Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senator Paula Hawkins in Miami, Florida
May 27, 1985
I just have to say, I'm either the latest after lunch speaker or the earliest dinner speaker -- [laughter] -- that I know of.
Senator Hawkins -- and I know that here with us, because they came down with us -- are Congressmen Ireland and Connie Mack and Jeannie Austin and Jeb Bush. [State chairman of the Florida Republican Party and chairman of the Dade County Republican Party, respectively.] I thank you all. Thank all of you.
It's an honor for me to be with you today in support of a Member of the United States Senate who has been absolutely indispensable to the cause of a strong America -- Senator Paula Hawkins.
Now, if you want to do me a favor and if you want to do the country a favor, just make sure that she goes back to the Senate for 6 more years. [Applause] I guess I can count on you. I thought you'd indicate your pleasure at that. But it's always a treat for me to visit Florida. Wasn't the Fountain of Youth somewhere around here? [Laughter]
I'd like to express my thanks to all of you today who've done so much over the years -- the precincts you've walked, the stamps you've licked, the contributions you've made, have all made a difference. People like Jim McLamore and Tibor Hollo [Cofounder and chairman emeritus of Burger King Corp. and chairman of the fundraising dinner for Senator Hawkins, respectively] have given new meaning to the term ``committed.''
You have more than your share of people committed to the cause. There's Jorge Mas and his team from the Cuban-American Foundation. And then there's Carlos Perez, the Cuban firecracker, and his Concerned Citizens for Democracy. And I know I speak for Senator Hawkins when I say thanks for all that you've done.
Pardon my borrowing a line, but when it comes to your support, I wouldn't leave home without it. [Laughter]
We Republicans have been blessed with grassroots supporters who are committed to the ideals of individual freedom, family values, free enterprise, and a strong America. While the other party has tried to build a coalition by segmenting America into warring factions over the past years -- pitting white against black, women against men, young against old -- we've taken a more positive path. The Republican Party has sought to unite our citizens by building on those fundamental beliefs that made America the great land that she is.
As Andy Ireland keeps emphasizing, the door to our party is wide open, the welcome mat is out, and our agenda is opportunity and freedom for all. We don't promise quota systems and giveaway programs. We promise to do what's right for America and for all Americans.
Senator Hawkins is herself a great example of how our party works. She's one of two Republicans in the United States Senate who happen to be women. That's two more than the opposition have. Now, throughout the country hundreds of Republican women hold elected office, and last year there was a net gain of 95 Republican women elected to State and Federal legislative bodies -- the biggest jump in the history of either party.
It will take all of us working together to meet the serious challenges that America faces. And what we do will determine if our country remains the free and decent place that we want it to be.
Senator Hawkins has been an articulate champion of our cause. She's been a leading figure, for example, in the fight against drug trafficking -- a menace to every family in America. She has been working within the legislative process to support those countries that are battling the drug traffickers and penalize those that are not. She's made it her business to expose the Cuban-Nicaraguan drug connection. High-level officials of these governments have been personally implicated and, in some cases, indicted.
I have a message for Fidel Castro about the drug trade. He can tell America's television network people anything he wants, but nobody in his regime is going to get away with this dirty drug business.
We're moving forward on a broad front to attack the use of illegal drugs. Working with private and charitable organizations, with schools, family groups, and others, we're encouraging people, especially young people, not to get involved with drugs and to help those already on drugs to get off. I happen to be very personally, very proud that Nancy has taken the personal interest that she has in this positive initiative to win the drug war. When I come home from the office and open the door and say, ``I'm home,'' if there's no answer, well, I know where she is and what she's doing. [Laughter]
But another part of our strategy is a strong law enforcement/interdiction campaign aimed at stopping the drug flow before it reaches the customers. It's a complicated and frustrating job, but our commitment sends a message to every youngster in this country: Drug use is a threat, an ugly, life-destroying vice. And it's wrong. And I'm pleased that the message seems to be getting through. Young people in America are turning away from drugs.
Let me be partisan and add something here -- one thing more and more young people are turning to is the Republican Party. Nothing gave me greater joy than the multitude of young faces evident everywhere we stopped during the 1984 campaign.
What we do -- our efforts to make America a better country -- is for them. Illegal drugs are only part of the crime epidemic. For far too long our legal system has resembled a jigsaw puzzle of complicated roadblocks through which our law enforcers have been forced to maneuver in order to do their job. In 1984, with a Republican majority in the Senate, we passed a comprehensive crime control act -- a major step toward reestablishment of the balance to the criminal justice system. It's about time our criminal justice system gets back to serving the cause of justice and not the interests of criminals.
Paula Hawkins is a Senator of accomplishment. She has authored 32 bills and amendments which have passed the Senate and have gone on to become law. Now, that's an amazing record for any Senator, much less a freshman. We can expect even more from her during her second term, and she's earned a second term.
Of course, all this effort means little if our country is not secure. During these last 4 years, we've been moving forward to rebuild America's military strength, which was neglected during the 1970's. I can't tell you how vital Republican control of the Senate has been in this effort. The opposition often acts like a weaker America is a safer America.
Well, like it or not, that's the kind of bizarre logic that will carry the day if the other party regains control of the Senate. But with a Republican majority, we can count on common sense and courage to rule the day. Republicans know it is strength, not weakness, that will ensure the peace. We are fully aware of the threat communism poses to human freedom. And don't let anyone tell you we're morally equivalent with the Soviet Union. I have heard that term used in places. This is a democratic country of free people, a democratic country where all people enjoy the right to speak, to worship God as they choose, and live without fear. We are morally superior, not equivalent, to any totalitarian regime, and we should be darn proud of it.
In Central America today our ideals are being put to the test. The freedom of our friends and neighbors to the south is at stake, as is the security of the United States. And I'm happy to say that Paula Hawkins is one elected official who didn't have to wait until Daniel Ortega went to Moscow yet again before she realized that he's a Communist.
Many of those opposing our efforts have steadfastly refused to acknowledge that the rulers of the regime in Managua are, by their own admission, hardcore Communists and consider themselves part of the international Communist movement. Many of our own elected officials act as if they don't believe the Sandinista regime is playing a significant role in the Communist insurgency in El Salvador. Incidentally, I think some of our people get confused -- they're not that familiar with Central America -- when we talk Sandinista government and contras or the freedom fighters. I'm going to quit using both terms and start calling them what they are -- it's the freedom fighters against the Communists.
Now, this role that they're playing in the insurgency in El Salvador -- this despite the fact that top defectors from the El Salvadoran guerrillas have been telling us they receive guidance, training, funds, and vast amounts of arms and ammunition from their Communist friends in Nicaragua. Nicaragua today equals aggression, pure and simple. For the sake of peace in Central America, for the security of our own country, we cannot permit these Communists to succeed.
Closing our eyes and making a wish, which seems to be about the only course of action our opponents will support, won't make this threat go away. We need to assist those governments targeted by the Communists, and it's imperative that we support those brave individuals who are putting their lives on the line to bring democracy to Nicaragua.
The freedom fighters are a shield for Nicaragua's democratic neighbors, preventing the Communist regime from focusing its full strength on subversion and aggression. The freedom fighters are the best hope for democracy in that troubled country. Those who would have us abandon them and the people of Nicaragua are cutting off our chances to avoid a major crisis in Central America.
Lincoln's words ring as true today as they did over a hundred years ago: ``Our defense,'' he said, ``is in the preservation of the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors.''
And let's recognize the truth that Fidel Castro is behind much of the trouble in Central America. His consuming hatred of America and his ideological commitment to Communist tyranny has impoverished his country and oppressed its people. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, ``Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.'' Well, the Communists understand this, and that's why they're deathly afraid of the free flow of information. And that's why I'm especially proud that, at long last, Radio Marti is on the air. Now, there's a certain fellow with a beard who isn't so happy about Radio Marti -- [laughter] -- but at least for now Radio Marti's signal is getting through.
I firmly believe the tide of history is moving away from communism and into the warm sunlight of human freedom. To win this struggle, to preserve our way of life, to maintain the peace, we must be strong and true to our ideals. And together we can meet the challenge. Future generations, not only in the United States but throughout the hemisphere, will be grateful for what we do today. We're passing to them the most precious gift of all -- liberty.
Now, I know a moment ago when I mentioned our defense buildup -- I know the wave of propaganda, the drumbeat that is going on through this country with regard to our defense spending program. And one of the things that's the hardest and most frustrating to bear is the fact that our very success has been adding to the feeling that something is wrong with what we are doing. That is, every time we find one of those $400 hammers or something like that, it is added to the thought that, well, something is wrong and wasteful in the Defense Department.
Those are success stories. I don't know how long $400 hammers have been going on, but I know that in these 4 years we've been finding them and not buying them. [Laughter]
Now, you know, I know that the defense budget is large, you count this in the number of dollars and so forth, and where we're trying to balance the budget, erase the deficit. But I would just like to give you some comparative figures from the past. In the fifties, defense spending averaged 46 percent or better of the total budget. In the sixties, it averaged almost 40 percent, 39\1/2\ percent. It averages now only 29 percent of our budget. So, when we set out to cut spending, we think that it makes a lot of sense to cut where the bulk of the spending is, which is in domestic spending for a lot of things that government shouldn't have been doing in the first place.
And again, I come back down to this fact: None of what we're doing could have been done if we didn't control one House of the Senate [Congress]. You know that for about 42 out of 46 years our opponents held both Houses of the Congress. And finally, 4 years ago, we got control of this one House. It is absolutely essential if we are to succeed in what we have started to do. And to just give you one idea of how much has been accomplished, Republicans -- for most of those 40-odd years I'm talking about -- Republicans continually had to fight in the Congress a rearguard action against further government spending and increased government spending.
The debate that is raging in the Congress today shows what's been accomplished with that Republican Senate and with Senators like Paula Hawkins in that the debate is over how to go about cutting the spending. No one's talking about increasing it, they're only talking about cutting it.
We'll keep on until pretty soon more and more of them will find out that there is a wide open door to our party, and they can come on over and straighten up and fly right. [Laughter] But in the meantime, please send Paula back. We need her very much.
Thank you very much. God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 4:44 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Omni International Hotel. Prior to his remarks, the President attended a reception in the Florida Ballroom at the hotel for major donors to Senator Hawkins' campaign. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.