Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in San Diego, California

November 07, 1988

The President. Thank you very much, and, good Duke, thank you very much for that kind introduction. I think some thanks should go also to the Coronado High School Band and the Torrey Pines High School Band. And also I understand that some people that played a helping hand in bringing this all together happened to be my fraternity brothers from San Diego State, my fellow TEEK's. Thank you. I was told back there at Eureka College when I became a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon that it was a fraternity for life. But now let me say hello to Earl Cantos; to Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Bill Lowery; and to a great future Congressman we'll all be proud of, Rob Butterfield; and to one of America's greatest Governors, George Deukmejian; and to one of the finest Senators I know, Pete Wilson.

Now, before I start, I have a message from my roommate to every young person here. She told me to say: Please, for your parents, for your friends, for your country, but most of all for yourselves, just say no to drugs and alcohol.

Audience members. Just say no! Just say no! Just say no!

The President. All right. You know, some time ago I told Britain's Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, that if her people had come over this ocean out here instead of the Atlantic, the capital of the United States would be in California. But more and more over the last 8 years, I've come to realize what a good thing it was for the settling of our continent that the pioneers had to go east to west rather than the other way around. After all, if they'd started out here in our beautiful State with all we have, they'd never have wanted to leave. Instead of "Westward Ho!", their motto would have been what mine has become: "There's no place like home."

Now, please forgive me if from time to time over the next few minutes, there seems to be a lump in my throat and a catch in my voice. This is a special moment for me in a special place and, yes, with special people. I closed both of my campaigns for the Presidency right here in San Diego. And you see, there was a reason for that. You see, when the parades have ended, the shouting is over, the speeches are done, and the final bell has sounded, a fighter wants to return to his corner and be with family and friends while he waits for the verdict of the judges. And whenever I finish in San Diego, I feel I'm with family, and I know I'm with friends. I love San Diego.

A lot of people have been mighty surprised how far you and I have gone together in our crusade over the years. I remember a story that made the rounds the time I first ran for office. Someone told my old boss, Jack Warner, that I'd announced for Governor. And Jack thought about it for just a second, and then he said, "No, Jimmy Stewart for Governor; Ronald Reagan for best friend."

But this year my name is not on the ballot. And it won't appear on a ballot ever again, unless, of course, you—

Audience members. Booo!

The President. No, no—unless you count the one that someone up there casts when your time is done and the moment has arrived for His verdict, which, when all is said and done, is the only election that really counts. But if my name isn't on your ballot tomorrow, something more important is: a principle, a legacy. No, this is not the end of an era; it's a time to refresh and strengthen the new beginning we started 8 years ago. At stake are the very things you and I have been working for and fighting for ever since we first joined together almost a quarter of a century ago and set out to restore our State and then our nation. They add up to the difference between candidates who promise that come January "the Reagan era is over" and those who say, "Read my lips: No new taxes." Yes, it's the difference between the liberals and the men and women on the Republican ticket, candidates like this district's next Congressman, Rob Butterfield; Senator Pete Wilson; and the next President of the United States of America, George Bush.

And that's why I'm here today: to ask you to turn out to vote tomorrow for our entire Federal, State, and local Republican ticket so that our principles survive, our legacy endures, and our truth goes marching on. I've dedicated myself this autumn to making sure that all we've begun these past 8 years continues. In the House of Representatives, in the Senate, in the White House, and in the State legislatures—which will redraw congressional district lines after the 1990 census, and through that act profoundly shape the course of the entire Nation in the next decade—yes, on every level, the election this year is about what the Vice President called the other day the big issues: freedom; peace; opportunity; respect of government for family and community; the safety of law-abiding citizens; and whether we remain true to our national mission of standing with those who, like our Founding Fathers, would battle against tyranny and for liberty. It's about the values that have made America the greatest, freest nation on Earth—as Lincoln said, "the last best hope" of humanity. And we're determined to keep it that way.

I've seen some press reports these last few weeks noting how I've been campaigning so hard for Republican candidates. And they say few other Presidents have done what I've done. Well, of course, few other Presidents have had the opportunity to be succeeded by a man as good as George Bush or to stump for candidates as good as Pete Wilson and Rob Butterfield. But I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm not doing this just for George Bush or Pete Wilson or our Republican candidates on all levels around the Nation. I'm doing it for the country, of course, but for someone else as well—actually for two other people.

He was the best storyteller I've ever heard and the strongest man of principle I've ever known. He believed in honesty and hard work. He was filled with a love of justice and a hatred of bigotry. Once he was out on the road—he was a shoe salesman, traveling around northern Illinois in the winter. And this was in the depths of the Depression. And in a midst of a blizzard, he went into a smalltown hotel in the town he was going through. And as he signed his name and the clerk saw the name, which was a very Irish name—"Oh," he said, "you're going to love it here." And then he told him why: because that hotel would not allow people of a certain faith to stay there. And this man picked up his suitcase and said, "Then I don't stay here." And he spent the night in his car in the snow, caught near-pneumonia, and a short time later had the first heart attack of the several that led to his death.

We called him Jack. And just as he was strong, his wife, Nelle, was filled with goodness and love. In the darkest days of the Depression, when they themselves could barely scrape by, no one ever came to their door in need of a meal who Nelle sent away empty-handed. I'm proud of many things I've done in my life, including more than a few in the last 8 years; but nothing has ever given me as much satisfaction as when, after several years in California, I could bring my mother and father out here and give them a home, the first they had ever owned. So, you see, I'm campaigning this year also for them. A son of Jack and Nelle Reagan never walked away from a battle on principle. This year's election is that kind of fight. And by darn, we're going to win it.

Think of all those who depend on us and the principles we Republicans stand for. Young people just getting out of school, looking for their first job, and able to find it because our recovery has created an average of a quarter of a million new jobs each month for the last 71 months. Young couples looking for their first home, who can afford it because we've brought mortgage rates down by a third since we took office. Mothers and fathers trying to keep within the family budget—cutting inflation by twothirds and bringing the top personal income tax rate that most families pay down to 15 percent has made their lives a lot better.

But these aren't the only people who depend on our success. Tomorrow on the plains of Afghanistan and in jungles around the world, freedom fighters will huddle close to their radios, hoping to catch word that the administration in America will remain their friend. In cells across the globe, political prisoners will await anxiously for assurance that America has chosen strength over weakness, because for many of them, our strength is all that keeps their hope alive.

Just on the plane coming out here I read a letter I had just received. It was a couple thanking me for the fact that they are now in the United States after having spent more than 7 years in the prisons and psychiatric wards of the Soviet Union. But all these people—they depend on us, and so help me God, we won't let them down.

And there's some other very special people we won't let down, either. There's no change during our administration of which I'm prouder than that our young men and women once more take pride in wearing the uniform of the United States of America. Thanks to their valor, in the last 8 years not i square inch of land anywhere in the world has been lost to communism. And in fact, we've rescued one tiny nation, Grenada, from communism.

This year, we're facing a liberal campaign of unusual deception. First our opponents wanted to conceal their ideology. It took us 3 months to drag the "L" word out of them. [Laughter] And now they're trying to hide what side they're on. They say that they're on your side, but you tell me, yes or no, and shout it loud and clear: When their candidates for President, U.S. Senator and Congress refuse to rule out raising your taxes and have already made their marks as world-class big spenders in State or Federal Government, are they on your side?

Audience members. No!

The President. When their candidates for President and U.S. Senator, as well as for Congress and other posts, have a history of nominating and supporting judges who oppose the death penalty and, all in all, are strictly for the birds—if you know what I mean— [laughter] —are they on your side?

Audience members. No!

The President. I like this audience.

Audience members. Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

The President. Thank you. Wait a minute, I've got one more. I like this audience, I said, but one last question.

Audience member. We love you!

The President. When their candidates consistently support cutting back on the very weapons—including our Strategic Defense Initiative, SDI—that have forced the Soviets to seek to negotiate serious arms reductions with us, and when they seem to believe that a strong defense is what gets talked about in Right Guard commercials- [laughter] —and that a strong Navy is the color of a suit— [laughter] —when they do all this, are they on your side?

Audience members. No!

The President. Our liberal friends just never seem to learn: You can't be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy. In the race for the White House only one guy is for the little guy, and that guy is George Bush. And in the Senate race, that guy is Pete Wilson. In this district, in the House of Representatives, it's Rob Butterfield. And in the State legislature, it's Byron Wear, Steve Baldwin, Carol Bentley, and our other great Republican candidates.

Yes, from top to bottom, the election this year is a referendum on liberalism. Do we want to risk going back to the old, failed liberal policies of the past?

Audience members. No!

The President. Or do we build on the successes of the present—

Audience members. Yes!

The President.—to expand the chances of peace and prosperity in the future?

Consider for a moment the people you'll be sending to Washington tomorrow. Congress and the President are equal branches of government. When you vote for the Senate or for your local congressional seat, you're voting for the direction of the country and the world as much as when you vote for President. And since we have to ride two horses, Congress and the President, across every stream, shouldn't they both be going in the same direction? [Applause] Everyone on our ticket—led by George Bush, Pete Wilson, and Rob Butterfield is going the same way. And come to think of it, that's my way, too.

Take our great Senator and, I hope, our next great Senator as well, Pete Wilson. Pete Wilson, George Bush, and I have been a team: The Three Musketeers—one for all and all for the taxpayers and against the special interests. Now, you know, in Washington, Pete's been named "Watchdog of the Treasury"—five times he's been named that. He's guarding it against liberals like his opponent. He'll work with the new President and not try to cut him off at the knees every chance he gets. Nancy and I cast our absentee ballots last week. And I know I shouldn't tell you this, but we voted, and I hope you will too, for a great team: Pete Wilson and the entire Republican team.

Last week a major national newspaper ran a story about one of our own liberal California Congressmen. In it, he spelled out to the reporter how he tells constituents he's for a strong defense, while voting for less defense, and how he opposed the death penalty amendment to the drug bill, but says he's for the death penalty when he's back home. And then he got down to business. Quoting now: "He wants it understood that a President Bush would get no quarter from him. Any budget proposal will have to include higher taxes, he says, whether a President likes it or not. 'Otherwise, we're going to go after him.'" Well, if you ask me, it's time we went after them, and some of the people to do it are Bill Lowery, Ron Packard, Duncan Hunter, and Rob Butterfield.

We must not forget what we're up against, but we all must never forget what we're for. A poet once wrote: "I have fallen in love with American names," and Americans love no name better than the name of freedom. Well, in this campaign, and so many others, I've heard America singing, and its song is freedom. You can hear it in the shipyards near here, as men and women go to work. You can hear it in offices, factories, schools, and stores all over our land. You can hear it when a young man or woman dreams of striking out alone and becoming part of the great boom in entrepreneurship that has created virtually all of the new jobs in America in recent years: 84—or 80.4 million new jobs in these several years. You can hear it in the prayers from every church, synagogue, temple, and mosque in our land. Yes, "one nation, under God, indivisible"—all in the name of glorious freedom.

You know, some years ago two friends of mine were talking with a Cuban refugee who had escaped from Castro. In the midst of the tale of horrible experiences, one friend turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." Well, let's keep it that way.

How sacred is our trust—we to whom God has given the custody of the name and the song of freedom. America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said: "You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France, and you'd live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won't become a German or a Turk." But then he added: "Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American."

John Adams once said that: "The way to secure liberty is to place it in the people's hands .... "And that's what America is: we, the people, holding liberty in our hands. This year I did something I thought that no American President would ever have an opportunity to do. There in the Lenin Hills, at Moscow State University—no TEEK chapter there— [laughter] —I addressed Soviet students, spoke to them, and my speech was about the wonder and glory of human and 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 ever have the influence that each American has just by walking into the voting booth.

So, let me ask you one or two more questions. And I'm asking for a commitment, so if you shout yes, be sure you mean it.

Tomorrow, will you show up at the polls and vote?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you get your friends and neighbors also to vote?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. For the State legislature, will you vote for Byron Wear, Steve Baldwin, Carol Bentley, and the entire Republican team?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you vote to reelect Congressmen Bill Lowery, Ron Packard, and Duncan Hunter, and to elect Rob Butterfield?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. And will you vote for Pete Wilson in the United States Senate?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. And will you make George Bush the next President of the United States of America?

Audience members. Yes! Bush! Bush! Bush!

The President. The same thing I'm asking you I've asked our country this year. Eight years ago, America said it's time for a change. Well, we've heard some talk like that in this campaign. Well, we are the change. Won't you stand by the change? We started it 8 years ago. Stand by the Republican ticket, and I don't mind if you stand by me.

So, now we come to the end of this last campaign, and I just hope that Nelle and Jack are looking down on us right now and nodding their heads and saying their kid did them proud. And I hope that someday your children and grandchildren will tell of the time that a certain President came to town at the end of a long journey and asked their parents and grandparents to join him in setting America on the course to the new millennium, and that a century of peace, prosperity, opportunity, and hope had followed. So, if I could ask you just one last time: Tomorrow, when mountains greet the dawn, would you go out there and win one for the Gipper?

Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 2:40 p.m. in the San Diego Community Concourse at the San Diego Convention and Performing Arts Center. He was introduced by Senator Pete Wilson. In his opening remarks, the President referred to Earl Cantos, chairman of the San Diego Republican Party. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC

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

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