Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Senator Steven D. Symms in Twin Falls, Idaho
October 31, 1986
The President. Thank you -- --
Audience. We love Ronnie! We love Ronnie! We love Ronnie!
The President. Well, I love all of you. And you know, I really was born too soon, because when I was playing football the cheerleaders were all boys. [Laughter] Well, Steve, thank you for that very generous and kind introduction. And, while I'm doing it, a special thanks to the Burley High School Band, Amy Stukenholtz, the Sawtooth Country Cloggers, and the Madrigals from Twin Falls High School. And of course, thanks also to the Stage Band of the College of Southern Idaho and K.C. and the Sunshine Kids.
I've come here today in support of a champion on the team that put the American economy back on track, rebuilt her military strength, and restored her confidence. He's made a difference for Idaho and our country, and I hope you'll do everything in your power to see that Steve Symms is reelected to the United States Senate. And I'm pleased that coming here gives me a chance to say hello to another great Senator, a strong ally of our administration and a good friend, Jim McClure.
And when you're casting your ballot on Tuesday for Steve, don't forget to vote for Dave Leroy and Butch Otter for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. And I'm very pleased that your State chairman of the Republican Party, Blake Hall, is here with us, too. You know, you've also got a Congressman to be proud of in Larry Craig. And for Pete's sake, please send me Mel Richardson to Congress to work with him. I need a Congressman who will support me, instead of someone who opposes me 60 percent of the time.
Now, you know, I just can't help but see that there are a lot of young people here.
Audience. We love Ronnie! We love Ronnie! We love Ronnie!
The President. All right. Now, I have a special message for all you young people from my roommate. She said to tell you when it comes to drugs, please -- for yourselves, for your families, for your future, and for your country -- just say no.
You know, it's wonderful to be here in Idaho, and you know, as I often say to my staff when we're getting on Air Force One to take off, it's great to get out of Washington and get back to where the real people are. Now, you probably know I couldn't do this much traveling when Congress was in session, as Steve Symms will tell you. That's because some of those folks up there need watching. [Laughter] Now, I'm not striking a blow at Congress as an institution; I respect it greatly. But there are some people in there that their way of doing government business reminds me of the three fellows that came out of the building and found out they'd locked themselves out of the car. And one of them said, ``Well,'' he says, ``get me a wire coathanger.'' And he says, ``I can straighten that out, and,'' he said, ``I can flip the latch and get us in.'' And the second one said, ``We can't do that out here. Somebody would think we're stealing the car.'' And the third one said, ``Well, we better think of something fast, because it's starting to rain and the top's down.'' [Laughter]
But that story says so much about how the tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend policies left our country just a few short years ago: negative growth, double-digit inflation, the highest rates since -- and get ready for this -- the highest interest rates since the Civil War. And so, as part of the 1980 cleanup crew for the worst economic mess since the Great Depression, Steve and I headed for Washington. We cut government growth, slashed regulations, and cut income taxes by almost 25 percent. And today we're enjoying one of the longest economic expansions in history. The prime interest rate has fallen by two-thirds, mortgage and auto loan rates are down. Inflation has plummeted from more than 12 percent to only 1.8 percent. And we've created over 11\1/2\ million new jobs -- that is more than our allies in Western Europe and Japan combined have created in the past 10 years. You know, when we started that economic program to bring us out of the doldrums, oh, there was a lot of criticism. And people were making fun, and then there were some others that were very angry about it. And you know, I could tell that it was really working when they stopped calling it Reaganomics. [Laughter]
Just days ago, we learned that the figure that represents the country's economic growth -- GNP, gross national product -- and some other indicators show our economy as gathering momentum for even more growth, higher take-home pay, and more new jobs. And more recently, we have learned that the trade deficit in September declined for the second month in a row and is now 30 percent below its peak. This is particularly good news for our manufacturing industries. And we also learned that September sales of single family homes were up over 10 percent. And just this morning, we learned that the Nation's leading economic indicators were up four-tenths of a percent in September. That's three more indications that we're headed for more prosperity. And I'm determined to see that those who still are not sharing fully in our nation's prosperity do so. And I give you my pledge: Neither Steve nor I will be satisfied until this expansion reaches every sector of our economy and every home in America and until every American who wants a job has a job.
Now, 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. 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 increase. You know, the truth is those folks never met a tax they didn't like. And 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 the American people know the truth: We don't have a deficit because we're taxed too little; we have a deficit because the Congress spends too much. Isn't it about time that they started protecting the family budget instead of fattening the Federal budget? [Applause]
And the contrast between us and the leaders of the other party is just as apparent when it comes to judicial appointments. You know the President appoints the Federal judges, but the Senate has to approve them. And the contrast between us and the leaders of the other party, as I say, well, sum it up: Since I began appointing Federal judges to be approved by people like Steve Symms in the Republican Senate, the Federal judiciary has become tougher, much tougher, on criminals. Convicted criminals are going to jail more often, and they're receiving longer sentences. But over and over -- and you perhaps saw some of this on television -- the Democratic leadership has tried in the Senate to torpedo our choices for judges, and that's where Steve Symms can make all the difference. Without him and the Republican majority in the Senate, we'll find liberals, like a certain fellow from Massachusetts, who will be deciding who our judges are.
The President. Now, I'll bet you'll agree: I'd rather have a Judiciary Committee headed by Senator Strom Thurmond, as it is, than one run by Teddy Kennedy any day. [Applause]
But you know, this talking about political differences and all reminds me of a story. And you'll find out when you get my age everything reminds you of a story. [Laughter] It was a Democratic fundraiser at a downtown hotel. And when they came out of the fundraiser, there was a kid with some puppies. And he was selling them: ``Buy a Democrat puppy. Buy a Democrat puppy.'' But 2 weeks later the Republicans held a fundraiser at the same place. When they came out, the same kid was there with the pups: ``Buy a Republican puppy. Buy a Republican puppy.'' Well, a newspaperman that had seen him there 2 weeks before said, ``Hey, kid, a couple of weeks ago you were selling those puppies as Democrat puppies. Now you're selling them, and they're Republican puppies. Come on -- how come?'' Kid says, ``Now they got their eyes open.'' [Laughter]
But, ladies and gentlemen, we 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 Steve Symms, we've been able to restore America's strength. There is nothing in this job that I'm prouder of than the 2 million young men and women who are in the Armed Forces of the United States today. And you've heard, of course, of the contest and how mainly our opponents keep trying to cut back on our defense spending. Well, let me tell you: If we must ever 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 we can produce. And with Steve Symms' help, we're going to see they get it. You know, because of these young men and women in uniform, things have really changed around the world. You know, America used to wear a ``Kick Me'' sign around its neck. Well, we've thrown that one away, and now it 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 a price to pay. And one other thing I'm especially proud of: After 6 years of this administration, not 1 square inch of territory in the world has been lost to communism, and one small country, Grenada, has been set free.
And finally, there's another special issue. We remain committed to our decision to move ahead with our strategic defense against ballistic missiles, SDI. Now, today we're dealing with the Soviet Union from a position of strength, and it was SDI that brought the Soviet Union to the bargaining table. And let me pledge to you: Our goal is to keep America strong, to save the West from mutual nuclear terror, to make ballistic missiles obsolete and, ultimately, to eliminate them from the face of the Earth. SDI is America's insurance policy to protect us from accidents or some madman, like Hitler, who might come along -- or a Qadhafi -- or just in the case that the Soviets don't keep their side of a bargain. This is critical, because the same people who announced phony troop pullouts in Afghanistan last month are saying, ``Trust us on arms control this month.'' They didn't pull anyone out. There're just as many there as there always were. Phony bookkeeping won't end the war in Afghanistan. Only one thing can: a Soviet decision to get out. They can't have it both ways. They can't bring troops in one month and announce troop withdrawals the next. They can't talk peace in Reykjavik and wage war in Kabul. So, I have a message for the Soviets: Pull back in Afghanistan, and move forward on arms control. Now, I knew there were those who had their doubts, but flying back from Iceland, I knew the American people would support firmness with the Soviet Union. So, I couldn't come here today without thanking each of you for that support.
Now, you know, in a crowd like this, there must be a number of Democrats. No, really, because I want you to know that during these past 6 years as President I've had to rely again and again upon the support of Democrats like those who might be here today, and I want to thank each and every one of you for that. You know, I used to be a Democrat myself until I learned that the liberal leadership of that party had become completely out of step with the hard-working and patriotic men and women who make up the Democratic Party. Going back and forth across the country, I have found there are many of them that know that there is a difference between what they believe and what the leadership of their party now believes.
If you don't mind a little personal story: When I was a kid in Dixon, Illinois, I was a drum major of the Dixon Boys Band. And one day we were asked to lead the Memorial Day parade at a nearby town. And the parade marshal on a big white horse was out in front, and then it was us -- me with the baton and the band and the parade. Well, we started down the street. And the band was playing, and I was pumping the baton. And suddenly, the marshal rode back down the line of the parade to see that everything was coming along all right. And pretty soon, I thought the music was beginning to sound faint, and I sneaked a look back. The marshal had caught up with the parade just in time to turn the whole band to the right down an intersection, where they were supposed to go, and I was going up the street all by myself. [Laughter]
Now, I tell that because that's really what has happened to the Democratic Party: The rank-and-file members have turned to the right, and the leadership is still going up that trail that they've been on for so many years. Now, maybe some are ex-Democrats, as I am, but maybe some haven't reregistered. It's tough to break with tradition, but remember what Winston Churchill, that great British statesman, said. He was in Parliament, and he changed parties. And he was roundly criticized for doing so. And then he answered with a simple sentence. He said, ``Some men change principle for party, and others change party for principle.''
Here in Idaho the choice couldn't be any clearer this year. Steve's opponent is a world-class big taxer, who has proposed increasing State taxes and, at a Governors' conference, called for raising Federal taxes. Steve does not see costly new Federal programs and high taxes as solutions. He's been working with me to help the lumber industry and to see to it that the Japanese don't dump computer chips on the market. He's also been championing the plight of the farmer. By the way, we have produced more assistance -- or provided more assistance to America's farmers than the last five administrations combined -- $26 billion this last year alone. But Steve and I see this only as a stopgap. In the long haul, we've got to put the profit back in farming and get the Federal bureaucrats out.
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 pursue a defense to protect us from attack by nuclear ballistic missiles? Do you want to send to Washington someone who will cancel out the vote of your other great Senator, Jim McClure?
The President. Or will you choose to give the cleanup crew of 1980 a chance to finish the job?
The President. Now, just to be sure where you stand, I thought I'd conduct an informal poll. 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 controlling the confirmation of Federal judges?
The President. Do you want to return to policies that gave us a weak and vacillating America?
The President. That's good to hear. [Laughter] Now, would you rather have low taxes, low inflation, and low interest rates?
The President. Would you rather have an America that is strong and proud and free?
The President. Do you want Steve Symms as your Senator from the great State of Idaho?
The President. Thank you. You just made my day, and you didn't hurt Steve a bit. [Laughter]
You know, my name will never appear on a ballot again, but if you'd like to vote for me one more time -- --
Audience. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. There's a little matter of the Constitution. If you mean you hope I'll live 4 more years, I'm for that. [Laughter] And what you can do, short of the other there -- give me 2 more years of a Republican Senate. You just vote for Steve.
But important as this election will be to me, it'll be even more important to you, and especially to you young people, for this election could really play a part in shaping our nation's future. Every poll shows that the age group 18 to 24 -- that age group has the highest percentage in giving us support for what we're doing. [Applause] But, wait a minute. Every poll shows just as clearly that that age group has the lowest voter turnout. So, you young people exercise your sacred right as an American. Participate in shaping history itself by going to the polls and casting your vote. But then, more than that, go out of here as missionaries, remembering what I said about that age group, and buttonhole your friends and tell them, if they are between 18 and 24, to get to the polls and vote.
But, you know, I've seen your counterparts, members of your generation all across this country. I've been on campuses, been in high schools, seen them there in the military and all. And I can't help but think that back when we went into World War II, General George C. Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, was asked if the United States had a secret weapon and, if so, what it might be? And General Marshall answered very crisply. He said, ``Yes, we have a secret weapon. It's just the best blankety-blank kids in the world.'' From what I've seen -- going around the country -- of this generation, if George Marshall were here, he'd say you are the best blankety-blank kids in the world. He didn't really say ``blankety-blank,'' but President's can't talk like generals. [Laughter]
Well, it's time to go now. But before leaving, I'd just like to say that people my age believe that it's our duty to turn over to you young Americans the same freedom and opportunity that our parents and grandparents handed to us when it was our turn. And not only my generation but all those in here between my generation and yours, I think, feel the same way. There've been times -- in fact just a few years ago -- when it's looked like we have failed someplace along the line and things have slipped. But we've always gotten it back on track, as we have it now, and it will be there when it's your turn to take over. When we look at you, when we see your openness and your enthusiasm for America, for life itself, it gives us heart. So, when you go to the polls, win one for Steve Symms, win one for your future and America's future -- and I just can't resist -- I don't care if you win one for the Gipper!
Thank you all very much. Thank you, and God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 3:09 p.m. at the Exposition Center on the College of Southern Idaho campus. He was introduced by Senator Symms. Following his remarks, the President met at the Harrett Museum with major donors to the Idaho State Republican Party. He then traveled to Los Angeles, CA.