Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in Palos Hills, Illinois

November 04, 1988

The President. Thanks, Governor Jim, for that great introduction and the great work that you've done quarterbacking our team in Illinois. And let me add a special thank you to the guys and girls in the Stag High School Band. You've all done yourselves proud. Now, will you promise me to do America proud and just say no to drugs? [Applause] And if you keep studying and practice hard, maybe you'll end up as brilliant and fluent as the wonderful musicians in the Chicago Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

Audience member. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. It's a treat to be here at Moraine Valley Community College—and 8 years to the day that you elected me President of the United States. Now, you know, as President, I can't really favor one team over another, but when it comes to football, I have to admit that there's nothing I like to see more than a bunch of Marauders going on a rampage. And I'd like to

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

The President. Thank you all very much, and I'd like to just say something to you about that. You know, once I'm out of office, where no one can accuse me of doing it for myself, I'm going to see if I can't stir up a storm about changing that constitutional amendment because I believe it's an infringement on your democratic rights to vote for whoever you want to vote for.

But now I'd like to say hello to Sam Skinner, George Ryan, and two friends I usually see in Washington, Harris Fawell and Jack Davis. Now, they're the kinds of Members of Congress that keep the Washington bureaucrats from causing too much trouble out here in the real America. And also there's someone else I'd like to see in Washington, and that is John Holowinsky.

Now I want to talk to you about a very good friend of mine. You know, I've been an American voter for 56 years; in fact, I cast my first ballot in a Presidential race for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. I've seen them come, and I've seen them go. Some were great. Some were good. And some were bad. But I have to say I've never been more enthusiastic about my choice than this year. I've been President for 8 years now, and nobody knows better than I that the most qualified man alive in the world for the job, yes, the best man alive for the job, is the man who is going to be President of the United States after you cast your ballot next Tuesday—and his name is George Bush.
Audience members. Bush! Bush! Bush!

The President. I know this man, George Bush, and over the past couple of months you've all gotten to know him a lot better. You've learned that he believes in America and the American dream. You know he stands for the policies that have brought peace and prosperity back to our great land. You've learned that he stands for the bedrock Judeo-Christian moral principles that guide us and our children. And you know that he stands for a strong America-yes, an America that fights for freedom and will not yield in that struggle until the oppressed peoples of the world breathe free.

Now, I know the fellow at the top of the other ticket is going around saying that he's on your side.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. Well, I know who's on your side, because he's been on my side, and that's George Bush. He has stood by me for 8 years. And so, if you want to know who's on the side of the little guy, well, I'll tell you: It's the big guy, the big guy from Texas. I know because I've worked more closely with George Bush than with any other member of the administration. I've seen him keep a cool head in a hot crisis. I've seen his leadership, and I've been guided by his vision. I have given him some of the most sensitive and difficult tasks that we've had, and he's never let the country down. No, he's done us all proud.

You know who led the fight to lift excessive Federal regulations off the shoulders of America's economy? It was George Bush. It was one of the first things we'd done. I asked him to head up a task force to see how many Federal regulations we could get rid of. And let me give you the estimated score. They've done their task; and as of now, we estimate that the Federal paperwork imposed upon you, the people, and on the communities and the States has been reduced by 600 million man-hours a year.

Now, do you know who played the vital role of reassuring our allies about the deployment of our missiles in Europe.
Audience member. George Bush!
The President.— and set the stage for the INF treaty?
Audience member. You did.

The President. You know the answer: George Bush.

And who ran the initial policy meetings that led to our rescue of Grenada?

Audience members. George Bush!

The President. That's right—George Bush. And he's the one who stands with the American people on the things that matter most deeply. George Bush knows the importance of our traditional values. He cares that courts won't allow children in public schools to open their day with a simple, silent, voluntary prayer. He believes we must have judges on our courts who care not just about the rights of criminals but about the rights of the victims of crime. For these many reasons and for a thousand others, I believe the next President of the United States should be George Bush. And as—
Audience members. Bush! Bush! Bush!

The President. I know where you stand. And as for the other fellow, he's been going around lately comparing himself with some of the great Democrats of the past, men like F.D.R. and John F. Kennedy. But I have to tell you, if he's Harry Truman, I'm just what your Governor said a little minute ago: I'm Roger Rabbit.

You know, with the election so close, some people are saying it's time for a change. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are the change. The change began 8 years ago. Eight years ago we started liberating you from the confiscations of the "malaise" years. When we came into office, families across this country were suffering from tax rates so high they made Michael Jordan look like Pee-Wee Herman. Well, we took that money out of the grasping hands of the Washington bureaucrats and put it back in the wallets of the people they'd taken it from in the first place: the hard-working men and women of America.

And look what happened: the longest peacetime recovery in our history, 71 months, and as of now, 18.4 million new jobs. Now there are more people at work over the age of 16, including students and retirees, men and women, female, male—all from 16 years of age on up. And the highest percentage of that population pool is employed than ever before in our history—62.7 percent of all of those people have jobs today. And today we heard the great news: that October unemployment was the lowest it's been since June, which means the lowest it's been since May of 1974. And because of our tax reform, most families in this area saw their tax rates slashed to 15 percent.

Now, the task is not complete. We've got to keep going and to extend our recovery to every American home and every American family. And given the success we've had so far, I think you'll agree the best man for that job is the guy who's already on the job: George Bush.
Audience members. Bush! Bush! Bush!

The President. When we arrived in Washington, we faced a nation in which criminals were running rampant because liberal judges were so interested in protecting the so-called rights of the bad guys they were placing the good guys at risk. We came in and appointed judges who respect the law, respect the Constitution, and know the meaning of the word "punishment." Violent crime has fallen significantly since 1981 because we put the bad guys on notice: Make one false move, and the next sound you hear is the clang of a jail cell door slamming shut.

Our greatest bulwarks against crime are those citizens who have devoted their lives to guarding us: the noble men and women of our State and local police. And George Bush and I stand united behind them. We believe that there are no citizens more precious than they, and we must protect them as they protect us. Now, the other fellow opposes the death penalty. He opposes it absolutely and in every case. But as for George Bush and Dan Quayle and me, we believe with every ounce of our conviction that a crack dealer with a machinegun who murders a police officer in the line of duty should face the death sentence.

And I'm happy to see Congressman Jack Davis here today because he's been in the forefront of our crusade against illegal drug use. Yes, when it comes to fighting crime, I think it's pretty clear just who's on your side: Jack Davis and George Bush.

We also went to work on our national defenses. And once again, America is strong, and we're 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—not even one—would have happened if George Bush's opponent had had his way. There would have been no INF treaty or Soviet pullout from Afghanistan or democratic revolutions around the globe. He opposed rebuilding our military defenses, and even today, he wants to cancel or eliminate two supercarrier task forces from the Navy.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. In fact, what they've planned for the Navy is so bad that by the time they get through, Michael may have to row the boat ashore. Yes, if he did half of what he's threatening to do to our defenses, we'd all be in the tank. [The President referred to a campaign event in which Michael Dukakis rode in a tank.]

Now, just listen to what the liberals have said no to. 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. Well, 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.

And of all the changes we've made, the one I may be happiest of is this: Our young men and women are once again proud to wear their country's uniform. And because of them, over these past 8 years, not 1 inch of ground on this good Earth has fallen to the Communists.

What it all comes down to this year is a clash of visions, of philosophies. The choice next Tuesday is as clear as it was 8 years ago today, as clear as it was in '84. Yes, my friends, this election is a referendum on liberalism and an examination of our commitment to our traditional values. You must choose between, on the one hand, policies of tax and spend, economic stagnation, international weakness, and always, always "blame America first"; and on the other hand, limited government, economic growth, opportunity, a strong defense, solidarity forever, and always, always "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

So, yes, your vote is important, and, yes, the choice this year is very important. This weekend, you and hundreds of thousands of volunteers will be working in their precincts to turn out the Republican vote and to bring our message of hope and opportunity to all Americans. I'm convinced that volunteer support put me over the top in many States in 1980, and Illinois was one of them. And once again I ask for your help. Go out there and turn out our voters to "punch 36" [vote the straight Republican ticket].

Yes, my friends, when you accept the blessing of every American that is the right to vote, when you go into that 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—
Audience members. George Bush!

The President. Yes. So, I ask you: On November 8th—and I'm sure I know the answer—to make George Bush the next President of the United States. And now will you do me this one favor: Go out there and win one for the Gipper. [Applause]

Now, I have a bad habit lately, and I'm going to conclude with a joke. [Laughter] I've learned some time past that in the Soviet Union the people there have taken to making up jokes which they tell among themselves, and they display a great sense of humor. But they also display a certain cynicism about their system. And I have been collecting these jokes. I even told a couple to the General Secretary Gorbachev. [Laughter] Most of the others it would be tactless to tell him, but this one was about an order went out that anyone caught speeding, anyone, no matter who it was, should get a ticket. Now, you have to realize that in the Soviet Union only a few private citizens own an automobile. All those cars you see in the newsreel shots belong to the bureaucrats. As a matter of fact, for an ordinary citizen to order a car there, he's got to wait 10 years for delivery. But he lays the money down 10 years in advance.

Well, anyway, this thing was they've got to have a ticket, no matter who they are. Well, Gorbachev came out of his dacha, his country home, one morning, and he was late getting to the Kremlin. There was the limousine with his driver, and he said to the driver, "You get in the backseat. I'll drive." And down the road he went. But he passed two motorcycle cops. And one of them took out after him. And in a very short time, he's back with his buddy. And the buddy says, "Well, did you give him a ticket?" And he said, "No." Well, he said, "Why not? We were told to give a ticket no matter who it was." "Oh," he said, "this one was too important." Well, he said, "Who was it?" He says, "I couldn't recognize him, but his driver was Gorbachev." [Laughter]

Since I mentioned that 10 years and the automobile, I'll conclude with another one, and then I have to go. Having mentioned that, this was a Russian that went in, had his money together and everything to order a car. And he signed all the papers and laid down the money. And the man behind the counter said, "All right, come back in 10 years and get your car." And the fellow said, "Morning or afternoon?" [Laughter] The fellow behind the counter said, "Well, 10 years from now—what difference does it make?" He said, "Well, the plumber's coming in the morning." [Laughter]

Well, thank you all. Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:11 a.m. in the gymnasium at Moraine Valley Community College. He was introduced by Gov. James Thompson. In his remarks, the President referred to former U.S. Attorney Samuel Skinner; Lt. Gov. George H. Ryan; Representatives Harris W. Fawell and Jack Davis; John Holowinsky, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives; and Michael Jordan, a member of the Chicago Bulls basketball team.

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

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