Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Nevada Republican Party Fundraising Luncheon in Las Vegas

February 07, 1984

Paul, look, I'd be very happy to relinquish my time to you. I was enjoying everything you were saying. [Laughter]

Reverend Kurhey, Toastmaster Tom Weisner, Wayne Pearson, Marilyn Gubler, Curtis Patrick, and ladies and gentlemen:

It's certainly a pleasure for me to be with you here today, and you've made it even more of a pleasure since I've been in this room. And I'm especially glad to see Senators Laxalt and Hecht. Chic, I can't tell you how great it was the last election night when the word came in from Nevada. Your victory and that of Congresswoman Vucanovich made our evening. And since he got to Washington, Chic has made himself indispensable to the Republican team.

Congresswoman Vucanovich couldn't be with us today, but she's up for reelection this year. And if there's one thing you folks of Nevada can do for your country, it's to keep her on the job. She's been a strong and creative leader for responsible government. She's been playing an important part in our efforts to revive the economy and strengthen America's defenses. We can't afford to lose her. So, please, do me a personal favor: Don't just vote for her, make sure your friends and neighbors vote for her, too.

And, Paul Laxalt, it is no secret to anyone in this room or anyone in the country how much I've relied on you since coming to Washington 3 years ago. We got to know each other when I was Governor of California and he was Governor of Nevada. And Nancy and I both cherish the friendship we have with Paul and with Carol, and now with Chic and Gall. And Paul and I both like to ride. And knowing how to deal with a horse comes in mighty handy sometimes up on— [laughter] —when you're dealing with Capitol Hill. [Laughter] Paul, I deeply appreciate the guidance, advice, and moral support that you've given me.

Senators Laxalt and Hecht have been stalwart examples of how Republicans can stick to their principles even when the going gets rough. In the last 3 years we've stuck to our principles rather than trying to be everything to everybody. The opposition kept telling us it wouldn't work, but sometimes I don't think there's anything that they believe will work.

Well, today the roar of economic recovery is drowning the naysayers and the hand-wringers. But we can't take it for granted that recovery will be translated into votes in the elections. As in the past, the Republicans' biggest challenge is how to get our message out. Some of our finest accomplishments, I think, are some of the best kept secrets in the Nation's Capital. If there's one word that we must repeat to our friends and neighbors, one word that will carry the cause for our day, that word is "remember." It's fair that we be judged on what we've accomplished. However, we should be compared not to what our opponents say that they will do, but instead, to what we remember our opponents did.

In the 4 years prior to this administration our critics had total control of both Houses of the Congress, the Presidency, and all of the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. And what they did is what we must make certain the American people remember. They gave the country double-digit inflation that ravaged the elderly, the poor, and the middle class. They gave us economic stagnation from which we're just now recovering. They gave us interest rates that knocked the automobile and homebuilding industries right off their feet. They gave us high taxes, big spending, and government that didn't work. they gave us pessimism and national self-doubt as never before experienced in this country.

There was only one thing "fair" about their policies—and they love to use that word—and I must say, they have been fair. They didn't discriminate; they made everybody miserable. [Laughter]

Now we've brought double-digit, near-runaway inflation down to 3.2 percent for all of 1983. We've cut the 21.5-percent prime interest rate that we inherited almost in half. We've cut the growth in Federal spending and cut that about in half. And we've prevented the people from being mangled by built-in tax increases by passing a 25-percent across-the-board tax cut and by indexing their tax rates starting next year.

Now, I don't think any Republican should hesitate to ask the people if they think they're better off than they were 4 years ago.

Of course, we should help them remember what it was like. I get letters every day from all over America, and I must tell you that I don't think anyone is going to pull the wool over your eyes in the coming election. One letter was from a working mother in Oklahoma, and she wrote: "I like going shopping for food or clothing for my children and not seeing the prices go up every week the way it was when inflation was so high. I like getting a letter from my mortgage company telling me that more of my payment will be applied to my loan principal because of a lower interest rate. I like having more take-home money from my paycheck because of lower income taxes. I like having hope that my sons won't have to go to war because you're helping to keep our country strong. My husband and I are not rich. But we are making ends meet, mostly by our own hard work. But I feel your policies are helping."

Well, a letter like that makes my day, I can tell you. And if what we've done in these last 3 years has turned despair into hope, self-doubt into confidence, then the American people will judge for themselves what we've achieved.

I believe we have a solid record of achievement and accomplishment to offer. Nevertheless, we must be aware that most people are more concerned about what we offer for the future than what we've achieved in the past, even the near past. We must make certain that the public is keenly aware that it is Republicans who have a bold vision of the future.

We're the ones who will push to simplify the tax code. For 30 years the liberals have controlled the House where tax bills originate. As a matter of fact, for 27 of these last 30 years the Democratic Party has controlled both Houses of the Congress, and then for these 3 years, we have had the one House, the Senate. And believe me, nothing of what we've accomplished could have been done if we did not have the majority in that one House. If the public wants real tax reform, we're the ones that will give it to them.

And we're the ones who offer institutional reform to bring responsibility to government spending. We'd start by amending the Constitution to require a balanced Federal budget. We'd also give the Chief Executive a line-item veto which would prevent the worst kind of pork-barrel projects from passing simply because they're attached to very necessary and vital legislation.

We're the ones who would strengthen the social institutions that are the foundation of our society and our freedom. Fundamental American values have been under attack for too long, and it's about time we stand up and say enough is enough.

We can start by letting our children have the right to call on a little help from God at the beginning of their school day. As far as I'm concerned, He never should have been kicked out of school in the-first place. [Laughter]

Education, of course, is something that demonstrates the difference in approach between the two palsies. And here, too, we're the ones with enough courage to call for basic reform. We know that just throwing money at a problem isn't the answer. And certainly more Federal controls and regulations—something that is a byproduct of looking to Washington as a solution to local problems—is not the answer. No, we must reinvigorate education from the bottom up or real change will not happen.

Here in Nevada you're showing what can be accomplished when people set their mind to it. A cross section of community leaders has gotten together to establish private sector funding and support for State contributions for a school of engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Once established, the school will provide a necessary link in preparing today's students for the new and emerging fields of high technology that will carry Nevada and the United States from the eighties to the 21st century. This is the kind of initiative that fosters progress. It represents a grassroots momentum emerging all over the country.

People now understand that they can't wait for the Federal Government to do what needs to be done. And I think we can all be proud that we put the future back in the hands of the people. You know, sometimes when those other fellows start talking about the necessity of as much government as they would like, some of us here in the West should remind them—we did all this out here without an area redevelopment plan. [Laughter]

During the coming elections, I'm confident that people will recognize the significance of the choices that they'll make. Now there's a little story that I like to tell, and, you must remember, since you've been so kind as to sing Happy Birthday, that life not only begins at 40, but so does lumbago and the tendency to tell the same story over and over again. [Laughter] So, if you've heard it, just be polite and pretend you haven't. [Laughter]

It's about a little boy who was selling some puppies that he had to get rid of. And he set up shop right outside a Democratic fundraiser. And when the people began coming out, and one couple stopped and looked, and then, joshingly, the man said, "Are those Democrat puppies?" And he said, "Oh, yes, sir." Well, the couple wound up buying one.

Well, the next week the Republicans were having a fundraiser, and he set up shop again—same location and some of the same pups. And out came the people and, sure enough, somebody asked him if they were Republican pups. And he said, "Yes." And he sold one. And a newspaper reporter who was nearby and had been present the week before said, "Hey, kid, wait a minute. Last week you said those were Democrat pups. Now you're saying they're Republicans." And the kid says, "Yeah." And he says, "Well, how come?" He says, "That's easy." He says, "This week they got their eyes open." [Laughter]

Well, we've got to make certain that the American people go into the next year with their eyes open, and that's going to depend on you and Republican activists around the country. And I can't tell you how proud I am to have participated in this gathering here today and to learn that it has been as successful as it has. But, let me remind you, President Dewey told me to remind you— [laughter] —don't get overconfident. [Laughter]

We've got a job to do, and one of the best things that we can do—we know what you can do for us—it's that mouth-to-mouth, that hand-to-hand contact, and that telling about the difference in the record. And so we're going to try to see if we don't provide the information that you'll need to convince your friends and neighbors and to straighten out—I read the other day where they were going to follow us through the campaign with truth squads. Well, that will make those the slowest truth squads in the world, because we're going to be circling around behind them telling the truth on them. [Laughter] And I doubt that they would be really telling the truth.

But we must have faith in the people of this country and faith in our principles. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you've done. God bless you all. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:45 p.m. in the Herbst-Collins Executive Hangar at the McCarron International Airport. He was introduced by Senator Paul Laxalt.

In his opening remarks, the President also referred to Thomas N. Weisner, Republican Party supporter; Wayne Pearson, Republican Party fundraiser; Marilyn Gubler, chairman, Clark County Republican Central Committee; and Curtis Patrick, chairman, Nevada State Republican Committee.

Following the luncheon, the President left Nevada and went to Rancho del Cielo, his ranch near Santa Barbara, CA, where he stayed for the remainder of the week.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Nevada Republican Party Fundraising Luncheon in Las Vegas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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