Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in Mount Clements, Michigan

November 05, 1988

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Thank you all very much. And now that I won't be doing it for myself after January, I think I will start raising a holier that they ought to get rid of that law because it's an infringement on your right to vote for who you want to vote for.

President Lorenzo, John Engler, Governor Romney, Ronna, and thank you Jack Kemp for that great introduction. I know, ladies and gentlemen, it's no surprise that Jack Kemp is here in Michigan talking to all of you with his characteristic vigor and honesty and excitement. Jack Kemp, who was first campaigning on the idea of tax cuts back in the seventies—he had an enormous impact on government policy in American politics. And, Jack, for just a young fellow, you've had a brilliant past, but I'm willing to predict in your case the best is yet to come.

I'd like also to add a special thanks to the bands performing today. You kids did yourselves proud. Now, you don't mind my calling you kids, do you, but at my age I think I can. Now, incidentally, will all of you young people promise me you'll do all of America proud and just say no to drugs? [Applause]

Well, as you've been told already, I'm here today on behalf of a great candidate for the Presidency of the United States. But before I even mention his name, I want to ask each one of you: Will you give George Bush the kind of support he needs in the Congress by sending Doug Carl to Congress? [Applause] And will you help George Bush by putting Jim Dunn in the United States Senate? [Applause]
And it's great to be back here at Macomb Community College, a college that is the third biggest institution of higher learning in this great State, the kind of college that lives up to its name because it's the pride of this community just as it's the pride of Michigan. And, yes, it's great to be in Michigan again. I'm here because I love your people and I love your State.

Audience members. We love you! We love you! We love you!
The President. Well, it's mutual.

Well, that's another reason I've come here today. We're now at the end of a long political journey that marks for me my last campaign as an officeholder. Nancy and I are so proud to have had the chance to serve all of you in Washington. And I'm proud to be here in Michigan and Macomb County with a special word, what I hope is an uplifting word to all of you in the closing hours of this campaign. It's always something to get out of Washington and on the campaign trail and get the chance to see heartland America and all of your hopeful, shining faces.

You know, it wasn't so very long ago that all I had to do to start an unfriendly campus riot was show up. [Laughter] And now on campaign stop after campaign stop, in State after State, I've seen so many young Americans, like yourselves, coming out to say hello. And today I just wanted all of you to know how delighted and grateful I am for that. If you ask me, as Robert Palmer has been singing recently, you are simply irresistible. That's why I'm glad to be here today and why I've been so glad to be on so many campuses around the country.

You see, people my age do deeply believe that it is our duty to turn over to you the same opportunity and freedom that our parents and grandparents handed on to us. And when we look at you, when we see your openness and your enthusiasm for America and for life itself, it gives us heart, the kind of heart it's taken to fight and win this long campaign.

George Bush has that kind of heart. He has it because he cares about your future. He knows how far we've come in the past 8 years, and he doesn't want to see it squandered or thrown away. Throughout our history, whenever this great and blessed land has searched for true leadership, it has found it, and this year is no exception. I've worked more closely with George Bush these two terms than with any other member of the administration. I've seen him keep a cool head in hot crises. I've seen his leadership and vision. I've given him some of the most sensitive and difficult tasks that we've had, and he has never let me or the country down.

When you ask who led the fight to lift excessive regulations off the shoulders of America's economy or who reassured our allies about deployment of INF missiles and set the stage for the INF treaty or who ran the initial policy meetings that led to our rescue of Grenada, or when you ask which candidate for President is on your side and America's side—George Bush is that man.

When I mentioned first those excessive regulations—that was one of the first chores I gave him. I asked him to head up a task force to see how much we could reduce the Federal regulations imposed on the people. Well, they finished their task, and I think you might like to know that the regulations that they eliminated have led to a savings of paperwork imposed on you and on communities and States for the Federal Government that we estimate amounts to 600 million man-hours a year of paperwork that you don't have to do anymore.

You know, I have a little incident that explains what it used to be like when there was all that paper. There was a fellow in Washington—this is absolutely true—whose position was to receive papers and documents and then decide where they were to go in the Government. And one day he received one that was classified "secret." But it came to him, so he read it, decided where it should go, initialed it, and sent it on. Twenty-four hours later it came back to him with a memorandum attached that says, "You weren't supposed to see this. Erase your initials— [laughter] —and initial the erasure." [Laughter]

George Bush knows the importance of the values expressed in the Pledge of Allegiance. He cares that courts won't allow children in public schools to open their day with a simple, silent, voluntary prayer. He believes that we must have judges on our courts who interpret the law and don't try to legislate, and who care not just about the rights of the criminals but about those of the victims of crime.

And that's just why I want George Bush to be the next President of the United States. You know, I once said that he was a great Vice President. But I know, and I've seen that it didn't come easily. George Bush is a man of action, a man accustomed to command. The Vice Presidency doesn't fit easily on such a man. But George Bush is also a patriot, so he made it fit, and he served with distinction no one has ever matched in that position.

And that's why I'm here today: to bring home the simple fact that all the progress we've made is on the line. Today's activities are part of a get-out-the-vote campaign. And I just want to tell each one of you to go to the polls on Tuesday and get your friends to go, too, to cast their and your votes for George Bush—and, again, to remember your great congressional candidate, Doug Carl, and a man who will make a great United States Senator, Jim Dunn.

You see, way back in August, on the day I arrived in New Orleans for the Republican Convention, I said the one thing George Bush and our party had to do was get our message out to the people who live in places like Macomb County, the people who gave us our great victories in 1980 and 1984. And I noted a line by our opposition that very few people had noticed, a line in which George Bush's opponent said this was an election about competence, not ideology. Well, I said then that that line was nothing but a smoke screen to hide the liberal agenda the opposition was going to force on Americans if it was elected. And that's why everywhere I've gone I've said that, from top to bottom, from President to Congress to local office, especially here in Michigan, the election this year is a referendum on liberalism—or whether we let George Bush's opponent take America where America doesn't want to go.

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, liberal policies of tax and spend, economic stagnation, international weakness, and always, always "blame America first"; and on the other hand, what we believe: the policies of limited government, economic growth, individual opportunity, a strong defense, and always "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

You know, the fact is a lot of Democrats around the country are saying that their party leadership has swung so far to the left, so far out of the mainstream, that the national Democratic leadership has lost touch with the rank and file of the Democratic Party. Now, I'm a former Democrat, and I have to say: I didn't leave my party; my party left me.

Now, whether it's their opposition to voluntary prayer in school, support for gun control, or the left-wing judges appointed in a State like Massachusetts, or a weak-kneed defense policy, their views can only be described by the dreaded "L" word: liberal, liberal, liberal. That once-proud party of hope and affirmation has become the party of obstruction and negativism. The party of F.D.R. and Harry Truman has become the party of McGovern and Carter and Mondale and Dukakis. The party of "yes" has become the party of "no." Well, the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party in Washington has been saying no to the rank-and-file Democrats of Michigan, and now it's time for you to start saying no to them by saying yes to George Bush and the entire Republican ticket.

You know, violent crime has fallen significantly since 1981 because George and I put criminals on notice. We said: Make a false move, and the next sound you hear is the clang of a jail cell door slamming shut. But in this election, one of the candidates believes that no matter how horrible or brutal the crime, he opposes capital punishment. Audience members. Booo!

The President. Well, if you ask me, there are no Americans braver and no 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, as I know you do. And that's why George and I believe that for horrible crimes, like a drug dealer who murders a policeman in cold blood—that kind of killer deserves and should receive the death penalty.

And then there's the issue of defense. Look at the accomplishments of the last 8 years. 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.

None of our triumphs—no, not one-would have happened if the liberals had 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, and even today they want to cancel out two carrier battle groups from our Navy.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. They have a defense policy only a McGovern could love. And what they've planned for the Navy is so bad that by the time they get finished Michael might have to row the boat ashore.

They opposed the liberation of Grenada. They opposed the blow we struck against terrorist Libya. They oppose our policy of helping freedom fighters advance the cause of liberty around the world. George Bush and I did all these things, and I'll tell you proudly right now: We'd both do every single one of them over again.

What they're proposing is not the defense policies of a Harry Truman or an F.D.R. The liberals have stolen the Democratic Party away from its heritage. As I say, I know because I once was one of them. And the truth is that when the left took over the Democratic Party, many rank-and-file Democrats like me who were inspired by F.D.R. and Harry Truman took over the Republican Party. So, I want to ask those of you some people call Reagan Democrats to join with me and come home with me today. Come home to me and George Bush.

I just happen to think America's on a roll. We've just received the October unemployment numbers, and I'm delighted to report it's 5.2 percent. That's the best it's been in more than 14 years. And this is the message we're going to be taking to every home in America: The future is bright, and it's getting brighter because we've been bringing good jobs and hopes and opportunity to all the citizens in this country. In just the month of October, we Americans created 323,000 new jobs. Now, that brings the total number of jobs we've created in this country since the recovery began nearly 6 years ago to 18.4 million. And let me also add—I thought this might want to interest the people in Macomb County—that for the first 10 months of this year, average domestic auto sales are up from 1987.

So, we've got to do all we can to get our message out. We must guard against complacency and overconfidence. This election isn't over yet, not by a long shot. And as Winston Churchill once said: We must continue the struggle until victory is won.

Now, let me take a little opinion poll of my own. Will you make sure to turn out for the Republican ticket for State legislative candidates Steve Ainner, David Jaye, Bob McDonald, Bob Perakis, Roman Kulchitsky, and Terry London on November 8th? [Applause] Will you give the next President the Congress he needs by voting for Jim Dunn and Doug Carl on November 8th? [Applause] Will you send a message to the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party in Washington by voting for George Bush? [Applause]

Yes, my friends, when you accept the blessing of every American—it's the right to vote—when you go into that voting booth, you're not only choosing the direction this country will take for the next 4 years, you're casting a vote for your children, and your children's children. It's critically important that the fate of our great nation be placed in the capable, strong, and still gentle hands of a man who has been a hero in war and a leader in peace, a friend to me and to all Americans. Yes, there's only one man I trust to bring this country forward, ever forward, toward its destiny of greatness. And so, I ask you on November 8th to make George Bush the next President of the United States.

So, now one last favor: Will you do it for me—specially all of you independents and rank-and-file Democrats—will you go out and win this one for the Gipper? [Applause]
Thank you all, and God bless you all.

[At this point, State Senator Gil Dinello gave the President a cardboard donkey.]

Thank you very much. And I know when I tell the story of this to George, he's going to be a very happy man. But I'm so grateful to you for what you have just said and what all of you are doing. Again, I thank you all very much. This is a great day.

Note: The President spoke at 11:34 p.m. in the Physical Education Center at Macomb Community College. In his opening remarks, he referred to Albert Lorenzo, president of the college; State Senator John Engler; former Governor George Romney; and Ronna Romney, Republican national committeewoman and cochairman of the Bush-Quayle Campaign Committee for the State of Michigan. Following his remarks, the President traveled to Dallas, TX.

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

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