Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in Springfield, Missouri

October 27, 1988

The President. Thank you, John, and thank you for that great music to the Kickapoo Chiefs High School Band, the Bolivar Liberators High School Band, and the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats Band. And let me say a special hello to Wayne Newton; Tom Fowler— [applause] —to a great Congressman, Gene Taylor; and a great future Congressman and author of Missouri's tax-limiting Hancock amendment, Mel Hancock; and one of America's best Governors, John Ashcroft. And let me say here that as we've worked to restore respect for values and basics in our nation's schools, no Governor has done more to blaze the trail than John Ashcroft.

And one other thing: As our administration set America on the path of what is now the longest peacetime expansion on record and as we negotiated the first real reduction in U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles in world history, no one has been a better ally in the Senate than Kit Bond or Jack Danforth.

And I can't go any farther without a hello to some fellows that I have a personal link to at Southwest Missouri State—my brother TEEK's. When I first joined, they told me it was a fraternity for life, and I can see they're right. And let me also say hello to another group I take a kind of personal interest in, the College Republicans.

You know, I watched a certain debate a couple of weeks ago. I don't often feel sorry for liberals, but I came close. [Laughter] 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 you know, the American people always have a way of figuring out the facts. 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. They talk about it being time for a change. Well, where have they been these last 8 years? We are the change. We began it 8 years ago. And the choice this year is to go back to the stagnant status quo of the past or to go forward with the change.

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. Well, we turned that around. Since our expansion began, we've created over 18 million new jobs. That is more new jobs than Europe and Japan combined, and they've got about 50 percent more people to work than we have. 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.

I was so surprised to find out a certain figure that I think you would be, too. When I said that about this proportion of Americans, do you know that what the statisticians called the potential employment pool is everyone, male and female, from 16 years of age on up, all the way. In other words, the total population of the United States except those below age 16. Well, today 62.7 percent of that total population have jobs.

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's soared more than 10 percent. Now, think of what reducing mortgage interest rates by over a third 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 now pay a top rate of only 15 percent. Yes, what you heard in a recent debate, I've heard echoed in my talks with the leaders of many other nations. Today they tell me the United States of America is the envy of the world.
Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

The President. You're right. 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 gun control. [Laughter] The liberals talk about reaching for the center, but from the economy to national defense they've taken positions only a McGovern could love.

We've achieved arms reduction agreements with the Soviets and a new warmth in relations not through weakness but through our policy of peace through strength. You know, you'd think our 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 his words, "viscerally antimilitary." They'd cut the B-1 bomber. They'd cut the MX missiles, our strategic defense against ballistic missiles. And if they had their way, and what they proposed already, we would have to get rid of two carrier battle groups in the Navy.
Audience members. No! No! No!

The President. You know, 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.

Now, our liberal friends have promised that come January the Reagan era is over—
Audience members. No! No! No!

The President.—and their era will just be 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?
Audience members. No!

The President. I guess what I'm asking is: Do you want the liberals in control in Washington?

Audience members. No!

The President. You just made my day. 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. Ours is a system of three equal branches of government. Two branches, the President and Congress, are chosen by election. The third, the courts, is chosen by the other two. When you vote for a candidate for the House or Senate, you're voting for the direction of the country and the world as much as when you're voting for President.

So, if we're going to keep the liberals out of the White House, shouldn't we ask: Since we must ride two horses, Congress and the President, across every stream, shouldn't they both be going in the same direction? We don't want a President who would raise taxes. Why elect a Congress that would? We don't want a big-spending President. Why should we want a big-spending Congress? We don't want a President who would cut our defenses. Why vote for a Congress that wants to do that?

You know, I once belonged to the party of Harry Truman. I'll let you in on a little secret: I still do. I know it's often said that the once-proud party of Harry Truman is dead and gone, that the left has taken over its leadership and now defines it, especially its liberal leadership in Congress—an old label on a new and very different package. But you know something? The party of Harry Truman couldn't be killed. Harry Truman's party believed in working Americans and in keeping America's defenses strong and, yes, in "one nation under God." And today the party that believes in that is stronger than ever. It's called the Republican Party.

You see, the secret is: When we left the Democratic Party—or when they left—I should say, took over the Democratic Party, then we took over the Republican Party. So, yes, today Harry Truman's party is the Republican Party, and it's time to give that party a bigger stick in the Congress and cut the liberals down to size.

So, let me ask you one or two more questions, and again, I hope you'll shout your answers so they can be heard all the way to Washington.

Do you want a Congress that will 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. Will you turn out and get your friends to turn out on election day and send Mel Hancock to the House of Representatives?
Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you go vote and get your friends to go vote and keep George Bush's friend and my friend, Jack Danforth, in the United States Senate?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you keep a friend of ours in the Governor's chair—John Ashcroft? [Applause] And will you give him help he can rely on and make R.B. Grisham part of that great statewide team?
Audience members. Yes! R.B.! R.B.! R.B.! The President. You know, what they say is true: This year Missouri is a must. So, you just make my day again.

I mentioned voting a few moments ago. Earlier this year I had the privilege of doing something I never thought an American President would be able to do. There, at the Moscow summit, I stood at the podium at the Moscow State University and spoke to those students there about the glories of personal and individual freedom. Think of those students. Only if they're very lucky and rise high in the Communist Party will any of them have influence on the course of history that each American has by just walking into the voting booth.

The race is still up for grabs. So, in closing, I'd just ask you to take history in your hands. You and I work much too hard to cut your taxes to let our opponents come into office and raise them all over again. So, on November 8th, go into that polling booth and do some negative campaigning of your own—the right kind of negative campaigning. Say no to new taxes, and say yes to the Republican ticket. And if you don't mind one last personal request: Win one for the Gipper!
Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1 p.m. at the Air Midwest ramp at Springfield Regional Airport. He was introduced by Gov. John D. Ashcroft. In his opening remarks, the President referred to entertainer Wayne Newton and Thomas Fowler, chairman of the State Republican Party. Following his remarks, the President traveled to San Diego, CA.

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

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