Remarks at a Senate Campaign Rally for Representative W. Henson Moore in Metairie, Louisiana
September 18, 1986
The President. Thank you all very much. Thank you. And thank you, Henson. You know, they tell me that with my job goes the title of Commander in Chief. And I know that in the military the top commanders can dictate the uniform. And right now I'm dictating the uniform. [The President removed his jacket.] Well, it's wonderful to be here in Louisiana. And it's great to be back on the campaign trail -- it almost feels like 1980 all over again. You know, as I said to my staff when we were taking off on Air Force One, it's great to be out of Washington and back to where the real people are. You make a man feel mighty welcome.
I wish I could -- [applause] -- thank you, I wish I could stay longer, but as you know, Congress is back in session and, well, with a couple of the best here with me and me here, too, I don't think that we should be leaving the rest of them there alone too long. Like the story of the man from Jefferson Parish -- he sent a letter to the IRS saying: Enclosed is a check for $1,000. I cheated on my taxes last year, and I can't sleep at night. P.S.: If I still can't sleep, I'll send you the rest I owe you. [Laughter]
I see a lot of young people in the audience, and I know that many of you are out of schools in Jefferson Parish. And I have a special message for you from my roommate. As I was leaving this morning, Nancy asked me to pass on to you her message. You heard it from us both Sunday night: that when it comes to drugs, please -- for yourselves, your families, for your community and for your country -- just say no. [Applause] Well, thank you, and -- all of you students being here firsthand to learn about our democratic process -- and that's the most important lesson there is to learn in this free country of ours.
I'm real proud to be here with these candidates: Bob Livingston, one of our all-star players of the United States Congress; Richard Baker -- and when I say he's good enough to fill Henson Moore's shoes in the Sixth District, I'm saying a lot. We've also got a top candidate in Clyde Holloway in the Eighth District. Moore, Livingston, Baker, and Holloway -- that's what I call Louisiana's A-Team. And just as Henson told us, it is time for a new day to dawn in Louisiana. And like the sun coming up over the horizon, I see a new Senator for this State -- a fighter for Louisiana, a strong, effective leader, with a reputation for integrity. And I'm talking about our friend Henson Moore, the next United States Senator from the great State of Louisiana. I've seen this man work in Washington, and believe me, there is none better. Henson Moore has a proven record in the Congress.
Audience. We love you, Ronnie! We love you, Reagan!
The President. Thank you. All right.
He's been in the vanguard of the battle to bring America back with pride and patriotism. And with his help in the Senate, we're going to keep America standing tall and proud and free. You know, Henson tells me about when he was a boy growing up in Hackberry, in the southwestern part of Louisiana, and how when he and his friends used to go swimming out in the bayous they'd always have one fellow stay in the boat, keeping a lookout for alligators. Well, I think you'll know what I'm talking about when I say that's why America needs Henson Moore in Washington -- keeping a lookout for Louisiana's interests and keeping America out of the clutches of the liberal tax and spenders.
Now, it's no secret that there are still some folks in Washington who want to put America full speed in reverse -- back to the days when big government, taxes, and inflation were destroying our economy, and military weakness made America a punching bag for every fanatic and two-bit dictator around the world. America used to have a sign around its neck that said, ``Kick Me.'' We threw that sign away, and now it says, ``Don't Tread on Me.'' It's important to remember those days 5\1/2\ years ago, because like gators in the marsh grass, the tax-and-spend crew is still lurking in the shadows, just waiting for a second chance to slash our military and to raise your taxes. We're not going to let them, are we?
The President. The liberal leadership of the Democratic Party hasn't changed; they're still addicted to high taxes and inflation. They're just itching to repeal our tax cuts, to replace our opportunity society with big government policies. And their foreign policy is still the same: slash defense and always, always blame America first.
You know, the liberal tax-and-spenders keep saying: Give us another try. And that reminds me of a story of the farmer who took his son duck hunting. They were sitting there in the blind when a mallard came down, landed on the water right in front of them. Well, the father raised up his gun and fired, and the mallard just kept on sitting there peaceful as could be. He took a second shot, and when the smoke cleared, the mallard was still there, so he tried a third time. And this time the mallard took off and flew away. And the father turned to his son and said, ``Son, you have just witnessed a miracle. You've just seen a dead duck fly.'' [Laughter] Well, those old, wornout policies have about as much chance of flying as a dead duck. It seems that the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party will never change their ways. Still, as I've often said, you don't have to make them see the light -- just make them feel the heat.
So, let's turn up the heat on September 27th. Let's get out that vote, because I'm convinced the bigger the turnout the better Henson will do -- and the better Henson does, the better for Louisiana and for America. It's time for some people to realize the party is over. It's morning and it's time to get back to work. The old politics are out. Louisiana is looking to a bold, new future, and Henson Moore is going to take us there.
You can be proud of Henson Moore. He's earned a reputation in Washington as an effective leader, someone who gets things done for Louisiana, but never at the expense of principle or integrity. He would never put personal ambition above what's good for Louisiana. This State doesn't need a part-time Representative in Washington like Henson's opponent who, as a Congressman, missed over 1,000 votes -- that's the equivalent of 2 whole years of work. Louisiana needs an effective advocate in Washington, and believe me, there is no better leader to take Louisiana into a new day than Henson Moore. During his years in Congress, he's been an untiring advocate of a strong America. Due in great part to Henson's effectiveness in the Congress, America is rebuilding its defenses and has once again regained its rightful role as leader of the free world.
Now, you know, some people -- and without wanting to flatter me -- have referred to me as a super patriot. Well, I guess maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I don't think you can love America too much. It's like what that great Broadway star years ago, George M. Cohan, used to say to his critics when they called him a flag-waver. ``Sure I'm a flag-waver,'' he said, ``but tell me this -- can you think of a better flag to wave?'' My friends, it isn't just patriotism that's back in style, it's words like hope and vision and future and optimism. Those are the words to describe a nation like this one -- a nation full of builders and dreamers and visionaries.
And I'm down here to tell you today that Henson Moore is one of those builders and dreamers and visionaries. Under his leadership, and with some help from his friends in the administration, it's going to be comeback time for Louisiana. With Henson's help, we cut our tax rates, squashed inflation, spurring an economic expansion that has already created over 11\1/2\ million new jobs. Today employment, the percentage of Americans working, is at a record high. Not many people know that the potential employment pool is officially considered to be everyone in America, male and female, from 16 years of age up. And today 61.2 percent of that pool of Americans is employed, which is the highest percentage in the history of this country. But we're not going to stop there. We're going to keep this country growing until every State and every sector of the economy joins in America's prosperity, until every American, every Louisianan, who wants a job has a job.
It's not fair that Louisiana is being held back from joining in America's prosperity -- and one of the things holding this State back is the old-style politics as usual. Believe me, Louisiana isn't the only place where the total domination by one party has led to stagnation, arrogance, and the abuse of power. Back in 1980 we faced the same situation in Washington until we ended over 30 years of one-party control in the Senate, breaking the logjam and putting America back on the road to prosperity. We did bring America back. And it's time to break that one-party logjam in this State and bring Louisiana back, too. And Henson Moore is the man to do it. America has slain some mighty dragons in the last 6 years, but Henson and I both know we've got a lot more to slay. I know and you know that a strong energy industry is essential to our national security. And that's why we're working to deregulate natural gas, we're fighting to repeal the windfall profits tax and the fuel use act, and why we're increasing the strategic petroleum reserve. And at the urging of Henson Moore and others, we will undertake a high-level review of America's energy-related national security concerns. America must never again be left dependent upon unreliable foreign sources of oil. And talk about an effective advocate for your State: Henson came to the Oval Office and we agreed on a resolution to the 8G issue on the division of offshore oil revenue -- meaning more than $600 million for Louisiana this year. And that's what I call real leadership. Congratulations, Henson.
And to help our struggling farmers, we've been the most aggressive administration on record in opening up foreign markets for our agricultural products. We've worked effectively to increase exports for cotton and rice farmers, because we know that farmers don't need more government programs, they need more profits.
I've come here today to tell you that this election in 1986 will be a crucial moment of decision for our country: Will America remain strong, proud, and patriotic, or will liberal policies return us to the days of weakness and vacillation? The next couple of years will decide: Will we continue to extend America's prosperity to every corner of the nation, or will all our hopes for the future only be written on the wind? Whether we keep control of the Senate will mean the difference between 2 more years of moving forward or 2 years of stalemate and regression. I didn't seek reelection to be a 6-year President. There are too many critical challenges still before America and too much business to be completed, and I can't have my hands tied by a totally hostile Congress. Together, we can win the Senate. Together, we can send Henson Moore to Washington and keep America moving forward.
Now, I hope that you've noticed that I've been careful to refer to the liberal leadership, the leadership of the Democratic Party. And that's because I believe that the liberals who've taken control of that once great party don't represent the vast majority of hard-working, patriotic Democrats. I know I couldn't face a throng this large without knowing that many of you are Democrats and many of you also were Democrats and changed, including me -- I was one, too.
You know, it reminds me -- a little example of what happened some years ago and has kept on, something that happened to me when I was the drum major of the YMCA boys band in Dixon, Illinois. We were in a nearby town marching in their Declaration Day parade. And the parade marshal, on a big white horse, turned -- he was leading us -- and turned and went back down the parade route to see if everything was coming along all right. I'm now out in front leading the parade with my baton. And all of a sudden the music began to sound like it was getting faint, and I looked over my shoulder. Well, the marshal had ridden back just in time to get the band to turn a corner. And I was walking down the street all by myself. [Laughter] Well, that's exactly what's happened to the Democratic Party. The leadership is still walking down a street alone -- the Democratic rank and file turned to the right a long time ago.
I can sympathize with the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party, having walked down a street alone for a while. I know how tough it can be to break with tradition. As I told you, I was one once, and I know how tough it can be to change parties. But I remember what Winston Churchill said when, in the British Parliament, he changed parties and was criticized for this. He said, ``Some men change party for principle'' -- I mean, ``Some men change principle for party, and some change party for principle.'' And he had done the latter. So, I want all of Louisiana to know: The door is wide open; come on in and make yourself at home. You'll like it over here.
Remember that the Senators, the congressmen, the legislators you elect will determine the future of America -- your future. We have a choice: to vote for a candidate of the past who wants to turn the clock back or a candidate of the future who wants to complete our revolution. I know which way the people of Louisiana will choose. You're going forward with faith and hope in your hearts, forward to a future that's as big as our dreams. And you're going forward with Henson Moore in the United States Senate. So, when you go to the polls, win one for Henson Moore, win one for Bob Livingston, Richard Baker, and Clyde Holloway, win one for the great State of Louisiana, win one for America. And, if you'll forgive me for this, win one for the Gipper!
Thank you all. God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 11:39 a.m. in Lafreniere Park. He was introduced by Representative Moore.