Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Senator Robert W. Kasten, Jr., in Waukesha, Wisconsin


October 23, 1986


The President. Thank you very much. But before I get into my remarks, let me give you a news bulletin. This morning the Commerce Department just reported the biggest jump in durable goods orders in 2 years, about 5 percent, and what this means is more production and more jobs in the future. Our 4-year-long economic recovery looks like it's headed for a second boom. We can let the good times roll again in America if we keep Bob Kasten and company in the Senate, too -- if we keep the big spenders out of Washington just 2 more years. Help me!


Now, I thank Senator Kasten for that very kind introduction, and a very special thanks to the North Waukesha High School Band. Now, before I came out I heard them playing a particular song that brought back many great memories to me. No other fight song has been adopted by so many high schools across the land -- my own included. As a matter of fact, I was halfway through my high school football career before I knew that it was ``On Wisconsin'' and not ``Onward Dixon.'' [Laughter] On my way in I saw a lot of young people here today, and I have a special message for all of the young people here from my roommate. When it comes to drugs, please, for yourself, your families, for your future, and for your country, just say no. I want to tell you that Nancy has impressed me so much on this point that the other day in Iceland, even though it didn't have to do with drugs, I just said no. [Laughter]


But it's wonderful to be here in Wisconsin and really good 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 on Air Force One, it's great to be out of Washington and back where the real people are. Now, you know, with your excellent Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner here and with the Senator here, I'm not going to say anything about the institution of the Congress of the United States; but there are some changes that are needed there. And with regard to some of the people there, some of them remind me of the three fellows that came out of a building one day and found they'd locked themselves out of the car. And one of them said, ``Will you get me a wire coathanger? I can straighten it out. I can fix it. I can get in and lift the handle.'' And the second one said, ``You can't do that. They'd think we'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]


But it's great to be here with so many old friends: Wisconsin's excellent Congressman, James Sensenbrenner, and Governor Tommy Thompson. You know, having been a Governor myself for 8 years, I think I recognize good Governor material when I see it, and believe me, Tommy Thompson is the best. I became Governor of California after a liberal, free-spending, high-taxing administration like Tony Earl's. I made tough choices and hard decisions, and I know that Tommy Thompson will do the same here in Wisconsin. We've turned the country around, and now it's time to bring the revolution home to Wisconsin and elect Tommy Thompson as your next Governor.


And if Tommy is tomorrow's star, today's star is Bob Kasten. Bob is a man of proven ability, one of the key players in Washington and a tough, effective fighter for Wisconsin -- just one of the best darn Senators in the whole United States Senate. Now, believe me, we need Bob Kasten in the U.S. Senate to keep America on the track of growth, prosperity, and freedom. It's no secret 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 fanatics and dictators around the world. America used to wear a ``Kick Me'' sign around the neck. Now, we threw that sign away, and it reads, ``Don't Tread on Me.''


Just as Bob said when he was up here, it's important to remember those days 5\1/2\ years ago, because the tax-and-spend crowd 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. The Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, spoke for them all last year when he said, and I quote: ``Should the American people pay through the nose by taxation? The answer is yes.'' Well, come November, the American people will be going to the polls and saying, loud and clear: ``Sorry, Tip, the answer is no.''


Yesterday, I signed a piece of historic legislation to overhaul our country's tax code, making it fairer and simpler and cutting taxes for almost every individual taxpayer. But wouldn't you know it, even before the bill reached my desk, the liberal Democrat leadership came out and said they wanted to raise your taxes and to turn tax reform into a tax hike. Well, Bob was one of the first Senators pushing for fairer and lower taxes, and he agrees with me that raising tax rates now would be an intolerable breach of faith with the American people. And that's why I've asked every candidate for national office to sign a pledge not to raise the rates on tax reform, to keep them low and fair. But I think you should know Bob Kasten signed up right away, but so far his opponent has refused to sign. I think that tells the whole story right there.


The truth is, the liberal Democratic leaders never met a tax they didn't like. [Laughter] And when it comes to spending your hard-earned money, those liberals act like they've got your credit card in their pocket; and believe me, they never leave home without it. [Laughter] Well, you're the people who pay the taxes, and you know that we don't have a deficit because we're taxed too little. We have a deficit because Congress spends too much. It's about time that Congress cut the Federal budget and left the family budget alone. But, you know, sometimes I don't think the liberal Democrats will ever change their thinking. But then, as I've always said, you don't have to make them see the light, just make them feel the heat. [Laughter] So, let's make them feel the heat on this election day.


But, you know, even the liberals who've bottled up our tough anticrime bills for years have begun to climb aboard our campaign to rid America of the scourge of drugs. We have much more to do in this area. We'll need to back up the new drug legislation with strict enforcement, perhaps even stiffer penalties, and the kind of no-nonsense judges that we will put on the bench unless we're denied that chance by a Democratic Senate. We need the Republican Senate. We need Bob Kasten.


Now, there's another issue that Bob and I feel strongly about, and I bet you do, too: that's keeping America strong and proud and peaceful and free. As you know, I just recently returned from my meeting with Mr. Gorbachev in Iceland. That meeting was a breakthrough in our discussions with the Soviets. We're no longer talking about arms control; we're talking about arms reductions, possibly even the complete elimination of ballistic missiles from the face of the Earth. Now, that's an historic turnaround for the Soviets, and it wouldn't have been possible without the firm support of you, the American people, whose hard work and support have enabled us to rebuild our military might. The American people know that the only way to negotiate for peace is from a position of strength. We're closer to real arms reductions than ever before, and it's because America today is once again strong and united.


But one major obstacle remained in Iceland. Unfortunately, Mr. Gorbachev decided to make all our progress hostage to his demand that we kill our Strategic Defense Initiative. I had to remind him of my pledge to the American people on SDI and that in America when you give your word, you keep your word, and that stands up no matter what the time or place. SDI is our insurance policy to protect us from accidents or some madman or some other country that develops ballistic missiles, or in case of the Soviets who don't keep their side of the bargain. No responsible President could rely on Soviet promises for his country's safety. The record on their treaty violations is clear. We can either bet on American technology to keep us safe or on Soviet promises, and each has its own track record. I'll bet on American technology any day.


One thing that's come out of all this discussion, now, since that trip, about SDI is that a great many Americans, I don't think, quite understood what we were talking about with those initials. SDI, Strategic Defense Initiative, is a purely defensive and purely peaceful technology. If the Soviets honestly want progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons, they have nothing to fear from SDI. Soviets are hard bargainers. We must even be more patient and determined and united. We must speak with one voice, saying, loud and clear, we'll walk the extra mile for peace, but we'll never gamble with America's safety. So, I want to ask you a question. I'll bet I know the answer. Can I count on your support to keep America strong and united and on the road to peace?


Audience. Yes!


The President. I was sure you'd say that. [Laughter] You know, if I could interject something here: There's nothing that I am prouder of than the young men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. They're some of the most splendid young people this nation has ever produced. And let me say this: If we must ever ask them to put their lives on the line for the United States of America, they deserve the finest weapons and equipment that money can buy; and I'm going to do my best, and so is Bob, and so is Congressman Sensenbrenner here, to see that they get that kind of equipment. And it's because of the quality of the men and women in our Armed Forces and the quality of the weapons they carry in defense of this country today that every nickel-and-dime dictator the world over knows that if he tangles with the United States of America he will have a price to pay.


Yes, we're once again united in hope and strong in purpose. We have, as Bob told you, squashed inflation. We've cut the prime interest rate by two-thirds. We're keeping the doors of the opportunity society wide open by cutting tax rates further and spurring on the economic expansion that has already created almost 11.7 million new jobs. This year more Americans are working than ever before, and the proportion of working-age people employed is the highest in the history of the United States. Now, I didn't know it until I got buried in the bureaucracy up there that what is considered to be the potential employment pool in the United States is every human being, 16 years of age, male or female, and up. And today -- highest level as I say -- 61.3 percent of the people in that group are employed in the United States. That's the highest in our history.


I just know that a State whose motto is ``Forward'' and whose official song is ``On Wisconsin'' is going to want a fighter and a man with bold vision for the future and the talent, imagination, and willpower to take us there. I just know that Wisconsin is going to send Bob Kasten back to the United States Senate. I don't think Wisconsin wants a Senator like Bob's opponent who belongs to the tax-and-spend liberal wing of the Democratic Party.


Audience. No-o-o!


The President. He's offering nothing positive in his campaign, and I'm just proud that Bob is going forward with his record of achievement. You know, very few freshman Senators have made the mark Bob Kasten has -- a pioneer in tax reform and one of the leaders in putting America back on track to strength abroad and prosperity at home. In the Senate and in the White House, Bob Kasten's opinions count. He's earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues, and he's earned Wisconsin's vote. And we need him to stay right where he is: in the Senate.


Now, you know, we're talking about more than just one man. His election could 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 and 2 more years of paralysis. I didn't seek reelection to be a 6-year President. There are too many exciting challenges still before us, too much business that still must be completed. I cannot, and I will not, have my hands tied by a Congress that is totally hostile to all that we're trying to do. You know, my name will never be on the ballot again --  --


Audience. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!


The President. Thank you. I hope you mean you hope I'll live 4 more years. [Laughter] The Constitution speaks to the other. But if you want to vote for me, vote for Bob Kasten, so that we can have a Republican Senate that will work with me instead of against me and be around after I'm gone. And I'm not just asking that for me. Do it for yourself. Do it for Wisconsin. Do it for America.


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 have taken control of that once-great party don't represent the vast majority of hard-working, patriotic Democrats found throughout America. I would have to feel that there were probably some here in this audience today. Maybe some are ex-Democrats, also, like I am. Maybe some still haven't switched. But I know how tough it can be to break with tradition. But I remember what Winston Churchill once said when he was in the Parliament of England and changed parties. And when he was criticized for it he said ``Some men change principle for party, and some men change party for principle.''


All I'm asking the people of Wisconsin is to remember that the Senator you elect will determine the future, your future, America's future. So, before I go, let me just conduct an informal poll. [Laughter] Do you want to go back to the days of big spending, high taxes, and runaway inflation?


Audience. No-o-o!


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


Audience. No-o-o!


The President. That's good to hear. [Laughter] Would you rather have low taxes, low inflation, and low interest rates?


Audience. Yes!


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


Audience. Yes!


The President. Do you want Bob Kasten as your Senator for the great State of Wisconsin?


Audience. Yes!


The President. Do you want Tommy Thompson as your Governor?


Audience. Yes!


The President. You just made my day.


Well, I'm so pleased to be able to talk with so many young people that I can see who are here today. I just want to finish by saying you're what it's all about. You know, back at the beginning of World War II, General George Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, was asked if the United States had a secret weapon as we went into that war, and what was it? George Marshall said, ``Just the best blankety-blank'' -- well, just the best darn kids in the world. Now, he didn't say ``darn'' exactly, but Presidents aren't allowed to talk like generals. [Laughter] Well, I've been seeing your generation all over the country in rallies like this one, and I know that if George Marshall were here today, he'd still say, ``We've got the best blankety-blank kids in the world.''


So, when it comes election --  -- 


Audience. Ronnie!


The President. Thank you. I love you. So, when it comes to election time, I hope you'll remember how important that your vote is, because it's your future that's being voted in this election, America's future. And I just want to tell you one thing, though, that -- a reminder here. Now, I know that none of you are guilty or you wouldn't be here. We find out from all the polling that in the age group from 18 to 24 that's where our party stands with the strongest support -- the most. But that happens to be the voting group that has the smallest percentage of going to the polls and voting. So, when you go home and when you talk to your friends -- if they're 18 or over -- tell them they've got to get there. Go the polls on election day.


While you're there, win one for Bob Kasten and Tommy Thompson, Jim Sensenbrenner, and win one for Wisconsin's all-star congressional team. Win one for your future, and win one for America. And, again, on that voting and the necessity of it, let me just tell you -- Will Rogers, not known to many of you young people, a great humorist in our country, once said that the people you elect and send to public office are no better and no worse than the people who send them there, but he said they're all better than those who don't vote at all. Go to the polls!


Thank you. God bless you all.


Note: The President spoke at 11:42 a.m. at the Waukesha County Expo Center. Following his remarks at the rally, the President attended a reception for major donors to Senator Kasten's reelection campaign at the center. He then traveled to Springfield, MO.