good use when the "dream ticket'' becomes the "dream team.''
You know, there's a certain quality the people of South Carolina set in -- set store in, I should say, just as surely today as you have throughout your history. It must be the most important quality a man in public life can have, and it's what this gubernatorial contest is all about. The quality is leadership. I want you to know that the man leading your ticket, the man it's been my privilege to work with throughout my administration, has again and again proven himself a public servant of foresight, integrity, patriotism, and courage. In short, Carroll Campbell is just what the great State of South Carolina needs and deserves: a leader. Carroll's told me about his plans for South Carolina, and it reminds me of all we did back when I was Governor of California. Incidentally, Carroll, I can't resist telling you that some things happened -- when I became Governor, the situation in California at that time was just about what it was in Washington in 1980. And a few months after I'd been there, and every day somebody coming at me with a new problem -- and one day on the way into the office I had a disc jockey on the car radio -- was listening to him -- and then, between records, he piped up with something that -- he won my heart. Out of a clear blue sky, I heard this fellow say, ``Every man should take unto himself a wife, because sooner or later something's going to happen that you can't blame on the Governor.'' [Laughter]
Carroll's also pointed out that when I was running for President this last time and he was my State chairman, his opponent in this race served as the principal spokesman for that other fellow. Sort of looks as though what's shaping up here in South Carolina is a replay of the contest between Reagan and Mondale. Carroll, just go easy on him. [Laughter] But I say this only half in jest. You see, this race in South Carolina has national importance. It pits the new against the old, trust in the people against belief in big government, the sound values of the people of this State against the schemes and social programs of the liberal Democratic leadership.
And I emphasize that leadership. I know that I couldn't be in a room in South Carolina with this many people that there weren't others in here, like myself, who were Democrats and switched. I know also that there're probably some in here who are still Democrats. And that's fine. Because I don't know whether you're aware that a political science study was made not too long ago about the two political parties and what has happened. First they checked on all of the delegates to the two national conventions -- and seeing them as the leaders of their two parties. And then they checked them against very solid issues of the day and found that those leaders of the two parties were polls apart. Then they checked the rank and file membership of the Democratic and Republican Parties across the Nation and found the rank and file membership of the two parties were virtually identical and that the rank and file Democrats -- good, patriotic citizens in this country -- were way out of step with the leadership that has somehow gotten control of that once great party.
I mentioned a moment ago that yesterday we were in Texas and Florida. And not long before that I spoke in Alabama, and before that in New Jersey. And everywhere I've gone, I've seen something that touched me, something that gives heart to all of us who can still remember the self-doubt, the weakness abroad and at home, that marked so much of the sixties and the seventies. And I see it here today in Carolina. Call it confidence, self-assurance, what you will. It's a renewed understanding that, for all our faults, ours is a nation of goodness and greatness; that despite our mistakes in the world, we've stood for human freedom with greater consistency and courage than any other nation in history; that if only we have faith, if only we look not to government but to ourselves, we can build upon this economic expansion to create a new and lasting era of prosperity. Now, come to think of it, what I've seen has a name. It's called patriotism. This new confidence and energy, this new patriotism, is what Carroll and Tommy and I've been working in Washington to achieve. And now Carroll and Tommy want to carry on their work here at home. And my friends, let's help them win one -- win one for you and for South Carolina and, if you won't throw me out for this, win one for the Gipper. [Laughter]
Well, now it's time for some of us here to head back to Washington. You can't leave that place alone too long, you know. [Laughter] But before we go, there's just one thing I have to mention. When I visited South Carolina back in 1980, it was my birthday. And today it's that special day for someone else. Happy Birthday, Carroll Campbell.
Thank you. God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 12:44 p.m. at the University of South Carolina Coliseum. Carroll A. Campbell was the Republican gubernatorial candidate, and Thomas Hartnett was the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Prior to the luncheon, the President attended a reception for major donors to the candidates' campaign. Following the luncheon, he returned to Washington, DC.