Remarks at a Republican Party Rally in Detroit, Michigan
September 24, 1986
The President. Thank you, and thank you, Bill -- Governor Bill, if these people do what I think they're going to do. It's a pleasure, a great pleasure, to be here in Detroit, a city of industry and commerce; a city that exemplifies the energy, creativity, and enterprise of America; a city where so many dreams have come true for so many people.
I'll never forget that special dream that started here in 1980. America was in trouble, and the Republicans came here to kick off our campaign to put America back on track and reaching for the stars. And that's exactly what we've done. It wouldn't have happened without you, and if we stick together, nobody is turning us back.
It's been tough going at times, but I think there's every reason to be proud of what we've accomplished since those dark days of uncertainty and decline. When we met here for our convention in 1980, inflation was running at double digits for the second year in a row, interest rates were shooting through the roof, the ranks of the unemployed were swelling, and business was in decline. Let me ask you: Anybody want to go back to those dark old days?
The President. It took time to put our program in place and time for it to work its magic, but today America has enjoyed 45 months of economic growth. We've got the highest number of people working and the highest percentage of the work force employed on record. There's a figure that most people are not familiar with. It seems that those who do the statistics have declared that the potential workpool of America is everyone, male and female, from the age of 16 all the way and on up, including everyone -- the retired and everyone else. Well, today, for the first time in our history, 61.2 percent of that available pool is employed in this country. The interest rates are down. And let me add that we just did all of this and, at the same time, kept inflation at its lowest level in over 20 years. But we're not finished, and we won't be until inflation is at zero and every American who wants a job has a job.
Now, there are those who would tell you that everything we've accomplished has been a matter of luck, or just a part of an uncontrollable business cycle, or even the result of the celestial effects of Halley's Comet. [Laughter] But, my friends, America's progress can be traced not to personalities, not to chance, but to the dramatic change in philosophy we carried to Washington after the 1980 election -- and to you, the American people.
The tax-and-tax and spend-and-spend crowd had bought our country a one-way ticket to economic oblivion. The American people were just hanging on. That reminds me a little of that fellow that fell off a cliff and on the way down, grabbed a branch, a limb that was sticking out from the cliff. And he hung there, and he looked down at the rocks, hundreds of feet below, and he was yelling for help. Then he turned his eyes upward, and he said, ``Oh Lord, if you're up there, tell me what to do.'' And a voice from above said, ``If you have faith, let go.'' And the fellow looked down at those rocks again way below him, looked back up, and says, ``Is there anybody else up there?'' [Laughter]
Well, by 1980 the American people had lost faith with the liberals who claimed we could spend our way to better times, and if we raised taxes only the other guy would pay. Well, we Republicans believe in a fundamentally different approach. The other party promises to create more government -- is there an echo in here [referring to hecklers in the audience]? You know, we're out to create more jobs and opportunity. The other party advocates more bureaucratic solutions, central planning, and Federal controls. We seek to free the creative genius of the American people and unleash the economy-building power of the marketplace. The other party would raise taxes, because they believe they know how to spend your money better than you do. We say to lower the rates and let people keep more of what they earn.
Now, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Michigan for the great team of Republican House Members you've sent to Washington. They've been real heroes in our battle to invigorate America's economy and rebuild her defenses. And a special thanks for Congressman Bill Broomfield. His leadership in the House Foreign Affairs Committee has been a great service to our country. And there's another leader that Michigan has loaned to our crusade for whom I'm most grateful, but he had to stay back in Washington -- Guy Vander Jagt. As chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, he's been a major player in the Nation's Capital. We depend on him, and thank you for sending him to us.
The individuals I just mentioned, along with Republican activists around this country, share a vision of a strong, prosperous America -- a land where people are free to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them. I think it's especially appropriate that I am here, in this city where our dream began in 1980, to support a team which so exemplifies this American dream. I'm talking about Bill Lucas and Colleen Engler, the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan.
Colleen, at 34, represents both youth and experience. I understand that she was first elected to your State house of representatives at age 22. And with a name like Colleen, I'm certain there might be a bit of Irish in this lady. So, take it from a Reagan: This is the one you want for Lieutenant Governor. The GOP is putting Colleen's talents and leadership, like that of women across our country, to work for America. Later today, for example, I'm headed to Nebraska in support of one of the five women Republican gubernatorial candidates who are running this year -- Kay Orr. Women in America are taking on the tough jobs and, at long last, getting the credit they deserve. You know, if I can refer back to that business I used to be in -- it's not like the days of Ginger Rogers. Her male counterpart got the lion's share of the publicity, but Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did -- and did it with high heels on, and doing it backwards.
In the last few years something wonderful has been happening in America. We're showing as never before that we're truly the land of opportunity. The number of women in elected offices has risen dramatically, now over 18,000 nationwide. In just 6 years the number of elected black officials has risen from under 5,000 to almost 6,500. And not only in politics and government but in every field of endeavor, economic recovery is ushering in a new era of progress and expanding potentials for all Americans. It's incumbent on all of us who so strongly believe in the opportunity society to be personally involved in campaigns like this one here in Michigan. So, it's a special privilege for me to be here in support of an individual whose life is testimony to the ideals that we hold so dear. I hope that between now and election day, you'll do everything in your power to make certain that Bill Lucas is the next Governor of this State. [Applause] I was going to ask if I could count on you, but you've already answered.
Bill was born in Harlem and is an example to every young person in this country, of every race, of what an individual can accomplish if he lives right, works hard, and sets his sights high. Bill was a social worker and a teacher in New York, an investigator for the Civil Rights Commission, and an agent for the FBI. He has dedicated his life to this country, seeing to it that America is the land that God intended her to be. This is a man who has put his life on the line to make our streets safe and secure. Three times during his law enforcement career, when he was a policeman in New York, a gun was aimed at him, the trigger pulled, and then the gun misfired. So, when I say thank God we've got a man like Bill Lucas around, I really mean it.
As sheriff of Wayne County, Bill demonstrated his management skills and championed the battle against crime. He then went on to his current position as Wayne County's executive. And incidentally, Wayne County is the fourth largest county in the United States. We have at least two former Governors here on the platform, Governor Romney and myself, and we both know that the Wayne County executive's job is about as close to a Governor's job as you can get. He took over this county when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. He's been doing a terrific job since, hasn't he? [Applause]
Now, some people think that Bill Lucas is unique because he is profamily, because he is conservative, and because he balanced Wayne County's budget without raising taxes. Now, I don't think that's unique; I think that's the way government ought to be run. And about those taxes, Bill says the people of this State deserve a tax cut. His opponent has done everything in his power to get his hands in your pockets. It's a classic contest between the old liberal ideas of tax and spend versus the vibrant, new philosophy that has pushed America into an era of growth and economic expansion. Of course, I know there are those who claim that all the progress we've had nationally is a spillover from developments here in Michigan. [Laughter] Well, I can only say that it's pretty clear Michigan would be doing a lot better if it had a Governor who believes in high growth and low taxes, a Governor like Bill Lucas. Let the others talk about a comeback State; Bill Lucas will make this a go-ahead State.
He offers the kind of strong moral leadership that will make a difference. He is a family man of deep religious conviction. He's seen the ravages of drugs and crime and knows that if we're to tackle these serious problems, it means more than just throwing tax dollars at them and issuing a press release. Bill is the kind of man who will make it his personal crusade to mobilize the people in the fight against the evil of drugs, to help those who are taking drugs to get off, and to encourage our young people not to get started in the first place. By the way, when she heard I was coming here, Nancy asked me to pass on a message. When it comes to drugs -- for your families, for your communities, for your country -- please, she asked, ``Just say no.''
Bill and I have much in common. We share the values of hard work, family, God, and love of country. And he was a Democrat and switched, and so was I. You know, it's a cliche, but you've heard it before, but it's true. You know, the Democratic Party didn't -- we didn't really leave it, it left us a long time ago. I'm sure there must be some Democrats in an audience like this or some who have been and switched. The truth of the matter is, there are millions of patriotic Democrats across this country who are totally out of step with the leadership of their party, which is still going down that old-fashioned road of taking your money and giving you orders. I -- having been Governor of California and knowing that Bill wants to be Governor -- I can tell you, he'll make a heck of a chief executive for this State. So, tell your neighbors and friends: Come November 4th, it's Colleen Engler for Lieutenant Governor and ``Cool Hand'' Luke for Governor.
I just have one last thought for you. There's a young fellow memorialized here in your Hall of Champions for whom I feel a special kinship. His name was George Gipp. He was a great Michigander who played football for Notre Dame. And all I ask you as we head toward election day is, let's win this one -- do it for Michigan, and, yes, win one for the Gipper!
Thank you all. Thank you all, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in Cobo Arena. He was introduced by gubernatorial candidate William Lucas.