Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Campaign Rally in Voorhees, New Jersey

November 04, 1988

The President. Thank you all very much.
Audience members. Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

The President. Thank you very much. And thank you, Tom. And thank you for that great music from the Mainstreet Pop Band, Eastern High School Band, Cherry Hill East High School Band, and Cherry Hill West High School Band. And let me say a special thank you to Bob Franks and hello to a man I hope you would send to Congress, Frank Cristaudo.

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

I'm here to ask everyone in New Jersey who supports the change we've been bringing to America these last 8 years to vote, from top to bottom, for the entire Republican ticket, including our Republican candidates for the House of Representatives and, in this district, for the man who has put the Federal Government into the battle to end the ocean dumping—you missed me [The President referred to a loud noise in the background]— [laughter] —end the ocean dumping of sludge and medical waste off New Jersey's shore, Jim Saxton, and to ask you to vote for one of the best men I've ever known to run for United States Senate or any other office, Pete Dawkins, and for the next President of the United States, George Bush.

You know, I'm dedicating myself this autumn to making sure that all we've begun these past 8 years—all the changes, all the new hopes for all Americans and for all the people in the world—that all this continues. On every level—in local races as well as in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, and in the White House—the election this year is about what the Vice President called the other day the big issues: peace, prosperity, the respect of government for family and community, the safety of law-abiding citizens, and the values that have made America the greatest and freest nation on Earth—as Lincoln said, "the last best hope" of all humanity. And we're determined to keep it that way.

Yes, the choice is just as clear as the choice in 1980 and 1984. It's between, on one hand, liberal tax and spend, economic stagnation, international weakness, and always, always "blame America first"; and on the other hand, what we believe: limited government, a strong defense, firmness with the Soviets, and always, always "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

Well, you know, our liberal friends talk about it being time for a change. But where have they been for the last 8 years? We are the change. We began it 8 years ago. And the choice this year is to go forward with the change or to go back to the stagnant status quo out of the past.

And let me pause here and say that there is no change 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. And you know, thanks to their valor, in the last 8 years, not i square inch of land has been lost to communism. And in fact, in one tiny nation, Grenada, we've pushed communism back.

When we took office, America was in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We turned that around. Think of what reducing the mortgage rates, as we have, by 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 15 percent. And think of what this means to you. And think about the great news we received today: October unemployment down to 5.2 percent, the lowest since June and the lowest in more than 14 years. Think of what that means to all Americans. 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.

If I could just interject something here about that unemployment rate. There will always be an unemployment rate—not because of hard times and people who can't find a job—there will always be a percentage of our people who are, by their own choice, between jobs, have changed to another place to live, and young people coming into the job market. Well, on Sundays I've gotten in the hobby lately of reading the help-wanted ads in the paper. [Laughter] I don't really read the ads; I count the number of pages. And when in Washington, in the Washington daily paper on Sunday, you pick it up and see 70 full pages of those tiny help wanted ads, employers looking for people to come to work, you know that we've done something about employment and jobs.

We've come a long way in the last 8 years, but my friends, my message to you today is that everything that we've worked for these last 8 years, everything, could be lost faster than you can say Taxachusetts. [Laughter] Our opponents say they're in the tradition of F.D.R., Harry Truman, and John Kennedy; but from the economy to national defense, they've taken positions that only a McGovern could love.

Not long ago, former Defense and Energy Secretary James Schlesinger, who served in administrations of both parties, wrote that their ticket this year seems to be, in Secretary Schlesinger's words, "viscerally antimilitary." They would cut the B1 bomber, the MX missile, our strategic defense against ballistic missiles, and two carrier battle groups eliminated 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] —if Frank [Lautenberg] doesn't sink it first. [Laughter]

Well, hearing all this, maybe it won't surprise you that this year we have a liberal candidate whose appointees to his State's supreme court have been described, in the words of legal authorities who've studied their records, as "fervent proponents of the liberal social agenda committed to imposing it through judicial decree."
Audience members. Booo!

The President. They've opposed the death penalty and mandatory sentences for drug dealers.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. My friends, you can't be tough on drugs unless you're tough on crime. They believe that requiring teachers to lead classes in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional—
Audience members. Booo!

The President.—and have voted to strike down a ban on child pornography.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. Well, I've appointed very different Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and so will George Bush. And our kind of Justices are the kind that Pete Dawkins won't fight; he'll help confirm them.

Now, you've heard the liberals say they're on your side. They're on your side the way the ice was on the side of the whales. For example, Pete Dawkins' opponent refuses to rule out higher taxes. He calls higher taxes a "last resort," which in translation from politician language to the English language means he's going to do everything he can not to read the next President's lips. On the other hand, if they need it, and many of them will, Pete Dawkins will give lip-reading courses to the entire Congress: "last resort" on one side; "read my lips, no new taxes" on the other. Tell me now: Who's on your side, Pete Dawkins' liberal opponent or Pete Dawkins?
Audience members. Pete! Pete! Pete!

The President. I like this audience. Let's try another. Let's take George Bush's opponent.
Audience members. Booo!

The President. Between 1986 and 1987, while America as a whole was creating more new jobs than the rest of the industrial world put together, under the Governor, his State ranked an abysmal 30th among our States in the annual rate of total job growth. And with yesterday's papers reporting a State bank account overdrawn by as much as $190 million for a month—
Audience members. Booo!
The President. The Massachusetts mess is getting sloppier and sloppier by the day.

Audience member. I'm the one that got a furlough. [Laughter]

The President. I wish I'd said that. [Laughter]

Now, let me ask you: biggest job growth in the industrial world or one of the slower rates in the Nation—in a mess like that and you tell me, who's on your side, that liberal Governor or George Bush?
Audience members. Bush! Bush! Bush!

The President. I think I'll take you home with me.

Now, our liberal friends have promised that come January the Reagan era is over and their era will be just beginning. From top to bottom, the election this year is a referendum on liberalism. 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 those 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. And since we must ride two horses, Congress and the President, across every stream, shouldn't they both be going the same way? [Applause] Everyone on our ticket led by George Bush, Pete Dawkins, and Jim Saxton is going the same way. And come to think of it, that's my way, too.

You know, let me pause here and say a word about a man I admire immensely-the man I hope will be your next Senator-and the campaign against him. His opponent is a far-out liberal who opposes Gramm-Rudman, the line-item veto, the balanced budget amendment, and in fact, every move we've made to cut spending-unless it's defense spending. He talks tough on crime, but he opposes the death penalty. All this is bad enough, but there's something more. We've seen a new lack of stability creeping into the way the opposition in Congress operates. I have to deal with it every day, and I believe that, when all is said and done, it's bad for America. You won't normally see most of what I'm talking about, but here in this Senate race, Pete Dawkins' opponent has brought that style of political fighting back home.

Pete Dawkins is one of the finest men I have ever known. He's courageous, brilliant, and deeply dedicated to his country. He'll work with the new President, not try to cut him off at the knees every chance he gets. So, I'd ask you: Isn't it time for the voters of this great State to vote for a great team, Pete Dawkins and George Bush? [Applause]
Audience members. Pete! Pete! Pete!

The President. Yes, in the Congress, as well as the White House, it all comes down to exactly the same thing, and that's the kind of future we want for America, the values we believe in, the way we were brought up, and a few simple words like "freedom" and "family" and "peace" and "hope." I believe that the next 8 years can be a time of economic growth and unprecedented hope for America and the world. I believe we can see democracy come to every nation of Latin America. I believe we can continue the progress we've made with the Soviets. I believe we can move the world toward making nuclear terror a thing of the past with our Strategic Defense Initiative, SDI. Now, I believe this is our future if we put our nation in the right hands. And who has those hands? Jim Saxton, Pete Dawkins, and George Bush are those men.

This election campaign is not over. The only poll that means a thing is the one on election day. And that's why it's so important for you to vote. Not long ago, I did something I thought no American President would ever have an opportunity to do. There in the Moscow Hills, at Moscow State University, I addressed Soviet students and told them about the wonder and glory of human freedom, individual freedom. Now, think of those students. Only if they are very lucky and rise high in the Communist Party will any one of them have the influence on the course of history 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 to mean it. This coming Tuesday, will you show up at the polls to vote?
Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you get your friends and neighbors also to show up at the polls to vote?
Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you vote for Jim Saxton for Congress?
Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you vote for Pete Dawkins for Senate?
Audience members. Yes!

The President. And will you vote for George Bush?
Audience members. Yes!

The President. You just made my day again.

But you and I still have work to do. As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over till it's over." And this election is a package deal: We need to win in both Congress and the White House for it to count the way it should count. I hope that someday your grandchildren will tell of the time that a certain President came into town and asked their grandparents to join him in setting America on the course of the new millennium, and that a century of peace, prosperity, opportunity, and hope followed.

So, if I could ask you just one last time, on election day, will you go out there and win one for the Gipper?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. Thank you.

I shouldn't do this, but I'm going to. I just did it at the last stop, and it gets to be a habit with me. I have a new hobby. I'm collecting stories that I can actually prove are made up by the people of the Soviet Union and told among themselves. And it reveals they've got a great sense of humor, and they also have a kind of cynical attitude towards their system.

Well, on this recent summit in Moscow, I was told one, as we were leaving, that they were telling among themselves. They had it that Gorbachev and I were in his limousine. And my Secret Service chief was with us, and his top security agent with him. And we were sightseeing. And we came to a waterfall, and we all got out to look. And Gorbachev said to my Secret Service man, "Go ahead, jump. Go over the falls." And he said, "I've got a wife and three kids." Well, he turned to his own man then and said, "You, jump. Go over the falls." And he did. [Laughter] Well, my man went down the rocks around the falls to see if he could be of help or anything and found him down there wringing out his clothes. And he said, "Why did you do that?" He said, "When he told you to jump and go over the falls, why did you do that?" The fellow said, "I've got a wife and three kids." [Laughter]
Thank you all, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 4:26 p.m. at Main Street Mall. He was introduced by Gov. Thomas H. Kean. In his opening remarks, the President referred to Robert Franks, chairman of the State Republican Party. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.

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

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