June 23, 1981

The President. Good afternoon, and welcome to the White House.

You know, it's always heartening to see young people in politics, and it is especially for me, because when I first became active and ran for Governor in California, it was in those riotous days of the sixties. Now, during the last election, the difference was that I couldn't help but notice that wherever we went, there was a large contingent of Teen Age Republicans who were working their hearts out in the campaign.

You had a significant impact on the outcome in the last election in a number of areas. You walked the precincts, you licked stamps, stuffed envelopes, got senior citizens to the polls, and babysat while mothers voted. It may not sound very glamorous, but it's absolutely essential and especially in this era of campaign spending limitations. And it very often, what you did, makes the difference between winning and losing. It happens on election day -- [applause] -- --

You know, during the last decade there was a vocal minority of American young people who were attracted to, let us say, alien ideologies. And they got the lion's share of the public attention, while many good things were accomplished by young people such as Teen Age Republicans, and that went unacknowledged because the attention was being paid the other way. That's nothing new, however. President Woodrow Wilson noted the same thing way back in 1914. When he was speaking of young people, he said, ``They're generally thought of to be arch-radicals. As a matter of fact, they're the most conservative people I've ever dealt with.''

You Teen Age Republicans are doing a tremendous job, and I think that's tremendous testimony to Barbie Wells,[National Teen Age Republican director] who's really made the TARs the vibrant organization that it is today. There she is, back there. Barbie, bless you and thank you.

Somebody even mentioned that you've got a club in Dixon, Illinois, and they have a delegation here today. That's my hometown. Dixon, well -- oh, there's one of those hats from the Inaugural, yes. Well, welcome. That's where I spent my Huck Finn days and grew up and lifeguarded on the Rock River every summer for seven summers -- --

Audience member. How about Geneseo?

The President. I played football down at Geneseo. As a matter of fact, it snowed that day. [Laughter]

I understand that your organization has almost 120,000 members with clubs spread throughout the 50 States. Our country does offer an opportunity to participate in the political process. Remember, it's the activists, the ones who put out the time and effort, who determine the future. And your activities are certainly a chance to learn about government, but more than that, you're actually making history.

I want you to spread the word that there's opportunity for young people in the Republican Party, and we want young people to play a vital role, because our party believes in America's future. And sometimes I'm inclined to believe that there are others around that have a very dim view of the future. Well, don't you believe it. You're going to have better opportunities than we had. You're going to know finer things. And there is a very bright future out there; we just have to quit listening to the doom-criers and getting government off our backs and out of our pockets, and then you'll have that -- [applause] -- --

I want to thank you for all that you've done and what you will do for our party. And one can't help but have renewed confidence in seeing all of you today. So, good luck at your leadership conference.

And now, before I have to get back in there for some things that have still to be done today, I think you should know, if you don't already know, that some congratulations are in order. And I'm delighted to have this chance to announce today Paul Findley's -- Paul, where are you? Where's Congressman Paul Findley? Way in the back? Well, I can't ask him then if it's all right for me to tell him how many -- but let me just show how easy it is. Today Paul Findley celebrates his 60th birthday. Yes, that makes him a lot younger than the President, who also happens to be in good health. And, incidentally, Paul Findley's from Pittsfield, Illinois, represents the 20th District and is serving his 11th term here in the House.

Well, as I say -- I'm stalling now because I hate to have to leave and go back in there -- [laughter] -- but you've brightened the day considerably by being here, and you've brightened a lot of other days.

I can tell you one of the other reasons I hate to go back in there. You can hear this crack in my voice. That doesn't have anything to do with an incident of several weeks ago. I have found out that I have an allergic reaction to air-conditioning, and we're in the season in Washington where you can't live without air-conditioning and closing the windows. So, I guess I'll be this way till I get to California, which I'm going to do, beginning tomorrow morning. I'm starting on some speaking trips and will wind up in California. So, maybe I'll at least have a few days in which I can talk normally.

God bless you all, and thank you very much for all that you've done and all you're doing and for all -- [applause]. Okay, regards to Dixon, and I'll give my own to California.

Note: The President spoke at 5:04 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.