Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Campaign Fundraiser for William Clements in Dallas, Texas

July 23, 1986

Thank you very much, and I owe some thanks for that wonderful introduction. But I'd like to begin by reintroducing myself. [Laughter] It's true my name is Reagan, and I'm President of the sister Republic of the great State of Texas.

But it really is great to be in a State with so much pride. And I'm particularly glad to be here during your sesquicentennial. Then, I'm always happy to be anyplace that's twice as old as I am. [Laughter] I'm sorry I can't stay longer, but we're on our way to Florida tonight. And that's where Ponce de Leon, you know, looked for the fountain of youth. [Laughter] And just in case he found it, I've got a thermos jug with me. [Laughter]

But it is wonderful to be in Texas and see how all of you revere your heritage. As a matter of fact, just last week in Washington we saw a tremendous example of this when the whole Texas congressional delegation met with Ted Kennedy. And they were talking on about Jim Bowie and Colonel Travis, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and the glories of the Alamo. And finally Senator Kennedy started to feel a little uneasy. You know, he's from Boston, and people from Boston—they have a little pride of their own. So, finally, Ted said, "Well, golly fellows, haven't any of you heard of Paul Revere?" And you would have been proud of your Senator Phil Gramm. He piped right up. He said, "Sure. Isn't that the guy who ran for help?" [Laughter]

But, ladies and gentlemen, this wonderful city of Dallas has great and fond memories for me: the primaries of 1976 and 1980 and then that nomination night in 1984. In fact, flying over the convention center this morning, I started asking myself: "I wonder how folks down there would feel about giving it one more try." [Applause] Well, thank you for that. Thank you for that, but I'm kidding, of course. What I'm not kidding about is how much has changed, how better things are for our country because you and I and millions of other Americans refused to believe America's best days were behind her, that the old values and the virtues just couldn't cut it anymore.

You remember 1980: the worst economic mess since the Great Depression, foreign governments that routinely insulted this great nation and her citizens, and leadership in Washington that blamed the American people instead of itself for all our problems. The people knew different. As somebody put it: "98 percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans." And the quote then goes on to say: "It's the other lousy 2 percent that get all the publicity, but then we elected them." [Laughter] Well, we set to work to change all that. We went to the American people and told them: "The economy's gone sour, and taxes are too high. We're overregulated. And there's one simple reason for it. The Federal Government is too big, and it spends too much money." And we told the American people there was one way to end the years of tax and tax and spend and spend, and that was to elect fewer liberals and a whole lot more Republicans.

And the people heard us, and we started moving. One example: taxes—they were too high and the liberals in Washington wanted them to go higher. But we didn't just stand fast; we cut taxes and then indexed them to the rate of inflation, thereby ending that hidden tax of bracket creep. Still, the old habits of tax and tax and spend and spend died hard, and the liberals found a battle cry for their campaign in 1984: "We're going to raise your taxes," they shouted at the American people. And in November the American people shouted right back: "Oh, no, you're not. We're voting for the other guys. We're pulling the Republican lever." And, ladies and gentlemen, I think we Republicans had a right to the support that we got. Our policies brought down inflation, taxes, interest rates, and created 6 million new jobs by 1984 and another 4 million jobs since 1984. As soon as they stopped calling it Reaganomics, I knew it must be working.

But now, I didn't come here to talk about Washington. But there is a special reason for bringing up this issue of taxes and economic growth today. Let me remind you that in the first years of the eighties, Texas was a leader of America's economic recovery, with 1 million new jobs created and the incorporation of 150,000 new businesses. The State government, too, was in great shape. No new taxes were passed. There was a billion dollar surplus. And the size of the State budget was actually reduced by 5 percent. But then you know what happened? That other party took over in Austin. And sure enough, the State budget increased by 15 percent. The number of State employees rose by 12,000. And there was a tax increase—and that huge, huge tax increase that the then-Governor promised you would never happen. And, yes, of course, now there's a budget deficit and a special session of the legislature to deal with it.

But now it's election time again; and the Democrats in Austin are promising the people of this great State that they've learned their lesson, that, honest, this time they aren't going to increase spending and taxes. Well, may I offer some advice from a fellow who deals with the liberals every day in Washington: When it comes to tax and tax and spend and spend, some of them mean well, but they're just like Oscar Wilde: They can resist everything but temptation. Believe me, these liberals never met a tax they didn't like.

So, let's say something else flat out: One of the most important steps that Texas can take towards full economic recovery is to say no to any more years of tax and tax and spend and spend in Austin. The best way to restore a favorable climate for business and economic expansion is to put my good friend and your good friend back in the Austin statehouse—a tough man for tough times. He was a great Deputy Secretary of Defense, a great Republican Governor during the great Texas prosperity, a man who doesn't break his promises—Bill Clements.

And let me just pause here and talk about Texas prosperity for a minute. I think it's a tragedy that hard times have hit Texas and that unemployment is as high as it is in this great State. I want you all to know that this administration in Washington is aware of Texas problems, and we're going to do everything in our power to see this State and every State shares again in full prosperity. I'm down here to tell you this administration is wholeheartedly committed to a strong, domestic energy industry. We proved that when we decontrolled the price of oil. And we'll press and press again until Congress passes comprehensive decontrol of our natural gas supplies and until they take the other steps that we have proposed to protect America's energy future. And let me pledge that with the help of the people of your great State, this administration is determined that America will never again be captive to a foreign oil cartel.

But something else needs to be said. You know, sometimes the biggest changes for the better are the ones that can't be qualified or measured. Only a few weeks ago we celebrated in New York Harbor the restoration of Lady Liberty. And all across the vast expanse of this country, from sea to shining sea, America rocked and rolled with patriotism. It seemed everybody was saying what George M. Cohan used to say to his critics when they called him an American flag waver: "Well," he said, "yeah, sure, I'm a flag waver. But tell me this: Can you think of a better flag to wave?"

My friends, it isn't just patriotism that's back in style; it's words like hope and vision and future and optimism. And let me tell you that no State in the Union has a better claim on these words, no State knows more about builders and dreamers and visionaries than this one. And I'm down here to tell you today, Bill Clements is one of those builders and dreamers and visionaries. Under his leadership, and with some help from his friends in this administration, it's going to be comeback time for Texas. Texas led the way to prosperity once before, and with Bill Clements as her Governor, she'll lead the way again. And I hope the people of Texas know that by electing Bill Clements they won't only be putting Texas back on the road to economic good times, they'll also be sending a message to the rest of the country, and especially to the Democratic Party leadership—a message that says: Stop the taxing; stop the spending; and help the administration in Washington make government live within its means.

I know that Bill and all your Republican Congressmen are also proud that very soon we're taking another step in the direction of curbing government through our tax reform package. This reform not only provides another tax rate cut for the majority of the American people, but it will make our tax system fairer and, what's even more important, simpler. You know, I think it was Will Rogers who said that income tax had made more liars out of the American people than golf. [Laughter] And even Albert Einstein—seriously—once asked for help with his Form 1040. [Laughter] And come to think of it, you know, somebody else now makes out my tax form, sends it to me for my signature, and even with it all made out, I can't understand it. [Laughter]

And then there's something from the Internal Revenue Service Code. You know, the original 1913 amendment to the Constitution putting into effect the income tax was only 16 words. Now, if you took all the books of regulations and rules in the tax code, the income tax code, and put them on a shelf, the shelf would be 57 feet long to hold all of them. And I know that this tax reform plan we're having is not going to wipe out those 57 feet of books. But it is going to make it possible to go in there and clean out dozens and dozens of them that won't have to be there any longer. They're not in the bill itself; that has to come following. But let me give you a sample from the Internal Revenue Code. This happens to be the last sentence of section 509A of the code. And when I say it needs to be simpler, listen to this: "For purposes of paragraph 3, an organization described in paragraph 2 shall be deemed to include an organization described in section 501C 4, 5, or 6, which would be described in paragraph 2 if it were an organization described in section 501C 3." [Laughter] That's just things like that that make April 15th so miserable. [Laughter]

Well, now, ladies and gentlemen, when we proposed tax reform, official Washington said it couldn't be done. Well, today tax reform is nearly a reality. And the Senate's tax reform plan keeps the incentives for domestic exploration, which is critical to our national security. Yet our very ability to maneuver such initiatives through the Congress is what's at stake this fall. Because in addition to putting great Republicans like Bill Clements in statehouses around the country, we Republicans must protect our majority in the Senate and elect more Republicans to the House of Representatives. And I'm asking everyone here today to help. And we must dedicate ourselves to winning other races crucial to the ticket, such as Judge Roy Barrerra's race for attorney general. He represents an opportunity for Texas to elect a leader of the highest caliber.

Believe me, the liberals in Washington know what's at stake in this election. They know that this may well be their last chance to steer American politics way over to the left. They know that if we Republicans do well this November it's going to permanently alter the political landscape. They know that I need Congressman Joe Barton to return to the House next year and continue as my ally serving the people of Texas. And let me tell you this: Nothing convinces the Washington liberals of this more than what happened here in Texas in 1984, when you elected the largest number of Republican Congressmen and State legislators in your history. And more importantly, you sent Phil Gramm to the Senate, and that's not even to mention a whole batch of Republicans elected to county-level posts our party had never even thought about winning before. So, whatever you do, don't stop now.

You see, on holding down taxes and spending, on appointing tough judges, on keeping up our defenses and dealing firmly with the Soviets, the liberal Democrat leadership knows the fundamental differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are beginning to sink in with the average voter. Take another issue that's come to the fore recently, an issue where partisan politics shouldn't even play a role. All of you know that a Communist government has taken over in Nicaragua. In addition to engaging in widespread repression of human rights, this government is establishing a base camp for Cuban-Soviet aggression on the North American mainland. But today there are about 20,000 freedom fighters who need our help in restoring democracy to that country. And a few weeks ago we won a crucial vote in the House of Representatives that will help them to do just that.

And by the way, I think you know I've mentioned in the past that Nicaragua is only a g-day drive from the Texas border. And since I'm here now, I can explain: Don't mistake my reference to the Texas border. The Communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua has made a lot of mistakes, but even they know better than to get themselves in a tangle with a bunch of Texans. Even with all the tanks and gunships from the Soviet Union, my guess is that the Sandinistas would make it about as far as the shopping center in Pecos before Roger Staubach came out of retirement— [laughter] —teamed up with some off-duty Texas Rangers and the front four of the Dallas Cowboys, and pushed the Sandinistas down the river, out across the Gulf, and right back to Havana where they belong. Come to think of it, they don't even belong in Havana either, but don't get me started on that. [Laughter] But what's really at stake here is restoring our bipartisan consensus on national security issues. Believe me, you'll send that message to the liberals in Washington if you'll elect more Republican officeholders here in Texas. Well, time is running—I only wish I could stay longer.

I've mentioned a number of important Texas Republicans, but of course there's one Texas Republican to whom I and every American owes a great debt. He's been a great Vice President, and all of us thank the great State of Texas for sharing George Bush with all of America. And let me mention two more who ran and served well: former Congressmen Tom Loeffler and Kent Hance. For so many reasons, I love being in this wonderful State. You're rightfully proud of your great heritage; never take it for granted. Believe me, no visitor can come here without thinking about those 183 heroes who crossed that line in the dust, that line that Travis drew with his sword at the Alamo.

"Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled," John Quincy Adams promised, "there will be America's heart, her benedictions and her prayers." The banner of the Lone Star has always been one of those banners. And Texas has gone right on giving us heroes. Just a few short summers ago, when the summer Olympics opened, one of them was introduced at the Los Angeles sports arena. It was George Foreman, the former Olympic champion, recognized for that day 16 years earlier when, in a different time in America, he was brave enough to wave a tiny American flag at the 1968 Olympics when he stood on a platform to receive his gold medal. I remember the news accounts said of the crowd: "They rose and cheered, filling the old arena with an emotional ovation that brought tears to many." "All I've ever tried to tell anyone," Texan George Foreman said, "is that I'm not a black man or a white man or anything else. All I've ever been was an American."

And that's what it's all been about these last few years: bringing America together again, restoring her greatness. And that's why you and I—black, white, Asian, and Hispanic—must continue to serve together in the cause of human freedom and the dream that is America. I'm asking every one of you to go back to your homes now and talk to your neighbors. Tell them the eyes of America are upon you. Tell them how important it is to put Bill Clements in the statehouse, to send more Republicans to Washington, and keep America on the upward road to peace and prosperity for all.

Now, I know if you do that you're going to be talking to some of your friends and neighbors who are Democrats. And I know that in a gathering this big there must be many here who either are or, like myself, were once Democrats and then changed. And I want you to emphasize that, and when I've been talking here—have you noticed I used the word the "Democratic leadership" several times? Because I think there's reason for doing that.

Not much attention was paid to, some years ago, several years ago, when an organization of political scientists in this country conducted some studies and surveys. And they did it by assuming that the people who represented the party at the national convention, including the party officials there—they were the leadership of the party. And then out beyond that were the great rank and file of the party members. So, they took the leading issues, the things of great interest to the people, and they surveyed the delegates to the Democratic Convention and the delegates to the Republican Convention on their approach to these problems. And they were polls apart—the Democratic leadership from the Republican leadership. Then they polled the rank and file Democrats nationwide and the Republicans nationwide and found that the rank and file of the Democrats—their views on all those important issues were virtually identical with the rank and file members of the Republican Party, and the Republican Party was completely in keeping with and in the context of how they felt with the leadership that had represented them at the convention. But the difference between the rank and file Democrats and their leadership—they, too, were polls apart. That's why, yes, there are a great many Democrats out there who feel and think as we do. And whether they decide to change the party registration or not—as some of us did—I think at least they should know that they would be voting for people who share their ideas and ideals if this time they vote Republican.

So, you know—there's an echo in here. [Laughter] So, again, you send this man to the statehouse. And thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:23 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Dallas Apparel Mart. He was introduced by William Clements, who was the Republican gubernatorial candidate. Following his remarks, he attended a reception at Loews Anatole Hotel for major donors to William Clements' campaign. The President then traveled to Miami, FL. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Campaign Fundraiser for William Clements in Dallas, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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