Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in Columbus, Ohio

October 19, 1988

The President. Thank you all very much. All right. And I thank you, George. Thank you for that very wonderful introduction. And a thank you to that great music of the Ohio State University Marching Band and the Pikerington High School Band. And let me say a special hello to Commerce Secretary Bill Verity; to Congressmen John Kasich, Chalmers Wylie, Del Latta, Bob McEwen; to Mayor Buck Rinehart and State Senator Gene Watts; to State supreme court candidates Joyce George and Paul Matia; and again, to the next United States Senator from the State of Ohio, George Voinovich. And I can't go any farther without a hello to my brother TEEK's.

Audience members. T-K-E! T-K-E! T-K-E!

The President. And you know, when I was a pledge, I was told that Tau Kappa Epsilon was a fraternity for life. And let me also say hello to another group I take a kind of a personal interest in. And you know, I've heard all the way to Washington that here at Ohio State the College Republicans give— [applause] —well, I didn't get to finish the sentence. I hear the College Republicans here give the best party on campus.

Well, it's great to be back in Ohio and here at the home of what, over the years, has always been a football team with the heart to keep fighting—the way a certain friend of mine has done since August when he, too, was a few games down and came up with a winning season—one of the great football teams in America, the Buckeyes. And speaking of great athletes, there's someone here who brought home both the silver and the gold, Ohio's Olympic champion, Butch Reynolds.

You know, I watched a certain debate the other night. I don't often feel sorry for liberals, but I came close. I couldn't help thinking the problem with those fellows on the other side is not camera angles or lighting. It's not whether their candidate is likable or not.

No, it's the very thing that they've spent this campaign trying desperately to hide. When our liberal friends refuse even to whisper the "L" word and insist that this election is not about ideology, it's about competence; they're just acknowledging that where they want to take America, America doesn't want to go. But they're way over there in left field. They're out of the mainstream of American politics, and their policies are liberal, liberal, liberal!

But the American people always have a way of figuring out the facts. You know, it reminds me of a little story. At my age, everything reminds you of a story. [Laughter] This has to do with our intelligence community. It seems that they called in an agent, and they told him that he was to go to a little town in Ireland. And there he was to make contact with one of our spies named Murphy. Now, he said that the manner of recognition would be that he should say to Murphy—he should say that it was a beautiful day this morning, but it'll be a greater afternoon.

So, he goes to Ireland and—in this little town—and he goes into the pub, and he sits up at the bar. And the bartender comes along, and he orders, and he says, "By the way, I'm looking for a man named Murphy." And the bartender said, "Well, now, there's a Murphy across the street on the second floor. He's a bootmaker. And this is about a row down there to the left is a farmer named Murphy. And my name is Murphy." And the agent said, "Well, it was a beautiful day this morning, but it's going to be greater this afternoon." "Oh," he says, "it's Murphy the spy you want." [Laughter]

Well, you know the facts and so do the American people. Our liberal friends have spent the last 3 months trying to dress up their agenda in our clothes, but somehow nothing fits. When they say "opportunity," they mean subsidies. When they say "reducing the deficit," they mean raising taxes. And when they say "strong defense," they mean cut defense spending. No wonder their favorite machine is the snowblower. [Laughter] They talk about it being time for a change. Where have they been the last 8 years? We are the change. We began the change 8 years ago. And the choice this year is to go forward with the change or to go back to the stagnant status quo of the past.

When George Bush and I took office, America was in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. High taxes and runaway regulations had driven our economy to its knees with a 1-2-3 combination of inflation, economic stagnation, and unemployment. We turned that around. Since our expansion began, we've created over 18 million new jobs, more new jobs than Europe and Japan combined.

Today we're in the longest peacetime economic expansion ever recorded. We're exporting more than ever before in our history. And a greater proportion of Americans and a greater number of Americans are at work today than ever before in the history of the United States of America.

Would you let me just qualify that statement here and tell you what that means and what I mean? It seems that the statisticians have determined that everyone, male and female, from the age 16 and up, are considered the potential employment pool. That means that all of you, in spite of the fact that you're going to be here getting an education and perhaps going on to a posteducation—this doesn't discount or leave out the people that have retired and are out there on the golf course or someplace else—but everybody in the United States 16 of age and up, is considered the employment pool. Well, now, listen to this: 62.7 percent of that population I've just described is employed in this country today.

Now, you may have heard the liberals talk about a smaller middle class, and it's true: The middle class is getting proportionately smaller, but not because a greater proportion of our people are poor. That just isn't so. No, it's because more people in the middle class group are moving up and becoming so well off. You know, it's so much easier for me to speak than it is for our opponents, because we have the facts on our side.

Audience members. Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

The President. All right. Between 1977 and 1981—I don't know why I pick those years— [laughter] —the real income of the typical American family dropped 7 percent. Since then, it has soared more than 10 percent.

Now, think of what reducing the prime interest rate by over half means to young families seeking to purchase a new home. Think of what reducing inflation to a third of what it was means to families seeking to protect their life savings. And think of what our tax reduction program has meant to families, most of whom today now pay a top rate of 15 percent. And think of what this means to you. When you leave school, there'll be jobs and opportunities waiting for you. And that even applies to that noisy few that are in here.

It's a good time to begin a career and maybe get married to that special someone and start a family. And perhaps now, or in a few years, you'll want to start your own business. It's a great time for that, too. Think of how lucky you are not to have graduated in the classes of '79 or '80 when things were different. But also think of how lucky you are to be graduating in our country and not some other one.

Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

The President. Yes, what you heard in a recent debate I've heard echoed in my talks with the leaders of many other nations: Today the United States of America is the envy of the world. Yes, we've come a long way in the last 8 years, but, my friends, everything that you and I and George Bush have worked for these last 8 years, everything, could be lost faster than you can say the Pledge of Allegiance. The liberals talk about reaching for the center, but from the economy to national defense, they've taken positions that only a McGovern could love.

We've achieved arms agreements with the Soviets and a new warmth in relations not through weakness but through our policy of peace through strength. Well, you'd think out liberal friends would have learned from that. But not long ago, former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger wrote that their ticket this year seems to be—in Secretary Schlesinger's words: "viscerally antimilitary." They'd cut the B-1 bomber, the MX missile, our strategic defense against ballistic missiles. And their plans that they have proposed would actually eliminate two carrier battle groups from our Navy.

Audience members. Booo!

The President. In fact, what they plan for the Navy is so bad that by the time they get through Michael may have to row the boat ashore! [Laughter]

Yes, it's the same old liberal agenda they're pushing: less defense and more big government. For example, as part of their so-called profamily agenda, they propose Federal child-care assistance. A little while ago, I told an audience that under this proposal, if parents want assistance and they also want to leave their child with his or her grandmother the grandmother will have to be licensed by the Federal Government.

Audience members. Booo!

The President. Now, after I spoke, a reporter called one of the congressional staffers behind the bill, and asked if it was true that grandmothers would have to get Federal licenses to take care of their own grandchildren. And the reply came: Yes, of course, it's true. And after all—here's the quote—he said, "How else can you design a program that receives Federal funds?"

Audience members. Booo!

The President. Licensing grandmothers-can you believe it? But doesn't that tell all the difference between our philosophies? When they say "family," they mean Big Brother in Washington. When we say "family," we mean honor thy father and thy mother. Now, our liberal friends have promised that come January the Reagan era is over.

Audience members. No! Booo!

The President. And they say their era will be just beginning. Let me ask you something, and could you give me an answer loud enough so they can hear it all the way to Boston: Come January, do you want Washington run by those whose only pledge of allegiance is to more government and more spending and who have never let the taxpayers' dollars out on furlough? Audience members. No!

The President. Do you want our foreign policy in the hands of those who criticized our rescue mission in Grenada and our strike on Libya and who always, always, blame America first? I guess what I'm asking is: Do you want the liberals in control in Washington?

Audience members. No! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. I can't do that. I can't. Now, you just made my day when you said "no." But about that, if you'll quit saying "Four more years" to me, and recognize that it's an amendment in the Constitution that makes that impossible—now, wait a minute! Hear me out. I just want to tell you that once I am a civilian again I intend to get out on the mashed-potato circuit, talking about some of the things we've been trying to do. And one of the things that I'm going to suggest to the American people is that they demand the erasing of that amendment because it is an infringement on the peoples' rights to vote for who they want to vote, for as long as they want to vote.

Now, let me tell you, there's another way to shout the answer you just gave me on that "no," a way that really will be heard not just in Boston and Washington, but around the world: And that's to vote in November. And not just your vote for President or Vice President—ours is a system of three equal branches of government. Two branches, Congress and the President, are chosen by election, and the third branch, the courts, is chosen by the other two. When you vote for a candidate for the Senate or the House, you're voting for the direction of the country and the world as much as when you vote for President.

Think about the deficit—something our liberal friends like to talk about. What they aren't as eager to tell you is that the President can't spend one dime of the Government's money. Only Congress can decide how much the Government spends, and only Congress can pass spending bills. In fact, it's against the law for the President to spend a penny more or a penny less than Congress directs him to spend. The President can't add to the deficit, nor can he subtract from it. Do you realize that they're so tight on that, that even if one of our bureaus and agencies which we've been reducing in size and cost, increasing in efficiency-if they come in at the end of the year with less money spent than the original appropriation, they can't use that to pay on the deficit. The Congress says they have to go out and spend that money on something.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. You'd be surprised how many times desperately they just have to buy new office furniture. We've got a lot of used office furniture in warehouses. Well, how many of us have stopped to think that our liberal friends have had a majority in the House of Representatives.

Audience members. Booo!

The President.—for 52 of the last 56 years—

Audience members. Booo!

The President.—and the majority in both Houses of Congress for 46 of those 56 years?

Audience members. Booo!

The President. And with their concern about deficits, in all that time, 56 years, there were only 8 scattered years in which the budget was balanced. You know, it makes me think that they have a point about one thing, although maybe they didn't intend it this way: Yes, in one part of the Government, it's time for a change. Still won't put that sign down, will he? [The President referred to someone in the audience with a placard.]

Here in Ohio, we have a Senate race that draws just the same lines between the liberals and the rest of us as are drawn in the race for President. The nonpartisan "Almanac of American Politics" has said of Ohio's liberal Senator, "His record on issues.

Audience members. Booo!

The President.—I'm quoting now. This is what it says: "His record on issues is one of the most liberal in the Senate." For example, he's against the line-item veto and the balanced budget amendment.

Audience members. Booo!

The President. He's fought Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the deficit reduction law. And when it comes to big spending, the National Taxpayers Union has given him their "Big Spenders" award. But I don't want to be too harsh on him. He's worked hard over the years. Don't you think he deserves a long, relaxing rest? [Applause]

Now, yes, fixing Congress can only be done one Senator and one Representative at a time. And only we the people can do it. It's up to us.

You may have guessed, I feel strongly about giving George Bush a Congress in which he has more friends than he had on that Pacific Island where he was shot down during World War II. Yes, we've accomplished much these last 8 years, but we could have accomplished even more—including, I believe, balancing the budget—if both Houses of Congress had been friendly. So, with the liberal Presidential campaign starting to fall apart, shouldn't we ask: If we must ride two horses, Congress and the President, across every stream, shouldn't they both be going the same way?

So, let me ask you one more question. And again, I hope you'll shout it so they can hear you all the way to Washington. Do you want a Congress that'll work with George Bush and not against him?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Do you want a new Congress where the liberals are no longer running the show?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. And will you send George Bush's friend and my friend, George Voinovich, to the United States Senate?

Audience members. Yes! Voinovich! Voinovich! Voinovich!

The President. Will you vote for a House of Representatives that will also support President Bush?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. You just made my day again. I mentioned voting a few moments ago. And earlier this year I had the privilege of doing something I never thought an American President would be able to do. I stood in the Lenin Hills and spoke to the students in Moscow State University about the glories of individual freedom. Now, think of those students. Only if they're very lucky and rise high in the Communist Party will any one of them have influence on the course of history that each American has by just walking into the voting booth.

So, in closing, I'd just like you to take history in your hands and win one for the Gipper! Thank you. You know, I've enjoyed your applause so very much. And for one reason—is because every time you do it, it drowns out that echo in here. [The President referred to hecklers in the audience.]

I'm just going to tell you a little story. I've gotten in the habit lately—some of the fellows with the cameras back there know this—I have started collecting jokes which I can absolutely prove are jokes made up in Russia and are told among the Russian people, usually about their system. And one of them—I'll just tell you one little one here because you've all been so kind about me.

This particular joke they tell among themselves is that an American and a Russian are arguing about their two governments. And the American said, "Look, in my country, I can walk into the Oval Office, I can pound the President's desk, and I can say, 'Mr. President, I don't like the way you're running our country.'" And the Russian said, "I can do that." And the American said, "You can?" He said, "Yes, I can walk into the Kremlin, into the General Secretary's office, pound on the General Secretary's desk, and say, 'Mr. General Secretary, I don't like the way President Reagan is running his country.'"

But believe me, you send me on my way, standing about 3 or 4 inches taller than when I came in. Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:20 a.m. in St. John Arena at Ohio State University. He was introduced by George Voinovich, mayor of Cleveland. Following his remarks, the President traveled to Bowling Green, OH.

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

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