Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Little Rock, Arkansas

November 03, 1984

The President. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. That's what I came here to talk to you about. [Laughter]

Thank you very much. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. It's wonderful to be in Arkansas. And if I have my history correct, it's wonderful to be the first President since Harry Truman to stay overnight here in Little Rock.

Well, I must say, I admire your spirit. You know, back just a few years ago when other people were burning our flag, you were waving it. I don't know if a President ever thanked you for that, but I'm proud to thank you.

It's good to be in the home State of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. Now, I understand the Razorbacks have a big game this evening. How do you think they're going to do?
Audience. Win!

The President. Well, then I have another question: How do you think we'll all do next week? [Applause]

Well—but let's not any of us be complacent. I'm telling you quite frankly that if a gypsy were to look into her crystal ball and say, "Mr. President, you can either win easily on Tuesday; or win with fewer votes, but with a Congress that will help you," I would choose the latter, because if we're to solidify our gains, the gains we've made in these past 4 years, we'll need a Congress that will allow us to move forward—a Congress that won't insist on going back to the bad old days and the bad old ways.

Arkansas is called "The Land of Opportunity." And you have some wonderful candidates for the Congress that will help our entire country continue to be a land of opportunity for everyone. I want to talk to you about Ed Bethune, who's going to be the first Republican Senator from Arkansas since Reconstruction.

Now, I know that many of the good people of this State are Democrats, and I respect that tradition. I was a Democrat, too, for most of my adult life. But I changed parties when the leadership of the Democratic Party changed course. Its current leaders have made that once great party into the plaything of the left, the hobby of the elite, and the home of the special pleaders. They don't represent America anymore, the way they once did.

But people like Ed Bethune do. He believes in a strong, a united country, an America of pride and power. And he's for a strong national defense. He's for prosperity. And he's for lower taxes. And I don't think his opponent could make those same statements.

Now, his opponent, the gentleman who said in 1980, "If Reagan is elected, it will be an unbelievable and unbearable experience."
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. Now, it hasn't really been that bad, has it?
Audience. No!

The President. Well, my friend Ed Bethune answered his opponent by saying, "If Ronald Reagan comes to Arkansas, it will be an unbelievable and unbearable experience for David Pryor."

And we need the can-do spirit of Judy Petty in the House of Representatives. She's for the policies that will create economic growth. And she's often said, "Young people don't want a welfare check. They want a paycheck." Well, we need more of that kind of thinking in the Congress. And we need Congressman Paul Hammerschmidt, too.

Will you send them all to Washington to help us?
Audience. Yes!

The President. And please send Woody Freeman to the statehouse.

We want Arkansas' entire congressional delegation to be a part of the great renewal that we began in 1980, a renewal that followed the wise advice of a wise old President.

Abe Lincoln said we must disenthrall ourselves with the past—and then we will save our country. Well, 4 years ago, that's what we did. We made a great turn. We got out from under the thrall of a government which we had thought would improve our lives, make them better; but which we found tried to live our lives for us.

Four years ago we began to navigate by certain fixed principles. Our North Star was freedom, and common sense were our constellations.

We knew that economic freedom meant paying less of the American family's earnings to the Government. And so, we cut personal income tax rates across the board 25 percent. And those in this campaign who are telling you that those taxes were unbalanced and benefited certain groups more than others; they're lying in their teeth. We cut them across the board for everyone.

We knew that inflation, the quiet thief, and record interest rates were stealing our future.

We knew that our national military defense had been weakened. So, we decided to rebuild and be strong again, and to be prepared for peace. You know, it really was a second American revolution, and it's only just begun.

But America is back; America is on the scene, powerful in its renewed spirit, powerful in its growing economy, and powerful in its ability to defend itself and preserve the peace. And do you know something? That's not debatable.

Yet 4 years after our efforts began, small voices in the night are sounding the call to go back—go back to the days of drift, the days of torpor, timidity, and taxes.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. I'm with you. And any of those rumors suddenly that are being floated around desperately in these last couple of days about some suspected tax increases from our side—over my dead body. Don't you believe it.

My opponent's understanding of economies is well described by his predictions. Just before we took office, he said that our economic program was obviously, murderously inflationary. And it was just shortly after he said that that we reduced inflation from over 12 percent down to around 4.

And then, just after our tax cuts were adopted, he said the most he could see was an anemic recovery. And that was right before the United States economy created more than 6 million new jobs in 21 months.

And then he said that decontrolling oil prices would cost you $36 billion. Well, one of the first things we did was decontrol oil prices, and the price of gasoline went down 8 cents a gallon.

Now, I've got it figured out that all we have to do to get an absolutely perfect economy is to get him to predict an absolute disaster. [Laughter]

He says he cares about the middle class. But he boasts, "I have consistently supported legislation, time after time, which increases taxes on my own constituents." Doesn't that make you want to be one of his constituents? [Laughter] He's no doubt proud of the fact that as a United States Senator he voted 16 times in the Senate to increase your taxes.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. But this year he's outdone himself. He's already promised, of course, to raise your taxes. But if he's to keep all the promises that he's made in this campaign, he will have to raise taxes by the equivalent of $1,890 for every household in the United States.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. That comes out to a little better than $150 a month. That's like having a second mortgage, a Mondale mort gage. [Laughter]

Now, his economic plan has two basic parts. One—missed me. 1 [Laughter and applause]

1 The President was referring to the noise of a balloon bursting.

Thank you. Thank you. But as I was saying, his economic plan has two basic parts. One, raise your taxes, and two, do it again. [Laughter] But I've got news for him. The American people don't want his tax increases, and he's not going to get them.

You know, first of all, his tax plan would bring our recovery to a roaring stop. A tax cut is the principal reason for the recovery that we're having.

Now, if my opponent's campaign were a television show, it would be "Let's Make a Deal." [Laughter] You trade your prosperity for what he's got hidden behind the curtain. [Laughter] And if it was a Broadway show, it would be "Promises, Promises." [Laughter] And if it were a book, you would have to read it from the back to the front to get a happy ending. [Laughter]

He sees an America in which every day is tax day, April 15. Well, we see an America in which every day is Independence Day, the Fourth of July. We want to lower your tax rates, yours and everyone's in this country, so that our economy will be stronger, our families will be stronger, and America will be stronger.

And I'm proud to say—on another subject—that during these last 4 years, not 1 square inch of territory in the world has been lost to Communist aggression.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. All right.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. All right. All right.

You know, the United States is more secure than we were 4 years ago.

But my opponent sees a different America. After the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, he said, "It just baffles me why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have." [Laughter] Well, there's so much that baffles him. [Laughter]

One year ago we liberated Grenada from Communist thugs who had taken over that country. And my opponent called what we did a violation of international law that erodes our moral authority to criticize the Soviets.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. There is nothing immoral about rescuing American students whose lives were in danger.

Let me try to put this in perspective apropos of something I said earlier. This 1984 election isn't just a partisan contest. I was a Democrat myself once, for a long time, bulk of my adult life.
Audience member. [Inaudible]

The President. And I was just going to say, I hope, though, that there are many out here who are still members of that party, but who are here because they've found they can no longer follow the policies of the leadership of that party.

Back in those days, when that gentleman and I were members of the party— [laughter] —its leaders weren't in the "blame America first" crowd. Its leaders were men like Harry Truman and Senator Scoop Jackson and John F. Kennedy, men who understood the challenges of our times. And they didn't reserve all their indignation for America. They knew the difference between freedom and tyranny, and they stood up for one and damned the other.

Now, all across this country, in rallies like this, I've been speaking to people that I knew many were Democrats. And those who respect that tradition that I just mentioned, I say you are not alone. We're asking you to come walk with us down that path of hope and opportunity and in the traditional bipartisan manner of this country. Together, we can keep this land prosperous, secure, and free.

You know, last month an American woman, Kathryn Sullivan, walked in space. And then she made her way back to the space shuttle in which some of the great scientific and medical advances of the future will be made. Cures for diabetes and heart disease may be possible up there. I've seen the evidence in experiments already conducted, advances in technology and communication.

My opponent led the fight in the Senate against the entire shuttle program—tried to shut it off, kill it before it was born. And he called it a horrible waste. And we've committed America to meet a great challenge-to build a manned space station, and to build it within a decade. And that's—and I think that you'll all agree, what America needs is high tech, not high taxes.

I've probably been going on too long here, but
Audience. No!

The President. Bless you. That isn't what you meant by 4 years—up here. [Laughter] Well, the point is, we were right when we made the great turn in 1980, right to take command of the ship, to stop its aimless drift, and to get moving again. And we were right when we stopped sending out S.O.S. from Washington and started saying U.S.A.!
Audience. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

The President. Thank you. The United States of America was never meant to be a second-best nation. So, like our Olympic athletes, let's aim for the stars and go for the gold.

If America could bring down inflation from 12.4 percent to 4, then we can bring it down further, from 4 to 0.0, and that's what we've going to do.

If lowering your tax rates led to the best expansion in 30 years—and they did—then we can lower them again, and keep America growing right into the 21st century.

If we could create 6 million new jobs in 21 months, then we can make it possible for every American—young and old, black and white—every American who wants a job will be able to find one.

And if local governments can establish enterprise zones to create economic growth, then we can elect people to Congress who will free our enterprise zones bill. This is a bill to go into the distressed areas, rural and in our great inner cities, and, using tax incentives, bring industry in there to provide jobs and get people off welfare and to bring prosperity to those areas. And that bill, for more than 2 years, has been buried in a committee in the House of Representatives under the direction of Tip O'Neill.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. And you know something? I think that Judy Petty and Bethune, and your other Congressman there, I think they can bust it out of there. That bill will provide jobs for millions in the most distressed areas of America. And this we must do.

We're leading a revolution in technology, pushing back the frontiers of space, and if we give our workers the tools they need—I have always believed this and I believe it more than ever—give American workers the right tools, and they will outproduce, outcompete, and outsell anyone, anyplace, anytime in the whole world.

Our drive to restore excellence in education has reversed a 20-year decline in the scholastic aptitude test scores, and we're going to keep raising those scores and restore American academic excellence second to none.

Our crackdown on crime produced the sharpest drop ever in the crime index, and we're going to keep cracking down until your families and friends can walk the streets and not be afraid.

We've reversed the decline in our military defenses and restored respect for America. And we're going to keep this nation strong to protect freedom and peace for us, for our children, and for our children's children. I have to tell you, of all the things I'm proud of in this job, nothing has made me more proud than those young men and women that are in the uniform of our military today. They're the best.

And if we make sure that America remains strong and prepared for peace, then we can reduce nuclear weapons and, one day, banish them entirely from the face of the Earth.

Every once in a while, I see along the street people with nuclear freeze signs, and I know that my opponent has adopted that and I know they're kind of trying to heckle me. But I'll tell them something, and I'll tell you: Yes to a nuclear freeze. After we have reduced nuclear weapons down to a verifiable and equal level on both sides, then we can have a nuclear freeze.

And as we strengthen our economy and strengthen our security—strengthen the values that bind us—America will become a nation even greater in its standard of living, in art, culture, and learning; greater in love and worship of the God who made us and who has blessed us more than any people on this Earth have even been blessed.

Now, I ran a little short of time a couple of weeks ago on the debate. [Laughter] And I'd like to finish what I didn't get to say there. And this is to the young people of our country who are here with us today.

To all of you I'd like to say: You are what this election is all about—you and your future. And I've seen our young people all across this country, on campuses, in schools, in rallies like this, and I can tell you, your generation really sparkles. Your idealism and your love of country are unsurpassed.

And, you know, my generation and—well, there are a few generations between mine and yours— [laughter] —we have a sacred trust. And that is, when the time comes to turn the reins of government and this country over to you, we're going to turn over to you an America that is every bit as full of opportunity, hope, confidence, and dreams as we had when we were your age.

And the last thing I was going to say in that debate was: We're going to turn over to you an America that is free in a world at peace.

All of us together are part of a great revolution, and it's only just begun. America will never give up, never go back. We were born to be a kind of special place—I've always believed that—that this great land was placed here between the two great oceans to be found by a special kind of people from every corner of the Earth-people with a love of freedom that made them pick up and leave home and friends to come here for the new opportunity that was present.

We have a unique mission—to carry freedom's torch. To a tired, disillusioned world we've always been a light of hope where all things are possible.

And throughout my life I've seen America do the impossible. When I was a much younger individual we survived a Great Depression that toppled governments in many countries of the world. We came back from Pearl Harbor to win the greatest military victory the world has ever known. And in a single lifetime, my own, we went from the horse and buggy to sending astronauts to the Moon.

But as a people, we Americans have fought harder, paid a higher price, done more to advance the freedom and dignity of man than any people who ever lived on this Earth. And America's future will always be great because our nation will always be strong. And our nation will be strong because our people are free. And our people will be free because we're united. "One people, under God, with liberty and justice for all." We're the home of the free because we're the land of the brave.

You have honored me greatly. I've been honored these past 4 years that you allowed me to serve you in that period of time. But much remains to be done, and we must continue to build upon the new beginning that we started 4 years ago. So, I have come here to ask for your support and to ask for your vote. [Applause]

All right. But now, let me ask one more thing. Don't send me back there alone. Send these people here, and send this one to the statehouse. I know what Governors mean in a National Government, having been one myself.

And let me tell you, stop looking at the polls—they scare me—because I think you might decide that—well, you've got something better to do, you don't need to vote on Tuesday.
Audience. No!

The President. President Dewey told me we should never get complacent or overconfident. [Laughter] So, go to vote, and get out the vote. America's best days are yet to come.

And now, one last line, that I know my opponent doesn't like at all—but you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Thank you. Thank you very much. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 10:05 a.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Following his remarks, the President traveled to Winterset, IA.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Little Rock, Arkansas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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