Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in Bowling Green, Ohio

October 19, 1988

The President. Thank you all very much. I don't have words to express my appreciation. And thank you, Del, and let me also take this opportunity to thank you for 30 years as one of the most effective Members of the Congress—and also the candidates you mentioned—for United States Senate: Mayor George Voinovich and the State senator, Paul Gillmor—the candidate for Congress in this Fifth District. And special greetings to some of Ohio's finest: your emcee Jamie Farr, Secretary Verity, Mayor Ed Miller, Scott Hamilton, and the great Bob Feller—I was broadcasting baseball back when he first started.

Well, it's great to be back in Bowling Green. Today I'm here for a very special reason: Because I want to talk to you about a friend of mine, the next President of the United States, George Bush. For 8 years, together we've worked to get America growing and on the move again, to make the United States once again what it should always be: the great moral and material arsenal of democracy, a light unto the nations and champion of freedom around the world. For 8 years, George Bush and I have worked side by side in the White House, during times of crisis and times of historic triumph and achievements. I've come to know George very well. And I also know what is required to be President of the United States, what is required of the man at the desk; and, ladies and gentlemen, George Bush is that man.

And now a new election is before us, and I have little doubt that the people of the United States are going to do exactly what I did 8 years ago: They're going to choose George Bush. I believe he'll be a great President. And in this campaign, despite all the camouflage and static, the American people know exactly what's going on. The opposition can say that ideology and values don't matter. The opposition can try to hide what they believe, but the American people know better. And the fact is that what George Bush said in that debate last week-and, ladies and gentlemen, were you ever prouder of our Vice President than in last week's debate? [Applause] Wasn't he right when he said the opposition is over there in left field, they're out of the mainstream of American politics, and their policies can only be described by the dreaded "L" word: liberal, liberal, liberal? [Applause]

Now, from top to bottom, from President to Congress to local office, especially here in Ohio, this is what is at stake: This election this year is a referendum on liberalism. Yes, the choice before the American people this year is just as clear as it was in 1980 and 1984. A choice between, on the one hand, policies of tax and spend; economic stagnation; international weakness, accommodation, and from Grenada to Libya, always, always "blame America first"; and on the other hand, the policies of limited government; economic growth; individual opportunity; a strong defense; firmness with the Soviets; and always, always, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

When we took office 8 years ago, America was in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We turned that around, and since our expansion began, we've created over 18 million new jobs, reduced the unemployment rate to a 14-year low, and presided over the greatest flowering of new businesses and new technology in the history of the world. As a matter of fact, for every business that closes in America, six new ones open. And today a greater proportion of our potential work force is employed than ever before in the history of the United States of America.

Let me explain that term "potential employment pool." It comes from the statisticians, and I had to learn what it is. Everyone, male and female, 16 years of age and up, all the way, is considered that potential pool. Well, today, thinking of all the millions who are in school getting an education, who are 16, 17, 18 years old, all of those who've retired and all—62.7 percent of that group have jobs today; and that's the first time we've reached that in the history of this century.
Audience member. We love you, Ron!

The President. Well, thank you. Of course, you know, the liberals still don't understand how we were able to get rid of their economic crisis, their "malaise"—remember that term—their inflation, their gas lines. So, in this campaign they're treating the good times as if they're a given. Their message is: You can take prosperity for granted. It's time for a change, so take a chance on us. Well, that's sort of like someone telling you that you stored up all the cold beer you could want, so now it's time to unplug the refrigerator. But whether it's a well-stocked refrigerator or our economic policies, you can't unplug what's working and expect things to stay the same.

Now, what we've done with the economy is very important, and it must continue. But what we believe in is much more than that. Our greatest treasure as a nation is our precious moral heritage, the basic values of faith and family that makes ours a great nation. It's the power of the family that holds the Nation together, that gives America her conscience, that serves as the cradle of our country's soul. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the family is the bedrock of our nation.

There really are only two things the liberals don't understand: the things that change and the things that don't. The economy, technology—these things change. But America's basic moral and spiritual values-they don't change.

And we've appointed serious-minded judges who respect the Constitution and know the meaning of the word punishment. Violent crime has fallen significantly since 1981 because we put criminals on notice: Make a false move, and the next sound you hear is the clang of a jail cell door slamming shut. George and I also believe that a crack dealer with a machinegun who murders a police officer in the line of duty should receive the death penalty.

If you ask me, there are no Americans braver and citizens more precious than the men and women who guard us—our State and local police. And George Bush and I stand behind them all the way. We don't need to see the job of the police made any tougher by the kind of furloughing of first-degree murderers, even those ineligible for parole. We've seen that in the State of Massachusetts, a State with the most liberal prison program since Billy the Kid sprung Lincoln County jail. [Laughter]

Besides lighting crime and restoring our economy, we also went to work on our nation's defenses. We're once again respected in the world. Our Armed Forces are strong, and America is at peace. We and our NATO allies stood firm in the face of Soviet missiles pointing at the heart of Europe and Asia. And Mr. Gorbachev got the message. He did business because he knew we meant business. And we still mean business.

But none of this, my friends, none of this could have happened if the liberals had their way. There would have been no INF treaty or rollback in Afghanistan or democratic revolutions around the globe. They opposed rebuilding our military defenses. They opposed the deployment of the missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet threat. They opposed the liberation of Grenada. They opposed the raid on terrorist Libya. They oppose our policy of helping freedom fighters advance the cause of liberty around the world. George and I did all those things, and I tell you proudly right now: We'd both do every single one of them over again.

Now, today I don't think I need to review George Bush's resume or recount his heroism in war or detail to you his service to America spanning five decades. And I think you already know his record of achievement as Vice President—how he led the task force to cut away excess regulation. Do you know that that task force eliminated so many Federal regulations that you, the people of America, in the communities and the State governments, have now seen a reduction of 600 million man-hours a year in paperwork that you once had to fill out-and it made for prosperity and millions of new jobs—or how he worked with our allies to strengthen NATO, to make the INF treaty possible, and to make this a safer world; or how, well before the liberals suddenly discovered the drug problem, he launched a major and successful offensive against drug smuggling that last year alone succeeded in blocking a record 70 tons of cocaine from reaching our communities?

What I can tell you about is the man that I know personally; a man who is strong, decent, loyal, wise, capable, and compassionate; a man who has the qualities necessary to fill the office of President: that man is George Bush. And on November 8th, I hope Ohio helps make him the next President of the United States.
Audience members. Bush! Bush! Bush!

The President. All right. But there's even more that we must do. You know, I'm a former Democrat. And it's often said that the once-proud Democratic Party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman is dead and gone; that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the left; that the departure from the mainstream, which we began to see at the 1968 convention, now defines the party at the national level, especially the liberal leadership in Congress. But there's something you should know: the party of F.D.R. and Harry Truman couldn't be killed.

The party that represents people like you and me, that represents the majority of Americans, that party hasn't disappeared. The fact is, we are stronger than ever. You see, the secret is that when the left took over the leadership of the Democratic Party, we took over the Republican Party. We made the Republican Party into the party of working people; the family; the neighborhood; the defense of freedom; and, yes, "one nation under God." So, you see, the party that so many of us grew up with still exists, except today it's called the Republican Party. And I'm asking all of the traditional mainstream Democrats to come home and join me. And that's why George's opponent appeared stagestruck last week, because—it's true—he's on the liberal political fringe.

You know, I cast my first vote in 1932 for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And let me tell you that apropos of what I have said, there was a difference. It was the Republican Party then that believed in protectionism and foisted off the Smoot-Hawley tariff that made the Depression so great. But Roosevelt's platform that he ran on in '32 was to cut the cost of the Federal Government by 25 percent, to restore autonomy and authority to the local communities and States from which it had been unjustly seized, as he said, by the Federal Government. Well, now which party does that represent? That has to be our party, the Republican Party, that is saying that. And the Republican Party is now the party of free trade and low tariffs—free and fair trade. Those are the things we've been doing and are trying to do.

I say, "trying to do," because the liberal leadership in Washington has replaced the idea of checks and balances with a philosophy of adversarial government. Now when they lose in the national election, they fight a political guerrilla war for the next 4 years to block the policies that the American people have chosen at the ballot box. That's what the liberal Democrats, like your incumbent Senator here in Ohio—you're not going to get me to say his name—Howard Metzenbaum—
Audience members. Booo!

The President. But that's what he's been doing in Congress for the last 8 years. Keeping the liberal Democrats in control of Congress is a certain formula for governmental gridlock and political paralysis. So, when you vote for George Bush and Dan Quayle at the top of the ticket, will you also vote for George Voinovich for the Senate and for Paul Gillmor for Congress? It takes the President and Congress working together to move America forward. So, if we have to ride two horses at once, shouldn't they both be headed in the same direction?

You see, the opposition has gotten so far away from the mainstream, it's tilting so far to the left, that they're about to take the biggest tumble since Humpty-Dumpty fell off the wall— [laughter] —and I don't think they'll put the pieces back together again. So, that's what's on the line this year and why the thousands of you here today-every one of you—has a responsibility to get the truth out all across the Buckeye State.

Today I thought I'd like to take a public opinion poll, so, let me ask you: When you've got a Senator from Ohio who has opposed the balanced budget amendment, the line-item veto, the MX missile, and the Strategic Defense Initiative; but favors higher taxes and special-interest spending, and who gets perfect liberal ratings from liberal Washington lobbyists, tell me: Is this the man the good people of the Buckeye State want to represent their views and values in Washington?
Audience members. No!

The President. You know, somehow I thought you'd say that. [Laughter] Well, let me ask: Are we going to make George Bush the next President of the United States? [Applause] Are we going to make George Voinovich the next Senator from Ohio? [Applause] And are you going to help by sending more Republicans like Paul Gillmor to the House of Representatives? [Applause] And more Republicans like Betty Montgomery and Randy Gardner to the Ohio Legislature? [Applause]

Well, ladies and gentlemen, let's remember what Yogi Berra said: "It isn't over till it's over"—no complacency, no overconfidence. America needs the strength, the vision, and the true grit of George Bush. And after almost half a century of Democratic Congresses, America needs a Republican Congress. You know, I said that wrong—almost. Do you know that the Democrats have controlled the House of Representatives for 52 of the last 56 years?
Audience members. Booo!

The President. They have controlled both Houses of the Congress for 46 of the 56 years.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. And you know, when I hear them in this campaign blaming me for the deficit—and I have to remember the President of the United States can't spend a dime; only Congress can spend money. And you remember those figures—54 out of 56, 46 out of 48, or 56—let me also remind you that in all that more than half a century there have only been 8 scattered years when the budget was balanced. Who's responsible for the deficit?

You know, you and I and the good people of Ohio are going to give Ohio both—all of these things that we talked about in these two Houses of the Congress. So, let's do this for America!

Now, before I go, there are a couple of things I want to say. One, first of all, I didn't at the beginning mention, but I know there are six bands here. And having been the drum major of a boys band in Dixon, Illinois, I know what it means to come out and to contribute as you have, and I think we're all grateful to you for that. And then the second thing I just wanted to say is that I've been hearing some voices from the flanks out there. Am I right that they were kind of disagreeing with what I was saying? They were? Well, you know, I hope one day that they will be reminded that if maybe they had the kind of government they want they wouldn't be able to come and heckle the way they're doing now.

Well, all right. This has been wonderful. And I know I've got to move on because I'm going to do some more of this before the day is over, in other places, but all of them in Ohio. Thank you all, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 2:18 p.m. at Wood County Courthouse. He was introduced by Representative Delbert L. Latta. In his opening remarks, the President referred to actor Jamie Farr; Secretary of Commerce C. William Verity; Edward Miller, mayor of Bowling Green; Scott Hamilton, U.S. Olympic figure skating champion; and Bob Feller, former pitcher for the Cleveland Indians baseball team.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in Bowling Green, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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