Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Winterset, Iowa

November 03, 1984

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

The President. Thank you all. Thank you all very much. Being out here in what's a rather cool, brisk day, I thank you for a heartwarming reception. If I didn't know better, I'd think maybe you were cheering for a certain football team—the Hawkeyes.

Well, you know, I leave here and go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Audience. Awww!

The President. And I think its pretty convenient, and I hope it's an omen for the future—the score at the half is tied 10 and 10.

Well, special greetings to one of the finest Governors, also, in our nation, my friend, Terry Branstad. And to Debbie Deitering, Miss Iowa of 1984.

But it's great to be back in Iowa, and its great to be here in Madison County and in Winterset, the birthplace of a man who was a great patriot and a close friend, John Wayne. When I think of the Duke and all the other great Americans who've claimed this State as their home, I have to agree with the writer who said that "Iowa is top choice America, America cut thick and prime."

And a heartfelt welcome to the fourth graders of Winterset Elementary School. A few weeks ago, you all sent me letters, and I want to share one with you right now. It came from Tyson Bean of 609 West Short Street. And Tyson wrote, "Mr. President, my mom and dad watch you on television every night they can. I watch you, too. I think it's fun. But then a couple of minutes after it starts, I have to go to bed." [Laughter] Well, Tyson, today I think you're going to be able to stay up until the very end.

You know, just 4 years ago we saw this once proud nation saddled with a rising tax burden, devastated by soaring inflation and interest rates, and racked by a wrongheaded grain embargo. And since then, with the help of Roger Jepsen and Chuck Grassley in the Senate and with Tom Tauke and Jim Leach and Cooper Evans in the House, we've worked hard to turn America around. We've cut inflation by two-thirds, lifted that grain embargo, lowered interest rates, and helped to give our country a new spirit of self-confidence and pride. And I believe we've made real progress. And let me ask your view. Do you believe that America is better off than it was 4 years ago? [Applause] Well, then I don't suppose I have to ask, because I'm sure you believe, then, America's best days are yet to come.

Well, you have outstanding candidates/for the Congress who feel just the same way. For 6 years Roger Jepsen has served in the Senate with honor and skill. His opponent, Tom Harkin, is one of the most liberal leaders in the House. I'm sure he's sincere in that, but I do know that he has voted repeatedly against strong defenses and against our economic program of low taxes and high growth. But your senior citizen—Senator-has helped to—not a senior citizen yet— [laughter] —that's me. [Laughter] But your senior Senator has helped to rebuild our nation's defenses and bring your tax rates down, not up. And no one has worked harder to help farmers make the transition from the ruinous policies of the past to a stronger, more secure future.

Roger has told me about the concern that Iowa pork producers have with the growth of Canadian hog imports into our country. Well, I want you to know that I have directed Secretary Baldrige to make absolutely certain that our pork producers are getting the fair shake that they deserve. And if unfair subsidies are being used to undercut you, we'll take action.

Roger stands proudly for all of you in Iowa. And I'll need Roger back in Washington, especially when the debate on new farm legislation begins next year, and so will the people of Iowa need him back there. So, will you help send him there?
Audience. Yes!

The President, Jim Leach and Tom Tauke and Cooper Evans are outstanding Members of the House. It's time we gave them some company. And people like Bob Lockard, Darrel Rensink, and the outstanding candidate for Congress from your own Fifth District, Jim Ross Lightfoot—I have to tell you, Jim's one of the finest candidates I've ever known. No one could love our country more or be better informed about the concerns of this district. And he and I have a little something in common: We both got our start in radio. [Laughter]

Well, on behalf of Roger, Jim, and your other superb candidates, I must tell you that if we're to solidify the gains this country's made, we'll need a Congress that'll help us do the job. Spread the word, get out the vote and, if you can—well, win 'em for the Gipper.
Abe Lincoln—

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

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

Abe Lincoln said we must disenthrall ourselves with the past—and then we will save our country. And 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 make our lives better, and then we found out it 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, common sense our constellations. We knew that economic freedom meant paying less of your family's earnings to the Government, and so we cut personal income tax rates by 25 percent. And contrary to what some of our opponents say, that was 25 percent across the board. No one got any special treatment. It was "even-Steven."

We knew that inflation, the quiet thief, and record interest rates were stealing your 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. 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 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—back to the days of drift, the days of torpor, timidity, and taxes.

My opponent's understanding of economics is pretty well demonstrated by his predictions. Just before we took office, he said our economic program is obviously, murderously inflationary. And that was just before we lowered inflation from more than 12 to down around 4 percent. And then, just after our tax cuts, he said that 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. My opponent said that decontrol of 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 persuade 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 just want to be one of his constituents?

Audience. No!

The President. He's no doubt proud of the fact that as a United States Senator he voted 16 times to increase your taxes.
Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. But this year he's outdone himself. Of course, he's already promised to raise your taxes, but if he's to keep all the promises he's made to this group and that during 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. That comes out to better than $150 a month. That's like having a second mortgage, a Mondale mortgage. [Laughter] Now, his economic plan has two basic parts: one, raise your taxes; second part, do it 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.

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 give up your prosperity for the surprise he's got hidden behind the curtain. [Laughter] And if it were a show on Broadway, it would be "Promises, Promises." [Laughter] And if his administration were a novel, a book, you'd have to read it from the back to the front in order to get a happy ending. [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. Now, we want to lower your taxes, yours and everyone's in this country, so your families will be stronger, our economy will be stronger, and America will be stronger.

Audience member. Thank you, Mr. President!

The President. You're welcome. [Laughter]

And America is stronger because of the recovery. I wish I could take credit for it, but the credit really belongs to the American people who came through our economic distress with courage, commitment, and strength. But we're not going to rest until the recovery has reached all Americans, including those who feed and clothe our nation and the world.

As one who lived and worked in this great State for a number of years, I know the farmers here as friends and neighbors. The long road that you had to travel and still have to travel is something I care about personally. You've been patient and understanding during these last years of hardship.

But our job would be easier today if we hadn't had to overcome the killer inflation of 1979 and 1980. Our job would be easier without those outrageous interest rates—21 1/2 percent—that we inherited. And our job would be much easier if Mr. Carter and Mr. Mondale had not imposed that ineffective and totally wrong-headed grain embargo that I mentioned earlier.

Now, let me pause here for just a moment because former Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland, a top farm adviser to my opponent and the man who implemented the grain embargo, said something this past week that I've got to answer. He said, and I quote, "The impact of the grain embargo is a fairy tale." Those were his words, "a fairy tale."

Well, if they think that embargo was a fairy tale, let them come to Iowa. Let them go to Illinois and Missouri and Ohio, Kansas, and the rest of America to see how farm families have had to struggle to recover from that fairy tale.

The only thing that embargo [did] was to fill up your bins and empty your wallets. We don't intend to hide behind their excuses. We're going to work to recapture those overseas markets they lost. We'll not rest until interest rates come down even farther. And we're going to fight to keep inflation down, so farmers and ranchers aren't buried again by out of control production costs.

On another subject a little farther away, I'm proud to say that during these last 4 years not 1 square inch of territory anyplace in the world has been lost to Communist aggression. And the United States is more secure than we were 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 behaved as they have." 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. Well, there is nothing immoral about rescuing American students whose lives were in danger.

Now, let me try to put this in perspective. The 1984 election isn't just a partisan contest. I was a Democrat once, back in those days when I was back here in Iowa. I was a Democrat for the greater part of my life. But in those days, the leaders of the Democrat Party weren't in the "blame America first" crowd. Its leaders were men like Harry Truman; later, men like Senator Scoop Jackson and John F. Kennedy—men who understood the challenges of the times. They didn't reserve all their indignation for our own country, for America. They knew the difference between freedom and tyranny, and they stood up for one and damned the other.

To all the good Democrats all over this country—I've said this, I know, and I hope that there are many of you here, just as I was one, and as you maybe still are—what I want to say to all of you: I know you respect that tradition of your party. But I say now, "You are not alone." We're asking you to come and walk with us down that path of hope and opportunity and in that tradition in this country of bipartisanship, between us, we can assure a prosperous, a secure, and a free America.

Last month an American woman, Kathryn Sullivan, made history. She walked in space. And she returned to a 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, advances in technology and communication. On those health experiments, I've already seen enough evidence to know that progress is being made, and we may come up with some cures that are absolutely impossible anyplace but to make them up in space.

And yet my opponent, in the Senate, led the fight against the entire shuttle program, 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. What this country needs is high tech, not high taxes.

Now, if there's something that you've got to do yet this afternoon, I've probably been going on too long here. But the point is, we were right when we made our great turn in 1980, right to take command of the ship, to stop its aimless drift, and to get it moving again. And we were right when Washington 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. All right. 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.

And 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 we're going to do that. 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 and old, black or white—who wants to find a job to find one in this country of ours.

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. We have a national program—it's been buried in a committee in the House for 2 years—to use tax incentives to set up businesses in distressed areas and put needy people to work. And that's why we need some of these gentlemen on the platform to move Tip O'Neill out of the way and get that bill out on the floor of the House.

We're leading a revolution in technology, pushing back the frontiers of space. And if we give American workers the tools they need—I've said this and I've believed it all my life, and I believe it more than ever now: Give American workers the right tools, and they will outproduce, outcompete, and outsell any other workers in the world, anyplace, at anytime.

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

Our crackdown on crime produced the sharpest drop in the history of the crime index last year, and we're going to keep cracking down until your families and friends can walk on the streets at night and feel safe.

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

Every once in a while I see some signs about nuclear freeze, and I know my opponent has talked of this—nuclear freeze. Yes, we can have a nuclear freeze, just as soon as we have negotiated nuclear weapons down to a verifiable, equal level on both sides—then we'll have a nuclear freeze.

And you know, Roger Jepsen's opponent seems to have been disturbed somewhat about what he calls expensive monkeys, wrenches and so forth that the Defense Department is buying that they could pick up for a few pennies here and there in a store. Well, let me just straighten him out on something. Who do they think has found out about those high-priced tools and is doing something about it?

That's been going on for a long time. You didn't hear about it 4 years ago. We're the ones that have dug it up. We're the ones that have gotten out hundreds of indictments and hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates because of that kind of flaw.

As we strengthen our economy, strengthen our security, strengthen the values that bind us, America will become a nation even greater in our standard of living, in art and learning, and greater in love and worship of the God who made us and who has blessed us more than any people have ever been blessed in the world.

Now, a couple of weeks ago in the debate, I ran out of time and didn't get to finish what I was going to say. I'm going to finish it here. It has to do with the young people of our country who are with us here today, because you are what this election is all about—you and your future. Your generation-and I've seen so many of this younger generation of ours across the country, in their schools, on the campuses, and in gatherings and rallies like this, just like those young people that are here—and I want to tell you, that generation really sparkles.

Your idealism and your love of country are unsurpassed. And I believe, you know, my generation—and there's a few between mine and yours— [laughter] —well, we grew up in an America where we took it for granted that we could dream and make our dreams come true; that we could fly as high and far as our own ability and determination would take us. Well, that's the responsibility of my generation and those few others I mentioned. To you young people today, let me tell you, we have a sacred trust, that when the time comes for us to turn the reins over to you, we're going to turn over to you an America that is free in a world at peace, that offers all the hope and opportunity that we knew when it was turned over to us.

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

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

The President. All right. I'm game. But don't send me there alone, send these helpers there with me.

We're all part of a great revolution, and it's just begun. America will never go back, never.

You know, this land of ours was placed here, I've always believed, between the two great oceans, with 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 young man, we survived a Great Depression that toppled governments all over the world. We came back from Pearl Harbor to win the greatest military victory in world history. In a single lifetime, my own, we have gone from horse and buggy to sending astronauts to walk on the Moon.

We Americans, as a people, have fought harder, paid a higher price, and 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's the home of the brave. And our future will be great because our nation will be strong. Our nation will be strong because our people will be free. And our people will be free because we're united—one people, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

I'm deeply honored that you've allowed me to serve you for these last 4 years. But, as I say, much remains to be done. We must continue to build on that new beginning that we started 4 years ago. So, I've come here today to ask for your support and for your vote.

I just want to say one other thing. I've stopped reading the polls. They frighten me. President Dewey told me we must never get complacent. [Laughter] So, don't look at them. Tuesday, don't think your vote isn't necessary. Go to the polls and get everyone else to get out and get the vote.

Much remains to be done, but we'll continue. And so, here we are, down to that decision. America's best days are yet to come. And then, there are some people back there who might be unhappy with what I'm going to say now, but I'm going to say it anyway: You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Well, now, I know that some of you have some important business to attend to, a very big football game. So, before I go, let me wish all the best to two of Iowa's outstanding teams, the Harlan Cyclones and, yes, the Winterset Huskies.

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

Note: The President spoke at 2 p.m. at the Madison County Courthouse.

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

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