Remarks at a Senate Campaign Rally for James Santini in Las Vegas, Nevada


November 3, 1986


The President. Thank all of you. And I thank Jim Santini for that most gracious and heartwarming introduction. Senators Laxalt, Hecht, Hatch, Lieutenant Governor Bob Cashell, our GOP chairman, and Congresswoman Vucanovich -- I want you to know that the fellow you see standing before you considers himself one lucky man. It's not everyone who can come to Nevada twice in one week.


And since I used to be a drum major myself in the Dixon, Illinois, YMCA Band, I'd like to thank some of the people who've been making beautiful music: the Love All People singing group and the Chapperal High School Band. I can't help but see the young people here in the audience, as I did in Reno on Thursday. I have a special message to all of you from my roommate. [Laughter] She says when it comes to drugs, please -- for yourselves, for your families, for your future and your country -- just say no. I've even seen I've got some fraternity brothers in the crowd.


But I've come here on this day before election day to talk with the people of Nevada about the importance of the vote that you'll be casting. You know, back when I was working in the State capital across the line there, I got to know your then-Governor very well. You know his name -- Paul Laxalt. He introduced me to the Nevada character: rugged, hard-working, patriotic -- a lot less interested in being told what to do by big government than in having the freedom to show what you can do on your own. For 12 years now, Paul Laxalt has been true to the character of you the people of Nevada in the United States Senate. And now Paul and I are convinced that the man to continue that conservative, patriotic tradition in the United States Senate, the man who, like you and Paul and me, so deeply believes in low taxes, limited government, and peace through strength -- that man is Jim Santini. You and I both want Jim Santini in the Senate. But more than that, we need him there. And on this last day before you go to the polls, I'd like to take a moment to tell you why.


To begin with, the progress that he mentioned himself that has been made in reviving the American economy: Inflation is down. Interest rates are down. Jobs and employment are up to the highest levels in American history. And you know, all of this economic plan that we put into operation back in 1981 -- it was roundly criticized and a lot of people making fun and being angry about it at the same time. I knew, however, that it must be working when they stopped calling it Reaganomics. [Laughter] And this year's sweeping reform of the tax code means that more than 80 percent of Americans will have a top tax rate of 15 percent or less. Now, this should broaden our expansion still further. But wouldn't you know it, even before this fair share tax plan reached my desk, the Democratic leadership -- and I emphasize leadership -- in Congress was saying that they wanted to break faith with the American people and turn tax reform into a tax increase. You know, the truth is those folks never met a tax they didn't like. When it comes to spending your hard-earned money, they've got your credit card in their pocket. And believe me, they never leave home without it. The American people know the truth: We don't have a deficit because we're taxed too little; we have a deficit because government is spending too much. Isn't it about time that the Congress started protecting the family budget instead of fattening the Federal budget? [Applause]


The contrast between us and the leaders of the other party is just as apparent when it comes to judicial appointments, and that's where Jim can make all the difference. Without him and that Republican majority in the Senate -- slim though it may be -- we'll find liberals like a certain fellow from Massachusetts deciding who our judges are. And I bet you'll agree that you'd rather have a Judiciary Committee headed by Strom Thurmond than one run by Teddy Kennedy any day. [Applause]


Going around the country -- right about here in my remarks I've taken to telling a little story that I think is appropriate to the occasion, and the press that accompanies us -- they've heard it a number of times, of course. But they still don't understand it, so I'm going to tell it again just for them. It has to do with a Democratic fundraiser at a downtown hotel. And when they came out of the hotel, there was a kid with some puppies. And he was holding them up, and he was offering them, ``Puppies for sale. Democrat puppies for sale.'' Two weeks later the Republicans held a fundraiser in the same place. And as they were coming out, there was the kid with the puppies, and he was saying, ``Republican puppies for sale. Republican puppies.'' And a newspaperman who'd been there 2 weeks before said, ``Hey, kid, wait a minute. You were here selling these puppies as Democrat puppies a couple of weeks ago. Now here you are, you're selling them as Republican puppies. How come?'' And the kid says, ``Now they've got their eyes open.'' [Laughter]


But, ladies and gentlemen, now we've come to an issue that transcends in importance even all the other crucial matters that I've mentioned: My most solemn duty as President is the safety of the American people and the security of these United States. Here, too, because of the support of men like Jim Santini, we have been able to restore America's strength. There's nothing I am prouder of than the 2 million young men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. And when some of those people loudly are proclaiming that we must eliminate the spending for defense, well, let me tell you: If we must ever ask those young people to put their lives on the line for the United States of America, then they deserve to have the finest weapons and equipment that we can produce. And with Jim's help, we're going to do just that. You know, because of our young men and women in uniform, things have kind of changed around the world. You know, America used to wear a ``Kick Me'' sign around its neck. We threw that sign away. Now it reads, ``Don't Tread on Me.'' Today every nickel-and-dime dictator around the world knows that if he tangles with the United States of America, he'll have to pay a price. And one other thing I am especially proud of: After 6 years of this administration, not 1 square inch of territory in the world has been lost to communism, and one small country, Grenada, has been set free.


And there's another special issue. We remain committed to our decision to move ahead with our Strategic Defense Initiative against ballistic missiles, the SDI. Today we are dealing with the Soviet Union from a position of strength, and it was SDI that brought the Soviet Union to the bargaining table. And let me pledge to you: Our goal is to keep America strong, to save the world from mutual nuclear terror, to make ballistic missiles obsolete and, ultimately, to eliminate them from the face of the Earth.


But let me tell you: We never could have come this far without the support of people like Jim Santini. I remember back in 1981 when we needed all the help we could get to cut your taxes and get this economic expansion rolling. Jim was a Democrat back then, but despite threats from the liberal Democratic Party leadership, Jim Santini -- then a Democratic Congressman -- promised me his support. And Jim is as good as his word. He came through with the votes, just as over and over again he has come through for the great State of Nevada.


Now it's time we got the facts out about Jim's opponent [Harry Reid]. And in all this talk about negative positions in a campaign, there is a difference when you bring to the fore the record of the two and what philosophy guides the two rival candidates. And that is not negative because that's upon what you have to base your decision. And I think it is time that we got out the facts about his opponent. I don't think the fiercely independent people of Nevada want as their Senator a tax-and-spend liberal, who is against a balanced budget amendment. And I don't want anyone to think I'm taking this personally, but to sum up: I think the difference between the two men -- Jim's opponent voted against me and the things that I was proposing more often than Teddy Kennedy, and that's saying something.


Now, I know I couldn't address a crowd like this without there being many Democrats present -- hard-working, patriotic people whose support I've relied on during these past 6 years. Having a House of Representatives heavily weighted to the Democratic side, we could not have achieved the things we've talked about here if there had not been some Democrats like Jim Santini who were willing to support a Republican President and Senate in helping to bring these things about. Now, the simple truth is those Democrats who are here are probably here because, like millions I've met across the country, they have found they can no longer follow the leadership of the Republican [Democratic] Party, which has taken them down a course that leads to disaster. Now, as you were told, I used to be a Democrat myself, and I must tell you from my heart that Jim Santini represents your views far better than liberals who run the Democratic Party in Washington -- and, yes, right here in Nevada. So, I ask all Nevada Democrats whether -- just maybe -- they ought to join the Republican Party as Jim and I did. We know that it isn't easy to do. But as Winston Churchill said, as a Member of the British Parliament, when he changed parties and was criticized harshly for doing so -- and he simply said, ``Some men change principle for party, and others change party for principle.'' Even if some of you who are Democrats here and who can't quite bring yourself to changing parties -- it took a while for both of us to do that -- you still can make the difference by voting for Jim Santini.


Ladies and gentlemen, the eyes of America are upon you and your great State. Will you choose Democratic leaders, who in 1980 weakened our nation and nearly brought our economy to its knees, who raised your taxes and have announced their plans to do so again, who oppose our efforts to pursue a defense to protect us from attack by nuclear ballistic missiles? Or will you choose to give Jim and me and these others up here a chance to finish the job we started in 1981? [Applause] Jim's race and keeping control of the Senate are critical, but there are other very important races here. I hope you'll vote for Patty Cafferata for Governor and her running mate, Joe Brown, for Lieutenant Governor. She'll do a fine job, and that's an ex-Governor saying that. And let's send Barbara Vucanovich a real teammate by electing Bob Ryan. He deserves your support. He'll be a Congressman who will help me instead of opposing me like the incumbent does.


So, just to be sure where you stand, I thought I'd conduct an informal poll. Now, speak up loudly so everyone can hear. 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 Ted Kennedy controlling the confirmation of Federal court judges?


Audience. No-o-o!


The President. Do you want to return to policies that gave us a weak and vacillating America?


Audience. No-o-o!


The President. That's nice to hear. [Laughter] Now, 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 Jim Santini as your Senator from the great State of Nevada?


Audience. Yes!


The President. Well, thank you. You just made my day, and you didn't hurt Jim Santini's feelings at all.


But you know, my name will never appear on a ballot again. But if you'd like to vote for me one more time, you can do so by voting for Jim Santini.


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


The President. No, no. The Constitution says no. Of course, if you're saying I can live 4 more years, that's all right. [Laughter] But since the Constitution intervenes, I'll tell you what I will settle for: 2 more years of a Republican Senate. Important as this election will be to me, it'll be even more important to you, especially to you young people, for it'll shape our nation's future. Every poll shows that the age group 18 to 24 has the highest percentage who are supportive of the things that we're trying to do in Washington. But every poll also shows just as clearly that in this same age group, 18 to 24, you have the lowest voter turnout. So, to you young people: Exercise your sacred right as an American. Participate in shaping history itself by going to the polls and casting your vote. And when you leave here, buttonhole your companions in your same age group and tell them to get to the polls tomorrow and vote.


You know, back at the beginning of World War II, someone asked General George C. Marshall, who was the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, whether we had a secret weapon as we went into that war and, if so, what was the weapon? And General Marshall said, ``Yes, we have a secret weapon. It's just the best blankety-blank kids in the world.'' I've seen your generation across this country in meetings like this, on campuses, in high schools, those young people in the military. And if George Marshall were here today, he'd say you are the best blankety-blank kids in the world. Now, he didn't use the word blankety-blank. I did, because Presidents aren't allowed to talk like generals talk. [Laughter] But before leaving, I'd just like to say that people my age deeply believe that it's our duty to turn over to you young Americans the same freedom and opportunity that our parents and grandparents handed on to us. And generations here between mine and yours -- and there are some -- all of us have that same goal. What frightens us is that we look back and see that over the years -- and, yes, just a few years ago -- we've gone through phases in which we have let the greatness of this nation slip. And we have all renewed our pledge that, yes, we're going to turn over to you, when it is your turn to take this country and run it, that same great nation of opportunity and freedom that we were handed when we were young.


So, when you go to the polls, win one for Jim Santini, win one for the future and for America's future, and, yes, win one for the Gipper, if I might add.


Thank you all, and God bless you.


Note: The President spoke at 11 a.m. at Scenic Airlines Hangar South. He was introduced by Mr. Santini. He then traveled to Costa Mesa, CA.