Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks to Members of the Republican National Committee and the Reagan-Bush Campaign Staff in Dallas, Texas

August 24, 1984

Thank you very much. You know, Paul, if you really have all morning been talking about all those things you said, then I haven't got anything left to say. [Laughter] That's what I was going to talk about.

No, I want to thank you. It's a privilege to be with so many hard-working and dedicated Republicans. And with regard to the interruptions last night, afterwards I said to George, I said, "I thought there for awhile I was going to have to do the speech one word at a time." [Laughter]

But it's a special honor to greet the women and men who've just become the new Republican National Committee. And incidentally, if we are the reason for all of this, we wouldn't have been in a position to be responsible for all of this if it hadn't been for people like you putting us here, and we're most grateful.

Each of you has dedicated years of effort to the cause that unites us. And today, you take up positions of the highest responsibility in one of the oldest, proudest political parties on Earth—a party that's always stood for human freedom, a party that's given the world leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight David Eisenhower and, yes, Abraham Lincoln.

Your positions give you an opportunity to serve our country in an historical manner. And on behalf of all Republicans, I give you a heartfelt congratulations.

During your time in office you'll face many challenges, but none will be greater than the challenge you face in the next 74 days. And I just know that with the people by our side, we will—and by "we" I mean Republicans—we'll lead not only our party but our country. And we'll fight this campaign with every ounce of strength we have, and the people will win.

Our strategy is simply stated: We'll go to the people—to all the people—we'll speak of our beliefs; we'll stand on the record; we'll deal in the facts.

The opposition has already begun to try to pit one group of Americans against another. But the election of '84 will be a battle not of groups, but of ideas. And we'll wage it with joy and vigor.

We know that our constituency is everyone in this country. Our special interest group is the American people. And our intent is to keep promoting policies that will help all of the people and help the people of this country to help themselves.

This year offers us an historic opportunity to get across an historic truth: that we are the party of new ideas; we are the party of the future; and we are the party whose philosophy is vigorous and dynamic. The old stereotype of a kind of pudgy, stolid, unimaginative Republican—there may be a few cartoonists around that still want to portray us as that, but they're lying in their teeth if they do.

This isn't going to be a cakewalk. I know that all of you know that. And it's no time to sit on our laurels. 1984 is the year when we can get out there in the union halls and the VFW, the church meetings, and get out the word. As a matter of fact, we'll be walking away from here in a few minutes, because Nancy and I are due in Chicago to speak to the VFW this afternoon at their national convention.

But we want to get out the word on how, through cutting tax rates, we're making the GOP stand for "Great Opportunity Party," and get out the word on how our policies have enhanced America's strength and this has made the peace that we enjoy more solid and durable; get out the word on how inflation has plummeted and unemployment has fallen and the value of the dollar is higher and the economy is expanding. And we didn't do this to help some of the people; we did it to help all of the people.

Things are going so well that the opposition has had to reverse the meaning of a few words and concepts. Indeed, at their meeting in San Francisco, one of their speakers called the economic expansion-and I quote—an "illusion." Well, it's pretty hard to cash an illusion. [Laughter] People are cashing bigger checks.

But according to the opposition, prosperity is an illusion. Strong defenses—and this again is quoting them—are "destabilizing." And if you read the record of the last administration backward, it has a happy ending. [Laughter]

Well, this expansion has already lasted 20 months without fueling inflation. It's given nearly 6 1/2 million more Americans, as I said last night, jobs. There's nothing dangerous about an expansion that is based on hard work and innovation, and the American people know it.

Looking to the future, it's clear that the opposition has only one innovation to offer—strange for them, too—a huge tax increase. But that's their usual knee-jerk reaction, and as I said the other day, when their knee jerks, we get kicked. [Laughter]

But let's get the word out on that one, too. Our people don't believe, or our party doesn't believe, that the people are undertaxed. We believe the Federal Government is overfed. To bring the budget under control, we need more Republicans elected who will support the line-item veto and the balanced budget amendment. You've heard me say that before, but we're going to keep on saying it, because every poll indicates that the American people support those measures overwhelmingly, once again showing that the leadership of the other party totally is ignoring what their own people are telling them they want.

And to spur new investment, to enable the people to keep a greater share of their earnings, we need that historic simplification of the tax code. And if we can broaden that base, if we can begin to get the unpaid tax that is now out there from those who are freeloading on their neighbors, we can reduce the rates for everyone.

Our vision is and must be an America of greater incentives, more growth, and new opportunities. But let me leave you just one last thought from my heart: Holding this office has allowed me to see as never before how richly our nation has been blessed. Around the world, totalitarians tread ideals underfoot and oppress millions. But in America, it's still our privilege to stand for liberty.

This election is for more than our party and more than the White House; it's for the future of our beloved country, the place Mr. Lincoln called the "last, best hope of man." For the sake of our children and the millions on Earth who look to America for hope, I know that we'll fight the good fight, we'll keep the faith.

There was one thing—I know that many of the things I've said here were repeated many times in the convention, because they had to do with the actual record of 'what we've been doing in the management of the Government, but I think you might be pleased to know—you'll remember back a couple of years ago when we were talking about a private sector initiative, encouraging that. And thousands of volunteers came forth with every kind of idea, and we had a commission, temporarily put together, that collected, and then in the White House we had computerized the literally thousands of programs throughout the country that citizens and community groups have themselves put in place to solve some problems that heretofore our opponents always would think was only for government to do.

Well, we still maintain a headquarters in that private initiatives, and there's hardly a week goes by that we don't have something that we pick up the phone to them and say, "Hey..." And sometimes it's a problem only involving one individual that we've heard about, or that we've read in the press about, with a situation that government isn't equipped to solve, and we call them. And you know, a couple of days later a call comes back: All taken care of. And the same thing is true with programs.

In Washington one day I turned on the television, and I saw a bunch of fellows out there, and they were painting houses and they were doing all sorts of things and carrying things in and out, and then the TV cameraman was stopping them, and they were being questioned. Well, some were lawyers and some were doctors and some were business people and even some judges, and yet they were painting houses and so forth.

And I thought, my gosh, they're doing that—this must be Texas, this must be that "Christmas in April" program in a town here in Texas where all year long they collect the information about the elderly, the disabled, the people who can't afford to fix up their houses, to restore the plumbing, to do the things that need doing. And when they've got all this list complete, then the merchants contribute the paint and the things of that kind, and then the people go out, and "Christmas in April" is refurbishing all those houses for those people in need.

And, by golly, it was Washington, DC, that was doing it, because our private sector initiative had carried the word throughout the country of "Christmas in April," and every community, literally, that heard about it said, "Hey, that's a good idea," and took it up. And we haven't talked much about that; it isn't the easiest thing to talk about, I guess. But it is showing that the America that used to have a barn-building bee when a farmer's barn burned, when they used to help the fellow that got injured to harvest his crop and all, that America has always been here. The Government just tried to take some of your fun away from you. And we're stopping that.

Thank you all, and God bless you all. And we're now going to go and talk to the VFW. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:34 a.m. in the Chantilly Ballroom at the Loew's Anarole Hotel.

In his opening remarks, the President referred to Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, general chairman of the Republican Party and chairman of the Reagan-Bush Reelection Committee.

Following his remarks, the President traveled to Chicago, IL.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks to Members of the Republican National Committee and the Reagan-Bush Campaign Staff in Dallas, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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