Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Senator Chic Hecht in Reno, Nevada

November 01, 1988

Thank you, Chic, and also Gail, who's with us here today. And I, too, would like to add my thanks and appreciation for the Elko High School Indian Band. And my good friend Paul Laxalt and Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich, thank you all very much. It's great to be back in Reno, Nevada.

Well, today I've come here for a very special reason: because I want to talk to you about a friend of mine, a great Senator from Nevada, Chic Hecht. Now, like Chic, I've had a career of being underestimated. It started a number of years back. I was under contract to Warner Brothers Studio in Hollywood when it was announced that I was running for Governor. And somebody told Jack Warner about that. And Jack thought just a moment, and then he said, "No, uh-uh—Jimmy Stewart for Governor, Ronald Reagan for best friend." [Laughter] But Chic Hecht is a scrapper. The people who bet against him in 1982 should have learned their lesson. If anyone is so foolish as to be betting against him this year, I've got a piece of advice: Try your luck in the casinos. The odds are better. [Laughter]

Reno, of course, is known for its great shows: the lights, the costumes, the headline entertainers. That's sort of like the United States Congress. [Laughter] But in the Congress, they have an old and wise saying: There are two types of Senators: showhorses and workhorses. Chic Hecht is not a showhorse; he's a workhorse. He gets the job done for the people of Nevada. Chic doesn't grab headlines; he doesn't showboat. Chic's the kind of Senator who doesn't make a lot of noise. He just gets things done for his State. He works hard, he's effective, and he has the respect of his colleagues and the admiration of the President and Vice President of the United States. And both of us sure want to have him in the Senate next year. I think George Bush wants him there even more than I do because George is going to need Chic's help.

But I feel a special friendship for Chic. You see, we began working side by side long before he went to Washington. He joined with me in three Presidential campaigns, spanning two decades to bring our conservative principles to Washington, DC, that puzzle palace on the Potomac. You know, I think it's important for one of us, either me or Chic, to be in Washington next year. And it has to be Chic. You see, we flipped a coin, and he lost. [Laughter]

But through three Congresses, Chic and I have worked together, fighting special interest to cut taxes on America's working people. We backed strong measures like Gramm-Rudman to put a collar on congressional spending. We worked for a strategic defense against ballistic missiles, for judges and Justices who would respect the Constitution and get tough on criminals, for a strong national defense, and to support brave freedom fighters in our hemisphere and around the world. And if that's what you believe in, too, I think Chic Hecht has earned 6 more years. Don't you? [Applause]

On the Nevada ballot this year, there will be two Democratic Governors who want to go to Washington, one from this State and the other from a certain State in New England. [Laughter] I'd say they're tax-and-spend twins. Both are big spenders, and both have raised taxes more than any other Governor in their States' histories. I have to tell you what a big mistake it would be for Nevada to send a jet set, tax-and-spend liberal to Washington. This would be like sending the fox to guard the chicken coop. [Laughter]

You know, up until Sunday, the opposition objected to being called liberal, not because it was false, but because it was true. But now they've come clean, and they admit it: They're liberals. Of course, the liberals now are saying that they're on your side. I guess they think that that will make it easier for them to reach their hand around and put it in your pocket. [Laughter] But if you care about fiscal responsibility-that means keeping the politicians from stealing your wallet—here is all you need to do on election day: Step into the voting booth, put your hand on the lever, and say right out loud, "Read my lips: No new taxes." Of course, on election day, I don't think that's what the Governor of this State plans to do. I think he's going to vote for a liberal Governor from New England. Doesn't that tell you something about how he would vote in Washington, and doesn't that tell you something about who you ought to vote for for the Senate?

Yes, the bottom line in this election is that Chic Hecht is a strong conservative, and unlike his opponent, he will never have to take orders from the liberal leadership of the other party. And that makes a difference not just on taxes and national security but also when it comes to confirming judges and fighting crime, two issues where the liberal leadership in Congress has gone so far left that today voting against them has become a matter of self-defense.

I can tell you that the reason violent crime has fallen sharply since 1981 is because we put criminals on notice. We said: Make a false move, and the next sound you hear is the clang of a jail cell door slamming shut. Yes, if you ask Chic or me, there are no citizens more precious than the men and women who guard us: our State and local police. Chic and I believe that when a drug dealer murders a policeman in cold blood, that kind of killer deserves and should receive the death sentence. But the liberal leadership opposes capital punishment and tough-minded judges. The liberals oppose voluntary prayer in school, but favor tax hikes, gun control, and a weak-kneed defense policy that only a McGovern could love. [Laughter] Their views could only be described by the dreaded "L" word: liberal, liberal, liberal!

So, let me ask you to do something, and I want to hear your answer: Will you promise me that on November 8th you'll go to the polls and from top to bottom, and especially for Chic Hecht, you'll give your support to our Republican candidates? [Applause] And you know, on election day, thanks to Chic Hecht, when you go to the polls, you won't have to crawl there. You'll be able to drive there, as he said, at 65 miles per hour.

Now, from top to bottom, from President to Congress to local office, especially here in Nevada, this is what is at stake. This election year is a referendum on liberalism. But the opposition, even after finally admitting their liberalism, is still trying to deny that they've left the mainstream behind and now belong to the party of McGovern and Mondale. That's the type of liberals they are.

No, the fact is, today if you want America to be what F.D.R., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, called a great arsenal of democracy; if, like Harry Truman, you want to continue to help those resisting communism; if you believe in lowering tax rates like John F. Kennedy did, and in the traditional values that you grew up with; then you should vote for our Republican ticket because that's what we believe in, and the self-proclaimed liberals don't.

Yes, the choice before the American people this year is just as clear as it was in past elections when I stood before you: a choice between, on the one hand, liberal policies of tax and spend; economic stagnation; international weakness, accommodation, and always, always "blame America first"; and, on the other hand, what we believe-the policies of limited government, economic growth, individual opportunity, a strong defense, firmness with the Soviets, and always, always "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

Back when I took office, America was in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But today America is in the longest peacetime expansion ever recorded and, as you've been told, going on now 72 months. We've cut taxes, slashed inflation by two-thirds, and sliced interest rates in half. Since the economic recovery began, we've created over 18 million new jobs-good jobs, more than three-quarters of them the kind that pay $20,000 a year and up—and the unemployment rate in Reno has been cut nearly in half. And statewide, real personal income is up by over 30 percent.

Today in America, a greater proportion of our potential work force is employed than ever before in the history of the United States. Now, I'm not just looking at the unemployment rate. That is because there are always people between jobs and newcomers coming into the job market. But that potential employment pool—that is considered to be, and hear this, everyone in the United States from 16 years of age and up, all the way, including the retirees and so forth-that is considered to be the potential employment pool. Well, today 62.7 percent of that group of citizens are employed in jobs in this country.

Audience members. Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

The President. Thank you. Of course, the self-proclaimed liberals still don't understand how we were able to get rid of their economic crisis, their "malaise," their inflation, and their gas lines. So, in this campaign they're treating good times as if they're a given, as if it just happens. Well, their message is: You can take prosperity for granted. It's time for a change, so take a chance on us. Well, that's sort of like someone telling you that you've stored up all the cold beer you could want, so now it's time to unplug the refrigerator. [Laughter] But whether it's a well-stocked refrigerator or our economic policies, you can't unplug what's working and expect things to stay the same.

And with the work and the support of Chic Hecht, a key member of the Senate Intelligence Committee—a man who, in fact, served his country as an intelligence agent—our country is once again respected in the world. Our Armed Forces are strong, and America is at peace. And we and our NATO allies stood firm in the face of Soviet missiles pointing at the heart of Europe and Asia, and Mr. Gorbachev got the message. He did business because we meant business, and we still mean business.

Now, one of the most important ways to show that we still mean business is to reelect strong, conservative Republicans to the Congress, people like Chic Hecht and Barbara Vucanovich, and to elect good Republican challengers like Lucille Lusk down in Las Vegas. I'm asking you on election day to send a message that will literally be heard around the world.

The fact is, if the liberals had had their way, there would have been no INF treaty or rollback in Afghanistan or democratic triumphs around the globe. They opposed rebuilding our military defenses. They opposed the deployment of the missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet threat. They opposed the liberation of Grenada. They opposed the raid on terrorist Libya. They oppose our policy of helping freedom fighters fight communism and advance the cause of liberty around the world. But Chic has advanced our cause every step of the way, and that's one of the reasons I can tell you today that in the past 8 years we haven't lost I square inch of ground to communism and, in fact, have returned one small country, Grenada, to freedom.

So, ladies and gentlemen, those are the stakes this year—high stakes. But this one is not going to be determined by a spin of the wheel or a cut of the cards. This one is up to you. On November 8th, you can help Nevada and help America hit the jackpot by sending Chic Hecht back to the United States Senate. This election is about what type of Senator Nevada will have and what type of Congress the next President will have. Some people say that it's time for a change. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are the change. It began when you sent us to Washington 8 years ago. And now it's up to you to keep that change alive by reelecting Chic Hecht.

And we've come much too far to turn back. So, if you would, I hope you'll just help win just one more for the Gipper. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m. on the North Ramp at Reno-Cannon International Airport. In his opening remarks, the President referred to Senator Hecht's wife, and former Senator Paul Laxalt. Following his remarks, the President traveled to Milwaukee, WI.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Senator Chic Hecht in Reno, Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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