Remarks at a Senate Campaign Rally for Christopher S. Bond in Springfield, Missouri
October 23, 1986
The President. After listening to you and to those kind words by Kit Bond and by Senator Danforth, I've just grown 6 inches taller than when I came in. But believe me, I can tell you, it is good to be here today in Spoon's Temple of Doom. The way you cheered, I sort of thought the Bears had come in -- [laughter] -- or maybe the Lady Bears. And while I'm at it, permit me a quick wink at the Sugar Bears. And if that wasn't enough, now if the rest of you and if the rest on fraternity row will forgive me for some recognition here, they told me back in Eureka when I was a TKE back there at Eureka College that TKE was a fraternity for life, and I guess it is. Thank you.
But it's good to be here in Missouri, away from Washington and out in the real America. And it's especially good to be here at Southwest Missouri State, a university with a long and proud history. Indeed, Southwest Missouri State was established all of 81 years ago, and believe me, I'm always happy to celebrate something older than I am. [Laughter] And special thanks to the Bruin Pride Band, the Willard High Band, the Springfield Kickapoo High Band, and the Parkview High Band. But with so many young people here today, I have a special message for you from my roommate. [Laughter] Nancy insisted that when it comes to drugs, please, for yourselves, your families, your future, and your country, just say no. By the way, Nancy's impressed me so much with that the other day in Iceland, as you've heard, even though it didn't have to do with drugs, I just had to say no.
But it's an honor to share this podium today with so many of Missouri's finest. I'm sorry that your fine Governor, John Ashcroft, can't be with us. His mother died recently, and I know you all join me in extending our sympathy. But greetings to three men I work with and depend upon every day back in Washington: your outstanding Congressman, Gene Taylor and the Congressman from the 8th District, Bill Emerson, and though he's not here, I want to mention the Congressman from the 6th District, Tom Coleman, and your tremendously effective Senator, Jack Danforth. That's what I call the Missouri A-Team.
This brings me to my friend, Kit Bond. Now, of course, I could refer to Kit as your former Governor. But doesn't it seem just a little bit better to talk about Kit Bond, the next United States Senator from the great State of Missouri? [Applause] Kit understands Missouri. His family has been here for six generations. And Kit understands good government. As Governor, he started out in 1981 with an inherited deficit of $270 million. He went on to balance the budget every year and leave Missouri with a $300 million surplus. But perhaps most important, Kit understands economic growth and jobs. He worked closely with the big auto manufacturers and others to provide job training under the Job Training Partnership Act, an initiative that was enacted by our administration. And during his second term as Governor, the number of new jobs that Kit brought to Missouri amounted to more than 100,000. Now, they call this the Show-Me State. Well, Kit, you've shown us, and how!
Well, now Kit's running for the Senate in a crucial election that could decide control of the Senate itself. As you may know, back in Washington last week -- 2 weeks late -- the Congress finally adjourned. I'll pause a moment while you all heave a sigh of relief. [Laughter] And not because any of these on this platform decided that they would leave; there are some others there that give us a great deal of worry. [Laughter] But now that the legislative year has at last come to an end, it's time for the campaign of 1986 to begin in earnest, time to look in more detail at the issues of the day and all we hope to accomplish for America in the years ahead.
Kit and I believe that today our nation faces an historic opportunity to ensure world peace and lead the entire globe to greater prosperity and freedom. We see the opportunity for new jobs, better education, rising incomes, and lower taxes. We see the American dream taking place and taking new shape and rising to new heights, and we say yes to the future, yes to the greatness of Missouri and our nation. Liberal Democrats, like Kit's opponent, say no -- no to success, no to prosperity, no to all that we've already done to get big government off your backs and out of your pockets. This, then, is the choice: forward or back. You know, standing here today, I have the feeling that Missouri will not only say yes to the future but go for it.
You'll remember that when we took control of the White House and Senate just 5\1/2\ years ago, we inherited an economy that the liberal Democrat leadership had turned into the worst mess since the Great Depression. Their policy of tax and tax and spend and spend was beginning to throw Americans out of work all over the country, including far too many right here in Missouri. It had given us double-digit inflation, as Kit told you. And it had produced the highest interest rates since -- get ready -- since the Civil War. Big government had become the Democrats' pet, but the Democrats' pet was the people's monster. To get big government off your backs, we cut government growth, slashed regulations, and enacted an across-the-board personal income tax cut of almost 25 percent. Then we indexed taxes, making it impossible for inflation to push you into higher tax brackets ever again just because you got a cost-of-living pay raise. Now, I knew I was in for it when the hostile critics dubbed our economic plan Reaganomics. They said we couldn't do it. But while the naysayers complained, we went to work.
Today inflation has fallen from more than 12 percent to 1.8 percent for the last 12 months. Interest rates are down. Mortgage rates are down. And we've seen the creation of almost 11.7 million jobs in less than the last 4 years -- more jobs than Western Europe and Japan put together have created in the past 10 years. You know, I really, though, found out our economic plan was working when they stopped calling it Reaganomics.
You know, it sort of reminds me of a story. A lot of things when you get my age remind you of stories. [Laughter] But this was a Democratic fundraising rally at a hotel. And outside, when all of them were coming out, there was a kid there with a bunch of puppies. And he was trying to sell them, and he was saying, ``Come buy a Democrat puppy. Buy a Democrat puppy.'' Two weeks later the Republicans held a fundraiser in the same hall, and there was the same kid with the same puppies. And when they were coming out, he was saying, ``Buy a Republican puppy.'' Well, one of the press, a newspaperman who had seen him 2 weeks before, said, ``Hey, kid. Wait a minute. Two weeks ago you were trying to sell these puppies as Democrats. What are you doing here now trying to sell them as Republicans?'' And the kid says, ``Now they got their eyes open.'' [Laughter]
But to return to the economy, just yesterday I signed into law a sweeping and historic tax reform, a reform that will make our entire tax system simpler and fairer and enable some 8 out of 10 Americans to pay Federal income taxes of 15 percent or less. That's right, 15 percent or less. [Applause] Sounds good to me, and I think you just indicated it sounds good to you. Tax cuts and new jobs are our record, the Republican record. Still more economic growth is our agenda for the future. And what is the liberal Democrats agenda? The answer is simple: raise taxes. The Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, spoke for all the liberal Democrats last year when he said, and I quote: ``Should the American people pay through the nose by taxation? The answer is yes.'' Well, come November, the American people will be going to the polls and saying, loud and clear: ``Sorry, Tip, and sorry, Harriett [Woods], the answer is no.''
You're the people who pay the taxes, and you know that we don't have a deficit because we're taxed too little. We have a deficit because Congress spends too much. And it's about time they cut the Federal budget and left the family budget alone. The contrast between us and the liberal Democratic leadership is just as apparent when it comes to judicial appointments. Since I began appointing Federal judges to be approved by the Republican Senate, the Federal judiciary has become tougher, much tougher, on criminals. Convicted criminal defendants are going to jail more often and receiving longer sentences. For example, the average sentence in drug cases has gone up by some 17 percent, from 56 to 65 months.
Now, of course, I could go on quoting you the reports and statistics, but what it all comes down to is this: Since we Republicans took the White House and Senate away from the liberal Democratic leadership -- and remember, the Senate has to confirm any judges that I appoint -- we've given America tough laws and tough judges. Even the liberals who bottled up our tough anticrime bills for years have begun to climb aboard our campaign to rid America of the source of drugs. We have much more to do in this area, and we'll need to back up the new drug legislation with strict enforcement, perhaps even stiffer penalties, and the kind of no-nonsense judges that we'll put on the bench unless we're denied that chance by a Democratic Senate. We need the Republican Senate. What I'm saying is: We need Kit Bond!
And if Kit Bond and other Republicans help us retain control of the Senate, we can go right on fighting crime. And you know, here and there I've heard some people, usually on the other side, try to indicate that, well, maybe there's something in the checks and balances to have a Senator from each party. If you like what Jack Danforth's been doing up there, why should you send someone up to cancel his vote? But if Kit and the other Republicans help us regain control of the Senate, we can go right on fighting crime. But if Democrats like his opponent gains control -- well, I just have to believe it's better to have a Republican running the Senate Judiciary Committee, as he will, than a liberal Democrat, Teddy Kennedy. Now, my friends, both parties talk law and order, but Republicans like Kit Bond make it happen.
In foreign affairs we Republicans have rebuilt our nation's defenses and won new respect for America around the world. And among our men and women in uniform, we've seen morale soar as we've given them the pay and the training they've always deserved. And you know, if I could interject something here: There's nothing that I'm prouder of than the 2 million young men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. And let me say this: If we must ever ask them to put their lives on the line for the United States of America, then they deserve, at the same time, the finest, the best weapons and equipment that money can buy; and that's what we're trying to get them. And something else: I just have to believe that from now on every nickel-and-dime dictator in the world today knows that if he wants to tangle with the United States of America, he'll have to pay a price.
Regarding our dealings with the Soviets, as you know, as you were just told up here before by my friends, I just recently returned from my meeting with Mr. Gorbachev in Iceland. This meeting was a breakthrough in our negotiations, our discussions, with the Soviets. We're no longer talking arms control; we're talking arms reductions, and possibly even the complete elimination of ballistic missiles from the face of the Earth. That's an historic turnaround for the Soviets, and it wouldn't have been possible without the firm support of the American people, whose hard work and support have enabled us to rebuild our military might. The American people know that the only way to negotiate for a true peace is from a position of strength. We're closer to real arms reductions than ever before, and it's because America today is once again strong and united. So, I'm very optimistic. I'm just optimistic enough to believe that the question now isn't whether but when we reach agreements on reductions. And that's why it was heartening to find Mr. Gorbachev agreeing with me yesterday, that the proposals we made in Iceland are still on the table. Our negotiators are ready in Geneva. We must not allow areas where there's agreement to be held hostage to areas where there isn't. The Soviets should move the ball forward in areas such as long-range, intermediate nuclear forces and nuclear testing, and we're prepared to do so.
Unfortunately, in Iceland Mr. Gorbachev decided to make all our progress hostage to his demand that we, in effect, kill our Strategic Defense Initiative. I had to remind him of my pledge to the American people on SDI, that in America when you give your word, you keep your word, and that it stands up no matter what the time or place. SDI is our insurance policy to protect us from attack or from accidents or some madman or some other country that develops ballistic missiles, or in case the Soviets don't keep their side of the bargain. No responsible President could rely on Soviet promises for his country's safety. The record on Soviet treaty violations is clear. Now, I'm not a linguist. I'm very limited in foreign languages. But I did say something in our negotiations in Iceland in Russian: Dovorey no provorey. That means trust but verify. We can either bet on American technology to keep us safe or on Soviet promises, and each has its own track record. And I'll bet on American technology any day.
And I discovered that many people aren't quite sure of what we're talking about. It hasn't been explained to them -- SDI. It's exploring a purely defensive, purely peaceful technology. If the Soviets honestly want progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons, they have nothing to fear from SDI. The Soviets are hard bargainers. America must be even more patient and determined and united. America must speak with one voice, saying, loud and clear, we'll walk the extra mile for peace, but we'll never gamble with America's safety. So, I want to ask you a question. I think I know the answer. Can I count on your support to keep America strong and united and on the road to peace?
The President. Thank you. I kind of thought you'd say that. And the other little explanation -- if it's been overlooked -- that I want you to know, too, is that I made it very plain that we are ready to sign now a treaty that is binding as law that would say when we have rid ourselves of those ballistic missiles on both sides and if SDI has proven out to be the shield, the defensive shield we think it can be, we will be very happy to turn it over, also, and let the Soviet Union have it so that both of us can go on through history without being suspicious of each other.
Renewed prosperity, rebuilt national defenses, world peace on a more secure footing -- all this we've accomplished. But I must tell you that today that all our accomplishments, all that during these past 5\1/2\ years we've struggled so hard to achieve, is in danger. For if we lose the Senate, the liberal Democrats will march us back to the grim days of the seventies. This is my last campaign, and if you'd like to vote for me one more time, you can do it by voting for Kit Bond.
Audience. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Oh, the Constitution says no. But if you mean do I want to live 4 more years? Yes. [Laughter]
But important as this election will be to me, it'll be even more important to you -- and especially to you young people -- for it will shape our nation's future. So, I urge all of you -- and again, I have you young people in high school and college especially on my mind -- to study the issues and, come November 4th, to cast your vote. Because you might be interested to know that the polls indicate that of all the various age groups in our nation, those between the ages of 18 and 24 -- a majority are on our side. But I want you to go out of here not only with what you yourselves believe, but I want you to go out of here as missionaries to all the others in your age group. Because the polls also indicate that you have the highest percentage in that age group who do not go to the polls to vote. It won't help unless you get there. And if you do, you'll be playing a major part in determining what the future is going to be for all of you in this country.
Now, I've been -- I probably shouldn't do this -- but I've been talking about polls. I want to conduct an informal poll, and I won't mind if you speak up so that all of America can hear you.
Do you want to go back to the days of big spending, high taxes, and runaway inflation?
The President. Do you want a weak and vacillating America?
The President. Would you rather have an America that's strong and proud and free?
The President. Do you want Kit Bond to become the next Senator from the great State of Missouri?
The President. You just made my day. And do you know something? You didn't hurt Kit Bond's feelings either. [Laughter]
Well, it's time to go now, and before leaving -- --
The President. Yes, it really is. I've got Oklahoma yet to do. Before leaving, I'd like to just say how delighted I was to be able to talk to all of you young people. People my age deeply believe that it's our duty to turn over to you the same freedom and the same opportunity that our parents and grandparents handed on to us. And when we look at you and when we see your openness, your enthusiasm for America and for life itself, it gives us great heart. Way back at the time of World War II, the Chief of Army Staff, General George Marshall, he was asked did we have a secret weapon, and, if so, what was it? And General Marshall said, ``Yes, we have a secret weapon. It's just the best blankety-blank kids in the world.'' And I think -- --
Audience. We love you, Ronnie!
The President. Well, believe me, I love you, all of you. I've been all across this country. I've been on campuses. I've met so many of you. And having, as Governor, been burned in effigy on a few campuses some years ago -- [laughter] -- I just want to tell you that if George Marshall were here today, he would say of you, ``You are the best blankety-blank kids in the world.''
Audience. Ronnie! Ronnie! Ronnie!
The President. Thank you. You know, naturally, being here, I've been doing a little remembering, and I can't help but thinking of one of the last times that a President visited Springfield was back in 1952. And the President was Harry Truman. And on that same day, a certain movie actor -- I think his name was Ronald Reagan -- was7E 7E in town.7E 7E He7E 7E was7E 7E promoting7E 7E his7E 7E latest7E 7E film,7E 7E and7E 7E the name of the movie -- one of my favorites, incidentally -- was ``The Winning Team.'' And as a matter of fact, I understand that Springfield resident Viola Roemhild took home movies of that day in Springfield that have been on TV here. Well, today things have sort of repeated themselves. Ronald Reagan is back in Springfield. And the way I look at it, Kit Bond and all of you are one more winning team.
Thank you, and God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 3:37 p.m. in the John Q. Hammons Student Center at Southwest Missouri State University. He was introduced by Mr. Bond. After speaking, he attended a reception for major donors to Mr. Bond's campaign at the center. He then traveled to Oklahoma City, OK.