Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Springfield, Illinois

November 02, 1984

The President. Thank you, you all, for a heartwarming reception and what, in a way, is homecoming for me. Governor Thompson and ladies and gentlemen, it's great to be back in Illinois, and it's an honor to be back in the proud town of Springfield, your State capital and the home of Abraham Lincoln. Now, no matter what you may have heard, it isn't true that I knew him personally. [Laughter]

I might add that as we meet here in central Illinois, our Secretary of Agriculture is hard at work spreading the message in southern Illinois.

In 1861, just before beginning the long train journey east to become President, Abraham Lincoln stood near this spot and spoke to the people of this good town. He said, "A duty devolves upon me which is perhaps greater than that which is devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington." It was the duty of making certain, as Mr. Lincoln would later say at Gettysburg, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.

Well, ever since taking office, we've worked hard to restore government of the people, to give this blessed land a new birth of freedom and opportunity. Believe me, we couldn't have accomplished all that we have without the help of your outstanding Senator, Chuck Percy. Since 1967 Chuck has served in the United States Senate with dedication and skill. He has stood proudly for the people of Illinois, and he's worked tirelessly to help keep America strong, proud, and prosperous.

Now, you've got some other candidates around here, too, and I'll be talking about those in a minute. But during the past 4 years—let me continue with Chuck—he's worked to rebuild our nation's defenses, to bring your taxes down. And today, I'm running against an opponent who wants to raise your taxes, and so is Chuck running against that kind of an opponent. The difference is, while Mr. Mondale wants to hike your taxes, it seems that Mr. Simon wants to raise them even more than Mr. Mondale does. A vote for Mr. Mondale and Mr. Simon is a vote for failed policies of higher taxes, higher prices, and a weak defense.

But, you know, I believe and I think you'll agree, a vote for our team with Chuck Percy is a vote for America's future. So, if you plan to vote for me, please don't vote— [applause] . Well, but all right— [applause] —but please—all right—

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

The President. That's what I came here to talk to you about. All right.

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

The President. Well, all right. But in a way, you'd be voting against me if you voted for Chuck's opponent. So, don't do that. I need Chuck back in Washington, and so do the people of Illinois.

Your candidates, well, you've got a Congressman, Ed Madigan, and your candidates for the House, Ken McMillan and Randy Patchett and Dick Austin and my close friend and trusted adviser, Bob Michel-they're just as distinguished and just as committed to a future of low taxes, opportunity, and economic growth. So, please help spread the word. Get out the vote, and please win these votes—or these races for the Gipper. And if you do, we can keep building our new future of opportunities for America.

You know, 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 hoped would make our lives better, but which wound up trying 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 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 by 25 percent. And that was across the board. That wasn't any favor for some particular segment of our society. It was "even-Steven" all the way.

You know, my opponent's been talking a lot about business taxes, and he says that there's been thousands of businesses making profits that are not paying a single penny in taxes. Well, you know, that's true. There are provisions in the tax laws that allow for in vestment for increased production and things of that kind. But I'm surprised that he didn't mention that in the 4 years of Carter-Mondale, there was an average of 387,000 corporations a year that didn't pay any taxes, even though they'd made a profit. So, I don't know why he's just discovered that that goes on now.

But we knew then 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, to be prepared for peace. It was a second American revolution, and it's only just begun.

But America is back, a giant on the scene, powerful in its renewed spirit, powerful in its growing economy, and powerful in its ability to defend itself and secure 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—to go back to the days of drift, back to the days of torpor, timidity, and taxes.

My opponent's understanding of economics is well demonstrated by his predictions. Just before we took office, he said our economic program is obviously, murderously inflationary. And right after he said that, we lowered inflation from above 12 percent to down around 4.

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

My opponent said decontrol of oil prices would cost American consumers more than $36 billion. Well, one of the first things we did was decontrol the oil prices, and the price of gasoline went down 8 cents a gallon.

Maybe all we have to do to get the economy in absolutely perfect shape is persuade him to predict absolute disaster.

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 just want to be one of his constituents? [Laughter] He's no doubt proud of the fact that as a United States Senator he voted to increase your taxes 16 times.
Audience member. [Inaudible]—like hell!

The President. You said it all. [Laughter] But this year he's outdone himself.

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. Okay. All right.

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

The President. All right. I can take it if you can.

But now my opponent has promised, of course, to raise your taxes. But if he's to keep all the promises that he's made in this campaign, he'll have to raise taxes by the equivalent of $1,890 for every household in the United States.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. Now, that comes down to more than $150 a month. That's like a second mortgage, a Mondale mortgage. [Laughter]

His economic plan has two basic parts, too: raise your taxes, and the second part is raise them again. [Laughter] But I've got news for him: The American people don't want his tax increases, and he isn't going to get his tax increases.

Audience. Reagan-Bush! Reagan-Bush! Reagan-Bush!
The President. All right. All right.

Audience. Reagan-Bush! Reagan-Bush! Reagan-Bush!

The President. All right. Reagan-Bush, we're a package.

His tax plan would bring our recovery to a roaring stop.

You know, 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. And if his administration were a play on Broadway, it would be "Promises, Promises." And if it were a book, a novel, you'd have to read it from the front to the back in order to get a happy ending.

I reversed that. You'd have to read it from the back to the front. [Laughter] Well, forgive me, I've been going since early this morning. I sabotaged myself right there. [Laughter]

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

I'm proud to say that during these last 4 years—this is on a change of subject—not 1 square inch of territory anyplace in the world has been lost to Communist aggression. And the United States is more secure than it was 4 years ago.

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

One year ago we liberated Grenada from Communist thugs who had taken over that country. My opponent called what we did a violation of international law that erodes our moral authority to criticize the Soviets. Well, there is nothing immoral about rescuing American students whose lives are in danger.

Let me put this in perspective. The 1984 election isn't just a partisan contest. I was a Democrat once myself, and for a great share of my life. But in those days—in those days, its leaders weren't the "blame America first" crowd. Its leaders were men like Harry Truman and, later, men like Senator Scoop Jackson, John F. Kennedy. They understood the challenge of their times. They didn't reserve all their indignation for America. They knew the difference between freedom and tyranny, and they stood up to the one and damned the other.

Now, to all the good Democrats—and I'm sure there must be many of you in this crowd, and I hope so—there have been in the rallies all across this country millions of patriotic Democrats who can no longer follow the policies of the leadership of that party. Well, you are not alone. Come and walk with us down this path of hope and opportunity. And in the finest tradition of America, we will have a bipartisan effort to keep this country free and prosperous and secure.

Last month, an American woman made history—Kathryn Sullivan walked in space. And then she returned to the 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, advances in technology and communication. I have seen some of the evidence already of the experiments in the shuttles with regard to those cures I mentioned. But my opponent led the fight in the United States Senate against the entire shuttle program and called it a horrible waste. Well, we support the space shuttle. And we've committed America to meet a great challenge—to build a permanently manned space station, and to do it within a decade.

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

The President. Well, that's reassuring. [Laughter]

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

The President. You don't mean talking up here? [Laughter]

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

The President. All right. Thank you. But the point is, we made the right move when we made our great turn in 1980. We were 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. and started saying U.S.A.!
Audience. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

The President. Yes. And the United States of America was never meant to be a second-best nation. Like our Olympic athletes, this nation should set its sights on the stars and go for the gold.

If America could bring down inflation—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're going to do.

If lowering your tax rates led to the best expansion in 30 years, 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, old, black, or white—everyone who wants to find a job to find one.

And if local governments can establish enterprise zones, as you've done here in Illinois, to create economic growth, then we can elect people to Congress who will free our enterprise zones bill—the national bill—and we can pass that bill and provide hope for millions in the most distressed areas of America. This we must do. But it has been buried for more than 2 years in a committee in the House under the direction of Tip O'Neill.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. We need these candidates here, all of them, back there in the Congress.

We're leading a revolution in technology, pushing back the frontiers of space. And if we give our workers the tools they need-and I have believed this always—you give American workers the proper tools, and they will outproduce, outcompete, and outsell anyone, anywhere in the world, anytime.
Audience, Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

The President. All right. 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 your streets without being 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 our children's children.

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

I know my opponent talks of a nuclear freeze. Well, I'll talk of a nuclear freeze for just a split second. When we can have negotiations that reduce our weapons and the Soviet Union's weapons down to an equal, verifiable limit, yes, then we'll have a nuclear freeze, and not until.

And as we strengthen our economy, strengthen our security, and strengthen the values that bind us, America will become a nation even greater in its standard of living, in art and learning; and greater in the love and worship of the God who made us and who has blessed this people as no other people on Earth have ever been blessed before.

And now, a couple of weeks ago on the debate, I ran out of time, and I'm going to say now what I was going to say then. And it is addressed to the young people who are here today.

You young people are what this election is all about—you and your future. And, you know, I've seen you all over this country-on campuses, in schools, out here in rallies such as this one—as you're here today—and your generation really sparkles. Your idealism, your love of country are unsurpassed.

And, you know, my generation, and then, oh, a few generations between mine and yours— [laughter] —we grew up in an America where we just took it for granted that you could dream and make your dreams come true. But there was no limit to how high you could fly—just based on your own talent and ability.

Well, my generation and those several others in between that I mentioned, we have a very sacred trust. And that is to see that when the time comes to turn over the reins to you, that we 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. 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 go back—never. We were born to be a special place between these two great oceans, with a unique mission—to carry freedom's torch. And, to a tired, disillusioned world we've always been a light of hope, where all things are possible.

Throughout my life I've seen America do the impossible. When I was.
Audience members. [Inaudible]

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

The President, Oh, thank you. Say, how about that, I thought for a minute there was an echo or something here, but you've made it go away.

But as I said, throughout my life I've seen America do the impossible. When I was a young man there was a Great Depression worldwide. It toppled governments throughout the world; here, we survived it. We came back from Pearl Harbor to win the greatest military victory that has ever been won in world history. And in a single lifetime—my own—we went from the horse and buggy to sending astronauts to the Moon.

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

I'm deeply honored that you have allowed me to serve you for these past 4 years. But much remains to be done. We must continue to build upon that new beginning we started 4 years ago. So, I ask for your vote
Audience member. You got it!
The President. ask for your support. All right.

And there is one more thing, one more thing. Please, please be as scared of the polls as I am. Don't pay any attention to them, because it might tempt some of you to think your vote isn't needed. Well, let me tell you—all of you—go to the polls on Tuesday. Get your neighbors and your friends to go to the polls on Tuesday. Vote.

So, all right, America's best days are yet to come. And now, for a few unfriendly voices that I have heard—I just want to say something to send them up the wall. And that is—you ain't seen nothin' yet.

All right. Thank you all. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 3:25 p.m. at the State Capitol Building.

Following his remarks, the President traveled to the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, AR, where he remained overnight.

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

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives