Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session via Satellite to Republican Campaign Events
October 14, 1982
The President. Good evening to all you friendly, enthusiastic Republicans. Say, isn't this great? Since I couldn't personally get to each district, the Republican National Committee came up with this means of beaming me out to gatherings all over the country. So, I'm being bounced off a satellite and then down to your individual gathering. We've come a long way since my days in radio at WHO in Des Moines. But I'll admit I'm a little worried -- the way I'm beaming all over the place, I'm afraid someone might mistake me for Jerry Brown, California's Mr. Medfly.
But no matter what the electronic election techniques, politics still depends on people, people at the grassroots like all of you out there tonight. You make the difference in every election, and you're going to make the difference in this one as well. I'm upbeat about November 2d because our candidates are good, like the ones we're supporting tonight. And in spite of what you sometimes hear on the news, I believe the issues are on our side.
For example, the economy. Rather than running away from the economic issue, I think the real economic record is in our favor if we can just get the truth out. We Republicans are doing a good job cleaning up a mess that built up for decades, and I'm genuinely convinced the American people understand that and will show it on election day. The economic issue that the opposition is trying to bully us with is like the bully himself -- once you stand up to him, he slinks away. Five economic problems, as I said last night, were beating this country over the head when we came to Washington 20 months ago: runaway spending; double-digit inflation, 2 years of it, back to back, for the first time in 60 years; the worst interest rates in 100 years; the highest peacetime tax burden in our history as a nation; and high unemployment.
Well, we've made dramatic gains on four of those five problems. The good news Republicans can run on is an inflation rate that reached a peak of 18 percent in January of 1980 but that has now been cut to 5.1 percent for the first 8 months of this year. The prime interest rate reached 21\1/2\ percent before we came to office and has now been knocked down to 12 percent, and we're not by any means finished with it yet.
More good news Republicans can run on is the cut in growth of government spending by nearly two-thirds -- 17 percent a year down to 6 percent. And we will have cut tax rates 25 percent by next July. And last month, auto sales went up by 8\1/2\ percent. If you want more good news, look at what the stock and bond markets are doing as confidence returns to Wall Street and Main Street investors from coast to coast.
Yes, there are still tough problems, especially that tragic unemployment rate. Sadly, unemployment is always just about the last to feel a recovery. But we're going to beat unemployment, just as we're beating the rest of our economic problems. And when we get it licked this time it's going to stay licked, because the recovery will be a real one, not an artificial quick fix trumped up by Washington's big spenders.
Incidentally, I heard that diatribe that followed my broadcast last night. The dictionary says a demagogue is ``one who arouses people's emotions for his own benefit or purpose.'' Well, the demagogue from Michigan held me personally responsible for causing 10.1 percent of our work force to be unemployed. But 7.4 percent of them were unemployed when we got here. By my figures, we're only responsible for 2.7 percent. But we're trying to help all 10.1 percent get jobs, which is more than our opponents can say. And we can do it with the new Republicans we'll elect this fall, and that's what we're all gathering for tonight.
So, before I turn this over to questions, I just want to say thank you for working for these fine Republican candidates. They are the kind of conscientious and principled public leaders America needs, and I look forward to working with them in the next Congress.
Now, as we go to your questions, I'd like to introduce my political director, Ed Rollins, who is going to help me out this evening.
Mr. Rollins. Thank you, Mr. President. As we go coast to coast, we begin by going to South Bend, Indiana, the home of Notre Dame football, where more than 1,500 folks have gathered to honor our good friend, Jack Hiler. As most of your know, Jack defeated John Brademas, the Democratic whip, 2 years ago, and Jack is going to ask us our first question this evening.
The President. Come on, Jack.
Representative Hiler. Hello?
The President. Ask the question.
The Middle East
Representative Hiler. Mr. President? This is John Hiler from South Bend, Indiana. I want to compliment you on a very fine speech last evening.
The question I have, Mr. President, is what are the prospects for real peace in the Middle East?
The President. Well, Jack, I think the prospects are good. I'm optimistic about the Middle East and what's going on there. As you know, we've had our good man, Ambassador Habib, over there negotiating again, the man who brought about the cease-fire. And he is assisted by another one, his companion, Ambassador Draper. But what we're trying to do is, first, help the newly elected President over there, with our multinational force, establish stability in Lebanon. They've been, for several years, divided up into factions, each faction with its own militia. But I think progress is being made there. We've heard statements recently that both Israel and Syria have expressed their willingness to leave. They, I think, would like to do it simultaneously.
And so I think progress is being made. And then we've been in contact with the Arab nations, as well as with our friends and allies in Israel. And it will take negotiations under the Camp David pattern to bring about a just solution for the Palestinian refugees and at the same time have the other Arab States do what Egypt did first, and that is recognize the right of Israel to exist as a nation and have peace treaties with them. And I think that we have a very good chance of succeeding.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we'll move on now to our second fundraiser in Denver, Colorado, where many of your friends and supporters, including Holly and Joe Coors and Congressman Guy Vander Jagt and Senator Bill Armstrong are there to honor three outstanding candidates -- one of whom is an incumbent, Ken Kramer, our good friend and supporter; former Apollo astronaut, Jack Swigert, who's running in the district out there, and John Buechner, who's challenging Tim Wirth in the tough race in the new second district out there.
Our question-asker tonight is an RNC Eagle, a good supporter of yours, Mr. Courtland Dietler, who's president of Spruce Oil Company. And he'll now ask you a question.
The President. Well, Courtland?
Arms Reduction Talks
Mr. Dietler. Mr. President, what is the best method to assure a mutually verifiable reduction in the weapons of war that will bring more security to the world?
The President. Courtland, I believe that we're on the way, if that's possible at all, that we're going to do it now with the policy that we've been following. As you know, we have negotiating teams negotiating -- well, three of them in Geneva, Switzerland, one in Vienna -- and we're negotiating for a reduction of conventional arms and weapons. But in Switzerland, we're also negotiating -- two teams -- negotiating a reduction, a legitimate reduction in the strategic nuclear weapons. And the other one is negotiating, and we have proposed, down to zero, the intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe.
Now, the Soviets have 945 warheads aimed at targets in Europe in their medium-range missiles. And we have no deterrent whatsoever, but have promised our allies, at their request, that we're going to provide the Pershing II missiles as a deterrent force aimed at Russian targets. We have proposed that if they will eliminate their SS - 20 weapons, we will refrain from installing those Pershing II missiles of ours in Europe.
Now, the reason that I am optimistic is because in years past, we have tried to negotiate arms limitation treaties with the Soviet Union at the same time -- that is, in the previous few years, we were unilaterally disarming. We were canceling the B - 1 bomber, we were reducing our forces in strength, and so forth. We have embarked on a course of a legitimate buildup to ensure our own national security, and this is what has brought the Soviets to the bargaining table, ready to negotiate.
Whether we'll get all we ask -- of course, we probably won't. But I think we have a good chance of getting legitimate reduction, because now that we are reinstituting our Armed Forces, the Soviet Union knows they don't want that. I think it was all explained in a cartoon recently. It was Brezhnev talking to a Russian general, and he was saying, ``I liked the arms race better when we were the only ones in it.''
Now, we'll be ready to reduce instead of build up when they agree with us that they will reduce down to equal terms with us.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we move next to Michigan, the home of that demagogue that you mentioned earlier in your speech, who the good citizens there are going to retire. Tonight they're there honoring Congressman Jim Dunn and our outstanding candidate Dick Milliman. As you know, Congressman Jim Dunn is in a rematch with Bob Carr, who we defeated and retired and will keep retired. And Dick Milliman is one of our outstanding candidates who's challenging Howard Wolpe there. Dick is going to ask the question, Mr. President.
Mr. Milliman. Good evening, Mr. President.
The President. Good evening.
Mr. Milliman. Good evening, Mr. President. This is Dick Milliman, the candidate for Congress in Michigan's third district. I'm speaking for myself and Congressman Jim Dunn of Michigan's sixth district.
Sir, both Congressman Dunn and I agree that we can't cure our country's past economic problems as quickly as we all would like. But in Michigan, we are very hard hit by unemployment. Our question, then, is, what would you suggest we tell people in our districts who constantly ask us, ``What can be done now to help our unemployment situation in Michigan?''
The President. Dick, I know this may not sound like a satisfactory answer to a candidate who's got to go out and repeat it to the people, and yet it is the honest answer. To say, ``What can we do now?'' -- we're doing it. I would just remind them that when I was campaigning there in 1980, before there was an economic recovery program such as we have put in place in Washington last year, there was in Flint, Michigan -- when I campaigned there, they told me unemployment was 20 percent. They told me it was 18 percent in Detroit. And there were other places, the same kind of record. In other words, in the industrial States like Michigan, the unemployment had already started, because that's when the interest rates were 21\1/2\, and people weren't buying automobiles on installment plans, and they weren't building houses or buying them, because they couldn't afford the mortgages at that kind of interest rate. And that's when inflation was 12.4 percent.
Now, as I said last night, inflation caused the high interest rates, and between the two of them, they have caused the slowdown that has created that unemployment. Since that time -- I gave those figures earlier in how far we have come down in interest rates and inflation. The next to follow must be unemployment. But in all the recessions in the past, when they've had the quick fixes, unemployment never came down in a recovery as far as it had been before the recession. And there have been seven recessions, before this one, since World War II.
I wish that I could say there was something that we could do instantly. What they did in the past, in those other seven recessions was, of course, artificial stimulants, pump up the money supply, and then up went the inflation and up went the interest rates. And yes, there would be, because of make-work programs, government-funded programs of many billions of dollars that were temporary, that didn't lead to any set job, and this would seemingly give an end to the recession. But as I say, it never went back down where it should, the unemployment, and the next recession was only about 2 years away.
Now we're trying to make it permanent. And I know that it will take some time for the unemployment to feel the effect of the reduced inflation and the reduced interest rates, but I believe it is the only way to ensure permanency. And I think if we remind the voters out there and remind those people who are unemployed -- and no one can feel worse about that than a person like myself, who was in the job market in the Great Depression of the thirties -- but remind them that the unemployment started long before our economic recovery program, and nothing was being done about it that was permanent or lasting. And now these other figures are coming down, and I think unemployment is going to, also.
In the meantime, we have and are funding extensions of unemployment in the hard-hit States for those who have run out their time period for unemployment insurance. We have just recently passed a job training bill in which we're going to be training a million people a year for legitimate jobs, the kind of jobs that are available in your various communities.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we move next to Mansfield, Ohio, which is the home of our good friend, Congressman Mike Oxley. Mike has the best of all worlds. Because of his tremendous support for you and the outstanding individual, he has no opponent November 2d. So, we're sure of having one good vote for us next year. Asking the question in Mansfield is Dr. Bob Jones, who is a doctor of internal medicine. He's married and has four children; good supporter of yours.
Dr. Jones. Good evening, Mr. President.
The President. Good evening.
Dr. Jones. My question this evening is this: What are your predictions for the election of November 1982?
The President. Well, Doctor, my prognosis is optimistic. I think that we've got good candidates out there. We have got good funds. And we have kept with a tradition that's been true for over a quarter of a century in the Republican Party; and that is that even though the Democrats continue to call us the party of the fat cats and the rich, the Republican Party, as it has for a quarter of a century, has raised the most of its money from small contributors, and far more from small contributors than our opponents have raised. And between these two things, the kind of candidates we have and people like yourself out there who have turned out at these affairs to be of help.
I know that tradition also has it that in the first off-year election after a party gets the White House, there is a great loss in the Congress. Well, I don't think there's going to be as great a loss as is traditional. I think we're going to do better than the tradition would have it. And we're going to get some of those fine new candidates, and we're going to get our incumbents back.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, I can only second those remarks. And we are moving to Tullahoma, Tennessee, to the home of the Tullahoma High School auditorium, where many of our friends and supporters are there to honor Cissy Baker, who is a good friend of a good friend of yours -- is a daughter of a good friend of yours, as you know, Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker.
The President. You bet.
Mr. Rollins. With Cissy's election on November 2d, it will be -- she'll be the youngest Member of Congress, and it'll be the first daughter-father team that ever has served in the United States Congress.
The President. I think it's time we set that new mark.
Mr. Rollins. I agree.
Asking the question tonight from Tennessee is Mr. Jess Heldt, who's president of Worthsports, who is a longtime Republican, a good supporter of Senator Baker, yourself, and been very helpful with Cissy.
The President. All right.
Mr. Heldt. Good evening, Mr. President.
The President. Good evening.
Mr. Heldt. I'm speaking from Tullahoma, Tennessee, with the Cissy Baker campaign. And she would like you to say hello to her father. She doesn't get to see much of him anymore.
My question is: These elections seem to be drawing a lot of attention this year. Can you give us some specifics on why this 1982 election is so vital?
The President. Oh, I certainly can. There are any number of reasons and statistics as to why this is vital.
First, before I answer, Cissy, I'll say hello to your father. And we're looking forward to when you and he will both be in the same city together.
Now, why is it so vital? We have a Republican Senate, a majority. And when you get a majority, even by one vote, you name the chairmen of the committees and you have the majority of the committees. But the other House, the House of Representatives, the majority is of the opposition party.
And the leadership of that party -- to give you an example: the amendment, proposed amendment for, I believe it was, for the constitutional amendment of balancing the budget had been buried in committee over in that side of the house, in the House side for, well, just about a year. It was in the committee, and it had been buried all this time, and then it took 218 names in the House -- some Democrats, I will say, joined us -- to, by petition, get it out of the committee on the floor, after it had been passed by more than a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Then, when it was voted on, a majority of the House voted for that amendment, but it wasn't a two-thirds majority, so it's failed, and we have to start over again.
What I'm getting at is that for almost solidly back over, through the Eisenhower years, we have had both houses of the legislature, the Congress, dominated by the Democratic Party, even when we had Republican Presidents. The only Republican President who had a Republican Congress was one 2-year period, Dwight Eisenhower. And in that 2-year period, inflation was zero, practically, unemployment was down at 2\1/2\ percent, and all of the figures were that way.
Now, when I stop to think of our own economic recovery program and the compromises that we had to make to get it through the House -- we had called for a 30-percent tax cut to be retroactive to January 1st, 1981. We only got 5 percent, and it started in July 1st, not retroactive to January, and then, 10 percent the next October, and we're getting 10 percent -- I maybe have these dates wrong. No, I think it was a 5 percent, October, and the 10 percent in July, and the next 10 percent will be in this next July. But what I'm getting at is that we have a Republican executive branch now. We have a Republican Senate. We haven't really been given a fair chance at showing what we can do with that division there in the Congress.
Isn't it fair to assume that after, really, almost 40 years of total domination by a Democratic Congress, even when there was a Republican President, they are the ones, the Congress, they are the ones who passed the programs. They're the ones who decide on the spending bills and so forth, and they are the ones who have built up a trillion-dollar debt that we're paying $110 billion a year interest on.
So, I think that all of the facts point to: If we have our policies supported in the Congress by a Republican majority, if we have Republican majorities in the committees so that the things that are proposed and are passed in committee come out to the floor so that the Representatives and the Senators can vote on them, that's what we have to have.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we move now to Indiana, which is the home of our good friends, Senators Dick Lugar and Dan Quayle. And tonight, there's a group in Jeffersonville, Indiana, along the Ohio River, who are honoring our outstanding candidate there, Floyd Coates.
Floyd -- who was a very strong supporter, worked for you in the last election -- is running against incumbent Lee Hamilton.
Asking the question is another good, strong supporter of yours, George Hughes, who is president of E. H. Hughes and Company. He's also a strong supporter of the two Senators there.
The President. George?
Federal Spending and Taxation
Mr. Hughes. Good evening, Mr. President. It would appear that many economic indicators are showing improvement. Can you provide any specifics for additional reduction in government spending and taxation, and what do you foresee as the role of the 98th Congress?
The President. The role of the 98th Congress, George, is to continue giving us support for our economic recovery program, which means making the additional reductions in spending. Now, in these 2 years, '81 and '82, we have made about -- well, no, I'm off on my figures again -- '82 and the coming budget resolution that's been passed for '83 will amount to about $50 billion reduction in the increases that have been scheduled. We've never reached a point in which we could actually cut a budget back to smaller than it was before. And that would be a dream come true.
But, as you know, when you submit a budget you have to make proposals on out for about 3 to 5 years ahead. And, so, when we came here and inherited in the 1981 fiscal year the budget already passed, we also inherited the projected budgets for '82 and '83. We have reduced those projections by $50 billion.
Now, the Congress has promised us -- with the combination tax and spending program that was passed this summer -- they promised us $3 in cuts, spending cuts, for every dollar of increased revenue in that tax program over the next 3 years. That's about $380 billion of spending cuts. And we must hold them to that promise that, over the next 3 years, we're going to reduce the scheduled increases in government spending by those $380 billion, to get those deficits down, and come to the day when we will have a balanced budget.
Now, I don't foresee any tax increases, as far as we're concerned, that we would introduce. I must remind you, however, the biggest tax increase that was ever passed in our history was passed in 1977, and it was a payroll increase in social security. And there are two more installments of that yet to come, in 1985 and, I believe, in 1990. And those are scheduled and are in the law that was passed in '77, under the previous administration.
But we believe that our course now should be to continue the reductions in spending that we've started.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we now move on to Wichita, Kansas, where there's a group there honoring Gerald Caywood, our outstanding candidate, who's running against incumbent Dan Glickman in the Fourth Congressional District in Kansas.
An old friend of yours, a Republican Eagle, Willard Garvey, who is chairman of the board of Garvey Industries and founder of Homeowner's Trust, which is a group dedicated to fighting political spending and waste in government, is going to ask you the question.
The President. Willard?
Mr. Garvey. Mr. President, on the same question, government spending is still the root cause of inflation and unemployment. Congress has doubled spending in 6 years, and now it costs each family over $8,000 per year, plus $10,000 per family for national debt, plus $100,000 per family for unfunded Federal liabilities. Just a 10-percent cut in spending would free up $80 billion, enough for 8 million new $10,000 jobs. And my question is, what do our candidates for Congress and the rest of us need to do that will help you to cut spending?
The President. What we need are more Republicans like Gerald Caywood in Washington to help us against the leadership of the House which has never agreed with our progam of cutting, which is still dedicated to the big spending by the Federal Government and the belief that the Federal Government and government programs are the answer to all our problems. And they can't see that over these past decades, government is not the answer to the problems; government is the problem.
So, this election is all-important from that standpoint. I have to be honest and say that we have had the support of some Democrats that I think represent the feeling of the rank-and-file Democrats, millions of them, who are out of step with this party leadership and who have collaborated with us in getting the cuts that we've gotten so far and getting the tax cuts that we've gotten so far.
As the economy improves and as we begin to improve on the unemployment situation, you are going to see that we're going to do better at reducing those deficits, also, because every added 1 percentage point of unemployment adds about $25 billion to the deficit -- that is in lost revenue by the individual not working, and in the benefits that must be paid out. So, again, the economic recovery program is the best answer that we can have.
I wish it were possible all at once to simply make a slash in the spending. As I said in my opening remarks, we reduced the increase from year to year in spending from 17 percent down to 6 percent. But to go beyond that, you can't do it all at once, because you would be pulling the rug out from under people without any warning or any provision for them -- people who through no fault of their own have become dependent on some of the government programs. And I have pledged that while we're going to bring down the spending, we are going to preserve that safety net for those people who must depend on the rest of us for their livelihood.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we move now out to the Northwest, to Bellingham, Washington, where a group is out there honoring our outstanding candidate, State Representative Joan Houchen, who is running against incumbent Doug [Al] Swift. Bellingham, Washington, is a logging and fishing area. And our questioner tonight is a 30-year-old linesman for a local power company, Mr. Sam Brown -- not the other Sam Brown that we all knew so much about. This is Sam Brown, who's president of the county Young Republicans.
The President. Sam?
Mr. Brown. Mr. President, we've all heard about your new federalism program. When do you expect this program to take place, and what benefits can we in Bellingham, Washington, expect once these programs are turned back to State and local government?
The President. Sam, some of the program, the federalism program, those things that we could do administratively simply by Executive order -- some of those things have been done, such as putting grants together that were once known as categorical grants. That meant that here was a specific program that the Federal Government helped in funding, but then the Federal Government insisted that the money had to be spent exactly the way the Federal Government regulations called for it in its spending. And many times these were wasteful; they didn't recognize the fact that the priorities were different from city to city, county to county, or State to State. We have lumped many of those in what are called block grants, in which we've said, ``Here, this program, that program, the other program -- here is a block of money, Federal aid to you, and you can set the priorities in spending that money.''
Now, what we need from the Congress, we need legislation on, is the part of the program that will allow us to transfer programs -- the part of the programs now being run by the Federal Government -- that we believe can be better run at local and State levels; to transfer those programs back and, at the same time, transfer back the sources of revenue. In other words, we're not going to dump them on you out there at the local and the State level. We're going to make it possible -- the dream is that eventually we give you back the programs that the Constitution always indicated should be run by the States, by the local communities. The Federal Government is supposed to do only those things specifically called for in the Constitution. That's article [amendment] 10, and that's been abused quite considerably.
Now, where we believe that will benefit you is that you, closer to the scene, know more about those local problems and how they can best be resolved than a bureaucracy here in Washington can know, and the administrative overhead is much higher in Washington than it is at local, county, and State government. Therefore, a lot of the money that is now not going, let's say, to the problem that you're trying to solve, but is going to an expensive bureaucracy for administration, that money will be freed up, and it will mean that the programs will actually cost less for both.
We expect to suggest that program if not -- well, I don't think that it would be wise for us to put it up in the special session that will come in November, but immediately after the first of the year, with the 98th Congress, we are going to present this program. We've been working on it in company with Governors, with mayors, with city councilmen, with State legislators, county officials, ironing out the wrinkles in it, and we'll be ready in January to present it.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, we're going to move back across the country. We're going to go to Manchester, New Hampshire, where Bob Smith, who is our outstanding candidate who's challenging incumbent Norm D'Amours, is being honored there by a group of citizens. Our guest questioner is Lois Beaulieu, who was our town chairman in 1980 -- your town chairman, in New Market, New Hampshire.
The President. Well, Lois, hello.
Balanced Budget Amendment
Ms. Beaulieu. Well, Mr. President, I understand there are about a dozen Congressmen who are actually cosponsors of the balanced budget constitutional amendment, but who deceived the public and voted against it anyway. I'm sorry to say my Congressman, Norman D'Amours, was one of those flip-floppers. What can we do about this group of Congressmen, and do you think there's a chance of passing a balanced budget amendment next year?
The President. We're going to be back asking for that balanced budget next year. Over 40 States have that in their State constitutions. My own State of California, when I was Governor, it has that. It works, and it's the only way we're really going to get control of spending, is to have that. The people -- in the polls, it showed that 80 percent of them want it. And what we have to do, you say, about those Congressmen like your opponent who flip-flopped on things of that kind -- forgive me, but may I say to all of you out there, I don't think that we pay enough attention to what goes on in Washington while it's going on. And therefore, candidates can say one thing and then do another and vote another way and very often get away with it, just simply because the people aren't aware. Don't let them get away with it. Keep track of how they're voting. And when they vote right, go out of your way to drop them a note and let them know they voted right. When they vote wrong, do what you should do in New Hampshire in this district right now -- vote for Lois Beaulieu for Congress.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, let's go back home to Sacramento, California, where they're honoring Roger Canfield, who is our candidate there against incumbent Vic Fazio. Roger worked for the Senate out there in the State government and was the architect of a very good reapportionment plan. Unfortunately, there weren't enough votes in the legislature, and Phil Burton got his plan through. But hopefully, the district that Roger is running in is not so badly drawn that he can't win in November. Roger will ask you the question himself, Mr. President.
The President. Roger?
Crime and Drug Trafficking
Mr. Canfield. Yes, Mr. President. This is Roger Canfield, suburban Sacramento. And we're concerned out here with what government can do about crime, considering that's the purpose of government, to protect our life and property. I'm running against a guy out here who's against the death penalty and voted for reduced penalties for rape.
The President. Roger, they're going to think this is a frameup. I just went over to the Justice Department this morning and made a speech in an auditorium to an assembled audience there -- many of them having to do with law enforcement -- and announced an eight-point crime program.
Now, I recognize that the Federal Government can only do so much in that because most of our criminal statutes are State statutes and, therefore, it is local law enforcement and local and State government that has to do with that. But our eight-point crime program is aimed at organized crime. We have had a tremendous success with a brand new kind of task force in south Florida, where about 80 percent of the drugs that were coming in from the other countries were coming in through south Florida. And our task force lined up local and State government and our Federal forces, even up to and including military, giving us tracking of boats and planes that were bringing in drugs. And we literally have stopped it cold there.
Now, of course, the drug runners are seeking out other entry points in the country. So, part of our program this morning called for 12 such task forces, nationwide, to go after this, as well as the program against organized crime.
I won't go into all the eight points; time doesn't permit. But you are going to see the Federal Government doing more in this whole field of crime, including the fact that we're making a training institution here that has been for Federal officers and FBI and Secret Service and so forth -- this is going to now be made available to local law enforcement officers, so that we can have better cooperation. And I think we're going to make a difference.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, I know how difficult it is for both of us to leave Sacramento, but we'll have to go to Longview, Texas, next. And there we're going to visit with Pete Collumb. Pete -- who worked for our former -- or our great friend, John Tower -- Pete is running against Ralph Hall. And maybe you remember, but Pete's daughter, Alexandria, was cochairman of Tots for Reagan in 1980, with your grandson, Cameron.
The President. Yes.
Mr. Rollins. Alexandria is 3 years old, and she is there tonight.
The President. Well, Alexandria, hello. And hello, Bart.
Mr. Rollins. Asking the question tonight is Bob Cargill, who's involved in the oil industry there which is very, very important, as we all know, in Texas.
Department of Energy
Mr. Owens. Mr. President, this is not Bob Cargill. This is Bart Owens from Gregg County, Texas. The question, particularly for the independent producers, is do you still plan to eliminate the Department of Energy?
The President. Yes, we do. We are proceeding on that course. It isn't easy. I know that it sounds to the average person as if -- well, why can't you just say it's out of business and it's out of business? You have to remember that when a department like that, a Cabinet department was formed, it didn't start from scratch. There were a number of programs already in place in other agencies of the Government that are essential programs, and that the Federal Government should be maintaining, and they were lumped together in this new department.
So, part of the engineering is the redistribution of these programs back to the other agencies where they were. And, of course, part of it again is hostility on the part of our opponents in the House against eliminating this department. But we think that it's the right thing to do.
We think that we've made some good progress there in things like the decontrol. I remember our opponents said that gasoline was going to cost $2 a gallon if we did it. Today we're about 91 percent self-sufficient in this. And it isn't costing $2 a gallon. It's costing less than it did under controls and all. So, we're going to keep on going until we get that department eliminated.
Mr. Rollins. Mr. President, that concludes our quick visit around the country. Many of these outstanding candidates and incumbents and their tremendous supporters, I know, have been supporters of yours over the years. And we look forward to having them all back here to work with in January 1982.
The President. Well, Ed, we'll keep at it there. And thank you very much for helping.
In closing, I just want to say how essential all of you are to our cause. It's an old truth, but every vote does count. And the results of this election will hinge, perhaps more than anything else, on voter turnout.
The basic job of identifying supporters and getting them to the polls is still one of the most important in politics. Technology like we're enjoying tonight can't replace the hard work of getting out the vote. As I've said, I believe we're going to do well. We've got fine candidates, a wide base of contributors, an efficient party organization, and we've got good issues -- issues the people of this nation truly care about.
It's up to you Republicans at the grassroots to make sure that the voters understand how important the choice is this year -- the choice between going back to old policies that didn't work, or going ahead in the new direction we've set. We're on a new road now, a road that's leading America to better times. Unless we have the courage to stay on course and defeat our economic problems now, we'll never have lasting recovery, and our problems will grow worse than before.
Well, I intend to stay the course, and we're going to succeed. But we need your support. So, please promise me that you will mobilize and get out the vote for a great Republican victory on November 2d.
As I said last night, it isn't an easy job -- this challenge to rebuild America and renew the American dream. But we can do it. Throughout our history, we Americans have proven again and again that no challenge is too big for a free, united people. Together, we can do it again. And we can start making those dreams come true by electing Republican candidates to office.
We couldn't have done what we have without our majority in the Senate. Think what we can do with more Republicans in the House.
Thank you again, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 8:30 p.m. from the Washington, D.C., studios of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His remarks and the question-and-answer session were carried live to the campaign events.