Remarks at a Senate
Campaign Fundraising Reception for Pete Dawkins of
Senators, distinguished guests, you know, more than half a century ago, there was a halfback at the University of Chicago who was so powerful, so skilled, and so dashing that he became a hero to millions of football-loving Americans, including a certain young fellow named Dutch Reagan. In 1935 this great halfback, Jay Berwanger, received a new award, and the tradition of the Heisman Trophy was born. Jay Berwanger is with us here tonight, and I couldn't begin without telling him and all the Heisman Trophy winners who are gathered here what a great honor it is to be in their presence.
football has certainly come a long way since the day when President White of
Cornell refused to permit his football team to play against the
But, Pete, Judi [Mrs. Dawkins], and everyone, we're here this evening less to celebrate Pete Dawkins' past as an athlete than to show our support for his future as, yes, the next United States Senator from the great State of New Jersey. Athlete, scholar, soldier, businessman -- Pete Dawkins is one of the finest candidates to compete in the elections of 1988. But I'll go even further: Pete Dawkins is one of the finest candidates I've ever known. The reason goes beyond Pete's extraordinary competence and skill. It has to do with his deepest values -- with his fierce belief in freedom, in the family, in economic opportunity for all.
the issues, Pete has already staked out forthright positions. He stands with me
in wanting to keep your taxes low in order to keep our economy growing. He's
staunch in his support of the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Pete has
rightly called a step ``to reduce the threat of nuclear arms.'' And he
understands the need to keep the pressure on Soviet-backed regimes by
supporting those struggling for freedom around the world, especially in
election will determine whether we'll continue on the path we began in 1981 --
a growing, expanding economy at home and a strong and secure America abroad --
or whether we'll return to the failed policies of the past -- high taxes,
increasing inflation and unemployment, a stifling bureaucracy, and weakness
abroad. Our opponents are saying that
Dawkins is running for the Senate because he believes in the new
to turn for a moment from the Nation as a whole to the State of
with all of these football greats here, if you'll permit me, I'd like to close
with a football story. Back when I was in
And then I went home because some cameramen, in those early days, had told me that the fellas in the front office only knew what they saw on film. And I dug down in the trunk and came up with my own pictures of myself playing football in college and brought them back and showed them to the producer. Well, believe it or not, he let me do the test. And Pat O'Brien, knowing of my nervousness and desire, graciously agreed to be a part of it. Normally, stars of that standing do not help someone out in a screen test. They leave that to someone of lesser importance.
But, of course, I had an advantage. I'd known George Gipp's story for years, and the lines were straight from Knute Rockne's diary. The test scene was one that I'll never forget, one that said something about what Rockne liked to see in his players. It was George Gipp's first practice. Rockne told him to carry the ball for the scrubs. And Gipp just looked back at Rockne, cocked an eyebrow, and said, ``How far?'' Well, he answered that question himself by carrying the ball 60 yards through the varsity the first time he got his hands on it. Incidentally, as he came back with the ball, having scored the touchdown -- came back with the ball, he tossed it to Rockne and said, ``I guess the boys are just tired.'' [Laughter]
as I say, Knute liked that spirit in his ballplayers.
Grantland Rice tells us that once when he was working
with the four backfield stars who became known as the Four Horsemen, the fellow
named Jimmy Crowley just couldn't get it right on one play. Now, you know, I
never tell ethnic jokes anymore unless they're about the Irish. [Laughter] Rockne, who, by the way, was Norwegian, but was commonly
called ``the Swede'' -- he finally got irritated after
But to be serious, Pete Dawkins reminds me of George Gipp more than a little. Pete's a fine man, a likable man, a man who loves his country. And Pete is a man of determination. You don't go from being a polio victim at age 11 to winning the Heisman Trophy without lots and lots of determination. On the football field, in combat, in scholarship, in business, and yes, in the United States Senate, you can tell Pete Dawkins to carry the ball; and Pete will say, ``How far?''
Well, I'm very proud and pleased to be here. Never thought I'd be associating with that many Heisman Trophy winners -- [laughter] -- but also, I know where your hearts are with regard to this coming election. Do everything you can, and buttonhole those neighbors. The one big trouble today with a lot of people who think like us is that they just have forgotten to vote and think they can just go their way and everything will turn out all right.
the thing to remind those that don't go to the polls anymore what Will Rogers
once said. He said: ``The people you send to public
office are no better and no worse than the people who send them there. But
they're all better than those who don't vote at all.'' So, get out there, get
out the vote, and I'll be waiting here to greet a new Senator from
Note: The President spoke at in the Promenade at the Grand Hotel.