Remarks at a Senate Campaign Rally for Christopher S. Bond in Kansas City, Missouri


September 29, 1986


The President. Thank you all very much. You know, one of the things that goes with my job is that I am Commander in Chief. And in the military, a general can dictate the uniform of the day. And in view of the temperature, I'm declaring that the uniform of the day -- [applause] --  --


[At this point, the President removed his jacket]


Now, before I get into my remarks, I have -- if you'll just wait just a second -- I have something of a news announcement I would like to make, that -- in case you haven't heard it already -- that at 12 p.m. central time, a Lufthansa airliner left Moscow bound for Frankfurt, West Germany, and on board are Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Daniloff.


Now, let me just say it's wonderful to be here in Missouri. And it's great to be back on the campaign trail. It almost feels like 1980 all over again. You know, as I said to my staff when we were taking off in Air Force One, it's great to be out of Washington and back where the real people are. You make a fellow feel mighty welcome.


I wish I could stay longer, but as you know, Congress is in session. And so a number of individuals that right now I would be mentioning by name -- your Senator, Jack Danforth, some of your Congressmen -- had to change their plans and remain in Washington, because the Congress is in session. And somebody's got to keep an eye on them. You know, some of the people in charge in the Congress, in Washington, and the other side -- they're sort of like the three fellows that came out of a building. They found they'd locked themselves out of their automobile. And one of them said, ``Get me a wire coathanger. I can straighten it out and I can get in, open the door.'' And the second one says, ``You can't do that. Somebody'd think you're stealing the car.'' And the third one said, ``Well, we better do something pretty quick because it's starting to rain and the top's down.'' [Laughter]


It is really great to be here and wonderful to see a lot of old friends and supporters. And as I said, I'm sorry that Jack Danforth, one of the ablest Senators we've got, and your tremendous group of Representatives: Tom Coleman, Bill Emerson, and Gene Taylor -- I call them Missouri's A-Team -- they're back there hard at it. And having been Governor myself for some time, I think I recognize good material when I see it, and John Ashcroft is the best. You know, I couldn't be paying him a higher compliment when I say he is a worthy successor to Kit Bond, who was a great Governor.


There's a good candidate for Governor in your neighboring State, Kansas, who was going to be here, but he's out busy campaigning -- Mike Hayden. He was raised on a farm, he's a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran, and Mike has the kind of experience that will make him a strong leader as Governor of the Sunflower State. And while we're talking about people to be proud of, there's one right here on the platform -- Captain John Testrake, TWA pilot who was the pilot of that plane and performed so heroically in Lebanon last summer when they were holding our people hostage.


And now all of that brings me to today's star and one of America's all-star candidates for 1986. A man of proven ability, one of the ablest leaders in government today -- I'm talking about the next United States Senator from the great State of Missouri, Kit Bond. Believe me, we need Kit in Washington to help work the same kind of magic in Congress that he did here in your State capital. We need Kit Bond in the United States Senate to stand up to the liberal big-spenders and their tax hike schemes and keep America on the track of growth, prosperity, and freedom.


It's no secret that there are still some folks in Washington who want to put America full speed in reverse -- back to the days when big government, taxes, and inflation were destroying our economy and military weakness made America a punching bag for nickel-and-dime dictators around the world. America used to wear, a few years ago, a ``Kick Me'' sign around its neck. Well, we threw that sign away, and now it reads, ``Don't Tread on Me.'' It's important to remember those days 5\1/2\ years ago, because the tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend crew is still lurking in the shadows, just waiting for a second chance. The liberal leadership of the Democratic Party hasn't changed. They're just itching to raise your taxes and rev up that inflationary money machine.


You know, they remind me of the preacher who traveled to a nearby town, away from his own parish, for a revival meeting. And he stopped because he was going by the general store in that strange town. He saw a familiar face, a fellow from his own hometown. He was sitting there in front of the grocery story. He was a man that was known for his drinking. And when the preacher asked him what he was doing there, he explained, ``Well reverend, beer is 5 cents a bottle cheaper here.'' Well, the preacher asked him what sense that made, considering the cost of travel and all, and the man replied, ``Reverend, I'm not stupid. I just sit here and drink 'til I show a profit.'' [Laughter]


You know, when I hear some of the things that Kit's opponent is saying, I sometimes think the liberal Democratic leadership will never change its big spending, high-tax ways. But then, as I've always said, you don't have to make them see the light -- just make them feel the heat. So, let's make them feel the heat on election day. You know, this 1986 election will be a crucial moment of decision for our country: Will liberal policies return us to the days of malaise? You remember 5\1/2\ years ago, when Washington told us that we were suffering from a malaise? We were responsible for the economy, what had happened. Or will America continue down the road of progress?


The answer to that question depends almost entirely on one thing: electing Senators who are progrowth, prodefense, and pro-America. It means sending someone to Washington who'll work together with me to keep America moving forward, someone like Kit Bond. Kit has a proven record as Governor battling at the State level to bring America back. And I've said it a few times before, but I think it's worth repeating: America is back! And with Kit's help in the United States Senate, we're going to keep her standing tall and proud and free.


Yes, America is once again united in hope and strong in purpose. We've squashed inflation. We're keeping the doors of the opportunity society wide open by cutting tax rates still further and spurring on the economic expansion that has already created about 11\1/2\ million new jobs. Today employment is at a record high. And, as Kit told you, no place higher than right here in Missouri. But let me give you a figure. If you can just visualize all the Americans in the United States, male and female, from age 16 all the way up and out past retirement age -- all living Americans in that group. 61.3 percent of them today are employed, and that's the highest percentage in our nation's history.


Some sectors, such as agriculture, are still hurting. That's why this administration is providing more help to our nation's farmers than the last five administrations all put together. But money alone is not the answer. Farmers don't want more government programs, they want more profits. And that's why we need Kit Bond in the Senate, to keep those interest rates coming down and keep foreign markets open to our agricultural exports. We don't need a liberal in there creating more problems; we need a problemsolver like Kit Bond creating jobs and prosperity.


And we need Kit in the Senate so we can keep rebuilding our defenses, speaking out loudly and clearly for human liberty, and working around the world for freedom and democracy. You know, of all the things that go with this job of mine, I'm most proud of our young men and women in the military uniform than of anything else. They're all volunteers, and they have the highest level of education in the history of the military. A few years ago only 54 percent of our military had a high school diploma. Well, last year it had reached 91 percent. They're one fine bunch, and let me say this: If we must ever ask our military personnel to put their lives on the line for us, we're not going to give them anything less than the top-quality, best equipment they need to get the job done and come home safely.


You know, there are some people that have been calling me a superpatriot, and they don't mean that in a flattering sense. They are kind of complaining. Well, maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I don't think you can love America too much. You know, there was a great Broadway star some few years ago, George M. Cohan, and he used to say people would tease him and call him a flag-waver because so many of his shows have the flag and patriotism in it. And he said, ``Sure, I'm a flag-waver, but tell me this: Can you think of a better flag to wave?''


Now, we've come a long way since those days of malaise, but the next couple of years will decide whether all our progress since 1980 will be set in concrete or only written in the sand. Kit's election could very well decide whether we keep control of the Senate or lose it to the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. And that's the difference between 2 more years of progress or 2 years of paralysis. We could not have accomplished what we have if we did not have that slim majority in the United States Senate. The other party has controlled both Houses of the Congress for almost 50 years. And now, for 5\1/2\ years, we have controlled the one. I didn't seek reelection to be a 6-year President. There are too many exciting challenges before us, too much business that still must be completed. I cannot -- I will not have my hands tied by a Congress that is totally hostile to all we're trying to do. You know, I guess my name will never be on the ballot again. But you can vote for me in a way, if you'd like. If you want to vote for me, vote for Kit Bond so that we can have a Republican Senate that I can work with instead of against me -- and they'll be around after I'm gone.


And you know, it's time the people of Missouri got the straight facts about Kit's opponent. Missouri doesn't need a Senator like Kit's opponent whose voting record in the State legislature has been rated 100 percent by the ultraliberal ADA, a tax-and-spend Democrat whose votes helped push this State's budget out of balance and who now wants to go to Washington to continue her free-spending ways. This State doesn't need a Senator like Kit's opponent who wants to raise your taxes and slash defense. You don't need a Senator who opposes the balanced budget amendment, the line-item veto, and Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction. And then, when she's asked how she's going to reduce the deficit, she says, well, you can trust her to get the job done. Someone should tell her this isn't the Trust Me State, this is the Show Me State.


Missouri needs a Senator like Kit Bond, who as Governor created thousands of jobs, held the line against taxes, and transformed a liberal-induced deficit into a budget surplus. Missouri needs a Senator who will fight against a tax increase, a man who knows how to give America more growth, not more government. Missouri needs Kit Bond, and America needs Kit Bond. But let me give a for instance. Let me give you just one example of the difference that Kit could make in the Senate. The great majority of Missourians, we know from the polls, favor the balanced budget amendment -- a constitutional amendment that will say to the government in Washington, you have to balance the budget. Forty-three States, I think, have that already. Well, earlier this year that amendment lost by one vote in the Senate. One Missouri Senator, Jack Danforth, voted for it; the other Missouri Senator voted against it. If you agree with Jack, why send someone to Washington who will cancel his vote? Elect Kit Bond so that America can have a balanced budget amendment.


Now, maybe you've noticed that I've been careful to refer to the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. That's because I believe that the liberals who've taken control of that once great party don't represent the vast majority of hard-working, patriotic Democrats that can be found throughout America. Imagine -- you know, I'm sure that in a crowd like this there have to be some. And I'm sure, also, that there have to be some who were Democrats and, like me, have seen fit to change. Imagine if that great Missourian Harry Truman were here today, what he'd think. This was the man who battled back Communist aggression in Korea and whose timely aid saved Greece, and possibly much of Europe from Communist enslavement. What would he say about a party who sees the Soviets building another fortress, Cuba, on the American mainland and won't even lift a finger to stop it? You can bet that whatever he had to say would have been unprintable. But you'd have understood what he was saying.


As I say, I know I couldn't address a crowd like this here without there being a number of Democrats present, and you're welcome. But I know how tough it can be to break with tradition. But I remember what Winston Churchill once said in the English Parliament when he changed parties, as a member of the Parliament. He said, ``Some men change principle for party, and some men change party for principle.''


All I'm asking the people of Missouri is to remember that the Governor, the Representatives, and Senators that you elect will determine the future -- your future, America's future. So, before I go, let me just conduct an informal poll. Speak up loudly so that all Missouri can hear you. Do you want to go back to the days of big spending, high taxes, and runaway inflation?


Audience. No-o-o-o!


The President. Do you want a weak and vacillating America?


Audience. No-o-o-o!


The President. That's good to hear. Would you rather have low taxes, high growth, and millions of new jobs?


Audience. Yes!


The President. Would you rather have an America that is strong and proud and free?


Audience. Yes!


The President. Now, this next one's a tough question. Do you want Kit Bond as the next Senator from the great State of Missouri?


Audience. Yes!


The President. Thank you. You just made my day. And God bless you. Thank you all.


Note: The President spoke at 12:24 p.m. at the Kansas City Downtown Airport. He was introduced by Mr. Bond. In his remarks, he referred to the release of Nicholas Daniloff of U.S. News & World Report. Mr. Daniloff had been arrested on charges of espionage in the Soviet Union on August 30. Following his remarks, the President attended a reception for major donors to Mr. Bond's campaign at the airport. He then traveled to Sioux Falls, SD.