September 3, 1984
The President. Governor Deukmejian, Senator Wilson, the distinguished Members of the Congress, and one who, if you do what's right, and I know you will, is going to again be a Member of the Congress, Bob Dornan, and believe me, I say with pleasure -- fellow Californians:
I knew I was at a Republican rally before I came up here when I heard the voice of Johnny Grant. I think he's pretty traditional with all of us.
All these people here on the dais who are helping so hard, and all of you, you'll forgive me a little home State pride, but I can't help but thank you for giving me an opportunity to get away from those puzzle palaces on the Potomac -- [laughter] -- to return home and kick off our campaign.
I have just been given the latest figures. There are 50,000 of you here in this gathering, and there are 15,000 of you -- I hope who can still hear at least -- but who could not get in, and we're grateful to all of you for your coming out here, too.
Being here among friends, seeing familiar faces, getting just a hint of that breeze from the Pacific Ocean renews our strength and purpose as we start our march to victory this November. And let me add, when people need a little sunshine in their lives and a feel for the optimism that fills the soul of this beautiful country, then I can assure them they'll find it in Orange County.
I told you how many individuals there are, but there's an Orange County, California, to an Orange County in Vermont, to Orange County, Florida, to Orange Country, Indiana, to Orange County, Texas. My friends, we're going to use this national campaign to build a fire of hope that links all America together.
In 1980 we said, ``The time is now to build a new beginning for this beloved nation of ours.'' And in 1984 we're saying that the great crusade we began really never ended; we are just beginning.
We don't seek a victory for any partisan purpose. Today we set out to achieve a victory for the future over the past, for opportunity over retreat, for hope over despair, and to move up to all that is possible and not down to that which we fear.
Eleven days ago in Dallas, we said what is still true today. This election campaign is about the clear choices that will be before the American people. The choice goes to the very heart of our purpose. It's about the vision we see for America, the kind of world we'll leave for our children.
We said that we would welcome to our side Democrats who believed in our cause. And I'm very pleased to have learned since I've been here and to report that right here in Orange County five locally elected officials have changed parties. And this morning I met one of your supervisors who said that he did so as a result of our invitation in the acceptance speech there in Dallas.
Well, this year we present to the people of America a sparkling vision of tomorrow, a belief that greatness lies ahead, only waiting for us to reach out for it. We present to the people four great goals to build our tomorrow. We present a chance, this time a real chance, finally to maintain sustained economic growth without inflation. We offer a challenge to ensure that the United States of America remains today and forever prepared for peace. We put forward a philosophy that proudly proclaims the rich traditional values that fill our lives and have permitted our nation to endure. And we will continue to insist that there is no such thing as a life without uncharted frontiers, and that is our mission -- to seek them, not cringe from them.
Now, we've heard what others have offered to American people today, in this year. They have said that America is nothing if it isn't promises. Well, America isn't about promises; it never has been. America is about promise. It's about possibility. We grew and prospered. We protected our liberties and those of others. We built energetic cities and fed the world. And we did all these things not because of promises, but because we Americans decided that we must see things brightly through the expanding visions of opportunity and vision, and not darkly through the prism of the past.
For too many years, we lived with the idea that there had to be inflation, that we must be satisfied with higher taxes, that high interest rates just might be acceptable, and that government just had to keep growing.
Well, we challenged all those assumptions, because they were false. Together, we began the task of controlling the size and activities of the government by reducing the growth of its spending, while passing a tax program to provide incentives to increase productivity for both workers and industry.
Today, of all the major industrial nations of the world, America has the strongest economic growth, one of the lowest inflation rates -- only one-third of what it was 4 years ago -- the fastest rate of job creation -- 6\1/2\ million jobs in the last 19 months; a record 600,000 business incorporations in 1983 -- and the largest increase in real, after-tax personal income since 1973. We're enjoying the fastest rate of business investment in 40 years. And America has renewed its leadership in developing the vast new opportunities in science and high technology.
The American people deserve all the credit for the way they pulled us from the depths of the economic mess that we were left with. And frankly, I think they have trouble understanding why some people persist in distorting the facts.
Just night before last, a high-ranking official of the AFL - CIO was interviewed on national television. It's hard for me to understand how someone in his position could be as unknowing as he seemed to be about the national employment situation. He charged that our tax policy was beneficial to the rich only, and yet, there had been, as he said, little of that money invested in production facilities to provide new jobs, so unemployment was getting worse.
Well, he might like to know that there are more people employed today in the United States than ever in our history. And as I just noted, more than 6 million new jobs have been created in less than 2 years. In the auto industry alone, there are nearly 150,000 more people employed than were working in 1980 in that industry. As for business and industrial development, I just pointed out, it's increased at the fastest rate in any recovery since World War II.
I wonder if he knows that a short time ago the AFL - CIO was supportive of those who wanted to cancel the third year of our tax cut and indexing. Now, that cancellation would have dumped almost three-quarters of the resulting tax increase, 74 percent, on those who are earning less than $50,000 a year. And then he accused me of plotting to destroy the unions. Well, does he know that I'm the only one who ever held this office who is a lifetime member of an AFL - CIO union? I -- --
Audience. Ronnie! Ronnie! Ronnie!
The President. I was six times president of my union, and I led it in the first strike that it ever called. Now, with distortions like these, our detractors would like you to think that we hadn't made any progress.
You know, sometimes they remind me of a baseball story -- I know that my friend, Gene Autry, here, probably knows this story. It's about a baseball rookie and his kind of know-it-all manager. It was a crucial game in the pennant race, tied up in the bottom of the ninth. And this rookie was called on as a pinch-hitter, and he went in and won the ball game with a booming home run that went right over the right center field bleachers. And he crossed third -- or came in around third and crossed home plate with a big grin on his face, and the manager was waiting for him. And the manager ripped into him. He said, ``Your stance was all wrong. Your swing was awkward. You held your arms too high.'' And when he paused for a breath, the kid said, ``Yeah, but how about the distance?'' [Laughter]
Well -- --
Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. [Laughing] All right.
Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. Okay.
Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. Okay. Okay, you talked me into it. [Laughter]
As you see, our job is not done, and that's why we're here. But we've made a pretty good start. And now we can see a future where inflation doesn't consume us, where people can find new and challenging jobs, and where they can finally have some hope that this economy is back on track and America is on top.
Now, rebuilding the economy has also allowed us to restore our ability to keep the peace. The future of America relies completely on the state of our preparedness. We're not out for any territorial gain or to impose ourselves on anyone but, believe me, America must never again let its guard down.
We must always be strong so that we're prepared for peace. Ours is the most peaceful, least warlike nation in modern history. The reason we have a military is symbolized by a sign over the entrance to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State. It says, ``Peace is our Profession.''
Now, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our children and the safety of our Earth, we'll continue to invite all nations, including the Soviet Union, to join us in keeping the peace and in reducing and, yes, ridding the Earth of the awful threat of destructive nuclear weapons.
Building prosperity and maintaining our strength also permit us to keep our strong values -- faith, work, family, neighborhood, freedom, and peace. And those are not just words, they're expressions of what America means, definitions of what makes us a good and loving people.
We must do more than talk about these values; we must restore them and protect them against challenge. And we must use our resources in and out of government to allow our historic values to enrich the lives of all who follow us -- allowing our faith to be heard and to be felt, infusing our schools with the finest of quality, giving law enforcement all the tools they need to fight crime and drugs, and never limiting the opportunities for any American -- all those belong to the future that we will build. And we didn't come all this way as a nation without such values, and we can't step into tomorrow without the continued strength and moral stamina they give us.
Nothing in our future is more technically challenging than our exciting new frontiers. The space shuttle Discovery circles the Earth this very moment. It reminds us that America has always been greatest when it does not shrink from greatness. We must always follow our dreams to distant places and prepare to live in space for peaceful, economic, and scientific gain. That's why I directed NASA to develop a permanently manned space station, and to do it within a decade.
Expanding those frontiers of technology requires boldness of spirit and confidence about what lies ahead. It requires restoring a system of education that demands excellence, that rewards merit, and that can instill in our children the highest level of intellectual achievement. And believe me, on this day, in this year, you and I can say we're not afraid of tomorrow.
You know, President Eisenhower once shared a story that tells us much about ourselves. A government worker had just arrived in Washington in 1953, and he was passing the National Archives building in a taxi and saw this motto carved on one of its pedestals: ``What is Past is Prologue.'' Well, he'd heard that Washington cabdrivers were noted for knowing all the Washington answers, so he asked the driver about that motto. ``Oh, that,'' said the driver, ``well that's just bureaucrat talk. What it really means is, `You ain't seen nothin' yet.''' [Laughter]
Well, as far as we're concerned, that's America's message to the world. We've got everything before us. We're going to build an economy that you can give to your children and say that it will ensure and fulfill the lives of our next generation. We're going to go to work to break the cycles of dependency on government so that free men and women have the surging spirit of boundless opportunity. We're going to build a peace that won't fail if we don't fail. And we're going to be unafraid of exploring all that's beyond this Earth. We're going to leave -- and proudly leave -- sturdy and indestructible values so that in the 21st century our shield will be their shield.
And on this day which celebrates the productive work of men and women everywhere, let us pledge again to revere the past and to learn from it. But let us be determined it is the future we will celebrate. That's our message this year. We'll carry it across America: You ain't seen nothin' yet.
Thank you all, and God bless you. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 11:19 a.m. at Mile Square Regional Park. He was introduced by Gov. George Deukmejian.
Earlier in the morning, the President and Mrs. Reagan attended a reception for local Republican leaders and Reagan-Bush campaign leaders at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine.