Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Corpus Christi, Texas

October 2, 1984

The President. Thank you very much, and muchas gracias.

I'm very proud to have been introduced by your Congressman, but I hope soon to be, if you do what's right, your Senator, Phil Gramm.

Well, it's great to be back in Texas and -- --

Audience member. We love you, Ronnie!

The President. Thank you -- and back in Corpus Christi visiting you again. I've campaigned here on more than one occasion, and I always notice how proudly the flag waves in the south Texas wind. It sort of says to visitors that the people here take patriotism seriously.

Well, together we're going to make certain that our country always stands for freedom and our flag continues to wave proudly. There is a new spirit in America, and I'm pleased to call it the new patriotism. All over the country, Americans are casting away the pessimism and self-doubt of the last decade. We're coming together, people of every race, religion, and ethnic background, rejoicing in the freedom and the opportunity of this great land.

Four years ago when I was last here, I asked you for your support. I promised that if you so honored me, I would do my very best to help all of you to make America strong again, to rebuild her economy, strengthen her defenses, and to restore her confidence in the future. Well, it's been tough, but together we have, all of us and all of you, made a new beginning. We still have more to do, but I think we're headed in the right direction. And I think this election offers the clearest choice in 50 years -- a choice of whether we go forward together to build on our own progress, or whether we go back to the defeatism and despair of the unhappy past.

Let me ask you. Does anyone want to go back to the days of high inflation?

Audience. No!

The President. Anyone want to go back to the days of economic stagnation and a heavier and heavier tax burden?

Audience. No!

The President. No, you don't want to go back, and the American people don't want to go back. They want to keep moving forward to jobs and opportunity, forward to stable prices and economic expansion, forward to a safer and a stronger America. I think the American people are proud of the recovery they built and confident about making tomorrow even better.

And I want you to know you did do this. I just told some people over in Brownsville a little while ago, as to this recovery, all we did was get the Government out of your way.

You know, those who are running down this comeback story, who are trying to make us fear our future, are running down the talent and the courage of the American people. And I just have a hunch that come election day, they're going to be sorry they did.

Unhappily, there are those who still believe they can divide us against ourselves by appealing to envy, promising something for nothing, and the American people aren't buying that anymore. And something else no one's buying is any scheme for raising Federal taxes based on promises from fast-talking politicians that somebody else will pay the bill.

My opponent has made an enormous tax increase his first option, the centerpiece of his campaign. Well, I think he's a little confused. Doesn't he know you don't want greater taxes, you want a greater Texas?

Raising taxes will not encourage people in Texas to work harder and be more productive; raising taxes will not stimulate investment; raising taxes will not give business the incentive to innovate and to make their companies more competitive. America doesn't need higher taxes. America doesn't need my opponent to rescue us from prosperity. America needs more growth.

Those who still need help will get help, and every American who wants a job will find a job as we keep on growing. The politicians and the economic gurus who gave us stagflation -- stagflation, that took some doing, you know, to produce both economic decline and inflation all at the same time. And those people claimed that our program wouldn't work. They said it wouldn't work before it had even been passed. And incidentally, when you meet somebody that maybe wonders why you're supporting Phil Gramm, you might remind him that one of the two names on the legislation that brought about the tax cuts and the economic progress and the reduction in government spending -- the names were Del Latta and Phil Gramm. It was their bill.

Those same people warned us that cutting tax rates would lead to super inflation. Well, now that our economy is strong and growing, they're a little stuck, so they tell us now, it won't last. Well, I think it's about time we quit listening to politicians and so-called economic experts who keep selling America short. Of course, when one is so tied to the politics of the past and focusing on the negative, it's hard to have a vision of a better future.

But I don't know, I see America as a soaring eagle -- strong, proud, and free. Now, I think there are those still around who secretly maybe agree with Ben Franklin's suggestion for our national bird. They'd rather have the symbol be a turkey. [Laughter]

Well, 4 years ago we were not only suffering terrible economic difficulties, our country was being counted out as a world leader. Our friends and adversaries alike looked at us as a nation in decline. Advocates of weakness -- people who blamed the United States for all the troubles of the world -- they claimed a weaker America would be a safer America because no one would have anything to fear from us. Well, no one has anything to fear from us if they mind their own business.

You know, those dedicated individuals in our Armed Forces, they were being treated as if they were at fault for world tensions. Well, we've turned that situation around, too. Today we're safer and more secure because America is rebuilding its defensive strength. It is strength, not weakness, that will ensure a peaceful future.

You know, President Eisenhower knew this when he wrote, ``To be strong nationally is not a sin, it's a necessity.'' And a lot of our strength is based on the new pride in those who are serving in the Armed Forces. Morale's at a high point, and I'm told by their commanders that we've got the finest group of young people in the history of our country serving today. They're better educated. They're more dedicated than ever before. And as long as I'm President, they will never doubt that to the depth of our national soul, we appreciate the job they're doing, and we're proud of each and every one of them.

And something else: As long as I'm President, we're not going to quibble about supplying the weapons and the equipment that they need to do the job they're doing. We'll continue our strenuous efforts to cut waste and fraud and to get the very best deal we can, but we aren't going to play politics with the lives of those who are defending our country. As I said before, we don't want anyone to fear us, but -- --

[At this point, the President was briefly interrupted by the sound of an airplane.]

I thought he was campaigning in the South today. [Laughter]

But as I said, we don't -- --

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Thank you.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Thank you.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Well, as I said before, we don't want anyone to fear us. But I said this in 1980, what our goal would be, and I think maybe we've reached it. And that is, we don't care if they even don't love us. We just expect them to repect us. And that's why we'll be strong.

You know, contrary to what the liberals would like us to believe, by restoring America's military strength, which the previous administration had permitted to erode, we're now in a better position to negotiate with any potential adversary. And just last week, I initiated a new effort to convince the Soviet Union to return to serious arms reduction negotiations.

I'm optimistic that if we remain firm, the Soviet Union will find it in its interest to join with us in reducing the number of weapons now threatening both our peoples. But we're not going to achieve this or anything else with self-doubt and unilateral concessions. I can assure you that we're trying our hardest to convince the Soviets to bargain realistically, to reach an agreement that is fair and verifiable.

And I think that Minister Gromyko has returned to the Soviet Union with a better understanding of what we are, who we are, and what we're looking forward to achieving in the way of peace in the world. It's incumbent for everyone to remember that it was not the United States that walked away from the negotiating table on arms reductions, it was the Soviet Union that walked away.

Now, in situations like this, we all stand together. A stronger America doesn't just mean better weapons; it means having the strength of character to meet our commitments. It means having the will and the political leadership to protect our national interests. And it means not shirking our responsibility to protect our children's future, even when it might be easier to ignore a potential threat.

When we got to Washington, the enemies of freedom were on the move. They were encouraged by what they saw as a lack of will in the previous administration. Central America was headed for a crisis. Well, I'm proud to say that we prevented a major catastrophe, something that might have endangered the security and the well-being of our country for many years to come. In the last 4 years, not 1 square inch of territory has been lost to Communist aggression. And, in one case, with quick and decisive action, we protected hundreds of American medical students from a potential hostile situation and restored freedom to the people of Grenada.

And it was so wonderful when some of those young men -- well, all of them came back, all of the combat forces came back -- and, before they left, said it was good to see ``God bless America'' written on the walls down there instead of ``Yankee go home.''

As was true in our efforts to turn around the economy, our struggle to protect Central America from Communist aggression -- that effort was hampered by obstacles thrown in our path by some liberals in the Democratic Party. And please note I said ``some.'' They are out of step, and some of the leadership, out of step with the millions of patriotic Democrats in this land, the rank-and-file Democrats, and we're reaching out to all concerned Democrats and Independents, asking them to come walk with us down the new path of hope and opportunity and a secure America. I know they can no longer follow the advice of those who have taken this other course. I know, I think, because for a good part of my life I was a Democrat, too, and then found I could no longer follow the policies of what had developed in the leadership of that party.

Now, it's important that we elect right-thinking men and women to the Congress. And that's why it's also vital for you to send Phil Gramm to the United States Senate, so Texas can have the same high quality representation that Senator John Tower has been providing you. We couldn't have accomplished what we've accomplished if we had not had a majority in the Senate. I need Phil Gramm. America needs Phil Gramm.

We only have 1 month left. We have to work our hardest to get our message to every one of your friends and neighbors -- Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. Every vote counts.

And I can't leave here without noticing something -- here on either side of us these bands, these young people, these high school people, so many of you young people here in the crowd. For the rest of us who aren't that young anymore -- [laughter] -- and my friends and fellow senior citizens down here from the Hill Haven Nursing Home, I'm delighted you're here -- what we know is that all I've been talking about up here and all that this election is about is what kind of country we're going to turn over to those wonderful young people of ours. So many of us started out in a country where we knew no matter how beset we were with poverty or what seemed to be lack of opportunity or anything, we knew that anything was possible in this country of ours. And we have a sacred obligation to see that every succeeding generation sees that same kind of an America where there's no ceiling on where they can go and what they can do.

So, on election day, get everybody out to the polls. Don't let anyone -- and listen, when I say polls, I mean those voting polls. [Laughter] Don't get get swept away with those public opinion polls. President Dewey told me not to look at the polls and get overconfident. [Laughter] So, just pretend we're one vote behind, and everyone has to get out there and vote.

All right. God bless you all. And I know I've got to get back on that airplane out there. But this has been wonderful of you to come out here, and I thank you all very much.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Thank you. Thanks very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:40 p.m. at Corpus Christi International Airport.

Following his remarks, the President traveled to Houston, TX.