Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Senator Mack Mattingly in Columbus, Georgia
October 28, 1986
The President. Thank you very much. I enjoyed that ``6 more years!'' chant very much. That other one -- there's a little constitutional provision involved there -- no. No, I'll settle for 2 more years of a Republican Senate. Well, you couldn't hear that, that was a plug for my wife to run. [Laughter]
Well, thank you, Mack, for that kind introduction, and let me say hello to the mayor of Columbus, Bill Feighner, and to your next mayor, John Gaus. And having been the drum major of a boys band in Dixon, Illinois, let me also say hello to some great bands: the Hardaway High School Band, the Shaw High School Band, and the LaGrange High School Band.
Audience. We love you!
The President. I love all of you, believe me. And before I get started, let me mention two of Georgia's and the Congress' best, Newt Gingrich and Pat Swindall. And let me also mention the Governor for Georgia's future, Guy Davis. And to those of you who've come over here today from Alabama, I just want to say that you have a true American hero for your Senator, Jeremiah Denton. And I'll be seeing him in my next stop in Birmingham later today. And, you know, looking at all these signs and everything, you'll forgive me, I have to mention one. It's way back in a little school called Eureka College in Illinois many years ago. A fraternity named Tau Kappa Epsilon not only made me a member, they gave me a job waiting tables or I couldn't have gone to school. [Laughter]
I can't help but see the young people who are here in the audience, and I have a special message to all of you from my roommate. [Laughter] When it comes to drugs, please -- for yourselves, for your families, for your future and your country -- just say no. [Applause] Thank you.
You know, it's wonderful to be here in Georgia. And, you know, as I often say to my staff when we're taking off in Air Force One: It's great to get out of Washington and get back to where the real people are. You know, I probably couldn't do this much traveling when Congress was in session. As Mack Mattingly will tell you, that's because some of those folks need watching. [Laughter] Now, I have great respect for the institution, it's just some of the individuals that Mack and I criticize, as he has already, some of them need watching, really. Some of them remind me of that little story about three fellows who came out of a building and found they'd locked themselves out of their car. And one of them said, ``Well, get me a wire coathanger and I can straighten it out and figure out how to trip the handle with it.'' And the second one said, ``You can't do that. Someone will see us and think you're stealing the car.'' And the third one said, ``Well, we better do something quick, because it's starting to rain and the top's down.'' [Laughter] And that story says so much about the tax-and-tax and spend-and-spend policies that left our country just a few short years ago with negative growth, double-digit inflation, the highest interest rates since -- get ready -- the War Between the States.
And so, as a part of the 1980 cleanup crew for the worst economic mess since the Great Depression, Mack Mattingly and I headed for Washington. And as he told you, we cut government growth, we slashed regulations, we cut income taxes -- yes, almost 25 percent. And today we're enjoying one of the longest economic expansions in history. In the last 47 months we have created over 11\1/2\ million new jobs, more jobs than Western Europe and Japan put together have created in the past 10 years. Inflation, as Mack told you, has come down. It's plummeted from more than 12 percent to 1.8 percent. The prime interest rate has fallen by two-thirds. Mortgage and auto loan rates are down. And, you know, I got the idea that our ideas were working when the opponents stopped calling it Reaganomics. Now, just a few days ago we learned that the figure that represents the country's economic growth -- gross national product, GNP -- and some other indicators show our economy gathering momentum for even more growth, higher take-home pay, and more new jobs. In short, we're headed for a second boom. And I'm determined to see that those who still are not sharing fully in our nation's prosperity do so. I give you my pledge: Neither Mack nor I will be satisfied until this expansion reaches every sector of our economy and until every American who wants a job has a job.
To broaden our expansion, I signed into law last week the most sweeping reform of the tax code in our nation's history. For more than 80 percent of Americans, it means a top tax rate of 15 percent or less -- and that's why I call it Tax Cut II. But wouldn't you know it, even before this fair share tax plan reached my desk, the Democratic leadership in Congress was saying that they wanted to break faith with the American people and turn tax reform into a tax hike. You know, the truth is those folks never met a tax they didn't like. [Laughter] When it comes to spending your hard-earned money, they act like they've got your credit card in their pocket. And believe me, they never leave home without it. [Laughter] But you, the American people, you know the truth. We don't have a deficit because we're taxed too little. We have a deficit because Congress spends too much. Now, isn't it about time the Congress started protecting the family budget instead of fattening the Federal budget? [Applause]
The contrast between us and the leaders of the other party is just as apparent when it comes to judicial appointments. Now, you know a President appoints judges, but they have to be confirmed by the United States Senate, or they don't become a judge. Since I began appointing Federal judges to be approved by people like Mack Mattingly in the Republican Senate, the Federal judiciary has become tougher, much tougher, on criminals. Criminals are going to jail more often, and they're receiving longer sentences. Over and over, the Democratic leadership has tried in the Senate to torpedo our choices for judges. And that's where Mack Mattingly can make all the difference. Without him and the Republican majority in the Senate, we'll find liberals like Joe Biden and a certain fellow from Massachusetts deciding who our judges are. I'll bet you will agree: I'd rather have a Judiciary Committee headed by Strom Thurmond than one run by Joe Biden or Teddy Kennedy.
You know, I can't resist telling another story here. There was a Democratic fundraiser. And when the people were coming out of the affair at the end of it, there was a kid outside with some puppies. And he was holding up these puppies one by one, and he was saying, ``Pups for sale. Democratic pups for sale.'' And 2 weeks later the Republicans held a fundraiser in the same place, and the same kid was there with the puppies. And he was now holding up Republican puppies for sale. And a newspaper reporter who had seen him 2 weeks before said, ``Hey, kid, wait a minute. Last time here, 2 weeks ago, you were trying to sell those puppies as Democrat puppies. Now you say they're Republican puppies. How come?'' The kid said, ``Now they got their eyes open.''
Ladies and gentlemen, we've come now to an issue that transcends in importance even all the other crucial matters that I've mentioned: my most solemn duty as President, the safety of the American people and the security of these United States. Here, too, because of the support of men like Mack Mattingly, we've been able to restore America's strength, as he told you. There's nothing I'm prouder of than the 2 million young men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. The only place where our opponents try to cut spending is with regard to the defense budget. And let me tell you, if we ever have to ask those young people to put their lives on the line for the United States of America, then they deserve to have the finest weapons and equipment that money can buy. And we're going to see that they get them. Because of our young men and women in uniform, things really have changed around the world. You know, America used to wear a ``Kick Me'' sign around its neck. We threw that sign away, and it now reads, ``Don't Tread on Me.'' Today every nickel-and-dime dictator around the world knows that if he tangles with the United States of America, he will have to pay a price. And one other thing I'm especially proud of: After 6 years of this administration, not 1 square inch of territory has been lost to communism, and one small country, Grenada, has been set free.
And finally, there's another special accomplishment. We must never forget that it was our decision to move ahead with SDI, that's Strategic Defense Initiative -- a defense initiative against ballistic missiles. It's that that brought the Soviet Union to the negotiating table, the bargaining table. And today we're dealing with the Soviet Union from a position of strength. And let me pledge to you today: Our goal today is to save the West from mutual nuclear terror, to make ballistic missiles obsolete, and ultimately to eliminate them from the face of the Earth. In Iceland we came closer to real arms reduction than ever before, but Mr. Gorbachev decided to make progress hostage to demands that we kill SDI. I had to remind him that SDI is America's insurance policy to protect us from accidents or some madman who might come along, as they have in past history, or just in case the Soviets don't keep their side of the bargain. And I had to remind Mr. Gorbachev of my pledge to the American people to never abandon SDI and that in America when you give your word, you keep your word.
Audience. SDI! SDI! SDI!
The President. Thank you. [Laughter] Well, and keeping my word was what I tried to do in Iceland. What we need in Washington is a Congress that won't give away at the conference table what we refused to surrender at the negotiating table in Reykjavik, Iceland. No responsible President should rely solely on a piece of paper for his country's safety. As a matter of fact, a good friend of mine and a great student of history has written a book I recommend, certainly to anyone in public life. It's called ``The Treaty Trap,'' and it is a history of treaties going clear back beyond the birth of Chirst. And history shows that any nation that depended on paper, a treaty, to protect its interests instead of keeping its hardware up -- that nation didn't stay around very long to write many of our pages in history. No responsible President should rely solely on a piece of paper for this country's safety. The record on Soviet treaty violations is clear. 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 our technology any time.
I know this crowd couldn't be here in this place unless among you there were a number of Democrats. No, I want you to know. No, I know that during these past 6 years as President I have relied again and again upon the support of Democrats like those who would be present at this gathering. And I thank them. As you may know, I was a Democrat once myself, until I learned that the liberal leadership of that party had gotten completely out of step with the hard-working, patriotic members of the Democrat Party -- the rank and file who make up that party across the Nation. Now, I know how tough it can be to break with tradition, but remember what Winston Churchill said when in the British Parliament he changed parties. He said, ``Some men change principle for party, and others change party for principle.''
Here in Georgia the choice couldn't be any clearer this year. While Mack and I have been a team, Mack's opponent [Wyche Fowler, Jr.] has voted against me more often than any other member of the Georgia delegation. He was the only Georgian opposed to the balanced budget amendment and he voted against the B - 1 bomber, the Peacekeeper missile, strategic defense, and 13 times against helping the freedom fighters in Central America. And according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he voted against veterans more often than anyone in the entire United States Congress.
Ladies and gentlemen, the eyes of America are on you and your great State. Will you choose the Democratic leaders who in 1980 weakened our nation and nearly brought our economy to its knees, who raised your taxes and have announced their plans to do so again, who oppose our efforts to build a defense to protect us from attack by nuclear ballistic missiles? Or will you choose to give the cleanup crew of 1980 a chance to finish the job? Well, now, just to be sure where you stand, I thought I'd conduct an informal poll. [Laughter] So, speak up loudly, and let all America hear. Do you want to go back to the days of big spending, high taxes, and runaway inflation?
The President. Do you want Ted Kennedy or Joe Biden controlling the confirmation of Federal court judges?
The President. Do you want to return to policies that gave us a weak and vacillating America?
The President. Now, would you rather have low taxes, low inflation, and low interest rates?
The President. Would you rather have an America that is strong, proud, and free?
The President. And do you want Mack Mattingly as your Senator from the great State of Georgia?
The President. Thank you.
Audience. Six more years! Six more years! Six more years!
The President. Thank you. You just made my day, and you didn't make Mack unhappy either. You know, my name will never appear on a ballot again, but if you'd like to vote for me one more time, you can do so by voting for Mack Mattingly.
Audience. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Six more years!
Audience. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Thank you. Thank you. If you mean I should live 4 more, I'm with you.
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'll shape our nation's future. Every poll shows that the age group from 18 to 24 has the highest percentage in support of us and what we've been doing. But every poll also shows that that same age group, 18 to 24, has the lowest voter turnout. So, to all of you young people here: Exercise your sacred right as an American, participate in shaping history itself by going to the polls and casting your vote. And also, when you leave here, if it's your intention to do that, go out as missionaries and buttonhole your friends and tell them to get to the polls and vote. They're needed. I was going to ask if I could count on you, but you've already given me that answer. You know, back in World War II, General George Marshall, then the Chief of Staff of our Army, was asked by someone as we entered that terrible, great war if we had a secret weapon and, if so what was it. And General Marshall said: ``Yes. And our secret weapon is just the best blankety-blank kids in the world.'' I think if the General were here today, I think the General would say of this generation of yours, you young people, once again, ``the best blankety-blank kids in the world.''
Well, it's time to go now. But before leaving, I'd just like to say that people my age deeply believe that it's our duty to turn over to you young people, you young Americans, the same freedom and opportunity that our parents and grandparents handed on to us. Sometimes those of us -- my own generation and generations between mine and yours -- sometimes we slipped up and let things get out of hand, as we did several years ago. But that has to be our sacred pledge. And when we look at you -- when we see your openness, your enthusiam for America and for life itself -- it gives us heart. My friends, in casting your vote for Mack Mattingly, you'll be winning one for yourselves, for Georgia, and for America. Thank you. God bless you. Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 11:50 a.m. in the Columbus Municipal Auditorium. Following his remarks, the President attended a reception for major donors to the Georgia State Republican Party in the auditorium. He then traveled to Birmingham, AL.