Remarks at a Reception Honoring Richard Richards, Chairman of the Republican National Committee

January 27, 1983

The President. Say, you're here from all over, aren't you? Thank you. Thank you for a very -- --

Audience member. [Inaudible] -- in Boston.

The President. What?

Audience member. We love you in Boston.

The President. Thank you. And I want to tell you, for one of us to get loved in Boston -- [laughter] -- takes some doing.

But I want to thank you very much. You aren't by any chance Republicans, are you? [Laughter] I knew I was among friends. But I dropped by to say a few words, if I could, about a personal friend of mine and of the GOP as well.

You know, Robert Louis Stevenson once said that a friend is a present you give yourself. And in Dick Richards, I think we've given ourselves quite a gift, a very good friend.

Back in '76 when we had an incumbent President and I happened to be a challenger, Dick was the State chairman in Utah. And he put himself on the line, becoming the first State chairman to endorse me. I've never forgotten the courage and conviction that it took to do that, and, Dick, I want you to know that I'll always be grateful.

But Dick is not just a friend. As head of the RNC, he's been a friend of all Republicans. During his tenure as Chairman, he's devoted himself to raising money and providing expertise for our cause and our candidates. And during his tenure, the RNC subsequently raised more money than at any other time in Republican Party history.

He also devoted himself to -- [applause] -- and he deserves that. He also devoted himself to fortifying our country and our -- or our county and our State organizations, I should say. He created a labor advisory board, opening channels to organized labor, and he made real progress in recruiting and financing qualified minority candidates. And, Dick, that's a record which honors you personally, but I think, also, all of us take pride in it. Now -- [applause] -- yes, you can.

But now, about the new leadership -- Paul Laxalt has agreed to serve as a General Chairman and to help coordinate the activities of all the Republican committees. And Frank Fahrenkopf will serve as Chairman of the RNC, and we look forward to working with Frank as he discharges the historic responsibilities of that chairmanship.

And if I can, I'd like to give a more upbeat prognostication about our party's future than some of those you may have been hearing or reading in certain newspapers that just want to be coldly calculating about us.

I think our party's going to be in good shape by 1984, despite what you read in the paper. We'll do well because of what you might call the ``Republican strategic triad.'' That's fundraising ability, nuts and bolts organization, and talented candidates. And let me say the issues, also, will start to break our way as the economy improves and many of our problems will begin to correct themselves. We're going to have a good record to run on in 1984. And as just an indication of that, General Motors has just announced that over the next 3 months they're recalling 21,400 of their indefinitely laid off because of their -- [applause]. There will be a fight in town to take credit for that one. [Laughter]

But I think we've made a solid beginning on the difficult tasks of giving the government back to the people, a healthy economy back to free enterprise, and a strong defense back to the free world. Incidentally, I can't give you the figures on this, but tomorrow morning the economic indicators will be released, and there will be some good news tomorrow morning on that, too.

Now, again, I want to thank Dick for his role in helping us to move closer to our dreams, and I want to thank all of you here today, as well. If it weren't for you, there wouldn't be a Republican Party. And I think now I've said enough, except just a heartfelt thank you and God bless you to all of you for being here, and don't let -- --

Audience member. [Inaudible]

Audience. [Chanting] Four more years!

The President. You know I can't answer that. Listen, if you -- --

Audience. [Chanting] Four more years! Six more years! Four more years!

Mr. Richards. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. [Laughter]

Audience member. Hang in there, Ronnie.

Mr. Richards. Mr. President, I believe that you are the best thing the Republican Party has going for it today -- --

Audience member. No doubt about it.

Mr. Richards. -- -- and we all want you to know that we're proud of you and the great leadership that you have given to this country, and each of us pledge our continued support for you and what you're trying to do to lead America back to greatness. Thank you very much for being with us tonight.

Mr. Fahrenkopf. I would just ask before we have the President come down and meet with some of you that we all give Dick Richards another hand for the great job he did for this committee. [Applause] And, Mr. President, on behalf of the continuing Republican National Committee for the next 2 years, we want to at this time urge you and Vice President Bush to seek reelection, and you have our support all the way.

The President. You know I can't answer that now, but thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:35 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The reception was part of the regular midwinter meeting of the committee.