Remarks at a Senate
Campaign Fundraising Luncheon for Representative W. Henson Moore in
Thank you very much, all of you, and thank you, Henson, for that kind introduction. Incidentally, I just couldn't resist, I just made a little check over my shoulder here when Henson gave that figure on the crowd out there. And when it's the Secret Service that tells you how many there are there, it isn't an estimate, they've counted. [Laughter]
it's wonderful to be here in
You know, there was a time that being a Republican in this area of the country felt a little bit like being Gary Cooper in ``High Noon'' -- [laughter] -- outnumbered in a big way. [Laughter] I remember the story of the fellow here a while ago who was running for Congress as a Republican. He stopped by a farm to do some campaigning, and when the farmer heard he was a Republican, his jaw dropped and he said, ``Wait right here,'' he said, ``while I get Ma. She's never seen a Republican before.'' [Laughter] So, he got Ma. And the candidate looked around for a podium to give his speech from -- the only thing he could find was a pile of that stuff that Bess Truman took 35 years trying to get Harry to call fertilizer. [Laughter] So, he got up on that mound, and when they came back, he gave his speech. At the end of it the farmer said, ``That's the first time I ever heard a Republican speech.'' The candidate said, ``That's the first time I've ever given a Republican speech from a Democratic platform.'' [Laughter]
All that, as they say, is history. More and more, the
people of this State are rejecting the old politics as usual. As I said in
been a leader in the Congress in our fight to bring
you know, Henson's election will have reverberations way beyond the borders of
can't stop until
maybe you've noticed that I was careful before to say that I was talking about
the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. And that's because I believe
the liberals who've taken control of that once great party don't represent the
vast majority of hard-working, patriotic Democrats all across this country.
And, no, I don't mistake the rank and file of the Democratic Party for its
liberal leadership. And I'm grateful for all the help that these honest
Democrats have given us these last few years. I'm sure there must be a number
in this room who are and a number also who were and changed. Some of them may
be former Democrats as I am; some haven't made the change. But we couldn't have
been elected in 1980, we couldn't have brought
You know, a while ago, Richard Baker, the excellent candidate who's running for Henson Moore's seat, came up to visit me at the White House. And I've had many of your fine State and local officials over, too. You know, all of them were lifelong Democrats who switched to the Republican Party. And they said to me that the proud Democratic Party of their fathers' day and their grandfathers' day was no more. It had been captured by the liberal wing and dragged way over to the fringes on the left.
And I told them that I know how tough it is, and can be, to change parties; how hard it is to break with tradition. I was working for Republican candidates for some time before I got around to changing my registration. And I was just taken for granted by the Republicans by that time that I was one of them. I'd campaigned for their candidates and gone to their fundraisers. And one night I was speaking at a fundraiser, and right in the middle of my speech a woman stood up out in the middle of the audience, and she said, ``Have you reregistered yet?'' [Laughter] And I said, ``No, but I'm going to.'' She said, ``I'm a registrar.'' [Laughter] She came right down and put the papers on the podium, and I signed up and then said, ``Now, where was I?'' [Laughter]
It is tough to change. But it's important to remember what Winston Churchill said about changing parties, ``Some men change principle for party, and some change party for principle.'' You know, one of the first to ever see what was happening in that party was many years ago, and long enough ago that I could say I was a young man then. [Laughter] And it was Mr. Democrat, himself, in the north -- Al Smith -- who'd been candidate of the party for President. And Al Smith went out of his way to get time on nationwide radio -- no TV in those days -- and on nationwide radio he made a speech that was really an unusual thing. He told that the leadership of his party must have been in swimming and somebody else stole their clothes and became the leadership. And then, he said -- while he was a Democrat and always had been -- he said, ``I'm taking a walk.'' And that speech and that line of his -- I'm taking a walk -- was the forerunner of what so many more of us have come to know.
I know that it's kind of cliche to say, well, I didn't leave the party, the party left me. The funny thing is: It not only did that, but the party's changed. When I cast my first Democratic vote -- 21 years old -- for Roosevelt, the Democratic Party platform called for a 25-percent reduction in the cost of government; the return of authority and autonomy to the States and local communities that had been unjustly seized by the Federal Government; and the elimination of useless agencies, bureaus, and commissions in the Federal Government. Which party today could run on that platform? But as the time went on -- and even, as I say, the party that I later joined had undergone a change.
When the Great Depression was spread all over the world by the Smoot-Hawley tariff, that protectionist measure -- that was a Republican bill. The Republicans, then, were the party of high tariff. The Democrats were the party of low tariff and nonprotectionism. And today that has turned around. So, in reality, anyone who believes in the Democratic Party of the past and the party of your fathers and before that -- you have no reason in the world not to change, because the two parties changed. And now you can do what you believe.
So, the door to the party of opportunity is wide open. And we're just hoping that on September 27 everyone in Louisiana, whether they're registered as a Democrat or Republican, will come out to vote for a man who has dedicated his life to building America strong and proud and free -- Henson Moore.
final thing: I want to let each and every one of you know how personally
grateful I am for your being here and for all that you're doing for the cause.
I've said that many times, but it couldn't be more true.
You know, we have too many people -- and then I'm going to quit -- that can be best described in a story I like. Three fellows that went out of the building to get in their car and found they'd locked the keys in -- they were locked out. And one of them said, ``Get a wire coathanger, and we'll straighten it out, and I can get the . . . '' And the other one says, ``You can't do that. Somebody would think we're stealing the car.'' And third one said, ``Well, we better do something pretty quick because it's starting to rain and the top's down.'' [Laughter]
So, again, thanks. God bless you all.
The President spoke at in the Grand Ballroom
at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. He was introduced by Representative Moore.
Following the President's remarks, he attended a reception for major donors to
Representative Moore's campaign at the hotel. He then traveled to