Remarks at a Senate Campaign Fundraising Luncheon for Representative W. Henson Moore in New Orleans, Louisiana
September 18, 1986
Thank you very much, all of you, and thank you, Henson, for that kind introduction. Incidentally, I just couldn't resist, I just made a little check over my shoulder here when Henson gave that figure on the crowd out there. And when it's the Secret Service that tells you how many there are there, it isn't an estimate, they've counted. [Laughter]
Well, it's wonderful to be here in New Orleans. We just had a humdinger of a rally out there in Jefferson Parish, as you've been told. And as I said there, it's great to be back on the campaign trail again. It feels almost like 1980 again. And the way they were cheering Henson Moore, it sounded like a homecoming game for the LSU Tigers. With the kind of enthusiasm that I've been seeing here today, I can tell the people of this State want someone representing them in Washington who's got a reputation for integrity -- someone who is progrowth, prodefense, and pro-America. And I can tell that pretty soon you're going to be sending Henson Moore to Washington as the next United States Senator from the great State of Louisiana.
You know, there was a time that being a Republican in this area of the country felt a little bit like being Gary Cooper in ``High Noon'' -- [laughter] -- outnumbered in a big way. [Laughter] I remember the story of the fellow here a while ago who was running for Congress as a Republican. He stopped by a farm to do some campaigning, and when the farmer heard he was a Republican, his jaw dropped and he said, ``Wait right here,'' he said, ``while I get Ma. She's never seen a Republican before.'' [Laughter] So, he got Ma. And the candidate looked around for a podium to give his speech from -- 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 that mound, and when they came back, he gave his speech. At the end of it the farmer said, ``That's the first time I ever heard a Republican speech.'' The candidate said, ``That's the first time I've ever given a Republican speech from a Democratic platform.'' [Laughter]
All that, as they say, is history. More and more, the people of this State are rejecting the old politics as usual. As I said in Lafreniere Park, it's time for a new day to dawn in Louisiana. The party is over, and it's time to get back to work. There's a lot of work that still needs to be done to build the kind of future Louisiana deserves, and Henson Moore is the one to do it.
He's been a leader in the Congress in our fight to bring America back -- to build her strong with pride and patriotism. He's someone who gets things done for Louisiana, but never at the expense of principles or integrity. Louisiana doesn't need a part-time Representative in Washington, you need a Senator who speaks the same language as the majority and the President. I remember when Henson came to the Oval Office and we agreed on a resolution of the 8G issue in the division of offshore oil revenue -- meaning more than $600 million for Louisiana this year. And that's what I call leadership, and that's what Louisiana will get from Henson Moore.
But, you know, Henson's election will have reverberations way beyond the borders of Louisiana. His election would mean the difference between keeping control of the Senate or losing it to the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. And that's the difference between 2 more years of progress or 2 years of paralysis. I didn't seek reelection to be a 6-year President. There are too many exciting challenges still before America, too much business that still must be completed. I cannot and will not 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. You know, my name will never be on the ballot again, but don't think you can't vote for me. In a way, if you would like to vote for me again, vote for Henson Moore so that we can have a Republican Senate that'll work with me instead of against me and be around after I'm gone.
We can't stop until America's growing prosperity reaches into every corner of this country. We're making dramatic progress, but in some sectors we've still got a ways to go. It just doesn't seem fair that Louisiana is being held back from joining in America's prosperity by the old-style politics as usual. Believe me, Louisiana isn't the only place where the total domination of one party has led to arrogance and an 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. And we did bring America back. It's time to break the one-party logjam in this State and bring Louisiana back, too. And Henson Moore is the man that can do it.
Now, maybe you've noticed that I was careful before to say that I was talking about the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. And that's because I believe the liberals who've taken control of that once great party don't represent the vast majority of hard-working, patriotic Democrats all across this country. And, no, I don't mistake the rank and file of the Democratic Party for its liberal leadership. And I'm grateful for all the help that these honest Democrats have given us these last few years. I'm sure there must be a number in this room who are and a number also who were and changed. Some of them may be former Democrats as I am; some haven't made the change. But we couldn't have been elected in 1980, we couldn't have brought America back, without the help of those Democrats. Because like us, they believe in the values of family and faith and love of country. Our Democratic allies deserve a vote of thanks, a real round of applause for all they're doing for America.
You know, a while ago, Richard Baker, the excellent candidate who's running for Henson Moore's seat, came up to visit me at the White House. And I've had many of your fine State and local officials over, too. You know, all of them were lifelong Democrats who switched to the Republican Party. And they said to me that the proud Democratic Party of their fathers' day and their grandfathers' day was no more. It had been captured by the liberal wing and dragged way over to the fringes on the left.
And I told them that I know how tough it is, and can be, to change parties; how hard it is to break with tradition. I was working for Republican candidates for some time before I got around to changing my registration. And I was just taken for granted by the Republicans by that time that I was one of them. I'd campaigned for their candidates and gone to their fundraisers. And one night I was speaking at a fundraiser, and right in the middle of my speech a woman stood up out in the middle of the audience, and she said, ``Have you reregistered yet?'' [Laughter] And I said, ``No, but I'm going to.'' She said, ``I'm a registrar.'' [Laughter] She came right down and put the papers on the podium, and I signed up and then said, ``Now, where was I?'' [Laughter]
It is tough to change. But it's important to remember what Winston Churchill said about changing parties, ``Some men change principle for party, and some change party for principle.'' You know, one of the first to ever see what was happening in that party was many years ago, and long enough ago that I could say I was a young man then. [Laughter] And it was Mr. Democrat, himself, in the north -- Al Smith -- who'd been candidate of the party for President. And Al Smith went out of his way to get time on nationwide radio -- no TV in those days -- and on nationwide radio he made a speech that was really an unusual thing. He told that the leadership of his party must have been in swimming and somebody else stole their clothes and became the leadership. And then, he said -- while he was a Democrat and always had been -- he said, ``I'm taking a walk.'' And that speech and that line of his -- I'm taking a walk -- was the forerunner of what so many more of us have come to know.
I know that it's kind of cliche to say, well, I didn't leave the party, the party left me. The funny thing is: It not only did that, but the party's changed. When I cast my first Democratic vote -- 21 years old -- for Roosevelt, the Democratic Party platform called for a 25-percent reduction in the cost of government; the return of authority and autonomy to the States and local communities that had been unjustly seized by the Federal Government; and the elimination of useless agencies, bureaus, and commissions in the Federal Government. Which party today could run on that platform? But as the time went on -- and even, as I say, the party that I later joined had undergone a change.
When the Great Depression was spread all over the world by the Smoot-Hawley tariff, that protectionist measure -- that was a Republican bill. The Republicans, then, were the party of high tariff. The Democrats were the party of low tariff and nonprotectionism. And today that has turned around. So, in reality, anyone who believes in the Democratic Party of the past and the party of your fathers and before that -- you have no reason in the world not to change, because the two parties changed. And now you can do what you believe.
So, the door to the party of opportunity is wide open. And we're just hoping that on September 27 everyone in Louisiana, whether they're registered as a Democrat or Republican, will come out to vote for a man who has dedicated his life to building America strong and proud and free -- Henson Moore.
One final thing: I want to let each and every one of you know how personally grateful I am for your being here and for all that you're doing for the cause. I've said that many times, but it couldn't be more true. America's greatness doesn't reside in Washington, but in people like you whose hard work, dedication, and generosity keep America strong and keep our future free. So, I think I've taken too much of your time already. I just want to thank you again from the bottom of my heart. And you send this -- I called this team of yours -- your Congressman and Bob and Henson Moore and all -- the Louisiana A-Team. [Laughter] Send them up there to Washington. Believe me, we need them.
You know, we have too many people -- and then I'm going to quit -- that can be best described in a story I like. Three fellows that went out of the building to get in their car and found they'd locked the keys in -- they were locked out. And one of them said, ``Get a wire coathanger, and we'll straighten it out, and I can get the . . . '' And the other one says, ``You can't do that. Somebody would think we're stealing the car.'' And third one said, ``Well, we better do something pretty quick because it's starting to rain and the top's down.'' [Laughter]
So, again, thanks. God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 12:50 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. He was introduced by Representative Moore. Following the President's remarks, he attended a reception for major donors to Representative Moore's campaign at the hotel. He then traveled to Montgomery, AL.